There are three basic ingredients which combine to make up an astrology chart - planets, signs (or constellations of stars) and houses. The houses of the horoscope forms one of its basic building blocks. Serving as the lens to focus and personalize the planetary blueprint, the houses bring the chart down to earth. The planets represent particular psychological urges, drives and motivations. The constellation of stars in which a planet travels represent the quality of being or attitude; and the houses show specific areas of everyday experience through which the operations of the constellations and planets manifest. For example, Mars in Taurus will assert itself in a slow and steady manner, but its placement by house determines the exact area of life in which this slow and steady action can most obviously be observed - whether it is in the person's career or in his relationships or at school etc. Put very simply, the planets show what is happening, the signs show how it is happening and the houses show where it is happening.

Each of the 12 houses represents a different department of life. Generally, the meaning of each house mirrors the meaning of the 12 signs of the Zodiac. Aries is considered similar to the first house (as Aries is the first of the 12 Sun Signs), Taurus is considered similar to the second house and so on.

1st House

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The first house represents the physical plane of experience that deals with the totality of the individual. It represents the physical body in general and the general constitution. It is a very significant house in that it deals with what others pick up about you; that all important first impression. It represents some of the very early childhood experiences that shaped your self image and your outlook on life. Look at planets in this house and/or it's cusp ruling planet to get a feel for the individual life approach. The first house corresponds to Aries and so any planets in this house function with some underlying Aries style. Additionally, the first house corresponds to Mars and thus also represents our aggression, motivation, survival modes and self-interest.

2nd House

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The second house deals with the physical plane of existence with regards to what you have in the material sense. Money, money you earn, debts, and possessions, especially those you value highly. It is also your value system in general and your personal feelings of self worth. In other words, what you can allow yourself to have, based on what you feel you deserve. For example; are life options few because of lack of cash? Do you spend every penny you have and then some because you don't really feel you deserve to have money? Attitudes pro and con about money and material goodies are found here. This is the house of liberty. This refers to the liberty and options in life that having a secure financial picture produces. The second house corresponds to Taurus and so any planets in this house function with some underlying Taurus style. Additionally, the second house, also represents our personal likes or dislikes, deep emotions and attachments.

3rd House

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The third house deals with the physical plane area that includes close relatives in general, especially bothers and sisters. Elementary school experiences and our first teachers other than mom and dad. It represents individuals that affect our lives by close proximity. Thus, city life, the community we live in and our neighbors fall under the auspices of the third house. It's also short trips and local modes of transportation such as cars, buses, city rail systems, etc. Since the natural ruler Mercury is such a busy fellow, this house also represents reading, networking, writing, letters, small scale advertising, telephones, radios and any other form of communication. The third house corresponds to Gemini and so any planets in this house function with some underlying Gemini style. Additionally, the second house also represents teaching, education, our mentality, the realm of ideas, variety, duality and adaptability.

4th House

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On the physical plane, the fourth house is primarily associated with our home base and the mother. However, not everyone had the influence of a mother and in this case the fourth house can be relied on to bring insights into our childhood upbringing and the environment we were raised in. The foundation which was laid for our emotional stability and ability to cope with challenges later in life may be revealed by studying the condition of the fourth house. One's home, real estate and property concerns, domestic issues, our private life and family in general are fourth house domains. The fourth house corresponds to Cancer and so any planets in this house function with some underlying Cancer style. Additionally, the fourth house also represents our sense of security, self-protectiveness, our nurturing ability vs. our need to be nurtured and instinctive emotional responses.

5th House

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The fifth house is mainly associated with all things pertaining to the creativity which allows you to be recognized as successful in whatever area your heart directs you to, not just the creativity that is commonly associated with artistic pursuits, although those areas are found here also. The resulting attention and praise you may receive from fifth house activities feeds the heart and soul of your inner child. Thus the fifth house rules children in general, as well as children you may someday have yourself. The fifth house rules hobbies, leisure time activities, play and recreation, and all forms of entertainment. Gambling, taking risks and financial speculation fall under the fifth house umbrella, as well. Since the fifth house and Leo corresponds to the heart, this house also represents the area of love, romantic ventures, and dating. Note that a certain element of risk exists when one decides to play the "game" of love. Why do some peaceful dating relationships fall apart when a couple marries? Or, on the other hand why do some couples fight continuously while dating and settle down once married? Look at the fifth to see how a person is when dating. As soon as one marries, the energy shifts to the seventh house and that is where insight into the above questions are often found. The fifth house corresponds to Leo and so any planets in this house function with some underlying Leo style. Additionally, the fifth house also represents our creative potential, false vs. true pride, our own will, getting recognition and the heart's desires.

