The so called houses in astrology have a long and precarious history. The idea of houses is simple - counting from the tip of the ascendant (the degree of the zodiac just rising to the eastern horizon at the time of birth), the sky is divided into twelve imaginary sections. In this sense the houses are just like the signs of the zodiac, the difference being that the houses aren't static. They are aligned with the earth's rotation and make a complete revolution in twenty-four hours. The controversial part of the concept of houses owes much to the fact that there is no general agreement over which system of division to use for best results. Astrologers seem to agree about the significance of the individual houses, although some put less emphasis on the houses than they do on the zodiac signs and aspects.
Still, the problem of house division persists. The easiest solution is to make each house equal in size (like on the picture above) - not surprisingly known as the "equal house system". While intuitively sound, this strategy is astronomically questionable, and quite few practitioners embrace it fully. Other systems of division such as Placidus, Koch and Campanus rely on different criteria for division, sticking more closely to variations of geography and time. Ultimately, its a matter of personal preference - for what seems to work, and for what appears as the most plausible theory of division. In most cases the displacement is relatively small - no widely used house system will place a certain house completely opposite to that of another system.
You should be aware that the houses do not affect planets occupying them in the same way as the zodiac signs. The houses mainly indicate where attitudes, activity and the particular energy represented by the planet is likely to manifest. Houses also acquire meaning through their placement in the zodiac.
The first house represents the immediate self - the projected persona, attitudes and appearances. It also has much to say about health, vitality and the physical body of a person. Planets in the first house show energies that lie close to the skin, manifesting in everyday relating and behaviour. Consequently, having several planets in this house tends to magnify traits like self-importance or self-centeredness. Since it is the ascendant house, the sign on the first house "cusp" reveals a lot about how we express ourselves, as do the planet ruling that sign. Planets strong in someone's first house will feature dominantly in their personality and modify the sign on the ascendant. While the first house relates to outer, external perceptions of the self, it is not merely a house of "surface". It shows important aspects of the individuality.
The second house was traditionally knows as the house of possessions and money. It still is, but the pragmatic meaning of the second house is limiting and should probably include notions about value in a deeper sense. Self-worth seems to be a second house matter, even though all the houses tell us something about what we value. Planets in the second house show how we establish value across many levels, and reveal that this sort of thinking is important to us. Examples might be financial matters, personal and physical resources, values concerning selfhood and priorities. It also shows our attitude towards money and property and whether we seem to attract good fortune in this area. The second house reports what we hold close to our hearts, and what by doing so brings us a sense of security and worthiness.
The third house is a house of cognitive, non-emotional affairs and processes. It is traditionally the house of siblings, communication, learning, short trips, neighbours, speech and small scale interaction It relates primarily to our conscious mind of here and now (or soon), and has something to say about intellectual development in youth and how we seek contact with our surroundings. Planets in the third increase the tendency to move around, both physically and mentally, and is usually a sign of early mental development and ease of learning. Communication in any form is important when focus is on the third house, and will relate to things shown by the planets in question. Some believe the third house is the dwelling place of our "lower", auto-pilot level of mind, and the house that says most about how we experience everyday reality.
The fourth house represents one's "roots" and "home" in a wide sense. It is one of the keys to our inner world, showing where we come from, aspects of our upbringing, childhood and home, parents, social or racial features and "family" as a concept of belonging. Planets in the fourth house are powerful and will have a strong significance for the individual, but the influence they wield is very private and subtle. Sometimes it shows hidden aspects of ourselves or our near surroundings. In this respect the fourth becomes the subconscious, unconscious or non-conscious mind and emotional processes that belong here. As hinted above, the fourth also describes how we try to "belong". Not so much like the act of finding value represented by the sixth house, but rather an open, uncritical need to relate and feel at home. Feelings of nostalgia, security and warmth - or the opposite, depending on sign, rulers and aspects to the fourth house planets.
The fifth house is supposed to be a house of joy and pleasure. It describes aspects of our lives that we do for their own sake and usually not as means to an end. Recreation, play, speculation, amusement, children, gambling, flirting, romance; the list of things related to the fifth house can be made endless. Yet, it is common to summarize the meaning of the fifth as a house of self-expression. It is on this level that we find the potential to expand on our individuality and to create something as a reflection of ourselves. The fifth indicates our willingness to take chances in life, and the particular manner of doing this. Obviously, this could relate to speculation and gambling, but also to love affairs, etc. "Joie de vivre" is a concept sometimes likened with a childish attitude, and the fifth house is an important significator of children. Several planets in the fifth might draw someone to teaching and working with the young, or inspire the release of any kind of creative energy that is stored inside.
The sixth house is a house of work, duties and service. It describes our attitude towards work and things that are deemed "necessary", the little things and obligations that surround us. Clearly, the sixth house seems to be of opposite nature to the fifth. Or at least a house that denies the pleasure-seeking contained in the fifth for the sake of duty or certain needs. While hardly exciting, the sixth is not as glum as it may appear. It simply represents areas and circumstances that has to function for other things to come into realization. The sixth is also strongly connected to matters of sickness and health, nutrition and hygiene. Planets here create a certain professionalism and the awareness of duty or service, sometimes for the common good. The 'workaholic' individual or the one who finds small things important often has a strong sixth house, as do those who are highly concerned with matters of health and everyday functioning.Continue: Houses 7-12