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Ken Ward's Astrology Pages

Astrology: The Houses

The houses divide the sky into 12 areas. Different systems use different methods to do this. A simple method is just to divide the sky in 12 equal areas. This is called the Equal House system. A common system is the Placidus system which divides according to time. In some systems, the ascendant and the midheaven do not align with the houses. 

You can discover more about the planets in the houses by going to this page.

Here we assume the Placidus system is used.

On this page:

The houses of the astrological chart begin with the Ascendant, or Rising Sign. The Ascendant is the sign that was rising on the Eastern Horizon at the time of birth. It is the cusp (dividing line) of the first house. The houses following it go round the chart anti-clockwise, and so in reverse numerical order. The mid-heaven is the point the sun would occupy at noon.

The words angular, succedent and cadent (House Quadruplicities) are applied to the houses, and they correspond to the words cardinal, fixed and mutable (Sign Quadruplicities) used for the signs. Both can be referred to as modes.

One theme through the houses is that

  1. we express ourselves (Cause, Volition), and
  2. we acquire something as a result (Effect).
  3. We then ponder the consequences and
  4. take new action (New Cause, Volition), as necessary.

Volition is a force that 'causes' us to do things. It involves decision, wanting and choice, but not necessarily free choice. Because of our actions, in mind and body, we experience consequences or effects. We reap what we have sown and experience the result. We feel good, bad or we feel the same as before. We wonder about these results, and decide what we will do next or in the future. This process is not wholly free: sometimes we choose and sometimes we are driven by the forces involved.

For instance (Here the numbers refer to the House numbers in the chart):

  1. We express ourselves to the world, assuming an identity and
  2. Change our environment (gain wealth and security) and experience the result.
  3. We ponder on this and
  4. Take new action. For instance, we establish a home ...
  5. and have children
  6. Reflecting on this, we work.

From the other side (The numbers refer to the House numbers in the chart):

  1. We have our partner.
  2. As a result we receive certain effects based on our relationships, such as sex. These could be legacies.
  3. We ponder on our life at a higher level. Perhaps studying an advanced subject in great detail. Or develop rules and principles. We might make major changes, symbolised by long journeys.
  4. What we do in the 9th, affects our social standing and our career, This house is the opposite of the 4th house our position in the home or in our private world. It is our position in the outside or public world.
  5. As a result, we make friends and establish our position in society.
  6. We ponder on the whole of our life. If we are successful in life, we might have secret enemies. And we may have things we want to keep secret from the world.

Keywords For The Houses

House Keyword House Quadruplicity House Quadruplicity  Keywords House Quadruplicity Element Element Keywords Element Influence Hemi-sphere
1 Self Angular Action Self Fire Life Personal Private Cause
2 Possessions Succedent Security/ Acquisition Collection Earth Wealth Value Private Cause
3 Communication/ Small changes Cadent Reflection/ Consequences Dispersal Air Relationships Social Private Cause
4 Home/ Basics Angular Action Self (Home) Water Psychic/ Emotions Hidden Private Effect
5 Pleasures/ Children Succedent Security/ Acquisition Collection Fire Life Personal Private Effect
6 Willing Service/ Health Cadent Reflection/ Consequences Dispersal Earth Health Value Private Effect
7 Partnership Angular Action Self (Inter-personal) Air Relationships Social Public Effect
8 Receive from others Succedent Security/ Acquisition Collection Water Psychic/ Emotions Hidden Public Effect
9 Major Change/ "Long Journeys" Cadent Reflection/ Consequences Dispersal Fire Life Personal Public Effect
10 Public Standing Angular Action Self (Public) Earth Fame Value Public Cause
11 Friends, goals hopes Succedent Security/ Acquisition Collection Air Relationships Social Public Cause
12 Subconscious mind, hidden, responsibility Cadent Reflection/ Consequences Dispersal Water Psychic/ Emotions Hidden Public Cause

The Individual Houses

First House

The sign on the cusp of this house is called the rising sign. or the Ascendant.

