What Are The 12 Houses Of The Zodiac? Your Astrology Birth Chart Includes A Lot More Than Just Your Sign
In today's world, astrology is often seen as a fun lil' part of our lives that only applies when we read our daily horoscopes or obsessively check the sun sign compatibility of our crush. But if you take the time to delve beneath the surface of your sun, moon, and rising signs, astrology is a very detailed and fascinating ancient practice that can help you learn a ton about yourself. And if you've heard astrology lovers blabbing away about their birth chart to anyone who'll listen (guilty as charged!), then you've porobably wondered what the 12 houses of the zodiac are. Hearing that someone's "Venus is in the 10th house" or that their "fifth house is in Aries" may sound like literal astro-gibberish right now — but not to fear, sis-stars. You're about to get an explanation of astrological houses that will help you make a little more sense of your birth chart — and in turn, who you are according to the stars.
Most people are already somewhat familiar with the concept of signs and planets in astrology, but all those planets are actually sprinkled throughout twelve astrological houses on your birth chart, each of which represents a different area of your life. "Every house literally provides a home for the planets residing there — giving that planet a place to act out its particular energy," explained Insightful Astrology. Which house — or area of your life — each of your planets is in affects how that planet's influence will manifest for you. Each of your houses will also be ruled by one of the twelve zodiac signs in your chart, which will give you even more insight into the area of your life ruled by that house.
Collectively, the 12 houses are said to represent all the areas of one's life and experience. Houses one through six are known as your "personal houses," or houses revolving around matters of your self, while houses seven through 12 are your "interpersonal houses," or houses relating to your connection to the world around you. "The Houses describe a journey of human development throughout our lives," explains Spirit Articles. "The first half the wheel focuses on the self, and the second half extends our awareness out into the world around us." If you look at your birth chart, you'll see that it's circular and looks like a pie. That pie is divided up into overlapping slices — one wheel of slices being the twelve astrological houses that we're talking about (which you can see above). That makes up the zodiac wheel and the basis of every birth chart. The second set of overlapping slices in a birth chart represents the 12 signs of the zodiac, and these will look different for everybody. So whichever sign-slice the cusp of each house-slice falls in is the sign that rules that house in your personal chart.
That said, each house also has its own natural planetary ruler and sign that may differ from your personal one. So, just because, for instance, the first house of the zodiac is ruled by the sign Aries and the planet Mars, it could easily be in the sign Libra with the planet Mercury in it in your birth chart. I know, it's a little confusing; is this pie analogy helping or just making you hungry?
"Remember, the houses are not 'energies' like the elements or planets," explained Astro Library. "The houses are where these energies are most likely to manifest ... the fields of experience, not the experience[s] themselves." So it's helpful to know exactly what each house in astrology represents, but remember, in order to know what that area looks like for you, you'll have to consult your birth chart (which you can calculate online for free so long as you have your exact birth date, time, and place). You'll want to know which sign each of your houses falls in, and which planets you have in each house.
If all of this sounds complicated, not to fear. A professional astrologer can be a huge help when it comes navigating your birth chart and understanding the houses as well as the signs and planets that you have in each of them, so I highly recommend consulting one if you really want the inside scoop on your astrological self. It's amazing how much insight you can gain into your life, personality, habits, relationships — everything. Cosmic therapy, for real.
Let's take an astrological open-house tour, shall we? These are the basic meanings for each of the 12 houses in astrology. Once you've got that down, take a look at the sign that each house falls into in your chart as well as the planets you have living in each to find out even more about how these apply to you.
First House: The House Of Self
Naturally ruled by: Aries & Mars
What it represents: Your first house is also known as the "ascendant" and it begins our ride through the astrological houses. It represents "you" in the simplest terms, and governs both our self-image and the image we project to others. It even literally rules over our physical appearance. As described by AstroStyle, the first house (very fittingly) "covers the all 'firsts': first impressions, the self and appearance, leadership, new initiatives, fresh starts and beginnings." Also, if you know your rising sign, that's also going to be sign that your first house is in. It's important to note that "[a]ny planets in this house will greatly influence your personality and how others perceive you," according to Astro Library.
Second House: The House Of Finances & Value
Naturally ruled by: Taurus & Venus
What it represents: The second house is all about money, wealth, and earthly possessions (including your five senses!), as well as your attitude toward all of those things. It also deals with value — and when I say value, I mean both how you value material things and how you value yourself. On the darker side, this is also an area of the chart that, depending on your placements, could indicate issues of greed, low self-worth, or financial hardship.
Third House: The House Of Communication
Naturally ruled by: Gemini & Mercury
What it represents: The third house, as Spirit Articles put it, "extends our sense of self outwards and represents the communication with others" — so everything from how you express yourself through words and actions to virtual communication via the internet and your devices. It also deals with things relating to your environment early in life — like siblings and neighbors, your mind (when it comes to "lower" forms of thinking), and primary school. And as it's ruled by chatty Gemini and communication-forward Mercury, "gossiping, chatting and small-talk are definitely also represented here," as described by The Astro Codex.
Fourth House: The House Of Home
Naturally ruled by: Cancer & The Moon
What it represents: This house is your foundation (literally, it's found at the very bottom of the zodiac wheel!) and it represents matters of the home and family unit. This covers matters of security, both literal and emotional, as well as real estate and parenting (especially as it pertains to your mother and/or motherly insticts). The house also relates to your ancestors and is thought to govern inherited ~mystical~ energies, like "magickal powers passing as a blessing or curse from elder generations," according to The Astro Codex. Planets here can indicate a lot of energy going toward your family life.
