The Essential Meaning of the Houses (Bhavas)
By Vaughn Paul Manley, M.A.
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In the previous
two lessons we learned about the essential meaning of the planets and
their key indications. We also learned some basic first glance skills
for interpreting the planets in a horoscope. We are now ready to discuss
the locations that the planets are placed in the chart - the houses.
- The Twelve Locations in the Sky
is a place of residence. In astrology, the houses, also called the “Bhavas”
in Sanskrit, are the locations in the sky where the planets reside. The
sky is divided into 12 houses consisting of 30 degrees each, like pieces
in a pie, that encircle the earth: 30 degrees x 12 houses = 360 degrees.
In the Vedic system each house is equivalent to one sign as discussed
The 1st house
is located at the Eastern horizon and the rest of the twelve houses follow
counter clockwise as shown. The 1st house is also called the "Ascendant"
or "Rising Sign" because just as the Sun ascends or rises on
the eastern horizon so do all the planets and signs as they follow their
path in the sky along the zodiac belt. Please see Lesson
2 to review these concepts.
house represents a different domain of activity in our lives as we shall
see in this lesson. A planets' placement in a house will therefore energize
that house with the qualities of that planet.
houses, also called the "Kendras" in Sanskrit, are the houses
1, 4, 7, 10 in the chart. They take up the prominent regions in the sky
– the eastern and western horizons, overhead, and down below. If
you understand these 4 houses then it will be much easier to understand
the other 8 houses.
The first principle that will help you to understand the Angular houses
is that they are the four “Pillars” of the chart. They give
strength, protection, and power, for better or for worse, depending on
whether there are benefic or malefic planets located there. If a chart
has natural benefic planets in the Angular houses, like Jupiter or Venus,
then it will give overall protection to the chart. This alone will help
to minimize the negative effects that may be indicated in the chart, while
maximizing the positive effects. The person will generally be protected
against ill health, have positive character traits, progress well in his
or her lives, be influential etc. For instance,
Mahatma Gandhi had 4 benefic planets in Angular houses. Of course,
there are other planetary positions that can reveal these qualities but
benefics on angles is a primary way.
If there are malefics on angles then the person will generally experience
ill health, have negative character traits, misuse his or her power by
dominating others, thereby provoking conflict and opposition. For instance,
Adolf Hitler had 3 malefic planets on angles. Again, there are other planetary
positions that can reveal these qualities but we should look for malefics
on angles as sources of potential difficulty and conflict.
can the power of Angular houses be explained? First of all, the 1st house
(also called the lagna in Sanskrit) represents “The Self”
or "You" in your natal chart. From the 1st house, the 4th house
and the 10th house form 90-degree angles and are squared to “You.”
Think of a karate master who can break a board in two with his bare hand
when he hits the board at a perfect 90-degree angle. He’s able to
be that powerful because he’s hitting the board precisely at a 90-degree
angle. If the angular position is off then the board will not break. Likewise,
the houses that form a precise 90-degree angle to “You,” the
4th and the 10th houses, represent power in relation to "You."
That power can either be used to protect or harm.
The 7th house
also becomes powerful in relation to the 1st house or "the self"
because it’s exactly 180 degrees in opposition. Think of two magnets
held exactly opposite one another. They are either attracted or repelled
when they are in exact alignment. This forms a very powerful polarity
also how the angular houses form a cross, which is a universal symbol
of protection and power that pre-dates Christianity. You will find the
cross symbol employed by firefighters and other organizations like the
Red Cross that protect the people. The diagram above resembles a Maltese
cross, used by the military order of the Knights of Malta. This further
illustrates the concept that the Angular houses are places of power and
The North Indian chart style displays the Angular
houses clearly with large squares in the center of the chart as shown
in the diagram below.
