It begins with two circles, each divided into 12 slices.

astrology zodiac wheel-blank chartastrology houses wheel blank chart

The first circle is the zodiac wheel. The 12 slices represent the 12 signs of the zodiac. The inner circle there represents the Earth. In your personal horoscope (your natal chart), that inner circle represents the coordinates, or exact location, of your birth place. We know that, in actuality, the planets revolve around the Sun, but astrology studies how the solar system interplays with us here on Earth. From our viewpoint on Earth, the Sun appears to travel around the Earth, passing through each of the 12 zodiac signs. The Sun spends about one month in each sign, as it travels towards the next sign. The zodiac wheel represents our view of the heavens sliced into 12 sections. Each section measures 30°, with the whole circle measuring 360°. The Moon and the rest of the planets also fit into the zodiac wheel, at the point that corresponds to their astronomical position (which we find in an ephemeris).

Next, the circle on the right represents the 12 Houses, or areas of your life. Each slice (each House) in that circle represents a different area and specific function of your life. They are numbered 1 – 12. The Houses wheel is based on the ecliptic (the apparent path of the Sun around the Earth). The point on the ecliptic that was on the eastern horizon at the moment of your birth denotes the sign and degrees of the beginning of the 1st House in your chart. This is why an exact birth time is vital for an accurate horoscope.

Now, the planets are arranged on the zodiac wheel according to their actual astronomical position in space. Then, that wheel is laid on top of the wheel of Houses. It helps to see this in 3D.

3d astrology houses and zodiac wheels layered

The result is a chart that looks like this:

sample astrology natal chart

Around the outside edge you see where the zodiac signs fall into the Houses. The slices in the chart represent the House divisions, not the zodiac sign divisions. Here the 12 Houses are numbered. The zodiac sign divisions can be seen along the outer edge of the wheel, represented by different colors.

Notice that the zodiac sign divisions do not line up with the House divisions. It would be rare for that to happen. This is because the joint positioning of the two wheels depends entirely on your exact time and place of birth. Notice though, that the 12 houses are in their original location. The wheel of Houses should always be laid out like this, with the first house on the left; the zodiac wheel (along with the planets in the heavens) is what gets rotated according to birth data. Notice the planet glyphs arranged on the chart, labeled with their degrees of position. The Houses progress counter-clockwise around the chart. The divider line before each house is called its “cusp.” The horizontal line that extends directly left is the 1st House cusp. The degree measurements labeled around the outside edge give the position of the House cusps in relation to the Zodiac wheel.

Four of those cusps have special names (in most House systems). The 1st House cusp is called the Ascendant; the 4th House cusp is called the I.C. (imum coeli); the 7th House cusp is called the Descendant; the 10th House cusp is called the M.C. (medium coeli), or midheaven. You will learn their meanings in a later lesson. For now, you need to know that, of those four, one has extra-special significance. It is the Ascendant, the cusp of the 1st house. The zodiac sign that falls on the Ascendant is called the “rising sign.” The rising sign is very important; it acts like a filter through which the rest of your chart is sifted. The planet that rules the rising sign is considered to be the “chart ruler.”  Notice the glyphs for the Ascendant ( ascendant glyph, astrology symbol ) and the M.C. ( midheaven, M.C. glyph, astrology symbol ) in the sample natal chart above. In the chart above, the Ascendant is in Virgo () because the cusp of the 1st house is in Virgo.

You can immediately tell the Rising Sign on a birth chart because it is the sign directly left of the center.

In the sample chart below, the Sun is in Leo ( ); most people would label this person simply as a Leo. But look at the Moon () in the chart; it is in Taurus (). To differentiate further, the Ascendant is in Scorpio (). Here you can begin to see why simply knowing your Sun sign is not enough (and why the popular daily Sun Sign "Horoscopes" amount to a bunch of silliness). To really understand your own natal chart, you must understand all the Zodiac signs because every chart, as you can see, includes the entire Zodiac. The sign on the cusp of each house denotes our attitudes in the department of life designated by that House. Then, any planets in the house also affect our affairs in that area. And of course, the signs that the planets are in will modify how all this is manifested.

