There’s so much more to astrology than your sun, moon and rising signs! Ever heard of the 12 houses of astrology? The 12 houses—huh!?
While reading your sun sign horoscope in the newspaper or in a magazine was likely the gateway into the world of astrology, there’s a treasure trove of information and insight available to you in your natal chart.
What exactly is a natal chart?! Your natal chart is a snapshot of the exact moment you were born, charting the position of the 10 planets, 12 zodiac signs and 12 houses.
The 12 houses ground the celestial magic of astrology down to the earthly plane and provide more context and insight. A foundational piece of astrology, the 12 houses of astrology represent major themes in life as well as the 12 zodiac signs.
We’ll get into all this, but what you need to know right now is that without looking at the houses, you’re only getting a fraction of the picture.
It’s one thing to know your big 3: sun, moon, rising. But do you know what it means to have your Venus in the 4th house, or Pluto in the 12th? Your natal chart holds all the answers!
If you’ve never looked at your natal chart, there are many free resources! You’ll just need your exact birth time. Go to Cafe Astrology and pull yours up!
Let’s take a look at the meaning of each of the 12 houses of astrology and how you can interpret your own natal chart.
Understanding the 12 Houses of Astrology
Think of the 12 houses of astrology as an anchor for the planets to tie to. Represented by the 12 zodiac signs, the first house is Aries, the second is Taurus, and so on.
Within your natal chart, there are 12 houses, 12 zodiac signs (Aquarius, Pisces, Aries, etc.) and ten planets (Sun, Moon, Mercury, etc.). Each of the 12 houses have both a planetary and zodiac ruler, which you’ll see in your natal chart.
Your natal chart looks like a wheel, with lots of lines, glyphs and numbers. On the left hand side, you have your rising sign which will always be in the 1st house. Your rising sign is the zodiac constellation that was quite literally rising in the east at the time of your birth.
The 12 houses of astrology show the lived experience of the position of the planets in your natal chart.
The houses unfold counterclockwise, with the number in the small circle in the middle, and show the lived experience of the position of the planets in your natal chart.
The houses found below the horizon line running from your rising sign (ascendant) to your descendant, 1-6, represent your inner world. The houses found above the horizon, 7-12, represent your connection to your outer world.
Although each house is natally ruled by a specific zodiac sign, your ascendant will always represent your 1st house. So if your rising sign is Aquarius, you’ll have Aquarius in the 1st house.
Ready to dive into the central themes of each of the 12 houses in astrology?! Let’s take a tour!
Here Are the Central Themes for the 12 Houses of Astrology
1st House: The Self and Identity
Natal Rulership: Aries, Mars
Keywords: Self, Identity, Ego, Consciousness, Appearance
Central Theme: The 1st house, your ascendant, is all about the self and your personal experience in life. Aries is a go-getter and loves to lead the pack. Ever the confident leader, Aries is a badass.
With the Aries-Mars rulership in the 1st house, this is also where you experience consciousness, willpower, and self-identity. The 1st house is how you are perceived by others, but also how you perceive yourself. Your 1st house is your first impression!
If you have any planetary placements in the 1st house, you’ll see them show up in significant ways in your life. This is where you discover and establish your “I Am” in life.
2nd House: Personal Finances and Values
Natal Rulership: Taurus, Venus
Keywords: Self-worth, Self-esteem, Finances, Possessions, Values
Central Theme: The 2nd house, ruled by Taurus, is all about the material and tangible aspects of life, including finances, sex, pleasure and possessions. You experience and express your earthly values from the 2nd house, as well as your self-esteem and self-worth.
The 2nd house can also dictate the type of career you follow to create the most material gains. It’s all about “I have” with the 2nd house.
This house can have a shadow side with how your finances and material gains are connected to your self-worth and self-esteem, so be aware of this association.
3rd House: Communication
Natal Rulership: Gemini, Mercury
Keywords: Language, Communication, Technology, Travel, Relationships
Central Theme: The 3rd house is how you communicate with the world around you and express what’s going on in your inner world. Ruled by Mercury, the planet of technology, communication and travel, the 3rd house is your vehicle of expression and intelligence.