Sets of Polarities
Angular houses represent two sets of polarities:
1st house "The Self" - 7th house "The
10th house “Outer Public Life” - 4th house
“Inner Private Life”
We can learn a lot about the Angular houses and their polarities by considering
the movement of the Sun throughout the day. Here are some descriptions
of the Angular houses and their polarities based on this concept:
house: When the Sun enters the 1st house at sunrise it's
the beginning of the day. We generally take personal time and attend to
our physical body needs. The 1st house therefore represents the beginning
of life for "The Self," our physical bodies, appearance, and
character traits. It sets the tone for our entire lifetime.
house: When the Sun enters the 7th houses at sunset it
represents a social or romantic time with “The Other.” Watching
a sunset is generally considered a time to be with friends or your romantic
partner. The 7th house is therefore a social house that represents relationships
and particularly intimate relationships and marriage.
10th house: When the Sun enters the 10th house
it is directly overhead at midday. It's a time when most people are in
full swing with their active lives. The 10th house therefore represents
our "Outer Public Life," and is an active, career oriented house.
house: When the Sun enters the 4th house it is below the
horizon at midnight and represents our “Inner Private Life.”
It's generally the time when we're the least active and the most internal.
Most people are at home sleeping or doing quiet activities that connect
them to their thoughts or feelings. The 4th house therefore represents
our home, domestic life, mother, the mind (not intellect) and emotions.
Angular houses generally represent four quadrants, with each quadrant
consisting of three houses. The “Self” quadrant, or rising
hemisphere, consists of the 12th, 1st, and 2nd houses. The “Other”
quadrant, or setting hemisphere, consists of the 6th, 7th, and 8th houses.
The “Outer Public Life” quadrant, or upper hemisphere, consists
of the 9th, 10th, and 11th houses. Lastly the “Inner Private Life”
quadrant, or lower hemisphere, consists of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th houses.
analyzing a chart it is helpful to look for clusters of planets in the
quadrants. Since the locations of the planets represent "focalized"
energy, this first glance method allows us to quickly see in what quadrant
a person is likely to be focused. This will immediately tell us something
about the person.
Here are descriptions of the four quadrants:
The "Self" Quadrant (12, 1, 2) - When there
are clusters of planets in the “self” quadrant these planets
were rising on the eastern horizon at the time of birth. This quadrant
represents the dawn of personal inspiration, new beginnings, initiating
new directions. The person will tend to be self-focused, driven, independent,
and self-motivated. He or she may also tend to be selfish and self-centered.
The "Other" Quadrant (6, 7, 8) - If there are
clusters of planets in the “Other” quadrant these planets
were setting in the western horizon at the time of birth. This quadrant
represents the end of day, when our work is finished, and we are able
to be social. The person will tend to be focused on others, sociable,
and relationship-oriented. He or she may also tend to lack personal motivation,
and be needy or "co-dependent" in their relationships.
"Outer Public Life" Quadrant (9, 10, 11) - If there
are clusters of planets in the “Outer Public Life” quadrant
these planets were visible overhead at the time of birth. This quadrant
represents midday when we are the most active, and focused on our public,
professional lives. The person will tend to be career driven, active,
influential, and extroverted. He or she may also tend to be workaholic,
overly active and ambitious.
The "Inner Private Life" Quadrant (3, 4, 5)
- If there are clusters of planets in the “Inner Private Life”
quadrant these planets were not visible at the time of birth. This quadrant
represents midnight when we are the most inactive, and focused on our
private, domestic lives. The person will tend to be domestically oriented,
private, quiet, emotionally sensitive, and reflective. He or she may also
tend to lack career motivation, be inactive, and moody.
The 2nd and 12th Houses - Bhavat Bhavam
The 2nd house or the next house from any given house represents the gains,
accumulations, or further fulfillment of the indications of that house.
