Let’s take a tour through everyone’s most relevant real estate: the 12 houses of astrology. For maximum benefit, use this guide alongside your birth chart, a map of your selfhood determined by the time and coordinates of your birth.
Within your birth chart, planets will fall in one of the 12 zodiac signs and within one of the 12 astrological houses. Each planet behaves like a force and the house it falls into indicates where and how that force will appear in your life.
You can think of the houses as a journey from the immediate self through the world at large. The first six houses of the zodiac are known as “personal houses,” concerned with self-image, values, daily habits and ancestry. Houses seven through 12 are known as ‘interpersonal houses” and relate to partnerships, travel, career trajectories and the communities we build and are built into.
Let’s swing open the doors.
The First House in the zodiac is the house of the self. It is home to our ascendant or rising sign and is associated with self-image, our style of initiation and how we are perceived by others. You can think of it as your first impression. Any planetary placement within the First House will be more pronounced in the personality of the individual. For instance, Jane Fonda has Mars, planet of action and aggression, in the First House, apropos for a woman who has no trouble starting a fight, taking a stand or openly discussing her sex life and the sex lives of others.
The Second House is the house of value and possessions. It relates to creature comforts, hedonistic pleasures, wealth and all that is tangible. The Second House indicates how we relate to abundance and lack, and also how we assign value to ourselves and the world around us. On a practical level, the Second House indicates how we earn or could earn money. Britney Spears has Jupiter, planet of luck, fortune and expansion in the Second House. It is no surprise that Spears has managed to amass ridiculous riches and, prior to the alleged daddy-dominated tyranny of her conservatorship, enjoy the fruits of her labor.
The Third House is the house of communication. It determines how we express ourselves and move through the world, It aptly rules language, early education, technology and transit. Within the Third House, we move away from ourselves and into exchanges with others. Jesus-loving, camp queen Tammy Faye Bakker, who used the medium of television as a means to connect with audiences and advocate for compassion, had her Sun — an indicator of identity — in the Third House.
The Fourth House is the house of home and lineage. Situated at the bottom of the birth chart, it represents our foundation, it is associated with family, ancestry, traditions, and both the home we come from and the home we hope to make for ourselves. Planets in the Fourth House indicate considerable energy will be directed towards family ties and root systems. Unsurprisingly, Kim Kardashian — whose life and livelihood are deeply connected to her late father, famous siblings, and marital woes — has her Moon, the celestial body that reveals our emotional needs, in the Fourth House.
The Fifth House is the house of pleasure — governing creativity, self-expression, romance, games of chance and the joy we want to share with others. As the house of fun and fertility, it is tied to children in a literal sense but also to the inner child: the ideal place we remember and return to in order to create without judgment and express without fear. With the exception of Saturn, planetary placements within the Fifth House indicate great creative potential. The poster child for Moon in the Fifth House is Ben Affleck, who rose to fame on the vapors of his creative collaboration with Matt Damon and has since entered into headline infamy with his alleged penchants for gambling and extramarital affairs and a general pursuit of reckless pleasure.
The Sixth House is the house of work and daily routines. An active Sixth House, with Sun or Mars placements, indicates that career and working life are incredibly important to an individual’s sense of identity. In addition to work, the Sixth House is related to routines such as exercise, volunteering and odd jobs. The lesson of the Sixth House is to balance and integrate mental, physical and spiritual energy. Rapper and apex mogul Jay Z, has action planet Mars in the Sixth House, imbuing him with a rock-steady work ethic and aptitude for empire-building.
The Seventh House is the house of partnership. Referred to as the marriage box by some astrologers, this house concerns itself with one-on-one dynamics; romantic, business, even adversarial couplings fall within its proverbial walls. Wild-eyed and wildly talented David Bowie had Saturn, planet of restrictions and responsibilities, in the Seventh House. This placement indicates serious marital devotion and a stick-to-it approach to relationships exhibited in Bowie’s storied, ’til death do we part, 23-year marriage to Iman.
The Eighth House is the house of sex and transformation. This house is home to themes of birth, death, the occult, mental health, mysteries and inheritances. Concerned with endings and the beginnings that inevitably follow, the Eighth House is ultimately about transformation and the potential that lives in the wake of dissolution. Never has this cycle been made more manifest than in rocker and professional widow Courtney Love, who has both Venus, planet of love and attachment, and Mars, planet of aggression, in the Eighth House. These placements suggest financial gains through short-lived unions with self-destructive partners. In keeping with the Eighth House influence, Love seems to maintain a soft spot for conspiracy theories, including the suspect belief that Marlon Brando is her grandfather.
The Ninth House of philosophy. The Ninth House oversees journeys of all kinds and expansion of all measures; it relates to experiences that contribute to personal evolution and big-picture thinking. As it is home to the archer and, by extension, the explorer, those with strong Ninth House placements are inherently curious, ever seeking the edges and limitations of thought and possibility. Unsurprisingly, musical wunderkind and unabashed weirdo David Byrne has Sun, Venus and Jupiter nesting in the Ninth House.
The 10th House is the house of public image. The highest point in the birth chart, the Midheaven or MC, lives on the cusp of the Tenth House and indicates one’s career trajectory, societal contributions and ultimate purpose. The Tenth House reveals our relationship with authority figures and how we present on the world’s stage and in the court of public opinion.
Prizefighting super-spender Mike Tyson has Mars, the planet of aggression and momentum, in the Tenth House, apropos for a man who is famous for taking swings inside — and allegedly outside — of the ring.
The 11th House is known as the house of friends. It governs community, networking, social justice and collaboration. Fittingly, the planetary influences within the Eleventh House indicate our position within and connectivity to our circle of friends and the larger band of our communities. On an expanded level, the Eleventh House reflects our broad hopes for the future of humanity and reveals how we see ourselves as agents of those possibilities. UN Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie has Mercury, planet of communication and expression, in the 11th House. As fate and the shifting stars would have it, Jolie uses the platform of her celebrity to give voice to just causes and to shed light on humanitarian issues.
The 12th House is the house of the unconscious. The last and most liminal of the zodiac houses, the 12th House relates to karma, invisible enemies, suffering, reckoning, and ultimately, evolution. Psychological fears, forced and chosen isolation and subterranean impulses also make themselves at home here. It ain’t a sunny wheat field, my friends, but it is no less fertile.
Gap-toothed, leather-loving mother of modern pop Madonna has Pluto, planet of sexual exploration and transformation, in the 12th House. This placement indicates a capacity to channel personal shame or suffering into collective healing, an act Madge has been mastering for decades.
Astrologer Reda Wigle researches and irreverently reports back on planetary configurations and their effect on each zodiac sign. Her horoscopes integrate history, poetry, pop culture and personal experience. She is also an accomplished writer who has profiled a variety of artists and performers, as well as extensively chronicled her experiences while traveling. Among the many intriguing topics she has tackled are cemetery etiquette, her love for dive bars, Cuban Airbnbs, a “girls guide” to strip clubs and the “weirdest” foods available abroad.