As you continue navigating your chart you will start to notice that there are multiple layers overlaid on top of each other. You have the signs, planets, and aspects, but there is still another layer to take into account. Next we divide the chart into 12 more sections called houses. These are 12 sections symbolic of the areas of life where events or experiences take place. Let’s get into it!
Calculating The House Systems
There are many different house systems and even more ways for calculating them. The sizes and boundaries of each house can vary but there are always 12 houses in total in Western Astrology. Over time different astrologers have developed various methods of calculation.
Some of the main differences between House systems are how the 12 sections are divided up. For example, the Whole Sign system splits the 12 sections in perfect 30 degree slices to match up with the zodiac signs. In other systems, such as Placidus and Porphyry, the house sections will vary in degree and size based on the Rising and Mid Heaven calculations. These systems will have houses that cut into and intercept particular signs, creating complex opportunities for interpretation, while Whole Sign House system creates a more streamlined approach to reading the chart.
The house system used is a very individual choice and no system is better than any other!
Today, we have computer programs available to us to easily be able to experiment and switch between house systems to see which one works best for us. By taking out the mathematical work involved astrology has become much more accessible!
Categorizing The Houses
The houses have their own systems of categorization just as the zodiac signs do. There are 3 main categories for the houses: angular, succedent, and cadent. In addition, each one is paired with a sign which provides us with the house’s element as well.
Angular: 1st, 4th, 7th, 10th
The Angular houses are the 1st, 4th, 7th, and 10th and often line up with the Rising/Descendent and Mid Heaven/Nadir lines. These houses are symbolic of the areas in life that lead to growth through tension, relationships, and understanding one’s personal identity. The energy of the planets in these houses can be strong forces channeling through the psyche.
Succedent: 2nd, 5th, 8th, 11th
The second grouping of houses are the Succedent houses which includes the 2nd, 5th, 8th, and 11th houses. This grouping is symbolic of areas in life where we tend to stand our ground, develop coping mechanisms, and systems for security/stability. The themes of these houses frequently center-around physical aspects of life and the deeper meaning within cycles of creation, birth, death, and rebirth. The Succedent houses touch upon subjects of resources (spiritual or physical) and our relationship to them.
Cadent: 3rd, 6th, 9th, 12th
The last group of houses are the Cadent houses which includes the 3rd, 6th, 9th, and 12th sections. These houses represent areas of life that shift and change. They can represent our day to day work lives, belief systems, education, and our spiritual connections in life. Exploring the Cadent houses is a deeper look into how we relate to our physical and spiritual place within a larger Universal context.
Meaning of Each House
Although there are various calculations and sizes of houses, the meanings tend to stay relatively standard. They can be looked at as purely physical or material areas of life or with a deeper spiritual meaning through the lens of cycles of transformation and soul. The houses are the areas you venture in and out of as you journey through life. There are some locations you visit frequently, feeling very comfortable in, while there are other places you find harder to traverse. The planets are the supplies or energy accessible to us as we enter into each house.
The 1st house represents your outer identity and persona. This is where you get to define yourself using external factors, style, and personality. The Rising sign is located in the 1st house which helps provide the mask you get to wear in your everyday travels and experiences. Planets in the 1st house are on the outside of your personality; their energy is often an essential piece of your public image and personal identity.
The 2nd house brings you into areas of life that are concerned with survival and security. Here you are exploring how you create stability in your life. Planets in this house are learning to overcome insecurities regarding physical aspects of existence. There will be ample opportunities for planets in this house to create meaningful stable experiences, financial security, and development of personal values. The 2nd house relates to self-care, self-love, and physical pleasures in life.
The 3rd house represents the development of ideas and community. Here you are brought out and into the world to engage with others through sharing and an exchange of information. The 3rd house can symbolize your earliest learning or school experiences, sibling relationships, and friendships.
The 4th house relates to family, ancestry, and memory. This is an area of the chart that is experienced by your most private self where the Nadir is located. It can symbolize experiences with your parents and areas of life that relate to your early childhood development. The 4th house shows us where we retreat to and have alone time from the outside world. The persona you show to people in private can often be seen in the sign that falls within this house.