Likewise, the 12th house or the previous house from any given house represents
the losses, endings, or undoings of the indications of that house. With
this principle we can understand the adjacent houses to each of the 4
instance, the 2nd house represents money, earning, wealth, assets, accumulation
of resources because it represents the "gains" of the self (1st
house). Likewise, the 11th house represents the gains of the career (10th
house), and the 8th house represents the gains of the spouse (7th house),
The 12th house represents debts, expenses, isolation, illnesses because
it represents the "losses" of the self (1st house). Likewise,
the 6th house represents conflicts and loss of relationship (7th house),
and the 3rd house represents communication and networking with others
or the loss of one's private inner life
understanding this fundamental logic, we can see how many of the common
indications of the houses are derived. This method is called "Bhavat
Bhavam" which literally means from "house to house." By
reflecting on this principle, we can continually deepen our understanding
of the houses.
use of Bhavat Bhavam is to take the same house number and add it to itself.
For instance, the 3rd from the 3rd is the 5th house (always count from
the house itself as 1). The 5th house shares similar indications to the
3rd house, like writing and the fine arts, because it is the 3rd from
the 3rd. Likewise, the 9th house shares similar indications to the 11th
house, like financial gains, because it is the 11th from the 11th. This
house-to-house principle can be extended to every house and reveals that
there is a harmonic relationship between such houses.
Four Elements and
The Four Aims of Life
next principle that will help us understand the houses is that each house
is related to one of the four elements: Fire, Earth, Air, Water. These
also correspond to one of the four aims of life, or purusharthas in Sanskrit:
Dharma, Artha, Kama, Moksha. There are 3 houses for each element/aim of
life as shown in the following diagram:
When first analyzing a chart it's very helpful to see which of the four
house groupings or triads that the planets are clustered in. This is another
important first glance method that will immediately tell us something
about the person.
Here are descriptions for each of the four triads:
The Fire or Dharma Houses (1, 5, 9) - Keywords: Spiritual
and Inspiration. These are houses of purpose and meaning. They relate
to the signs Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius respectively. Dharma is translated
as "duty" or "purpose," and if there are clusters
of planets in these houses then the person will generally make the most
progress if they have a sense of meaning or purpose. This person will
value personal growth, inspiration, creative expression, and ethics. He
or she could also be self-righteous, idealistic and dogmatic.
The Earth or Artha Houses (2, 6, 10) - Keywords: Physical
and Resources. These are houses of material work and manifesting what
you value. They relate to the signs Taurus, Virgo,
and Capricorn. Artha is translated as "resources," and
if there are clusters of planets in these houses then the personal will
generally be practical, productive, and work-oriented. This person will
value material security, accumulating resources and generating wealth.
He or she could also be materialistic, superficial, and "fussy."
The Air or Kama Houses (3, 7, 11) - Keywords: Social
and Desire. These are houses of relationship, communication, and networking.
They relate to the signs Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius.
Kama is translated as "desire," and if there are clusters of
planets in these houses then the person will generally have strong
desires for relationship, social involvement, and to be well connected.
This person will value sharing information and ideas. He or she could
also be scattered, unfocused and pulled by many desires.
The Water or Moksha Houses (4, 8, 12) - Keywords: Emotional
and Mystical. These are houses of the mind, feelings,
and perceptions and are the most subtle, deep, and hidden houses. They
relate to the signs Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces. Moksha is translated
as "liberation" and if there are clusters of planets in these
houses then the person will generally be interested in psychological transformation,
deep thinking, and the path of liberation. This person will value psychology,
altered states of awareness, occult studies, metaphysics and mysticism.
He or she could also be dreamy, impractical, and unproductive.
sequence of the houses through the zodiac represent a developmental pattern.
In other words, the highest house number in each triad represents the
fullest and most powerful expression of that triad. For instance, the
9th house is the fullest expression of the Fire/Dharma houses (1, 5, 9);
the 10th house is the fullest expression of the Earth/Artha houses (2,
6, 10); the 11th house is the fullest expression of the
Air/Kama houses (3, 7, 11); and the 12th house is the
fullest expression of the Water/Moksha houses (4, 8, 12).
The Balance of Polarities
notice by the above list of descriptions that every house is balanced
by and is a mirror reflection of its opposing house. The Fire/Dharma houses
balance the qualities of the Air/Kama houses and the Earth/Artha houses
balance the qualities of the Water/Moksha houses. This was pointed out
at the beginning of this lesson with the descriptions of the angular houses
and their polarities.
