Every birth chart has 12 houses containing all the activities of life. In the Vedas, life is seen as having four aims or aspirations repeating in cyclical motion until the Atman, the energy that incarnated into the body, becomes self-aware of its totality as part of universal consciousness.
The four aims of life are Dharma (the work we were born to do), Artha (gathering resources for our work), Kama (sensory experiences), and Moksha (ultimate freedom and release from all attachments, the return to the Source of all Creation).
These aims recur in the above order three times in the houses of the birth chart.
Houses 1, 5, and 9 are Dharma houses.
Houses 2, 6, and 10 are Artha houses.
Houses 3, 7, and 11 are Kama houses.
Houses 4, 8, and 12 are Moksha houses.
Each house will perform according to the qualities of the Sign attending it as determined by the Ascendant, the sign on the eastern horizon at birth. Signs are of three qualities — Cardinal, Fixed, or Mutable, with four of each starting with Aries as Cardinal, Taurus as Fixed, and Gemini as Mutable. The pattern of Cardinal, Fixed, Mutable repeats through all twelve signs.
Cardinal signs initiate action or growth, represent creation and beginnings.
Fixed signs preserve and sustain, represent the main phase of life and stable existence.
Mutable signs clear out exhausted, outdated, and finished work, disbursing what remains and opening space for new life, growth, and creation.
Each sign is also assigned one of four elements in this order, starting with Aries: Fire, Earth, Air, Water. Therefore, each element is found in a Cardinal, Fixed, and Mutable stage through the chart. The exact placement is determined by the Ascendant.
Fire is the energetic action of life from the germination of a seed to the conception of a child, the digestion of food, movement of the body in action, and the burning away of dead matter.
Earth is the ground where life grows from the tilled field to the prepared ground for building, the rocks, trees, and grass that make up the earth, and the compost where discarded matter enriches the ground for the next season.
Air is Prana, the breath of life, from the sound of the Aum that created the universe to the wind that spreads pollen and seeds, holds wings aloft, creates weather, and disburses ashes and dust to new places where the cycle of life continues.
Water is the catalyst for growth, the cooling source that takes fire, the solution that dissolves earth, the repository for air molecules, the erosive force that carves canyons, cleans the air, and distributes nutrients throughout all of nature both inside and outside the body.
When we put the house, sign quality, and element together we see the entire field upon which life will unfold through the movement of the planetary forces and our acts of will. By understanding how your houses are constructed and the qualities they possess as well as their attending elements you can anticipate opportunities and challenges your planets will present.
Over the next few days I will present each of the house types and how different sign and element combinations affect them. Even without seeing planetary placements and motions, you can gain a deeper understanding of yourself and others through this process.
Tomorrow…Dharma houses, the right work as seen through sign quality and element.