The Astrology of Personality – Chapter Six – The Dial of Houses

The Astrology of Personality – Chapter Six – The Dial of Houses.


Dane Rudhyar

At the beginning it may be well to try to clear up a point which has puzzled students of astrology. If we look at an ordinary birth-chart, at its simplest stage, we find a wheel divided by twelve spokes into twelve geometrically equal sections of 30 degrees of arc. Then we see that, on the circumference, where the spokes end, signs and degrees of the zodiac are written —giving the longitude of these spokes —i.e., their ecliptical or zodiacal position. The question is then: What is to be considered exactly as a house?

We said that the houses referred to the individual factor — and yet every chart has these same twelve angular divisions, the same obvious framework. The astrologer may consider the question as one of little meaning; but it has a philosophical aspect which deepens the significance of the term: “individual.” Briefly stated, all human beings are as variations upon one theme, MAN. The generic structure of all human individuals is fundamentally the same. This is what is implied in the fact that, although the structure of houses is the symbol of individual selfhood, this structure is geometrically the same for all individuals. What brings a relative uniqueness to an individual is the way this twelve-fold framework is correlated to the zodiac. And this correlation is indicated by the degrees and signs of the zodiac written at the beginning (or cusp) of each house. The inclination of the Earth-axis on the plane of the Earth’s orbit introduces greater variations according to the latitude of the birth-place. As a result, usually more or less than 30 degrees of the zodiac are inscribed within each house.

Even so, there are obviously a limited number of possibilities, and therefore every individual is not unique in his so-called individual house-characteristics. This again refers to the fact that there are a limited number of individual pattern-types. But the point is that every pattern-type operates as anindividualizing factor. When we speak of “individual” we do not mean the “absolutely unique”; we refer to that which assumes the position and significance of uniqueness. There might conceivably be another entity exactly alike; but in the houses we shall still see that which, in each of these identical “uniques,” forces upon them the consciousness and inner realization of their own, to them, unique “I am:” And this is what matters, psychologically.

The Significance of the Twelve Houses

Considering now the twelve-fold structure of the houses, we shall recall what was written in the last chapter as to the significance of the horizontal and vertical axes of the birth-chart —horizon and meridian. What is below the horizontal axis is made invisible by the Earth. Whatever there is below the Earth must reach us through the Earth. It is the interior subjective realm. What is above, reaches usthrough the air. It is the outer, objective realm. If emanations there be, in the former case they reach us through the feet; in the latter, largely through the head (an occultly important fact). This explains why the zodiacal sign symbolizing the head, Aries, deals with the beginning of objectivity; whereas Pisces, symbolizing the feet, refers to subjective interior consciousness.

One can understand the genesis of the meanings of the houses in two ways. Inthe first, the whole wheel is considered as a static structure operating all at once. The two axes mentioned above represent the structure of space, of the particular space of the newborn entity. They form his cross of incarnation. He is universal Life quartered in Space and thus taking form as a particular being. Within and through this framework collective human nature operates in a particular way which characterizes man as an individual being. The two axes divide the chart into four quarters, traditionally called East-North, North-West, West-South, South-East quarters. These work out respectively the meaning of the Ascendant, the Imum Coeli (Nadir), Descendant and Mid-Heaven; because in astrology every division of space or time carries the significance of its point of origin. So the East-North quarter (first three houses) carries out the significance of the Ascendant, the South-East quarter that of the Mid-Heaven, etc. Each quarter is divided into three secondary “houses,” for each operation of life is basically threefold, including action, reaction, and the result of both (either consciousness or disintegration) — also, self, not-self and the relation-between. The cross of particular selfhood for man generates four basic modes of being, four fundamental operations in the process of living as an individual. These can be described (using C. G. Jung’s nomenclature) as: Intuition, Feeling, Sensation, Thinking.

But one should more logically consider the houses as the dial of a watch, a mere projection in space of a set of pointers (or numerals) recording a periodical motion which occurs really in time. In this case we must imagine the line of horizon moving counterclockwise, as the hand of a clock. The cusps of the first and seventh houses represent the position of the horizon as it actually is at the time of the first breath. The line of the cusps of the second and eighth houses represents the position of the horizontwo hours afterward; the line of the cusps of the third and ninth houses, the position of the horizon four hours afterward. Each house represents a two-hour interval. The house-cusps give the successive positions of the Ascendant (the Eastern half of the horizon) every two hours; just as one can see from the figures on a watch the points to which the small hand will point successively during a 12-hour period. The astrological “dial of houses” is a 24-hour dial with only one hand.

