The 12 Houses of Astrology, Explained

Here’s what you need to know about this key building block of your birth chart.

Houses in Astrology

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Even if you love reading your horoscope or are obsessed with memes that totally resonate with your sun sign, you could be intimidated by your birth chart. Maybe when asked what your moon sign or rising sign is, you’re comfy looking at an app that spells it out in list format, but looking at the full “circle chart” picture just feels super-intimidating. That’s understandable, given just how multilayered and unique each and every natal chart truly is. But considering how much your chart has to say about your personality, aspirations, and perspective, it pays to wrap your head around those layers. 

The 12 houses of the zodiac are one piece of the puzzle of a natal chart from which you can gain quite a bit of interesting intel. For instance, understanding the difference between being born with the sun in the first house of self versus twelfth house of spirituality can help you understand why you’re such an extrovert while your bestie or S.O. is far more reserved. Or noting what sign rules your tenth house of career can help you think about the best way to get after your most ambitious professional goals.

Keep scrolling to find out what the basics of the houses in astrology can tell you about yourself and your path.

The Astrological Houses, Defined

Your birth chart is actually like a screenshot of the sky as it looked when you were born, from the precise vantage point of your birth. The 12 houses show where in the sky each luminary (that’s the sun and the moon) and the planets appeared when you were born, wherever on Earth you were born. 

Houses represent the rotation of the earth around its axis over the course of 24 hours. As it rotates, the sun and all of the planets appear to be moving through the 12 houses clockwise. They rise in the east (on the cusp of the first house, or the ascendant, on the left side of the chart), hang out around the top of a chart at midday, set in the west (the right hand side of your chart), and then spend time at the bottom of a chart in the middle of the night. 

So you can think of it as a bit of a personalized star map — but it’s more than that. The house location of the luminaries and planets colors how they express themselves, as each house represents a particular area of life (more on that in a bit). 

How to Find the Houses in Your Birth Chart

As with many astrology concepts, when it comes to understanding the houses, it helps to have a visual. What better visual than your own birth chart? If you don’t already have it handy, you can run one on an app (like TimePassages) or website (I have a tool on or you can try From there, note that the chart is divided up into 12 slices. Each of these slices represents a house, and the first house is where your ascendant or rising sign (the sign that was ascending on the eastern horizon at the time of your birth) falls on the left hand side of the chart. 

From the first house, you’ll want to follow your chart counterclockwise to note your second house, third house, fourth, and so forth and so on. As you move through the houses, you’ll notice that each is ruled by one of the 12 zodiac signs and your planetary placements — your sun sign, moon sign, Mercury sign, et al. — reside within a particular house. 

In some charts, they’re clustered up together in only a couple of houses, whereas for other people, they’re sprinkled around. If you notice you have clusters of placements in a particular sign and house, you’ll want to pay special attention to themes associated with both the sign and the house. For instance, if you have three luminaries and/or planets in Virgo in the second house of income, how you make your living is a chief focus, and you likely also go about earning your living in a Virgoan way (by being of service, focusing on self-improvement and health, prioritizing communication, being detail-oriented). 

What Each of the 12 Houses in Astrology Mean

The 12 houses are often referred to as various “sectors” or “zones” of your natal chart — or sometimes, they’re completely spelled out for you, e.g. “third house of communication.” But whether you’re trying to get your arms around various details of your natal chart or wanting to better understand your monthly horoscope, it can help to familiarize yourself with the areas of life that each house oversees. Read on for a brief overview of each.

The First House of Self

This house is the location of your ascendant or rising sign, which you may know speaks to how you present yourself out in the world. Associated with assertive Mars and cardinal fire sign Aries, the first house is the terrain of your personal brand, your identity, and self-image. It also speaks to your physical appearance, so look to the sign that rules this house to inform how you wear your hair, wardrobe choices, and how you make a first impression.

The Second House of Income

The second house’s terrain is moneymaking, material possessions, and self-worth. It’s associated with fixed earth sign Taurus and Venus, the planet of beauty and values. Consider the sign that rules this house in your chart to understand how you think about and approach earning a living.

The Third House of Communication

The third house, associated with mutable air sign Gemini and Mercury, the planet of communication, oversees how you think and express yourself with others — when speaking out loud but also through the written word. It colors how you interact with friends and anyone else in your immediate environment and also involves siblings and short-distance travel.

