Astrologer Mary English interviews Rhys.

British astrologer Mary English interviews Rhys for her podcast.

Many astrologers have side gigs that they do in addition to astrology. Some of us are also psychologists, we have some homeopaths, stock analysts, also psychiatrists; I know of at least one astrologer who, when no one is looking, is a lawyer!

Astrologer Mary English outed me in my other line of work in this talk that we had recently on her podcast. Learn the shocking truth here…

In this interview, I speak about my background as an astrologer and stay away from overly technical topics. Mary and I speak about astrology in its broad strokes.

Here is the link to the podcast.

And here is a video version of the podcast:


Rhys Chatham Replay: House Division and Celestial Spheres

The replay link is below for this month’s AFAN Community Workshop with Rhys Chatham on ‘Astrological House Division and the Symbolism of the Celestial Circles.’ Rhys explained how the major house division systems are calculated in a way that does not require any math.

Rather than advocate the use of one house system over another, Rhys compared them and looked at the various celestial circles they are based on. He guided us through the symbolic implications of each of house system and how they might impact your chart interpretation.

In the workshop Rhys taught what distinguishes one house system from another, allowing you to make informed choices on which ones to use, for what, and when.

The house systems covered in the workshop included the ecliptic-based (whole sign, equal and Porphyry), space-based (Meridian, Regiomontanus, Campanus), and time-based houses (Alcabitius, Koch and Placidus).

New Article by Rhys in The Evolving Astrologer.

March Equinox Issue

I have a piece on Astrological House Division in the current issue of The Evolving Astrologer (formerly known as the Career Astrologer). This magazine is published by the Organization for Professional Astrology (OPA). It is directed at all those interested in Astrology, newcomers and professionals alike.

Click here to download a PDF version of the magazine. My article appears on page 48-55.

Rhys gives a Zoom talk at AFAN on Saturday, 1 April

For your ticket and Zoom codes, click here.

Saturday, 1 April at:

  • 10AM EDT (East coast-USA),
  • -3PM (Ireland, UK, Portugal),
  • 4PM (Amsterdam, Berlin, Oslo, Paris, Rome).

Rhys Chatham explains how the major house division systems are calculated in a way that does not require any math.

Rather than advocate the use of one house system over another, we will simply compare them and look at the various celestial circles they are based on, reflecting upon the symbolic implications of each of them and how they might impact on chart interpretation. We’ll discuss what distinguishes one house system from another, allowing you to make informed choices on which ones to use, for what, and when.

In this talk we will cover the ecliptic-based (whole sign, equal and Porphyry), space-based (Meridian, Regiomontanus, Campanus), and time-based houses (Alcabitius, Koch and Placidus).

It’s free! If you would like to attend, click on the site (below) to register and get your ticket and Zoom codes.

House division systems are based on different celestial circles. After a quick review of the astronomy, we’ll discuss those differences and look at how they might affect chart delineation on both symbolic and practical levels.

Wm Lilly on 3rd House questions (Is the Rumour True?)

Lilly on 3rd house questions:

Christian Astrology (CA) pp. 188-192


Lilly says that while there are many demands which may be made concerning questions to the 3rd House, the principle ones concern:

  • The querent’s brethren, brothers/sisters/close relatives that aren’t parents. Is the relationship between the querent and them harmonious or not?
  • What of a brother or sister who is absent?  Are they alive or dead? Are they prosperous or not? Are they happy? When is the querent likely to have news of them? Are they likely to come back home, and if so, when?
  • Another question covered is whether the querent will have brothers and sisters.  And if so, will he get along with them?

How to judge these questions:

  1. If the question concerns brethren, look at L1 for the querent and L3 for the quesited. Look at the condition of both of the lords and see what condition they are in. See if there is an aspect between them and if there is, is it good or bad? In this way, one can answer the above questions.
  2. Also look at the concerned houses, e.g. if a malefic or the south node is places in the 1st House, it shows there are problems with the querent.  If they are in the third house, then the kindred is the problem.
  3. To learn more about the condition of the kindred, turn the houses so that the third house represents the kindred and becomes the Ascendant or 1st house.  So the radical 5th House becomes the turned or derived 2nd house, etc.


On another topic, on CA page 192-194 we cover the topic of whether a rumor be true or false. 

While rumors are attributed to the third house and its Lord or Lady, Lilly has us consider the angles, the Moon and Mercury among other things; the rules are a bit complicated and often involves bringing other houses into the picture.

Reports, News, Intelligence or Fears?  Are they true or false? Do they signify good or evil? (CA pg 192)

  • Lilly found that during a time of war that the rumor was true IF the Moon in either H1, H3, H10, or H11 separates by a benevolent aspect from any planet, and then applying by sextile, trine or conjunction to the Lord of the Ascendant.
  • However, if the Moon applied to L7 by any good aspect, enemies would have the victory.
  • If the Moon was void of course, the rumor would come to nothing or be a lie or false.
  • If both Moon and Mercury were square or in opposition to each other, and neither of them cast a sextile or trine to L1, the news was false.

Also, from CA page 193:

If at any time you hear some news and want to know if it is prejudicial to you…
It will not be detrimental to you if:

  • Jupiter or Venus is in the Ascendant
  • Or if the Moon or Mercury be in their essential dignities and in trine or sextile to L11

It will be detrimental to you (or to whom the news concerns)  if:

  • L6, L8, or L12 is in the first house or in bad aspect to L1.
  • Or if Mars or Saturn is retrograde in H1, or in hard aspect with L1, or casting a square or opposition to the Ascendant degree.
  • If Saturn signifies the mischief: country friends have been plundered, cattle stolen
  • If Mars, someone has been cut off (“straggling parties”)
  • Mercury: letters have miscarried.
  • Jupiter or Venus (involved gentlefolk)
  • Lilly says to use common sense.