You see a number next to each planet glyph. The number tells the exact degree of that zodiac sign in which the planet appeared in the heavens at the moment of you birth (or whatever time the chart is drawn up for). The degrees are taken from an astronomical almanac called an ephemeris. (Real astrology is amazingly mathematical. In ancient days, all real astrologers were also, by necessity, mathematicians.  Nowadays, great astrologers can use computers to calculate birth charts, allowing them to focus on reading & interpreting the chart.)

In the example below, the lines in the center are marking the aspects between planets. Aspects will be discussed further in a later lesson.

sample astrology natal birth chart

To sum up, the natal chart is your horoscope. It is a map of the heavens at the moment you were born, from the viewpoint of your birth coordinates. The chart is composed of a zodiac wheel containing the planets, positioned amongst a wheel of 12 Houses, and you are at the center.

The 12 Houses of astrology are arranged on a circle-shaped chart, or wheel. Do not confuse the wheel of Houses with the zodiac wheel. They are 2 different wheels. The zodiac wheel is based on the sun's apparent yearly rotation about our Earth (along the ecliptic), while the wheel of Houses is based on our Earth's 24-hour rotation about its own axis. The 2 wheels join together at points derived by calculations involving your exact birth time and astronomical birth coordinates. Then, the planets are described in 2 ways: as being in a zodiac sign, and also as being in a House. For example, two people may both have a Libra Sun sign, but one may have the Libran Sun in his 12th House, while the other may have his Libran Sun in his 1st house. This could make for two very different types of people. (Another reason why the popular daily Sun Sign Horoscopes are a bunch of silliness: they are written assuming everyone has their Sun in the 1st House. There is no warrant or accuracy in that).

The 12 Houses of astrology are symbolic of the all the departments that make up human life. The planets and zodiac signs will manifest themselves most strongly in the sphere of life represented by the House in which they fall on your chart (and also in the House which they rule; more on House Rulerships later). Remember, the houses are not "energies" like the elements or planets, nor do they color the expression of energies like the zodiac signs do. The houses are WHERE these energies are most likely to manifest. The houses are the fields of experience, not the experience themselves.

Notice how the order of the Houses follows the developmental path of a human's life, from the original impulse of individual being (1st house), to learning what is "mine" and how to use what one owns (2nd house), to learning how to communicate within the limitations set by our environment (3rd house), etc. The following description of the Houses are short and topical, directed at beginners.

The most important houses are the 1st, 4th, 7th, and 10th houses. These are called the "angular houses" because their cusps coincide with the 4 special angles: ascendant, I.C., descendant, and M.C.. Planets in the angular houses will influence you the most.

1st Astrological House

The first House is the House of self. This includes self-awareness, the physical body, personality, appearance, personal views on life, self-identity, self-image, early environment, and beginnings; how we initiate, how we're impulsive. Any planets in this house will greatly influence your personality and how others perceive you.

2nd Astrological House

The second House refers to your own money and possessions, what you value, your hidden talents, sense of self-worth, self-esteem (how you value yourself, instead of describing your personality as in the 1st House). Possessions include anything a person owns (except the house/home which is ruled by the 4th House): cars, furniture, clothing, moveable property, investments and securities, etc. The 2nd house specifies how you gain and spend your own money (as opposed to other's money in the 8th house), your attitude towards wealth and material possessions, and your potential for accumulating it/them.

3rd Astrological House

The third House is that of communication, which by extension includes one's immediate environment: siblings, neighbors, short journeys, and all forms of transportation. The 3rd house also includes the intellect, the lower mind (details and small bits of information as opposed to the higher mind in 9th house), thinking patterns, and early education (before college). Communication includes messages, deliveries, gossip, phone calls, visits, reading and writing.

4th Astrological House

The fourth House refers to the home and everything associated with it (both the childhood home & the current home):  family, land, personal foundations (inner emotional security), your roots. Astrologers are divided over whether this house is associated with one's mother or father. What is clear is that a person's upbringing is associated with this House.

On a deeper level, the 4th house is the base of consciousness or the center of our concrete existence. See how the cusp of the 4th house is the I.C., the lowest point on the chart, representative of things below the surface of Earth. Due to that, the 4th house was believed to rule the conditions at the end of life, and graves. As the root or base of your real self, the 4th house rules where you go when you "die" but also where you came from. For those who believe in reincarnation, the 4th house would give clues to your karmic lesson for this lifetime. It shows what karmic baggage you brought with you into this life. Even if you don't believe in reincarnation, you're likely to be surprised by what you find in your 4th house for it may move your soul.

