The planets, the houses, and the signs form the basis of astrology. The planets and the signs reveal their meanings more easily because they exist physically. Jupiter is a real thing in material existence. We can physically observe it. Moreover, cultures for at least thousands of years have ascribed personalities and deities to Jupiter as well as to the other planets. Strangely, cultures from both Greece and India associated deities with similar personalities to the same planet. In both cultures Venus, for example, is the god of beauty, love, and art. The Greeks called her Aphrodite and the Hindus called her Shukra. Other planets too have similar meanings and deities in both cultures. The signs have also been assigned personalities based on their likenesses: Cancer as a crab, Aries as a ram etc.
The meaning of the twelve astrological houses, however, is often confusing and mysterious. We are told that houses mean certain things and that certain aspects of life are represented by the houses. For example, we are told: the first house represents the body; the tenth house represents fame, father, career, and prestige; the seventh house represents one’s partner; and that the fourth house represents the home, mother, and emotions. Often people accept that this as law. And since astrology has recently emerged from a 2000 year period of intense superstition and orthodoxy, that is to be expected. But more inquisitive minds are right to question: why? Why does the fourth house represent the mother? Why does the tenth house represent career?
I have often asked these questions and would like to offer an explanation for the meanings of the four houses which are the cornerstones of astrology: 1 (self), 4 (emotion, mind, and home), 7 (partner), and 10 (career and fame). These four houses constitute the foundation on which the other eight houses are understood because every life experience can be traced back to its physical, psychological, or spiritual root in the body (first house), the mind (fourth house), relationships (seventh house), or career (tenth house).
The First House – Self
When we are born the Sun is in a certain place: sometimes in the sky above us, sometimes on the horizon, and sometimes it cannot be seen because it is night time. The sign of Leo is also in a certain location when we are born. It could be on the eastern horizon, or high in the sky. Leo could also be on the western horizon or hidden on the other side of the earth.
When we are born the constellation rising on the eastern horizon is called our rising sign and represents the first house. In other words, it represents the essence of who we are. Astrology identifies the individual with the rising sign because they both come into the world in the same instant and we are therefore tied to that sign for the rest of our life. Interestingly, any planet that is in our rising sign is especially strong for us. If Saturn is in our rising sign we could be especially disciplined; if the Moon is in our rising sign we could be especially compassionate.
The Seventh House – Partner
The seventh house and the first house directly face each other in the zodiac. They are directly across from each other—when one house is on the eastern horizon the other is on the western horizon. When we are born the sign opposite our rising sign is in the seventh house.
The first house represents oneself while the seventh house, being across from it, represents the balance we seek to achieve in the world. For many people this balance is discovered in the partner who, if we are predominantly masculine, helps us to become more feminine and, if we are predominantly feminine, helps us to become more masculine.
In general, however, the seventh house represents what we will find in the world. The seventh house is not just the partner; it is a mirror looking back at us showing us many things. It shows us what we can become and what we are lacking. It also shows us what we don’t want to see in ourselves or what we could not see without help.
We often, for example, share traits with our parents. And even our personality is partially formed by our experience with our parents. This is why we can find similarities between our parents and our partner. And this is why unresolved psychological and emotional issues with our parents are encountered in similar form with our partner.
The first and seventh houses (as all opposing houses in astrology) form a linked pair. The first house shows how we came into the world and the seventh house shows the balance we are looking for in the world and in ourselves. As we seek this balance in the seventh house we are forced to see ourselves and learn more about who we are. A healthy seventh house can enable us to develop more completely by giving us self-awareness and balance.