If counsel or advice given is good or evil? CA pg 194

If the rumors be true or false according to the ancients:

The rumors are true if:

  • Consider L1 and the Moon, if they are in an angle,
  • or if the dispositor of the Moon is in an angle and in a fixed sign,
  • or if any of these be in a succedent house and fixed sign,
  • or in good aspect with a fortunate planet i.e. sextile or trine with Jupiter, Venus or the Sun

Judge to the contrary if:

  • L1 is afflicted by Infortunes
  • Or in a cadent house
    even if strong in sign (essentially strong.)

Pg 194 – Rumors are for the most part true when:

  • Angles in figure are in fixed signs, separating from Infortunes and applying to any fortunate planet, placed in any angle. Moon and mercury in fixed signs separating from Infortunes and in an angle.

If the Angles of H4 & H10 be fixed and the Moon received in them (i.e. the Moon is in one of those houses?)

Rumors of evil will be false or turn into good things if:

  • If one hears evil or bad news yet one of the fortunes is in H1 or the Moon be unfortunate, it is a strong argument that the rumor is false, and they will turn to good rather than evil.
  • If Mercury is retrograde or in any other way afflicted, or of that planet to whom the Moon applies (that it be retrograde?), or to whom Mercury applies, esp. if either of those two are lords of the Ascendant.

If L1 is under the beams of the Sun the matter shall be kept secret and few will ever know the truth of it.

Of counsel given, whether it be for good or evil.

Counsel is given with an honest heart if:

  • Fortunate planet at MC or in H10 i.e. Sun, Jupiter, Venus or North node, otherwise Moon applying to L1

Counsel is given with malintent if:

  • Saturn, Mars or south node in in H10.
  • Also, if the Ascendant is moveable (cardinal), the person giving the counsel is deceitful or treacherous.

Short Journeys:

  • By this Lilly means journey that only takes a day or so.
  • Is it a good idea to take the journey?

Other third house topics:

  • Neighbors and our local neighborhood.
  • Travel made on a regular basis.
  • Letters, rumors, reports, messages, communications generally.
  • Contracts, deeds,.
  • Speeches and debates.
  • An afflicted 3rd House in relationship questions suggests communication problems or mental incompatibility. In business questions it indicates contractual problems.  Mars in H3 and indicate arguments, Saturn an inability to communicate.

Ecliptic-based house division: Porphyry.

This article on ecliptic-based house division is Part 3 of a three part series. To start at the beginning , click here.

Porphyry is a quadrant house system. In quadrant house systems, the ascendant defines the first house cusp, and the MC defines the tenth house cusp. This creates four sectors or zones within the circle of the ecliptic, otherwise known as quadrants.

Named after the third century Neo-Platonist philosopher and astrologer, Porphyry, this system was used from the earliest days of horoscopic astrology and was described by Vettius Valens in Book 1 of Anthology, his astrological textbook.

In the Porphyry system, the span of the ecliptic between the horizon and midheaven is trisected to produce three houses. This makes the houses very easy to calculate, you can practically do it in your head! Because the number of degrees between the ascendant and MC vary according to location, time of day and season, the quadrants are rarely of equal size.

The advantage of Porphyry houses is that the first house cusp starts at the degree of the Ascendant, and the degree of the MC defines the 10th house cusp, thus underlining the importance of angularity in horoscopic astrology.  In doing this, Porphyry anchors houses to the earth in that it is the local horizon that defines the start of the first house, and the local meridian that defines the 10th house cusp and MC.

One reason astrologers use quadrant house systems is for the same reason that they use the tropical zodiac: because they are tied to what’s going on in the sublunar world.  Just as the tropical zodiac is tied to the earth’s seasons, quadrant houses are tied in profound ways to the physical earth itself. The idea behind using quadrant houses is that they better reflect what is happening in the terrestrial world as opposed to the sidereal world.

Furthermore, with Porphyry, we distinguish and underline the difference between a planet being domiciled in a sign and a planet being in an astrological house. 

An astrological house represents things that are linked to the Earth that we live on, the domiciles are in the heavens. For example, we could have two planets domiciled in Aquarius,  with Mercury in Aquarius in the 12th House and Saturn in Aquarius in the 1st House (see chart below).

Left: Porphyry Houses (quadrant system) – Right: Whole Sign Houses

We lose this symbolism in Whole Sign houses (see chart above), but we get it back in quadrant systems and in systems where the 1st House starts with the Ascendant, which is one reason why ancient astrologers used quadrant house systems in addition to WSH cusps.

Granted that the Porphyry system is more anchored to the earth and that it is a quadrant system, it is still based primarily on the ecliptic. So, after a time, astrologers began entertaining the idea of basing the houses on celestial circles other than the ecliptic, perhaps ones that were more linked to the earth, such as the celestial equator and/or the prime vertical. This would bring us to a discussion of the space-based houses, which we will save for a future blog. For now, let’s move on to our conclusions of what we’ve covered so far…

We’ve been discussing the ecliptic-based house systems: Whole Sign Houses (WSH), Equal and Quadrant Houses.  Which house system should we use?

Which one to use depends on what system of astrological praxis one is following.  If you’re following Project Hindsight (Robert Schmidt, Robert Hand) and its followers, you’ll probably want to use mainly WSH, using equal and perhaps quadrant houses for planetary strength and length-of-life.  However, later scholars who reviewed the same material as Project Hindsight have recently arrived at alternative interpretations regarding Hellenistic house doctrine. Some seem to think that degree-based quadrant houses were used by the ancients for topics, in addition to planet-strength and length of life. These scholars conclude that the ancients (Dorotheus, Ptolemy, Valens, et. al) used quadrant houses for more precise readings, when the exact birth time was available. Exact birth times often were not easily come by in ancient Greece, in which case WSH were used.