The presentation of the self: the physical body type and appearance; childhood. The first house manifests the power of any planets and indicates the personality as well as the appearance. It can enable us to shield any weaknesses in our sun sign. The sun sign is what we are meant to be, and while we are developing this ability, we can shield ourselves with the sign on the first house cusp and any planets in this house.

The first house tells how we begin things, particularly how we present ourselves. With Leo on the cusp, we present ourselves in a grand manner. With Virgo, we do so in a detailed and critical manner, in the service of others. With Aquarius, we do so in an indifferent and intellectual manner.

The first house tells how we approach life, and also our general health.

Second House

The second house is concerned with resources which we have developed as a result of our presenting ourselves in the world. It is concerned with possessions, including money. It shows how we value things through whatever sign is on the cusp. And it also indicates our talents, the five senses and our self-worth. It indicates our attitude to what we own, how we get these things, how we treat or manage them. And whether we retain them.

The second house indicates how we can acquire the wherewithal in order to survive, and can refer to liquid assets (that is what we can quickly sell to produce cash, or to trade). We can own land, houses (fixed assets), etc, yet not have the ready cash to pay for our living expenses, and the second house is concerned with this. Naturally, this also means the second house is concerned with survival, because our money is used here to buy food, shelter, etc. In a more primitive life, we might need hunting or farming skills in order to survive, so it is obvious that the second house deals also with talents and skills that we can use to enhance our survival.

Third House

The third House is the House of Thought. There is a big emphasis on communication, including language skills and literary work. It can indicate cleverness and dexterity and also being cagey and shrewd. It refers to education, particularly school education. It concerns writing, recording and lecturing.

It is concerned with the learning we do, such as learning the ABC, how to read and how to write. It concerns an awareness of ignorance and awareness of ability, which mean knowing when you don't know something and knowing when you are able to do something if you keep your mind on it and you are careful. (Unawareness of ability flowers in the sixth house. Unawareness of ability means you can do it without thinking, as in driving a car on auto pilot.)

The third House tells of the communication style. It also tells of siblings (especially the first brother or sister) and short journeys or minor changes. It involves the environment, including neighbours.

Fourth House

The Fourth House is concerned with that which surrounds and protects. It is concerned with the base, origin or root of the self. Therefore, it includes: the home, roots, family history and origins, life, self development, memories, the past, upbringing, the womb, end of life, inner life and foundations.  Traditionally, it tells of the mother, when mothers devoted themselves to the home. In this sense, it can refer to anyone who spends a lot of time caring for the home. The final stage of life is shown here, and so is what we become. Matters to do with growth and creation (domestication): houses, land and gardens.

It is secret and hidden (like all water houses) so it deals with the psychic matters. It also refers to the unconscious mind (the hidden, secret self). 

Fifth House

This is the house of creativity and pleasure. It is associated with the heart, or source of emotions, love and passion. It tells what things are dear to you. It is the house of children, creative self expression, and romance. It can refer to ideas, ideals, inventions (depending on the planets and the signs), or anything, really, which you love. It is about anything that we make and do, in a creative manner from the heart. Of course, hobbies, parties and all forms of entertainment, sports and games. It is concerned with drama, acting and writing as forms of creative expression and with education. It also includes parties, holidays and recreation. It is the house of fun. However, it is not necessarily pointless fun. You might enjoy serious subjects and find your fun there. In addition to fun, this house is concerned with taking risks, which might mean gambling or investing. It refers to love and relationships prior to marriage (the seventh house refers to the marriage partner). It refers to the first child and second sibling (see derived houses).

