The houses of astrology are used to describe the various realms of human life, ranging from self expression to career to spiritual transcendence. While the houses correspond with the zodiac, in that the 1st house corresponds with the themes of Aries, and so on, they are two different wheels.
To familiarize yourself with your own house placements, first check out our post How to Read Your Astrology Chart for details on generating your birth chart. If you only have your birthday but not the time, you’ll be able to see where the planets were in relation to each other, but you won’t be able to calculate your houses. In this case we recommend entering 12 noon as your birth time.
The houses are calculated by dividing the chart into four quadrants based on the location of the Eastern and Western hemispheres along the ecliptic, which is the path of the sun. Each quadrant contains three houses, and each house is made up of a 30º segment of the wheel.
The degree of the first point, the Ascendant, determines the arrangement of the rest of the houses in relation to the zodiac wheel. The Ascendant indicates what planets were rising in the sky at the time of your birth.
The Personal Houses: Individual Concerns
The first six houses are the personal houses, meaning they focus on the individual, and the last six houses are the interpersonal houses, meaning they focus on the relationships within humanity.
In the first quadrant, the individual develops its unique consciousness.
First House: Self Identity
The Ascendant rules the personality and how you present yourself to the world. Consciousness is born in the 1st house – if this house was a human, it would be the baby just learning how to engage in the world. The baby’s entire experience is consumed by experiencing everything for the first time and having its own needs met.
The 1st house corresponds with the zodiac sign of Aries and is ruled by the planet Mars.
Second House: Values
In the 2nd house, consciousness experiences the physical world – the Other – and develops values. The 2nd house rules the experience of one’s own body and acquiring material things, including money. The baby responds with “yes” or “no” and “mine” to the world around them.
The 2nd house corresponds with Taurus and is ruled by Venus.
Third House: Communication
In the 3rd house, consciousness learns how to engage with the Other first encountered in the 2nd house. The 3rd house is about the mental life and communication – expressing the identity and values established in the previous houses. It also rules business, or the exchange of the 2nd house values and material goods.
The 3rd house corresponds with Gemini and is ruled by Mercury.
In the second quadrant, the identity establishes itself through exploration of its immediate environment: home, play, and daily life.
Fourth House: Roots
In the 4th house, consciousness experiences emotion in regard to the Other, causing it to seek security. The 4th house is at the bottom or root of the chart and known as the Imum Coeli, or IC. It rules our origins, family, and the home.
The 4th house corresponds with Cancer and is ruled by the Moon.
Fifth House: Creativity
If the 4th house rules roots, the 5th house is the plant bursting forth into the world. In this house, consciousness learns to express the 4th house emotions through creativity, art, sex, flirting, romance, and play.
The 5th house corresponds with Leo and is ruled by the Sun.
Sixth House: Order
In the 6th house, consciousness learns to hone its creativity via consistent discipline. This is like the teenager of the 5th house entering the adult world. The 6th house is the “reality check” and rules order, daily life, and rituals. It’s commonly associated with health, but this house is actually more about healing (personal health is ruled by the 1st house). The 6th house rules how you handle stress, and how you heal yourself and others – how you bring order to chaos.
The 6th house corresponds with Virgo and is ruled by Mercury.
The Interpersonal Houses
As we mentioned earlier, the last six houses are the personal houses, meaning they focus on individual concerns, and the next six houses are the interpersonal houses, meaning they focus on relationships and society.
The third quadrant represents the exploration of relationships.
Seventh House: Commitments
The 7th house is opposite of the 1st house and is called the Descendant. Imagine a teenager of the 5th house growing up and establishing their daily life in the 6th house – the 7th house is where they start settling down and forming commitments. The themes of this house are marriage, business partnerships, and committed relationships of all sorts.
The 7th house corresponds with the planet Libra and is ruled by Venus.
Eighth House: The Shadow
The 8th house rules how we deal with change in our material status – either expressed as shared resources formed via the partnerships of the 7th house, or the loss of personal resources of its opposite house, the 2nd. Taxes, debts, inheritances, and death are all 8th house issues. This confrontation of death and loss also makes the underworld, shadow self, “dark night of the soul,” and the occult themes of this house.
The 8th house corresponds with Scorpio and is ruled by Pluto.
Ninth House: Expansion
After the deeply intimate, heavy experiences of the 8th house, consciousness seeks perspective and emerges with wisdom, both themes of the 9th house. This house rules expansion, a wide-angle vision, teachers, philosophy, higher education, travel, and religion.
The 9th house corresponds with Sagittarius and is ruled by Jupiter.
In the fourth and final quadrant, consciousness explores humanity as a whole.
Tenth House: The Calling
The 10th house is also known as the Midheaven or Medium Coeli (MC). It sits opposite the 4th house, the ruler of our roots. In the Midheaven, consciousness develops a sense of purpose based on the 9th house vision quest. This house focuses on life calling, career, and one’s role in the world. This focus is a form of constriction – the 10th house also rules boundaries, laws, and authority.
The 10th house corresponds with Capricorn and is ruled by Saturn.
Eleventh House: Society
In the 11th house, consciousness expands from the position of authority established in the 10th to join forces with others based on shared ideals. The 11th house rules friendship, groups, social movements, and the future.
The 11th house corresponds with Aquarius and is ruled by Uranus.
Twelfth House: Unity
In the final 12th house, we transcend the relationships of the preceding houses into unity consciousness. This house rules life beyond “the veil” – the realm of dreams, other dimensions, and divine love. The 12th house is traditionally known as the “house of self-undoing” due to its rulership of illusion and addiction. More accurately, it is the house of self-transcendence.
The 12th house corresponds with Pisces and is ruled by Neptune.
In this post we described the progression of the houses as the developmental path of a person from infancy to adulthood, with each house ruling a different stage or realm of human life. Other astrologers describe the house wheel as being like a building with twelve rooms. In this sense the planets in each house are the residents of different areas of the building, bringing their own personality to the area of life that the house describes. The house system brings greater depth and specificity to ones understanding of the various elements of an astrology chart.
If you enjoyed this post, check out The Meaning of Aspects in Astrology and How to Find Your Fate with Astrology.