House (astrology)

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This 18th century Icelandic manuscript drawing shows the twelve astrological houses with their corresponding planetary signs.

Most astrological systems divide the astrological chart (or natal chart) into twelve houses, which depend more on the time and place of birth (or initiation) than on the date. To calculate the houses of a chart it is necessary to know the exact time of birth. If the time of birth is unknown some astrologers will assume a birth at noon or sunrise, but an meaningful interpretation of such a chart cannot be expected.

The houses are departments of life, described in terms of man's physical surroundings as well as personal life experiences, and have some correspondence with their natural sign, i.e. the first house has a natural affinity with the first sign, Aries, and so on.

In quadrant systems houses are classified as angular (1st, 4th, 7th, and 10th), succedent (2nd, 5th, 8th, and 11th), and cadent (3rd, 6th, 9th, and 12th). Angular houses represent the potential for action, succedent houses give stability and purpose, cadent houses are communicative and enable change or adaptation.

In old astrological writers (e.g. William Lilly), house could also be used as a synonym for domicile or rulership, as in the sentence "The Moon has its house in Cancer" - meaning that Cancer is ruled by the Moon.



Each house is ruled by the planet that rules the sign on its cusp. The placement of this planet in the chart will have at least as much influence as the chart as the planets within the house. In traditional Western astrology, each sign is ruled by one and only one of the planets (note that in astrology, the Sun and Moon are considered planets, which literally means wanderers, i.e. wanderers among the stars).

The traditional rulerships are as follows: Aries (Mars), Taurus (Venus), Gemini (Mercury), Cancer (Moon), Leo (Sun), Virgo (Mercury), Libra (Venus), Scorpio (Mars), Sagittarius (Jupiter), Capricorn (Saturn), Aquarius (Saturn), Pisces (Jupiter).

Many modern, psychologically-oriented astrologers believe that Uranus is the ruler or co-ruler of Aquarius instead of Saturn, Neptune is the ruler or co-ruler of Pisces instead of Jupiter, and that Pluto is the ruler or co-ruler of Scorpio instead of Mars (with other modern astrologers claiming that Pluto rules Aries and not Scorpio). Traditional astrology adheres to the rulerships system listed in the paragraph above, and the debate continues between those who consider the newly discovered planets as rulers or co-rulers of certain signs (modern astrologers) and those that do not (traditional astrologers).

A planet is strengthened (dignified) if it falls within the astrological sign that it rules. If a planet is in the sign opposite that which it rules, it is said to be weakened (detriment).


  • First house: Identity, self-image, movement and expression, physical appearance, and the impact of the personality on the environment. This is the way you present yourself, and how you start things. Planets here may also indicate the manner of one's birth.
  • Second house: Values, substance, money, possessions, security, stability, the here and now, sense of self-worth, emotional resources, rewards, comfort, inner talents and resources.
  • Third house: awareness, mental expression, early schooling, siblings, attitudes, daily life, companions, all forms of communication and short journeys, adaptability to new ideas, ability to relate to one's surroundings and environment.
  • Fourth house: Home, foundations, parents, domestic matters, heritage, roots, sources of nourishment.
  • Fifth house: Anything added or taken away from the fourth house, children, romance and love affairs, ego, creative expression, play and gambling, attitude to change.
  • Sixth house: Housework, employment and employees, attitude to work, general health, purification, ritual, habits, hobbies.
  • Seventh house: All kinds of partnerships, marriage, awareness of others, how one relates to people.
  • Eighth house: Joint or shared resources, sex, inheritance, sex and regeneration, emotional union.
  • Ninth house: Travel, religion, search for meaning, higher education, goals and aspirations, seeking and finding.
  • Tenth house: Public image, profession, persona, reputation, values and standards, ideals, how one would like to project oneself.
  • Eleventh house: Friends, social values and concerns, groups and group awareness, hopes and dreams, attitude to humanity.
  • Twelfth house: Hidden motives, confinement, retreat, self-transcendence, service and sacrifice, escapism, charity.

House systems

There are many ways to divide the ecliptic into twelve houses. In most systems, the ascendant (eastern horizon) marks the beginning (cusp) of the first house and the descendant (western horizon) marks the cusp of the seventh house. In addition, quadrant systems (i.e. most systems except Equal House) use the midheaven (MC) as the cusp of the tenth house and the imum coeli (IC) as the cusp of the fourth house.

Most quadrant systems fail or exaggerate the house sizes when a chart is drawn for a location in extreme northern or southern latitudes, but since these births are comparatively rare, this does not seem to worry most astrologers.


The most commonly used house system in Western astrology. There seems to be no particular reason for its popularity except that calculation tables have always been easily available. The system is based on a division of time rather than space as in most other systems. The times taken for each degree of the ecliptic to rise from the IC to the ascendant, and from the ascendant to the MC, are trisected to determine the cusps of houses 2, 3, 11, and 12. The cusps of houses 8, 9, 5 and 6 are opposite these.

The Placidus system is defined only for latitudes between 66°N and 66°S.


The ecliptic is divided into twelve divisions of 30 degrees each. As long as there is an ascendant, twelve equal houses can be measured from it, so this system works for all locations although there will be anomalies in charts for locations within the polar circles.


In the whole house system, the houses are also 30° each, but instead of beginning at the ascendant, the first house begins at zero degrees of the zodiac sign in which the ascendant falls. In other words, each house is wholly filled by one sign. This is the system used in jyotish (vedic astrology).


The celestial equator is divided into twelve, and these divisions are projected on to the ecliptic along great circles that take in the north and south points on the horizon. Named after the German astronomer and astrologer Johann Müller of Königsberg.


Similar to the above, except that the east point is taken as the ascendant.


The prime vertical (the great circle taking in the zenith and east point on the horizon) is divided into twelve, and these divisions are projected on to the ecliptic along great circles that take in the north and south points on the horizon.


Each quadrant of the ecliptic is divided into three equal parts.


A rather more complicated version of the Placidean system. Like it, the Koch system is defined only for latitudes between 66°N and 66°S.


This is a recent system that its creators claim to have been determined empirically, i.e. by observing events in people's lives and assessing the geometry of a house system that would fit. The house cusps are always within a degree of those given in the Placidus system, which would seem to corroborate that system. The geometry is somewhat complicated and the reader is referred to [this site (].

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