Astrological houses describe a specific field of experience in the native’s real life. They indicate how the person functions, whether in his interactions with other people, his work, or his love affairs, etc. As with the 12 zodiacal signs, there are 12 astrological houses, and each house is in analogy with one of the signs. However, contrarily to signs, which spread invariably over 30 degrees of the zodiacal circle, house sizes may greatly vary from one house to the other. House calculations are based on the exact birth time.
The keyword system discussed on the following pages is meant to clarify interpretation and understanding primarily of the psychological and inner significance of the houses. It is an attempt to perceive the essential meanings of the fields of experience known as the “houses." If the essential meanings are understood, they can then be applied to and illuminate all the diverse activities and experiences traditionally symbolized by the houses.
Emphasizing the type of house containing planets in a natal chart helps one to see the chart as a whole. One familiar way of defining the houses is to separate them into the classifications of angular, succedent, and cadent.
The angular houses (1, 4, 7, 10) are associated with a self-activating quality and have impact on the structure of one’s life. The keyword for this type is ACTION.
The succedent houses (2, 5, 8, 11) are associated with individual desires and the areas of life we want to control and consolidate. The keyword for this type is SECURITY.
The cadent houses (3, 6, 9, 12) are areas where there is input, exchange, and distribution of thoughts and observations. The keyword for these houses is LEARNING.
The progression of houses from angular through succedent and cadent and back to angular again symbolizes the flow of life experience: we act, we consolidate the results of our actions in order to gain security, we learn from what we have done and become aware of what remains to be done; and therefore, we act again. Thus, a person with a strong emphasis on one of these three types of houses by planetary placement invariably pours a lot of energy into and experiences many challenges related to action, security, or learning.
The houses can also be divided into groups of three, depending upon the element of the signs associated with that group of houses. Key phrases and guidelines for understanding these groups are as follows. (Psychic Trinity, "Trinity of Wealth," etc. are quite old terms, and are used here primarily as convenient labels.).
These houses are associated with one’s attitude toward life and the experience of being alive. They represent an out pouring of energy into the world and aspirations that motivate us to do so. The person with an emphasis on these houses lives in his or her enthusiasms, ideals, and dreams for the future. Faith and confidence (or the marked lack of it) and the need to see an effect on the world at large through one’s initiatives dominate much of the person’s life activity.
The person experiences self most immediately through projecting dreams into the world and seeing them manifested as reality. Planets in the fire houses affect the individual’s ATTITUDE TOWARD LIFE ITSELF and the person’s entire sense of faith and confidence in self. The keyword that sums up the essential meaning of the fire houses is IDENTITY; for our sense of identity, our sense of being, determines our attitude toward life in general.
These houses are associated with the level of experience wherein we try to satisfy our basic NEEDS in the practical world. Planets in these houses indicate energies that can most easily be put to use in dealing with the physical world, and that can be developed as expertise in management of resources. The person with an emphasis on these houses lives energetically in the physical world, building, doing, achieving, acquiring, and defining his or her purpose in life by the status and security achieved.
Those with a strong emphasis in the earth houses tend to want to settle into a niche in life, as they are searching for the place where they can be the most productive and most easily satisfy their practical needs. This person experiences self most immediately through work, through feeling useful, and through practical achievement. He or she wants to fulfill a calling or role in the great world outside. Planets in the earth houses affect the individual’s attitudes toward vocation, career ambitions, and the capacity to produce effective results. The keyword for these houses is MATERIAL, for the earth houses deal chiefly with concerns of the material world.
These houses are associated not only with social contacts and relationships of all types, but also with CONCEPTS. The person with an emphasis on these houses lives in the mind and in relationships. Concepts and the sharing of those concepts dominate much of the person’s life activity. The person experiences self most immediately through a sense of mutual understanding with others and through discovering and expressing the reality and importance of specific ideas or theories. Planets in the air houses affect the individual’s interests, associations, mode of verbal expression, and social life. The keywords for the air houses are SOCIAL and INTELLECTUAL.
All of these houses deal with the past, with the conditioned responses that are now instinctual and operate through the emotions. Planets in these houses show what is happening on subconscious levels and indicate the process of gaming consciousness through the assimilation of the essence of the past, while simultaneously letting go of the useless memories and fears that hold us back. The person with an emphasis on these houses lives a great deal in the feelings and in his or her deeper YEARNINGS. The emotional and soul needs dominate much of the person’s life activity and energy expenditure. Planets in the water houses affect the individual’s emotional predisposition, how he or she copes with fulfilling private needs and confronting obsessive feelings, and to what extent the person lives in a private way or in the inner life. The keywords for the water houses are EMOTIONAL and SOUL.
1st House (Ascendant) – The individual personality. Together with the Sun and Moon the ascendant is one of the most important single factors in a horoscope. The sign at the beginning of the first house tells us a lot about someone’s personality, temperament and constitution. It typifies our immediate, instinctive reaction and shows how we present ourselves to the world. The planet ruling the ascendant sign is of particular importance for the interpretation.
2nd House – Values and Possessions. The second house and its occupants tell us about the material circumstances, the acquisitive urge and how we deal with possessions and material means. This includes the relationship to our own body.
3rd House – Communication. The third house and any planets occupying it tell us of our siblings, the manner in which we communicate on an everyday level and the relationships which determine our daily life.
4th House – Roots and Origins. This house describes our origins, the parental home and the circumstances influencing childhood and youth. It describes how we relate to “family”, our attitude towards “hearth and home”. The father image and the relationship to the real father are also to be found here.
5th House – Pleasure and Creativity. Sexuality and eroticism are at home here, along with play in general and all types of creative expression. This house also describes how we relate to children, pleasure and simple fun.
6th House – Work and Routine. The sixth house describes the circumstances surrounding us in our daily lives, including the work environment and daily routine. This includes our behaviour towards subordinates. Bodily hygiene and care also belong here, as well as tendencies to certain acquired illnesses.
7th House – Relating. The descendant sign and planets occupying the seventh house tell us about how we select our partners and describes the partnerships and relationships we seek. Often we are involuntarily attracted to people whose horoscopes carry a strong emphasis of the sign in our seventh house.
8th House – Loss and Common Property. The eighth house shows how we relate to communal goods and how we deal with material loss. The taxes levied on us each year are a good example for this and show how closely related these areas are. Traditional astrology maintains that this house has an affinity to death and all things metaphysical. Death would then be the ultimate material loss. Amongst other things, the study of metaphysics can be a very differentiated way of dealing with this loss, which inevitably comes to us all.
9th House – Philosophies and Far Countries. The ninth house describes our spiritual leaning, life philosophy and our world view. In fact, these are often influenced by journeys to foreign countries. The attitudes cultivated and formed in this house can greatly influence matters of the 10th.
10th House (MC) – Occupation and Calling. This house is of particular importance, since it affects not only our choice of profession and our sense of calling - it also has a bearing on our general development, what we become. This continues throughout our lives. According to tradition, as well as more recent experience, this house describes the mother image and the relationship to the real mother.
11th House – Friends and Acquaintances. The eleventh house describes how we relate to friends, benefactors and teachers - people who wish us well or from whom we can learn. It also shows us in these roles. This house shows how we relate to the society in which we live.
12th House – Beyond the Personal. This house represents those spheres of life in which the individual no longer plays a part, where we step back for a greater whole or lose ourselves in one. Traditional astrology sees hospitals, prisons and psychiatric institutions in this house. It is also associated with monasteries and any other retreats.