What are astrological houses?
Just as every zodiac chart is divided into 12 signs, it's also divided into 12 houses that overlap those signs. Each house represents a different aspect of life, from travel and romance to career, and every planet in your chart is located in both a sign and a house. These two placements illustrate how a planet's meaning and influence can appear in your life.
It’s also important to know about angular houses, which Clarisse Monahan, astrologer and tarot reader, explains are the four most important houses in a birth chart. Having planets in these angular houses, she says, means they make the themes of these houses more paramount in your life. In order of importance, the angular houses are the 1st, 10th, 7th, and 4th. You might read your birth chart and find that you have an empty house, which in astrology means no planet is acutely influencing that realm of your life—not that nothing is happening there.
“A nice way to remember these houses is to think about the first four questions you usually get asked when you meet someone,” she says. “Who are you? (1st house), what do you do (10th house), who are you with (7th house) and where are you from? (4th house).”
What do the 12 houses of astrology represent?
It's a lot to wrap your head around, which is why 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]."
While you can look for the sign and house placements for every planet in your chart using diagrams like the one included above, it can get overwhelming. A good place to start is figuring out which house your sun sign occupies. To do this, simply enter your birth time, place, and location into a natal chart generator, like this free one online, and scroll down to the written description of your sun sign. There, you'll learn what house it's in.
"The sun represents our essential self and is a core part of our life’s purpose," says Nicholas. "The house that the sun is in within your chart tells you a key area of life in which your essential life purpose is lived out and where you need to express yourself. [For example], if your sun is in Virgo in your 10th house of career, you will need to express yourself—the sun—in a skillful, discerning, detail-oriented manner—Virgo—through professional avenues or public roles—the 10th house."
She adds that a person with a 10th-house Virgo sun would make a good editor or doctor, because both are leadership positions that require attention to detail.
Another important note: The sun is happier in some houses than others. "If the sun is in the 9th house, for travel and learning, it's said to be in its joy—the house it feels most comfortable shining in," says Nicholas.
The 1st (self), 10th (career), and 11th (community) houses are also known to be easier placements for the sun, while the more complicated 6th (physical health), 8th (mental health), and 12th (inner life) houses can sometimes be a bit more challenging for this fiery planet. But if you find yourself with your sun in one of these houses, don't let it freak you out. Rather, think of it as a growth opportunity.
"Frida Kahlo’s sun is in her 12th house: the house of hidden life, secrets, sorrow, loss and behind-the-scenes work," Nicholas says, as an example. "Kahlo contracted polio early in life as well as survived a very near-fatal bus accident, both of which demanded that she spend time in isolation healing. However, these periods of intense self-reflection led her to create art that addressed sorrow, loss, identity, beauty, and the human condition—all 12th-house topics—leaving behind a treasure trove of work and leaving her indelible impression upon her profession."
Nicholas goes into more detail about the houses in astrology—as well as the sun, moon, and rising signs—in You Were Born For This. But even without her intel, you can glean value and understanding from knowing which house contains your sun by checking out your chart and referencing the illustration above.
"The houses of our chart give us context for where things will occur, and understanding and developing a relationship to the house that your sun is in will be integral to living out your life's purpose," says Nicholas. "My hope is that the faster we radically accept ourselves, the quicker we can put our talents to use and be of service to others." In other words, you officially have permission to spend even more time going down astrology rabbit holes.
12 Houses in Astrology and What They Mean
The 1st astrological house is the most personal one of the 12 houses. “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.”
The 2nd house is associated with value, ownership, possessions, and finances, Monahan says. If your birth chart has a lot of emphasis on the second house (meaning there are planetary placements here), she notes that establishing a sense of security is a very important life theme for you.
Themes of the 3rd house include short distance travel, neighbors, siblings, and communication. “The moon likes to be here as she vibes with the tempo of this house in that she is always moving quickly through the zodiac,” Monahan says.
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. It is also associated with land including buying and selling property.
Think of the 5th house as the fun astrological house. This is where creativity, pleasure, delight, and merriment lives, Monahan says. It also gives insight to your approach to sex and romance.
According to Monahan, the 6th house in astrology used to be associated with sickness and menial tasks. However, she says modern day astrology has rebranded this house to be about wellness and our day-to-day routines.
If you’re needing insight into your relationships, the 7th house in astrology is where you go for more information. If you have planets in this house, Monahan says this 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.
The 8th house focuses on shared finances, taxes, investments, and debt. “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.
Long distance travel (literally or metaphorically) is a big theme for the 9th house. “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. “A lot of planets in this house can indicate someone who ends up moving far away from where they were born, or an attraction to people from different countries.”
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). “A lot of planets in this area indicate a need to be seen and get recognition for the work you do,” she adds. “The 10th house is where we can share our gifts with the world in a public manner.”
“This 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. 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.”
People with planets in the 12th house tend to need private time to work through things as it is the house associated with the unconscious, Monahan says. She advises listening to the needs of the planets in this house. For instance, she says the sun in this house denotes someone who doesn’t want to be in the public eye and the moon here means the person is emotionally reserved.
Houses in Astrology FAQs
Which is the most important house in astrology?
The 1st house is the house that is truly us, Monahan says, making it the most important house in astrology. It’s also very important because whatever sign is on the 1st house tells us our ascendant sign.
“It is from our ascendant or rising sign that gives us the key to unlocking our birth chart,” she says. “Not only does it show us how we appear to others, it also tells us who our ruling planet is. The ruling planet acts like the captain at the helm of your birth chart.”
How can I know which house is strong in my birth chart?
For this, 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. This will tell you which house is strong in your birth chart.
Which house is the best for the sun to be in?
“The sun is associated with ego and vitality so it loves to be seen,” Monahan says. “Therefore the sun is happiest in a very prominent place in the birth chart [such as] the 1st house or the 10th house.”
Which is the worst house to have the sun in?
Because the sun is so regal and doesn’t like to be hidden, Monahan says a sun placement in a house that is not very visible and can’t shine to its fullest potential wouldn’t be as happy. This includes the 12th, 8th, or 6th house.
In which house does the moon give the best results?
Although the moon loves being in the 3rd house (“She works well here as her tempo is in line with the busy, changeable house,” Monahan says.), it is strongest in the 4th house because it is associated with home and lineage which is comfortable for the moon. Monahan adds that the moon is also strong in the 10th house because it shows you’re in tune with what the public wants.
What does it mean when my astrological chart is perfect?
“No one’s chart is perfect,” Monahan says. “We all have a mixture of challenging and easy aspects.”
Some people may have placements that denote things can come easily for them. However, she adds that sometimes people with many “lucky” placements in their chart “can fall on their laurels and become complacent.” In that sense, difficult placements can be a good thing, she says, as they push us to improve.
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