This undoubtedly was most often the case (no exact birth-time) resulting in a highly developed Hellenistic technique of using sign-based aspects and houses for delineating a chart. Also, it made casting a chart less time consuming (no computers in ancient times), so it makes sense that degree-based houses and aspects were used only when a birth time was available and when a high degree of accuracy was called for.

However the ancient Greek astrologers may have calculated their house cusps, my policy with respect to these new scholastic findings is to keep an open mind and not fall into the trap of turning previous interpretations of the ancient Greek authors into dogma. On a practical level, my personal choice is to use both WSH and quadrant houses for topics in the context of natal readings.

Modern astrologers, of course, feel free to pick and choose whatever techniques work for them. If you fall into this category, I would highly recommend basing your choice on the celestial circles that we have been discussing. Keep in mind their symbolism, and use whichever house system corresponds best to the goals of your astrological tradition (ancient, classical, humanistic, psychological, evolutionary, etc.)

As we have seen, each house system is based on a different set of celestial circles, which render varying house cusps and sometimes put planets in different houses. Let’s say that this happens when using whole sign houses and Porphyry on the same natal chart (see example above).

Saturn jumped from the 12th House to the 1st House, oh dear!  What do we do?!?!  Which chart do we use?  Which one is “right”?

The answer to this question is that both charts are right; the only thing that is happening is that we are seeing the same native from different perspectives! It is not a question of choosing between one or the other.  Both must be interpreted.

So, when looking at a natal chart, I have found it is always best to try putting it in more than one house system to see if any of the planets change houses. When they do, I look at the changes with interest and delineate both.

Working simultaneously with two house systems often yields interesting information.  For example, if I’m using WSH and Porphyry or some other quadrant system, when I see a planet move from one house to another, I interpret both and see what resonates with the client. With clients who are past their second Saturn return, I have found that both usually resonate, representing different aspects or periods of their lives. For younger clients this is not always the case, because it may be that the symbolism represented in one of the charts has simply not happened yet.

Another thing to keep in mind is which house system we use depends on what we are attempting to do. 

For example, if we are focused on prediction, we might use one house system, in horary we might favor another, in natal analysis another.  Ideally, the house systems we use would be based on which celestial circles are used to determine the house cusps, and how the symbolism of those circles relates to what we’re trying to accomplish. For example, what is prediction? It is a form of fate. Where does fate come from? One way of putting it is that it is in the hands of the universe. It might make sense to use whole signs in that case, since the house cusps in whole signs are based in the heavens, rather than where we live on the planet Earth. On the other hand, if we are looking for a lost object, we might want to use a space-based system like Regiomontanus. We’ll talk about space-based systems in another article.

Moving on, in conclusion, I’d like to say that all the symbolism I’ve mentioned up to now are just ideas to get the conversation going amoung present day astrologers: traditional and modern. Rather than arguing in favor of one house system over another, it might make more sense to focus our research on which house system is best for which astrological technique based on the celestial circles that come into play.

I look forward to this discussion!

Equal Houses

Equal House System
Equal House System

The article is Part 2 of a three-part series on ecliptic-based astrological house division. If you haven’t read Part 1, click here.

Part 2: Ecliptic-based House Division:

The Equal-House system is a variation of the whole sign house system. The difference is that the degree of the ascendant defines the start of the first house and becomes the starting degree of each of the remaining eleven houses.  The MC floats and does not define the cusp of the tenth house.

Since Hellenistic times and before, astrologers have been concerned with the motion of the planets rising over the horizon, culminating at the MC, and finally disappearing into the darkness at the descendant.  This is called primary motion, it is concerned with the rotation of the earth on its axis and with the motion of the stars, luminaries, and planets above us as they move during the course of the day.

The Acendant is the point where the ecliptic meets the local horizon. With the equal house system, we start to anchor the houses to the rotation of the earth by linking the ecliptic with the local horizon of the native or event. As we have noted in a previous post, the ecliptic is extra lunar, it is not of this earth.  However, the local horizon is sublunar. So, with equal houses, ancient astrologers found an initial way to ground the ecliptic to events on earth.

The personal point of the degree of the Ascendant is emphasized in this system. The symbolism becomes a bit more grounded in that the eastern horizon takes on an elevated importance.

In the entire range of traditional natal astrology, the first house represents YOU, it represents the native. The rest of the houses represent everybody and everything else! Echoing the degree of the Ascendant in each of the subsequent houses underlines that this house system symbolizes YOUR money (2nd house), YOUR siblings (3rd house), YOUR home (4th house), and so on.

To compare equal houses with whole sign, in WSH there is no difference between a planet being domiciled in a sign and a planet being in a house. In whole sign houses, we don’t really have houses, what we have are signs.  Can signs alone be used to define house cusps?  Of course they can! The WSH system was probably used extensively in Hellenistic times and is one of the major approaches in Vedic astrology. However, when we use this method we lose the connection of astrological houses moving clockwise by primary or diurnal motion. In WSH, secondary motion along the ecliptic is emphasized, that is, planets and other objects in space moving in a counterclockwise direction along the ecliptic.

In WSH, signs are houses. A planet domiciled in a sign in WSH exactly corresponds to it being in an astrological house, so we lose the symbolism that we get when we separate domiciliation (Jupiter and Neptune in Pisces) from the symbolism of houses (Jupiter in Pisces in the 1st House, Neptune in Pisces in the 2nd House).

In Equal Houses, we start to get this symbolism back (see chart above). We put the signs back in the heavens, as the first manifestation of the Primum Mobile, and we begin to ground the houses back to the geocentric earth, where, after all, we live!

