Ingredients of Astrology 

Ascendant and Houses

 © 2002 by Melanie Lichtinger





Structure and Angles of the Chart



The horoscope shows where the planets of our Solar system were positioned in relation to the place on Earth = geocentrically  (the Earth is the reference point from which we see them) at the time of birth or start of an event. This 3-dimensional system is projected onto the 2-dimensional map of the birth chart. It is important to always keep this in mind and visualize how everything would look like in space.


Each horoscope is divided into 12 sectors, called houses. Those unequal sized sectors reach out and point to certain Zodiac signs. They may contain either only part of one sign, start somewhere in a sign and extend into the next one, or even having a whole sign contained ('intercepted') between parts of the neighboring signs.


If you imagine the Earth as the very center of an orange, those house sectors can be pictured 3-dimensionally as the slices of the orange, and a band around the orange would be the band of the Zodiac.


There are many different ways of determining those houses. The most commonly used one is the traditional “Placidus” house system, which my horoscopes are based on. Other house systems you might find on birth charts are Koch, Regiomontanus, Campanus, or Equal.

In astrology, each of the houses represents a certain life domain.


The Ascendant (AC) or rising sign is the arrow to the left on the horizontal line in the birth chart. It points to a certain degree in the zodiac which is very individual, like for example, 14º38’ ` (14 degrees and 38 minutes of Gemini). This is the position in the zodiac, which is rising  (Latin ‘ascendere’) on the Eastern horizon at a specific place on Earth at the minute when a baby is born or an event starts. To determine the AC and all the house sectors in a horoscope, which makes the chart specific and individual, it is therefore important to know time (if possible to the minute) and place of birth.


On the opposite side of the Ascendant, the arrow pointing from the horizontal line to the right on the graphic, you find the Descendant (DC), which is the sign that was setting on the Western horizon (Latin ‘descendere) when you were born at that very place. It is of course positioned exactly opposite in the zodiac, in the example at 14º38’ f (14 degrees and 38 minutes of Sagittarius). The AC marks the beginning, also called ‘cusp’, of the 1st house, while the DC point is the 7th house cusp.


Besides the horizon(-tal) AC-DC axis, you find a more or less tilted vertical axis in your chart from the 4th house cusp, also called Nadir, Immum Coeli or IC, to the 10th house cusp, also called Medium Coeli (Latin ’midheaven’) or MC. The MC indicates the degree in the zodiac, which was in the ecliptic (apparent path of the Sun and planets around the Earth) overhead at the time and place of birth = where the Sun would be at real noon. The IC is positioned exactly opposite, at the point of the zodiac where the Sun would be at real midnight. AC, IC, DC and MC are also called angles in the chart, and they are very sensitive and individual points.


If the birth time is exact (which results in a specific degree of the zodiac for AC and MC) it might be interesting to explore their Sabian Symbol (see Dane Rudhyar's  "An Astrological Mandala", an excellent reference book for interpretation of the highly symbolic 360 degrees).



The Ascendant


This probably most important point in your birth chart indicates how you came into this life, and it shows how you approach situations and life in general. It is the point where the inner self and field of potentiality (12th house) meets the outer self and incarnation / manifestation (1st house). Ideally, its quality is the most natural mode of self-expression and relating to the world. The Ascendant is modified if there are planets in conjunction (close by) and/or aspects (angles, in the chart indicated through lines) to planets elsewhere in the horoscope.


The Ascendant is also an indicator for your overall state of health, and what to consider in order to maintain or regain well being, your natural flow of energies, paralleled by the influx of cosmic energy you absorbed and brought forward at birth. Its quality needs to be addressed to be overall healthy and feel like 'yourself'.


The first house side of the Ascendant indicates the outer impression you give with the look of your face and body and the aura you exude. Because the Ascendant is a lot about the appearance and image you display, and what comes to you like 'second nature', it doesn’t necessarily correspond with how you feel about yourself ‘behind the mask’. It can in some cases help you to give a good first impression. On the other hand, you might sell yourself short.


At times when planets pass (=transit) your Ascendant, it is a critical time where you have the opportunity to gain a new image or outlook on life, transform and reinvent yourself.




The 12 Houses


As mentioned, each house represents a certain area in life. The way how you experience those areas individually can be described by the particular sign(s) and planet(s) in that house.

Here is a brief overview of keywords for the particular 'life endeavors' or 'stages' of the 12 houses :


The 1st House

It starts at the AC / Eastern horizon / Sunrise point which is the birth of Self. Therefore, it describes your way of self-presentation, outer personality, physical body, vitality, independence, whether and how you express personal initiative to establish personal identity. With a strong 1st house, your presence is quite impressive. Planets in your 1st house are archetypes that strongly play themselves out in your personality, and you might be quite identified with those archetypal themes.


The 2nd House

Your values, possessions, assets and skills (physical , mental and spiritual ones), what you own and how you relate to possessions and mundane security, how you earn money and what the material plane means to you, how you manifest and use your resources for your own and for the greater benefit. 2nd house emphasized people tend to need self sufficiency strongly, therefore they often create their own business.


