Most horoscopic traditions of astrology systems divide the horoscope into a number (usually twelve) of houses whose positions depend on time and location rather than on date. The houses of the horoscope represent different spheres of life, described in terms of physical surroundings as well as personal life experiences. In delineation the placement of a planet or zodiac sign in a house will determine to a large degree the area of life in which it acts, and the goals and activities on which its drive or impulse will be focused.
The houses are divisions of the ecliptic plane (the path of the sun across the sky) as seen from the earth at the time and place of the horoscope in question. They are numbered counter-clockwise from the position of the eastern horizon (the cusp of the first house) at the time of the subject being charted. Houses one through six, are below the horizon, while houses seven through twelve are above the horizon.
There are a range of approaches to calculating these divisions and different opinions among astrologers over which house system is most accurate. To calculate the houses, it is necessary to know the exact time, date, and location of the event being charted. In natal astrology, some astrologers will use a birth time set for noon or sunrise if the actual time of birth is unknown. An accurate interpretation of such a chart, however, cannot be expected.
1st House (Aries) : House of Self. Physical appearance, traits and characteristics. First impressions. General outlook into the world. Ego. Beginnings and initiatives. Also known as the Ascendant or Rising Sign.
2nd House (Taurus) : House of Value. Material and immaterial things of certain value. Money. Belongings, property, acquisitions. Cultivation and growth. Substance. Self-Worth.
3rd House (Gemini): House of Communications. Lower education and childhood environment. Mental facilities. Siblings. Neighborhood matters. Short, local travel and transportations.
4th House (Cancer): House of Home and Family. Ancestry, heritage, roots. Early foundation and environment. Mother or mother figure. The caretaker of the household. Cyclic end of matters. Also known as Imum Coeli.
5th House (Leo): House of Pleasure. Recreational and leisure activities. Things which makes for enjoyment and entertainment. Games and gambling. Children. Love affairs and sex. Creative self-expression.
6th House (Virgo): House of Health. Routine tasks and duties. Skills or training acquired. Jobs and Employments. Health and overall well-being. Service performed for others. Caretaking. Pets and small domestic animals.
7th House (Libra): House of Partnerships. Close, confidante-like relationships. Marriage and business partners. Agreements and treaties. Matters dealing with diplomatic relations of all kinds, including open(known) enemies. Attraction to qualities we admire from the other partner. Also known as the Descendent.
8th House (Scorpio): House of Death and Sex. Cycles of Deaths And Rebirth. Sexual relationships and deeply committed relationships of all kinds. Joint funds, finances. Other person's resource. Occult, psychic and taboo matters. Regeneration. Self-transformation.
9th House (Sagittarius): House of Philosophy. Foreign travel and foreign countries. Culture. Long distance travels and journeys. Religion. Law and ethics. Higher education. Knowledge. Experience through expansion.
10th House (Capricorn): House of Social Status. Ambitions. Motivations. Career. Status in society. Government. Authority. Father or father figure. The breadwinner of the household. One's public appearance/impression at large(audience). Also known as Medium Coeli.
11th House (Aquarius): House of Friendships. Friends and acquaintances of like-minded attitudes. Groups, clubs and societies. Higher associations. Benefits and fortunes from career. One's hopes and wishes.
12th House (Pisces): House of Self-Undoing. Mysticism. Places of seclusion such as hospitals, prisons and institutions, including self-imposed imprisonments. Things which are not apparent to self, yet clearly seen by others. Elusive, clandestine, secretive or unbeknownst matters. Retreat, reflection and self-sacrifice. Unconscious/subconscious. Unknown enemies.
Many modern astrologers assume that the houses relate to their corresponding signs, i.e. that the first house has a natural affinity with the first sign, Aries, and so on. However, the discovery of a document called the Thema Mundi, or chart of the world, by Project Hindsight, suggests something different. In the chart of the world, the sign Cancer is on the ascendant, Leo is on the 2nd house, and so on. The Thema Mundi is the chart that is considered the key to the Helenistic system of astrology, from which much of modern astrology is derived, though at times inaccurately.
|1st(Aries), 4th(Cancer), 7th(Libra), 10th(Capricorn)||2nd(Taurus), 5th(Leo), 8th(Scorpio), 11th(Aquarius)||3rd(Gemini), 6th(Virgo), 9th(Sagittarius), 12th(Pisces)|
Angular houses are points of initiation and represent action. The signs ruling angular houses are all Cardinal signs: Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn. Succedent houses are points of purpose and represent stabilization. The signs ruling Succedent houses are all Fixed: Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius. And finally, Cadent houses are points of transition and they represent change and adaptation. Cadent houses are ruled by Mutable Signs: Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces.
Furthermore, the houses are also grouped together by Triplicity: When one of the four elements (fire, earth, air, and water) in which the zodiac sign that rules the house is placed. There are three zodiac signs that fall within one of these four elements, hence their respective moniker, "The Triplicities".
|The Fire Triplicity||The Earth Triplicity||The Air Triplicity||The Water Triplicity|
|1st House (Aries), 5th House (Leo), 9th House (Sagittarius)||2nd House (Taurus), 6th House (Virgo), 10th House (Capricorn)||3rd House (Gemini), 7th House (Libra), 11th House (Aquarius)||4th House (Cancer), 8th House (Scorpio), 12th House (Pisces)|
In old astrological writings (e.g. William Lilly), house could also be used as a synonym for domicile or rulership, as in the sentence "The Moon has its house in Cancer" meaning that Cancer is ruled by the Moon. It may be helpful to think of a ruling planet, in this case the Moon, as the "owner of the 4th House", and the sign, e.g.Cancer, as the CEO or landlord who runs the house. In an individual horoscope, whatever sign occupies any given house can be thought of as the house's tenant. [See section heading Rulership below.]
