When you have a birth chart done, what is produced is a chart wheel. You may find it kind of puzzling at first if you don’t have experience looking at these, so this hopes to be an explanation of what it really means.

If you’ve looked in the “planets” section, you saw the Ascendant and Midheaven. The Ascendant is place on the horizon, at the time of birth, that the sun would be rising. The Midheaven is the place on the horizon, at the time of birth, that the sun would be at its highest point during the day (its “noon” period).

The Ascendant is the cusp of the first house. The cusp of the first house is at the leftmost point of the circle (the 9:00 position). From there, the houses process, like pieces of pie, around the circle counterclockwise. The 4th house is near or at the 6:00 position and is known as the “nadir” — where the sun would be at its lowest point underneath the earth. The houses move gradually uphill at this point so that the cusp of the 7th house, the 3:00 position, is known as the “descendant” (the point where the sun would be setting). Finally, the cusp of the 10th house is the Midheaven (the “noon” position). The final three houses progress through the 11:00, 10:00, until they finally arrive at the cusp of the first house again.

The first six houses, being below the horizon, are your personal houses. People with the majority of houses below the horizon line are more likely to be introverted.

The houses 7-12, above the horizon, are your interpersonal houses. People with the majority of houses above the horizon are more likely to be extroverted.

The 1st, 4th, 7th, and 10th houses are known as “angular” houses. These houses are where the most consequential activity happens.

The 2nd, 5th, 8th, and 11th houses are known as “succeedent” houses and these are the most stable places.

The 3rd, 6th, 9th, and 12th houses are known as “cadent” houses and they are the most adaptable.

Houses can also be divided into groups of three, which are in water, fire, earth, and air —

The 1st, 5th, and 9th houses are the “fire houses” — these have mostly to do with identity.

The 2nd, 6th, and 10th houses are the “earth houses” — these are things that have to do with material affairs.

The 3rd, 7th, and 11th houses are the “air houses” — these have to do with mental and social affairs.

The 4th, 8th, and 12th houses are the “water houses” — these have to do with things on the soul level.

What the houses mean

Astrologers have different views on what the houses mean, as they are associated with their respective signs to a degree:

1st — Aries
2nd — Taurus
3rd — Gemini
4th — Cancer
5th — Leo
6th — Virgo
7th — Libra
8th — Scorpio
9th — Sagittarius
10th — Capricorn
11th — Aquarius
12th — Pisces

Some astrologers take the signs to mean “what we are” whereas the houses have more to do with “what we do”. There is at least one astrologer, A.T. Mann in his book The Round Art, who define characteristics as equivalent between signs and houses. So, in that interpretation, one could have Mars in Aquarius in the 4th house, which would lend itself to Mars characteristics in both Aquarius/11th house or Cancer/4th house.

With all that in mind, here are some of the meanings of houses:

1st house — the house of the self, self-image, your personality, what you do and don’t like, your own physical body, appearance, health, identity. Ruled by Mars

2nd house — possessions, values, income and earning power, resources. Planets in the second house indicate the “how” you will attain these things. Ruled by Venus.

3rd house — communication, where you think, things having to do with logic and information. Ruled by Mercury

4th house — things related to the home, family, need for emotional security. Ruled by the Moon.

5th house — your creativity, risk-taking, romance and love affairs, children. Ruled by the Sun.

6th house — the house of service and work, duties, responsibilities and how you manage them materially, health. Ruled by Mercury.

7th house — marriage, one’s chief partnership, and how they are likely to manifest, both who and how; how you sacrifice for the sake of your primary relationships. Ruled by Venus.

8th house — sex, and how it is used to make a cosmic connection with another person; emotional connections, money, psychic abilities. Ruled by Mars and Pluto.

9th house — the house of higher education and learning, the learning of who and what you really are, philosophy, religion, travel, beliefs. Ruled by Jupiter.

10th house — the house of career and social role, how you fulfill them; reputation, ambition, your identity outside your social role. Ruled by Saturn.

11th house — group involvements, friends, friends of like mind and similar goals, wishes, dreams. Ruled by Saturn and Uranus. Social and intellectual; harmonizing personal needs with that of society.

12th house — mysticism, consciousness, secrets, merging with the cosmos. Has traditionally been associated with secrets, prisons, enemies; or, “bad daemon” (as opposed to the 11th house “good daemon.”