Astrology 101: Empty Houses (Part 1)

This person's Fourth House -- the "House of Home" -- stands empty of Planets.  Does this mean they won't have a home or a family or any privacy in this lifetime...??
This person’s Fourth House — the “House of Home” — stands empty of Planets. Does this mean they won’t have a home or a family or any privacy in this lifetime…??

So now we’ve looked at what the Houses are in Astrology: what they look like in a chart in pictorial form (pie-slices!), and what kinds of information they can reveal about the life of the chart-holder. As we’ve seen, while the Planets tell us about what we do in life, and the Signs describe how we do it, the Houses point out where we do all of these things…

Which leads us to the big question that every newcomer to Astrology has when contemplating their own chart: “If I have a House with no Planets in it, does that mean I won’t ever have any experiences in that House…?”

And the answer is a loud and emphatic, “No!

Think of it this way: Planets in any given House represent certain urges of ours that will tend to make themselves most regularly known in the fields of experience symbolized by that House. This doesn’t mean that we can’t encounter those Planetary energies in other fields of experience…it’s just that the most crucial, most profound evolutionary work that we’ll undertake with respect to each Planet will be happening in the Houses that they inhabit in our charts.

Coming at that notion from a different direction, then…if a House stands empty in our charts, it doesn’t mean we won’t have any experiences there. It just means that the House in question won’t be one of the major battlefields where we’ll play out any of the primary evolutionary struggles that we came into this life to work through. We’ll have experiences in our empty Houses…they probably just won’t be of the major, life-defining variety. If our lives were cast as movies or novels, then the events that happen in our empty Houses probably wouldn’t take up much of the narratives, that’s all.

The birth-chart of Marvin Gaye - does his empty Seventh House mean that the man who gave us "Let's Get It On" was doomed to live his own life devoid of close relationships...?!
The birth-chart of Marvin Gaye – does his empty Seventh House mean that the man who gave us “Let’s Get It On” was doomed to live his own life devoid of close relationships…?!

Here’s a concrete example… Take a look at the birth-chart of the late, very great soul singer, Marvin Gaye. Among other features, Marvin’s chart had a Seventh House that stood empty of Planets. Remember that H7 is where we go when we work in close partnerships, both romantic and otherwise. So if empty Houses could be taken to mean that we’ll have no experiences in them, then it would follow that Marvin Gaye had no significant partnerships in his lifetime, right…? However, quite contrary to this conclusion are the facts that he was married twice, and that he also had important artistic collaborative partnerships with no less than four other singers: Mary Wells, Kim Weston, Tammi Terrell, and Diana Ross. So the basic concept to grasp here is that while Marvin Gaye clearly had many experiences relevant to his Seventh House – despite that House standing empty in his chart – these were simply not the experiences that defined him, or that stood out as those karmic sorts of highlights that he’d come here to deal with in his lifetime.

So if these partnerships wouldn’t have claimed most of center-stage in a biography of Marvin Gaye, what sorts of events would? At the risk of reducing the complex life of a complex person down to a quick, simple sentence, a tale about Marvin Gaye’s life would almost certainly focus heavily on his rise to fame, his pivotal work as an important artist in a very transitional time for his home nation, and his tortured relationship with his father, who was an abusive parent that would later shoot and kill Marvin in 1984.

Marvin Gaye...  His chart would suggest that his most defining life experiences would have tended to manifest via his well-populated Tenth House...and that does seem to be how things played out.  But just like the rest of us, he also had experiences in all of the Houses -- some of these just weren't as vital to his "Earth-walk" as others...
Marvin Gaye… His chart would suggest that his most defining life experiences would have tended to manifest via his well-populated Tenth House…and that does seem to be how things played out. But just like the rest of us, he also had experiences in all of the Houses — some of these just weren’t as vital to his “Earth-walk” as others…

Mainly, we’d be dealing with issues of the man’s life’s work, his fame and public reputation, and the presence in his life of his father. Is it coincidence, then, that these concepts are all often seen as elements of a person’s Tenth House…and the most crowded House in Marvin Gaye’s chart is his H10…?

So an absence of Planets in a given House does not mean that nothing will happen there… Fair enough. But then how do we get a handle on what our experiences of a House will be like in cases when there are no Planets there to serve as guideposts for us…?

Reconvene back here in our next post for some guidance on that question…

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