The image to the left is exactly what the zodiac wheel looks like. It’s a circle (symbolizing no beginning and no end) divided into twelve segments called houses that represent different areas of life. Every house literally provides a home for the planets residing there – giving that planet a place to act out its particular energy.
The horizontal line that connects the 1st and 7th house cusp (the cusp is the beginning of the house, marked by a new line) represents the horizon of Earth. The 1st house cusp is the eastern-most point and the 7th is the western-most point. Planets near the 1st house cusp are called “rising” because they are coming up over the eastern horizon at the moment of birth.
The 1st house affects the appearance and the personality, as it is perceived by the outside world. The rising sign is the degree and sign that marks the cusp of the 1st house and coincides with the first independent breath we take. This is why exact birth time is so critical in casting a natal chart; the chart’s very structure depends on the time and location of birth.
The Ascendant and 1st house symbolize the process of beginning and initiation. Once you grasp this concept, you “get” what the 1st house is all about in a birth chart. Planets here will be easily visible to the world and we will use great energy in the expression of those planets.
The Ascendant colors our view of the world; it shows how we meet life. Interpretation of the Ascendant will depend on what sign it’s in and how it aspects the rest of the birth chart.
The 2nd house is the house of values and possessions. It determines ones level of self-esteem and also indicates personal talents and abilities. Our relationship to money and possessions as well as our attitude towards them can be understood from studying this house. Lastly, this house represents what we hope to gain in life – what we desire.
The 3rd house has to do with siblings, neighbors, youth, early school experiences and relationships with those who live nearby. Perhaps the most significant meaning of this house is communication – it tells us about every aspect of communication and all mental pursuits. This is also the house having to do with short distance travel. Keywords to this house include growth and exploration.
The 4th house rules home, family, roots and the end of all matters. Ancestors, heritage and parents – particularly the nurturing parent, usually mother, are represented by this house. It is called the house of the soul and the sign on the cusp of this house as well as any planets here can help us understand the qualities and elements of ourselves we keep guarded.
The 5th house is the house of romance, sex, conception, children, creativity, self-expression and risks. Most importantly, this house is all about self-fulfillment – doing as one pleases. It is the house of the inner child as well as your own childhood.
The 6th house is all about work and service, our daily routine, jobs and health. The keyword to this house is “duty”. Our level of dedication to maintaining details that result in knowledge and wisdom is expressed through this house. It symbolizes the mind/body connection and as a result, health matters can be understood from this house as well.