Fifth House: The House Of Pleasure & Creativity
Naturally ruled by: Leo & The Sun
What it represents: This house is all about creative energy and the attainment and expression of your pleasure — in short, it's about having fun! This covers things like hobbies and recreational activities that you do just to make yourself happy, as well as all things related to romance, love affairs, and casual sex. And in a literally creative sense, it also rules over children. It's also considered a house of "luck," so look to the planets you have here if you want to know how you might fare when it comes to games of chance. As Astro Library put it, "affairs of the heart are in the 5th house," so analyzing your planetary placements and sign in this house can tell you about how you deal with these matters.
Sixth House: The House Of Health & Service
Naturally ruled by: Virgo & Mercury
What it represents: This house is all about the work and service you put in during your life — what your work ethic is like, how you personally make yourself of service to others, and even the mundane tasks that are required of us in our day-to-day lives. "The 6th house really involves the quality of your work, the quality of the jobs you perform, as opposed to an actual career," explained Astro Library. This house also rules how physically capable you are of actually doing work, which is how it ties into your health, too. This relates to all aspects of a healthy lifestyle, like diet and nutrition, exercise, and the quest for self-improvement. "All daily biorhythms, even choices of clothes and sleeping hours are connected to it," explained The Astro Codex. It's also interesting to note that this house is the ruler of pets and small animals, perhaps because of the role they play in both our health and our daily responsibilities.
Seventh House: The House Of Partnerships
Naturally ruled by: Libra & Venus
What it represents: As this house falls opposite to your first house of self, so does what it governs. "It is through the 7th house that the native perceives other people," explained Astrotheme. This house is all about relationships and partnerships of all sorts, which includes marriage as well as business partnerships (anything with a contract between multiple parties, basically!). Conversely, it rules over negative relationships too, like competitors, enemies, divorces, or lawsuits. As you may have noticed, legal issues are a theme here (Libra is the sign of justice, after all), so look out for your planetary placements in this house as potential indicators to be wary of binding contracts. Overall though, this house covers one-on-one relationships on the whole, so planets here may also simply indicate ways in which you relate to other people and function within a community.
Eighth House: The House Of Transformation
Naturally ruled by: Scorpio & Pluto
What it represents: The eighth house has a reputation for being rather mysterious, wide-ranging, and hard to define — and given that Scorpio is at the helm, it's also stereotyped as being on the darker side. According to AstroStyle, the house rules "death, regeneration, taxes, inheritances, wills & legacies, sex ... latent occult ability, joint resources ... bankruptcy, losses, personal sacrifices, alimony, clairvoyance." Um, yikes, that's a mouthful. But to sum it up, this mystical house is about transformation. It's a about endings, yes, but also the subsequent new beginnings that they inevitably bring — a natural sort of transfer or exchange of energy. That probably explains why seemingly random things like taxes are included here alongside things like sex. This house is about personal growth and the sacrifices we must make and crises we must face to facilitate it.
Ninth House: The House Of Big Ideas
Naturally ruled by: Sagittarius & Jupiter
What it represents: This house is highly philosophical, as it pertains to our core belief systems, higher learning, religion, and the pursuit of knowledge. Remember how the third house pertains to lower thought? This house, its opposite, rules higher and more complex thought. In true Sagittarius form, it also rules over our sense of adventure, which includes travels, long journeys (literal and spiritual), and foreign cultures or languages. The ninth house is about "living out a dream that is bigger than just you," wrote Spirit Articles on its site. "This is where we search for the deeper meanings in life."
Tenth House: The House Of Public Image
Naturally ruled by: Capricorn & Saturn
What it represents: The cusp of your 10th house is located at the tippy-top of your chart, and is also known as your "midheaven." It's particularly important, as it pertains to your overall life path and career. This house governs your public image, reputation, career, social status, and even fame. It also represents authority — which can translate to representing a "father figure" or paternal influence in your life. Look to your placements in this house for insight on your career path, and watch out for anything that indicates a tendency to see yourself too much through the eyes of other people and become preoccupied with your reputation.
Eleventh House: The House Of Community & Friends
Naturally ruled by: Aquarius & Uranus
What it represents: Unlike the house of partnerships, which focuses more on contractual or one-to-one relations, this house focuses more on community, memberships, organized groups, and working together. The eleventh house is the ruler of friendship, teamwork, networking, and additionally, social justice — and a very Aquarian desire to shake up the norm. It also represents our collective or lifelong goals and aspirations for the betterment of humanity, and what we do to make those fantasies a reality. Much of the way one's 11th house manifests is apparently determined by the career-oriented energies of the 10th house.
Twelfth House: The House Of Subconscious & Secrets
Naturally ruled by: Pisces & Neptune
What it represents: Oooh, the mystical and mysterious 12th house. Given that this is the final house in the zodiac, it represents endings as well as the deepest evolution of our souls. It rules over our unconscious, secrets, dreams and sleep, karma and past life trauma, our shadow self, surrendering, the occult and paranormal energies, and imprisonment (both literal and metaphorical). In other words: HEAVY STUFF. "Even if it is considered one of the most dangerous houses, we should not forget that its basis lies directly in the depths of our mind," explained The Astro Codex. This house rules over the depths of our unconscious — the parts of ourselves that we run from, or perhaps don't even know exist — so working to understand any placements you have in your twelfth house can help you understand the deepest inner-workings of who you are. The more we work on healing any deep, hidden wounds, the less we have to worry about darkness manifesting in our lives in other confusing ways.