Dr. David Frawley
was taught this principle In 1994 while tutoring with Dr. David Frawley,
author of The Astrology of the Seers. He pointed out that the
Kama houses (3, 7, 11) represent what we "want to do" while
the Dharma houses (1, 5, 9) represent what we "should do" in
order to fulfill our life purpose. Likewise, the Moksha houses (4, 8,
12) represent mystical, altered, or otherworldly experiences that need
to be balanced by the practical and grounding influences of the Earth
houses (2, 6, 10).
can learn a great deal about the houses by reflecting on their qualities
and their polar opposites within the varied contexts of our everyday lives.
The Three Qualities of the Houses
The last principle that will help us understand the houses is that each
house is related to one of the three qualities or modes: Cardinal, Fixed
and Mutable. These are also called the Angular, Succedent, and Cadent
houses. Each quality has 4 houses each which form 2 sets of polarities
as shown in the diagram below.
Cardinal or Angular houses are the houses 1, 4, 7, 10. They are equivalent
to the powerful Angular or Kendra houses that we've already discussed.
The Fixed or Succedent houses are the houses 2, 5, 8, 11, and are also
called Panapara in Sanskrit. They are the 2nd houses from the Cardinal
houses so they represent the "gains" of the Cardinal houses.
The Mutable or Cadent houses are the houses 3, 6, 9, 12, and are also
called Apoklima in Sanskrit. They are the 12th houses from the Cardinal
houses so they represent the "losses" of the Cardinal houses.
Cadent literally means to "fall away."
When first analyzing a chart it's also very helpful to see which of the
three house groupings are the planets clustered. This is another important
first glance method that will immediately tell us something about the
Here are descriptions for each of the three house groupings:
The Cardinal, Angular or Kendra Houses (1, 4, 7, 10)
- Keywords: Initiating Power. When planets are clustered in these houses
they are in an active, dynamic, creative phase and are able to manifest
power. The person will be outgoing, strong, assertive and good at initiating
projects. He or she could also be aggressive, impulsive, and insensitive.
These are the strongest house placements and relate to the Cardinal signs
of Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn. The 4th house is the weakest in
this group because it's also a moksha house. The 10th house is the strongest.
The Fixed, Succedent or Panapara Houses (2, 5, 8, 11)
- Keywords: Stabilizing Resources. When planets are clustered in these
houses they are in an accumulating, consolidating, sustaining phase and
are able to establish security. The person will be stable, able to persevere,
earn money and maintain a project. He or she could also be possessive,
rigid, and conservative. These are moderately strong house placements
and relate to the Fixed signs of Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius. The
8th house is the weakest and most malefic house in this group because
it's also a moksha and dusthana house. The 11th house is the strongest.
Mutable, Cadent or Apoklima Houses (3, 6, 9, 12) - Keywords:
Adapting to Change. When planets are clustered in these houses they are
in dispersive, unstable, dissolution phase and are able to manage change.
This person will be flexible, adaptable, introspective, sensitive, and
good at assessing and modifying a project. He or she could also be unreliable,
impressionable, insecure, and indecisive. These are the weakest house
placements and relate to the Mutable signs of Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius,
and Pisces. The 12th house is the weakest and most malefic in this group
because it's also a moksha and dusthana house. The 9th house is the strongest.
Summary of House Categories
Here is a list of all the house categories we've covered thus
far in this course. Also included is a description of their basic rules
for chart interpretation:
Angular Houses (kendras) - 1, 4, 7, 10
Trinal Houses (trikonas) - 1, 5, 9
The angular and trinal houses are the most beneficial house placements
for natural benefic planets. If the natural malefic planets
are placed in these houses it could indicate areas of challenge and difficulty.
The angular houses also represent the four quadrants that
are used for basic chart interpretation as discussed in this lesson.
