From a workshop of the same name held in July 2011.
The 4th House of the natal chart is all about the very roots of our
existence, the beginning and end of all things. Our foundation, our home, our
family and ancestry. It is where we find hidden treasure. Never before have we
devoted a whole workshop to just one area of the chart. But in today's workshop
we will be doing just that. And answer the question “Who am I – and where did I
This workshop is not so much about me standing up here and telling you about your chart, it is all about you making sense of your chart.
To start us off, a wee story and I pass this on with her permission . . . Betty emailed me yesterday to say that unfortunately she wouldn't be able to make today's workshop as she needed "to be at home to monitor water leaks into my bedroom...The forecast for today and tomorrow is rain. I have been ‘plagued’ with water leaks for the past few weeks, which have just been fixed, yet now need to be monitored . . . It is unfortunate, as the issue of water leaks in the home – seems to be a recurring theme in my life – is no doubt related to the fourth house."
I replied: "I must admit I had to smile (we astrologers have a strange sense of humour some may think) - you have Leo on your 4th House cusp with its ruler Sun conjunct Neptune in the 6th House. I guess you could read water problems into that one!"
Betty: "Goodness, you are right with your analysis of my sun conjunct Neptune...this would account for the reoccurring theme no matter where I live. Every few years a leak happens somewhere in my home. The worst part is dealing with neighbours who need to be cooperative as the leak travels through their property."
With Leo on the cusp of her 4th house and a Virgo Mars and Uranus in the 4th, I'm not sure that this would be an obvious observation on first reading Betty's chart. It is when you really start looking at the many layers of meaning associated with each house meaning, the sign on the cusp – before even considering any planets in the house – that you start to uncover the secrets, the hidden treasure that is the 4th. And how appropriate that our first example is so very reflective of secrets – Sun conjunct Neptune in Scorpio can't be more descriptive of secrets being revealed, of hidden treasure being uncovered.
But before we go on, let's go back to the very beginning: what exactly is the 4th house?
The 4th house is formed by the intersection of the horizon and the meridian lines:
Medium Coeli (MC) / Midheaven
Sun at Noon
Imum Coeli (IC)
Sun at Midnight
This is the cross that supports us. And the areas of life the
cross touches are referred to as Angular houses. The closest the planets are to
the angles the stronger they are. The points of this structure reflect the Sun’s
position over a 24-hour period: on the eastern horizon at sunrise (the
ascendant), climbing to its highest point or zenith around midday before
descending over the western horizon at sunset (the descendant) completing its
daytime journey. From that point the sun is below the horizon, it travels in
darkness to reach its lowest point in the heavens at midnight, the darkest hour,
to die and then to be reborn, climbing to the ascendant to start a new day.
So it is with this symbolism that we start to appreciate what the 4th house actually represents. It represents death and rebirth, and the circumstances and conditions surrounding us at the end of our life.
The 4th House represents our base, our roots, where we spring from. This is where we get the association with home and family, and ancestry – and clues as to the answer of the question “where do I come from?”
In her book The Houses: Temples of the Sky, Deborah Houlding says (on page 21) “. . .in the Medieval period, [the 4th House] more specifically represented the father, through whom the genealogical line is traced. Generally, it is connected with ancestry, grandparents, family property, ancestral wealth and land. As in Egyptian symbolism, it is the beginning and the end of life, the return to the source, and the final conclusion of any matter.”
But it is primarily that of our early conditioning, our connection with family including both parents and interaction with our parents’ parents and beyond that we’ll be exploring today.
The 4th House is where we feel secure —or where we should feel secure. As the point where the Sun is at the darkest hour, it is where we are most vulnerable.
The 4th House also describes the physical home we build, the bricks and mortar of the house. It is real estate, the land, the crops and plants. Being at the bottom of the chart, it represents the hidden wealth below the surface —the treasures we’ll be seeking, the information we’ll be uncovering in order to understand more about our roots, were we come from, who we are.
So the 4th house plays a huge role is shaping our identity —as does the Sun – but in the 4th we are learning how our connection with family shape our very first sense of who we are, and provides us with a springboard to a life in the big wide world outside those four walls.
. . .
So now let us go on a journey, our embarkation being the sign on the 4th House cusp. Where shall this take us as we explore the hidden meaning and understanding of who we are and where we come from.
