Astrology 101: Meet the Houses (Part 1)

Birth-chart of the Dalai Lama -- the Houses can be seen here as the dozen "pie-slices" numbered 1-12 into which the interior of the chart is divided...
Birth-chart of the Dalai Lama — the Houses can be seen here as the dozen “pie-slices” numbered 1-12 into which the interior of the chart is divided…

Now we’ve discussed the overall function that the Houses perform in Astrology: while the Planets describe what someone does, and the Signs tell us about how they do it…the Houses point out where all this doing of stuff will occur in that person’s life.

The next step is in grasping that just as with the Planets and the Signs, each symbol in the set of the Houses has its own “personality,” and no two are alike. You need to get a handle on what concepts go with which House…so let’s meet them! To keep things realistically chewable, we’ll cover six of the 12 Houses in this post, and the other six will get their turn on stage in the next one…

Oh, and as a handy abbreviation system, I’ve adopted the convention of shortening any given House to a designation in the form of “H#” when I refer to them. So, for example, the Second House is H2, or the Eighth House is H8. Forewarned = forearmed…

Even when you're meeting someone for the very first time, you get some initial sense of part of their overall persona.  This social mask is the business of the First House, and though it's an outer layer of personality, and much lies beneath it, it still conveys a lot about the person.  Is it too obvious a gag to say that the guy on the right may have a Fire Sign on his Ascendant...?  [Image courtesy of the mighty Pink Floyd!]
Even when you’re meeting someone for the very first time, you get some initial sense of part of their overall persona. This social mask that you first see is the business of the First House, and though it’s only an outer layer of personality, and much lies beneath it, it still conveys a lot about the person. And is it too obvious a gag to say that the guy on the right may have a Fire Sign on his Ascendant…? [Image courtesy of the mighty Pink Floyd!]
First House. Think about meeting someone for the first time… They appear in your vicinity. They pause; they look around. They greet someone as you observe. Maybe they then come toward you, hand extended…

Pause right there… What do you know about this person at this point?

Well, you definitely can’t pretend you fully grasp their deepest psychological truths or anything, not yet…but you do actually know a bit about them already. You have some idea about their general appearance: you have some immediate understanding of their size, shape, complexion, hairstyle, clothing choices, demeanor. So right there at the outset of meeting them, you’ve gotten a taste of what we might call their style. And this is what the First House is all about: it’s our style, our appearance, the first impression that we tend to make on the world, and the way that we like to enter situations. The First House describes the social layer that separates our private internal self from society. And we actually have some hand in shaping this House – we work at crafting and revising our social mask all the time! Any Planet placed in H1 is considered to be a more amped-up version of itself, very important for the person in question, and an integral part of the person’s overall presentation and personality.

Second House. This House is all about our possessions, and that definitely includes our money. When we acquire things – whenever we buy, hunt, gather – we’re doing H2 business. The Second House is our physical belongings…and it’s also our attitudes about our physical belongings. What do those belongings mean to us? How do we decide what we actually want to possess? Do we want to acquire things primarily for social status? Sentimental value? Aesthetic appeal? Or do we want the things we want mostly because they’re means to various ends for us? So here’s an important H2 factoid to always keep in mind: our value system itself is actually a part of our H2 affairs. And in a similar vein, consider that in many ways, we possess…ourselves. How we value ourselves therefore fits in here, too. In other words, our self-esteem falls under the H2 heading. The Second House holds our possessions, and it also contains the systems with which we value those possessions. People with Planets placed here may find themselves dealing again and again with issues revolving around wealth versus scarcity, the symbolic importance of possessions, and serious struggles to achieve healthy feelings of self-worth.

