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How to Interpret the Houses in Your Astrological Birth Chart

Author: Dayna Schmidt-Johnson

House interpretation is one of the most common questions that comes up in astrological readings.

The astrology houses can be tricky to interpret — in part because you have to know how to discover them, and in part because they vary so widely from person to person.

Each of the 12 Houses corresponds with a sign in your chart. On a standard, empty chart, it’s going to start with Aries in the first house, Taurus in the second, and so on throughout the birth chart — nice and neat.

In this chart from Zodiac Style, you can see how each house (and its interpretation) aligns with the signs in astrological order. You may notice that they are very similar to one another as well.  

But when you go to read your own birth chart, these signs shift based on your time of birth. Just as the sun moves through a sign roughly every 30 days, informing your sun sign, the earth rotates for a new sign to come over the horizon every 2 hours, informing 12 different rising signs each and every day. 

That’s why 2 people born on the same day can have wildly different personalities. Everything about the planet placements might be the same, but the rising sign will shift the charts dramatically.

When you look at your chart, it's as if you're standing in the center of the wheel looking toward the eastern horizon (the left side of the chart). What you’re looking at is the sign that was coming over the horizon at that moment in time — your time of birth.

In birth chart interpretation, this is known as your Ascendant, or Rising sign. It’s a critical piece of the astrological chart. This information alone determines the placements of your houses — something you can’t garner from only a birth date.

Without your birth time, you won’t get an exact reading for the houses. You will get the exact reading of the planets at the time of your birth, but the houses they're in aren’t going to show up exactly for you.

Unfortunately, you may walk away feeling like the interpretation of your chart wasn’t accurate — because frankly, it's probably not.

As a result, you have a 1 in 12 chance of your first house being Aires, the way we see on a standard chart. In a perfect world, your chart would be an even 12-slice pie, but that’s not usually the case.

There are interpretations where they are exact, 30-degree slices (Whole House, for example). But in a Placidius reading, which is typical, they’re unlikely to be. You may have some smaller slices, some larger ones, and they may even skip signs!

How to Read a Birth Chart

Your Rising sign always informs your First House of self and appearance. This begins with the line that extends from the center of the chart and extends to the Ascendant.

If this line begins in the middle or toward the end of the sign, you’ll likely have the neighboring sign in the same house. But that doesn’t change the house: it will always be informed by the sign in which the house begins.

Moving counter-clockwise, your second astrology house is then interpreted by the next line extending from the center of the chart and which sign it lands in. This continues all the way around the chart.

In this way, it’s not uncommon for a sign to contain two houses. If one house begins at the beginning of the sign and the next house begins at the end of the sign, both houses will be interpreted with that same signs’ energy.

Let’s have a look at Elizabeth Taylor’s chart for more context.

Her first house is in Sagittarius, and includes — but is not ruled by — Capricorn. Her second house is ruled by Capricorn, and includes — but again, is not ruled by — Aquarius.

You’ll notice that the third house begins in and is ruled by Pisces, meaning that her chart is void of Aquarius House interpretations. But she still has energies in this sign, as her Saturn falls in this sign.

So her Saturn is interpreted in the 2nd house, with Aquarius energies. But the 2nd house itself is interpreted as Capricorn.

How to Read the Energies of the Houses

To fully understand the energies of your houses, we need to look to the planets themselves.

Start with each planet’s energy, and attach that to the sign it’s in. The planet is the energy and the sign is how it manifests.

Finally, we look at which house it’s sitting in to see where this energy is most likely to show up in your life.

Let’s take a look at Elizabeth Taylor’s Moon as an example. The moon rules our emotions, responses and habit patterns. It’s the caretaker and the mother inside us all.

That’s the Moon’s energy. In Taylor’s chart, her Moon shows up in Scorpio.

This gives her emotions great depth, but she may hide them away from others for fear of being seen as “too emotional.” She may cover them up in other ways too — possibly using negative patterns associated with “taboo” topics such as sex or other people’s money to prove she’s on their level.  

At the same time, she’s not afraid of these topics — quite the opposite, in fact. But Scorpio will keep them well hidden until she’s ready to reveal them.

Taking the next step, The Moon in Scorpio is in Taylor’s 11th house of friendships. Her closest friendships are likely marked by a great emotional depth, as she is unlikely to be impressed by those who just skim the surface of topics.

That's an example of how one planet in the chart could show up. It’s essential to marry all three of these pieces together in order to get the full birth chart interpretation.

But just because you don’t have any planets in a house doesn’t mean you don’t have energies there! Go back to the house interpretations and you will see that you always have energy in every part of your chart.

Want to Learn More About Astrology?

Tuning into your astrology and birth charts is just the beginning of healthy self-reflection.

You can learn more about yourself with tarot card readings and guided meditations.

Check out our 2021 Ultimate Tarot Journal >

Dayna Schmidt-Johnson

Dayna Schmidt-Johson (Leo Sun, Scorpio Moon, Virgo Rising) is the resident astrologer for Writual Society. A writer by trade and a life-long learner, she has been studying astrology for nearly two decades and combines her passion for the stars with an easy understanding of what all that astro-speak really means. Dayna lives in Chicago with her husband and teenage daughter. Her Gemini Midheaven ensures she's never out of projects to work on and is currently the Content Manager for multicultural agency TEN35reads astrology charts, and speaks publicly on the topics of salary negotiation and vocational astrology.

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