Any planets in the 4th house affect your home life, your emotions, your subconscious, and possibly your relationship with your parents.

5th Astrological House

The fifth House refers to children, creativity, and the pursuit of pleasure. This includes personal interests, love affairs, sports, hobbies, speculation, risk-taking, teaching, drama, creative self-expression, love given, gambling. The 5th house is all about you being yourself and enjoying it.

Romance, dating, love affairs, and sexual relationships are ruled by this 5th house, yet marriage is assigned to the 7th. Why? Because, until very recently, marriage was not entered into for pleasure, for love, nor for personal fulfillment. Marriage was hardly even entered into by choice, but rather for the purpose of raising kids to preserve the values of a particular culture or religion. And these marriages were most often arranged according to class and financial status, a partnership befitting the 7th house.

Nowadays, it's common to marry for love. To avoid confusion, remember: affairs of the heart are in the 5th house, but cooperative partnerships are in the domain of the 7th house.

6th Astrological House

The sixth House refers to daily work, service, diet, health and physical sickness, physical ability to work, employees. This includes volunteer labor, civil service work, caretaking, and mundane daily tasks. The 6th house really involves the quality of your work, the quality of the jobs you perform, as opposed to an actual career (career is represented by the 10th house). Daily mundane tasks include personal hygiene and our method of responding to everyday crises.

7th Astrological House

The seventh House is sometimes referred to as the House of marriage, but it encompasses all one-to-one relationships: marriage, business partnerships, contracts, cooperative relationships, and also divorce, separation, quarrels, open enemies, and law suits.

The difference between the love affairs of the 5th House and love relationships of the 7th is that the 7th House refers to more permanently binding relationships, whereas the 5th House refers to affairs that may be temporary. When the 5th House affair progresses into a serious relationship, we can say that the relationship has "moved into the 7th House."

7th house relationships are about cooperation and sharing, and they generally serve some functional purpose in the larger social community (i.e. a marriage). This is different from a 5th house love affair, whose only qualification is "butterflies in the stomach."

The 7th house includes the way you relate to those closest to you. Planets in this house will influence your manner of relating. They also give clues to issues that arise in your relationships.


8th Astrological House

Simply put, the 8th house is the polar opposite of the 2nd house. Whereas the 2nd rules your own individual possessions, the 8th house rules what a relationship owns (joint finances).

The 8th House is one of the most misunderstood Houses. This is probably because the things represented by the 8th House seem to have nothing in common with each other, or they seem to be negative. This House governs death, regeneration, taxes, inheritances, wills & legacies, sex (the actual act of sex), latent occult ability, joint resources, your partner’s money and possessions, spouse's money, bankruptcy, losses, personal sacrifices, alimony, clairvoyance.

On a positive note, this House is about transformation and healing. But transformation and healing require some type of death, loss, or injury first. This House rules those processes and things by which we transform and become more powerful. Yes, this includes the act of sex.

9th Astrological House

The ninth House refers to philosophy, religion, law, learning, higher education (as opposed to early education by the 3rd House), ethics, morals, long journeys, travel, foreign countries and interests, spiritual urges, dreams, visions, higher mind, ideas, understanding and wisdom, books, publishing, ceremonies, and rituals. This is the House of big thoughts and big ideas.

9th house "understanding" is more complex than 3rd house "knowledge". The act of "knowing" belongs to the 3rd house because it implies simply the direct contact of a person with something in his environment. Understanding involves the synthesis of known data.

While the 3rd house refers to an individual's need to understand his close and personal environment, the 9th house is an area in which one seeks to discover the significance of larger fields of social existence which one may not experience directly but which his mind may explore through the use of analogy, generalization and abstraction. The 3rd and 9th houses symbolize the 2 polarities of the human mind, the concrete and the abstract.

In summary, the 9th house includes experiences that we encounter when we search for the meaning of things. Whatever expands your field of activity or the scope of your mind – long journeys, contact with other cultures, great dreams, and even experiences with fortunetellers.

10th Astrological House

The tenth House is the House of status, honor, community power, prestige, reputation, and professional career. In our society, this includes financial success, but only as it relates to community power and prestige. It's not about gaining "material stuff" as it is in the 2nd house. The 10th house wants success for the sake of honor and social status.