The 3rd House

How you experience intellectual stimuli through communicating, ideas, socializing. How you learn, your adaptability, versatility, variety, and interchange with others. Your contact with your immediate environment and random encounters with neighbors, relatives, 'people in the street'. It describes how flexible and interested you are in 'speaking their language' and relating to their mentality. With a strong 3rd house, you might be buzzing around, multi-task, multi-stream and enamored with the mind.


The 4th House

It starts at the IC / midnight point, which is the darkest point of the day, where the Sun would be 'on the other side of the Earth' and its direction is down into the ground through the core of the Earth, Therefore, it has to do with your relationship to your cultural inheritance, traditions and and roots, the past of your family background and ancestry, the private home base you create for yourself , your deeply rooted emotions and patterns that (seem to?) give you security, how you feel safe and protected to nurture yourself and others, your place in the world and in yourself where you can find psychological integration.



The 5th House

Your way of creative self-expression through play, fun, taking risks, hobbies, entertainment, romance and (falling in) love (could it be with your own creativity and playfulness?). Your children with their spontaneity are also ruled by this house, as well as your ‘inner child’ and 'inner (or also outer) artist and lover (not necessary partner). People with 5th house emphasis tend to be very entertainment, children and play oriented, yet the character of the planets in the house describe which 'players' come out when 'the game is on'.


The 6th House

How you relate to integrating yourself in your job/work environment, your approach towards service, daily routines and 'rituals', how you take care of your health, attend to details at work and in your body, how you put your physical, emotional and mental tools to use. Every master starts as an apprentice, and when you have a strong 6th house, you are humble enough to know that you need to practice daily, in order to apply your knowledge in a helpful way towards others' and your own well being.


The 7th House

The DC as the cusp of the 7th house (Sunset point) is furthest away from the AC = the Self and therefore associated with significant others you relate to eye-to-eye and one-on-one. What (private and business) relationships mean in your life, how you see your partners, and what you project onto them (=what you perceive as ‘not-me’). Also, how you relate to your ‘favourite’ enemies and competitors. Ideally, you aim for negotiation, compatibility, and win/win. People with a strong 7th house tend to live very much through / for relationships, either by seeing themselves basically as 'half of a couple', or vicariously live out certain traits through their partners, or they choose to channel the potential into consulting and counseling professions.


The 8th House

How inner growth happens in your life through deeply transformational processes and crises, especially via deep involvement with people close to you; the death-rebirth experience on all levels; sexuality, death; sharing and merging of your resources in marriage and intimate relationship; the power to make changes in your life, how you use power. With a strong 8th house, you might be drawn to taboos and intense situations that have a thrill and potential of deeply changing you, so that you experience yourself as Phoenix out of the ashes!


The 9th House

What gives your life (and also the 8th house processes) meaning: Philosophy, religion, your approach to finding your truth and forming a worldview, ideals and beliefs; how you gain perspective through traveling to foreign countries, how you expand your horizon through studying, higher education, your social adeptness. 9th house people need to grasp the whole picture of a situation, and tend to dwell in the 'higher', abstract, possibly academic realms where 'the air is thin'. Or they are notorious travelers, cosmopolitans and 'nomads', questing for greener pastures as soon as they seem to have settled.


The 10th House

It starts at the MC / midheaven which is your individuation point, where you want to be when you are grown up in a true sense, having emancipated from old conditioning of your 'cradle' (IC), (mostly) dealt with the past, and ready to become a self made human being. Therefore, it describes your relatedness to your life purpose, career, profession and (self) mastery; how you set goals and go after them; achievements, recognition, social status and reputation; how you relate to and play a part in society, authorities and (positive or negative) role models in your life, including the forming influence from your parents in that respect. Also, how people see you in a public context, rather than privately / one-on-one, which is the energy of the AC and 1st house.


The 11th House

Your (self chosen) group involvement, projects and common objectives with like-minded spirits, co-creation, friendships, clubs, social activities outside of family and career, how you contribute and synchronize to a chosen ideal or vision. How you would like to see a 'better future for humanity' and how you go about that. Strong 11th house people tend to be very socially engaged and need to contribute to the spirit and cause of the activities they co-promote. They are believers in the synergistic principle "the whole is bigger than the sum of its parts".


The 12th House

Your very private and in fact transcendent encounter with the universe and your spiritual nature, your soul’s development, how you experience oneness, boundlessness and interrelatedness of everything in your life, your retreat (escape?) from the busy world, where you find a connection with the ‘Beyond’, loving and compassionate service; sensitivity to subtle energies, the mystical and the psychic side of you, hidden and mysterious forces in you, the capacity to transmute unhealthy patterns.

The end - and beginning of a new cycle!


The individual signs and planets that fall in all those 12 houses colour your life experience in unique ways. An astrological consultation is based on the professional interpretation of your specific combination of  these components.




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