Everyone is born at some time during the day or night. In Astrology the time of birth is the starting point of everything. Without the time of birth we can still cast an Horoscope for the day, but we will be unable to determine the orientation of the place of birth to the Sun and the cosmos.
The time of day in the Birth Chart is represented by the so called Houses, which are really the Hours on the astrological clock (the Horoscope). These Hours are twelve in number, therefore each of the Houses cover approximately two hours of clock time. The so called four Angles of the Horoscope are the four cardinal points of the day, Sunrise, Midday, Sunset, Midnight.
Due to the rotation of the earth on its axis, during 24 hours the Sun, Moon and planets appear to rise, reach the zenith and set below the horizon, occupying a House for approximately two hours.
Your time of birth (the Sun in a specific House) indicates the field of experience and area of activity through which you will become more aware of your life’s spiritual purpose.
The four cardinal points of the day, Sunrise (AC or Ascendant), Midday (MC or Midheaven), Sunset (DC or Descendant) and Midnight (IC or Lower-Heaven) are indicated by the cusps of the First, Tenth, Seventh, and Fourth Houses. Let’s see how.
The Ascendant or Rising Sign, (the pink horizontal line on the left of the Chart) is the East or Sunrise point. When the Sun is shown on this line it means that the Chart has been cast for Sunrise on any given day. Both pink horizontal lines in fact divide the day and night hemispheres in the Horoscope. Everything below these lines is under the visible horizon, everything above the lines it is above the horizon, therefore visible. The lines can be imagined as indeed the circle of the visible horizon, from East to West.
The Houses are counted anti-clockwise on the dial of the Horoscope, as shown, from Sunrise, the cusp of the First House, to sunrise again, at the end of the Twelfth House. Usually Roman numerals are used to identify the Houses and not confuse them with other numbers (degrees, minutes etc.).
If you are not used to Roman numerals, here is a list to help.
I = 1; II = 2; III = 3; IV = 4; v = 5; VI = 6;
VII = 7; VIII = 8; IX =9; X =10; XI =1; XII = 12.
On the opposite point of Sunrise, on the pink horizontal line on the right, is the Sunset point, known as the Descendant. The Descendant is the cusp of the Seventh House.
When the Sun is shown on this line, as in the above picture, it means that the Chart has been cast for Sunset on any given day.
If the horizontal lines represent the horizon, the vertical pink lines, one above and the other below the horizon, represent respectively Midday and Midnight.
The Midday point, or cusp of the Tenth House is called Mid-Heaven (or Medium Coeli in Latin, abbreviate MC).
Its opposite is the Midnight point or cusp of the Fourth House, known as Lower-Heaven (Imum Coeli in Latin, abbreviated IC).
The Houses in the upper part of the circle are the daylight hours, from sunrise (Ascendant or First House) to sunset (Descendant or Seventh House). The Houses in the lower part of the circle are night time hours, from sunset to sunrise.
The positions of Sun, Moon and Planets in the Houses has a bearing on our destiny too, and indicate, in particular, circumstances in our lives which help us develop through diverse experiences.
The most active sectors are the Angular Houses, First, Fourth, Seventh and Tenth (symbolically corresponding to the Cardinal Signs). Any planet near the cusp of the Angular Houses becomes more active and prominent. In particular planets near the Ascendant and Mid-Heaven.
Apart from the Angular Houses there also the Intermediate Houses. There are in fact three Houses in each quarter of the Horoscope.
The Houses from the cusp of the Fourth House to the cusp of the First House correspond to the hours between Midnight and Sunrise.
Those from the cusp of the First House to the cusp of the Tenth House correspond to the hours between Sunrise and Midday.
The Houses from the Tenth to the Seventh House correspond to the hours between Midday and Sunset.
Finally those from the cusp of the Seventh House to the cusp of the Fourth House correspond to the hours between Sunset and Midnight.
In the Placidus system of House divisions adopted by myself, as well as by many other traditional practitioners, the Houses’ sectors are not of equal length, but vary according to season of birth, time of day and Latitude of the birth place. Due to this fact occasionally an entire Sign may be contained within two House Cusps, no cusp falling in it. These are called Intercepted Signs and have an important bearing in the affair of the House they are intercepted in.
This traditional house division system doesn’t work very well in very high Latitude (North or South), but no other systems works well everywhere, the Earth not being a perfect sphere but rather a tangerine and the seasons being unequal in different regions of the globe, those closer to the Poles experiencing the most unusual patterns (Midnight Sun etc). Other House division systems are available to students of Astrology interested to experiment.
Following are the traditional attributes of each House.
