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History of Use
Most traditions of astrology currently practiced utilize 12 houses, although several ancient Greek writers refer also to a system of 8 houses, and the earliest astrologers did not use houses. Houses appear to have been a Greek or Egyptian invention; they are not used in the earliest Mesopotamian horoscopes. Even today, some astrologers, most notably those who practice the Hamburg School of astrology, do not use houses at all.
Application and Meaning
In standard practice, houses represent general topics or departments of life, described in terms of man's physical surroundings as well as personal life experiences. For this reason, they are sometimes referred to as topical or mundane houses.
The calculation of houses in a natal chart requires the time and place of birth (or initiation). If the time of birth is unknown some astrologers will assume a birth at noon or sunrise, but an meaningful interpretation of such a chart cannot be expected.
Houses typically have some correspondence with their natural sign (e.g., the first house has a natural affinity with the first sign, Aries).
In quadrant systems, houses are classified as angular (1st, 4th, 7th, and 10th), succedent (2nd, 5th, 8th, and 11th), and cadent (3rd, 6th, 9th, and 12th). Angular houses represent the potential for action, succedent houses give stability and purpose, cadent houses are communicative and enable change or adaptation.
- First house: Identity, self-image, movement and expression, physical appearance, and the impact of the personality on the environment. This is the way you present yourself, and how you start things. Planets here may also indicate the manner of one's birth.
- Second house: Values, substance, money, possessions, security, stability, the here and now, sense of self-worth, emotional resources, rewards, comfort, inner talents and resources.
- Third house: awareness, mental expression, early schooling, siblings, attitudes, daily life, companions, all forms of communication and short journeys, adaptability to new ideas, ability to relate to one's surroundings and environment.
- Fourth house: Home, foundations, parents, domestic matters, heritage, roots, sources of nourishment.
- Fifth house: Anything added or taken away from the fourth house, children, romance and love affairs, ego, creative expression, play and gambling, attitude to change.
- Sixth house: Housework, employment and employees, attitude to work, general health, purification, ritual, habits, hobbies.
- Seventh house: All kinds of partnerships, marriage, awareness of others, how one relates to people.
- Eighth house: Joint or shared resources, sex, inheritance, sex and regeneration, emotional union.
- Ninth house: Travel, religion, search for meaning, higher education, goals and aspirations, seeking and finding.
- Tenth house: Public image, profession, persona, reputation, values and standards, ideals, how one would like to project oneself.
- Eleventh house: Friends, social values and concerns, groups and group awareness, hopes and dreams, attitude to humanity.
- Twelfth house: Hidden motives, confinement, retreat, self-transcendence, service and sacrifice, escapism, charity.
Each house is ruled by the planet that rules the sign on its cusp. The placement of this planet in the chart will have at least as much influence as the chart as the planets within the house. In traditional Western astrology, each sign is ruled by one and only one of the planets (note that in astrology, the Sun and Moon are considered planets, which literally means wanderers, i.e. wanderers among the stars).
The traditional rulerships are as follows: Aries (Mars), Taurus (Venus), Gemini (Mercury), Cancer (Moon), Leo (Sun), Virgo (Mercury), Libra (Venus), Scorpio (Mars), Sagittarius (Jupiter), Capricorn (Saturn), Aquarius (Saturn), Pisces (Jupiter).
Many modern, psychologically-oriented astrologers believe that Uranus is the ruler or co-ruler of Aquarius instead of Saturn, Neptune is the ruler or co-ruler of Pisces instead of Jupiter, and that Pluto is the ruler or co-ruler of Scorpio instead of Mars (with other modern astrologers claiming that Pluto rules Aries and not Scorpio). Traditional astrology adheres to the rulerships system listed in the paragraph above, and the debate continues between those who consider the newly discovered planets as rulers or co-rulers of certain signs (modern astrologers) and those that do not (traditional astrologers).
- There are many methods in use for dividing the zodiac into houses. These methods are referred to as house systems. In most house systems, the first house is a zone of the zodiac starting where the ecliptic crosses the local horizon and extending for some distance below the horizon counter-clockwise (toward the North). The second through sixth houses fill the space between the first house and the western horizon, and the seventh through twelfth houses extend from the Western horizon to the South, and back to the Eastern horizon. So as planets rise in the sky, they enter the twelfth house and go numerically backward through the houses as the day progresses. The time a planet takes to move through one house depends on various factors including where it is in the zodiac and how many degrees of space the house occupies, but on average, planets change houses roughly every two hours. On the zodiacal wheel, the ascendant is usually placed on the left side, and the houses appear as pie-shaped wedges numbered 1 through 12 running counter-clockwise.
The most commonly used house system in Western astrology. There seems to be no particular reason for its popularity except that calculation tables have always been easily available. The system is based on a division of time rather than space as in most other systems. The times taken for each degree of the ecliptic to rise from the IC to the ascendant, and from the ascendant to the MC, are trisected to determine the cusps of houses 2, 3, 11, and 12. The cusps of houses 8, 9, 5 and 6 are opposite these.
The Placidus system is defined only for latitudes between 66°N and 66°S.
The ecliptic is divided into twelve divisions of 30 degrees each. As long as there is an ascendant, twelve equal houses can be measured from it, so this system works for all locations although there will be anomalies in charts for locations within the polar circles.
In the whole house system, the houses are also 30° each, but instead of beginning at the ascendant, the first house begins at zero degrees of the zodiac sign in which the ascendant falls. In other words, each house is wholly filled by one sign. This is the system used in jyotish (vedic astrology).
The celestial equator is divided into twelve, and these divisions are projected on to the ecliptic along great circles that take in the north and south points on the horizon. Named after the German astronomer and astrologer Johann Müller of Königsberg.
Similar to the above, except that the east point is taken as the ascendant.
The prime vertical (the great circle taking in the zenith and east point on the horizon) is divided into twelve, and these divisions are projected on to the ecliptic along great circles that take in the north and south points on the horizon.
Each quadrant of the ecliptic is divided into three equal parts.
A rather more complicated version of the Placidean system. Like it, the Koch system is defined only for latitudes between 66°N and 66°S.
This is a recent system that its creators claim to have been determined empirically, i.e. by observing events in people's lives and assessing the geometry of a house system that would fit. The house cusps are always within a degree of those given in the Placidus system, which would seem to corroborate that system. The geometry is somewhat complicated and the reader is referred to [this site (http://www.levante.org/Domification/Topocentre1.html)].
Wikipedia (2005). House (astrology (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_%28astrology%29). Retrieved March 9, 2005 EV
- RGCSA The Research Group for the Critical Study of Astrology (http://www.astrology-research.net/rgcsa.htm)
- The Original 3,000 Year High-Precision Daily Astrological Online Ephemeris from Khaldea.com (http://www.khaldea.com/ephemcenter.shtml) -- 600 BCE to 2400 EV -- Calculated for Midnight GMT; also with an Aspectarian included for years 1900 to 2005 EV