THE TWELVE HOUSES: The Astrological Rooms Composing the Construct of Life
Every astrological Birth Chart
is divided into twelve equal parts and these constitute the twelve houses, which are inextricably intertwined with the understanding of the chart. Approaching the chart as an illustration of the whole of our life and personality, we can identify –through the houses, as they unfold– the various domains into which our life is separated and which cohere it. Each house represents a particular field of activity, and its differentiation from the rest is based on the sign ruling it and the planets positioned in it. Hence, each chart is constructed upon this division and the ensuing series of houses, with the latter mirroring the diverse “spaces” of our life, ensuring and highlighting the uniqueness of every chart –and, by extension, of every individual. At the same time, apart from being a means of distinguishing the different phases of our life course from one another, the houses also depict the course of evolution that leads to the individual’s self-realization.
THE FIRST HOUSE IN ASTROLOGY – ASCENDANT
Embarking on our course through the chart, we find the first house –that is, the components making up the initial stage of our life. This part of the chart is related to our childhood and is characterized by activeness, liveliness and vitality. Identified with the sign of Aries, this house represents the elan inherent in the outset of our life, the first years of our childhood and the early impulse to express our personality. Symbolizing the formation of our identity and how this was moulded within the environment into which we were born, the first house is of vital importance, and so is the sign on its cusp; it constitutes our Ascendant (otherwise called “the Rising Sign”). If, for instance, one has Sagittarius on the cusp of the first house in their chart, it means they grew up in an optimistic environment, that would encourage inquiry and self-expression; Scorpio on the first house cusp could point to a potential danger of dying shortly after birth and to growth under overall adverse conditions, and Capricorn could indicate an environment that would suppress the vigour of the child, confining it to strict limits in order to restrain it. Of course, this period of our life exerts influence on us over the entire course of our development, and determines how we view and handle new starts, as well as the direction in which we channel our energy.
At the same time, the first house can provide information about our outward appearance, but also about the way we choose to express our Ego. Someone with Uranus in the first house will probably express themselves and act in a singular and unconventional way; Venus in the first house could denote good manners and charming looks, and Mercury could indicate talkativeness and interest in the acquisition of new knowledge. The way in which we interact with others is also demonstrated in the first house and is closely identified with the first impression we are given –in our childhood– of the world. Moreover, this is the part of the chart where we see our expectations, our ambitions, and how we could pursue our evolution. Thus, the first house consists in the space of our talents and the ways in which we translate them into action.
THE SECOND HOUSE IN ASTROLOGY
Entering the second house of the chart, we move from the stage of “I” (the “Ego”) to that of “Mine”. Here, we find all that is valuable to the individual, be it material goods or emotional values the individual considers important in order to evolve properly. This is the space of our need to feel safe regarding our possessions/belongings –first, to preserve them and, then, to multiply them through work. We move from the initial stage of the elan of life to that of trying to restrict it within a secure frame; this is where we see how we can capitalize on and cultivate our talents. If the first house is characterised by impulsiveness, the word that best describes the second house is “stability”. With Taurus traditionally identified with it, it is easy to understand how said sign’s traits (constancy/firmness, possessions) correspond to this house and the life aspect it is related to.
The second house can throw light on whether we will make money and how (easily or not), and combined with the reading of the sixth and the tenth house, it can provide us with a full-fledged idea of the profession we will follow. It also reflects how much others appreciate us, our potential for success, and our way of managing money. Thus, if one has Pisces on the second house cusp, they are likely to have difficulty in saving money; Leo could denote they want their wealth to be mirrored in their appearance, and Cancer could mean they do not equate safety so much with material gains as with an emotionally intimate family environment. At the same time, the second house is associated with physical senses and the pleasure derived from them. Someone with Venus in this house, for instance, will probably have a deep appreciation for romantic love, and the Moon may indicate a strong taste for good food. Hence, this is the stage where, as children, we need safety, care, and solid material supplies, in order to survive and develop.