The 5th house is symbolic of the areas of life related to creativity, sexuality, and children. The sign and planets in this house can lend us insight into the nature of our experiences in romance, love, and dating. In these areas of life you can learn what feels right for you, how you like to express your individuality, and what areas you feel the most unique, special, and appreciated. This house can also be symbolic of your connection to your children, children in general, and at times your inner child.
The 6th house is related to our day to day routines and work life. It represents where in life you like to be of service to others. There is an emphasis on health and wellness with the 6th house, allowing us insight into what our relationship to these physical and spiritual aspects of life are like. The 6th house can be related to our pets (as can the 5th house) and care taking we provide to them. When we have planets in this areas of the chart there tends to be an overtone of responsibility, dedication, and devotion to the tasks at hand.
The 7th house is symbolic of the first major experiences we start to have with others outside of our immediate community and close family circles. In the 7th house we are starting to reflect on who we are in relation to others.There is opportunity here to get into business with someone else, enter into a long term partnership, or explore areas in life that require compromise. The 7th house contains the Descendent line, which is opposite our Rising sign. This is symbolic of the parts of ourself we are trying to integrate and understand. We may seek out people who embody the quality of the sign or planets located in the 7th house to better understand who we are.
The meaning of the 8th house has evolved over time but carries with it the overall theme of cycles of transformation. Often it is paired with ideas of death, sex, and shared finances/resources. How do all of these ideas relate? The 8th house is an area of depth in the chart that explores our relationships to what binds us to this world and to the people in it. This is where we may have secrets or hidden emotions waiting to be discovered. It is symbolic of how we join with another person, transforming ourselves into something new by sharing experiences, finances, secrets, and ultimate release.
The 9th house is symbolic of spirituality, philosophy, higher education, and travel. Traditionally it is associated with dreams and evolved from there to represent experiences related to consciousness or mind expansion. This area of the chart tends to be a part of our public image and sometimes the Mid Heaven is located here. In the 9th house we decide how to expand our world view; for some it is through books, learning, and university for others it may be religious or spiritual exploration. Long term travel and long journeys also falls under the domain of the 9th house as this is another aspects of broadening our horizons.
The 10th house is the area of our life most seen and noticed in terms of career, public image, and social status as this is where the Mid Heaven is usually located. It goes beyond the job we have to include the purpose and drive we draw upon to create a legacy of our life’s work. As this part of the chart tends to be so open to others we may find the 10th house a vulnerable place, concerned with how we come across and construct our identities. We are also working in areas of life related to authority and parental figures. It is symbolic of our relationship to the development of our own agency, authority, and autonomy without the boundaries or restrictions of parents/authority.
The 11th house is an area of hopes, dreams, and openness in our chart. When we get to this area of life we are now looking to create community and connection with people who share our interests and perspectives. Brilliant ideas are exchanged in the 11th house and we can draw upon our relationship to social changes, politics, and spiritual practices. The energy of the planets in the 11th house will draw you towards what resonates with you most. Here you can spread your vision to the world, making social connections, and building influential and meaningful relationships + friendships. Your Mid Heaven can also fall within the 11th house.
The 12th house has acquired quite a reputation in astrology for being a dramatic place to confront your deepest self, subconscious being, and complexes. Here we are able to dissolve all expectations for ourselves and others. The identity we build up through the earlier houses and shared with the world in the 10th and 11th houses is now ready to merge with the collective psyche. It can be hard to touch upon what particular planets mean in this house as each person’s individual perspective becomes paramount to understanding and creating context. Here we are exposing our secrets, vulnerability, and shadows. An exploration of boundaries with ourselves and others can take place here. The 12th house is a place of spiritual, psychic, mental health, and transcendental life experiences.
Reading the Signs + Planets in the Houses
It is helpful to start to view the planets as visitors to each of the houses and signs. Think about how the energy of a planet would act if traveling to your 6th house of work or maybe your 9th house of travel? This is how the planets and signs start to be read within the context of the entire chart.
Important Note! A common misconception in astrology is that an empty house means you lack in that area in life. For example, no planets in the 7th house means you will have no lasting relationship or an empty 5th house means you will have no children. This is absolutely not the case and harmful to us students of astrology! The chart is a complex systems containing all areas of life within it, some parts are able to be explored more acutely than others but all are present based on how we decide to direct our life journey.
In conclusion, the houses are very helpful additions to the overall picture of your birth chart. They can help us pinpoint particular parts of life that we might not otherwise pick up on in our exploration of self.