Updated: Jan 26
H is for Houses, a part of my Astrology A to Z series.
Houses are an important part of chart interpretation. When looking to a planet in a chart, you will generally interpret its temperament and lessons based primarily on what Sign it is in and what House it is in.
What are the Houses and where are they? Simply put, the Houses are "areas of the sky". These Areas of the Sky have been assigned different meanings, and as planets and stars move through these areas of the sky, our relationship with them and interaction with them also changes. The Houses are always located in the same part of the Chart. As the earth spins on its daily axis, we observe the sun and stars "moving" through the different houses. It is like how in your home, at different times of day the sun will shine through different windows. Since you generally spend a day on the same basic location on the planet, your point of view of what is above you vs what is on the horizon only changes as much as the Earth spins on its axis. This is why you need to know time of birth and location of birth in order to accurately cast a Natal Chart... because the earth spins and therefore the signs & planets that are near the horizon will change throughout the day. However, the houses will remain in the same place, in the same way that the windows in your home stay in the same place throughout the day.
Below is a diagram of the Houses and their positions. Look at this wheel and think of yourself on earth in the middle. The upper half of the wheel is what is above you in the sky. On the left side where it says AC is the Eastern Horizon, where the sun rises. At the top of the wheel where it says MC is the highest point in the sky above you, where the sun will be at noon. And on the right side of the wheel where it says DC, is the western horizon, where the sun will set in the evening.
You can see the numbers in the middle of this wheel, showing the house numbers. These are the divisions of the parts of the sky. Houses 7 through 12 are what we can see above the horizon. Houses 1 through 6 are below the horizon. Notice that as the sun rises at the AC, it will move "backwards" through the houses throughout the day (12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7) Then during the night after the sun sets, it will move through houses 6 to 1, rising again into the 12th house the next morning.
The AC means "Ascendant" and this is also known as your "Rising Sign". It relates to what Sign is "Rising" on the Eastern horizon at the time of your birth and your location of birth. So as you can see, the SIGNS move through all the houses each 24 hours, as the Earth (in the middle) spins on its axis. The planets move through the signs, and the signs move through the houses.
Now, because of the Houses always being in the same place, you can look at your birth chart and see what planets were above the horizon at your time of birth. Were they near the Western horizon - houses 7 or 8? Were they near the Eastern horizon - houses 12 or 11? Or were they higher above you in the sky - houses 9 and 10? If planets in your chart are in houses 1 through 6, you know they were below the horizon - on the other side of the Earth. Neat, huh?
Why do some charts show houses bigger or smaller? Depending on the House system you use (placidus or porphyry) and the location on the planet, some houses might be smaller or bigger. This relates to the tilt of the earth's axis which can result in the sun appearing to remain in one part of the sky longer than other parts of the sky, depending on the season. The farther away from the equator you are and the closer to winter or summer solstices, the sun will appear to move through certain sections of the sky more quickly or more slowly. A very large house shows that the sun took a longer amount of time to move through that portion of the sky. A very small house shows that the sun appeared to move through that section of the sky very quickly.
What do each of the Houses represent? The Houses in a chart relate to different Areas of Life. Think again of the image of a large house. There is a kitchen, a living room, an office, an art studio, a play room or music room, a library or study, and a bathroom. You do different things in each room, right? In the kitchen you prepare meals for your family, in the library you study and learn new things. In the bedroom you sleep or make love. In the bathroom you tend to your hygiene and appearance. There are also different times of day that you are more likely to use certain areas of the house depending on your schedule and lifestyle. Some members of the household might use the Art Studio often, while other members of the household hardly use the art studio at all. The children in the household might use the playroom far more often than they use other areas of the house. The Living room might be the favorable place for gatherings with guests and friends, but it would be a little awkward if you tried to host a dinner party in the bedroom or the bathroom!
Think of the Houses of the chart as "Areas of Life" that are common to the human experience. Some people are more focused on different areas of life than you are; perhaps you know someone who is more focused on career, while you are more focused on education and learning. And yet another person is focused on family and their home, while someone else is more focused on Art and Music. However, everyone has different levels of access to all these areas of life, and together they make up the complete human experience.
In a birth chart, you can see a person's general aptitude towards a certain area of life depending on what planets they have in certain houses. The Sun or Venus in certain houses will give clues to what areas of life a person generally enjoys. You can also see the areas of life in which a person might experience harsher lessons, hardships, or restrictions - usually related to what houses Saturn or Pluto reside in.
The Sign that rules a House will "flavor" and influence the experience of that area of life as well. The Sign of the house will influence the energy and aesthetic of those experiences. For example think of the Library or Study room of that big house again. This room might be like the 9th House in the chart - it is the House of Higher Education and Philosophy. However, how might this library be different if it was decorated and stocked by an Aries vs if it was decorated and stocked by a Virgo? This is an example of how the House is influenced by the Sign, even if there are no planets in that sign or house! The planets bring yet another layer of influence if present, but you still have this room in your house even if you don't have planets in it! However, without planets in the house, it might be a room that you're not frequently called to use, or you just don't have major life changing events occur when you are in that room.
Also, there is great significance in the Houses related to transits. Transits are the current movement of planets compared to a birth chart. For example; Saturn is currently moving through the sign of Aquarius. You can find Aquarius in your birth chart - what house (or houses) are in Aquarius? This can show you the "area of life" that Saturn is influencing for YOU as he moves through the sign of Aquarius.
I am not going to include the meanings of all the houses in this post, but I do plan to start including a series on the Houses on my Blog in 2022. Otherwise, the internet is full of great resources for understanding the individual meanings of each house! I do hope that this post has helped you understand Houses a bit better! Happy Learning!