The Houses

In order to make sense of how the planets and the signs work in our daily lives, we need a frame of reference that enables us to connect the planetary movements up above with events down here on earth. This is the function of the houses. As opposed to the planets, which represent psychological energies or modes of action, and the signs which colour the way these energies are expressed, the houses reveal the areas of life where all this energy is most likely to find an out let.

ESTABLISHING THE FOUR ANGLES
While the planets’ positions in the signs are based on their apparent movement around the Earth the houses are derived from the rotation of the Earth on its axis. They take their starting point, known as the Ascendant, or Rising degree, is the cusp that marks the beginning of the first house. The sign in which the degree falls the Ascendant, or rising sign. As the Earth is constantly rotating, the Ascendant degree changes on average every four minutes, so it is vital to have the correct time of birth. Although the Ascendant degree is a fixed point in the birth chart, it also forms one end of an axis. Its opposite point- the degree that is setting on the western horizon – is known as the Descendant. This degree always marks the cusp of the seventh house. For instance, if the Ascendant is a 25 Pisces, the Descendant will be at 25 Virgo.

Another important area of the chart is the degree of the Ecliptic directly overhead at the time and place of birth. This is called the Midheaven or MC- short for the latin Medium Coeli, or the ‘middle of the heavens’. Collectively, these four points are known as the Angles, and the signs found here reveal a great deal about how we view and experience the world, as well as how the world sees and impinges on us. Their meanings are explained later on in this chapter.

ESTABLISHING THE HOUSE DIVISIONS
Although no one disputes that the Ascendant degree marks the beginning of the first houe, there is fierce controversy about how the remaining houses should be divided. In fact, there are well over twenty established ways of calculating house divisions and, to this day, astrologers cannot agree on which is the correct one. Undoubtedly the simplest and, to those who use it, the most logical method of house division is the Equal House system (supplied with the Instant Astrologer software), which simply divides the Ecliptic into twelve equal houses of 30′. Regardless of which method of house division is used , the twelve houses are counted anti-clockwise, in numerical order, starting at the Ascendant degree. n most house systems, the MC-IC axis marks the cusp of the tenth and fourth houses respectively. In the Equal House system, how ever this axis can fall anywhere between the eight-second, eleventh and fifth houses.

HOUSE SYSTEMS
The astromical arguments for preferring one house systemto another are extremely complex, and are beyond the remit of these chapters. Briefly the crux of the problem centres on two fundemental issues. Critics of the Equal House system object that the MC-IC axis can fall anywhere between the eight -second and eleventh -fifth houses, depending on the time of the day and year we were born. Given the significance of this axis, the MC and the IC should always coincide with the cusps pf tenth and fourth houses respectively.Alternative methods of house division, which are collectively called the Quadrant House systems, resolve this problem.

But they all fall in one way or another at latitudes near the Poles. Supporters of the Equal House system that works for certain parts of the globe but not for others. Besides, if users of the Quadrant systems are prepared to divide the zodiac signs symbolically into twelve equal sections, why should they take issues with treating the houses in the same way. So which system is best? Unfortunately, there are no easy answers. The Equal House System was chosen for this book because, in our opinion, it is the simples one for beginners to use.

LINKING THE HOUSES
Like the signs, the houses are not viewed in isolation but are grouped according to basic definitions. in the Equal house system , perhaps the most common way of classifying the houses – one, four, seven and ten are with putting energy out into the world and making an impression. Cardinal house issues tend to revolve around the need for action.

THE FIXED HOUSES-two, five, eight and eleven – tend to consolidate the energies set in motion by the Cardinal houses. Fixed house issuestend to revolve around the need for secccurity and control.

THE MUTABLE HOUSES – three, six nine and twelve – digest the experiences of the Fixed houses, and set the wheels in motion for further action. Mutable house issues tend to revolve around the need to learn. It is worth noting that while tradition maintains that the Cardinal houses are the strongest placements for planets, statistical research by the French psychologist Michel Gauquelin has suggested that this seems to be a more accurate description of the Mutable houses, especially the twelfth and ninth. Another way of linking the houses is to pair opposites – the first with the seventh, the second with the eight, and so on. The idea behind this practice is that the more personal and subjective areas of life associated with the first six houses in the hemisphere below the horizon are to some extent the mirror opposite of the more objective and social spheres of experience symbolized by the last six houses in the upper hemisphere. For instance, the focus on the self in the first house, is counter balanced by the need for co-operation in relationships in the seventh .

HOUSE MEANINGS
Most traditional meanings attributed to each house appear totally unconnected to each other. This is not really surprising, given that traditional astrology was concerned solely with predicting the outcome of external events. While these meanings are not invalid, the psychological approach to astrology is to seek out the underlying principle – the core meaning of a house – that draws us, consciously or otherwise, towards certain types of experience. The houses do not operate simply on the level of external events, they also manifest within – as processes in the psyche that are looking for some kind of release or expression in our lives.

THE NATURAL ZODIAC
The natural zodiac links the signs, planets and houses in a way that gives each a place in the overall scheme of the birth chart. The zodiac, which is purely symbolic , aligns Aries, the first sign of the zodiac, with the Ascendant or first house. Taurus with the second house and so on. Moreover, the planetary ruler of eac sign is also held to be the ‘essential’ or natural ruler of the house associated with that sign – for instance, Mars the ruler of Aries is also the essential ruler of the first house.

What this means is that when a planet occupier either its natural sign or house it is considered to gain in ‘weight’ or significance. The Moon in the Fourth house, for example, is said to add a powerful lunar harmonic to a chart. Obviously, the effect is further strengthened when a planet occupies both its natural sign and house.

What this means is that when a planet occupier either its natural sign or house it is considered to gain in ‘weight’ or significance. The Moon in the Fourth house, for example, is said to add a powerful lunar harmonic to a chart. Obviously, the effect is further strengthened when a planet occupies both its natural sign and house.

However, many astrologers reject this system of correspondences, especially the practice of assigning planetary rulerships to the houses, on the grounds that it has no basis in tradition. While they have a point, it has to be said that there are undeniable parallels between the signs, houses and planets. Jupiter, Sagittarius and the ninth house, for example, are all associated with widening our horizons in one way or another. The point to remember is that the planets, signs and houses are not identical in meaning. While the natural Zodiac is a useful device for seeing how these three categories interrelate, the symbolic function of each is also distinct and should not be confused with the others. In the chart the traditional and ‘modern’ planetary rulerships for Scorpio, Aquarius and Pisces have been included as many astrologers use both.

Reference: The Instant Astrologer: Felix Lyle and Brian Aspland-Book of Interpretation

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