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Astrology Houses: Charting Your Sign

Keen Category: Astrology Advice

An open book with an illustrated zodiac wheel above it

The word zodiac is a loose translation of the Greek phrase for circle of animals. The zodiac is an imaginary line in space mapping the path of the rising and setting sun. This line follows the equator superimposed out onto the constellations. In the circle surrounding the earth, different distant stars signal the beginning of different signs. The zodiac circle is divided into twelve of these sections. Each section is known as a sign and is named for the constellation near which the sign begins in the zodiac.

The zodiac's path begins when the sun is lined up with the equator in the spring. This is the Vernal Equinox. Aries, the first sign, starts here and lasts for 1/12th of the year. From March 20, through April 20, the sun is visiting the zodiac sign of the Ram. If you are born between these dates, no matter the year, you are born with the sun "in" Aries – and, hence, Aries is your sun sign. The ancients noticed that a difference in personality corresponded to the different times of the year as the Sun changed signs every 30 days.

All of these developments were made in ancient Sumeria and perfected over thousands of years afterward. Measurements of the motions of the sun, moon and the planets became so precise that astrologers knew where a planet would be well into the future, based simply on the knowledge of its location now and its movement patterns as it rotated through the zodiac. The precise measurements were yielding accurate predictions and personality profiles.

The Greeks were a maritime culture and their ships were guided by sophisticated astrolabes. An astrolabe is a small metal device that through the turning of small gears delivers a map of the current positions of the sun, moon and some planets, in relationship to bright stars that, unlike planets, do not move about the zodiac. This boon to shipping was also a boon to astrologers; up until the introduction of the astrolabe, every predictive astrology chart was drawn up with Aries as the beginning of the zodiac. But this clever measuring device challenged astrologers to unleash Aries and to go with the zodiac sign that held the rising sun. As important as the rising sun was to Greek sailors in allowing them to set and correct their courses on the sea, Greek astrologers started casting charts with the sign containing the sunrise as the first sign of the chart. This alternate sign lineup was given the name "houses" and the name has stuck through the centuries. Houses are based on moving the zodiac signs from their traditional locked positions on the astrology chart. The sign that holds the sun is superimposed over the position of zodiac Aries and is said to "occupy the first house."

The first house in a chart takes on the characteristics of Aries – it is where an astrologer gets information about your ego and ability to move forward in life. In a solar chart, the zodiac sign following your birth sign is your second house. The second house holds characteristics of the 2nd sign, Taurus. It is the house of wealth and values. And so on. In mixing a sign with a house, there are myriad possibilities for an astrologer to consider. The solar chart of a Taurus would place Gemini in the 2nd house, indicating that the Bull will communicate his or her values directly and loves to discuss financial minutia with trusted friends and colleagues.

The Greek development of the solar chart was one of the biggest astrological breakthroughs. With a person always having his or her sun in the first house, relationships with others could be measured based on which house in your chart their sun sign occupied. But over a millennia later, Arabian astrologers did the Greek solar chart one better. Instead of confining one's sun sign to the first house, Middle Eastern astrologers were able to calculate the Sun's position, along with those of the Moon and visible planets, as they rose and set each day, crossing through each of the twelve houses in everyone's astrology chart. This calculation was most powerful when recording a birth. It is called the birth chart. When a person knows his or her exact time of birth, the ability for an astrologer to place your sun in a specific house in a chart opens your astrology reading to far more dynamic possibilities.

The ancient Sumerians had calculated a basic astrology chart with Aries as the first sign. The Greeks refined this as a solar chart with the zodiac sign holding the sun as being placed in the first house. The Arabians were able to measure the position of the planets up to the moment and could appoint any zodiac sign as the first house of a person's chart regardless of where the sun was in the zodiac.

When you get an astrology reading, each house provides vital information about you to your reader. When your astrologer is looking at your chart's houses, what follows here are the areas of your life from which your individual makeup can be surmised:

HouseNameCorresponding SignRuled By
First House of the Self, Appearance & Ego Drive Aries Mars
Second House of Personal Values and Finances Taurus Venus
Third House of Communication & Local Culture Gemini Mercury
Fourth House of Identity & Roots Cancer The Moon
Fifth House of Children, Creativity & Gambling Leo The Sun
Sixth House of Work & Ritual Virgo Mercury
Seventh House of Partnerships Libra Venus
Eighth House of Sex, Death & Other People's Money Scorpio Mars & Pluto
Ninth House of Adventure, Travel & Learning Sagittarius Jupiter
Tenth House of Career & Public Persona Capricorn Saturn
Eleventh House of Gatherings & Crowds Aquarius Saturn & Uranus
Twelfth House of Mystery and Intuition Pisces Jupiter & Neptune

The house that your sun occupies in your birth chart explains your ego energy to its core. When a possible partner comes into your life, the house that his or her sun occupies in your solar chart gives you a good idea of where he or she will fit in with your life. A traditional astrology chart without houses can still explain much about your personality and motivations, but when the houses of your solar chart and your birth chart are explored, your future can be predicted by timing coming events in order to maximize their success.