There are twelve Houses in the art of Astrology. Each House is associated with one of the twelve Sun Signs, as well as one or two of the astrological planets. In a birth chart or other astrological reading, the Houses are arranged in a circle, and the depending on the date, the Sun Signs revolve around them, influencing them. The planets are also each placed in one of the Houses, further affecting them. The Sun Signs and planets represent the influences and actions in a birth chart or other astrological reading, and the Houses are the fixed points representing the areas in which these influences create actions to affect them. For example, if Mars is in the Second House, it means that the war god’s intense activity and driving identity manifest themselves in one’s personal possessions, perhaps indicating that one prides oneself in their material possessions, is a collector of goods, or use their personal possessions in ways suiting the war god.
The Twelve Houses are below:
The First House: The House of Self
The First House of Astrology is known as the House of Self. It bears the greatest resemblance to the Sun Sign of Aries, and the planet Mars. It is associated with identity, with an emphasis on how others perceive you. The House of Self is one’s identity projected outward onto others, and when planets and Signs appear in this House, they are acting in the realm of appearance, image, and one’s personality as perceived by others. This House governs the affairs of personal interaction and the image one projects onto others.
The Second House: The House of Value
The Second House of Astrology is the House of Value. It is associated with the Sun Sign Taurus and the planet Venus. When Sun Signs and planets appear in this House, they are acting in the realm of material possessions and resources, such as money, belongings, houses, and the like. The House of Value is focused, like its associated Sun Sign, on the material, and represents actions in terms of physical resources owned personally by the querent.
The Third House: The House of Communications
The Third House of Astrology is the House of Communications, associated with the Sun Sign Gemini and the planet Mercury. This House is associated with interpersonal interactions on a larger scale; social connections and networking, learning, and giving out information. It is the sum of and the parts of one’s communications and interactions with others. Any Sun Signs or planets found in this House are acting in the realm of interactions between people, and the exchange of knowledge and ideas.
The Fourth House: The House of Home and Family
The Fourth House of Astrology is the House of Home, or the House of Family, or the House of Home and Family. It is associated with the Sun Sign Cancer, as well as the planets of the Moon and Ceres. Actions in this House take place in the sphere of one’s home and family, as well as the deepest levels of oneself. While the First House of Self is associated with one’s outward self, the House of Home and Family is associated with one’s inner self, as seen by one’s family in the home, where one is most comfortable. Planets and Sun Signs acting in this House make actions in the realm of one’s personal space, family members, and one’s inner self.
The Fifth House: The House of Pleasure
The Fifth Astrological House, the House of Pleasure, is associated with the Sun Sign Leo and the planets of the Sun and Pallas. Actions taking place in the Fifth House are taking place in the realm of creativity, entertainment, and luxury. This is the House of the arts, as well; Sun Signs and planets in this sphere act in the realms of creativity, children, entertainment, and leisure.
The Sixth House: The House of Health
The Sixth House of Astrology is the House of Health. It is associated with the Sun Sign of Virgo and the planets Vesta and Mercury. Actions taking place in this House take place in the spheres of one’s daily well-being, the services and actions one performs on a daily basis, and one’s own state of mental and physical health. In these ways, the House of Health also covers those areas associated with one’s own sense of belonging and integration, as those are important aspects of mental health.
The Seventh House: The House of Partnerships
The Seventh Astrological House, or the House of Partnerships, is strongly associated with the Sun Sign Libra and the planets Juno and Venus. Like the name implies, the House of Partnerships covers the realms associated with one-on-one interactions and relationships. While the House of Communications focuses on social interactions on a broader scale, this House focuses on communication among individuals, but in terms of an aspect of one’s relationship (as opposed to interactions only) to others. The actions of the planets and Sun Signs in this House affect relationships between significant others, close friends, business associates, and, of course, diplomats and other meetings of equals.
The Eighth House: The House of Reincarnation
The Eighth House of Astrology is known as the House of Reincarnation, and is associated with the Sun Sign of Scorpio and the planet Pluto. Actions taking place in this House affect the realms of shared physical, emotional, and elemental possessions and resources. While the Second House of Value covers personal possessions, this House focuses on communal ones, such as shared homes, community parks, pooled resources, and the like. Planets and Sun Signs in this House also affect deep unions between multiple people with the potential to transform them; the act of sex, marriage, close friendships, monetary unions, and the like.
The Ninth House: The House of Philosophy
The Ninth Astrological House is associated with Sagittarius and the planets Jupiter and Chiron. It is known as the House of Philosophy, and actions taking place in this House cover the realms of mental unions and the development of one’s mental faculties and viewpoints. The House of Philosophy is concerned with the development of the mind and the broadening of one’s viewpoints through any means available, including spirituality, travel, academics, and asking questions.