Let us now consider:
1. Sign on cusp of 4th House : our attitude to home, parents, and family; our relationship with family; what we seek in order to feel secure.
2. Ruler of sign on cusp of 4th House. This takes you to either another area of the chart (for instance, ruler of the 4th in the 2nd House would indicate that your parents or your early conditioning shaped your values, your association with material assets.
3. What sign is the ruler in? Say you have Taurus on the cusp of the 4th House, ruler Venus is in Aries in the 3rd House. This has a connection with neighbourhood (3rd House). So primarily, the initial interpretation might go something like:
Taurus on 4th: seeks security and comfort, needs a solid base, needs to own/possess the home/land.
4. Ruler of Taurus, Venus, in 3rd House: the neighbourhood plays a part in feeling good about your home (being in the ‘right’ neighbourhood).
5. But Venus is in the sign of Aries. Aries is a go-getting, pioneering kind of influence—trying new places would appeal to this person. Or perhaps, ancestors were of the pioneering spirit.
6. With Venus in Aries, Mars as ruler of Aries now disposits Venus—where does Mars take us? Mars is in the 12th House. OK, so ‘the right’ sort of neighbourhood is important to this person, the 12th House connection means that they also need privacy. The person I am talking about here has always chosen homes that are down long drives, hidden. With the last two homes, the letterbox is not even on the road, you have to be given directions on how to find their house.
7. What about this person’s ancestors. What does Venus in Aries in the 3rd House, Venus ruling the 4th House of ancestors, in the 12th House, say about them? It starts to get a little complicated here. Venus is in detriment in the sign of Aries (the sign opposite to its signs of rulership, Taurus and Libra). So traditionally, Venus is said to be in a debilitated state. So this person’s forefathers were displaced persons, not in a strong position. Venus happens to also rule Libra on the 9th House of overseas travel. So Venus has connection with overseas—but is not in a good position. The dispositor of Venus in Aries is Mars in the 12th. The 12th House is the area dealing with hospitals, incarceration, prisons. So her ancestors came from overseas, but were not in a position they were happy with, and were bound in some way: this is the chart of Linnie, whose maternal ancestors were transported to become the foundation pioneers of a new land.
A rather bizarre interpretation but nonetheless very revealing to Linnie!
Coincidentally, on her father’s side, his parents were immigrants—albeit ones who came to a new land under their own steam, by choice.
But although seen traditionally to be in poor zodiacal state Venus in Aries has a more positive side in the natal chart. Venus is love, and as ruler of Taurus on the 4th House cusp, Venus rules the family influence. Venus’ placement in the 3rd House is about communication and education. Venus in Aries loves to be the pioneer, open to all that is new to learn. From her family connections, Linnie has also inherited a great love of writing, of teaching, and travelling.
And so it goes on . . . the dispositor journey can take you places you never dreamed possible, to understanding all those treasures hidden beneath the surface, hopefully to help answer the question “Who am I and where did I come from?”
But it doesn’t stop there. Planets in the 4th House will add to your life story. The signs they are in, and the houses they rule. In Linnie’s chart she has the Moon in Taurus. Moon rules Cancer—the sign on the 6th House cusp of her chart: she works from home. The Moon represents the ‘homing instinct’ – no matter where she is in the world, there is always a constant pull for her to reconnect with the land of her birth, her roots. Home is always where her sense of security is met. The planet Uranus is also in the 4th House: here we have an indication of someone who goes against the norm, or whose family or ancestors were unique in some way, unconventional. Linnie carried on the ancestral theme of breaking ties with her home country to seek a new home in another country. Uranus is in the sign of Gemini. Mercury rules Gemini and is conjunct Lynne’s ascendant. What more information can we add to her story?
As you can see, the 4th House is indeed a house of hidden treasure. Of understanding, ultimately, who we are and where do we come from. What does your 4th House say about you?
© Carol Squires
The Houses: Temples of the Sky by Deborah Houlding is a wee treasure in itself. Deb explores the very roots of the Houses, their associated myths and connections with early Egyptian, Greek and Roman influences.
Deb’s website www.skyscript.co.uk also provides a wonderful resource for students who are keen to further explore the traditions and roots of Astrology.