Sixth House

This house can be thought of as being concerned with (daily) routines and necessities, such as work, health, diet, clothes and jobs. These are the details of life, and this house tells how you deal with the details and practicalities of living. It is concerned with people who work for you. And with how you provide a service (work) for others. It is also concerned with tools, expenses, overheads, landlords, and pets. It also indicates your attitude to cleanliness and order. This house refers to things that you willingly do, but only because you have to do them in order to attain comfort, or some other goal. For example, cleaning the house is done for the sake of having a comfortable place in which to live, rather than because it is interesting! This house also concerns your taste in clothes. It is a house of mind and thinking and is associated with education, teaching and schools.

This is the place where the tyres meet the road. Where you have to get down to the nitty gritty in order to achieve anything.

Ability begins with ignorance of inability, when we think something is easy because we have never done it before. This is typically Aries, charging in, full of confidence, and oblivious to any difficulties.

When we try, we realise it is harder than we thought and we become aware of our inability in that area. We become more cautious and reserved. This is a bit like Taurus: being reluctant to do things it doesn't know about, and avoiding the unfamiliar.

As we learn, we find we can do it, but only when we think what we are doing. We have awareness of ability. This is like Gemini, but the process continues through to Virgo.

By practice and by following routines, our skills become automatic and we can do things without thinking about them. We have attained an unawareness of ability, the ability to do things in our sleep! This is the Sixth House, or Virgo where we have learned our theories and practiced enough to be, well perfect!

Seventh House

The first house deals with the self, and the seventh house deals with the opposite, that is, those who you meet on a one-to-one basis, and includes marriage and business partners. It also includes open enemies. When we meet others we have to give and take and agree ground rules, and in the process we get into conflict, hopefully friendly conflict, until we find a solution. This house is also concerned with competition. In this house are close friends, live-in-lovers and other people in general. And also contracts, law-suits and divorce. Balance is a keyword for this house. More specifically, it indicates the first marriage partner, the third sibling and second child.

Eighth House

Community resources, sex, ultimate issues and financial institutions are part of this house. It concerns birth, death and rebirth, reincarnation, healing, the occult, other people's resources (money) including credit cards, taxes, partner's resources, wills, inheritance, insurance, taxes, unearned money, recycling, garbage, pollution, losses, renunciation, letting go. It is said to indicate the manner of death. It is concerned with power power over others and self control. That it rules the sex organs and the anus shows how some of the items above fit in. For instance, those dealing with refuse. While the second house indicates your resources, this eighth house indicates other people's resources, particularly those of the first partner.

Ninth House

While the third house is the house of mind, this house is the house of the higher mind. It is more dependent on other things and people, or it is more open to them, than the third house, but it is an active house and is ultimately independent. Here you can entertain and examine beliefs, without necessarily believing them. Higher education, foreign travel, ethics and legal principles are part of this house, as are philosophy and religion. While these may refer to university education, they do not have to.

For instance, higher education refers to considering many different viewpoints and being able to come down on the side of one of them, while knowing that it isn't absolutely true, but it is the best one for the current situation. That is, wisdom in addition to knowledge, whether gained at the university or at the university of life. Similarly, philosophy can mean enjoying discussions about fundamental things, and also your philosophy of life, whether you can put it in words or or follow it instinctively.

The third house gives us knowledge of a basic kind that we can use if we think about what we are doing. In the sixth house, our knowledge can become automatic, so we achieve unawareness of ability. Our knowledge has become part of us. In this house we can think deeper and to higher levels because our basic knowledge is done unconsciously, so we can see the big picture and try out various ideas in our minds. This is less self-based in that other viewpoints can be considered. The heart of higher education is the ability to consider various theories, viewpoints, etc, from an objective viewpoint. In the twelfth house, there is, the striving to view all things without an awareness of self, with a kind of unknowingness, where there is an automatic scanning of all viewpoints, and an automatic knowing.

The ethics and legal principles can be simply what you think is right and what you think is wrong. Religion normally refers to conventional organised religion. Long journeys can be journeys in the world or in the mind (deep study), and they also refer to major changes. Freedom, independence and justice are important attitudes suggested by this house. Dreams and visions are applicable in this house as are the fourth sibling, third child, and second partner. Languages, foreigners, and success are also relevant to this house. The word "foreigners" refers to people from far away and also to local people with different backgrounds and beliefs. This house also refers to brothers and sisters in law.

