Whenever we read a horoscope (if you haven't yet read your horoscope forecast for September, then what are you waiting for?), we usually encounter words like zone, sector, and section. For example: “The Moon will be highlighting your Romance zone.”. Or: “Saturn transits your Friendship sector.” All of these words are synonyms for the more technical astrological term Houses. There are 12 Houses in everyone’s natal chart, and, as we’ll see below, each one corresponds to some major, essential aspect of our lives: love, friendship, money, identity, health, etc.
When planets transit through Houses, the energies of both interact to create drama in our lives. If, for instance, analytic Mercury highlights our 11th House of Friendship, we might find ourselves getting extra picky about who we choose to hang out with. Even though there are only 12 Houses and 7 main planets, the amount of dramatic intrigue this cosmic playhouse can represent is well-nigh infinite.
With all this in mind, let’s look a bit more closely at the Houses themselves. Then the next time we read a horoscope referencing, say, our “money zone,” we don’t just nod politely, like we’re listening to, but not really understanding a guy at the bar rambling on about cryptocurrency.
Below, a complete guide to what Houses are in astrology and what each one means.
1st House: Self
In the beginning was the 1st House, associated with the face and complexion, with ego, identity, and selfhood. This is the part of the chart that reveals how we appear to others but also how we think about ourselves and the world in the quiet of introspection. The 1st House rules over head and mind. When, for instance, war-like Mars is placed there, we get personality types that can battle with themselves or are internally conflicted. Quicksilver Mercury (communication) finds its “joy” here, because it is able to convey words from head to the world with alacrity. Venus (beauty) in the 1st House tends toward a comely appearance. And so on. This is the house that completes “I AM…”
2nd House: Money
Our money karma gets played out in the 2nd House. But not just money. This area of the chart also refers to profits, goods, value, and possessions. In a nutshell, ownership of things. Restrictive Saturn transiting here can augur a times to stash cash or limit our outlays, while expansive Jupter suggests an increase in possessions or fortune. Reckless Mars doesn’t do well here, portending risky financial behaviour. Mercury indicates shrewdness. If the 1st House helps complete the sentence I AM, the 2nd House deals with “I HAVE.”
3rd House: Communication
All manner of communication relates to the 3rd House–sending letters, starting rumours, texting friends, giving speeches, writing papers. But the 3rd House also governs over short journeys. Accordingly, the changeable Moon has its “joy” in this House, and when in transit here it augurs more travel, errands, busy motions to and fro. Mercury (communication) in the 3rd House indicates precision with our words, while expansive Jupiter can point toward a prolific output. This house also relates to siblings, cousins, and neighbours. Belligerent Mars transiting the 3rd, therefore, could predict something like verbal arguments with a sibling. Venus, on the other hand, indicates sweet words toward them. The house of “I SAY.”
4th House: Home
We usually condense the meaning of the 4th House to home-related issues but it also has to do with land, properties, and inheritance. More than all this, perhaps, this house pertains to the Father or father figures. The Sun transiting here predicts an auspicious time to be with Dad, while lucky Jupiter could suggest an increase to the property. If Saturn, planet of lack, might betoken the loss of home, then lovely Venus points toward a transit to beautify it. The house of “I DWELL.”
5th House: Romance
One of the best Houses, it deals with fun, romance, creation, recreation, and procreation. It’s associated with nightlife, pleasures, and taverns. To be aligned with its energy, we need to be out and about, looking for trouble or love. It’s also the house for creativity–fertility in mind and body. Physiologically, the 5th House corresponds to liver (drinking), stomach (eating), and heart (loving). Disporting Venus has its “joy” in this part of the chart, which makes sense as Venus indicates desire and pleasure. When Venus or the Moon frolic here, beware or prepare for pregnancies, while dour Saturn dries up seeds of plenty. “I CREATE.”
