The 12 Houses in Astrology Can Help You Understand a New Level of Your Zodiac Sign

Photo: Stocksy / Carl Zoch
So, you've memorized all the attributes of your sun, moon, and rising signs—and maybe you're even planning your workouts in accordance with your Mars sign and using your Venus sign to suss out potential partners. Ready for the next level of zodiac mastery? Learning about the different houses in astrology can provide you with a deeper level of insight into your natal chart.

What are astrological houses?

The astrological houses reflect planet Earth’s 24-hour rotation on its axis each day, showing where in the sky each of the planets and luminaries (aka the sun and moon) were located at the moment when you were born.

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From our perspective on Earth, the sun, moon, and planets appear to move through the 12 astrological houses in a clockwise fashion each day, rising in the east (which reflects the portion of the sky associated with the first house), peaking at midday (at the 10th house), setting in the west (at the seventh house), and finally, disappearing below the horizon (at the fourth house).

Each of these houses is one pie slice of your birth chart, and each reflects a distinct area or realm of life, such as your home and family (fourth house) or your work life (10th house). And the sign and planet(s) included in each of the houses in your chart are thought to influence how you experience that realm of life. (Note that only some of the houses in your chart will have planet(s) in them, whereas others will be empty houses, which just means no planet is acutely influencing that realm of your life—not that nothing is happening there, BTW.

How do I find out my houses in astrology?

Getting a personal chart reading by a professional astrologer is the best way to learn how the houses are arranged in your natal chart, among other elements related to your astrological profile.

You can also simply enter your birth time, place, and location into a natal chart generator, like this free one online, and look to see which signs are in which of the 12 houses (aka slices of your birth chart), as well as how the planets are distributed across these houses.

How to read your houses in astrology

Astrologer Chani Nicholas, author of You Were Born For This: The Astrology of Radical Self-Acceptance, suggests imagining the mix of planets, signs, and houses in astrology as a theater production. “The planets are the characters, the signs are the costumes they're wearing, and the houses are the stages, or areas of life, where they're lived out,” she says. “Planets express their energy in the style of the sign they are in and show up prominently in whatever domain of life, or house, they are located [in].”

“The planets are the characters, the signs are the costumes they're wearing, and the houses are the stages, or areas of life, where they're lived out,”—Chani Nicholas, astrologer

To start interpreting the houses in your chart, look to the house that the sun occupies, “which tells you a key area of life in which your essential life purpose is lived out and where you need to express yourself,” says Nicholas, since the sun is all about self-expression and ego. For example, if the sun is in your 10th house, which corresponds to your professional life, it’s likely that work will play a big role in helping you find and fulfill your true purpose.

It’s also important to check out what’s happening in all of your angular houses (the first, fourth, seventh, and 10th houses), which astrologer and tarot reader Clarisse Monahan explains are the four most important houses in a birth chart. Having planets or luminaries in these angular houses, she says, means the themes of these houses will be paramount in your life. Exactly how so will have to do with the planet (and sign) in any of these houses.

For example, if Mars (the planet of passion and aggression) is in your fourth house (which rules over home and family), you may feel a deep sense of duty and passion around protecting family values, whatever that means to you. Or, if your seventh house (which rules relationships) is in the grounded, steadfast sign of Taurus, you may thrive in relationships where loyalty and commitment reign supreme.

In turn, understanding the houses in your chart involves understanding the qualities of both the planets and the zodiac sign that’s stationed in each house.

How do the houses in astrology affect the themes of your life?

Just like the planets embark on their journey through the 12 houses, we do, too. In astrology, annual profections are 12-year cycles that correspond to the themes of each house, beginning at the first cusp or house in the year you’re born (when you’re 0 years old) and moving counterclockwise through the houses. After the 12th year, the cycle begins again at the first house, meaning in your 12th year of life, themes associated with the first house (like sense of self and ego) would dictate your life.

“Annual profections are a simple predictive technique that originated in the Hellenistic tradition of Astrology that relies on a specific house to discover the dominant themes for one’s age,” psychic astrologer and certified spiritual advisor Angel Dawn explains. Think of profection years as seasons for each year of your life—the major motifs of that year relate to the overarching themes of its corresponding house.