Tenth House

The tenth house shows what you are aiming for, it shows your career, reputation and what you become known for. Personal image, authority, honour, prestige, career, ambition, organisations, rulers and employers are involved in this house. If the fourth house refers to the base, roots, where you come from, then the tenth shows where you are going. It also involves: goals and aspirations, social standing, person with power over you, and the government. It indicates the parent of greatest influence.

Eleventh House

This is a house of friends, hopes and wishes. It is concerned with the future. In the third house, you have friends who are brothers or sisters, or neighbours. In the seventh house, you have close friends and partners. In this house the friends are ones who relate to your public image. For instance, if at work you are Beryl the accountant, then your friends are your workmates. On a more grand scale, the leader of a political party would have the people in this house as their friends, or supporters.

This house is also concerned with plans, ideals, groups, contacts, clubs, political parities, unions, social groups, humanitarian activities, and altruism.

Well-wishers, high hopes and aspirations also belong here. It is generally materialistic and can indicate money earned from a career. Also stepchildren, fifth sibling, fourth child, third partner.

Twelfth House

This house shows how we think about our lives and how we think about the hereafter, or about spiritual things (cadent house).

It can refer to karma and spiritual matters. This is a house of non-self, which means it is concerned with large, impersonal, institutions, such as hospitals, prisons, large bureaucracies, the civil service, etc. That is areas where they claim to serve rather than seek a profit, and where the workers and managers are somewhat anonymous. Here we think of unselfish service.

This also adds up to hidden matters. Sometimes this is because the good is not published (selfless service, modesty), and sometimes it is because the bad is concealed. But it also refers to hidden matters which are being uncovered, or research in science, or something else. It refers to activities behind the scenes, for good or bad.

Anyone who reviews their life, is likely to think of things that they did not do, which they wished they had done, and things they did do, and wished they hadn't. This can result in some sorrow, and can also result in guilt or shame. It can also result in pride and satisfaction when we think of the good things we did (or even the temptations we resisted).

In the third house, we learn basic things. In the sixth we make this knowledge automatic. And in the ninth we can range far and wide in thought because we have the knowledge which is unconscious within us. In the twelfth house, we can range even further through an unawareness of ability and an unawareness of self. In some ways we transcend ourselves and think not of our own selfish needs and viewpoints, but the viewpoint of humanity, or of all life. We can in a similar way transcend knowledge so we can understand it in what appears to be a mystic way, to those who have not attained this level of development. There is a no-mind unknowing where all knowledge is "routine" as are all viewpoints, so there is intuition.

The twelfth house is also concerned with health, either as a profession, or how we deal with illness. It is also concerned with meditation (impersonal), self-sacrifice (selflessness) and charity (selfless giving).

The twelfth house also indicates areas where we have secret enemies, which could be those aspects of ourselves which lead to our undoing.

The Importance Of The Houses

The following is for historical interest, really, as modern astrologers do not consider that one house is less influential than another.

Planets in angular houses have 100% of their power. In succedent houses, only 50%. In cadent houses only 25%. Traditionally, the strength of the houses is in this order: 1, 10, 7, 4, 11, 5, 9, 3, 2, 8, 6, 12, with the last three being less fortunate.

Northern and Southern Hemispheres

In chart interpretation, this concerns whether the chart has most planets above or below the horizon.

Judgements of the horoscope based on hemispheres and quadrants should not be taken as more than a rough guide as other elements can invalidate these general comments.

These houses are concerned with the degree in which you take into account external information.

The Northern Houses, 1 to 6, are considered to be subjective, that is directed inwards or introverted. They are more home oriented.  They indicate you consider internal reasons and information, that is, your own opinions. You need to spend some time each day alone in order to recharge.

