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: AngularSuccedentCadent
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:
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)
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)
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 xtraastrology.com
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.