In Indian astrology, the twelve houses are called Bhava and have meanings very similar to their Western counterparts.
There are many systems of house division. In most the ecliptic is divided into houses and the ascendant (eastern horizon) marks the cusp, or beginning, of the first house, and the descendant (western horizon) marks the cusp of the seventh house. Many systems of house division called quadrant house systems also use the midheaven (medium coeli) as the cusp of the tenth house and the nadir (imum coeli) as the cusp of the fourth house. Some house systems divide the celestial equator and the prime vertical instead of the ecliptic.
The earliest systems (whole sign and equal house) linked the houses to the signs of the zodiac. The equal house system defines houses as 30-degree sectors of the ecliptic, so that the cusp of each house falls on the same degree of each zodiac sign. One outcome of this is that a varying angle occurs between the ascendant and midheaven in higher latitudes. Attempts to reconcile the concept of "quadrants" with the varying angle between midheaven and ascendant lead to more complicated house systems. These became more relevant as astrology spread from subtropical regions to higher latitudes.
Goals for a house system include ease of computation; agreement with the "quadrant" concept (ascendant on the first house cusp, nadir on the fourth, descendant on the seventh, and midheaven on the tenth); defined and meaningful behaviour in the polar regions; acceptable handling of heavenly bodies of high latitude (a distinct problem from high-latitude locations on the Earth's surface); and symbolic value. It is impossible for any system to satisfy all the criteria completely, so each one represents a different compromise. The extremely popular Placidus and Koch systems, in particular, can generate undefined results in the polar circles. Research and debate on the merits of different house systems is ongoing.
The Whole Sign system was originally developed in the Hellenistic tradition of astrology sometime around the 1st or 2nd century BCE, and from there it was passed to the Indian and early Medieval traditions of astrology. At some point in the Medieval period, probably around the 10th century, whole sign houses fell into disuse in the western tradition, and by the 20th century the system was completely unknown in the western astrological community, although was continually used in India all the way into the present time. Beginning in the 1980s and 1990's the system was rediscovered and reintroduced into western astrology.
The distinction between equal houses and whole sign houses lies in the fact that in whole sign houses the cusp of the 1st house is the beginning of the sign that contains the ascendant, while in equal houses the degree of the ascendant is itself the cusp of the 1st house.
This is also the more common criticism of the whole sign and equal house method as it concerns the location of the Medium Coeli (Midheaven), the highest point in the chart. In the equal house system, the ascendant/descendant and midheaven/nadir axes can vary from being perpendicular to each other (from approx. +-5 deg at most at equator to approx. +-15 degrees at Alexandria to +-90 degrees at polar circle). As a result, equal houses counted from the ascendant cannot in general place the midheaven on the tenth house cusp, where many feel it would be symbolically desirable. Since this point is associated with ambition, career, and public image, the argument is that the Midheaven, therefore, must be the cusp of the similar tenth house. It has also been linked by extension with Capricorn (the tenth sign of the zodiac). Because the Whole Sign and Equal House system do not take the Midheaven into account, but relies on the location of the Ascendant, it can be found anywhere between the 8th and 11th houses.
It is thought the Placidus system was first mentioned about 13th century in Arab literature, but the first confirmed publication was in 1602 by Giovanni Antonii Magini (1555-1617) in his book "Tabulae Primi Mobilis, quas Directionem Vulgo Dicunt". Later it was popularized by Catholic Church as an argument for Ptolemy's geocentric theory of the Solar System, in the campaign against the heliocentric theory. Placidus, a professor of mathematics, was named as its author to give it credibility to his contemporaries. Placidus remains the most popular system among English-speaking astrologers
The house tables for this system were published in 1995 in Poland. This house system is also known under the name Amphora in the Czech Republic, after it was proposed there by Milan Píša after the study of Manilius's "Astronomica" under this name ("Konstelace č. 22" in: "AMPHORA - nový systém astrologických domů" (1997) and in the booklet "Amphora - algoritmy nového systému domů" (1998)).
In addition, some modern astrologers who follow the X=Y=Z or Planet=Sign=House doctrine, which was first taught by Alan Leo in the early part of the 20th century, believe that certain houses are also "ruled" by, or have an affinity with, the planet which rules the corresponding zodiacal sign. For instance, Mars is ruler of the 1st house because Aries is the first sign, Mercury rules or has an affinity with the 3rd house because Gemini is the 3rd sign, etc. This is sometimes referred to as "natural rulership", as opposed to the former which is sometimes called "accidental rulership".
Babylonians started observing natual phenomena connected with ascending and culminating of the heavenly bodies. This evolved into 12 division system of houses before the discovery of the ecliptic. Later (around V c. bce) ecliptic was discovered (Schmidt&Hand "On the invariance of tropical Zodiac" and "Early house divisions in the Hellenistic era"). At the beginning this early zodiac it has no sign divisions, and only 18 bright stars were used as markers to measure planet positions. Later in Alexandria astrologers introduced the twelve signs to fit the number and probably meanings of the houses, and named constellations after them. Nowadays, practising astrologers use a 12 house division. Most theoreticians attribute 8 fold division for misinterpretation of old texts only, but one theoretician Patrice Guinard has argued, contrary to that prevailing opinion, that there is a basis for an 8 house division. One prominent astrologer, Marc Penfield, uses 8 houses - dividing each quadrant using the same technique as in Koch & Placidus. Michel Gauquelin divided Placidus houses into 36 (instead of 12) "decans" and marked beginning of the 36th "decan" (the first before ascendant) as the starting point.