THE THIRD HOUSE IN ASTROLOGY
At this point, we move on to our need to learn –to socialize and communicate with others, so as to become acquainted with the world around us. Succeeding the stage of preservation, this stage is where, as children, we grow interested in exploring our surroundings and embark on the adventure of cognition. The third house could be said to constitute our information center, where the knowledge we accumulate is stored. The sign on its cusp reveals our communicative aptitude. Someone with Cancer on the third house cusp can be particularly alert to the emotional ambiance prevailing and quickly perceive other people’s emotional state even on a subconscious level; someone with Aquarius could be highly capable of using electronic media, and Virgo on the third house cusp could indicate an astutely rational mind, able to file and practically employ all its acquired knowledge. Also associated with this house is speech, written expression, and our overall mental capacity; this part of the chart can be used as an index to our wittiness. Thus, a person with Saturn in the third house may exhibit slow but extremely reasonable thinking, one with Pluto may have a very strong memory, and Mercury signifies acute communication skills and mental perspicacity, as this is the house it rules.
Short trips, transportations, and the means of transport themselves are connected with the third house as well, and so is our relationship with our close family members. Correlated with the sign of Gemini, this house has to do with our relationship with our siblings, but also our neighbours; Pluto in it could mean one’s relationship with their siblings is noxious. In addition, this part of the chart concerns elementary education –school– and how we experienced and responded to it. It also covers our spirituality and our exploration of belief systems. Hence, the third house informs us of our mental characteristics, the nature of our attempts to familiarize ourselves with the world and the extent of these attempts’ success.
THE FOURTH HOUSE IN ASTROLOGY
After the stage of exploration, we return to a more introverted and “conservative” house; the chart seems to follow the pattern of “male” (active) houses alternating with “female” (passive) ones. The sign that characterizes this stage of the astrological evolution course is Cancer –that is, the sign that most longs for emotional safety in general, and in particular the type of safety provided by the family environment and especially the mother. Thus, the fourth house sheds light on our relationship with our home, our family, our mother, but also on the form/character we would like our own family to have. Mars in this house could denote a largely conflict-centered family environment; Mercury could signify many changes of residence; and Saturn a rather oppressive mother figure, constantly trying to impose constraints on the child through sentimental and material deprivation.
The word that best delineates the fourth house is “privacy”. This is our personal space, into which we only let those closest to us; it involves secrets of the past and of our family life only they can be privy to. In that sense, therefore, privacy does not equate to excluding others, but to building substantial relationships where what is sought after is emotional proximity. In this house, we additionally find the personal insecurities and feelings of insufficiency we wish to relieve with the help of the Other, but also (the extent of) our own inclination to help others. If one has Pisces on the cusp of the fourth house, they probably are overprotective and may also have had unrealistically high expectations of their parents, while an Earth sign could indicate an increased emphasis on material pleasures and safety.
Although the fourth house is introverted, given that the mode of Cancer is cardinal, it is still defined by intense action, albeit of an inward nature; it is the kind of action we want to be visibly inaccessible to others. Hence, this is the house where we identify the influence of our family, and particularly our mother, on us, as well as how this has affected our way of emotionally relating to others; it demonstrates the truths inculcated into us and the manner in which they have moulded us.
THE FIFTH HOUSE IN ASTROLOGY
Entering the fifth house, we move from the stage of “nurture” to that of our need for self-expression. At this point, we have been furnished with the care that will enable us to stand on our own feet by shaping our self, and we wish to become creative; we do not content ourselves with being passive recipients of life. This house reveals the ways in which our soul externalizes its inspiration and the dynamic behind this endeavour. Thus, someone with Cancer on the fifth house cusp likely sees self-fulfillment through the prism of having a family and children; Leo entails a strong proclivity for artistic forms of self-display (such as dance and acting); and Capricorn could signify an Ego mostly satisfied with a successful career and social approval.