By defining the Ascendant as the start of the first house, we regain the demarcation between a planet being domiciled in a sign (Jupiter and Neptune in Pisces) and planets being in an astrological house (Jupiter in Pisces in the 1st House, Neptune in Pisces in the 2nd House).

However, the work of the ancient astrologer was by no means finished! The equal house system was still a non-quadrant house system in that the MC is floating. To further ground the houses to the sub-lunar realm of the earth, the ancients developed other house systems, which anchored the local meridian or latitude of the native to the cusp of the culminating tenth house.

In my next post, we’ll look at the quadrant house system that is most often referenced by scholars to the Hellenistic period.  Today, it is known as the Porphyry house system.

Ecliptic-based houses

The house systems can be classified into three major categories:

  • Ecliptic-based houses – These house systems divide the ecliptic itself. Whole Sign Houses, Equal Sign Houses, and Porphyry are in this category.
  • Space-based houses – These systems divide space in the celestial sphere in various ways and then determine how the resulting house cusps relate to the ecliptic. Campanus, Morinus, and Regiomontanus houses are space systems.
  • Time-based houses – These divide the time of the daily rotation of the Earth and then take the timing positions and project them in various ways to the ecliptic, resulting in house cusp positions. Alcabitius, Koch, and Placidus are of this type.

For this article, I’m only going to compare the ecliptic-based house systems, because that is all we will need to cover in order to make an initial point regarding the importance of taking into consideration the celestial circles that come into play when considering methods of arriving at house cusps.

Whole Sign houses (WSH) is simplest system because the cusps of the astrological houses are defined by the 30° division of the constellations that rest along the zodiac. Each 30° sign equals one house.

The zodiac sign that rises over the horizon at the time of the birth or event defines the entire first house. If the Ascendant is at 29° of a sign, all the planets in that sign are considered first house planets in this system of house division. The remaining eleven signs create the rest of the houses, moving in a counter-clockwise direction.

This is a non-quadrant house system and does not use the ascendant or midheaven to define the beginning of the first and tenth houses. The ascendant and midheaven in this system are floating.

In WSH, the ascendant always floats somewhere in the first house. Depending on the latitude, the MC can be present anywhere in the upper hemisphere, although in moderate latitudes it is usually found somewhere within the 9th through 11th houses.

This is an interesting feature of WSH. It adds a layer of interpretative symbolism which can be put to good use in delineation. If for example, the MC falls in the 11th House, we can then blend 11th House topics with 10th House topics when articulating a delineation: the native’s career will be significantly linked to their friends or a professional group. If the MC falls in the 9th House, a possible delineation could be the native’s career will take place in a foreign country. And so on. 

In WSH, we define the house cusps by the 30° division of the constellation of stars themselves, which is interesting in itself. Let’s think about what this might suggest symbolically.

We’ve all heard the expression, “As above, so below”, attributed to Hermes Trismegistus, the mythical founder of horoscopic astrology. Basically, the idea is that what we see manifested in the physical world is modelled on a perfect Form found in the spiritual world. We also may have come across Plato’s theory of Forms or Ideas, where he says that Forms are mind independent paradigms or abstract objects, which he calls “particulars”, and that the particulars are imperfect copies of their Platonic spiritual form.

Image: Ptolemaic cosmology-Sheilla Terry

Looking at the above diagram, we see that the Platonic Forms exist in spiritual form at the level of the Primum Mobile, the Prime Mover or “God”, and their first manifestation is at the level of the firmament, where we find the constellations of stars. Their energy then passes through the level of Saturn, then Jupiter, then Mars and so on in Chaldaic order until finally they manifest as elemental Fire, Water, Air and Earth.

The point is this: the cusps of whole sign houses are based on the 30° division of the constellations or zodiac. These 30° divisions are then projected downwards onto the ecliptic, which is the Sun’s apparent path around the Earth. Since the Ascendant and MC are floating, the ecliptic takes on heightened symbolic importance in this house system.  Let’s explore this.

The constellations are in the heavens and are beyond the planetary spheres. They reside firmly placed as the first physical manifestation of the Primum Mobile.  It is an extra lunar system, rather than a sublunar one. They are not of this earth.

To return to the neo-Platonic expression “As above so below”, what we see manifested on the physical plane here on Earth is indeed modeled on that which is above, but as the original spiritual, non-physical Form/Idea descends, a change is affected when the spiritual form is finally filtered through the Light of the Moon and manifests on Earth as the sea, the mountains, the vegetation and forests, the birds, the animals and the humanoid forms.

The word that was traditionally used to describe this journey from the higher worlds to our physical one was “corrupted”. Now perhaps to our modern minds and world view this is too strong a word, so without putting a negative value on it, we can simply say that as the subtle spiritual Forms descend to our physical plane, they undergo significant change in the process.

Whole sign houses define their cusps from these upper reaches of the heavens, only tenuously linked to the earth by its floating Ascendant and MC. Symbolically speaking, we could say that this house system represents how things ought to be in an ideal world; we could perhaps say that they represent things more along the lines of how the Primum Mobile – God, if you like – wished them to be. Put in terms that Spinoza (or Rudhyar) might use, we could say that whole sign houses represent the Universe’s unfiltered original intention for the native in the context of nativity, before Mother Nature had her way.

There is another level of symbolism at work here, that of the ecliptic itself. The ecliptic is the path of the Sun. Because all the planets follow its path and are roughly on the same plane, the ecliptic is used to measure longitudinal position of the planets and luminaries as well as other objects in space. There is an entire coordinate system based on the ecliptic used to measure objects in outer space, which was the primary coordinate system used by astronomers for many centuries.

