When it comes to astrology, it turns out there’s way more to it than just knowing your zodiac (or sun) sign. Planets, transits, elements, sun *and* moon signs, and houses all come into play when you’re trying to make sense of your own chart, and honestly — it’s confusing AF. The complete zodiac wheel is made up of 12 signs, 12 houses, and 10 planets — with each house being ruled by a corresponding sign. Your specific chart depends on what signs and houses the planets were in at the exact time, location, and date you were born. Both the zodiac signs and houses are set on a circle like a clock, but the zodiac is based on the sun’s yearly rotation around the Earth, while the houses are based on Earth’s 24-hour rotation around its axis. At the time of your birth, the sign that was rising in the east becomes your first house.
Each house governs a specific aspect of life, and the sign within that house acts as the lens through which each of us experiences that part of our life. So while the House of Joy and Bliss is ruled by Libra, you may have Gemini in that house instead (based on planetary movements when you were born) — meaning that you specifically respond to that house’s characteristics with a Gemini frame of mind. You can find your natal chart (with all your house and sign partnerships) on wellness practitioner Ambi Sitham’s website here. Read on for a beginner’s guide to understanding the 12 houses of the astrology.
First House: House of the Ascendant Mask
Ruled by: Aries
Governs: Your personality. The first house represents the “mask” you show to the world. If your sun sign is your truest inner self, your ascendant is how other people perceive you to be and how you’re defined in the world. The ascendant is the sharply focused, condensed version of your many layers. Have people ever told you that they had a certain impression of you when they first met you that changed once they got to know you? That was your ascendant at work, presenting your “mask” before the rest of your multi-faceted self came into focus.
second house: House of Resources
Ruled by: Taurus
Governs: Money, possessions, trust, values. The house of resources keeps all your astrological assets in check (and not just physical possessions). Your resources are all the aspects of life that make you feel secure — money, sure, but also self-esteem, confidence, life skills, and emotional stability. When fully in order, your second house feeds your appetite for discipline, effort, enthusiasm, and personal growth.
Third house House of Open Perception
Ruled by: Gemini
Governs: Communication. Conversations, learning, writing, reading, and teaching are all major components of the third house. Even body language falls into this house — and the more in tune you are, the more perceptive you’ll be to all forms of communication around you.
fourth house: House of the Nadir
Ruled by: Cancer
Governs: Home. Your fourth house establishes how you’ll create a home for yourself — both literally and figuratively. So while this house (and its corresponding sign within your chart) informs your personal path to putting down roots and building a home for yourself, it also rules your unconscious, emotional self — all that juicy stuff that makes you, you (and that makes you feel at home in your own skin).
fifth house: House of Joy and Bliss
Ruled by: Leo
Governs: Children — but not in the way you might be thinking. Leos are the perpetual kids of the zodiac. They love to have fun, experience new things, and show off their gifts and talents — all without a shred of self-doubt. Your fifth house gives you insight into where you derive pleasure, creativity, joy, and life experiences. It’s your house to be free and fun-loving without feeling self-conscious about your playfulness.
sixth house: House of Legacy, Lineage, and Service
Ruled by: Virgo
Governs: Responsibility and self-sacrifice. Virgos are known as the humanitarians of the zodiac — they’re always looking out for others’ needs before their own. So the Virgo-ruled sixth house is all about how you can do your part in a way that’s authentic to who you are. This house is all about using your skills for good, acting responsibly, and devoting yourself to a cause that’s bigger than yourself. It’s always a good idea to revisit your sixth house if you’re feeling particularly restless or down, because it will re-orient your sense of purpose in the world.
seventh house: House of the Descendant
Ruled by: Libra
Governs: Intimate partnerships. Ever the diplomat, Libra is all about fairness. A successfully run seventh house will mean that there is inherent equality and balance within your intimate partnerships that brings meaning and magic into your life without fear of power struggles, co-dependency, or insecurity.
eighth house: House of Karma and Kali
Ruled by: Scorpio
Governs: Transformation and death. We’re getting a little intense, y’all, but what else would you expect from a Scorpio-ruled house? Your eighth house is all about sexuality, death, and energy. Your eighth house wants a continuous flow between death and life that’s beautiful, instinctual, and interconnected. This is where all your intense romantic feelings reside, whether you’re wholly obsessed with a new love or getting over major heartbreak.
ninth house: House of Paradigms
Ruled by: Sagittarius.
Governs: Journeys. Again, we’re talking literal and metaphorical here. Sag is the wandering student of the zodiac, constantly seeking out new experiences to find enlightenment. Your ninth house guides travel and wanderlust, as well as internal self-discovery. Either way, your ninth house is here to open you up to new ways of viewing the world.
tenth house: House of the Midheaven or Destiny
Ruled by: Capricorn
Governs: Career. If you’re currently going through your Saturn return or are just feeling particularly uninspired and unmotivated in your career, try checking in with your tenth house. The house of the midheaven is basically here to help you live your best life. There’s a strong sense of purpose attached to your tenth house, where your life calling and ambition connect into one glorious, destiny-fulfilling dream job (okay, maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but you get the idea).
eleventh house: House of the Meaningful Matrix
Ruled by: Aquarius.
Governs: Friendships. The eleventh house is like the zodiac’s Facebook page. Here, you’ll discover how you find meaning and validity within your social groups and society as a whole. It’s the place where you figure out where you “belong” and who you want to spend your time with. It’s where you create a network that allows you and those around you to support each other. It’s where you find your people!
twelfth house: House of Spiritual Liberation
Ruled by: Pisces.
Governs: Troubles. The twelfth house is another doozy. Here, it’s all about losing your ego, becoming one with the cosmic consciousness, and freeing yourself from worry. Basically, your twelfth house is on an eternal meditation retreat that’s full of soft music, gentle words, and self-reflection.
Have you taken a look to see where each house falls in your natal chart? Tweet us @BritandCo and let us know what surprising things you’ve found!
(Photo via Getty)