The fifth house is the part of the chart where love relationships take their first steps. It involves flirting without commitment and taking pleasure in love, and shows the degree to which we are minded to expose ourselves to someone else and to claim the object of our desire. Love is seen as another game in which we seek admiration through self-exposure, as the fifth house is the part of our life where we want to shine and have our individuality recognized; it represents the persona we consciously wish to project to others, expecting to see it appreciated. In addition, it informs us of how we give and receive love. The planets in this house indicate our hobbies: Neptune could point to someone with a particularly artistic idiosyncrasy; Mars to high activeness expressed through physically demanding sports; and Air signs to a need for spiritual enrichment. With the sign of Leo identified with it, it is easy to see how the fifth house corresponds to said sign’s traits, as they are oriented towards self-development. This house forms a landmark of self-confidence in the chart, giving an outlet to our need for play, risk-taking, joy and fun.
THE SIXTH HOUSE IN ASTROLOGY
The sixth house comes to put a temporary halt to the excessive expression of the self that was actualized in the previous stage. Here, the sign of Virgo, with the tendency to criticize and scrutinize, puts our self-confidence under the microscope to trace which parts of it can stand the test of reality, which ones are unfounded, and which ones need to be further worked on. The quality determining the nature of this house is industriousness. It marks our transition to our need to place a frame of stability and reason around our life, in order to become more practical and efficient. The joyfulness of the fifth house is replaced with responsibility, as well as with the limits and obligations we have to take into account, if we are to live up to the demands of our daily routine.
The sixth house reveals the nature and character of our profession, along with our capabilities and our capacity for effectiveness and productivity. Someone with Taurus on its cusp may exhibit great patience and diligence, while people with Sagittarius are likely to overlook details and to have difficulty in dealing with the repetitiveness of everyday life. Also determined by this house are our workplace and our daily habits. At the same time, this is where we become aware of our body’s needs; we acknowledge that our body has certain limits, which we should not exceed, and that we ought to cater to its well-being. The sixth house is traditionally related to hospitals and physicians; it is where our overall organic structure manifests itself and where whether we have a tendency towards disease-phobia can become evident. Thus, someone with Saturn in this house may encounter bone-related problems, and Venus could indicate that they should pay attention to their skin. The body is seen as a temple, as our soul-bearer that has to be preserved in a good state.
Apart from physical needs, the sixth house is also the part of the chart demonstrating our moral code –how adversities have shaped us and have instilled in us a firm set of beliefs, based on which we evaluate and categorise the world around us.
THE SEVENTH HOUSE IN ASTROLOGY
Moving on to the second half of the chart –the half that refers to more collective life aspects–, we enter the first house in which we need and seek to bond with the Other in a substantial authentic manner. In the seventh house, it is relationships that occupy the foreground. The “I” is counterposed to the others and we begin to discover what it is we miss and cannot find by ourselves. The presence of a romantic companion in our life assumes a vital role in our development, and this house reflects what attracts us to others, what attracts them to us, and the overall nature and make-up of our love relationships. Thus, if one has Virgo on the cusp of this house, they might have very strict criteria for choosing a companion, but might also be quite capable of offering emotional closeness and care; one with Aquarius may find it difficult to commit; and Gemini could denote several love partners.
The seventh house includes the hidden/latent part of our character which the other awakens, thus making us fall in love with her/him so that we can grow aware of it and embrace it. This is where, through one-to-one relationships and our interaction with the Other, we are called to confront facets of ourselves we are not familiar with. When it comes to the planets we have in this part of our chart, it is quite common to wait for the Other to express them for us. For instance, people with the Sun in this house may tend to completely surrender to their companion, and Mars may indicate inability to make decisions due to always expecting their other half to take initiative and action. Thus, a challenge posed to us by this house is to manage to express the planets we have in it by ourselves, in order for our relationships to be balanced and not co-dependent.
Mirroring the qualities of Libra, the sign identified with it, the seventh house is the space of romantic relationships and marriage, shedding light on the form these will take and the place they will have on our priority list.
