The Chart Workshop: House Rulerships

My questions are about planets in houses.

I understand that the sign on the cusp of the house rules the house. But what about the other sign in that house? I’m confused. What if most of that sign falls into the house prior to the one it rules?

Growing up as a kid my mom had my chart done and it was done in Koch calculation. Which had an interception and also put my Virgo stellium in my 9th and I never related to a lot of what I read about me and astrology until a friend turned me on to astro. com 6-7 years ago and my chart came back with everything in my 8th, Placidus calculation, and THAT, THAT I could totally relate to.

So… what is my 8th house? Leo or Virgo? Or both? And what about that 8th house stellium opposing my Pisces Chiron. But again… From what I’ve read about Chiron and from what I have lived, it makes sense that opposition is in my 2nd rather than 3rd even if Pisces rules the 3rd house.

So I have this “big!” opposition but is it 2nd/8th where the planets actually “sit” or 3rd/9th where their rulers are ? And yet the planets themselves are many degrees away from those rulers. But I’m curious to know more about how such things…such energies…work when it’s not so clear-cut…or is it?


First off, the simple answer: yes, planets ‘work’ in the houses they are in, no matter where they fall in that house. This is more important, in terms of immediate impact, than house rulerships. The planet ruling the sign of the cusp rules the house; the second sign involves a secondary ruler, but it’s not as powerful. I usually don’t factor the secondary ruler, because I’m more interested in dispositors, which tell you where the energy of the planet/aspect will spill. I know I say this a lot, but you have to think of the story the planet is telling you. Let’s say a planet is in the late degrees of a sign, but the early degrees of a house. That planet knows a lot about the sign, and has a more developed expression of it, but the planet doesn’t know a lot about the house it’s in–it’s still figuring out that house, it’s unfamiliar with it. This will be even more clear if you follow progressions, which trace the way planets develop.

Placidus birth chart, JoAnna

JoAnna, Placidus

House rulerships come into their own when we want to see where the effect of a natal aspect, transit, or progression will play out. Take, for example, your Venus/Chiron opposition via the Placidus system. The opposition is in 2/8 (which is made slightly stronger because Venus is the natural ruler of the 2nd house, even though you have Aquarius there). The conflict between Venus and Chiron will be about appreciating yourself, and developing your inner resources and self-worth (2nd) and learning show to share them with others (8th). And because Venus rules both your fifth and tenth houses, this conflict will effect both your creative self-expression (5th) and your career/place in the world/external status (10th). The more you resolve this opposition, the more expressive and genuine you will be in both areas. More energy will be freed up for them.

We get even more of the ‘story’ of this aspect (hang in there), when we look at the dispositor of Venus, Mercury in the 9th. Mercury is the dispositor for your entire stellium, giving the stellium a 9th/3rd house influence. The dispositor of a planet acts as a conduit for the energy of that planet. So the Venus conflict (actually the whole stellium, but we’ll stick to Venus), resolved, will directly give a ‘boost’ to Mercury, which will light up the ninth a bit more brightly. It helps that Mercury is in a house it rules (Virgo rules the 9th here). Planets are enhanced when they’re in the houses they rule, no matter what the sign is. Via Placidus, the Sun is also in the house it rules (Leo ruling the 8th), and made stronger by the fact that Pluto is the natural ruler of the eighth. It’s also emphasized because Mars, conjunct the MC, is disposited by Venus. Career/image issues will fuel the Venus/Chiron opposition. Either way, your ‘outer’ self, your external image, is directly effected by the Venus/Chiron opposition.

Don’t worry about not getting this right away. It takes practice, but it’s worthwhile, because you will better understand how aspects will affect you, which will allow you to interact with them more effectively. The aspects won’t seem so random and confusing.

As for the Koch or Placidus question: this is an astrologer’s preference. Over time, we get a ‘feel’ for different house systems. A lot of times, there isn’t much difference between Koch and Placidus charts. Yours is one of the most pronounced differences I’ve seen. I use Placidus, because it seems to give me a picture of how the person experiences him or herself from the inside, along with the way those planetary energies are processed internally. I’ve heard that Koch is better for predictive work, or for a more objective view of the chart, but I haven’t worked with it enough to say for sure. Just as an exercise, you might want to ask your friends if they think you’re more ninth/third house or more 2nd/eighth oriented. You may be surprised.

Koch system, JoAnna chart

JoAnna, Koch house system

Cookbook descriptions can be way off the mark, depending on who writes them. The Koch chart here gives a different perspective on the same phenomenae. Third/ninth conflicts are about an inability to put higher realms of thought and/or philosophy into place in everyday life. We’re always failing ourselves, not living up to our own standards, which can be very painful to our self-esteem. Chiron in the third effects our ability to think clearly and cramps our ability to know and speak our truth. This conflict would filter, via Venus, through the Mercury and the Mars, the same as in Placidus. The interception shown in Koch is actually the key here. The Sun in Koch rules this intercepted sign, Leo. Anything that effects the Sun (Venus, Pluto, Uranus) would cause deep rumblings in the eighth house, particularly as the Sun is conjunct Pluto, the natural ruler. And here, the eighth house Uranus comes into play, as it rules the intercepted sign Aquarius in the second. It’s also the dispositor of Saturn, buried in that intercepted sign in house 2. So, though the discussion would probably be about the way the second house Saturn makes a difficult quincunx to Venus (natural ruler of the 2nd), we still get the 2nd/8th self-esteem issues. You see how Placidus can be a more direct route.

Hope I haven’t thoroughly confused you here. Keep studying. Astrology is a perfect vehicle for someone with a third house Jupiter exactly square the nodes.