The Southern Houses, 7 to 12 are considered objective or outward looking (extroverted). They are more worldly in their outlook. They consider external reasons and information, that is they dependent on others opinions. You need some socialising each day in order to recharge.

Eastern And Western Hemispheres

In chart interpretation, this concerns whether the chart has most planets rising or setting.

These houses indicate the source of your motivation, whether from within or without. That is, whether you do things for their own sake or for the sake of an external reward or approbation.

The Eastern Houses- 1, 2, 3 and 10, 11, 12  are considered to be independent, self-assertive or self-referring. They are intrinsically motivated. In a simple way, this means that they do things because of their own motives, wants, etc, and not for external reward.. They want to feel they are free to do what they want and are masters of their destiny. Their motive is self satisfaction.

The Western Houses, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9, are considered to be co-operative, dependent or other-referring.  They are extrinsically motivated.  And they do things because of others, or external rewards. They consider they are to some extent dependent on fate. Their motive is external approval and reward.

Quadrants

The meaning of the emphasised quadrants is a combination of the meaning of the hemispheres.

Hemisphere Houses 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12  
North South Outlook subjective objective  
East West Motivation intrinsic

extrinsic

intrinsic  
Quadrants   independent dependent ambition service  

The subjective people, with most planets below the horizon, look within themselves to their personal experience to seek information and answers.

Of these, independent people, those with most planets in the first three houses, (1, 2, 3), are motivated through enjoying what they do for its own sake (intrinsic motivation). They believe they are in control of their destiny and while they may enjoy any rewards they receive, thanks, money, etc, they do not do what they do for this reason. Also, they act from within and may not do what is needed and wanted by others. The yardstick with which they judge things is based within them (and not based on the opinions of others). They prefer to do things alone and by themselves, and are therefore not good at delegating responsibility.

Subjective people, dependent people, who have most planets in the next three houses, (4, 5, 6) are motivated by external reward, and do what they do because of the reward they expect to get. They may believe they are pushed to do things, and are subject to fate and luck. The are people who need some time alone each day to refresh themselves and tend to rely on their own experience to judge things.

Objective people are those born with most of their planets above the horizon. They look to others (or external sources) to seek information and answers. In contrast with subjective people, they need some time each day with people to charge their batteries.

Objective people with most of their planets in houses 7, 8, and 9, are motivated by external rewards and are called ambitious. They pay close attention to other people and base their judgements on the opinions of others (or at least take their opinions into account).

Objective people with most of their planets in houses 10, 11, and 12 are motivated by internal processes and not external rewards. They provide a service.

Angular Succedent and Cadent Houses

Whilst we use the words "cardinal, fixed and mutable" to describe the signs, we use the words angular, succedent and cadent to refer to the analogous house positions.

The sequence of angular, succedent, cadent is like this: the being appears in the world, or does something, and as a result brings together many things. Finally these are lost, given away, or go away. This recurs in cycles. Another way of saying this, is that we begin something, and as a consequence we acquire things or abilities; that is, things of value. Finally, we reflect on what we have acquired or learned, and use this to determine what we will do next, and how we will do it.

Angular Houses

The word "angular", refers to the main angles of the chart. It refers to the first, fourth, seventh and tenth houses. The keyword for the Angular Houses is "self". The self means "the self as...", in contrast with "selfish". Another keyword is powerful, because the angular houses are thought to be more powerful. The angular houses tell us how we deal with reality, how we begin things.

For the first house it is the potential personal self, body or appearance. If Venus is in the first house, we tend to present ourselves in a harmonious and diplomatic manner.

In the fourth house, it is the family, or self as family, It means the self we have created including: the past, the genetic origins, memory, self-development, etc.

In the seventh house it is the self in relation to others (interpersonal) (my other half).

In the tenth it is the public self (Fame, notoriety), or self as seen by the public.