Upachaya Houses - 3, 6, 10, 11
The upachaya houses are the best house placements for the natural
malefic planets. These are also considered "increasing" or "growing"
houses because they get better with time as the person gets older.
Dusthana Houses - 6, 8, 12
The dusthana houses are the three most malefic houses. Both natural
benefic planets and natural malefic planets are harmed when located in
these houses (except the 6th house for malefic planets since it's also
an upachaya house).
Fire (Dharma) Houses - 1, 5, 9
Earth (Artha) Houses - 2, 6, 10
Air (Kama) Houses - 3, 7, 11
Water (Moksha) Houses - 4, 8, 12
These four house groupings are used for basic chart interpretation
as discussed in this lesson. The fire (Dharma) houses 1, 5, 9 are also
called the trinal houses.
Cardinal (Kendra) Houses - 1, 4, 7, 10
Fixed (Panapara) Houses - 2, 5, 8, 11
Mutable (Apoklima) Houses - 3, 6, 9, 12
These three house groupings are
used for basic chart interpretation as discussed in this lesson. The fire
(Dharma) houses 1, 5, 9 are also called the trinal houses.
#6 Exercise – 1st Glance House Interpretation Skills
We will now review the key chart interpretation methods covered
in this lesson. These constitute the first glance house interpretation
skills that should ideally become second nature whenever you study a chart.
1) Your South Indian chart
2) Green and Red
Pen and Paper
The Clusters of Planets in the 4 Quadrants
Begin by locating the angular houses in your chart - 1, 4, 7,
10. Review the quadrants that the angular houses represent:
12th, 1st, 2nd houses - "The Self" Quadrant
6th, 7th, 8th houses - "The Other" Quadrant
9th, 10th, 11th houses - "The Outer Public Life" Quadrant
3rd, 4th, 5th houses - "The Inner Public Life" Quadrant
which quadrant has the largest cluster of planets in your chart. Put a
circle around these planets in your chart as shown in the example chart.
What does this tell you about where you tend to be focused in your life?
In this example, the 1st house is Leo, the 4th house is Scorpio,
the 7th house is Aquarius, and the 10th house is Taurus. The 10th house
quadrant of the "Outer Public Life," consisting of the 9th,
10th, and 11th houses have the largest number of planets clustered. There
are 4 planets - Mercury, Sun, Venus, and Mars, therefore, these planets
The Clusters of Planets in the 4 Elements
Identify the Fire or Dharma houses (1, 5, 9), the Earth or Artha
houses (2, 6, 10), the Air or Kama houses (3, 7, 11), and the Water or
Moksha houses (4, 8, 12) in your chart.
your own table by listing the 9 planets vertically and the 4 house elements
horizontally above them as
shown in the table below.
an X in the column of the
element that each planet is placed in. Count
the totals for each column and circle the highest number(s) as shown.
What does this tell you about yourself? Make a list of qualities.
In this example,
both the Fire (Dharma) houses and the Air (Kama) houses have the most
number of planets with 3 each, and therefore are circled.
Identifying The Clusters of Planets in the
Now, identify the Cardinal, or Kendra
houses (1, 4, 7, 10), the Fixed, or Panapara houses (2, 5, 8, 11), and
the Mutable, or Apoklima houses (3, 6, 9, 12) in your chart.
the same table add 3 more columns for
an X in the column of the
quality that each planet is placed in. Count
the totals for each column and circle the highest number as shown in the
does this tell you about yourself? Make a list of qualities. How do these
qualities compare with the qualities from the previous two exericises?
Do you see any pattern(s) emerging?
In this example, the Cardinal (Kendra) houses have the most number of
planets (4), and therefore is circled.
These exercises of identifying the quadrants, elements, and qualities
of each planet will help train your mind to look for patterns in a chart.
You will find that you get an initial, first glance feel for the chart
which will assist you as you progress to more advanced interpretation
In the following lesson we will be studying the key indications of the
houses based on the fundamental logic that we've discussed in this lesson.
Jai Sri Ram