The Houses of the Horoscope: A Vedic Viewpoint
Many different branches of astrology understand and use the 12 houses of the chart in different ways. By learning a larger range of meanings to each house, we enrich our practice of astrology.
Admittedly, there are differences within branches, too, e.g. the Horary branch of Vedic astrology sometimes places themes in a different house than natal Vedic astrology does, and North Indian astrologers differ from South Indian astrologers in some of their attributions. While this means that one must test and experiment with the insights from each field, this, in itself, is a growing process.
The First House.
Most "astrologies" value the first house (and its lord) much more than most other houses, because it represents the person themselves. Among the diverse themes given to this house are: One's leadership, independence, self-understanding, interest in self-development, status, health, longevity, charisma, resilience, capacity to cope with life's challenges, and physicality -- and the lack of any of these attributes if the first house is more challenged than supported astrologically.
A challenged first house may result in self-centeredness, arrogance or exaggerated humility, inefficiency, antisocial tendencies, unlikeability, and an inability to actualize the promises of the chart.
On the other hand, a strong first house can indicate an inner mandate to succeed, pragmatic intelligence, a good personality, a comfortable embodiment, clear and healthy inclinations, and the ability to make the most out of their lives.
The Second House
For many astrologers the meaning of the second house is limited to moveable possessions, wealth, spending patterns, values, security and sometimes self-esteem. In fact, the second house also represents everything vocal, i.e. one's ability to speak and/or sing effectively, the sweetness or roughness of the voice tone, the tendency to speak harshly, etc. The second house also covers the oral theme of eating and ingesting (taking things in, and not just through the mouth), as well as the teeth and food.
One of the meanings of the second house only indicated by Vedic astrology is the tenor of the family life, including both the general tone of the family life and disruptions to family life.
The Third House
In modern Western astrology, the third house means siblings, neighbors, short trips, the mind, communication, and correspondence.
The themes of the third house are greatly expanded in other astrologies. For one thing, the third house indicates all things manual, i.e. manual labor and the trades, prowess in fighting and coordination, ability to use the hands for fine work like art, music, massage, and crafts, and writing ability.
The third house also means much more. The idea of exercising the initiative and effort to accomplish a task in a third house theme, as is courage, cleverness, talent, might, boldness, enterprise, and the ability to promote one's agenda. Additionally, hearing comes under the third house, as does moving, because the third house is 12th to the 4th, and therefore represents the dissolution of home and the partition of property.
The Fourth House
Besides the more common meanings of the fourth house, mother, home, and family, this house corresponds to plants, water, lands, vehicles, sleep, graves, community, formal education, and one's sense of well being, i.e. peace of mind (and heart). Our early life experiences color the strength and solidity of the ground of our being.
Since ethics are learned "at one's mother's knee" , this house also represents moral education, our sense of right and wrong, and the relationship between one's passion and one's ethics. As the house of ancestors, the nature of one's lineage is also indicated here.
The Fifth House
In addition to the well-known themes of children, recreation, romance, and play, the fifth house indicates a person's discernment, intelligence, wisdom, penetrating insight, good judgment, and ability to give good advice, as well as the likelihood of having children (or the lack thereof if heavily challenged astrologically).
Other themes of the 5th house include involvement in the government (everything from president or king to a person receiving a grant), writing, teaching, and publishing, and practitioners of mystical practices.
The Sixth House
Most Western astrologers place health issues, enemies, pets, debts, and employees in this house. In fact, it is the house of acute diseases (not health, per se), as well as of anxiety and worry, antagonism and emnity, theft, alienation, weapons, and professions dealing with disease.
The Seventh House
Well known as the house of partnerships, both business and marital, the seventh house is the house of sexual attraction, passion, affairs, and even the sexual characteristics and behavior of the spouse. It is also the house of independence in business.
Furthermore, the strength of planets in, aspecting, and ruling this house indicates whether one feels "at the effect of others" or in a position to help others.
The Eighth House
It may surprise some astrologers to know that while the eighth house does indicate the manner of death, incest, bankruptcy, research, inheritances, scandals, crises, transformations, and the occult, it also indicates longevity, knowledge of ancient classical subjects, posthumous fame, winning a lottery, alternative medicine, and sacred sex.
Additionally, it represents chronic problems, such as lingering illnesses and unresolvable issues, as well as manipulation, disgrace, and murder.
The Ninth House
This house indicates long distance travel (as opposed to foreign travel), pilgrimages, praying, giving charity, and good fortune, as well as the more commonly understood higher education, religion, institutions, and beliefs.
Ones ease or difficulty in ascertaining their life purpose is found here, as is the father (!) and the relationship with the father.
The Tenth House
Besides career, authority, rules, achievements, and discipline, the tenth house indicates ones status, dignity, commercial success, and honor (or lack thereof if astrologically challenged.
This is the house of ones primary activities.
The Eleventh House
Here we find, in addition to friends, groups, and goals, the attainment (and fulfillment) of ones purpose. In the Eleventh house we see if things can come easily to the person, whether it be support, money, or gifts.