For example, if you’re 27 years old, you’re in your fourth house profection year, which rules the area of family, home, and your internal world. During your fourth house profection year, you might uproot your life and move to a different city or mend domestic relationships. You can find what profection year you’re in by using an annual profection wheel.

Which planets rule which houses?

Every house in astrology is associated with a particular zodiac sign as well as that sign’s planetary ruler (you can see each sign’s ruler below). The traits of the associated sign and planet influence the house’s core characteristics. For example, the third house corresponds to the third zodiac sign, Gemini, as well as Gemini’s planetary ruler Mercury, which is why the house has to do with Mercurial matters, like ideas, communication, and transportation.

  • First house: Mars
  • Second house: Venus
  • Third house: Mercury
  • Fourth house: the moon
  • Fifth house: the sun
  • Sixth house: Mercury
  • Seventh house: Venus
  • Eighth house: Pluto
  • Ninth House: Jupiter
  • 10th House: Saturn
  • 11th House: Uranus
  • 12th House: Neptune

How can I know which house is strong in my birth chart?

Monahan recommends taking a look at your birth chart and noticing what area visually draws in your eye. Usually, it is where there is a lot of action happening, meaning there are planets in that house. FYI, when there’s a cluster of planets in a specific house (or zodiac sign!), it’s called a stellium, which discerns major themes in your life that correspond to that house. This concentrated energy will tell you which house is strong in your birth chart.

For example, if you have a stellium in your fifth house, which rules creativity and pleasure, you might feel a magnetic force in art or have a strong attraction to love and romance. A stellium in your sixth house might indicate a strong sense of structure or affinity to all things health and wellness—themes that the sixth house rules.

What each of the 12 houses in astrology mean

1st House

Ruling planet: Mars

The 1st astrological house is the most personal one of the 12 houses and is related to Aries. Astrologers consider this house to be our core personality. “Technically, this is the only area of the chart that represents us—all the other sections of the chart are dedicated to different areas of our life,” Monahan says. “This house represents our body, our ego, our vitality, [and] our look.” Fun fact: The first house also happens to be your ascendant or rising sign, and the planet that rules this sign is considered to be your chart ruler.

The zodiac sign or planet that’s stationed in your first house will discern your key personality traits. If Aquarius is in your first house, for example, then you could exhibit a rebellious or avant-garde energy—even if your sun sign is in Cancer. If the moon is in your first house, on the other hand, this could mean you’re emotionally in tune with yourself or are naturally sensitive.

2nd House

Ruling planet: Venus

The 2nd house is associated with value, ownership, possessions, and finances, Monahan says, and this house corresponds to Taurus. The zodiac sign or planets in this house discern your core values, along with your relationship to money and material things. For instance, if Libra is located in your second house, you might be drawn to the finer things or value your social life, both qualities are associated with Libra.

Having Saturn in the second house could express the need for structure and stability. Regardless of the planets at play, if your birth chart has a lot of emphasis on the second house (meaning there are planetary placements here), Monahan notes that establishing a sense of security is a very important life theme for you.

3rd House

Ruling planet: Mercury

Themes of the 3rd house include short-distance travel, neighbors, siblings, and communication, and is associated with Gemini. Our ideas, communication style, and how we process information are all ruled by the third house. That said, whatever planet or zodiac sign is sitting in this house influences these motifs.

Let’s say Virgo is stationed in this house. That would mean you’re an analytical thinker, and likely prefer a structured itinerary for trips (Virgo qualities applied to third-house realms of life). Likewise, if you have assertive Mars in this house, it could mean you have a direct and confrontational way of communicating, or that you don’t mind a little chaos on vacation.

4th House

Ruling planet: The moon

Monahan notes that the 4th house is the most private of the astrological houses because it deals with our home, our ancestry, our lineage, and where we come from—aka themes surrounding Cancer. It is also associated with land including buying and selling property. Having Pisces in the fourth house could indicate the need for an idyllic home life since Pisces is a sensitive dreamer.

If you have Mercury (the planet of thought processes and communication) stationed in the fourth house, this means articulating your emotional needs comes easy to you, or that you can easily process your emotions rather than being confused by them.

5th House

Ruling planet: The sun

Think of the 5th house as the fun astrological house, and all things associated with Leo. This house is where creativity, pleasure, delight, and merriment live, Monahan says. It also gives insight into your approach to sex and romance. That said, if romantic Taurus is stationed in the 5th house, that could mean you’re a devoted lover who lives for affection.