6th House

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The sixth house represents the area of work. To expand this idea further, we can include our employees if we have them and co-workers. The work found in the sixth house is work that is necessary, and so everyday chores and daily routines are to be found here, along with service to others and volunteer work. Service to others can run the gamut from nurses to politicians. Politicians often have an active sixth house. Jobs that we take to survive are also described by the sixth house. This is the house of physical labor as well. In order to be able to use our body to perform physical labor, we must take care of it and so the sixth house is also diet, your attitude towards food, health issues and personal hygiene. The sign Virgo suggests discrimination and so these traits are useful when we're making decisions about what to put into our bodies. Small animals, the weather and clothing are other sixth house areas. An area that doesn't get much attention is the sixth house relation to old relatives in general. One astrologer I know reads it as "family karma." It does seem to be a valid definition. The sixth house corresponds to Virgo and so any planets in this house function with some underlying Virgo style. Additionally, the sixth house also represents categorizing and order, worry and concern, self-improvement and using powers of discernment.

7th House

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Since the first house represents you; the seventh house being directly opposite the first is other people in general. Look at the seventh house for clues about what other people send out to you based on what you send out via your first house? Committed relationships are found here, along with the contracts and legal obligations which often form them, though there are exceptions to this rule. For instance, best friends form a kind of committed relationship that exists outside of legal documents. Marriage and business partners are legal commitments. Here also, is where we find those who might openly oppose us. Someone who is willing to take you to court to file a lawsuit against you, must do so openly as opposed to behind the scenes. Therefore, lawsuits are a seventh house area. Again, as with legal commitments, this opposition may not always take the form of an actual lawsuit. Traits from your first house that need to be balanced are often acted out by those who are opposite to us. For example; a Libra rising person who is too willing to please, may pull in aggressive or selfish partners, shown by the Aries seventh house cusp. If you repress a particular trait, then that too is often acted out for us by our closest partners. The seventh house corresponds to Libra and so any planets in this house function with some underlying Libra style. Additionally, the seventh house also represents giving and receiving and balance of power issues.

8th House

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Several areas fall under the rule of the eighth house. Sex and sexual intimacy are eighth house matters. Note the word intimate. The eighth house may reveal one's ability to share deep, intimate bonding with another person. Because of this, the eighth house is also connected to the popular notion of meeting one's soul-mate. The eighth house is the house of major lifestyle changes. Whatever planets fall into this house will be completely transformed in some way and the individual's approach to the things represented by that planet emerge drastically altered. Surgery is associated with the eighth house. Death and all matters pertaining to death belong to the eighth house. Inheritances, other people's money in general and the spouses money are eighth house matters. If the seventh house is equivalent to the partners first house in your chart, then your eighth house represents their second house and thus, their finances. Support from others both financial and moral and the value system of others are eighth house issues. The occult is normally associated with the eighth house. In this case, occult refers to the manipulation of natural or psychic forces in order to produce desired outcomes. Mysteries, magic, secrets, ulterior motives and the investigation of these things are all eighth house matters. The eighth house corresponds to Scorpio and so any planets in this house function with some underlying Scorpio style. Additionally, the eighth house also represents extreme conditions, drastic changes, as well as, control and power issues.

9th House

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The Ninth house represents the development of the mind. Here we find all things related to higher learning, such as universities, professors, and continuing education programs. The ninth house is really like third house matters expanded. Life philosophies, religion, gurus, preachers, spiritual experiences, your ideas about God and belief systems of any kind belong to the ninth house. The religious aspect of the ninth house is generally more orthodox and dogmatic in nature. Foreign people, places, languages and things are ninth house areas, as well as long journeys and visits overseas. Here in the ninth is where we also find the great outdoors, country life, nature, getting away from it all, large animals, sports and athletic pursuits. First spouse in-laws reside here, too. Large scale publishing and big time advertising campaigns are also ruled by the ninth house. The ninth house is also courts of law, judges and the judicial system in general. The ninth house corresponds to Sagittarius and so any planets in this house function with some underlying Sagittarius style. Additionally, the ninth house represents expansion of anything, wanting freedom, and moral codes and ethics.