Ones ability to receive is here, as well as ones older siblings, good qualities, major investments, and ones gains and profits in general.
The Twelfth House
Most Western astrologers attribute self-undoing, imprisonment, hidden weaknesses, hidden motives, behind-the-scenes activity, and compassionate service to this house.
Vedic astrologers add "pleasures of the bed" which include sleeping and beds, and sex and orgasm as well. This is the primary house of expediture, losses, wastefulness, addictions, and charity. It is also the house of foreign travel, foreign residence, immigration, and isolation.
It is also the house of the relinquishment of the ego into enlightenment.
The Different Mindsets of Western and Vedic Astrologers
After my Bridge of Skies article came out in The Mountain Astrologer, which outlined the Vedic perspectives and methods that could be directly applied to Western astrology, I received over a hundred emails praising the article. I also received one, from a prominent Western astrologer, completely rejecting the article.
I have come to understand the motivation of that astrologer. The Western approach to a chart is very different than the Eastern one. In fact, if I tried to read a Vedic chart using my Western approach, the chart wouldn't work. And vice versa. But most astrologers don't realize this.
Here's an example of the striking differences in a Western and a Vedic interpretation of the same factor:
If someone has Moon in Cancer (Tropically) in the First House in a Western Chart, we might conclude that:
1. They are a very emotional, even moody person.
2. They are strongly connected to, and influenced by, their mother.
3. They are motivated to nurture and take care of others.
4. Their physical energies may wax and wane due to the lunar influence.
5. They are very sensitive, because of the Moon's receptivity.
6. They should be careful to eat only when they are not upset, because their body is strongly affected by their emotional state.
A Vedic interpretation of the same factor (Moon in Cancer in the Sidereal Zodiac in the First House) might say:
1. The person has a very strong and healthy body and is long-lived and very physically active (lord of the first in the first and strong in its own sign).
2. The person is popular and well liked by others.
3. The person is able to bounce back from life's challenges.
4. The person has practical intelligence, i.e. is able to utilize the talents she has.
5. The person likes to travel (because the rising sign and Moon are in moveable -- what Western astrologers call Cardinal -- signs).
6. The person will be likely to have multiple marriages.
A very good astrologer of either Western or Vedic orientation may indeed include some of the factors from the other method's list (above), but note that there are still striking differences between both approaches. I am not saying either approach is wrong, I am simply saying that both systems have very different orientations. Also, since every Western and Vedic astrologer has their own style, these comparisons only indicate general differences in approach.
In fact, in both Western and Vedic systems, Moon in Cancer in the first house would indicate someone interested in Lunar activities like plants, flowers, the ocean, women's themes, caretaking, etc.
But what I'm coming to find is the real difference in the two approaches is the way factors are blended and integrated into a whole perspective.
In modern Western astrology, the aspects between the planets are the primary integrative mechanism in a chart. If two planets are in strong aspect, their energies and the houses they inhabit and themes they represent become linked.
In Vedic astrology, a much larger web of interactions is utilized. Aspects, dispositors, yogas (planets that form specific combinations by virtue of their placements and rulerships), and significators (e.g. Jupiter as significator of children) all are taken into account to ascertain which way a specific theme "leans".
As a result, someone can be an excellent practitioner of one branch of astrology and be completely unprepared to work in another branch. In fact, mastering one branch may even become an obstacle to learning another, because one cannot use the same approach with both.
The Differences in Approaches between Western and Vedic Astrology
method of assessing the scale of a person's life (i.e. famous, ordinary, etc.)
Major positive aspect patterns (e.g. Grand Trines), harmonious aspects with tight orbs.
Positive Yogas. (Planetary combinations for wealth, power, giftedness, etc.)
The strength of the ascendant.
method of assessing degree of challenge in the life
Strength of challenging aspects, especially those formed by Saturn and Mars.
Planets in the 8th house.
Challenging Yogas. Weakness of the ascendant. Weakness of planets by sign, house, aspect, and rulership.
primary predictive method
transits by the outer planets, secondary progressions by the inner planets.
planetary periods (dasas) & sub-periods calculated from the nakshatra of the Moon.
meaning of the lunar nodes
North node positive, the direction in life to aspire to. South node negative, the place to move away from.
North node: lust, drives, ambitions, compulsions. South node: losses, surrender, enlightenment, self-effacement.
the lunar nodes, see above.
the whole chart, especially strong and repeating patterns
factors to consider when assessing a life theme
the house, its occupants, their dignity and nature, aspects to its occupants, its ruler by house and sign and dignity.
the house, aspects to it (even if empty), its occupants, the house's lord, its condition and aspects & rulership, pertinent yogas, other related houses, the theme's planetary significator.
primary method of analysis
examining individual planets, one at a time, with a strong emphasis on each planet's sign. looking at what planets are receiving Uranus, Neptune, or Pluto transits.
evaluating the chart's yogas and then each house, then examining which planets and houses are activated, both in the main chart and in the subcharts, during the current planetary period (dasa).
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