Besides the 12 astrological signs and the astrological planets, the birth chart or horoscope also notes the existence of 12 astrological houses. The 12 houses are determined by drawing certain great circles through the intersection of the horizon and meridian, apportioning the whole globe or sphere into 12 equal parts. In practice, these lines are projected by a very simple method onto a plane. The space in the center of the figure thus delineated may be supposed to represent the situation of the earth.
Each of the 12 divisions or houses rules certain events, in the following order, reckoned from the east:
- The basic self/physical body
- Income and possessions
- Relatives, communication, and short-distance travel
- Property (house and land), the mother
- Children, creations, self-expression
- Health, work, pets
- Marriage and partnerships
- Sex, death, inheritance
- Higher education, in-laws, religion, and long-distance travel
- Career and public image
- Friends, ideals, group associations
- Unconscious mind, institutions, how we limit ourselves
These categories are designed to comprehend all that can possibly befall any individual, and the prognostication is drawn from the configuration of the planets in one or more of these "houses."
The first house, the house of life, includes all that affects one's basic self. The sign ascending will considerably modify the character of the native, so forming an astrological judgment will require combining the indications of the ascending sign and the planet. In what are called horary questions, this house relates to all questions of life, health, and appearance, such as stature, complexion, shape, accidents, and sickness. It shows the events that will occur during journeys and ventures with respect to the life and health of those engaged in them. Regarding questions of a political nature, the first house signifies the people in general, and being of the same nature as Aries, all that is said of that sign may be transferred to this house.
The second house, which is of the same nature as the sign Taurus, is the house of income and possessions. It signifies advancement in the world with respect to the wealth of the querent. Jupiter, Venus, Mercury, and the Sun in this house indicate good fortune. Saturn, Mars, the Moon, and Uranus are generally unfortunate, though much depends on other factors in the chart. In horary questions the second house signifies the money of the querent or the pecuniary success of any expedition of undertaking. It concerns loans, lawsuits, and everything by which riches may be gained or lost. In political questions it signifies the treasury, public loans, taxes, and subsidies as well as the "death" of national enemies.
The third house is the house of kindred, particularly of the immediate family in which one was raised. In this house Saturn signifies coldness and distrust; Mars, sudden and hasty quarrels, all unaccountable estrangements; Jupiter, steady relationships; Venus, great love between brothers and sisters and good fortune by their means; the Sun, warm attachment; and the Moon, indifference or fluctuations in relationships. In horary questions the third house signifies the health, fortune, and happiness of the querent's parents, the querent's own patrimony and inheritance, and the ultimate consequences of any undertaking the person may be engaged in. In political questions it denotes the landed interests of a nation; the ancient and chartered rights of all classes, handed down to them from their ancestors; and all public advocates and defenders of those interests and rights.
The fourth house, which is associated with the sign Cancer, is that of the home and relates to one's domicile and other real estate one might own. The fourth house also signifies one's subconscious habit patterns and the nurturing parent (usually the mother). Difficult planets placed in the fourth house show problems with the home or with the nurturing parent. A native whose natal sun is in the fourth house tends to be a home body and likes to spend most of his or her time at home. In a horary chart, the fourth house indicates real estate and the home. In a political chart, the fourth house signifies public lands.
The fifth house, which partakes of the same character as Leo, is the house of children. In birth charts, therefore, it denotes the children of the native, their success, and also the parent's success by means of the children. It also has some reference to women. The health and welfare of children, whether present or absent, are determinable by the planets in this house. It also denotes all questions relative to amusement, on account of the fondness of youth for such pursuits. In political questions the fifth house signifies the rising generation, theaters, exhibitions, public festivals, and national amusements; increase in the population; and music and musical taste, sculpture, painting, and the advancement of the fine arts in general.
The sixth house is that of health, but it also denotes work, particularly service work, pets, and servants. It is usually considered a difficult house because only a few of the planetary configurations that can take place in it are fortunate. It is of the nature of Virgo. When the ruler of the ascendant (rising sign) is placed in the sixth house it denotes a low station in life and, depending on other aspects of the horoscope, may indicate that the native will not rise above menial employment. In horary astrology the sixth house points out servants and cattle, dependents, and small shopkeepers; uncles and aunts on the father's side; and tenants, stewards, shepherds, and farmers. In queries of a political nature, however, this house indicates the underservants of the government; the common seamen in the navy; private soldiers in the army; and the general health of the nation, chiefly regarding contagious and epidemic disorders.