The Tenth House: The House of Social Status
Associated with Capricorn and the planet Saturn, the Tenth Astrological House is the House of Social Status, and is concerned with, unsurprisingly, one’s social status and place in life and society. Events occurring in this House affect the realms of one’s occupation, social class, respectability, public image, and role in society.
The Eleventh House: The House of Friendships
The House of Friendships is the Eleventh Astrological House, and is associated with Uranus and the Sun Sign of Aquarius. This House covers the realm of social relationships on a broader scale than covered by the Seventh House of Partnerships, and also includes in its spheres social goals and group memberships, such as those in clubs, worker’s unions, and the like. Actions taking place in this House also affect friendships that are not close enough to be included in the House of Partnerships.
The Twelfth House: The House of Self-Undoing
The Twelfth House in Astrology, the House of Self-Undoing, is associated with the Sun Sign Pisces and the planet Neptune. It is the House of the mystic, and is associated with actions taking place in the realm of spirituality, the powerful influences of the past, the collective world/universe/community as a single soul, one’s devotion to higher realms of thought, existence, and being, and service done for others or higher goals. Actions in this House are in the realm of the universe as a whole, and spirituality and higher ideas.
The Astrological Houses have the same progression as the Sun Signs they identity with. For more on this, see my post on Astrological Progression.
So, after going through all of the astrological Sun Signs, I realized that the way I had approached them had been sequential in terms of their zodiacal progression, i.e. how they were ordered along the Zodiac. This led me to interpret the progression of Sun Signs as they were divided into groups of three by Modality, but not in the “standard” way, but in terms of Zodiacal progression.
This meant that I interpreted them like so:
-Aries initiates action and identity, that is then stabilized and made secure by Taurus, who takes the action of Aries and turns it into something more lasting. This action is then adapted by Gemini, who applies logic and reason to the action to better suit it to surviving the changes of time.
-Cancer initiates care and nourishment that is stabilized by Leo, who provides children to accompany this care to apply to others and is appreciated for what he does, and uses his creativity to turn Cancer’s care into something that can last. Virgo then applies her own earthy analysis of the situation, and allows the family to adapt so that it can survive, and maintain its own identity as created in the first progression.
-Libra initiates balanced social interactions (made possible by the previous progression), which Scorpio stabilizes and allows to last through his flexibility and ability to transform itself. This, in turn, is modified even further by Sagittarius, the philosopher and teacher, who allows Scorpio’s transformations to occur in a logical fashion, better suited to the changing nature of human relations, and also allowing for a closer relationship with the universe.
-Capricorn initiates the pursuit of material success, and Aquarius stabilizes this success through his own originality and deeper connection to the universe (a result of the previous progression). Pisces then allows for one to adapt in order to keep lasting by merging the material with the universe all around them, which in turn can produce a new identity to initiate in the first progression.
By interpreting them in this way, four interconnected cycles are produced. The first creates an identity which allows for the creation of a caring family, which in turn creates the potential for social interactions outside of that family, and that in turn allows for one to succeed in the world, which sows the ground again for the creation of identity.
Each progression contains one of the three Modalities, in order; Cardinal, Fixed, and Mutable. Each group, however, only has three elements. The first has only Fire, Earth, and Air. The second has only Water, Fire, and Earth. The third has only Air, Water, and Fire. The last has only Earth, Air, and Water. This means that the creation of identity lacks overly much emotion, the opposite of the Cardinal Sign of Fire. The creation of family lacks Air, keeping rationality and logic out of the creation of strong emotional bonds. The creation of social relations lacks Earth, indicating that the relationship between people is something above the material, and happens on a higher plane. The creation of material success lacks Fire, indicating that the excessive pursuit of the material causes one to lose their spirit as represented by Fire.
Interestingly, looking at the Sun Signs in this way produces the more traditional order of elements when looking at the cardinal element of each group, such as seen in the Tarot: Fire first, Water second, Air third, and Earth last.
Another way to look at the progression of Sun Signs is by the Orientations, which progress in order throughout the Zodiac. The first four signs are personal, the second four interpersonal, and the final four transpersonal, and each group of four represents the creation of each orientation.
-This means that Aries creates a personal identity, Taurus stabilizes and lets one’s personal identity grow, Gemini creates logic and allows for one’s identity to transcend the physical, and Cancer creates a sort of self-centered ideal of caring and an idea that you are one person, and there are others who might need you.
