The Houses

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Astrological Houses - An Introduction

If a planet can be said to denote: what needs to be done; a sign: how it needs to be done; then a house reflects where (=which area of life) it needs to be done. So, Astrological Houses, in Natal Astrology, symbolise the different areas in the native's circle of life. In Mundane Astrology, these houses can be understood on a more macro level (graduating from the natal self to the mundane surroundings), to correspondingly refer to the different areas, for example in a country's chart.


The Houses: Angular

The astrological wheel can be divided into 12 denominations, each signifying a specific house = an area of life. The size (measured in degrees) of each house might differ as per the house system one may use (Placidus, Koch, Equal, etc) while doing a chart. Just like the twelve signs are classified into the three modalities of Cardinal, Fixed and Mutable; so are correspondingly the 12 houses grouped as Angular, Succedent and Cadent:

Angular Houses
This placement marks the areas of initiation, where maximum action happens and which come into direct notice of the outside world. These houses are called areas of maximum power, so planets in here will tend to be more action-oriented and express themselves in more external ways. The four Angular Houses, due to their angular location, can be said to open the doors for the native to the outside world and reflect the four key areas in his life: 1st house=self and surroundings, 4th house=family and home, 7th house=others and relationships, and the 10th house profession and public standing. Angular Houses are similar in nature to cardinal signs : the First house(=cardinal Aries), Fourth (=Cancer), Seventh (=Libra) and Tenth (=Capricorn)

Succedent Houses
These are sligtly more hidden and succeed the Angular houses. Succedent houses are thus thought to be of medium power and are concerned with securing and stabilising that which has been initiated in the Angular houses. Succedent Houses are thus similar in nature to the fixed signs : the Second house (= fixed Taurus), Fifth (=Leo), Eight (=Scorpio) and Eleventh (=Aquarius)

Cadent Houses
These are just after the Succedent houses, and are said to 'fall away' from the Angular houses. Cadent houses are said to be least expressive towards the outside world, but the last few degrees (upto 6°), which approach the next angular house, are considered strongly action-oriented. Cadent houses show areas of adaptation, mental reflection and acting in the background (behind the angular houses). They also point at areas of transition where that which was initiated in the Angular house, then stabilised in the Succedent house, now undergoes transition and completion here, so that new beginnings as part of the next stage can be initiated in the Angular house as the circle of life goes on. Cadent Houses are similar in quality to the mutable signs : the Third house (=mutable Gemini), Sixth (=Virgo), Ninth (=Sagittarius) and Twelfth (=Pisces).


courtesy of

The Four Main Angles
There are four main Anglular Points in a chart: Ascendant<-->Descendant, Imum Coeli or IC<-->Medium Coeli or MC (also referrred to as the Midheaven). These points correspond with the angular houses and mark off the points of division of a chart as per the aforementioned ways. See also the diagram at the top.

The two angular points of the Ascendant (1st house) and Descendant (7th house) form the horizontal 'X' axis or the plane of action between the self (Ascendant) and the others (Descendant).
The other two angular points of the Imum Coeli or the IC (4th house) and the Medium Coeli or the MC (10th house) form the vertical 'Y' axis or the plane of action from the inner most self (origin and family) to the outer most self (public and professional standing). More in detail on these angles in the explanation of the Houses in the following post(s).

Basically, the two axes (X: Asc<-->Dsc and Y: MC<-->IC) divide the astrological wheel into Two Halves, both ways:
Horizontally: into the Upper Half or Northern Hemisphere that is said to represent the outer and public self, and the Lower Half or Southern Hemisphere that is said to correspond with the inner or the private self; and

Vertically: into the Left and Right halves. It is said that, if majority of the planets are found on the left half of the chart, it reflects the chart of a sower (esp if the planets are in the lower left), also of a leader (esp if the planets are in the upper left); as the left half is said to be an area which is concerned more with the self, where the native has more freedom to act of his own accord, and be more independent of others. If more planets are found on the right half of the chart, it is called more a reaper or a follower's chart due to more focus on and collaboration with others. However, nothing should be understood singularly.

To round it all up, the four quadrants that are thus formed in the the astrological wheel/the chart (by the two axes, X: Asc<-->Dsc and Y: MC<-->IC) may be understood in terms of the Four Main Stages in the native's life:

Quadrant I (houses 1, 2 and 3) = sowing the seed/birth and manifestation of the self
Quadrant II (houses 4,5 and 6) = development of the self and awareness towards others
Quadrant III (houses 7, 8 and 9) = moving from self to others, and enhancing the awareness towards the world(ly)
Quadrant IV (houses 10, 11 and 12) = progressing towards humanity, harvest and maturity.