The symbolism of the ecliptic is solar. The Sun in astrology among other things traditionally represents the King. In Hermetic Kabbalah, the Sun is placed in the Sphere of Tiphareth on the Tree of Life, which is said to be the seat of the Soul, the place of the High King, or in Jungian nomenclature, the unconscious mind. The Soul/Unconscious mind is said to know the true life-purpose of the native. One of the great quests of the conscious mind is to discover this purpose, this is the meaning of the Greek aphorism, “Know thyself”. It follows that a system of house cusps that is primarily based on the celestial circle of the ecliptic and defined by the 30° division of the constellation of stars themselves would relate to the original intention of the Soul for the conscious native.

This Platonic version of defining house cusps has many uses, both when using time lord techniques involving fate, as well as in the context of nativities, but the ancients (Dorotheus, Ptolemy, Valens) thought it would be a good idea to have other methods of defining house cusps that were more anchored to the sublunar realm. Which brings us to our next ecliptic-based house system: the equal house system.

In the next post, we will look at the Equal House system and its symbolism.

To go to Part 2 of this post, click here.

What is traditional astrology?

This is a short video which considers what traditional astrology has come to mean today, as opposed to what it signified in the recent past. The differences between traditional and ancient astrology are broadly discussed.

If video takes too long to appear, click here for direct link.

Rulers of the Houses in Traditional Astrology.

Ruler of the first house in the first house.

I’m taking a tour at the rulers of houses in the houses at present and jotting down some thoughts on each one, here are some notes on the ruler of the ascendant in the first house.

Ruler of the First House in the First House

Image by Omar Lopez

Ruler of the first house in the first house (or to use Hellenistic jargon) “Lord of the Hour-Marker in the first place”:

What this signifies depends on the planet in question. When the ruler of the first house is in the first house, the planet’s natural significations come to the forefront in characterizing the native’s life direction and focus. For example, if Venus is the Lord of the hour marker (Ascendant) the native would normally excel in activities that are Venus related.

If it’s Saturn, then Saturn related. It means that the native will tend to gravitate towards and attempt to excel at things associated with that planet over the course of their life.

Further information can be determined by looking at the planet’s essential condition, accidental dignity or detriment as well as aspects to the planet.

Since the first house has to do with appearance, bearing and attitude, the person who has the ascendant ruler there will be conscious of their appearance and how they present themselves, according to the nature of the ruler.

Saturn on the Ascendant…

Depending on the planet, essential dignity, and aspects, this can be a good or bad thing. The native might be overbearing with a “me first attitude”, especially if the ruler of the first house is the Sun!

Generally speaking, the native might express themselves through the way that they look, their orientation to life sometimes tends to be self-centered. The native will be self-motivated, with their own wishes and ideas being paramount.

Mercury has its joy in the first house, so it stands to reason that the first house shows our style of communicating; the planet that rules the Ascendant will influence that, especially if the first house ruler is in the first house! For example of Saturn is in the first house and its ruler, the native’s style of communicating would be serious and structured, if Mars, then the style might be brash, courageous and sometime impetuous. Venus would be diplomatic and pleasing, and so on.

Ruler of the First house in the Second House

Photo by lilzidesigns

In traditional astrology the second house represents possessions and assets rather than one’s values, so the arena of life covered by the second house is more focused than what we find in contemporary astrology. The topic of what one “values” is spread out over the rest of the chart, for example planets in the fifth house would show us what one values in terms of children/amusements/pleasures. The tenth house would show us what the native values in terms of a career, and the like.

When the ruler of the second house is found in the first house, the native may be strongly financially motivated with much time and thought given to how one earns one living. Money and what it stands is an important theme in the native’s life; this is a position favorable for those working in financial services. The ruling planet and its condition will show the native’s approach to their possessions and assets. A dignified, well aspected ruler would suggest a smooth financial flow and strong earning ability.

Planetary disability or difficult aspects to the ruler would indicate financial challenges, and solutions or alternative approaches would need to be found for this native.

As always in traditional astrology, having an afflicted planet does not necessarily mean it will be operating in a challenged manner 24/7! However, it is a warning signal for potential problems that will crop up from time to time throughout the native’s life. Rather than stick one’s head in the sand, we believe that to be forewarned is to be forearmed!  And the good news is that once a solution is found to the challenge, it usually works quite well, as long as the solution is kept in place.

Ruler of the First house in the Third House

The third house traditionally has to do with siblings and close relatives, with travel and short journeys, with letters, messages, and reports.  It is the house of the Goddess and the Moon has her joy there.

With the ruler of the first house in the third house, communication of the native’s thoughts becomes important, whether it is in the form of the written letter or any other means of communication or expression. Look to the planets involved for further detail on this.

With the ruler of the first in the third, the native might find themselves caught up in one way or the other in the affairs of their siblings and close relations. Travel is something that the native will either enjoy, or it will be a component of their life or career, for this is the house of short journeys.

The third house is also the house of the Goddess, the Moon has her joy there.  On a spiritual level, in the West this house rules alternative forms of the divine: the third house is also known as the house of the heretic. All to say that the native’s approach to life as well as how their persona is projected out into the world may very well be dictated or informed by their inner path and metaphysical beliefs.

As always, look to the planet involved for more information on this, for example, Wicca is a Moon-ruled religion. Various traditional authors (e.g. Al-Biruni, Lilly, etc.) give guidance on which planets rule which religions.

Ruler of the First house in the Fourth House

Photo by Jimmy Dean

When we find this configuration in a natal chart the native’s home and family will be a focal point in their life, with the home representing security to the native. This can be true even if the native moves about quite a bit, for the native has the ability to turn wherever they are into their home.

