House Ruler

Every sign has a ruler. The ruler of Aries is Mars, of Taurus is Venus, and so on. In a horoscope, every house has a sign on its cusp, and the ruler of this sign becomes the ruler of the house. The ruler of a house carries the significations of the house. For instance, consider the 2nd house. One of the second house meanings is self-worth. The ruler of the 2nd house embodies self-worth, so the placement of the ruler would have a bearing on the individual’s self-worth, possibly even more so than the planets placed in the 2nd house. If the 2nd house in a horoscope has Aries on its cusp, then Mars would be the ruler of the 2nd house, and the placement of Mars would have much to say about the person’s self-worth.

When we say placement of a planet, we are including the sign a planet is in, the house it occupies, and the aspects it makes. So the Mars in our example might be in Taurus, in the 3rd house, trine Jupiter and square Pluto. All of these will factors will color this Mars, and will be reflected onto 2nd house matters.

Following is the horoscope of a woman who earned a doctorate in Psychology:

The 9th house is the house of higher education. Any one who gets a Ph.D. is expected to have a strongly positioned 9th house ruler. In this horoscope, Taurus is on the 9th house cusp, whose ruler Venus is in the sign of Libra, its own sign. Moreover, Venus doesn’t have any major aspects except the conjunction to Neptune. This is an unhindered Venus, strengthened by being its own sign, which delivered the highest educational degree to this woman.

Hard aspects–squares and oppositions–from the “hard” planet Saturn or the outer planets Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto to the ruler of a house can hinder the full expression of the house or can bring adversity to the affairs of the house. If the 9th house ruler is adversely aspected like this, it can result in the education being interrupted. Steve Jobs dropped out of college because he didn’t want to burden his parents with paying for his education. Here’s his horoscope:

Like the previous example, Jobs’s 9th house cusp is Taurus, and its ruler Venus is in Capricorn. However, this Venus is highly distressed by an opposition to Uranus and a square to Neptune. So the 9th house simply could not deliver on education.

Notice that this Venus also rules the 2nd house of self-worth. The square of 2nd house ruler Venus to Neptune, with Neptune in the 2nd house itself, indicates a sense of self-worth that tends to idealism, imagination and a quest for perfection. The Venus-Jupiter opposition only adds to this due to Jupiter’s tendency to exaggerate and expand everything it touches. The Venus-Uranus opposition brings in the Uranian tendencies to march to a different drummer, be iconoclastic, break rules, etc. and in Jobs’s case, the sense of self-worth is intimately tied to this Uranian way of being.

The 1st house has the ascendant as its cusp, and the ruler of the ascendant is considered to be the “chart ruler”, so powerful is its impact on the life. In particular, the 1st house is the self-image, how the person sees himself or herself. If the ascendant ruler is aspected by Saturn, the person takes themselves seriously. If aspected by Jupiter, they may act very self-important and all-knowing, with opinions about everything. If aspected by Neptune, they may consider themselves to be visionaries. And so on.

The 4th-10th house axis (IC-MC) is called the parental axis because the 4th house represents the mother and the 10th represents the father. There is another school of thought that takes the 4th house to be the father, and the 10th house to be the mother. Allowing for both perspectives, I will simply say “parent” for either ruler. If the ruler of the IC or MC is square or opposite Saturn there is hardship in early life wrought by one of the parents. For instance, one of the parents may be extremely controlling or demanding (Saturn), causing anxiety or stress in the child. If the ruler of either end of the parental axis is trine Jupiter, say, then one of the parents is extremely generous to the child, and encourages them wholeheartedly in everything they want to do. If the ruler is opposite or square Neptune, the child ends up ministering to a parent’s needs early on, and may often find themselves s putting the parent’s well-being before their own.

The 5th-11th house is about giving (5th) and receiving (11th) love. A well-placed 5th house ruler makes it easy to give love freely without strings attached, and a well-placed 11th house ruler makes it easy to receive love. To put it another way, a well-placed 11th house ruler attracts love, whether in romance, or friendships–the person is just naturally lovable. On the other hand, a distressed 11th house ruler can cause blockages in accepting love. I often think about this when I see see praise being given (5th house), but the target of the praise somehow seems incapable of receiving it. Something is blocking that reception of love, likely rooted in a deep sense of not being lovable, and an instinctive distrust of anyone who seems to offer unconditional love or praise. There’s always that question, “what’s the catch” at the back of the mind. Blockage in receiving love is often suggested by a hard aspect to the 11th house ruler from Saturn (excessive caution and fear of being taken for a ride), or Pluto (extreme guardedness in general).

This is the horoscope of actor Tom Hanks, who is generally regarded as the most likeable actor in Hollywood:

If you look at the 11th house in this chart, you see it has Cancer on the cusp, whose ruler, the Moon, is in Leo in the 11th house itself. Although Moon is not in its own sign, its residence in the house it rules strengths the house. Cancer is by nature a very receptive sign, so the channel for receiving love is opened up right away. The Moon doesn’t have any hard aspects to any other planet, so it is not hindered, or challenged by other planetary influences. Another thing to note is that Moon exchanges signs with the Sun: Moon is in Leo and the Sun is in Cancer. An exchange of signs strengthens the planets in the exchange, so here the Moon (and the Sun) each get a little extra something to do their stuff.

When analyzing a horoscope, always pay attention to the rulers of the houses, not just the planets in the house. The condition of the ruler–its sign, its house placement, and its aspects–dictates the behavior of the house. For instance, you may see a house with two or three planets in Sagittarius. But how these planets function depends a lot on the condition of the Jupiter. Two charts both with two planets in Sagittarius in the 5th house would be read very differently if in one of them Jupiter is opposite Saturn, and in the other it is trine Uranus. In the former, the planets might keep getting in their own way, while in the latter, they appear to have an extra dose of freedom to do their thing.


Subscribe to alerts
for future blog posts

Related Posts

Sun/Moon Midpoint

The Sun and Moon represent conscious direction and unconscious drive. The planet at their midpoint can catalyze the inner marriage of the Sun and Moon, and the energy of the midpoint planet can fuse the heart and the soul to make you feel complete.


Horoscope interpretation can be taken to the next level by using midpoints. A midpoint is the point that is exactly in the middle of the shorter arc between two planets in the horoscope. When a midpoint is occupied by another planet, its sets up a three-way combination that offers surprising new insight into the horoscope and the life.