The 12 Houses of astrology are symbolic of the all the domains that make up our life. The planets and zodiac signs will manifest themselves most strongly in the areas of life represented by the house in which they fall in your chart.
The houses do not decide the the expression of energies like the zodiac signs do, they merely represent the domains these energies are most likely to manifest. The houses are the fields of experience, not the experience itself.
As the earth rotates during the course of the day, the zodiac gradually arises in the east and sets in the west. The sign that rises from the east at the time of birth becomes the first house, also know as the ascendant or the rising sign. The ascendant is the most important factor in the chart, two people born at the same day but at different times will have similar planetary positions in the signs, but they will fall in different houses, this makes a great difference in birth chart interpretations, because now the planets will manifest their energies in different areas of life.
The 1st house "Ascendant" is the sign that rises from the east at the time of birth, the sign next to becomes the second house, and the the sign next becomes the third house and so on. For example: if Cancer is the ascendant, the second house will fall in Leo, and the third in Virgo and so on.
Below is a short description of each of the houses and the areas of life they represent. If you are familiar with Western Astrology you may notice slight variations in the house meanings used in Vedic Astrology.
The 1st House
The 1st house relates to the self and shows our orientation in life as a whole. The first house indicates our basic character, our appearance and how we project the self to the world therefore it shows our personality, it also determines our physical constitution, afflictions to the first house shows psychological and physical difficulties.
Since it is the 1st house, it is related to birth, if it is strongly afflicted it can show a difficult birth. Planets placed in the first house can give indications into the person’s look; they also show what the person identifies themselves with strongly and the experiences they encounter.
The 1st house is the most important house for any great accomplishment in life; if it is strong it can override any potential difficulty found in the rest of the chart.
The 2nd House
The 2nd house relates to earning and our ability to take care of our responsibilities. It shows our financial potential and whatever we acquire through our own effort. If it is strong, it indicates strong earning capacity and prestige, if it is afflicted it shows expenses.
In the body, the 2nd house relates to the face in general, and the mouth in particular, it shows our tastes in food and our taste in general. It is the house of speech; planets in it can influence our speech, an afflicted second house can indicate a harsh speech.
The 2nd house deals with the family and early childhood experiences, afflictions to it show difficult early childhood and possible separation from the family.
The 3rd House
The 3rd house is the house of brothers, companions, neighbors and friends. It deals with how we act with peers, the people we like to do things with.
The 3rd house is the house of power, will, and drive. It reveals our passion and courage. It shows our interests and hobbies, whether physical or mental. It is related to sports, artistic talents and writing skills.
The 3rd house is related to short distance journeys and shows our experience of learning and communication.
The 4th House
The fourth house deals with the mother and her influence in one’s life. It shows our inner environment as well as outer environment. It relates to our emotional nature, our upbringing and education.
The fourth house is a very private and psychological house, it shows our capacity for happiness and psychological well being, it deals with rest and relaxation, benefic planets here can help with contemplation and meditation. If it is severely afflicted it can show mental and emotional disorders.
The fourth house shows lands and property and our ability to acquire them. It also deals with vehicles.
The 5th House
The 5th house is the house of children, it shows the capacity to have children, and how our relationship with them is like. Conception, pregnancy and child birth are associated with the 5th house. If the fifth house is strongly afflicted it can either deny children, or limits the happiness and fulfillment through them.
The 5th house is the house of creative self expression; it is related to cinematic art, music, painting and authoring.
The 5th house is the house of intelligence; it shows the capacity to give good counsel. If it is in a good shape it shows the capacity for sound judgment, if it is afflicted it shows wrong judgment and mental disturbance.
The 5th house is the house of love and romance; it represents the beloved “not necessarily the husband”. It is related to joy and the things we love doing.
The 5th house is also related to wealth, it shows the capacity to earn through the stock market and through our creations.
The 6th House
The 6th house is the house of disease, planets in this house can indicates physical disorders according to their nature. If the 6th house is afflicted in makes the person prone to illnesses, if it is supported it makes the immune system strong. The 6th house relates to injury and accidents.
The 6th house of enmity and indicates oppositions, difficulties and obstacles we face in life. It is also the house of litigation.
Malefic planets here like the Sun, Mars and Saturn show the capacity to win over enemies, yet they can cause health problems and some struggle in life if they are afflicted.