Succedent Houses

The word "succedent" means "following or succeeding". (succeed means to follow or to attain success). The succedent houses are the second, fifth, eighth and the eleventh. The keyword for the succedent houses is "collection". Things are grouped together. A collection can mean raising money. It means gathering things together, when done for protection it means security. A direct consequence of collecting things is organisation. We need to organise. This implies the management of what we have and the development of our resources. And all of this can be a pleasure, if only because we can enjoy our acquisitions.

The second house is often associated with personal, movable wealth. Naturally, what we accumulate depends on what we value. And the second house is concerned with what we value, including ourselves and our self-worth. It concerns matters which we have earned.

The fifth house often refers to pleasures, which are the result of some activity. It is concerned with love and romance, and with all kinds of entertainment, including games, sport and gambling. It also concerns children. In other words, it is the house of delightful things we have collected, either physically, mentally or spiritually: pet ideas, delightful studies, sports and games (that delight us), and of course, our beloved children.

The eighth house sometimes refers to shared resources, including legacies. The eighth house is concerned with sex, and also with recuperation - how quickly we can bounce back from illness, etc. It concerns health, other people's money including credit cards and other loans, and social values. It is the things we have collected from other people.

The eleventh house refers to friends and groups, which we have "collected". It is also concerned with hopes and wishes, what we want to have (collect). It is concerned with the future, and as such involves the values which we hope society will adopt.

Cadent Houses

Cadent means "falling, or coming to an end or resolution". The cadent houses are the third, sixth, ninth and twelfth. The keyword for cadent is "dispersal". One meaning of dispersal is "giving out". When a group of people separate and go their separate ways, we say they disperse. Another way to express this is in terms of reflection (thinking) and consequences. Having taken action as some being, we gain security, or gather together values and having succeeded (or not) we reflect upon (think seriously about) the cycle of action and deal with the consequences.

In the cadent houses, we think about what has gone before and what we will do, or what will happen in the future. Here we do our thinking before we take the next action. In the world, the cadent houses come at a time when the seasons are changing from one to the other. In the natal chart we think about the past and the future in a more or less critical, detailed and impersonal fashion, with the intention of using what we have learned to take our next steps in life.

The third house is concerned with communication, which in one sense could mean we disperse our knowledge and experience to others. After thinking about things, we go here and there and share our knowledge, and also to gain more knowledge. This is not deep knowledge, which is the concern of the ninth house, and may be simply facts and information. Literature and verbal communication are stressed.

The sixth house is the House Of Service, where we willingly give our personal resources and skills to help others. We think seriously about matters of work, routines and health, and as a result we share this knowledge, mostly in the sense of doing things for others.

The ninth house concerns philosophy and higher learning, where we give our time and effort to expand one's potential. Here we think very deeply about things and travel long distances in order to gain knowledge.

The twelfth house can refer to karma and spiritual matters. This is a house of non-self, which means it is concerned with large, impersonal, institutions, such as hospitals, prisons, large bureaucracies, the civil service, etc. That is areas where they claim to serve rather than seek a profit, and where the workers and managers are somewhat anonymous. Here we think of unselfish service.

This also adds up to hidden matters. Sometimes this is because the good is not published (selfless service, modesty), and sometimes it is because the bad is concealed. But it also refers to hidden matters which are being uncovered, or research in science, or something else. It refers to activities behind the scenes, for good or bad.

Anyone who reviews their life, is likely to think of things that they did not do, which they wished they had done, and things they did do, and wished they hadn't. This can result in some sorrow, and can also result in guilt or shame. It can also result in pride and satisfaction when we think of the good things we did (or even the temptations we resisted).

The twelfth house is also concerned with health, either as a profession, or how we deal with illness. It is also concerned with meditation (impersonal), self-sacrifice (selflessness) and charity (selfless giving).

The twelfth house also indicates areas where we have secret enemies, which could be those aspects of ourselves which lead to our undoing.