Note: The exact time of birth, besides the date and place, is of cardinal importance in order to get the accurate sign and degree of the Asc/first house, which then automatically sets the astrological ball rolling by putting the other houses in their correct positions by sign and degree.
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I'm in the midst of revising and expanding a book I published about three years ago. It began and survives as "Book One" in a series that has reincarnated itself as an evolving single volume, destined for publication whenever it finishes itself...

I thought I'd reproduce the meanings from that book here for your contemplation:

1st House
Focus on the Present.
See Things from My Own Perspective.
See Things Clearly.
Truly Be Who I Am.​

2nd House
Focus on my Resources.
Realize my Heritage.
Be Aware of My Worth.
Ground My Plans.​

3rd House
Be Aware of My Immediate Environment.
Learn Important Facts.
Study What’s Important.
Make Connections.​

4th House
Anchor Myself.
Nourish My Roots.
Fertilize the Situation.
Ground Myself.​

5th House
Dramatize My Concerns.
Externalize My Creativity.
“Test The Waters”.
Provide an Example.​

6th House
Be of Service.
Improve Myself.
Prepare for Relationship.
Correct Mistakes.​

7th House
Begin (or, Refresh) a Relationship.
Be Aware of the Other Person’s Perspective.
Initiate Sharing.
Find a Compensating Viewpoint.​

8th House
Deepen Relationship.
Find the Depth of the Issue.
Accentuate the Importance of a Relationship.
Merge With Others.​

9th House
See the Broader Perspective.
Bring the Situation to its Highest Expression.
Broadcast Expectations.
Realize the Ideal.​

10th House
Make the Situation as Objective as Possible.
Realize My Highest Objective Goals.
Express My Social Role.
Be Who I Am In The World.​

11th House
Make My Social Position Secure.
Enlist the Aid of My Social Network.
Activate My Goals.
Give Expression to My Hopes.​

12th House
Realize the Oneness of Life.
Utilize the Resources of My Unconscious Mind.
Explore the Value of Transcendence of Self.
Bring the Issue to Its Best Possible Conclusion.​
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The angles in natal astrology


The ascendant is the part of the sky rising in the east at any given point in time. It is the most powerful part of the sky. Opposite, setting in the west, is the descendant. Overhead, the highest part of the sky the sun reaches is the Midheaven, directly below that, the lowest part, in the earth itself, is the IC, short for Imum Coeli.

The angles are the most powerful points in a Natal chart. Planets positioned on the angles can operate with a great deal of power and influence. The power of planets in succedent and cadent houses, in contrast, is latent, hidden, below the surface, sub or unconscious.

William Lilly had this to say about the Angles:

The first, tenth, seventh and fourth houses hereof are called Angles, the eleventh, second, eighth & fifth are called Succedants, the third, twelfth, ninth and sixth, are termed Cadents. The Angles are most powerfull, the Succedants are next in vertue, the Cadents poor, and of little efficacy: the Succedant houses follow the Angles, the Cadents come next the Succedants; in force and vertue they stand so in order:
1, 10, 7, 4, 11, 5, 9, 3, 2, 8, 6, 12
The meaning whereof is this, that two Planets equally dignified, the one in the Ascendant, the other in the tenth house, you shall judge the Planet in the Ascendant somewhat of more power to effect what he is Significator of, then he that is in the tenth: doe so in the rest as they stand in order, remembering that Planets in Angles doe more forcibly shew their effects.

In modern astrology, two important points or "angles" are generally used in the construction of
houses; the ascendant degree which begins the first house, and the Midheaven degree which starts
the tenth house. At equatorial latitudes these two points are generally 90 degrees apart, but the
further one moves north or south the greater or lesser the distance between them, resulting in
uneven and sometimes intercepted houses (a sign fully contained within a house)
Planets that are posited on the angles are far more *pro-active* than those placed in either the succedent or cadent houses.
Hence, before you begin to look at the chart in terms of what planet is where, you need to select a House System to use.
Here is a brief introduction to just a sample of the many house systems that can be used to construct a chart. You may like to experiment with your own Natal chart, observing the differences that occur using the different house systems.

Campanus - This system uses the four angles as the cusps of the 1st, 4th, 7th and 10th house and
the division is linked to the four cardinal points.

