©2010 by Donna Cunningham, MSW
As an experiment, I recently did a post that invited readers to use the comment section to ask me anything they wanted about the 2nd house, as part of a series about the astrology of money. It turned out they had plenty of questions, and we had such a great time with the open forum that I vowed to do it again from time to time. There’s another one coming up soon.
Readers also posed a number of general questions that are likely to show up no matter which house we discuss, so here they are, along with my answers.
Q: What’s the difference between having Aries on the cusp of a house and having the planet Mars there?
A: My rule is this: the planet is always stronger than the sign it rules, and Mars is the ruler of Aries. The sign is descriptive, the planet is active–you could say that the sign is like an adjective, whereas the planet is like a verb.
Mars, then, is more likely to take an active role, so for example a person with Mars in the 2nd is a real go-getter where making money is concerned, highly competitive, out to out-spend the Joneses, buying the newest, the best, and the biggest. If the career is sales, for instance, this is bound to be the sales leader for the district.
Aries would have some of the same qualities, but since Mars would probably be located in the another house of the chart, some of that competitive edge and drive is aimed at the issues and concerns of the house it is placed in. As you can imagine, then, it’s a diluted version of Mars in the 2nd.
Q: When a house is empty, where do you look for the missing pieces?
A: When there’s an empty house, look for the ruler of that house–its sign, house, and aspects. Thus, with an empty 2nd, then money making would be secondary in your life to the matters of the house the ruler is in. That would be the major thing you value more than money.
Q: How can we interpret an empty house if the house ruler is unaspected (no major aspects)?
A: When a house is empty we can assume that the matters related to that house are not a strong drive for the person and that their energies are actively involved in other areas of life. If you add to that an unaspected ruler, it only reconfirms the supposition that the matters ruled by that house are not what the person is here on earth for this time around.
An empty house can, however, become important focus of attention and effort during the time it is transited by any of the slower-moving planets from Saturn on out. In general, a transiting outer planet is in a house for anywhere from 7-14 years, so over time it begins to act a lot like having that planet in that house natally, with many of the same challenges and situations to master and many of the same pitfalls to avoid and lessons to learn. On the positive side, that is an era when we can also experience and enjoy the matters of an area of life that has been fairly lacking.
Q: What would be the meaning of an UNASPECTED house ruler?
A: Good question. First, I’d want to know if it truly was unaspected or if it maybe aspected the Ascendant or Midheaven. Those aspects are called outlets, for they give us another route for expressing that planet.
Truly unaspected planets can be difficult because it is hard for them to find a natural expression. That would apply primarily to the drives and needs of that planet, but also to a certain–probably minor–extent to the matters of the house it rules. (However, the house the unaspected planet rules MAY have planets placed in it, and that would strengthen the importance of that house.)
Q. If the cusp of a house is at 29° of a sign, should it be considered as that sign or the next? i.e.: 29° of Virgo, or 0° Libra?
A: That depends on whether the birth time is accurate or not. I’d be suspicious if it were a rounded off time, like 5:00 or 5:15, and somewhat more confident with a precise-sounding time like 5:13.
The sign would also change depending on the house system. I’d say pay attention to the sign that occupies the majority of that house and especially to any planets in that sign and house.
Q: What if two neighboring houses are in the same sign, due to an interception.
A: Interceptions (where a sign is completely enclosed in a house, with both house cusps in other signs) come in pairs, with the houses opposite each other affected. For instance, if you have an interception in the 1st house, you’ll also have one directly opposite in the 7th house.
I had a browse through the Aries Press Table of houses, and this situation appears to be quite common with certain signs–Cancer, Leo, and Virgo among them–and are a function of the earth’s 22 degree tilt on its axis. That means that the width of one of the two houses is rather narrow, and thus any transits through it are short, while the transits through the house with the interception are much longer.