The fourth house represents the home in the largest sense of the word, Manilius associated it with the foundation of all things, which may manifest in the native having strong patriotic feelings, or having a deep connection with their roots. Depending on the planet, much of the native’s activity may center around the home. This is a good position for a homemaker, or for someone who works out of their home, such as a writer, composer, or perhaps even an astrologer!

Whatever the profession, there may be a tendency to view friends as an extended family, treating them as such. They probably express themselves best when surrounded by such friends and by family. The character of the native will express itself through the filter of the security of the foundation of a solid home and family, or lack of one. Their experiences with their parents and family will strongly influence the way the native interacts with the world.

The fourth house is at the bottom of the chart, the subterranean place. A person with the ruler of the first in the fourth will probably have a need to withdraw on a regular basis in order to recharge their batteries. While this by no means delegates the native to a life as a hermit, a periodic retreat to their figurative cave will do the native a world of good.

Ruler of the First house in the Fifth House

When we look at a person’s character in traditional astrology, we look at the person’s Ascendant and first house, which shows their appearance and personality, their style of communication and character.  To find out which topics in life will be a primary concern to the native, we look at the ruler of the ascendant and first house. 

When the ruler of the first house is in the fifth house, the first thing the astrologer will do is think of which topics relate to the fifth house.  Traditionally, what instantly comes to mind is children, and often a native with the lord of the first house in the fifth will have a strong connection of some kind with children, either their own or perhaps other people’s kids in the context of schools, vacation colonies, and the like.

In traditional astrology the house significations are often connected with the planetary joys, and Venus has her joy in the fifth house.  Venus rules things like beauty, pleasure, and the arts, which is where the fifth house association with amusements comes from. 

The fifth house is an astrological house that is concerned with having fun, and the last time I looked, I certainly found having sex to be quite fun, even amusing! So, in traditional astrology we associate love affairs, exciting liaisons, and sex with the fifth house.  Of course, it is possible to have fun with other things beside bedroom sports, so sports in general are happily included in fifth house activities!

Because Venus rules the arts and all things beautiful, this house becomes a particularly important one where creative people and artists are concerned.

When the ruler of the first house is in the fifth house, the native’s persona will be strongly linked to one of the topics in the arena of life represented by the fifth house. They will normally be fun-loving, athletic, drawn to beauty and the arts, and other people’s children will probably be attracted to them. In the romantic area, they will just love being in love!  Their love life will either be flowing along smoothly, or with great ups and downs, depending on aspects and the essential dignity of the ruler, among other factors.

Ruler of the First House in the Sixth House

The primary traditional signification of the sixth house is illness, so with the ruler of the first house in the sixth, the native will be concerned, in one way or another, with health issues. Whether these issues will be their own or those of others depends on the condition of the first and sixth house lords.

We look to the lord of the first house and the Sun to give a sense of the native’s vitality and overall health and compare that with the lord of sixth.  For good health, generally we would like the ruler of the first to be essentially stronger than the ruler of the sixth.  Whatever the case, issues involving health, disease and illness will be on the native’s mind, one way or another, throughout their life.   On the positive side of things, we would not be surprised to see this configuration in the chart of a doctor or other health professional.

Another way this configuration could manifest is in the chart of a middle manager of some sort, someone who oversees other people.  The sixth house represents the people that work for us. Traditionally it represented the people we engaged to do the things that we did not want to do ourselves: our servants. In contemporary society it can include anyone who works for us. If we work for a large company, it can signify the people who work under us.  For a band leader it would signify the musicians hired to play in the band. One way or another, with the first in the sixth, the agenda of the sixth house of illness and servants is something that will be on the mind of the native on a daily basis.

Not all things in life are pretty. The sixth house is not a happy house, in addition to illness it signifies the misfortunes of life, accidents and injuries and open enemies, so with the ruler of the first in the sixth, it is possible that these conditions will be major themes in the life of native.  If there are aspects to the tenth house of profession, the native could work in a career that would put them in touch with those in such a condition.

On the positive side of things, the sixth house also rules small animals and pets. Having the ruler of the first house in the sixth would be a lovely placement for a vet!

Ruler of the First house in the Seventh House

When we find the ruler of the first house in the seventh house, the native will need the appreciation of others to feel complete; life is oriented towards partnership, co-operation, and competition. The seventh house rules marriage, the spouse, and partners of all kinds, as well as open enemies and opponents.  The planet or luminary that rules the seventh house will give an indication of what motive or vision the native will have with respect to the seventh house situation, and its essential condition will set the tone that the relationship will take. 

For example, with the Sun ruling the seventh house, the native might be literally the light of the partner’s life! Or – depending on the ruling planet’s condition – perhaps the Sun would very much like to be the partner’s light but has difficulty in achieving this goal.   As always with traditional astrology, we look to the ruling planet’s essential condition to determine its strengths and weaknesses, as well as any aspects to the planet and its sect, at which point we can make a judgement.

A note to say that in ancient astrology, open enemies are attributed to the sixth house, the logic being that hidden enemies is a twelfth house topic, and the sixth house is at the polarity point of the twelfth, hence: open enemies.  However, as the tradition evolved and certainly by the medieval period, open enemies came to be attributed to the seventh house, an open enemy falling into the category of “other”, the polar opposite of the first house “self”.

Personally, in horary I use the seventh house exclusively to signify open enemies, but I keep an open mind on this question for nativities. 

Ruler of the First House in the Eighth House

When the ruler of the first house in a natal chart is in the eighth house, the difficulty is that the ruler cannot “see” the ascendant by Ptolemaic aspect, that is to say, when the ruler is in the eighth house it does not make an aspect by sextile, square, trine or opposition to the ascendant.

Traditionally, this symbolizes that the planet cannot directly govern the houses that it cannot see, in this case the ascendant and first house, which is the house that is our interface with the outside world.