This is where “I Think” comes from. You’ll also find your skills and talents in the 3rd house, helping you hone what you’re good at.
Additionally, the 3rd house represents your most simple (or complicated) relationships with relatives, siblings, family and neighbors or colleagues. If you like (or dislike) travel, this is the house that represents both short and long-term travel.
When Mercury stations retrograde, look to the 3rd house for more insight.
4th House: Home and Family
Natal Rulership: Cancer, The Moon
Keywords: Home, Family, Nesting, Safety, Ancestry
Central Theme: Sitting at the bottom of your natal chart lives the literal foundation of your life—your house of home and family.
The safety aspect of your home covers both literal safety, like a secure home, and also emotional and personal safety, including how at home you feel within yourself.
Ruling everything that is connected to your roots, the 4th house also represents ancestors and what you’ve inherited from parents and ancestors. If you don’t have a good relationship with your family, more insight can be found here.
The placement of this house is significant as everything is built around it, and planets in this house will directly impact your home life—past, present, and future.
5th House: Pleasure and Creativity
Natal Rulership: Leo, The Sun
Keywords: Creativity, Play, Pleasure, Joy, Entertainment
Central Theme: Many of the earthly pleasures are expressed and experienced in the 5th house. Ruled by Leo and The Sun, this house is all about enjoying life, playing, being creative, surrounding yourself with loved ones and entertainment.
In the 5th house, you’ll not only find ways to enjoy life, but also athleticism and sports, which on the shadow side can also include gambling and sports betting.
Additionally, you can find insight to non-romantic or casual sex in the 5th house. As the house of the heart, you’ll experience all your creative pleasures, passions and pursuits here. Leo energy knows how to have fun, so look to this house if you need an infusion of creativity!
6th House: Health and Service
Natal Rulership: Virgo, Mercury
Keywords: Health, Hygiene, Service, Duty, Pets
Health is wealth, and no one understands this more than a Virgo! The 6th house is where you’ll find all things related to your physical health and wellbeing.
Centered around service and duty, you’ll also find work that is not career related in the 6th house. Think volunteering, not climbing the corporate ladder. Do you love what you do, or do you love how you do it?
Routine related to physical health and the psyche reside in the 6th house, which naturally governs how well you are able to do said work.
If you love pets, your relationship to earth’s creatures are in the 6th house as they represent both health and routine. If you weren’t among the droves of people who adopted a pet in 2020, maybe now is the time to add unconditional love to your life!
7th House: Interpersonal Relationships
Natal Rulership: Libra, Venus
Keywords: Romantic Relationships, Business Partnership, Marriage, Contracts
Central Theme: As a human, you have an array of relationships in your life. The 7th house rules partnerships, specifically long-term romantic relationships, marriage and especially business partnership.
All in the realm of love on some level, this Venus-ruled house is residence to your one-on-one connection to others.
Looking to embark on a joint venture with someone or sign a contract? Check out what’s happening in the current astrology in your 7th house first. This is also where you’ll find insight to equality in your relationships and how you share.
The 7th house is the beginning of the interpersonal houses (7-12) so this is where you’ll establish much of that foundation.
Interpersonal relationships include any union or interaction outside of yourself. Which is pretty much the whole world! If you’re struggling to get along with someone or establish fairness, the 7th house has the answers.
8th House: Sex and Intimacy
Natal Rulership: Scorpio, Mars and Pluto
Keywords: Sex, Death, Taxes, Shared Finances, Assets
Central Theme: The idiom “death and taxes” is so the 8th house of astrology. Who knew sex, death and taxes had so much in common? The 8th house, ruled by Scorpio, is a deep well of mystery and merging. Birth also lives here.
Your esoteric magic also lives here! Scorpio is a watery sign that has direct access to mysticism and magic. As a sign that likes to be in control, you can also find tendencies to dominate here … in the bedroom and the boardroom.