We shall see the significance of this conception presently as we come to study the 28-year cycle of unfoldment of the individual self. For the time being, it will be simpler to consider the houses as a segmentation of the space around the new-born child into twelve sections of 30 degrees generated by two fundamental axes, horizon and meridian. The emphasis in this case must be put upon these two axes. The cusps of the intermediary houses may be calculated in several ways, but with horizon and meridian we have two basic factors of individual being from which every other secondary element derives. The two axes represent then what can be named the space-quadrature — the cross of individual existence.

The horizon is the line of awareness.It is so according to the most obvious logic of symbolical significance; for it differentiates the two most fundamental types of awareness. Above the horizon is everything that can be perceived by the senses; below the horizon is the realm of this interior awareness, which Jung rightly calls “intuition.” Intuition is the faculty of awareness through which we perceive inner facts. Sensation is awareness of the not-self, of others. As the Ascendant is the seed-point of the lower hemisphere, it takes on necessarily the meaning of pure self-awareness; the Descendant, being the seed-point of the upper hemisphere, is the symbol of awareness of others.Thus intuition and sensation are seen as two complementary factors, related respectively to East and West.

One becomes aware of one’s own existence as an “I” by an interior process which is intuition, whereas sensation is the result of an awareness of outer causes attributed to sense-impressions. A true sensation is not a mere impression, but is rather the result of the combination of a sense-impression and of our particular sense of self. A photographic plate receives impressions similar to those received by our retina; but the visual sensations which correspond to these impressions contain, besides the latter, our own particular capacity to react to stimuli. All sensations involve, therefore, a relationship between object and subject. Thus sensation is truly ascribable to the Descendant, which, traditionally, rules over matters of relationship, partnership, marriage, etc.

Through intuition we become aware of that which we essentially are. On the basis of that awareness — “I am this and this” — we begin to pass immediate judgments on those changes which we experience within our psyche. We feel for or against these changes —spontaneously, instinctively. Thus a new mode of operation arises: feeling.Likewise from sensations and their correlations is born a new process:thinking. Thought is the result of sensation, just as feeling is the result of intuition. What was abstract as intuitive awareness becomes concrete as feeling. What was vague, fugitive, impermanent as sensation, becomes established, relatively permanent as thought. More than this, what was a mere matter of awareness becomes an actual concrete experience, having form and purpose —thus significance. Feeling involves experience, and experience manifests either as feeling (if the basis of it issubjective) or as thought (if the basis of it is objective). To experience is not merely to receive an impression or be aware of something. It is to go out into the thing (or the self) and establish the significance thereof, through feeling or through thinking.

Thus we grasp the significance of the vertical axis, which refers to concrete experience. Horizontal awareness becomes focalized at the vertical points as concrete experience. The receptive becomes the active, as horizon becomes meridian. The horizontal axis referring to awareness is, to use Jung’s term, theirrational axis; whereas the vertical axis relates to the rational operations of the self. Awareness, whether of self or of others, involves no rationalization. It is a direct fact of life. An impression is not rational of itself. It just is. Then we begin rationalizing it. If it is an inner experience we pass immediate judgment upon it at first by feeling. Feeling is not rational in the same way as thinking is; yet both have a value as judgments, on the basis of which we act subsequently as bestowers of significance. Thus we may call them rational because of the particular operation in consciousness which they involve. We must emphasize, however, the fact that these terms are used according to their strict psychological sense, and not as commonly used in everyday language.

If, then, we wish to interpret psychologically a birth-chart in which we find Scorpio ascending, Taurus descending, Leo in the Mid-Heaven and Aquarius at the Imum Coeli, we shall begin drawing our conclusions as follows: The intuition operates on a Scorpio basis. The native will “find himself” naturally, by using methods fitting the characteristics of Scorpio. These Scorpio characteristics will provide him with the best, because to him most natural, path toward a full awareness of what he essentially is. Through sex, through the use and control of life-energies, through a steady release of power, he will reach full self-awareness. The same type of reasoning would apply to the four angles.

The goal of Harmonic Astrology is to lead men to the fulfillment of their whole nature and being; fulfillment, correlation, integration — and thus sublimation. What is necessary, then, is to enable the person whose chart is analyzed to do the things which, if hisinstinct had not been frustrated by family and society, he would have done in pure spontaneity. The sign (and degree) of the zodiac at the four angles indicate thus the natural path toward the fulfillment of the activity symbolized, the best way to function intuitively or through feelings or thoughts as the case may be. It represents what essentially is — but in many cases what has been obliterated by social and intellectual living; thus it indicates how to go, underneath the superficial and acquired characteristics, to the basic qualities which are really our own.