The Fourth House of Home Life

The fourth house, the cusp of which is referred to as the Imum Coeli (IC), speaks to your family life, inner world, and domestic sphere. Explore any placements and the ruling sign of this house for intel on your relationship with parents and how you’ll act as a parent, real estate, and what brings you a sense of security. It’s associated with the cardinal water sign Cancer and the intuitive moon. 

The Fifth House of Romance and Self-Expression

The fifth house, associated with fixed fire sign Leo and the sun, oversees romance, self-expression, fun, pleasure, creativity, and kids. Look at any placements and which sign rules the house in your chart for clues on how you incorporate playfulness into your life, express your artistic visions, and own your voice.

The Sixth House of Wellness and Daily Routine

The sixth house, associated with mutable earth sign Virgo and information-gathering Mercury, is the house of health and your day-to-day hustle. Planetary placements and the ruling sign here inform how you check to-dos off your list and care for your physical — but also emotional and mental — well-being. Fun fact: It’s also the house of pets, as they’re part of our everyday life, too.  

The Seventh House of Partnership

The seventh house, associated with cardinal air sign Libra and Venus, the planet of relationships, involves one-on-one bonds — of the romantic variety, such as marriage, but also platonic and professional connections. Any placements in this house — as well as the ruling sign — color how you approach pairing up. And because it sits opposite the first house of self, lessons of the seventh house can also bolster self-awareness. What does the way in which you show up for another say about your sense of self?

The Eighth House of Intimacy and Joint Resources

Associated with the fixed water sign Scorpio and transformative Pluto, this house is one of the most complex, overseeing sex, death and rebirth, joint resources, transformation, and our most intimate emotional bonds. Look to the sign ruling this house in your chart as well as any placements for a read on how you contend with these heavier but also deeply fulfilling aspects of life.

The Ninth House of Adventure and Higher Learning

The ninth house, associated with mutable fire sign Sagittarius and buoyant, fortune-bringing Jupiter, is the house of long-distance travel and higher education. Placements here, as well as the sign that rules the house in your chart, can tell you about your sense of wanderlust, how you aim to broaden your horizons, and how you soak up knowledge and approach philosophical conversations. It’s also the house of publishing, foreign languages, and religion.

The Tenth House of Career

Associated with the cardinal earth sign Capricorn and taskmaster Saturn, the tenth house cusp is referred to as the midheaven (MC), which speaks to your professional path, social standing, and public persona. Similarly, the whole tenth house offers intel on how you get after your greatest ambitions in life, how you deal with authority figures — and may act as one, and how you feel about taking on responsibility, particularly in a very public way. 

The Eleventh House of Networking and Long-Term Wishes

The eleventh house, associated with fixed air sign Aquarius and rebellious Uranus, is all about friends and colleagues, although not on a one-on-one basis (like the seventh house) or in terms of how you connect (that’s the third house). Instead, the eleventh house informs the teams, groups, and networks you associate with. It can also indicate the greater audiences you appeal to, if you’re hoping to grow your social media following. It also involves hopes, wishes, and how you express your humanity and sense of community.

The Twelfth House of Spirituality and the Unconscious

The twelfth house of spirituality and the unconscious, associated with mutable water sign Pisces and illusion-loving Neptune, oversees karma, what’s lying beneath the surface of your life, your unconscious mind, dreams, and spiritual growth. You can get a sense of your shadow self and your relationship with spirituality by exploring the sign that rules this house in your chart as well as any placements that might reside there.

There’s a major case to be made for getting comfy with the houses of your chart. Working with this astrological building block can lay the groundwork for even more success, joy, and self-understanding. 

How to Use the 12 Houses as You Learn More About Astrology

Not only can you look to the houses in your own birth chart for valuable insight into how you move through the world and experience life, but as the sun, moon, and planets move through the sky above on a day-to-day basis, they’ll also journey through the houses of your chart, illuminating a particular area of life. For instance, while you might have been born while the sun was in Taurus, your birthday season (approximately April 19 to May 20) isn’t the only time of year in which your calendar is crammed with one celebration after the  next. Perhaps when the sun is in Sagittarius, it spends time in your fifth house of romance and self-expression, making Sag season an especially jovial time of year. Or when Mercury is in Aquarius, it moves through your tenth house of career, making that period the perfect time to go to bat for a raise.

TLDR: There’s a major case to be made for getting comfy with the houses of your chart. Working with this astrological building block can lay the groundwork for even more success, joy, and self-understanding. 

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