6th House: Routine
The humdrum House of the day-to-day, the 6th signifies diet, routine, busy work, and health. Malefic Mars has its “joy” here. Mars loves putting its energy to use, and, fittingly, this section of the chart presides over tasks. The 6th also pertains to your work environment, your employees, pets, and habits. The Sun here portends a good time for medical check-ups, while Mercury transits indicate energy for good diet and calorie counting. “I WORK” is the spirit animal of this house.
7th House: Relationships
One of the major Houses, this part of the chart deals with partnerships (business, spousal), marriages, relationships, sweethearts, and questions of love. If the 1st House is all about the self, this is the House of the other. What are the main karmic bonds that I must work through with people outside the bloodlines of mother, father, siblings? This House also refers to contractual agreements (legal, business, marriage contracts). When the New Moon passes through here, it suggests a time to ask questions to a partner. A Full Moon delineates a time to answer them. War-like Mars can indicate power struggles in the 7th. Venus and Jupiter, in contrast, indicate understanding and harmony. Seeing that this house pertains to marriage, its verb might be “I DO.”
8th House: Debt
Perhaps the hardest House to wrap one’s head around, this area of the chart has to do with financial debt—what we owe others, but also what others owe us. It relates to wills, legacies, and last testaments. In this sense, the 8th House is haunted by the shadow of death and how we will die. To make things even more complicated, it also refers to sex, taxes, and spiritual transformation. In medical astrology, it rules over the genitals. So, in addition to debt and death, this House has something to do with sexual intimacy—sharing and enacting our fantasies. In a more modern valence, it relates to shared finances. Ultimately, there is an occult, dark, intuitive energy to this house. Be wary of anyone who says they understand the 8th House. “I OWE” or “I SHARE.”
9th House: Spirituality
In the olden days, this was the House of religion. In our more secular times, it refers to spiritual practice and higher learning. As a corollary, it also points to long distance travels. The purpose of this House is to take the mind or body from common to higher places, either physically (as in a life-altering journey overseas) or mentally through knowledge, books, spiritual insight. Naturally, wise Jupiter loves this house (and indicates things like studying abroad). The Sun has its “joy” here, too, which makes sense since Sun and knowledge are connected to mind. Unlike the 8th House, the architecture of the 9th seems more simple and clear. Its mantra: “I LEARN.”
10th House: Career
Again, one of the major Houses. Since the 10th House deals with career and public persona, it relates somewhat to the 1st House: both parts of the chart relate to how we are seen by others. The 10th House pertains strictly to recognition in the public sphere, though. It also refers to profession and vocation, honours and awards. Some call this the House of fame. Unlike the 6th House (which applies more to busy work and tasks), the 10th is deeper. It’s about calling. Sad Saturn here can deny professional recognition, while expansive Jupiter and the Sun increase it. This house also deals with the Mother. The Moon transiting the 10th could raise issues with her. Ultimately, this is the house of striving.: “I ACHIEVE.”
11th House: Friendship
In our social media moment, the 11th House of Friendship probably has more importance for us than it did for the ancients. This House organises under its rubric friends, associates, and social networking.. It deals, in part, with betrayals, trust, and confidence, too. Hopes and wishes likewise live under its roof. Jupiter has its “joy” in this house and, when transiting here, tends to dispense good luck through acquaintances (for example, getting a job due to someone you know). Harmonious Venus, a social planet, loves this placement, too, while Mars can lead to in-fighting with your buddies. The 11th House’s motto: “I CONFIDE.”
12th House: Secrets
Like the 8th House, this one tends to exist beyond neat explanations. It designates secretive affairs, the unconscious, dreams, and sleep. It deals with hidden enemies. Everything about this House is in the shadows. It brings up past traumas and can cause tribulations and sorrows. Fittingly, grim Saturn, maker of mischiefs, has its “joy” here. This part of the chart has something to do with learning to let go of the emotional baggage for spiritual growth. In this regard, “I RELEASE” is its middle name.