The signs of the zodiac provide us with a set of twelve characteristic life-substances, or qualities of being, or attitudes to life, as we may wish to consider them. Where they appear in the framework of the selfhood of any particular person shows the qualities which are to be attributed congenitallyto the various faculties and modes of activities of the person. They indicate, to use an Oriental term, the dharma of this person. The dharma of the fire is to burn, of the tiger to be ferocious, of a man born with an artistic nature it is to create, etc. Reading the angles of a chart is thus to read the total dharmaof the native.

This will be supplemented by an interpretation of the signs on the cusps of the other houses. The “succedent” houses (second, fifth, eighth, eleventh) signify the reaction to the action expressed in the “angular” houses (first, fourth, seventh, tenth). This can refer to either a positive or a negative reaction. If the reaction is positive, what is signified in the “angular” house becomes consolidated and focalizedby means of limitations and contrasts. If the first house means awareness of self, this awareness becomes consolidated by the limitations imposed upon it by past inheritance (physiological and psychical); or at a later stage, by possessions of all sorts. But if the reaction is negative, then this inheritance or these possessions stifle the awareness of self, weigh upon the intuition of the “spiritual” I with all the inertia of materialism.

Likewise, the fifth house may either consolidate the experiences and feelings represented by the fourth house, as for instance home (fourth house); or else, its contents may mean the loss of the fourth house matters, as pleasure and speculation may lead to the loss of the home. Too much pleasure and foolish self-assertion dulls the feelings; but teaching and art-expression enhance and focalize these feelings by forcing them to face and to give form to the materials involved (children or esthetic materials — fifth house). The same line of thought applies to the interpretation of the eighth house (consolidation or loss of the power of relationship) and the eleventh house (consolidation or loss of professional and public life; friends or chimerical hopes which take one away from reality).

With the “cadent” houses we face either the result of the loss implied in the succedent houses or the workings and expression of the psychological mode of operation (angular) after it has been focalized (succedent). Thus the third house symbolizes matters dealing with the workings out of an integrated psycho-physiological inheritance. The substance of our body becomes really our own through the nervous system relating the abstract self to the racially inherited cells. These atavistic influences of the second house manifest in the third as brothers and sisters, or rather as our mode of relation to them. Every possible type of intimate connections (in one’s own body, or one’s family circle, or the area reached by small journeys) is here characterized. On the other hand, if the second house meant the loss of self in one’s atavistic nature (or in acquired possessions, in the latter cycles of life), then the third means neuroses, family jealousy, envy and perhaps insanity.

In the sixth house we reap from others as service the consequences of a constructive fifth house, or else illness and the obligation to serve others follow our wastefulness and self-indulgence in matters of self-expression, home education, etc. In the ninth house the loss of sensations or the power of relationship (death, bankruptcy, etc.) forces us to take a “long journey” over the border . . . of our country or of this plane of existence. But if the house of relationship and marriage has proven positive, the new power we get from the consolidation of the opportunities accruing from human contacts enables us to extend our operations, whether through physical trips or mental expansion of consciousness. At the descendant we find the index of our power of sensation. Sensations focalized and consolidated through the power that flows upward through the spine (Scorpio — Kundalini) become ultimately abstract thoughts and religious at-one-ment with universal ideas (Sagittarius — ninth house).

The twelfth house signifies negatively the vanishing of our social ideals and our hopes — self-questioning as to the meaning of life. The prison of our dreams and illusions keeps us confined until we emerge with a new vision, or are forced back unenlightened into a new cycle of bondage. Or else it signifies the closing chapter of a period well lived and the transition to a new birth at a higher level of selfhood whose foundations will have been our altruistic work for society and our friends, inspired as it was by noble and magnanimous ideals.

In order to make the foregoing more graphic the following diagram may be useful to the student, paralleling the conventional and the psychological-philosophical meanings of the houses: 



Traditional Interpretation 

Bodily form; personal appearance and outlook on life.

Philosophical Interpretation

Awareness of self; subjective viewpoint. “The Sower.”

Form-principle. The particular destiny.


Traditional Interpretation

Health; possessions; gain or loss. 

Philosophical Interpretation

The life-substance to be used by the self; the material to be redeemed. “The Soil.” The heredity. The social substance disposable to work out the destiny (wealth, possession). The chemical substance of the body. Food. Metabolism.


Traditional Interpretation

Brethren, neighbors, short journeys, 

Philosophical Interpretation

Relationship of personal self to physical substance, of Letters; lower mind. Sower to Soil: the Seed. The formative intellect synthesizing sense-impressions and bringing together individual destiny and social elements. The environment.


Traditional Interpretation

Home and the parents; the father; end of life. Affairs regarding land and estates. 

Philosophical Interpretation

Concretization of self; the Soul. Its base of operation. The father whose seed carries the astral pattern, the plan of the body.


Traditional Interpretation

Offspring, children, artistic creations; speculation, amusements.