Ruling the business aspect of marriage, this is where you’ll find joint bank accounts, shared investments and property, and contracts like wills and divorces.
Different from the finances of the 2nd house, the 8th house rules long-term income that we lovingly refer to as a nest egg. Look to this house before making big decisions that involve finances with others.
9th House: Travel and Education
Natal Rulership: Sagittarius, Jupiter
Keywords: Travel, Education, Philosophy, Religion, Ethics
Central Theme: Ever the spontaneous soul, Sagittarius is the ruler of the 9th house, so make sure you have a valid passport!
Teaching, publishing and broadcasting can also be expressed in the 9th house, helping you spark life into all those great ideas swimming in your head and heart.
The 9th house is where you share yourself with the world! From travel to cross-cultural relations, you can do and see it all from here.
Also ruling entrepreneurship and the desire to “go it alone” the 9th house is filled with the spirit of adventure and exploration. Feed your mind and discover what sets your soul on fire.
Jupiter, the planet of luck and fortune, rules Sagittarius so this is also the place to look if you’re curious about your fortune or if that lotto ticket is lucky. This expansive house is the literal spice of life!
10th House: Career and Purpose
Natal Rulership: Capricorn, Saturn
Keywords: Career, Fame, Structure, Boundaries, Awards, Authority, Discipline
Central Theme: “Work hard, play hard” is the theme of the 10th house where career comes to guide you to your true north. Sitting at the very top of your chart at the 12 o’clock position, the 10th house carries insight as to what you’re best suited to do for work.
Continuing on the interpersonal relationship theme of houses 7-12, the 10th house is the pinnacle of being seen in the public eye. And while this is very much about being seen, it also fully encompasses your purpose on earth.
You can discover what legacy you’re leaving by looking at the placements of the 10th house. This is about so much more than looking good. It’s about leaving something behind that looks good, functions and will be around for decades to come.
Check your ego at the door though, because Saturn doesn’t have time for it.
11th House: Social Justice and Technology
Natal Rulership: Aquarius, Saturn, Uranus
Keywords: Social Justice, Rebellion, Technology, Existential Enlightenment, Invention, Futurism
Central Theme: The leader of any social justice march is likely to be an Aquarius. Driven by serving the collective and seeing things differently, the 11th house is where you’ll find the key to making waves in your life.
Whether it’s through technology or fantastical thinking, the future is ever present in the 11th house.
Your individual expression and how it relates to the collective lives in the 11th house. If you feel driven to make change, look here to discover what placements you have to make the most use of your efforts.
As we come to the end of the 12 houses, the 11th is the most connected to the world outside of you, including revolutions, space and astronomy.
12th House: Endings and Service
Natal Rulership: Pisces, Neptune
Keywords: Endings, Service, Mental Health, Afterlife, Subconscious, Spirituality
Central Theme: Here we are at the end of the soul’s evolutionary journey in the 12th house ruled by mystical and uber spiritual Pisces. Where the 1st house began with the self and beginnings, the 12th house concludes with endings and the realm of the mystical.
You can find great sources of creativity, spirituality, connection beyond this realm and magic here. While it may be more difficult to grasp, the gifts of the 12th house are the true gift of being alive as a spiritual being in a human body.
Look to this house to discover how you interact with your subconscious and creativity, both of which are intangible at times.
However, without clear limits and boundaries in this house, you can also see exploration get the best of you via addiction and dissociation from reality. Do not try to escape the realities of the 12th house, but embrace them with every facet of your soul.
Be Empowered & Know Yourself Through the 12 Houses of Astrology
Your natal chart is uniquely yours. Like a fingerprint in a sea of billions of humans, no one on earth past, present or future will have an exact replica of your natal chart.
Working as an evolutionary map of the soul, you can discover and understand so much about yourself through the 12 houses in your natal chart.
Use this guide as a way to decipher the different aspects and relationships in your life, and have fun! Astrology isn’t law. It’s simply another tool to add to your belt in order to understand yourself better so you can understand others.