I don’t make too much of intercepted houses, because the interceptions depend on which house system you use. If you do the same chart in three different systems (Placidus, Koch, Regiomantus, etc, etc, etc), you can get three different sets of interceptions. In my chart, depending on the house system, I might have an interception in the 10th, 11th, or 12th, and I could argue for any of the three. When the same planet rules two successive houses, however, that planet does gain in importance.
Q: How about if a house contains an interception, and there are planets in the intercepted sign? Does a person like this have to wait for transits or progressions to deal with those issues?
A: I give both signs that fall into that house–the sign on the cusp and the intercepted sign–a place in the full expression of the house, but most importantly any planets in that house.
Yes, transits by planets in the intercepted sign should bring out the energies of that sign. Planets from Saturn on out to Pluto stir up–for individuals and the collective as a whole–the issues and concerns most associated with that sign.
For instance, Pisces shares many of the concerns related to Neptune that we’ve been talking about (boundaries, codependency, rescuing, addiction, etc.) and so if you have Pisces intercepted and a slow-moving planet moves through that sign, the Piscean issues will come to the surface during that time.
Q: I was wondering what your take is on planets approaching a cusp. Say if you have a planet in the 1st house, but it’s just a couple of degrees from the 2nd house cusp (assuming an accurate birth time), would you interpret that as a 1st house planet, a 2nd house planet or a 1st/2nd house planet?
A: The whole question about house systems and the different cusps depending on which system has never been resolved except by arbitrarily settling on a system. My observation is that people tend to espouse the house system that places their own birth planets in the best light. Add to that how iffy birth times can be, and you’d be wise to be a bit flexible.
In client work, I consider any planet within 5 degrees of a house cusp as suspect. I quiz the client as to which of the two possible houses it really works for by describing what the two houses represent and how that planet would operate in each house. The odd thing is that such planets often seem to work for both houses–or even to combine them. A planet that straddles the cusp of the 2nd/3rd for instance might show up in a person who earns money in Mercury-related ways like telecommunications or free lance journalism.
Despite 40 or 50 years of controversy and tedious debate among astrologers, we don’t still know what the “real” house cusps are. I tend to believe there are no sharp delineations between houses, and that may be why there is no satisfactory resolution of the question.
Q: Why do you use Placidus houses as opposed to any of the other house systems?
A: When I started out in astrology more than 40 years ago, almost everyone used Placidus. (We hand calculated charts back then, if you can imagine!) I did lots of lunar returns and solar returns and event charts.
(A lunar return happens at the point in the month when the Moon comes back to the same degree and minute it was when you were born–a method for predicting what your month will be like. I think most chart programs have it as an option. I didn’t do lunar returns for very long.)
I noticed that the Placidus cusps of lunar returns and other such charts often featured the exact degree and sign of one of my natal planets–and was appropriate for the meanings of that house. It was uncanny.
For instance, I worked in medical clinics in NYC where the staff would play the numbers, and so I was having some good aspects and won several times. That month, the degree of my natal Jupiter was on the lunar return’s 2nd house. There were many such instances. So I concluded that Placidus worked even though it wasn’t totally scientific like some other house systems, and I’ve never felt the need to change.
Q: Does placement in the angular houses (the 1st, 4th, 7th, and 10th) make a planet stronger?
A: The whole question of angular houses is a muddy one for me. They are SUPPOSED to be the major houses and the cadent (3rd, 6th, 9th, and 12th) and the succedent houses (2nd, 5th, 8th, and 11th) are SUPPOSED to be weaker and less favorable ones.
Myself, I tend to think this depends on one’s values and what one considers important in life. A deeply spiritual person (monkish, even) might consider the 12th the most powerful house of all. A person who is deeply fulfilled by work for its own sake as opposed to worldly success might deem the 6th house the most important. And so on.
It is only because Western Society places the highest value on external markings of success that the variuous houses are judged to be more or less valuable. Your career accomplishments (10th), what position your family held in society (4th), who you marry (7th) and what you look like (1st)–these are the things we are primarily judged on.