10th House

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In the tenth house we find one's primary career goals. The career found in the tenth house is what we would prefer to be known for vs. the sixth house, where we take certain jobs out of necessity. Hence, the tenth house is also described as one's fame, reputation, honor and highest achievements. It's also the boss; either your attitude towards the authority of others, or you as the authority. When you think of the tenth house, think of traditional institutions that have withstood the test of time. Government and political aims naturally fall into the domain of the tenth house. The tenth house is the public eye vs. the fourth which is your private life. Traditional astrology teaches us that the tenth house is the house that represents the father, based on the fourth house as mother and the tenth being opposite the fourth represents her spouse. I have often found that an accurate description of the father is described by the fifth house. In fact, astrologers have varying opinions concerning which house represents which parent, with some believing that the tenth is mother and the fourth is father. Stick with the traditional meaning to start and experiment if you wish with the other ideas on this matter. The tenth house corresponds to Capricorn and so any planets in this house function with some underlying Capricorn style. Additionally, the tenth house represents taking responsibility, and the rewards of resolving karmic issues.

11th House

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Traditionally the eleventh house is related to friendships and acquaintances, though generally not as close as those we consider to be best friends. A less considered aspect of these relationships, but one that I have found to be true is the following; that because of the ancient rulership of Saturn, the friendships found in the eleventh house often have a kind of "karmic alliance" tone to them. These types of relationships form in order to evolve both parties, based on past life issues together. Our personal hopes and wishes is another eleventh house area. Groups of people in general, especially those groups which have a common bond or goal are found in the eleventh house. This can include, humanitarian causes, clubs and social organizations of any kind. Science, technology, computers, airplanes and all things that represent either ideas that are ahead of the times, or progress for mankind are eleventh house areas. This is the house of ingenious ideas and new inventions. Some of these new ideas upset long held traditional viewpoints and so this is the house of the revolutionary. The individual who may be forced into a kind of self imposed isolation because he finds it difficult to march to the same drumbeat as everyone else. This could also refer to the leader who has the ability to inspire action in others, and yet because he is the leader, he feels inside that he must maintain a kind of solitary detachment. In this case, intimate or deeply personal entanglements are simply too messy for those who must manage large groups of people. The eleventh house corresponds to Aquarius and so any planets in this house function with some underlying Aquarius style. Additionally, the eleventh house represents bizarre circumstances, being or feeling different from the "norm", rebelliousness, and unexpected events.

12th House

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Here in the twelfth house we find areas of life that tend to place one away from the rest of society. Hence, this house is most commonly known as the house of large public institutions, hospitals, prisons and asylums. Monasteries naturally fall into this category, as well. Sometimes this isolation is self imposed. A writer who needs long periods of uninterrupted time is an example of self imposed isolation. A hospital stay is not usually a self imposed situation. You will often see the phrases behind-the-scenes or hidden from view used in connection with twelfth house matters. This covers a fairly large area of potential experiences. That which is purposefully deceptive as well as, actions taken for the sake of simply doing rather than for glory or recognition. The latter leading naturally to altruistic acts of helpfulness and kindness, in which the act itself is the sole reward. Hidden enemies are in the twelfth house as opposed to the open opposition in the seventh house. Any planets in this house may represent something that the individual either doesn't have a clear view of or doesn't want a clear view of. The edges of reality become blurred, allowing one to exist in the more ideal scenario that one creates on the mental plane. Or, in other cases, the use of addictive substances or self indulgent habits that allow a person to escape unpleasant realities for the time being, though never eliminating the source of pain is another possible manifestation of this reality avoidance syndrome. Traditionally this is the house of suffering and self undoing. You've probably seen this already. What exactly does it mean? It means this. How do you tangle up your own web? Look at planets in this house and the sign on the twelfth house cusp. Do you avoid reality? Do you lack boundaries with respect to these things? And what about the suffering part? Do the answers to any of the former create problems for you? Does guilt, repression, or self-doubt play a role? This is also the house of spiritual inspiration, cosmic consciousness and enlightenment. Addicts who join support groups are often strongly encouraged to put their faith in a higher power. Even those who doubt the existence of God, can find comfort in tuning into the notion of a higher power. The spirituality found in the twelfth house is more in tune with what some might call "Universal Consciousness." Religious dogma is dissolved along with the boundaries that separate us from other dimensions. Psychic channeling and miraculous healing are higher potentials found in the twelfth house. The twelfth house corresponds to Pisces and so any planets in this house function with some underlying Pisces style. Additionally, the twelfth house represents the influence of past lives, forgiveness, atonement and mysterious disappearances.