The analogy often used for such a situation is with a boat: that the person who is steering or guiding the boat cannot see the helm, or the front of the boat. The person who steers cannot see where they are going!

One way this can manifest in life is a certain confusion the native might have regarding their life direction.  If this is the case, then the native will have to depend on another planet in their chart to help them with this.  For example, if the ruler in the eighth house makes an aspect by degree to the MC, or by degree or even by sign to a planet in the tenth house, which can see the ascendant, this could be a solution to the problem.  It would be as though the person steering has no direct line of sight to the helm, so they ask a trusted lieutenant to tell them what is up ahead! 

So the bad news with this configuration is that the ruler has no direct line of sight, but the good news is that once a solution is found along the lines described above, it usually works quite well, as long as the solution is kept in place…

Aside from this issue, another thing to keep in mind is that in traditional astrology the correspondences of the eighth house are a bit different from that of contemporary astrology.

From the twentieth century up to the present astrologers have been working with the twelve-letter astrological alphabet where Scorpio = Eighth house = Pluto, with the correspondences of the house, associated planet and sign being interchangeable.

In ancient and traditional astrology, we keep the planet/sign/house meanings separate as the correspondences we use for houses and are not always the same as those of planets and signs. The correspondences for houses come out of an older tradition based on the Thema Mundi and the position of the planetary joys in relation to the ascendant.

As an example, in traditional astrology the eighth house does not relate very much to having sex, unless having sex causes you a great deal of fear and anxiety (an eighth house signification). Traditional astrologers view having sex as a Venusian activity, and Venus has her joy in the fifth house. Also, the last time I looked, having sex was fun! So we generally put sex in the fifth house, the house of pleasure and amusements.

For astrologers from Hellenistic times up to the renaissance, the eighth house is primarily the house of death and things that are related to death, such as inheritances, wills, and the like.

Magic has always been represented by Mercury throughout the astrological tradition, so for occult matters we look to Mercury as well as the third house, which is the house of the Goddess.

Faust. Illustration: Edwin Austin Abbey

The Moon has her joy in the third house.  The third house rules the Mother religions, such as Wicca, as opposed to the ninth house, the house of the God, which rules the Father religions, such as the Abrahamic religions. The eighth house is concerned with the darker side of the occult, particularly necromancy, black magic, or any dark magical art concerned with death.

On another level, the eight house rules other people’s money, being the polarity point of the second house, which represents the native’s finances or moveable possessions.  Using derived houses, insofar as the eighth house is second from the seventh, the house of marriage and partnership, in certain contexts the eighth house represents our partner’s money.

Coming back to the ruler of the first house being in the eighth, depending on the planet and its essential dignity, as well as how it is configured to the midheaven and/or other planets in their chart that can see the horizon by Ptolemaic aspect, it could very well symbolize a native who is constantly in contact with other people’s money. We often see eighth house activity in the charts of bankers and money managers.

Ruler of the First House in the Ninth House:

Photo by Timo Stern

As always, the nature of the ruler and how he or she will rule is determined to a large extent on which planet or luminary is the ruler and its condition.  

On the other hand, the raw material and the subject matter the ruler will have to work with is always determined by the houses involved, in this case the first house – our interface with the world – and the ninth house, which represents foreign lands and travel, religion and spirituality, philosophy, astrology, anything that takes our minds further.

For example, a signification of having the Sun in the ninth house could very well be having a father (Sun) who was born in a foreign land (ninth house). However, if the ruler of the Ascendant is in the ninth, it ties the planet directly in with the native:

In traditional astrology, we look not so much to the Sun to describe character, as we do to the ascendant and any planets in the first house. We also look at the ruler of the ascendant and first house. With the ruler of the first house in the ninth, the character, the way the native presents themselves to the world, how they see the world, will be colored by the ninth house and its agenda.

We would expect travel, foreign countries, theology/religion, or higher learning of some kind to play a significant part in the native’s life. Swami Vivekananda had Saturn exalted in Libra in the ninth house ruling Capricorn rising. After studying with the Indian saint Ramakrishna, he traveled extensively on the Indian subcontinent and then traveled to the United States, where he conducted hundreds of public and private lectures, disseminating the tenants of Hindu philosophy, not only in the States, but also in England and Europe. Vivekananda is someone who lived in a very public way (first house) the ninth house life! Natives with the ruler of the first house in the ninth often have an interest or are concerned with topics such as sociology, travel in general, theology, philosophy, or are involved on some level with higher education of all sorts.  

Ruler of the First house in the Tenth House

Photo: Studio Lipnitzki – Paris

One time around the year 1910, the Russian impresario Sergei Diaghilev of the Ballet Russe wanted to introduce the great choreographer Nijinsky to a young composer named Igor Stravinsky, with a view to having the young composer write a score for a new piece by Nijinsky. 

Diaghilev set up a meeting, asking Nijinsky to meet Stravinsky at the harbor when his boat arrived.  “How will I recognize him?”, asked Nijinsky.  “Oh,” said Diaghilev, “he’ll be the one that looks like a composer!”  And as things turned out, Nijinsky had no problem picking out Stravinsky from among the crowd disembarking from the boat.   

And THAT was because Stravinsky had the ruler of the first house in the tenth house!

When the ruler of the first house of appearance, style of communicating and character has its ruler in the tenth house of career, the native might very well wear their career on their sleeve, sometimes literally!  Much of the unity pole of their ego revolves around their career or vocation.  If I’m a bartender with my first house ruler in the tenth, then by golly, I’ll be doing my best to LOOK like a bartender!  If I’m a poet, I’ll make sure that I look like one!

