The Houses

The Houses

You’ve probably seen an astrological chart wheel, divided into 12 roughly equal pie-shaped sections, much like how we would cut up a pizza. These 12 sections are called the “Astrological Houses” or usually just the “houses.” In each pie-shaped house, we might find one or more the planets or the Sun and the Moon. Just as someone might tell you they have the Sun in Aries, so they might also say that they have the Sun in the 11th house. And these 12 houses have specific meanings, just as the 12 zodiac signs do. The phrase “He’s a Taurus,” might just as easily be “He’s a Second-House Sun.” We will learn about what the houses mean, but first it will help to know something about what houses are, and where they come from.

What Are Houses?

First of all, houses are part of your horoscope, your natal birth chart. Simply put, the houses are a way to divide the space surrounding our birthplace into sections of space as seen from the place on Earth where we were born, that is: the space above us, the space below us, the space to the east of us, the space to the west of us, and so forth. We divide the entire space into 12 sections, like segments of an orange. Once we have divided the space around us, we look to see in what house or section of the sky the various heavenly bodies can be found, like the Sun, Moon, and planets, but also, the stars and any other astronomical body that might interest us. And since the planets are plotted in the zodiac signs, most house systems show where the particular house is (intersects) the band of the zodiac.


And although our two-dimensional horoscope chart is flat, the sections of the houses are not. They are three-dimensional, like the sections of an orange. Just imagine walking outside under the night sky, with the stars and planets twinkling around you, and dividing up all that space above you and below you (on the other side of the earth) into 12 sections or segments. From where you stand looking to the south would be the Tenth House, behind you and to the north (and below you) would be the Fourth House, at your left and to the east would be the First House, to your right and to the west would be the Seventh House, and so on. That is what astrological houses are like.

Two-Dimensional Charts

Although astrological houses are three dimensional in space, we tend to represent them on the paper chart wheel as two dimensional – the wheel of the twelve houses. And each of the twelve house cusps has a particular zodiac sign on its house “cusp.” A house cusp is just the beginning or starting point (read: edge) of each of the houses. For example, the zodiac sign on the edge or at the beginning of the First House is also called the Ascendant or Rising Sign.

House Cusps

House cusps are determined by taking the three-dimensional house sections (remember the segments of an orange) and seeing where these lines intersect and cross the zodiac. Where these lines intersect is the cusp for each house, and that zodiac sign is said to be the “sign on the house cusp.” In the diagram above, you can see the house segments and you can see the ring of the 12 zodiac signs. Where each segment cuts across the band of the zodiac, that sign is the sign on the house cusp.

Although most house systems are divided into the familiar 12 houses, there are many different kinds of house systems, many slightly different ways of dividing up the space that surrounds us. Astrologers like to argue among themselves as to which house system is the best, and they agree to differ on this.

Explaining the differences between the house systems is much too complicated to jump into here, so it will have to be enough (for now) to know that, while there are different houses systems, they tend to agree on the main points and are thus more the same than they are different. You can feel confident using any of the major ones until you get sophisticated enough to argue about the merits of one over another. So much for giving you an astronomical picture of what houses are. More important is why the houses are important. What do they mean?

Why Houses Are Important

If we can say that the planets tell us what general area of life we are working with, and that the signs of the zodiac the planets are in tell us something about the energy phase of that life area, then we could say that the houses tell us where all this activity is taking place. Let’s take a simple example: I happen to have the Sun in Cancer in the Eighth House. What does this mean? Let’s parse this out.

The Sun is the self, the self that each of us aspires to, and that we hope to become, whatever we look up to as our future. The zodiac sign Cancer says that this Sun can be very sensitive, that we are way down in there, and very much given to sensing things. We all know that Cancer Sun signs love their homes. And last, the Eighth House is the house of analysis (criticism), breaking things down, finding the kernels, and throwing out the chaff—getting at the heart of things. The Eighth House is also the house of occult and esoteric study. Am I any of these things?

I am. I have always worked out of my home, even when I had a company with 650 employees. I stayed home as much as humanly possible. As for sensitivity, my wife may have some other things to add, but I was sensitive enough to make my living as a musician for many years. As for being a critic, well, that’s where I shine. I founded and built the All-Music Guide (and other entertainment guides), which today is the largest collection of music criticism on the planet. And I love esoteric and occult subjects and have studied them all my life. I hope to point out some esoteric astrology principles through this course. That is just one interpretation.

Of course, there are many, many ways to interpret the “Sun in Cancer in the Eighth House,” and that is what makes astrology so fascinating. Once you understand the basic principles, and get in touch with your own inner energy, you will come up with interpretations that are purely “you,” for astrology is an oracle. An oracle is something that speaks to us or through us. As we learn to become astrologers, we want to personally get out of the way and let the long tradition of astrology speak through us. It is more fun to read what is there than to try make astrology speak through our own personal bias.

Meaning of the Houses

Each of the 12 houses has a different meaning, and describes or points out a different area of our experience. Once we learn something about what each of these arenas of experience mean, we can begin reading astrological sentences like the one given above, “Sun in Cancer in the Eighth House.” And best of all, the wheel of the 12 houses is a unified whole cycle (like the zodiac signs, the phases of the Moon, etc.), such that each house is a phase in that cycle leading to the next. When you learn about cycles and cycles’ phases, you are automatically learning about the houses.


Source :