The seventh house, which is of the same nature as Libra, is the house of marriage. Saturn here denotes unhappiness from constitutional causes; Mars, from difference of temper; Uranus, as usual, from some strange and unaccountable dislike. The other planets are mostly causers of good, except for the Moon, which may indicate fluctuating relationships. In horary questions the seventh house denotes love, speculations in business, partners in trade, and litigation. In queries of a political nature it signifies war and the consequences of a treaty; the victorious nation, army, or navy; and outlaws and fugitives, along with the places to which they have retreated.
The eighth house is the house of death. It is of the nature of Scorpio. Saturn in this house may indicate a slow death through a lingering disease, and Uranus a sudden, unexpected death. Jupiter and Venus point out a late and quiet departure. In horary questions it denotes wills, legacies, and all property transferred upon the death of others, as well as one's attitude toward sex. It also denotes the portion or dowry of women, as well as seconds in duels. In political questions the eighth house has a very different significance, namely, the privy council of a king or queen, their friends, and secrets of state. Here again, however, it also relates to death, denoting the rate of mortality among the people.
The ninth house is that of religion, science, and learning. It is related to Sagittarius. Jupiter is the most fortunate planet in it, and if Jupiter is joined by Mercury then the native is promised a character at once learned, estimable, and truly religious. The Sun and Venus are likewise good signs here, but the Moon denotes a changeable mind and frequent alterations in religious principles. Mars portends indifference or even active hostility to religion. In horary questions the ninth house is appropriated to the church and the clergy and all ecclesiastical matters, dissent, heresy, schism, dreams, and visions. It also denotes voyages and travels to distant lands. In questions of a political nature it represents the religion of the nation as well as all the higher and more solemn courts of law.
The tenth house is considered one of the most important. It is the house of honor, rank, and dignity and is of the nature of Capricorn. In this house the planets are more powerful than in any other, save the first. They point out the employment, success, preferment, and authority of the native. Saturn is here a difficult planet that make's the native's climb to success a long and arduous one. The Moon here shows unusual sensitivity to one's public image, and Uranus shows sudden changes in one's career. Jupiter and the Sun signify advancement by the favor of distinguished men, and Venus by that of distinguished women. In horary questions the tenth house signifies the mother of the querist. In political questions it denotes the sovereign. This is a house in which Mars is not unfortunate if well placed, in which case it denotes warlike achievements and consequent honors.
The eleventh house is the house of friends and has the nature of Aquarius. In addition to friends it denotes well-wishers, favorites, and flatterers. The Sun is the best planet in this house, and Mars is the worst. In horary questions it signifies the same things as in a birth chart and also denotes the expectations and wishes of the querist. The eleventh house is said to be much influenced by the sign that is in it and to denote legacies if the sign is one of the earth triplicity (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn) and honor with princes if it is one of the five triplicity (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius). In political questions the eleventh house signifies the allies of the public, the general council of the nation, and newly acquired rights.
The last house, which partakes of the character of Pisces, is the house of the unconscious. It denotes sorrow, anxiety, and all kinds of suffering. Yet here difficult planets are weaker, according to some writers, and good planets stronger than in certain other houses. Very few configurations in the twelfth house are esteemed good for the native, but even unfortunate effects are greatly modified by the planetary influences. In horary questions this house signifies imprisonment, treason, sedition, assassination, and suicide. In political questions it points out deceitful treaties, unsuccessful negotiations, treachery in the offices of state, captivity to princes, and general ill fortune. This house also denotes the criminal code, punishment of culprits, dungeons, and circumstances connected with prison discipline. Venus is the best planet in this house, and Saturn is the worst.
There are numerous astrological house systems, each of which divides up the sky in a slightly different way. All of the commonly used house systems agree that the first house-seventh house axis should be drawn from the eastern horizon to the western horizon. All but one system—the equal house system—use the degree of the zodiac closest to the zenith as the place to begin the tenth house, with the point 180 degrees away (the nadir) designated as the cusp of the fourth house. Hence with the exception of the equal house system, the differences between the most commonly used systems—Placidian, Koch, Campanus—are relatively minor.
Holden, Ralph William. The Elements of House Division. Essex, U.K.: L. N. Fowler, 1977.
Lewis, James R. The Astrology Encyclopedia. Detroit: Gale Research, 1994.
McEvers, Joan. The Houses: Power Places of the Horoscope. St. Paul, Minn.: Llwellyn Publications, 1991.
Rudhyar, Dane. The Astrological Houses: The Spectrum of Individual Experience. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1972.