The horoscope wheel is sliced into houses from 1 to 12. Each house represents a particular collection of psychological dynamics or areas of life, and planets that are in that house or rule that house will influence those areas. Interpreting the interplay between the planets based on presence of planets and their house rulerships can get fairly complex. But you can go a long way toward building a cohesive picture if you start with the root words or phrases that underpin each house, and then associate relevant manifestations in the life for an individual based on their life circumstance.
The same planets in the same houses for two different people might play out very differently depending on the opportunities and resources available to them. So it is important to start with the life situation, and bring the interpretation to bear on the it, rather than start with the horoscope and then try to shoehorn the interpretation into the life. Starting with the life in fact makes the interpretation easier and more meaningful, because the specifics of the life situation will narrow down the many possibilities thrown up by various horoscope factors, and you can delve more deeply into the realistic options afforded at the current time.
The template horoscope wheel below is filled in with one key root word or phrase for each house:
In other posts, we’ll explore each of these houses in more detail, and get a feel for associating possible specific manifestations in the life. For example, the word “retirement” for the 12th house could mean literally retiring from work (at a certain time in life that can be projected using predictive measurements), but it can also mean preferring seclusion (“of a retiring nature”), or being forcefully secluded (because of hospitalization, say), or choosing a reclusive life (in a monastery or ashram), and so on. The “amplification” of house meaning as some astrologers call it (those who lean toward the more psychological or myth-centered approach) is very much akin to how we associate various meanings to the signs, arising out of some ground principles.
As an example of this amplification, the table below lists one important manifestation of each house that relates to the root word shown in the wheel:
|First||Body (vehicle of self)|
|Second||Possessions (proxy for self-worth)|
|Third||Siblings (part of early environment)|
|Fourth||Home (place of private life)|
|Fifth||Children (receipients of love)|
|Seventh||Spouse (close other)|
|Eighth||Inheritance (other’s possessions handed down)|
|Ninth||Travel (means to explore broader environment)|
|Tenth||Career (vehicle of public life)|
|Eleventh||Friends (from whom one receives love)|
|Twelfth||Meditation (retiring from world, going inward)|
An entirely different set of house significations arise from the notion of natural houses. imagine drawing a horoscope wheel with the ascendant at 0 Aries, and each house occupying the entirety of a sign, so that the 1st house is all Aries, 2nd house is all Taurus, 3rd house is Gemini, etc. This is what we call the natural horoscope:
Consequently, the significations of a sign are mapped to those of the corresponding house. The table below lists one significant keyword for each sign, you can find the full set in the posts on the individual signs:
So, for instance, an individual with an emphasized 1st house will tend to be bold, not holding back from being themselves. And someone with an emphasized 11th house will have idealistic viewpoints that might conflict with practical expedience.
When interpreting a horoscope, astrologers will typically first look at the overall distribution of planets in what are called the hemispheres of the wheel.
The ascendant, or cusp of the 1st house, is the eastern horizon, the point at which the Sun would rise. Opposite it is the descendant, or cusp of the 7th house, the point at which the Sun would set. Houses 1, 2,3 and 10,11,12 are to the left or east of the vertical midheaven-nadir/MC-IC axis, and form the eastern hemisphere. Symmetrically, houses 4 through 9 are on the western half of the chart, therefore, in the western hemisphere.
As you might expect, a similar hemispherical division is defined above and below the horizontal ascendant-descendant axis.
Above the horizontal axis, the houses 7 through 12 are in the southern hemisphere, while the houses below in the houses 1 through 6 are in the northern hemisphere.
The cardinal points of east-west and north-south are counter intuitively positioned since we are normally used to seeing east to the right and west to the left on maps.
An over-emphasis of planets in the eastern hemisphere suggests ego protection, an inclination to gather resources and use them toward personal needs, while an emphasis in the western hemisphere suggests giving to the world, often putting others above self. An emphasis in the northern hemisphere suggests a rich inner life, an approach to life and circumstances that is firmly anchored in the self, while an emphasis in the southern hemisphere suggests a life that is largely shaped and informed by the outside world.
Following is the horoscope of a female, Jane Doe, born on Jan 1, 2000 at 2 pm in New York, New York (this same horoscope is used as an illustration in the post on the horoscope wheel):
Considering the east-west distribution, there are 4 planets in the eastern hemisphere, and 6 in the western hemisphere. (We don’t count the nodes because they will always be in opposite hemispheres, and will cancel out for the count.) So, a fairly balanced east-west distribution. However, in the north-south divide, there are only 2 planets in the north, while the other 8 are in the south.
The ascendant, descendant, MC, and IC comprise the angles of the chart. Each quarter slice of the wheel between successive angles is a quadrant. The houses 10-12, 1-3, 4-6, and 7-10 are in the southeast, northeast, northwest, and southwest quadrants respectively.
The first of the houses in any quadrant is called an angular house, so in the chart as a whole the angular houses are 1,4,7, and 10. The middle house in each quadrant is a succedent house: these are the houses 2,5,8, and 11. And the last house in each quadrant is a cadent house: these are the houses 3,6,9, and 12.
The angular houses are the ones that offer most visibility to the outside world. The angles serve as points of immediate give and take with the world, and consequently the effect of planets in the angular houses are most apparent in the life. So, for instance, Mars in the 1st house is immediately seen in a person’s attitude of fiestiness. On the other hand, Mars in the 7th on the other hand would tend to attract a combative or aggressive response from the people with whom the individual interacts. Mars in the other houses may not be as immediately seen in the outer world, even though the individual is familiar with its presence.
The interpretation of houses carries vastly more substance than covered in this introductory post. I have only just scratched the surface here, to give you an initial big-picture sense of what houses are about. In future posts, I will dig more deeply into the many meanings and manifestations of each house.
You may want to get started with your own horoscope (you need an accurate time of birth), so you can see the distribution of planets around the wheel, and tell whether there is any obvious hemispherical emphasis in the east/west and north/south sense. This would be a good first step to understanding your overall orientation to life and circumstances, as outlined by the hemisphere meanings above.