The twelve houses
Now that we have looked at how the twelve houses are constructed in the first place, we can consider how each house describes different ways in which we engage with the world. Every area of experience and every relationship we will ever have are right there in our own birth charts, with each house describing a particular kind of relationship, as you can see from this table. The planets in each house and the condition of the planets ruling each of these houses will describe the quality of these kinds of relationships in our lives. Now have a look at this overview of the types of activities we will be engaged in, and the people we are likely to meet in each of the twelve houses.
|1st house||Relationship to our immediate environment|
|2nd house||Relationship to our body, our money and our possessions|
|3rd house||Relationship to siblings, neighbours, cars, and teachers|
|4th house||Relationship to father, family and early environment|
|5th house||Relationship to our children, pleasures, and risk-taking|
|6th house||Relationship to work, co-workers, daily ritual and routine, health, pets|
|7th house||Relationship to partners and spouses|
|8th house||Relationship to sex, death, and shared resources|
|9th house||Relationship to travel, foreigners, higher education, meaning, and to our god|
|10th house||Relationship to mother, public world, profession, boss|
|11th house||Relationship to friends, colleagues, politics, and society|
|12th house||Relationship to dreams, images, and hidden worlds|
Nature and nurture
Before we look at each of the houses individually, it is worth saying a bit more about the relationship between individual perception and external reality. It is clear from our birth charts that we are not blank slates when we are born. Rather, we are born with our pattern already complete, which means that we are inherently attuned to perceive and process our experiences and our relationships according to the inbuilt frequency and resonance of our birth charts. Imagine, for example, that you are discussing your mother with your brother. Logically, we would expect you to have similar or even identical impressions of her since, objectively speaking, she is the same person. But it is our own perceptions and experiences, rather than her 'objective reality', which are found in our birth charts, so it is likely that each of you sees her rather differently.
As you can see from the tables above, it is the 10th house that describes our relationship to our mother and our contribution to the world. Say, for example, that you have Jupiter in the 10th house and your brother has Saturn in the 10th house. This would indicate that your perception of your mother is that she is philosophical, gregarious, and popular, that she encourages you to believe in your potential for success, that she opens up the world for you and broadens your horizons. Your brother, on the other hand, is more likely to perceive her as a figure of authority, a woman who carries responsibility at work, someone who is strict and demands that he work hard in order to achieve success and respect in the world, leaving nothing to chance.
The interesting question here is, which of you is right? From an astrological viewpoint, the people in our lives are a reflection of who we are. 'They are our mirrors, reflecting back to us not only what we consider positive about ourselves, but also what we are unconscious of, or reject in ourselves.' This means that no relationship is possible which is not already indicated somewhere in our birth chart. According to the law of resonance, we can only perceive something if we have a corresponding vibration. 'Anything which lies outside our capacity to resonate cannot be perceived by us and therefore does not exist for us.' Resonance can either be sympathetic, an affinity with another person or thing, or it can be antipathetic, an aversion to another person or thing. This is why the external world and other people are the most reliable source of information about ourselves.
Going back to this particular example, you are more likely to elicit a warm, positive, and enthusiastic response from your mother, whereas your brother is more likely to elicit from your mother a strict and rather more demanding response. And it is highly likely that your mother will have both these themes in her own chart, although your experience of her will be determined by your own charts.
Time and space
No doubt you can see straight away that there is a natural affinity between the twelve signs of the zodiac, starting with Aries, and the twelve houses of the horoscope, starting with the 1st house. They are not the same thing but, since the signs describe a temporal cycle and the houses describe a spatial cycle, the two systems can be superimposed upon each other because, in astrology, every cycle has the same intrinsic meaning.
Audience: So we have two systems which are similar but not the same. Can you say a bit more about that?
Clare: Yes, that was a fairly broad statement. The cycle of the zodiac is temporal, because the signs are an expression of the annual, seasonal cycle of the Sun's changing relationship with the earth - so it is a cycle defined by time. Just as the Sun always moves in one direction - through time, from Aries all the way through to Pisces before beginning again a year later - we also develop temporally, but our sphere of consciousness also develops spatially, from our totally subjective awareness in the 1st house, through our developing awareness of our family, of others and of the world, right through to the point where we become totally merged with all of human experience in the 12th house. So there is a natural progression in both signs and houses that reflects our development through time and space. In practice, we are working with both these dimensions simultaneously. This means, for example, that no matter which planets are in our 5th house or which planet rules our 5th house of creative self expression, this house will always be naturally associated with the sign of Leo and its 'natural ruler' will always be the Sun. Hopefully you are still with me at this stage?
Audience: Yes, that does make sense. It is like doing a three-dimensional sudoko puzzle.
Clare: Exactly right. With the introduction of houses, we are in fact adding a third dimension to our astrology. We are moving beyond the simple 'what' and 'how' of the planets and signs, and adding the 'where' of the houses, so we have to hold three different factors in our minds all the time.
- Baring, Anne and Jules Cashford, The Myth of the Goddess (London: Penguin/Arkana, 1991) [hereafter Baring and Cashford), p. 681.
- Baring and Cashford, p. 681.
- Paracelsus, Selected Writings, ed. Jolande Jacobi, trans. Norbert Guterman, Bollingen Series XXVIII (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1951).
- Idemon, Richard, 'Part One: The Basics of Relating', in Through the Looking Glass: A Search for Self in the Mirror of Relationships (York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1992).
- Dethlefsen, Thorwald, The Challenge of Fate (London: Coventure Ltd., 1984).
- Sasportas, Howard, The Twelve Houses: An Introduction to the Houses in Astrological Interpretation (Wellingborough: Aquarian Press, 1985), 'Chapter 15: Grouping the Houses'.
- Von Schlieffen, Alexander, When Chimpanzees Dream Astrology: An Introduction to the Quadrants of the Horoscope (London: CPA Press, 2004).
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