Regiomontanus - based on the earth's movement around the sun, measured by the equator and
the horizon. A 15th century astronomer, Johannes Muller, known as "Regiomontanus" devised the
system. William Lilly used this system and many horary Astrologers use this system in the current
time. This system was meant to refine the Campanus method.

Equal House - the simplest of all. This system uses the degree of the Ascendant as the basis for all
the succeeding house cusps, so that each house begins at the same degree but of the next sign. It
involves no further calculation of house cusps once the Ascendant is found as the houses are
divided equally and there can be no intercepted houses.

Koch - known as the *birth place method, *, it uses time for its divisions counting from the MC to the Ascendant. This makes the birth place co-ordinates vital in the calculation. Because it uses the MC as its starting point, the MC is the most important angle of this type of chart.
First presented in 1964, Koch is one of the newest house systems. ... The same intercepted signs and unequal divisions occur as with most unequal house systems.
Koch Houses seem to be favoured by many Medical astrologers.,_Walter_Albert

Placidus - devised by Placidus de Tito, a 17th century mathematician. It is based on the time taken
for the Ascendant to become the MC. As with the Koch system, it is open to having intercepted
Porphyry - Porphyry (233 - c.304 AD.) Greek philosopher known for his work on Ptolemy's
"Tetrabiblos". The system is based on division of the ecliptic, dividing the houses by trisecting the semi-arc of the Ascendant/MC. The four angles are used respectively for the 1st, 4th, 7th and 10th houses, then each quadrant is divided equally as measured on the ecliptic.Each quadrant of the ecliptic is divided into three equal parts.

Whole sign:
In the whole sign house system, sometimes referred to as the 'Sign-House system', the houses are
30° each. The ascendant designates the rising sign, and the first house begins at zero degrees of
the zodiac sign in which the ascendant falls, regardless of how early or late in that sign the
ascendant is. The next sign after the ascending sign then becomes the 2nd house, the sign after
that the 3rd house, and so on. In other words, each house is wholly filled by one sign. This was the
main system used in the Hellenistic tradition of astrology, and is also used in Indian astrology, as
well as in some early traditions of Medieval astrology. It is thought to be the oldest system of
house division.

This explanation is from Wikipedia:

The Whole Sign system was originally developed in the Hellenistic tradition of astrology sometime
around the 1st or 2nd century BCE, and from there it was passed to the Indian and early Medieval
traditions of astrology. At some point in the Medieval period, probably around the 10th century,
whole sign houses fell into disuse in the western tradition, and by the 20th century the system was
completely unknown in the western astrological community, although was continually used in India
all the way into the present time. Beginning in the 1980s and 1990's the system was rediscovered
and reintroduced into western astrology. The distinction between equal houses and whole sign
houses lies in the fact that in whole sign houses the cusp of the 1st house is the beginning of the
sign that contains the ascendant, while in equal houses the degree of the ascendant is itself the
cusp of the 1st house.

Further Reading:

The Sign rising over the horizon at the time of your birth is called the Ascendant, or Rising Sign. This, the first house of the horoscope, changes approximately every two hours.

Astronomically, the ascendant of a given geographic location at a particular point in time is the angle on the zodiac which is ascending over the Eastern horizon.{It is also defined as the point of intersection of the ecliptic (the Sun's path) with the eastern horizon of the location}. There are exactly 30 degrees per astrological sign, and because 12 multiplied by 30° equals 360° which is the span of the ecliptic, all twelve signs rise and fall during the course of one 24-hour day. In many house systems, this exact rising degree forms the first house cusp of a horoscope and is therefore said to be of great significance in the interpretation.
Even though the houses remain stationary, because the earth is moving, a new zodiac sign rises over the eastern horizon about every two hours. That explains why the time of birth is important. With 30 degrees in each sign, it only takes about 4 minutes for the degree that is rising to advance to the next degree and that small amount may alter the sign and/or degree on the remaining house cusps and it is the sign on a cusp that describes particulars about a house according to the planetary ruler

The Rising Sign rules the first house. Unless poorly aspected or otherwise weak in comparison with other important planets, such as the planet ruling your Sun Sign (the Sun-ruler), this planet is arguably the most important one in your chart

Wherever the ruling planet of the first house cusp sign is by house, also gives a powerful clue into what the person finds very important.