The tenth house is also the house of authority, so taking a back seat is not in the cards for this native. The first house likes to project out into the world, so this is a great configuration for someone in entertainment, politics, or being in charge in some way.  The native likes to be noticed and has a deep need to be appreciated and to gain public recognition for what they do, whether it is for being the best plumber there ever was, or, well, it doesn’t matter WHAT the particular profession is! The native wants to be known and appreciated for it!

As always, we look at the condition of the ruler to see whether the reputation is likely to be one of honor or one of scandal.  Of course, nothing in astrology ever depends on just a single factor, but one thing for sure is that the native will be a take-charge kind of person.  It is also possible that one of the native’s parents played an especially important part in their life, and a good astrologer would normally query the native about this .

To sum up, when we find the ruler of the first in the tenth, the native’s life is directed towards their public and professional life, with self-expression focused on preserving their reputation for doing whatever it is that they do in life.

Ruler of the First house in the Eleventh House

First house: shows appearance, personality, style of communicating and character.

Eleventh house: friends and allies, groups one associates with, hopes and aspirations, house of the good daemon.

What do Patti Smith, Dr Martin Luther King, Jr., David Letterman and Thurston Moore have in common?

Well, for one thing, all of them have appeared before large groups of people, and also, they all have the ruler of the first astrological house placed in the eleventh.

One of the ways that this placement can manifest is through the native identifying or being deeply involved in causes, movements and/or associations with people with similar interests, to such an extent that their way of communicating and their very character becomes synonymous with that of the cause or professional grouping. 

Both Patti Smith and Thurston Moore (formerly of the rock group Sonic Youth) have this configuration in their chart and both are identified (first house) strongly with their music. Often people with the ruler of the first in the eleventh express themselves best when they share their creativity with other people, or at the very least, their lives are oriented towards interactions with a group of some kind: they work best in collaboration with others.

David Letterman has his ruler of the first house in the eleventh, and the ruler in question is an exalted Venus, the planet of connectivity. He connected with large groups of people over an extended period of time, his Late-Night show ran from 1982 until 2015!

When we think of the eleventh house, we think of not only the house of friends and allies, but also hopes and aspirations.  So it is no surprise to learn that Dr. Martin Luther King, of “I Have a Dream” fame, has the ruler of the first in the eleventh, as with Letterman, the ruler in question is Venus ruling his Taurus ascendant.

Ruler of the First house in the Twelfth House

Clockwise: Gandhi, Che Guevara, photographer Sue Rynski, composer John Cage.

What do Gandhi, Che Guevara, photographer Sue Rynski, and composer John Cage have in common?

They have their ruler of the first house in the twelfth house!

In traditional astrology we have good houses and bad houses, just the way in life we have good moments and bad moments.  The twelfth house is one of the bad houses, bad in the sense that traditionally it represents negative things such as prison, confinement, isolation, hidden enemies, and self-undoing. It’s considered an unfortunate house that is associated with sad things such as sorrow, anguish of mind, phobias, and the like.  It’s a dark place, let’s face it.

With this in mind, it is important to remember that everyone has a twelfth house and that the significations of any planets found within it depend on their condition and what else is going on in the chart. A strong Jupiter in the twelfth house can indicate triumph over hidden enemies as much as it could indicate self-undoing through overindulgence of some kind. 

When the ruler of the first is in the twelfth, the agenda of the twelfth house and its topics impact somehow on what the native is projecting into the world.

Mohandas Gandhi had the ruler of the 12th in the first. He spent most of his life fighting for the independence for India, having spent many years in prison. Che Guevara was born with Mars in Pisces in the twelfth house ruling his Aries Ascendant. When he was in university, he spent time in South America and witnessed poverty, illness and exploitation that impacted on his life direction and inspired him to armed revolution, becoming a leader in the Cuban revolution, eventually being captured and executed by enemies while fighting in Bolivia.  Here we see the themes of the twelfth house becoming prominent in his life such as witnessing suffering and having enemies.

Having the ruler of the first in the twelfth does not necessarily have to manifest as dramatically as it did for Gandhi and Che Guevara. It could simply mean that the person makes an impact on the world (first house) by working behind the scenes in some way, such as a writer, who works behind closed doors and makes an impact through the publication of their written word.  Or a photographer, who works behind the lens of the camera and who is not generally seen by the public, or a film director, or even a composer!

George Orwell, who wrote Animal Farm and later his shocking futuristic novel 1984 had Mars in Libra in the twelfth house ruling his Scorpio Ascendant and first house.

John Cage, the American composer and essayist had Mercury in Leo in the twelfth house ruling his Virgo Ascendant.   Those of you who know a bit about Cage’s life know that he was also a performer and often in the eye of the public.  One might object that there is nothing very 12th house about that, now is there? 

To answer this we must look, as always, at what is going on in the rest of the chart. We can attribute Cage’s “in-the-spotlight” aspect to his Sun being in the first house, which would put him more in the public eye, and yet, we see the twelfth house impact in his life when we think of all those hours at his desk composing behind closed doors, or all the time spent cutting up bits of audio tape to make Fontana or Williams Mix, not to mention the hours and hours he spent throwing dice to arrive at the random numbers he needed to control every musical parameter of his aleatoric work for piano Music of Changes!

I’ll finish with a story about Sue Rynski, who has been a photographer of note on the punk/underground rock scene in the States and Europe since the late seventies.  She has her Sun in the twelfth house and it rules her first house. When she takes photographs, she gets on stage with the performers whenever she can (MC in Leo!), but with her back to the audience (Sun in 12th house!).  Photographers in general are hidden behind the camera lens, which is twelfth house symbolism.

All to say that in traditional astrology we have bad houses, yes.  But in the context of a natal chart, how planets in a bad house manifest will really depend on what else is going on in the chart.