This house includes social foundations (as opposed to personal home foundations in the 4th), recognition, personal achievements, social responsibilities, sense of duty, authority figures, politicians. This House encompasses the most public areas of one's life, and the career that you grow into, as opposed to daily work and odd jobs ruled by the 6th House.

As with the 4th House, astrologers are divided over whether the 10th House rules one's mother or father. Those that say the 4th House rules the mother, say the 10th House rules the father, and vice versa. What is clear is that the 4th House rules the nurturing, home-body parent, while the 10th House rules the public, success-focused parent (the parent who "wears the pants").

As with the other angular houses, any planets in this house are very important. Planets in the 10th house, the sign on the cusp of the 10th house, and its ruling planet will greatly influence your career and your general reputation in public.

11th Astrological House

The eleventh House is the House of community, large groups, and friends. It refers to memberships, hopes, goals, ambitions, wishes, social groups, associations, humanitarian interests. It also refers to self-realization, liberty, legislation and regulation.

12th Astrological House

This is probably the most misunderstood house of all. The twelfth House refers to the subconscious, the hidden self that exists apart from our physical everyday reality. This includes the unconscious mind, subconscious memory, subconscious habit patterns from the past, mental illness, karmic debts, self-deception, escapism, spiritual realization, limitations, frustration, and ultimately our self-undoing.

On a physical, material level, the 12th house includes things that take us away from everyday life: institutions (such as hospitals, prisons, government offices), places of confinement, secrets, secret relationships, hidden enemies, and self-sacrifice for others. It also refers to sorrow, tribulations, widowhood, grief, funerals, exile, seclusion, bribery, subversion, murder, suicide, kidnapping, and endings.

For those who believe, the 12th house is also considered to refer to the collective unconscious of all humanity.

astrology houses labeled chartastrology houses labeled chart in color

"Natural" Houses of the Planets & Signs

Each planet and zodiac sign is naturally associated with a House, the House that most corresponds to its archetype. The planet, then, is said to be the "Natural Ruler" of that House, or more often, it's said to be "at home" in that House. The House/planet associations were adjusted with the discoveries of Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. The following table lists the current House rulers, along with the traditional rulers. The traditional rulers are still considered to be co-rulers of that House (along with the new planet that rules the House). (Note: in your own birth chart, the rulers of your houses are determined by the signs that fall on the cusps of your houses. However, the natural rulers, listed here, give a subtle influence).

House Keywords Zodiac Sign Natural Ruler Traditional Ruler
1st self, life, body Aries Mars  
2nd possessions, money, material circumstances, livelihood Taurus Venus  
3rd local movement, short journeys, communication, school, siblings Gemini Mercury  
4th home, family, roots, parent Cancer Moon  
5th creativity, children, romance, entertainment Leo Sun  
6th health, service, work, routine Virgo Mercury  
7th partners, marriage, open enemies Libra Venus  
8th sex, death, inheritances, other’s money, loss Scorpio Pluto Mars
9th travel, higher education, religion, spirituality, law Sagittarius Jupiter  
10th career, social position, dominant parent Capricorn Saturn  
11th friendships, associations, aspirations Aquarius Uranus Saturn
12th hidden matters, the unconscious, clandestine relationships, secret enemies, seclusion Pisces Neptune


Check out part 2 - http://www.starseeds.net/forum/topics/how-to-read-a-astrology-natal...

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Very interesting. Thank you!

Oh my... 12th house! -This is probably the most misunderstood house of all - verily.

Bring in more esoteric i say ;)

I was recently looking at my birth chart so this is very helpful thank you!!!

I looooooooove astrology, and was very surprised to see how accurate it's been for me. It's the closest thing to (make that, it exactly is) a map of ones character, in my opinion.

(Aqua Sun, Sco Moon, Ar Asc, Can N Node)

Who has a good idea or resource for how to use the self-awareness gained from studying your natal chart.... to heal and work with (or around) the frustrating and 'negative' aspects about it?

Wow, there's a lot to this!!

Do you do birth chart readings for others?


it is too much time consuming to do it for others. I just edit information to help other people learn it or understand how it works but you can have free services online to help you:




This is so useful thank you!!

Tracy Marks has some great books on this subject. Try:

Planetary Aspects: From Conflict to Cooperation
by Tracy Marks


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