Vedic astrology is essentially the chart of the soul, the soul-contract for this lifetime. It shows what our body will be like, our siblings, our illnesses, our health, our career, our home environment and the influence of others on us, as well as our influence on the world. When we are born, we bring a blessing to our family. The family in turn gives us our nurturance, our love, our strength, and our opportunities to fulfil the soul contract this time. In this reflection, we look to the houses of the birth chart and the spiritual opportunities given therein.
The first house is the house of the body, tanu bhava. The Lord of the 1st House is the Sun, the sun is the alternate significator of the Soul. It is also the significator of personality, and ego. The first house will have subtle indications of our birth, but most importantly, the Lord of the First House tells the most. Where the Lord of the 1st House is found, there are the desires of this lifetime. The Lord of the 1st house tells what we want this time. It is the house of Ahamkara, the tyranny of desires, the wants and battles of possessions of I, Me, Mine. The 1st house is always a significator of Ego. If the Atmakaraka is found here, conjunct the Sun, there all changes; there is little else for the soul to do but to while away the days in contemplation of the Divine. There is no other purpose in life.
Reckoning from the four great goals in life (purusarthas – that is, right living, wealth, desires and moksha, release from the cycle of birth-death-birth-again) the second house is called a house of Wealth. It is the second great goal of life. However, in astrology, the second house signifies the foundation of wealth, that is, our skills, our education, our training, all these needful adjuncts to earning. Spiritually, there are other opportunities to be earned: we may make our day holy, we can sanctify our day, we can begin our day with the Name of the Divine, we can purify ourselves internally when we take the ablutions, we may offer the fruits of our actions to the Divine, the receiver of all things. And at the end of the day we may take self-audit, self-monitoring, and re-purpose ourselves to self regulation and doing better. Thus do we lay a strong foundation of spiritual wealth.
The third house is the repository of inner qualities, especially our courage and valour. It is a house where we face challenges and stress and learn to call upon our inner resources, the spiritual discipline we have developed since ages past. Here is our spiritual character bank, wherein spiritual habits, spiritual discipline, a spiritual foundation to our days gives us inner resources to deal with the ups and downs of life. Disappointments and setbacks can be met by inner discipline.
The fourth house is the house of emotions and ruled by the Moon. The Moon is the presiding deity of the mind, and how we feel in our relations and in our actions is most important. Here also, we have the stability of the home environment, and the Mother and wife the goddess of the home. It is the place of the shrine, the inner temple, the sanctum sanctorum, the Mother Goddess – Mother Mary, Mother Earth (Bhoomi devi), Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswathi, Gayatri Ma and Quan Jin. All these names and forms of the Divine Feminine make their presence here. This is the sign of honouring the wife, the mother, the mother-in-law, the partner as the embodiment of the Feminine, the Mother Goddess.
The Fifth house is the house of spiritual disciplines and training and shaping the mind. Traditionally the fifth house is reckoned as the house of children. We may take this for our metaphor, if we raise the mind like we raise a child, show it the right path with love and guidance, care and attention, discipline and direction then we may by way of mantra, japa, rosary and sacred reading, lay a strong foundation for later in life. It is also reckoned as a house of intelligence, and as human life is time, we may take time to develop spiritual intelligences such as meditation and contemplation.
The sixth house is a malefic house and so filled with the enemies of man, vices, sins, bad habits, personal enemies, and enemies in our own minds (faults from our past). In the sixth house we are also confronted with disease, surgery, operation. The flip side is that with spiritual effort, that is, engaging patience, purity and perseverance, it can be the house of miracles, the house of grace, the house of selfless service. Where one suffers in life, it is best to go and render help, render assistance to those who suffer exactly what it is we suffer. We encounter ourselves in the depths of another’s suffering. Hence, this is a house of healing. Healing has two elements, the suffering and the effort of the devotee or worshipper (the negative pole) and the grace, benefice, boon and healing of the Divine (the positive pole). When negative and positive flow, we get the miracle, the healing.
The seventh house rules our relations in the world; the people we engage with in our personal domains, our business domain, our recreational domain and in our spiritual domain. It is the house of spiritual group activities, engaging selfless service as a member of our spiritual group – serving and responding to needs in the our environs and neighbourhood. It is our place of devotion in our worshipping community (the church, the ashram, the monastery, the monk’s prie-dieu, the community temple, the local shrine). It is also our place of duty. Duty is the soul’s engaging with the world and the people in our life, the fulfilment of the soul contract. Duty is engaging in and completing the soul contract in the relations we have with the people who are in every domain of our lives.
The eighth house is characterised having hidden depths, secrets and labyrinths hidden from everyday view. It is the place of encounter with the divine, messages from the unconscious (dreams), divine intervention in our lives, the death of the ego (the ego has to open the trap door leading down into the darkness of the unconscious in order that we might find ourselves). Hence, it is the Dark Night of the Soul, the seeking of the encounter and presence of the Divine within, the fruit of which is revelation of the Divine within. It is the place of discovery within of sacred and occult knowledge, the engagement with the final frontier.
The ninth house is the house of meeting the preceptor, and meeting the guru. This is the domain of the guru to whom we return at auspicious times in our lives, that we might merit spiritual advance. It is the house of higher studies, philosophy, ethics, morals, and study of sacred scripture. It is the house where the earthly guru grants initiation, diksha, blessing, your mantra or koan.
The tenth house is the house of our personal qualities, our resources, our honour, our good conduct, our character. Character and integrity are told from what other observe we think, say and do. It is here that we give foundation to true humanness, that is, integrity in thought, word and action. It is here that we practice spirituality, our way of being in the world with “what works for me in my personal relation with the Divine” (with whatever name and form we may relate to). It is also the place where we apply discrimination in earning our wealth. (This is earning our wealth properly and not by any form of deceit.)
Some say the Eleventh House is a house of income; others say it is a house of peer relations and friends, acquaintances, siblings, and various forms of wealth. It is indeed a place of peer group spiritual activities wherein we may go on retreats with our spiritual group, we may attend workshops, community prayer, prayer in common, spiritual activity and study in common, bible study, and similar sacred activities. The eleventh house is the house of our spiritual community. One does not gain spiritual advance alone in this world; one gains spiritual advance in interaction, service to the Divine in the other, and self-reflection on our interactions and our reactions. The 11th is a most important house spiritually; we shall see that the anchorite – the solitary monk or recluse – is found in his cell in the 12th house.
The twelfth house is known unto astrologers as the house of deprivation, the house of losses and penance. It is the place of the enclosed monastic cell, the anchorite, the recluse. It is the place of surrender, and encounter with the prison of the ego with its tyranny of “I, Me, Mine” and acquisitiveness. It is the prison of the senses, it is the hospital bed of surrender, it is the remand centre of cutting ties with all our possessions. It is also the discovery of oneness of the Other – and the offering of charitable works to any other is an offering of Love to the inner resident of their hearts AND our own heart.
As the well-known aphorism tells, opportunity knocks and it knocks everywhere, in every place in our lives. There is no place in our lives where the Divine is not found. Thus, the astrology chart provides opportunity to discover and encounter spiritual opportunities in all parts of our lives.