THE EIGHTH HOUSE IN ASTROLOGY
A step forward in the field of relationships, the eighth house concerns our attempt to transcend superficiality and our desire for a deeper, more substantial bond. Correlated with the sign of Scorpio, this house unveils our ability to form meaningful romantic relationships founded on solid sentimental ground. If the seventh house consists in the stage of marriage, this is the stage of its deepening; moving into the essence of the relationship, we are called to let go completely, to lose ourselves in the Other. Sex is a principal feature of this part of the chart, which may bear many taboos, but also signifies the physical and spiritual union, as well as the manifestation of our deeply hidden animal instincts. Thus, someone with Cancer on the cusp of the eighth house is probably profoundly sentimental and perceives sex as a means of emotional bonding, while Aries might entail numerous romantic adventures and inability to give oneself to the Other.
Along with sex, another key word to the eighth house is death. Buried secrets, fears, insecurities; all things pertaining to the loss of the self are found here, and so are the crises we experience and the raw parts of ourselves we are yet to confront. At the same time, this is the space of our perseverance in the face of adversity, our potential for rebirth after a psychological death, and the extent of our ability to evolve by overcoming the hindrances in our life. Pluto, the ruler of this house, represents the ever-renewing aspect of life –an aspect inexorably linked with demise and pain.
The eighth house is additionally involved with metaphysics, magic, the occult, and superstitions; with the money we may earn through partnerships, associations, and even illegal activities; and with undisclosed problems regarding our upbringing. This generally constitutes the stage where, often through our interaction with the Other, we are faced with obstacles we have to surpass in order to grow.
THE NINTH HOUSE IN ASTROLOGY
At this point, we move from the introverted stage of Scorpio to the house correlated with the sign of Sagittarius, namely the ninth one. Here, after having dealt with considerable declines in our self-confidence, we venture out again, reclaim our optimism, and find the strength necessary to act; this is the space of our endeavour to evolve through the broadening of our horizons. The ninth house is associated with higher education and demonstrates our potential for expanding our personality. If, for example, one has Leo on its cusp, they might be very self-assertive and derive their motivation from self-expression, and Libra might mean they need their companion to take them by the hand and introduce them to the world.
Connected with the bigger picture of life, the ninth house is related to travelling abroad; to the different cultures and the degree to which we are interested in them; to religion and the various forms of spirituality; and, generally, to all things that can benefit our spiritual growth. It consists in our opening up to another world, which brings about the hope for a better life –often far-fetched unsubstantiated fantasies, that have no basis in reality, but serve our need to fight for a greater cause. Someone with Neptune in this house might be particularly interested in art and mysticism; Mercury could denote a talent for foreign languages; and Uranus revolutionary ideas and an overall disposition to follow unconventional paths to growth.
The ninth house additionally throws light on the people we will profit from over the course of our development, and is involved with foresight and all affairs abroad. Ruled by Jupiter, it also reveals the extent to which we tend to indulge in excess. Defined by justice and revolving around the “meaning of life”, this house forms the space where we try to find our niche in life through spiritual quests; it bears our illusions, but also our hopes for a better tomorrow.
THE TENTH HOUSE IN ASTROLOGY
Our dreams and hopes now have to be adjusted to a realistic frame and comply with normative conditions. The tenth house, correlated with Capricorn and ruled by Saturn, constitutes the stage where we are called to weigh our aspirations and decide which ones are feasible and what needs to be done in order for them to be actualized. Thus, the first word delineating this Earth house is “work”; here, we are given many clues to the career we will pursue and the significance we will ascribe to it. The concept of “career” is not only equated with the acquisition of material goods and the attainment of financial security, but also with our overall place and role in society. After having traversed three houses centered on collectivity, we enter that of the highest social visibility possible. Here, the opinion of others is what matters the most, our role in the functioning of society reaches its fullest form, and we are largely preoccupied with our reputation and social recognition/approval. Someone with Libra on the cusp of the tenth house is likely to pursue prominence through team work, and Scorpio could mean they crave for money and success through positions of authority.
