The Greeks called the cadent houses apoklima, which literally means "falling," because the houses were seen to be falling away from the strength of the angular houses, which were considered the be most influential because of their perpendicular and oppositive relationships to the Ascendant. The word apoklima also carries a denotation of degeneration and decline. Our English word "cadent" comes from the Latin translation of apoklima and is the source of our word "cadet," which originally meant a lesser branch of the family, or the younger son.
Cadent houses are therefore usually considered by astrologers as less fertile and productive places by their nature than either angular or succedent houses, and the planets located in them are seen as generally less powerful and comfortable. This view of cadency can be found in ancient sources as diverse as Vettius Valens, Ptolemy, Paulus Alexandrinus and Hephaistio of Thebes. The notion also persists in medieval and Renaissance astrologers such as Guido Bonatti and William Lilly, who labeled cadent houses "poor and of little efficacy."
The four cadent houses are as follows:-
Employing "natural houses," the third house would correspond to Gemini, the sixth house to Virgo, the ninth house to Sagittarius and the twelfth house to Pisces, and adherents of the notion borrow archetypal concepts from the signs and apply them to the corresponding houses.
The idea of numerological correspondences goes back at least as far as Pythagoras and surely was instrumental in the interpretation by ancient astrologers of the angular relationships each house has with the others, and especially with the Ascendant. This may account for similarities between the idea of Gemini and the idea of the third house. But the "natural houses" doctrine stretches these similarities to point which seriously distorts the original concepts. Hardly any of these zodiacal correspondences result in the same characteristics or dignities observed by earlier astrologers.
Furthermore, using "natural houses," cadent signs are seen to be very flexible and adaptive and correspond with the mutable signs of the zodiac. But this obscures the essentially weak and unfavorable nature of these houses. Planets positioned in them lack influence, and may even become malefic--that is, they may have an unfortunate effect.
The third house also had some connotation for travel but Crane postulates that this derived more from the fact that it opposed the ninth house, the house of the Sun, which had the major connotation for travel.
Ancient astrologers had a very dim view of the sixth house, which is called "the house of bad fortune." Valens makes a clear connection between this house and thieves, beggars, foot soldiers and slaves. The house has always had a connection with sickness, and hence with suffering. One reason for this is because it is in a very weak angle to the house of the Ascendant, which is considered the house of life, vitality and health. The relationship of the sixth house to the Ascendant is one of aversion, that is, it cannot "see" the Ascendant from a point 150 degrees away.
Because of this weakness, the sixth house has also been connected with servitude and slavery, and it is for this reason, perhaps, that it has become associated with the most routine and arduous of work, and the sense of the workplace as an obligation to which people must report every day to do the work of others. This is the not by any means the house of vocation, or even of the professions. Animals, too, are considered to be the servants of man, and possibly the animals connected here are smaller because the sixth is the lesser of the two houses of misfortune.
The planet Mars rejoices in the sixth house. He is dignified when located in this house. Mars is considered a malefic planet, whose influence is often unfortunate and aggressive. Mars' joy in the sixth may have to do with his long connection with fevers and acute illness, but it is also true that Mars is the "lesser infortune" (Saturn is the "greater") and hence joys in the lesser house of misfortune.
A very different view obtains for the Ninth house, which was called "the house of the Sun God" by ancient astrologers. This house has always been connected established orthodox religion and with journeys (which were often undertaken for educational purposes in ancient times.) The Sun rejoices here, and the Sun in late Hellenistic religions was regarded as the eye of God. Valens calls this house the "pre-Midheaven," and gives it considerable influence. Both benefic and malefic planets are strengthened here.
Medieval astrologers connect it with the Church and clerics, long sea voyages, books, learning, philosophy and dreams. This connection with dreams is quite ancient, and references to the ninth house in this capacity can be found in Firmicus and in Paulus Alexandrinus.
Western astrologers have always regarded the twelfth house as a very unfortunate place. Hellenistic astrologers called it "the house of Evil Spirit" and its reputation did not improve with the Arabs or with medieval astrologers. However, Saturn the "greater malefic," does rejoice here--which means he has considerable dignity--and Valens says that Saturn in this place will bring considerable influence for honorable behavior. Paulus claims that an otherwise strong Saturn located here will bring success over enemies and joy in work.
Firmicus connects this house with slaves, enemies and defects, and Valens connects it with destitution and beggary. The connection with very bad luck and material privation is almost universally found with the twelfth, as are enemies.
It is from the medieval astrologers that the connection of the twelfth house with imprisonment derives; the idea is probably Arab in origin.
Modern astrologers have brought a spiritual aspect to the twelfth house that was wholly absent in the earlier tradition. This may have its origins in the Theosophical revival of present-day astrology, which had some Hindu influence. In Jyotish (Hindu astrology), the twelfth house is very unfortunate, but is also connected with sexual activity and with spirituality. Hindu astrology is closely connected to the Hindu religion, in which material attachments of all kinds--which are certainly the enemy of all twelfth-house significations--are considered to be a bar to spiritual progress. Much has been made of this suggested affinity by some modern astrologers, such as Annie Besant and Alice Bailey.