But if the moon—aka the luminary related to your emotions—is in your 5th house, you might have an easy time expressing your feelings, often through a form of art, or you’re comfortable being open about how you feel with a romantic partner.

6th House

Ruling planet: Mercury

According to Monahan, the 6th house in astrology used to be associated with sickness and menial tasks. Related to Virgo, Monahan says modern-day astrology has rebranded this house to be about wellness and our day-to-day routines. This is the area of life that governs our daily planners, rituals, and habits. If your 6th house is occupied by action-oriented Aries, you might have a proclivity to sports or an active lifestyle.

Let’s say you have Taskmaster Saturn living in the 6th house. This could mean you prefer to stick to a strict and structured schedule, where you need organization and stability to feel content.

7th House

Ruling planet: Venus

If you’re needing insight into your relationships, the 7th house in astrology is where you go for more information. This house is associated with Libra. Whether it’s your coworker or your romantic soulmate, the 7th house is how you operate within these relationships. If friendship-oriented Aquarius is stationed in this house, you might be drawn to the power of community. If Neptune, the planet of dreams, lives in this house, on the other hand, you might struggle with unrealistic expectations for your relationships or tend to over-romanticize them.

Having a stellium in this house puts an emphasis on partnership life, perhaps you’re someone who learns and grows through partnerships or you have some blocks to work through in your relationship journey.

8th House

Ruling planet: Pluto

The 8th house focuses on shared finances, taxes, and debt. Its corresponding zodiac sign is Scorpio. “Modern-day astrology also associates intimacy with this area, and it makes sense as this is where you share your life with another,” Monahan adds. In modern astrology, this is the house that deals with intimacy, sex, and transformation.

Having thrill-seeking Sagittarius in your 8th house could make it easy for you to seize change and new perspectives, since this is the sign of philosophy and expansion. If the sun is in the 8th house, this could mean you’re constantly undergoing physical and spiritual makeovers.

9th House

Ruling planet: Jupiter

Long-distance travel (literally or metaphorically) is a big theme for the 9th house, as it’s related to Sagittarius. This is the house that rules your outlook on the world and your thirst for knowledge. “This is part of the chart associated with expanding your mind, whether through study or travel; it is all about learning more about the world,” Monahan says.

If inquisitive Gemini is in your 9th house, you have a natural curiosity for the world around you and seek higher knowledge any way you can. If Venus, the planet of love and beauty, is in the 9th house, you might have a strong attraction to learning about art and cultures around the world that help us relate to one another.

10th House

Ruling planet: Saturn

Monahan says the 10th house is the most public house that deals with career and prestige and it is associated with high-level jobs (think manager or boss). This house is associated with Capricorn. “The 10th house is where we can share our gifts with the world in a public manner,” explains Monahan.

“A lot of planets in this area indicate a need to be seen and get recognition for the work you do,” she adds. If you have passionate Scorpio located in the 10th house, not only might you be extremely ambitious, but you probably prefer being the one to call the shots, as Scorpio is related to power. On the other hand, if Neptune is positioned in the 10th house, you might struggle with biting off more than you can chew or pursuing goals that are just out of reach.

11th House

Ruling planet: Uranus

Ruling community and hope, the 11th house is how you fit in the grand scheme of things. “The 11th house generally just gets labeled as the area of friendships and networking, but the ancients also used to associate it with good fortune,” Monahan says. The 11th house is related to Aquarius. This house discerns how you support others and your ability to pursue your dreams. If Capricorn is in your 11th house, you likely feel most supported by your coworkers or get along best with those who cheer you on in your career.

Having a Jupiter placement in this house is especially auspicious. “Jupiter is associated with generosity and expansion which is why he does so well in this part of the chart,” Monahan adds. This can indicate having a large friend group.

12th House

Ruling planet: Neptune

The 12th house rules over the unseen, such as the subconscious, hidden secrets, and mental health, and is associated with Pisces. This is the place we go when our head is in the clouds and what we feel when we get a hunch about something. For example, if Scorpio is in the 12th house, you could be a private person and highly selective about who you share your fears and secrets with. On the other hand, if Mercury is located in the 12th house, you might be more of an open-book type of person who makes a show of their private thoughts.

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