The 6th house is also the house of daily work routine, benefic planets here makes one service oriented. Nurses, physicians, healers, health practitioners often have benefic planets placed in the 6th house, often connected to the third house.
The 6th house is also connected to servants, employees and maternal uncles.
The 7th House
The 7th house is the house of partner; it shows the husband in a woman’s chart, and the wife in a man’s chart. It is the main house for judging the relationship between a man and a woman. As it it opposes the 1st house of “the self”, the 7th represents “the other”.
The 7th house is the house of passion and relationship, with an emphasis on long term committed relationship rather than romantic infatuations that are seen from the 5th house. The 7th house shows personal as well as business partnerships.
The 7th house is a social house and shows our ability to affect others, it is related to political power.
I am going to devote a special article to talk about various planets and how they express themselves in the 7th house.
The 8th House
The 8th house is the house of death, it relates to chronic illnesses or injuries that can lead to death. The 8th house is a hidden house; it can show negative, violent or criminal aspects of the character.
The 8th house is the house of trauma, crisis and transformation, planets in this house relate to sudden events that shake the core of the native and lead to their transformation depending on the indications of the planet involved.
The 8th house shows the money we gain through inheritance; it represents the money of the spouse.
The 8th house is one of the psychological and spiritual houses; it can give penetrating insight into the human psyche, into life and death. The 8th house is also the house of occult and mysteries; it gives the capacity for research and shows proficiency in esoteric sciences like astrology, numerology, tantra and yoga.
The 8th house also relates to sexuality, it can give great sexual passion, and represents the transcendental/ spiritual aspect of the human relationship.
The 8th house is the essential house of longevity, several factors like the strength of the ascendant and Saturn have to be assessed, you don’t want to come to a quick conclusion about longevity based on the 8th house alone.
The 9th house
The 9th house is the house of dharma and shows our principles and values. It is the house of teachers and figures that guide and inspire us.
The 9th house is the house of law, philosophy and religion and shows our spiritual disposition.
The 9th house relates to deeper and house of higher education, teachers, professors, religious figures are ruled by this house.
The 9th house is the house of foreign travel, foreign cultures and connections.
The 9th house is house of grace, luck, and good fortune. Well placed planets here can mitigate negative influences found in other areas of the chart. The 9th house gives honor, prestige, recognition and power.
The 10th house
The 10th house is the house of karma, it shows our actions and activities within the world, it is the main house for showing our effect on the world and relates to our career. The 10th house is not the only house to determine career, for that we need to examine the 1st, 2nd and 6th houses as well as other factors.
The tenth house is the success, fame and status we are able to achieve, it shows achievement, honor and prestige, it indicates our visibility and respectability.
The 10th house is the house of power and shows our worldly, social and political power.
The 10th house is the highest point in the chart; planets placed here are strong and have the capacity to let the individual rise and have a major influence on his life.
The 10th house represents the king, the government and the authorities. In western astrology it is related to the father, while in Vedic astrology the 9th is related to the father, I find the 10th to be more accurate in this day and age.
The 11th house
The 11th house is the house of gains; it relates to goals, aspirations and dreams and indicates the realization of our goals and desires.
The 11th house is the house of abundance and excess; all planets are strong and tend to give favorable results.
On a spiritual level, the 11th house shows spiritual gains and the development of intelligence, it shows our ability to project our intelligence into the world.
The 11th house is related to friend, older siblings and groups. As opposite to the 5th house of writing, it represents publishing.
The 12th house
The 12th house is the house of expenses, decrease and loss. Generally, planets placed in the 12th house tend to have their energies suppressed, we might lose or waste the traits of the planets placed in this house.
The 12th house is the house of isolation, imprisonment and confinement, it is a secretive house and can show working behind the scenes like hospitals, ashrams, warehouses. The 12th house also indicates secret pleasures.
The 12th house is the house of foreign countries, particularly distant lands. Foreign settlement or success in foreign lands is often seen from the 12th house.
The 12th house represents the past and shows karmic influences related to the past.
The 12th house is the house of the subconscious mind; it indicates fantasy, mental disorders and shows how we connect with subtle plans and after death states.
The 12th house is related to guilt, grief and sorrow, and endings. On a spiritual level it indicates transcendence, negation of the ego, and spiritual liberation, therefore it is the house of yoga and meditation.