The Rising Sign governs your outer personality, disposition and physical attributes, notably your appearance, and general outlook. It represents your self-image and, to a considerable extent, how others see you. The sign and condition of the ascendant also affects your strength, vitality, health issues and the types of illnesses you may experience. Its influence is powerful, but may be modified by any planets rising and the condition of the ruling planet. The placement of the Luminaries (Sun and Moon) and how they aspect the ascendant also affect the appearance.
The sign on the cusp of the Ascendant describes:

* the way you present yourself to the world and the way you appear to
* your physicality
* what you project both consciously and unconsciously.
* your state of health and length of life
* Identity.
* Early childhood.

William Lilly described the matters relating to the First house thus:

The first house, which containeth all that part of Heaven from the line where the figure one standeth, until the figure two, where the second house beginneth. It hath signification of the life of man, of the stature, colour, complexion, form and shape of him that propounds the Question, or is born; in Eclipses and great Conjunctions, and upon the Sun his annuall ingresse into Aries; it signifieth the common people, or generall State of that Kingdom where the Figure is erected.
And as it is the first house, it represents the head and face of man, so that if either Saturn, Mars or South Node be in this House, either at the time of the Question, or at the time of birth, you shall observe some blemish in the face, or in that member appropriate to the signe that then is upon the cusp of the house; as if Aries be in the Ascendant, the mark, mole, or scarre is without faile in the head or face; and if few degrees of the signe ascend, the mark is in the upper part of the head; if the middle of the sign be on the cusp, the mole, mark or scar is in the middle of the face, or neer it; if the later degrees ascend, the face is blemished neer the chin, towards the neck:

He goes on to describe other physical features that may be described by the first house:

Further Reading:

Often called the MC, these are initials of Medium Coeli -* middle of the sky.*
There are different ways of calculating the MC and a great deal depends on the House System you intend to choose.
In the Alcabitius, Placidus, Koch, Campanus, Regiomontanus, Meridian and Krusinski house system, the local meridian passing through Midheaven forms the cusp of the 10th house. In the equal house system, the Midheaven can be found in the 9th, 10th or 11th house. (The other end of this axis, 'beneath' the earth, is the point known as the IC or Immum Coeli.)

Ptolemy's definition:
The Medium Coeli is the point which is upper square from ascendant, eg. zenith by modern astronomy vocabulary.
Modern definition: The Midheaven or Medium Coeli is the point in space where the ecliptic crosses the Meridian (line of longitude) in the south on northern hemisphere (and the point in north in the southern hemisphere).

Midheaven represents the highest point in the sky reached by the Sun, or its culmination, as it crosses from one horizon to the other: the noon point in a chart which is plotted for dawn. At the Earth's equator, it is the point on the ecliptic which is directly overhead from the observer; as the observer moves north or south from the Equator, the midheaven appears to withdraw, so that from points north of the equator, the noon point of the Sun appears lies in the southern sky, and south of the equator, it appears in the northern sky.

The Midheaven, point of renown and ultimate goals,has symbolic significance to the individual's status in society.
The midheaven is considered a personal point, describing more of a focus rather than personal attributes.
Whilst the Midheaven is traditionally thought of as indicating a goal in terms of career or working life, it is not confined to this type of goal, and can indicate very personal or spiritual goals as well.
One's reputation and social status are also reflected by planets aspecting the Mc, or planets in the tenth house.
The sign on the cusp of the MC quite often indicates what kind of career, vocation, or reputation in life the native will pursue.
The Midheaven Angle is the South gateway and leads the soul toward group and public action. It is about receiving a personal reputation, personal views about career, and public responsibilities. It can be about parental influences as well as being a parent. It is also about how an individual interacts with group or global beliefs.

William Lilly on the tenth house:

Commonly it personateth Kings, Princes, Dukes, Earles, Judges, prime Officers, Commanders in chief, whether in Armies or Towns; all sorts of Magistracy and Officers in Authority, Mothers, Honour, Preferment, Dignity, Office, Lawyers; the profession or Trade anyone useth; it signifies Kingdoms, Empires, Dukedoms, Countries. It hath of colours Red and White, and ruleth the knees and Hammes.
Its called the Medium coeli, or Mid-heaven, and is Feminine. Its cosignificators are Capricorn and Mars; either Jupiter or the Sun doe much Fortunate this House when they are posited therein, Saturn or South Node usually deny Honor, as to persons of quality, or but little esteem in the world to a vulgar person, not much joy in his Profession, Trade or Mystery, is a Mechanick.