The Ascendant or Rising Sign, cusp of the I House
Key Words: physical body, instinctual temperament, self image, personal mask. Ego’s response to early environment. Experiences one is likely to attract. Process of becoming, from personality to individuality.
The First House is the experience of one self and the body. The Cusp or beginning point of this sector is the Ascendant’s degree. This is a very important key to the personality and physical temperament of the person. The outside world will experience the person first and foremost through the Ascendant’s degree.
The Second House
Key Words: desires, attachments, all sorts of value. Sense of security, peace, contentment. How an income is likely to be derived. Wealth. Personal possessions, including people. Need to control and own.
Through the Second House we establish a sense of value and security. In this sector we also enjoy the fruit of our actions and efforts (the First House doings).
The Third House
Key Words: intellectual mind and basic learning. Communication, verbal expression. Every day exchanges. Short journeys, mobility. Contemporaries, brothers and sisters. Schooling, writing, teaching.
Through this House we establish contact and interact with our immediate environment, first represented by our siblings and then by our contemporaries in school and in the world.
The Lower-Heaven or cusp of the IV House
Key Words: Unconscious drive, psyche. Influence prior to discrimination. Foetal stage. Ancestral, genetic roots. Family, home, country, sense of belonging. Nurturing parent. End of life as return to the womb.
The Fourth House is the experience of home, family, roots, the end of life. The Cusp or beginning point of this sector is the Lower Heaven’s degree. This House describes the inner self, and it’s therefore very personal, one’s own subjective feeling about reality.
The Fifth House
Key Words: Power of creativity. Children, as expression of one’s own personality. Enterprise, art, love making. Spontaneity, fun, joy, leisure time. Spirit of adventure. Risk taking, good luck, gambling.
Through the Fifth House we experience passion and joy in life, children and lovers as expressions of our ego desires, holidays, fun games, and all creative and self-expressive activities.
The Sixth House
Key Words: Attitude toward duty and the body as a vehicle of service. Work, routine, rituals. Health and sickness, particularly psychosomatic. Healing. Apprenticeships. Manual skills. Phenomenal Magic.
In the Sixth House we experience physical reality through work, routine, good and bad habits. We also experience the frailty of the body through illness, but also our power to heal.
The Seventh House or Descendant
Key Words: Self projection, public image. One to one relationships. Marriage. Characteristics sought in partners. It complements the Sign on the Ascendant. Antagonism, or wholeness, integration, inner partner.
The Seventh House is the experience of one to one relationships, marriage and psychological projections of all kind. The Cusp or beginning point of this sector is the Descendant’s degree. This House is often the psychological shadow or double of oneself.
The Eight House
Key Words: Ultimate experiences, death. Sexual exchange, emotional intimacy. Joined finances, inheritances. Regeneration and degeneration. Personal power. Occult inclination and studies. Secrets, taboos.
Through the Eighth House we experience our personal power in sexual and financial relationship with other people. We also face all extreme experiences, loss, death, those that help us change and regenerate.
The Ninth House
Key Words: Intuition, insight, higher studies. Long journeys, adventures, discoveries. Philosophical, religious and political beliefs. Search for meaning. Dreams, premonitions, future life. The God within.
Sun, Moon and Planets in this sector are on a quest for meaning, helping to broaden our horizons in many different ways, through study, travel, religion, spirituality.
The Tenth House or MidHeaven
Key Words: Conscious drive. True vocation. Ideal choice of profession and studies. Attainments or failures. Life goals. Social standing, public role, reputation. The parent who guides one into the outside world.
The Tenth House is the experience of goals, ambition, vocation, career, conscious awareness of one’s worth, role, reputation. The Cusp or beginning point of this sector is the MidHeaven’s degree. This House shows the nature of success and failure in the person’s life.
The Eleventh House
Key Words: Individual’s contribution to group consciousness and evolution. Attitude toward mankind. Person within society. Friendships, aspirations, ideals, hopes. Universal concerns, reforming spirit.
Planets in this Houses connect us to a greater world, outside of our familiar surroundings. Through this sector we aspire to become a better integrated part of our community and group of friends; and they also make an important contribution to our experience of life.
The Twelfth House
Key Words: Unconscious drive. Sacrifices and loss of personal power. Karmic bondage, fate. Unfinished business. Self undoing. Connection with the collective psyche. Spiritual awakening. Universal sympathy.
This is the final House, via which we are asked to undo all that we have painstakingly weaved in our lives, the ambitions, the personal attachments etc. This is necessary to unravel the spiritual thread of our journey. Here we contact the collective of the whole of humanity and of our blue planet as well, developing universal sympathy and compassion. The risk is escapism and irresponsibility, brought about by a feeling of hopelessness and futility.