Quick links to the houses:

1. house
2. house
3. house
4. house
5. house
6. house
7. house
8. house
9. house
10. house
11. house
12. house


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For an excellent discussion on house systems, take a look at House Cusps and Systems by Jeff Jawer.

The 1. house, Ascendant, East horizon, Rising Sign.
This house indicates persona and appearance. The first impression of a person will often be the rising sign, rather than the sun sign. This is what they see; the wrappingpaper, rather than the present. More personal, it is the way we meet the world. The sunsign is the end, but the ascendant is the means. Aspects will often influence our appearance - especially conjunctions from the 1. house - or influence those means. Eg. a positive saturn aspect brings discipline and direction, while a negative moon brings ficleness or moodiness that might detract from our Journey (asc.) to the Essence (sun). While the other houses are more specialised, the first is the default. It is how we normally act, unless in a situation governed by another house.
Being an angular house and the natural house of Aries, it is related to the 'first step'. It is our initial reaction to things, and our initial action in any project. Like the newborn baby, we meet the world in this house, its sign determining how, and the planets in the house determining which parts of the personality we bring on the stage first.
The Ascendant through the signs.

The 2. house
This house is related to Taurus, and is a succedent 'earth' house, and is thus related to possessions, and what we consider 'ours'. It considers all values, both material and spiritual, and planets here determine what we like and need to feel secure. They and the cusp-sign also influence how we handle money and things, and our view of ownership. They may say something of how rich we will be, but more likely what we need to consider ourselves rich. Neptune says that love is the most valuable thing, and the person might feel most 'earthy' in meditation, while Mercury will demand intellectual stimulation and place greatest value on discourse and logic.
The 2. house through the signs.

The 3. house
This house is related to Gemini, and is a cadent 'air' house. It is thus related to communication in all forms, and the ability to learn and pick up information. It shows how we learn the basics of any area (wisdom to apply it correctly comes in the opposing house; the 9.), and therefor covers lower education and general litteracy. As Gemini is the stage where a child first encounters others, this house corresponds to our first schoolyears, our peers and our favoured or hated subjects at school. Communication includes short journeys, letters and phonecalls, how we express our thoughts and views of daily life. Planets here and the cusp sign are indicators of influences in these areas, and an afflicted planet could indicate problems in picking up info, disliked subjects, and problems with peers. Uranus would e.g. be an odd-one-out, Pluto might indicate extreme insights or upheaval in early friendships, Venus someone who prefered arts classes, and Taurus might indicate early laziness and a dislike for sports.
The 3. house through the signs.

The 4. house, Imum Coeli, North.
Related to Cancer, this is an angular 'water' house, and is thus related to the I of emotions. It is our home, physically and mentally, our ancestors, family, support group. It is the place where we feel or should feel secure and anchored. It is the shell to which we return to regenerate, like the sun in myth traveling through the underworld at night, and the bonfires needed to rekindle it at midwinter. Here we are anchored to the Earth, and given the impulse to energize the rest of the chart. Planets and the IC sign indicate the sort of home we prefer, our relationship with our parents, changes of residence, and what we need to feel safe and rooted. Mercury, Jupiter or Uranus could mean lots of moving (respectively short, long or abrupt journeys), Pisces a home by the sea; afflicted IC potential alchohol problems at home, the North Node indicating a need to concentrate more on anchoring and grounding our energies, rather than always pursuing new goals.
The IC through the signs and - for some systems where the MC/IC axis and 10./4. cusps don't coincide - through the houses.

The 5. house
Related to Leo, this is a succedent 'fire' house, and so related to all that we do to keep our internal flames burning. It is the house of creation and recuperation, and all we do to find joy and fun. It is the house of the arts - public or private as we express our flame of creativity here and give it permanence. It concerns sports and competition as we show others the joy and brightness, and it also concerns children. This is because the most permanent mark we can make of our own being and creativity is through our children. Recreation, procreation and creation are closely connected in this house. Planets and the cusp sign of this house show the kind of art we enjoy and where our artistic talents lie. It shows our relationship to children, and the sort of activities we prefer to do in our spare time. Mars can indicate a sportsman, while mercury inspires poetry, and chiron someone who has difficulty expressing his individuality, but can overcome it through the arts.
The 5. house through the signs.

The 6. house
Related to Virgo, this is a cadent 'earth' house, and thus related to all 'behind the stage'-work. Planets here have just set and their influence is not in the open. Their energy is lowered and the house covers our lowered energy aka health issues. It is a house of servitude, and all that are employed by us (including pets and other of less rank) or employ us (like our boss or the more subtle rule of habits, routines and daily ritual) are included. The cusp sign and resident planets show how we relate to routine work, possible healthproblems, and whether we work best as a group or an individual. Being close to the Descendant, planets can indicate what others expect of us, and what we must do for them. It is not a house of equality, and so what we give in this house may well be greater than the repayment. Pisces here indicates problems with our feet, while neptune could warn of alcoholism or allergy to a drug. The sun requires the person to spend much of his life behind the stage, and the person will be a great help to his surroundings.
The 6. house through the signs.