-Leo then provides care on an interpersonal level (for most interpersonal relationships are about care or lack thereof on some level), Virgo takes that care and makes it logical (like a triage nurse), Libra directly then uses this logic to help improve diplomatic relations, and Scorpio transforms interpersonal relationships and allows them to survive, and also hints that there might be something larger out there.
-Sagittarius allows one to then understand to and relate to the universe on a deeper level, transcending the social, Capricorn translates this deeper awareness into something material, relating the abstract to the concrete, Aquarius channels this metaphysical knowledge into originality, and combined with Capricorn’s materialism is able to invent and create, and finally Pisces allows one to be at one with the universe, and this start the process again by creating a personal identity more in tune with one’s surroundings.
This progression I also briefly covered in my overview of the Sun Signs. Each group of four begins with Fire, which is then made material by Earth, which is then connected to the abstract by air, and which is then given a soul by water. Looked at this way, the traditional astrological progression of the elements is observed in each Orientation.
The final way of looking at the progression of the Sun Signs as groups is one I did not cover in my overview. When grouped together by element, each element has three Signs: one of each Modality (Cardinal, Fixed, and Mutable) and one of each Orientation. The differences in each Sun Sign are a result of the three different ways of expressing the associated element, like so:
–Fire: Fire is initiated by Aries, who creates an identity and initiates all actions. He is the cardinal force of cardinal forces, and is intensely personal. He is the manifestation of activity and identity. Fire is then stabilized by Leo, who turns this identity and action into creativity (note how above I had been emphasizing the familial aspects of Leo; in this progression his more fiery side is needed), which he can then show to others, emphasizing his interpersonal nature. Sagittarius completes the progression, by taking the creativity and identity of before and tying them together to create an active manipulator of the universe who relates to it on a transpersonal level, in the process allowing it to adapt to change through his wisdom. Fire takes one’s personal energy and expands it until it can be connected to the rest of the universe.
–Earth: Earth is initiated by Capricorn, who is the earth of earth, and seeks to gain material wealth through his practical and cautious ways. Materialism and a connection to the physical world are brought into being by the cardinal Earth, who also represents a transpersonal level of the element, indicating the high degree of connection between this element and the universe. Capricorns begin the cycle by bringing the energy of the universe down and translating it into the material. Taurus takes these material and practical concerns and makes them into something more enduring, making them something more practical. Taurus helps to develop a sense of self-possession and care for oneself, and it is Taurus that allows one to see that their own needs are met so that they may continue to survive, making Taurus a stabilizing sign and of the personal level. Virgo finishes off the progression by extending this personal practicality to others, and helping to care for their health (much like Cancer, though on an interpersonal level), and by creating communities of people working together for the common good, creating an interpersonal community able to adapt in order to survive by including many diverse members. Earth takes the energy of the universe and transforms it into something bonding people together, creating communities made up of individuals.
–Air: Air is initiated by Libra, who creates the abstract ideals of justice and equality, and seeks immediately to create good relations between other people, making it impersonal and cardinal. This diplomacy is then stabilized by Aquarius, who takes the energy of the universe and uses his originality to relate these abstract ideals created by people for people to the greater universe as a whole, making it transpersonal and mutable; after all, what better way to strengthen something than tie it to the fabric of the universe itself? The abstract nature of Air is finally brought to a personal level by Gemini, who turns deeper connections to the universe and other people into something easily understood by a single person, allowing for clear and effective communications for one’s own gain. This allows one to maintain their abstract principles by adapting them into something every person can use for themselves. Air takes the social energy of interactions and transforms it into something personal, using the universe as a conduit.
–Water: Water is initiated by Cancer, who sees himself as the saviour of all others, and goes out of his way to care for them, even if they don’t need it, because he himself feels that they do. He as cardinal because he actively goes out and seeks to nurture, yet his care is based on a personal level, and he does not always empathize fully with his charges. Cancer initiates feelings and emotions, and is the water of water. Scorpio transforms this nurturing and caring, and allows for regeneration and healing to occur between peoples, and the emotional bond between people becomes stronger on an interpersonal level. Pisces then finishes this process by adapting this caring and nourishment to a transpersonal level, in which not only are other people cared for, but the entire universe; the world becomes one’s charge, and it is one’s duty to then care for it. Water takes one’s personal feelings and changes them into a deeper care for the Earth and the universe, by caring for others first and then transposing this care onto everything else.
One can also take these signs and look at them as they progress by comparing the three Orientations associated with each sign, yielding an interpretation out of order to but similar to those found above.
In conclusion, then, one’s interpretation of the Zodiac can vary wildly depending on which order you believe to be most relevant to what you are doing – and there are a lot of ways to view the progression of the Zodiac (I won’t even get into the astrological Ages here).