At the same time, the tenth house is related to our parents, and particularly our father and the influence he exerted on the formation of our personality and the pursuit of our ambitions. Our father figure –from a certain point onwards, merged into our conscience– is the person that has determined the rules, limits and moulds we have to conform to in order to succeed. Thus, associated with this house are authority figures, the instituted society, the established order (i.e. the status quo), and our stance towards them. Someone with the Sun in this house may have become accustomed to authority/power structures, often due to holding a high position in them, while Uranus could indicate pronounced unconventionality and a strong tendency to question authority.
Time, aging, and loss are also connected with the tenth house, which, by extension, unveils our resilience in the face of the unbending laws of life. This forms the house of karma: of reward for our productive devoted efforts, and of punishment for our recklessness and our defiant decisions.
THE ELEVENTH HOUSE IN ASTROLOGY
Having embraced conscious work in order for society to function properly, we enter the eleventh house; we now adopt a more active stance and are called to make decisions in the direction of changing society. Having matured under the pressure of the tenth house, we are now able to overthrow the established order the latter promoted and, instead of simply preserving our society, to cause alterations in it for the greater good. The eleventh house, therefore, is primarily characterised by subversiveness and non-conformism. Corresponding to the sign of Aquarius, it constitutes the space of idealism, where we come closer to one another in order to achieve a better future. Hence, it is associated with like-minded people, friends, and comrades in the fight for change, and reflects collective action, hopes, ambitions, and the extent to which we exhibit idealistic tendencies. In addition, it is related to the Internet, to scientific discoveries, to astrology, and to futuristic abilities in general. Someone with Capricorn on the cusp of this house could be trapped in traditional/conventional notions they hardly question or attempt to subvert, and Virgo could denote that their idealism stumbles over their tendency towards over-analysis, but simultaneously gains in practical effectiveness.
In this part of the chart, we look for an important role in society, which can entail participation in social organizations or an overall philosophical consideration of life’s established structures. The eleventh house represents the dialectic/conflict between society and the individual, and forms the stage where individual will is aligned with and determined by the common good. It includes politics and political parties, support networks against social exclusion, and our claim/right to difference. One with Mars in this house is likely to engage in collective struggles passionately, and the Moon could indicate that their contribution to social causes stems from a fundamental psychological need. With the myth of Prometheus correlated to this house, this is clearly the space of novelties that change the world.
THE TWELFTH HOUSE IN ASTROLOGY
The final stage in the evolution course depicted by the chart consists in the twelfth house. Here, relinquishing our Ego through collective struggles and claims does not suffice; the logic of idealism is replaced with our need to merge into something superior to our self –into wholeness. This union can be accomplished through any kind of contact with the collective unconscious; art, hallucinatory substances, even death itself.
The twelfth house mirrors the degree to and the way in which we are minded to lose parts of our conscious self and accept the dissolution of our Ego. At the same time, it constitutes the space of the secreted and the repressed, of the failures and traumas we think we have concealed or forgotten, but which still linger and are, in fact, particularly visible to others. Corresponding to the sign of Pisces, it involves art and romanticism. It is also related to the world of show-business and fashion, as these offer another path to transcending reality and, by extension, to illusion. In addition, the twelfth house shows karmic obligations and past traumas that resurface and affect our life in subtle, almost imperceptible ways. It represents our immediate emotional response to memories and situations that inexplicably distress and upset us. Someone with Pluto in this house may have suffered psychological manipulation within a controlling relationship; the Moon could indicate a traumatic relationship with the mother figure; and Mercury could denote problems of expression and mental lucidity. People born with many planets in this house may be called to speak on behalf of public opinion, either as politicians or as artists, and generally tend to perceive and connect with broader needs in a special and direct manner. Thus, the twelfth house brings the chart full circle, featuring the immersion of the Ego in the Being while simultaneously imbuing us with a new impetus, which will find its expression in the first house again.