Further Reading:


The point opposite the Midheaven, which is in the unseen sky, and would be the midnight point in a chart cast for dawn, is the anticulmination of the Sun, or the Imum Coeli, which is Latin for the "bottom of the sky." This is the last of the four angles.

In astrology, the Imum Coeli , IC, is the point in space where the ecliptic crosses the meridian in the north, exactly opposite the Midheaven. It marks the fourth house cusp in most house systems (this is reversed in the southern hemisphere).

Fourth House: The House of Home and Parents
*your home base
This is the house of things you inherit from your family. Your roots. The past. Family of origin
Because this house was the most distant point possible from the visible part of the horoscope, Hellenistic astrologers considered the IC to be the home of the underworld, or Hades.
In many cases the IC refers to a parent — traditionally, the father.

William Lilly says this of the fourth house:

Of the Fourth House and its Signification

Giveth Judgment of Fathers in generall & ever of his Father that enquires, or that is born; of Lands, Houses, Tenements, Inheritances, Tillage of the earth, Treasures hidden, the determination or end of any thing; Towns, Cities or Castles, besieged or not besieged; all ancient Dwellings, Gardens, Fields, Pastures, Orchards; the quality and nature of the grounds one
purchaseth, whether Vineyards, Cornfielfd, &c. whether the ground be Woody, Stony or barren.
The Sign of the fourth denoteth the Town, the Lord thereof, the Governour: It ruleth the Brest, Lungs. Of Colours, the Red: It's Cosignificator is Cancer, and of Planets the Sun; we call it the Angle of the Earth, or Imum Coeli; it is feminine, and the North Angle: In Nativities or Questions, this fourth house represents Fathers, so doth the Sun by day and Saturn by night; yet if the Sun be herein placed, he is not ill, but rather shews the Father to be of a noble disposition, &c.

Further Reading

At the cusp of the Seventh House, House of Interpersonal Relationships, sits the Descendant. Whereas the Ascendant represents the way we appear to the world, the Descendant reflects our relationships with those around us and what we project onto others: what we need from them, want from them, what we are willing to take from them. The Sign that rests on the Descendant, then, reflects the character of our connections with those around us, that Sign's characteristics being aspects we may feel are lacking in our own personalities.

William Lilly's view of the seventh house:

It giveth judgment of Marriage, and describes the person inquired after, whether it be Man or Woman, all manner of Love questions, our publique enemies; the Defendant in a Law-suit, in Warre the opposing party; all quarrels, Duels, Law-suits; in Astrology the Artist himself; in Physick the Physitian; Theeves ii and Thefts; the person stealing, whether Man or Woman, Wives, Sweetharts; their shape, description, condition, Nobly or ignobly born: in an Annuall ingresse, whether Warre or Peace may be expected: of Victory, who over-comes, and who worsted; Fugitives or run-awayes; Banished and Out-lawed-men.
It hath cosignificator Libra and Moon, Saturn or Mars unfortunate herein, shew ill in Marriage. Of Colour, a dark Blacke colour. It ruleth the Haunches, and the Navill to the Buttocks; an is called the Angle of the West: and is Masculine.

The behaviour you show to others is shown by the sign on the Ascendant (first house cusp), and also influenced by any planets in the first house. The qualities you attract are show by the sign on the Descendant, which is the opposite house cusp (the seventh house), and influenced by any planets in that house.

Concerns of the seventh house include:
*Relationships of any kind: marital, partnerships, business; marriage, commitment, the husband, wife or partner, open enemies, rivals, opponents, how you relate in one-on-one partnerships: marriage partners, romantic partners, business partners, roommates, counsellor-to-client, doctor-to-patient; relationships which require co-operation with another person;
*One-on-one relationships. Duos and duels. Peace and war. Cooperation and lack thereof. Marriage and divorce. Open enemies. Joint ventures. Business partners. Legal contracts. Court trials.
*how you relate to those who openly oppose you: competitors,
adversaries, opponents in games, detractors, openly declared enemies,
lawsuits, conflicts with spouse or business partner;
*intimate relationships which require co-operation & compromise with
another's needs or goals;
*challenges & conflicts arising from a close one-on-one relationship of
any kind.
Here's a link toa more modern interpretation of theascendant/descendent axis:

Further Reading:
Excerpts from CHRISTIAN ASTROLOGY by William Lilly are in the Public Domain, as is information quoted from wikipedia.
To discuss this Article, go here:

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