The 7. house, Descendant, West horizon
This house is an angular 'air' house and related to Libra. Thus it represents our first step into the sphere of 'others'. It is the house of marriage and open enemies, because they are the others who will shape our life most. Descendant sign and resident planets show what kind of partner we desire, and our relationship to them. These planets are easily projected and 'disowned', because they are so far from the 'I' of the 1. house, but without them and their qualities we are not whole. This is espescially true of any planet conjunct the descendant. More personally this house shows what we expect from a partnership. For example the north node here expects their partner to be a karmic teacher, and must learn cooperation, while the south node has a gift (or burden if negatively placed) of karmic relationships at their back, and is required to learn independence.
The Descendant through the signs.

The 8. house
Related to Scorpio, this is a succedent 'water' house. The WE of emotions is the house of merging. Not the intellectual alliance of the 7. house, but the unifying force of sex, the merging of Soul with the Divine at death, the merging of a Soul with this plane of existence at birth, and the more prosaic merging of your money with mine.. The latter refers to taxes, inheritance, and other issues where values and possessions change hands. The planets and cusp sign of this house show how we approach the above subjects, as well as the concept of losing our Self sense for something greater. They show our sexual desires, as well as indicating our view of death and the beyond. Saturn may advise caution and be chilly and cynical yet have the potential for great age, while Venus approaches it with sensuality and artistic rendering. Gemini on the cusp will discuss it intellectually, but may not be interested in diving deeper.
The 8. house through the signs.

The 9. house
This cadent 'fire' house is related to Sagittarius, and is a house of seekings, stretching and setting goals beyond the physical. The planets here have recently culminated, and are looking forward to a time of darkness. 'Looking' is indeed a good term, as this house includes long journeys and the abroad, studies and higher education, and philosophy and religion. There is energy, but used for the good of all in legislative matters, and in searching for a view of life that may be suitable for the community. Resident planets and the cusp sign will show our view of religion and the face of Deity we may be drawn to; such as the Moon for the Virgin Mary or the Triple Goddess, Saturn a stern father God, Uranus the atheism of Science, etc. They will indicate the subjects of our studies, and our approach to strangers and strange lands. Legal pursuits will also be shown. Planets here show the nature of our search for Truth.
The 9. house through the signs.

The 10. house, Medium Coeli, South, Midheaven
Angular 'earth' house and related to Capricorn, this is the house and cusp of the climber. Planets here are the highest elevated, and shine brightly in the south. The house thus shows the goals we set, how we approach these goals and what we do to achieve them. It sets the scene for our career, as this is perhaps the most longrunning goal of our life. It is the house of our public face, our 'standard' flag, how we wish to be seen by the general populace. It describes what we want to become, who we want to be. It is a house of dreams, yet practical, achievable ones. Planets and the cusp sign here show what kind of occupation we desire and how we approach our goals in general. Aquarius gives the image of a rebel; one who wants to change the system and may become a great scientist or humanist. Venus a career in the arts, but also advancement by 'sleeping with the right people'. Mars a professional sportsman, or highly competitive person, who puts all her energy into achieving any goal she sets. Saturn is also competitive and ambitious, but plays absolutely within the system.
The Midheaven through the signs and through the houses, for those systems where the MC/IC axis and the 10./4. house axis don't coincide.

The 11. house
The 11. house is a succedent 'air' house related to Aquarius, and thus connects to the brother- and sister-hoods of humans. It is a house of friends and aquaintances, groups and organisations, and what we do for those we are mentally compatible with. It shows the kind of groups we associate with, and our position in that group. It shows our humanistic aims, the goals we set for humanity, and what we are willing to give to Earth. It shows our position in the great organisation of Mankind; whether we prefer to organize and lead (Capricorn), provide spiritual advice and visions (Neptune), depict the ideals of our time on canvas or in writing (Venus and/ or Mercury), or rattle its foundations and change its very state (Pluto). It shows the group expression, the activities of all rather than the individual. It shows the ideas creating a group, rather than the alliance of two in the 7., or the expression of one in the 3.
The 11. house through the signs.

The 12. house
Related to Pisces, and being a cadent 'water' house, this is the realm of the subconscious, the qualities we access with difficulty, the spiritual service we give to mankind, and our own Spirit self. As such it has karmic implications, and gifts and burdens may be found here. It describes the hidden parts of the psyche, and shows our approach to lonelyness, secret societies and institutions like prisons and hospitals. Showing the group emotions, it accesses the collective unconcious, the common dreams and fears of mankind. Planets and the cusp sign of this house show potential psychic gifts (if e.g. outer planets or the moon is present), and subconscious traumas (a very afflicted jupiter/ neptune combination may spell hallucinations). They show what kind of spiritual service we may provide, such as Libra for a higher level of art, or justice, or Gemini for communicating the words of Deity in channeling.
The 12. house through the signs.

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