Perceiving and interacting with our immediate surroundings is the stuff of the Third House...
Perceiving and interacting with our immediate surroundings is the stuff of the Third House…

Third House. This House is very much about interacting with the local environment. The Third House is where we go when we’re engaging in rational thought, sensory perceptions, communication. When we investigate our surroundings, and when we transmit and/or receive information about those surroundings, we’re doing H3 work. Short journeys also fall here – treks to distant regions are part of a later House, but walking down the street or driving across town are H3 business. A strong H3 signature in a chart can manifest as that person experiencing a recurring need to live on the local scale, to interact with the people and things that are basically there at arm’s length, and to spend a lot of time communicating and fact-gathering. The H3 person may be a quick-thinker, a fast-talker, a speaker or writer, and they may also be of the type who are most adept at the smaller-scale and the shorter-term things in life.

Fourth House. Located at the bottom of a chart, this is the most private House of them all. This is the House of “home.” It speaks of our roots, our origins (whether ethnic, religious, socioeconomic…H4 describes the various strata of these systems into which we’re born). When we withdraw from the public sphere into our own personal domain, we’re retreating into our Fourth House. Very few others are ever allowed a glimpse inside here, and in many ways, our H4 experiences are for us alone. The Fourth House is our “home” in various senses of that word: it’s our sacred inner sanctum, our Fortress of Solitude. Someone with strong planetary placements in H4 might live a life characterized by issues having to do with privacy, with their home life or their close family, with acceptance (or lack of acceptance) of their origins, and with finding the right amount of nurturing (giving and/or receiving) in an ongoing way.

Fifth House. Traditionally known as the House of Children, H5 is concerned with both creation and joy. Fresh romance falls here, as well, as does healthy self-expression. Literal children can be found here, but so, too, can figurative ones, such as works of art that we create, or anything else that we “give birth to” in life. Always remember to keep an eye on that element of joy, though: in the absence of other factors, H5 is a bright, sunshiny place, filled with excitement, and with the exuberance of discovery and of giving voice to our artistic visions and our unique selves. The Fifth House contains our creativity, our bliss, and our work in expressing ourselves to the world. Someone with a strong H5 signature may find that their life is marked by issues having to do with their literal children, or they may regularly encounter situations that either enable them or frustrate them in trying to be creative or to express themselves in various manners. They may also find a recurring theme in life of simply experiencing (or trying to experience) joy in any or all of its myriad forms.

This gardener comes bearing well-honed skills and tools of his trade, and performs all manner of maintenance on a daily basis -- this is someone who is clearly well-acquainted with matters of the Sixth House!
This gardener comes bearing well-honed skills and tools of his trade, and performs all manner of maintenance on a daily basis — this is someone who is clearly well-acquainted with matters of the Sixth House!

Sixth House. The Sixth House is where we perform all of the necessary maintenance that’s required in living life on the physical plane – no easy proposition, and many associated concepts come into play here! Often referred to as the “House of Work,” H6 isn’t about work in the sense of our actual careers – that’s a different House yet to come – it’s more about our approach to work itself. How do we view the need to perform tasks? How do we approach the performance of the tasks themselves? Is necessary work an interesting challenge to us? Is there a sense of sacred duty in it? Or is it just drudgery, best put off for as long as possible in the hopes that someone else will do it? H6 also involves other life-maintenance concepts, as well, such as skills and the honing of them…mentors and teachers in our lives who help us to optimize our H6 experiences…subordinates who handle certain tasks on our behalf. People with significant H6 imprints in their charts may repeatedly come up against issues revolving around the performance of things like chores and tasks and errands…they may be forced into the role of a servant as a recurring theme…they may be called on to perfect some skill or other in life…they may continually bump up against chains of command in various contexts…or they may act as, or search for, a mentor-figure in some important way.

Next time around, we’ll finish off the back half of the field of the 12 Houses…

3 comments

    • Thanks for the compliment! I’m so happy to hear that this series is helping you. It’s true that charts are crammed full of symbols, so they’re not simple to understand. The best advice I can give is to just take it slowly, and allow yourself a fairly long-term approach. I doubt anyone ever picked up chart interpretation in just a week or two — Astrology is complex enough that it’ll still show you new things after years of study and practice! I suggest putting no pressure on yourself to be great at it immediately, and have fun! If you don’t enjoy it, it will be a ton of effort for not much reward…

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