Understanding Houses: Part One

by Hank Friedman

As I've explored the meanings of the 12 astrological houses for over 40 years, immersing myself in both Western and Vedic approaches, I've come to many insights about them.

1. The major importance of the 4th house cusp.

(This section is written for the Tropical Zodiac and Western astrology.)

Note: I use the Equal House System in my Western astrology work, and so cannot vouch for the effectiveness of using the principles elucidated in this section if you choose to the IC for the 4th house cusp.

If you wish to understand the nature of each rising sign, it is vital to include the 4th house cusp sign (always three signs later) as an intrinsic part of the meaning of each Ascendant.

The 4th cusp has several meanings:

A. What one does instinctively to defend oneself.

B. The nature of the deepest roots of the person.

C. One's behavior in private.

D. The way home (i.e. to the full actualization of the self).

First/Fourth Combinations

Aries/Cancer. Aries rising has Cancer as the 4th cusp. This means that Aries rising people may retreat under pressure, be deeply sensitive and insecure, need a lot of nurturing, and find themselves through intimacy.

Deepest Soul Gifts: Knowing how and when to reach out to heal and love others.

Taurus/Leo. Solider, fiercer, and more immovable than meets the eye, especially when threatened, really need to be in control of their home and family, like hosting parties, and gain insight and growth through pursuing personal passions.

Deepest Soul Gifts: Communicating to others, through their steady openness, acceptance and trust that is deeply healing.

Gemini/Virgo. Become very analytical and over-cerebral under stress, deep need to improve people and life, especially in the personal arena, the search for perfection quenched by study and practice.

Deepest Soul Gifts: A natural awareness of the other, and what will bring others to greater understanding.

Cancer/Libra. While appears to seek intimacy, quite skittish and easily feels suffocated by constant intimacy. Protects self using denial, indecision, and abstraction. Needs beauty and harmony at home. A deep thirst for fair and reciprocal relationships.

Deepest Soul Gifts: An innate sense of justice and fairness that enables others to know their true worth.

Leo/Scorpio. Overtly generous and tolerant, but fierce and even harsh when threatened. Needs to feel safe and to be able to completely trust those in the personal life to be happy. And although looks social, has a great need for privacy and alone time. Finds fulfillment in very deep intimate connections.

Deepest Soul Gifts: A depth that reassures others that they are seen, known, and loved.

Virgo/Sagittarius. Much more restless underneath. Although cerebral, can be quite impulsive. Defends self with fantasy, escape, and pedestalizing. Much less inhibited in private than one would think. Deeply desires inspiring and expanding life experiences.

Deepest Soul Gifts: Giving others the sense that they deserve both attention and devotion, for who they are.

Libra/Capricorn. The light and easy approach masks both a deep ambition and a compulsion to get things done. Can be very controlling and conservative when tense. Needs an organized and stable home. Finds peace in work and achievement.

Deepest Soul Gifts: Helping others feel that they are in good hands, and that it is a joy to support them.

Scorpio/Aquarius. The introversion of the shell is reinforced by a deep inner detachment and sense of not really belonging or having signed up for life. Under attack become very cerebral and separate. Needs room to think and operate independently at home. Becomes much happier when a sense of purpose and connection is achieved.

Deepest Soul Gifts: The union of deep perception and pure objectivity enables those around them to feel the invitation to be.

Sagittarius/Pisces. Much more sensitive than first appears, and also more distractible. Can be easily overloaded with input and needs time to space out and chill. Best defense is retreating to their imagination.Finds joy in nature, music, and being nurtured physically.

Deepest Soul Gifts: A bath of warmth and reception bathes those loved by these folks.

Capricorn/Aries. Can be quite impulsive and autonomous in private. Defends self by (sometimes bluntly) telling others what doesn't work for them. The best home life is either alone or with no strings. Yearns to pursue own interests freely without the demands of others.

Deepest Soul Gifts: An articulated framework and rousing inspiration motivates those who know them to more.

Aquarius/Taurus. Appears open-minded and progressive, but actually deeply traditional. Under challenge digs in their heels and becomes unbudgeable. Prefers comfort and consistency and steadiness in personal life. Gets fulfilled by tactile comfort, nature, and keeping the home in order.

Deepest Soul Gifts: To know someone this steady, clear, and present is indeed both a solace and a springboard.

Pisces/Gemini. Focusing is quite a challenge. Can and wants to have many things going on simultaneously. Very slippery when confronted, and great at rationalization. Loves a home where they can chatter. And deepened by finding ways to ground and get out of their heads.

Deepest Soul Gifts: Like a kaleidoscope, these ever-changing ones bring aliveness, the new, and amazement to all they touch.

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