Philosophical Interpretation

Exteriorization of self. Creative and procreative  activity. Recreations.


Traditional Interpretation

Sickness. Servants and dependents. Private enemies.

Philosophical Interpretation

Conflicts resulting from exteriorization of self. Enmity of other personal selves, including the cells of one’s own body.Sickness. Relation between master and slave, employer and employees.


Traditional Interpretation

Marriage and partnership. 

Philosophical Interpretation

The sense of human relationship on a basis of giving and taking. Interchange of vital energies and of ideas.


Traditional Interpretation

Death and legacies. 

Philosophical Interpretation

Destruction of personal limitations as a result of human interchange.Enlargement of viewpoint. Regeneration and death. Practical occultism, also modern business based on contract and installment buying.


Traditional Interpretation

Religion, philosophy. Science, writings, distant travels.

Philosophical Interpretation

The abstract mind and the sense of relationship between  relations. Worldwide contacts; mental adjustment to racial ideas and collective needs.


Traditional Interpretation

Honor, preferment, fame; public position; also the mother.

Philosophical Interpretation

Concretization of relationships. Base of operation in human  society. Business, state affairs. The mother in whom racial consciousness and the national Soul are concretized.


Traditional Interpretation

Friends; wishes and hopes. Flatterers.

Philosophical Interpretation

Exteriorization of social position. The circle of acquaintances  and friends. New ideals of human and social relationship. The Reformer’s dreams and efforts.


Traditional Interpretation

Hidden enemies. Fate. Imprisonment. 

Philosophical Interpretation

Conflict with the inertial forces of society. The limiting power of the race’s level of consciousness; and the rising above it by individual efforts of will occultly exerted. Karma, and the fatalityof rebirth in a limited form of selfhood, either to neutralize failures, or in compassionate sacrifice. Forces which brought the self into incarnation. The overcoming of Karma. Liberation.

Such a charting of the meanings of the houses does not, however, exhaust the possibilities of significance. These possibilities are in fact infinite, just as the possibilities of applications of any complex algebraic formula are practically infinite. Every one who really understands the meaning of charting the twelve basic operations of selfhood will readily see that new sets of meanings will arise each time we consider a new level of selfhood. The wheel of houses is a universal formula. Wherever the polar oppositions of self and not-self, of awareness and experience, of abstract and concrete, apply — there the wheel of houses can be used most efficiently in bringing a pattern of order to the apparent confusion of phenomena, whatever they be. Wherever any agglomeration of substantial elements can be considered as an organic entity, as a relatively closed circuit of life-energies, there the wheel of houses and its fourfold and twelve-fold differentiation ofviewpoints apply. This is so because the fact that life-energies move in a closed circuit (metabolic action) makes of the collectivity of cells which these energies vitalize an organism. Every organism is, to some extent, an individual entity. Inasmuch as it is an individual entity, there will arise in it a certain type of awareness (of self and of other selves) and a certain type of concrete experience (subjective — as feeling or instinct; objective — as acquired groupings of sensations, or thoughts).

It is true that in all kingdoms below man there is very little awareness of self, if any; and very little sense of a particular formed ego as a basis for individual self-expression. In other words, the subjective, below-the-horizon realm of selfhood is not developed in the separate individual entity. But we may be willing to say that such a realm is developed in the vegetable or animal species as a whole— constituting what Bergson calls the “Genius of the Species.”

In man only, as far as we know, every specimen of the human species is, potentially at least, a complete individual. The “Genius of the Species,” that is, the archetypal reality of MAN(what the Hindu calls the “Manu”), canbecome the center of the personality when the latter is duly “individuated.” As it does so it becomes the living Christ, the God-within. In other words, a man ceases to be a creature of the Earth-surface — an animal. He begins to live both above and below the horizon, objectively and subjectively. His own center becomes identified with the center of the Earth. He thus becomes a planetary being — a microcosm.

The lower hemisphere of the birth-chart refers therefore to the potential formation and expression of the God-within. There, at the nadir point (the “Midnight Sun” of Masonry), man’s conscious ego is born in the manger of the “feelings.” Then, after having been regenerated by the trials involved in all human relationship and in social living, this ego eventually becomes more and more inclusive. The center of collective being, which is symbolized by the zenith and the noon-point, is assimilated by the individual ego! This in turn gives food for a deeper awareness of self and others. Ultimately the four “angles” of the chart become integrated at the center of the chart — or in another sense in a third dimension, as the apex of a pyramid built upon these four “angles.” The point of integration — or individuation is what Jung calls: the Self.

In Rosicrucian symbology, the Self is the Rose that blooms at the center of the cross. It is also the fire that surges from the whirling center of the Swastika. It is the apex of the Egyptian pyramid — which was a chamber of initiation.



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