So, I was thinking again (dangerous, I know), and I noticed that the order of the elements in Tarot and Astrology are different! This might seem minor to some, but for people who base part of their conception of the Tarot on the order of the elements (that would be me), this is shocking! The traditional elemental order in the Tarot is Fire (Origin), Water (Potential), Air (Thought), and then Earth (Realization). In Astrology, Fire (Origin) is first, followed by Earth (Realization), then Air (Thought) and Water (Potential). Water and Earth are switched in the astrological system!
After a few moments of panic, I began to rationalize this, and came to the conclusion that both orders are logical. The Tarot order makes sense because it starts off with a spark (Fire), which then gains potential (Water) and is defined then by thought (Air), which results in its manifestation in reality (Earth). An order of creation, based on the Tree of Life.
On the other hand, the astrological model is not one of creation, but of cycles. Fire begins as an initiator, providing activity to start things off, and is followed then by a manifestation on Earth. This manifestation is then observed and rationalized by Air, and after that it gains new potential through Water, which allows for another spark to ignite and carry on the cycle. This model makes sense for astrology, as there is an emhpasis on the cyclical nature of the Zodiac and similar, cyclical changes.
Pisces – ♓ – Fish – Self-Undoing – February 19/March 20 – Water – Mutable – Yin (-) – Transpersonal – Neptune
Scary as the name of its associated House may sound – “The House of Self-Undoing” – the final Sun Sign of the Zodiac, Pisces, is not any more negative than its associates. Pisces is associated with ideas of mysticism and isolation, in many ways like the Hermit of the Tarot (though “officially” the two are not associated with each other). The House of Self-Undoing is also associated with these mystic ideas, and is also directly associated with isolation, hermeticism, reflection, sacrifice (primarily of self), and the unconscious (which is reinforced by Pisces’ association with Water). The idea of “Self-Undoing” is directly related to the Sun Sign’s Transpersonal Orientation. Pisces is concerned with knowledge of the larger universe, and seeks this knowledge by looking so deep into oneself that that self is lost, subsumed by the larger universe. Many mystics and hermeticists believe that this is the goal of existence, and Islamic Sufis (and early Islamic faylasufs) tried to completely lose themselves in the glory of the larger universe, or God, depending on the symbolism you choose. Once they found God, their self would burn away and they would become on with him (many of them, of course, later reconsituted themselves, but as an appendage of sorts of God). It is then fitting that Pisces is the last Sun Sign, as Pisches finishing what Aries started, and allows the self to become one with the universe. Pisces’ association with unity reinforces this idea greatly.
Pisces is also of the Mutable Modality, meaning that it adapts and changes as it learns. More specifically, the new order created by Capricorn and reproduced by Aquarius is adapted and changed by Pisces until ultimate enlightenment can be reached. Pisces also is associated with the element of Water, reinforcing ideas of passivity within Pisces; the mystic generally does not interfere, and cuts himself off from society in order to understand the universe, and so is, in a sense, the ultimate in passivity (which goes along with its Yin Polarity). Pisces is also symbolized by the fish – two fish, actually, which associate it in turn with rebirth and resurrection, such as that which comes through being reborn with the knowledge of the universe in your head.
Pisces is ruled by Neptune, which is associated with idealism, intuition, and healing – qualities of the mystic and also strongly associated with Water, emphasizing Pisces’ watery nature. Neptune is also associated with unification, just like Pisces.
After finishing my recent Astrology post on Capricorn, I thought for a long while about the parallels that can be drawn between the Sun Sign of Capricorn and the Tarot Card of the Devil. The Devil is a rebel, a destroyer of order, and a god of wild, uncontrolled fertility. Capricorn is associated with order and discipline, and social status and hierarchy. At first glance, the two seem to be opposites, yet Capricorn is the Sun Sigh associated with the Devil.
This could be because of the symbolism. The Devil is a goat, and often represented as Pan. The same holds true of Capricorn, so on this superficial level the two have some parallels. However, the parallels do go deeper, even if you have to think about them.
Capricorn is associated with social class and order, yes, but not necessarily the accepted, established one. Capricorns are, like the goat, often thick-headed and sometimes confrontational, and will try to change the society around them to fit their view of what order looks like. Capricorns are associated with the Yin Polarity, making them passive and introverted, but that does not mean that they cannot initiate change and flip the order of things head-over-heels. One’s sheer force of personality can be enough to initiate an action to change the world.