So, no, I’m not ready to say planets in those 4 houses are intrinsically stronger, just given a higher status in society’s terms. Donna
Q: What is the difference between the North vs. South Node in a particular house?
A: I see the house and sign of the North Node as something we need to work at and develop in this lifetime, ONE of our major tasks to master. (Not THE task, mind you, just ONE of them. We have to clear up a lot of karma and accelerate our development in this lifetime, as who knows how lonng we will be able to keep coming back to this planet we are abusing so badly.)
The South Node, in my view, relates to a collection of lifetimes in which we’ve done and ultimately overdone the matters of that sign and house, to the extent that it’s too easy for us to fall into doing it–what they call the path of least resistance. It becomes a bit of a trap or easy way out, and when we fall back on that, we either sabotage ourselves or, at the very least, shirk the work of the North Node.
To give an example, if the North Node is in the 6th, South in the 12th, then we need to focus on being productive and grounded in the world of work, rather than hiding out in the 12th house pursuits. We also need to focus on keeping ourself well rather than falling into addictions and other abuses of our bodies in self-destructive behaviors.
If the South Node is in the 6th, North in the 12th, then we may be workaholic and/or so involved in the daily grind that we neglect our spiritual development and the need to give of ourselves to those who aren’t so fortunate as we are.
(For more detail about the nodes, see: House Positions of the Nodes—Insights from Our Q&A Series.)
Q: Can you tell us what you’ve observed over the years about people with multiple retrograde planets in one house natally?
A: There are intervals in history when the slower moving planets are all clustered together within a few signs, like they have been for the past decade or longer.
When that is the case, there are certain times of the year when many of the slower moving planets are retrograde because the Sun and other personal planets are all 3-6 signs away from them. At those times of the year, every single person born on the planet has all the slower planets retrograde.
Thus, the question of having many retrograde planets can become not so much an individual one as a generational one. Perhaps it is an era in history when our individual destiny is closely allied with the destiny of our generation.
The houses the collection of retrograde planets falls into shows the areas of life impacted by the historical, social, and economic climate. Thus, approximately one person in 12 born within a month or two of you would have had that same collection of retrograde planets in that particular house. An abstruse answer to a complex question. It happens.
Readers, if you have any BASIC questions about houses, you can ask them in the comment section. Be advised that if they are basic and general, they would by definition not be about your own chart or your significant other’s! Also, this isn’t meant to answer questions about invidivual houses (“What about the 6th?” ” What about the 11th?”) but rather to ask questions that apply to any and all houses. You get the picture.
Readers Ask Series: (Readers’ questions and my Answers are in the Comment Sections)
- Readers Ask: Q&A about the 1st House and Ascendant
- Readers Ask: Q & A about the 2nd House
- Readers Ask: Q & A about the 3rd House, Mercury, and Gemini
- The Best of Readers’ Q & A about the 3rd House and Mercury
- Readers Ask: Q & A about the 4th House
- Readers Ask—Q & A about the 5th House
- Readers Ask: Q & A about the 6th House
- Readers Ask: Q & A about the 7th House
- Readers Ask: Q&A about the 8th House
- Readers Ask—Q & A about the 9th House
- Readers Ask—Q & A about the 10th House
- Readers Ask: Q&A about the 11th House
- Readers Ask: Q & A about the 12th House
- New Insights into the 12th House from our Q&A Session
- House Positions of the Nodes—Insights from Our Q&A Series
See more articles on the 12 houses in the category Houses of the Horoscope. You might especially like these:
- Get to Know your Houses—a Floor Plan of your Life
- Download a chapter on the houses here: AGSA ch13-houses
- Download a chart blank here: Blank chart with house meanings.
- Download: Shovel-Ready Projects for the 12 Astrological Houses
- A Who’s Who of your Horoscope–the Players in all 12 Houses
- Pluto-Saturn Preparedness Kit #1—Houses & Areas of Life Affected
- The Incredible Vulnerability a Stellium Creates
- Readers Ask: Q & A about the 2nd House
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