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The Houses of the Zodiac: a brief guide

The houses of the zodiac, or sectors of the heavens, represent the area of life in which the planets will manifest themselves most strongly and where their influence will be most apparent. Each house has a sign that is native to it. Thus Aries is the natural ruler of the first house and so on. The basic nature of each house derives from this natural sign.

However because everybody is not born at the exact moment of the vernal equinox, the positions of the signs around the chart will be different according to the sign that is ascending over the horizon at birth. These signs modify the nature of the houses and are said to ‘rule’ them.

You might think about it in this way: Aries built the first house, but after a while he sold the house and it was bought by Gemini. Capricorn, being an entrepreneur, rented the house out to Mercury who moved in with all his stuff and renovated to his taste. The house now bears the influence of Mars (Aries), Saturn (Capricorn) and Mercury. This is an example of one of the multitude of inter-relationships found in a chart.

  • The 1st house, known as the Ascendant, is native to Aries and represents the Self.
  • The 2nd house is native to Taurus and represents the Material world, our immediate environment and possessions.
  • The 3rd house is native to Gemini and represents Communication, Short Journeys and our relationship with Siblings.
  • The 4th house is native to Cancer and represents Security, Family, Home and the Mother, as well as how we are formed by our early experiences.
  • The 5th house is native to Leo and represents Creativity, Pleasure, Fun and Children.
  • The 6th house is native to Virgo and represents Health, Service and Work.
  • The 7th house is native to Libra and represents Close Relationships and Partnerships (both business and personal).
  • The 8th house is native to Scorpio and represents the Life Force, Birth, Sex, Death and Rebirth. It also relates to other peoples money including inheritance.
  • The 9th house is native to Sagittarius and represents the native’s Philosophy, Education and Values. It also represents Travel.
  • The 10th house, known as the Mid-heaven is native to Capricorn and represents the native’s Career, Achievement, Status and Social Role.
  • The 11th house is native to Aquarius and represents the native’s Friends and Social Networks.
  • The 12th house is native to Pisces and represents the Hidden Secret Self and The Unconscious. Thus it represents our Addictions, Escape Mechanisms and Self Undoing.

The sphere of life represented by a house is made more prominent if there are planets positioned within it. A planet will have most influence in the areas of your life represented by that house. Its influence will also be important in those houses brought into relationship with it by aspect or mutual reception, but to a lesser degree.

The planets and signs express themselves particularly well in the houses to which they are native. Other houses suit particular signs and planets according to nature. For example, Mercury (communication) can be more easily realised in the seventh house (which represents close relationships), than in the twelfth house where its expression will be more limited. This can be easily understood by sense and experience.

Angular, Succeedent and Cadent Houses
Please read the section on Qualities if you are not already familiar with Quadruplicities.

  • Angular Houses: As can be seen, the 1st, 4th, 7th and 10th houses are native to Cardinal signs. They represent areas of life involving initiation and the use of power.
  • Suceedent Houses: The 2nd, 5th, 8th and 11th houses are native to Fixed signs. They represent the situations brought about by the initiatory action that takes place in the Angular houses, i.e. the results and consequences of: our effort and the decisions we make (1), our upbringing (4), the influence and effort of our partners (7) and our career (10).
  • Cadent Houses: The 3rd, 6th, 9th and 12th houses are native to Mutable signs. They represent areas of life involving the dispersion of ideas and energies.

The Sun passes through four of these cycles each year and we call them the seasons.

Fire, Earth, Air and Water
Please read the section on Elements if you are not already familiar with them.

  • Fire Houses (1, 5, 9) represent life, creativity, expansion, energy.
  • Earth Houses (2, 6, 10) represent possessions, wealth, physical realities and earthly status.
  • Air Houses (3, 7, 11) represent association, relationships and communication.
  • Water Houses (4, 8, 12) represent the areas of life in which we exercise psychic receptivity, whether actively or passively.

The keywords used in this brief outline give a far from complete insight into the way in which each element will manifest itself in an individual chart. Astrology is similar to the Tarot in that too literal a reading that relies heavily on conventional symbolic interpretations and keywords will blind the mind to the deeper meanings revealed by the soul. A clear understanding of principles is important however, and these should be expanded upon in the reader’s mind by intuition and research.

If you enjoyed this mini lesson and want to go deeper, grab a free birth chart at and download my free ebook The Language of Astrology.