When looked at that way, suddenly the parallels between Capricorn and the Devil become clear. The Devil tried to overthrow the old order in an attempt to establish his own order, and his sheer force of personality turned many angels to his side. In the end, his new order didn’t fully establish itself, but it did create some very large changes in the universe.
Capricorn and the Devil are also both associated with virility (Pan) and fertility (Earth), but in different ways; the Devil with wanton creation, and Capricorn with ordered reproduction. The two don’t exactly match up, but Capricorns are still associated with reproduction, in the sense that they reproduce their own values in order to spread them and establish their own order; just not in the same wanton fashion as the Devil once did.
So, though some of the meanings of the two symbols may differ at a glance, they are more closely related than one would think. And thus concludes my thoughts on the matter!
Aquarius – ♒ – Water Bearer – Friendships – January 21/February 18 – Air – Fixed – Yang (+) – Transpersonal – Uranus
Aquarius the water-bearer is a Sun Sign of the Air, associated with abstract principles and rational thought. It is also associated with the Astrological House of Friendships, which brings with it an association with ones’s hopes, as well. This association with the House of Friendships also makes Aquarius associated with, as the name implies, friendships and close relationships between similar people, as well as groups, clubs, and relationships on higher levels. Aquarius is of the Transpersonal Orientation, meaning that Aquariuses are concerned with their relationship to the universe as a whole. Aquarius does this by interacting with others, pouring down rivers – as is associated with its symbol, the Water Bearer – to others. Aquarius is a source of water and nourishment for others and serves to bring the energy of the universe down to others by using its lofty understanding to act as an intermediary with the universe. As such, Aquariuses are often considered strange, different, or weird by others, and they embrace this difference, viewing it as a positive thing, which sometimes can lead to rebellion and nonconformity for the sake of itself.
Through this deeper connection to the universe, Aquarius is often able to experience Afflatus Divine – or, in less fancy terms, Divine Inspiration. Aquarius is able to take brilliant ideas from the universe and pour it down into the world, making them amazing inventors, creators, and people who make society and technology move forward. Aquarius is of the Yang Polarity, which is not surprising, given the fact that they influence others by actively doing (and even in its symbol, the Water Bearer is pouring water, not accepting it). Aquarius is also of the Fixed Modality, meaning that Aquariuses maintain the order laid out by Capricorn through the inspiration they receive from the universe.
Aquarius is ruled by Uranus, who is associated with originality, progress, and innovation, emphasizing the creative aspects of Aquarius.
Capricorn – ♑ – Goat – Social Status – December 21/January 20 – Earth – Cardinal – Yin (-) – Transpersonal – Saturn
The Sun Sign of Capricorn is associated with the oft-overlooked goat. The goat is an animal of the Earth, and its horns can either represent fertility or, if they spiral, infinity. Due to its association with Earth, Capricorn is a very practical and materialistic Sun Sign, and Capricorns tend to be concerned primarily with the everyday world and physical things. Because of this elemental association, Capricorn is also of the Yin Polarity, and so is introverted and often passive. Capricorn is also a Cardinal Sign, however, meaning that initiates action, and the actions that it initiates are associated with order. It is associated with the House of Social Status, representing authority, hierarchy, ambition, appearance, and drives. Capricorns are very concerned with how they appear to others and are concerned with finding out how and where they fit into the grand scheme of things. Capricorns are also of the Transpersonal Orientation, and so while they might be introverts and keep to themselves, they are also seeking to connect to the universe on a deeper level. In Capricorns, this manifests in trying to place themselves in an ordered world, and then presenting themselves to others as belonging in that position. They seek to ground their connection to the rest of the universe in reality by figuring out where they fit in. However, Capricorns don’t necessarily have to be content with where they are, and may try to move up in the ranks.
The goat is often thickheaded, and is associated also with virility and fertility, and reproduction as a whole, through the guise of Pan (and reinforced through its association with Earth). Capricorn represents Pan in the Zodiac, and the influences of the natural world upon us all, again combining the universe’s grand plan with more practical concerns, and initiating actions to shape the world more to their liking, not necessarily through active actions, but just by being who they are. They initiate, but do not start out trying to change the world; by nature of who they are, it just happens. Capricorns have strong personalities, can be confrontational at times, and have very clear ideas of their role in society, and seek order and the reproduction of said order. That being said, Capricorns are also great adapters, and do not usually seek to create new things completely out of nothing; rather, they adapt what they have before them using pre-existing concepts of order and discipline in order to build their new models. This then leads to Capricorns as being, interestingly, in the Cardinal Modality, but whose Cardinality is defined by Mutability.
Capricorn is ruled by Saturn, which reinforces the ordered nature of Capricorn with its association with discipline, responsibility, and thoroughness.