Ascendant, 1st House and the Crisis of Identity

stones1st house, representing “identity,” is the focal point of the 4 Angular (1st, 4th, 7th, 10th) houses.  Poorly defined identity makes one feel awkward in social settings, and can limit career achievement because ambition cannot form on a weak ego.  If you do not have a secure identity, it may feel as if you aren’t quite sure where your place is in society.


Identity Needs to Be Defined Through Tension

The process of identity formation is similar to developing a sculpture: Knocking off chunks of stones from a block of marble to approach a clearly defined shape.   The further the sculptor gets in his work, the more refined his tools become in order to smooth out rough edges.  The process involves a lot of force (or tension) being applied to the block of marble.  

This tension, essential for identity formation, is often defined by challenges.  Your natal chart can reveal what challenges you faced (and perhaps still do) in the process of developing and refining your identity.

How to Assess Tension in the 1st House & Ascendant

The patterns suggesting identity development concerns include the following:

1) The ruler of Ascendant is under high developmental tension (i.e. receives a hard aspect from Mars, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune or Pluto)

2) Hard aspect (conjunction, square, opposition or quindecile) to the Ascendant by the planets mentioned above, or their presence within the 1st house

Interpreting Planets on the Ascendant

If one or more of the above mentioned planets are on your Ascendant, or form a tense aspect to it, you may face following challenges in the process of identity formation:

Mars on the Ascendant suggests that your ego is challenged to grow in assertive, action oriented ways.  Often, physical activities are important to discharge energy.  Courage to display leadership, as well as a certain degree of cooperative attitude, will be necessary in order to avoid the lone-wolf tendency.

Saturn on the Ascendant suggests the need for heavy-lifting in terms of mental attitude, especially when you’re young.  Your identity is strengthened through assuming & meeting responsibility, as well as creating and accomplishing goals.  As you get accustomed to completing challenging projects and making things happen, the heaviness turns into solid self-confidence.

Uranus on the Ascendant suggests intensified ego needs, as well as the desire to somehow make a statement of one’s individuality.  There is something special and intense about you.  Channeled effectively, this energy could help you excel in your field of work.  Otherwise much of the energy might be spent on ego-aggrandizement.

Neptune on the Ascendant suggests ego suppression and bewilderment. Identity formation might have been especially challenging for you, if your special sensitivity was not recognized by your parents.  The self is challenged to grow through the integration of creative vision and aesthetic ideals.  Working with the formless, unseen dimensions of life might be pivotal in your identity development.

Pluto on the Ascendant suggests the ego’s need for assimilating depth and death concerns.  It is said that this position suggests a difficult birth, which might impact the child’s overall attitude toward life and survival.  Identity is empowered through dealing with or uncovering secrets and hidden truths.

Transits and Solar Arc to the Ascendant: Refinement of Identity through Time

As we go through different periods of life, we are continually challenged to develop and refine our identity.  During heavy transit or solar arc to the Ascendant by the planets mentioned in this article, you may want to consider whether you’ve become stagnant in your self image, and explore new activities and directions for growth suggested here.


photo: Peter Allen

The Answer to “When Will I Meet Someone?”

Often it happens that a person who is desperately looking for a relationship thinks that finding a partner will solve his/her problems (“If only I had a good relationship like so and so, I’ll be happy.”)  In terms of 12 houses, the person is looking at his/her 7th house as the problem area.

Upon closer investigation, however, it comes out that the problem lies elsewhere – maybe she feels stuck in a job that doesn’t utilize her potential, but is afraid to pursue a more challenging career, for fear of failure.  That would be a 10th house problem.Keep Reading >>

5th House – Love Given to Others

5th House in Astrology - Love Given to Others (photo)Noel Tyl phrased the 5th-11th house axis as “love given & received from others”.  In this article we’ll look at just the 5th house, which represents how easily we express our love to our children, partner, family and friends.

Planets in or Ruling the 5th House

Planets in the 5th house (or ruling the sign on the cusp of the 5th house) can reveal our natural style of giving love to others.  Keep Reading >>

3rd House in Astrology: How Our Parent’s Attitude Affects Our Mindset

3rd House in Astrology

3rd house represents our mindset.  In this post we’ll explore how our horoscope shows the interconnection between our parents’ attitude and our own mindset.

Our Mindset & Our Parent’s Attitude at Work
3rd house represents our parent’s attitude toward work (3rd house is the derivative 6th of 10th house).  A man who grew up seeing his father working two jobs every day and hating it, realized one day that he was always exhausted working 60-70 hrs a week, working 2 jobs and hating it – just like his father.

Upon exploring this correlation, he realized that his underlying attitude was always that of “No matter how hard I work, what I do is not enough” which resulted in a defeated mindset and working too hard for too little reward, which was what he saw his father do.

By working on reversing this thought pattern (replacing “what I do isn’t enough – I’m not enough” with “I deserve to succeed – I am enough“), he began to value himself – and his talent – more, which resulted in increased sales and self confidence (check out other Helpful Affirmations related to each of the 12 houses.)

Our Mindset & Our Parent’s Hidden Weaknesses
3rd house is the derivative 12th (secret & self-undoing) of the 4th house (home, family, parent.)  Our family’s secrets, as well as hidden self-destructive tendencies of our parents (one or both) deeply shaped our mindset.  It’s quite common to see children adopting disempowering thought patterns from their parents well into adulthood (studies have shown that daughters of depressed mothers have a higher risk of developing depression themselves.)

If one or both of our parents took refuge in escapist behaviors (12th house) such as drinking, overeating or abandonment, we may find ourselves preferring to avoid difficult situations altogether in life, adopting a passive, escapist attitude.

If we saw our parents fail in work or marriage through self destructive behaviors (self-undoing), it’ll be crucial for us to be able to separate their failures from our mindset, so that we do not take on a defeatist attitude.


If the 3rd house is under tension (through planets in or ruling it), it’s worthwhile exploring our parents’ attitude toward work and their hidden weaknesses, and ask ourselves if we’ve unconsciously assimilated their thought patterns and behaviors into our mindset.

Often, realizing the connection between our thought patterns and that of our parents could be powerful enough to initiate the change of mindset for the better.

How does your mindset reflect your parents’ behaviors and attitudes, and does your 3rd house show it in some way?  Did you have to make an effort to develop a more positive mindset? Please feel free to share your experience via email or in the comment section.

Relationship Astrology: The 6th House and How You Work With Others

6th House is a Relationship House

Even though 6th house is known classically as the house of work and service, its experience covers more than just your job or volunteer activity.  As the house hugging the Descendant along with the 7th house, 6th house has much to do with our personal relationships.

Specifically, 6th House represents your dynamic of working together with others.  Regardless of what you do for a living or who you live with, the quality of your natal 6th house will show through in the manner in which you tend to work with others.

6th House in a Marriage or a Partnership

Successfully living together in a home, perhaps raising children, is an undertaking that may come close to running a small business: the couple needs to get organized, divide responsibilities, define goals and keep following up on small details to ensure that everything is in order.  Since it’s often too much for one person to handle all of the tasks, cooperation is essential.

Often, it is an imbalance in this area that builds frustration in a relationship: one partner may feel that the other person is not doing his/her share, and has to be constantly reminded to do what’s necessary.  The level of responsibility may not be divided equally, resulting in one person being exhausted all of the time to keep up with everything.  It could be worse – if both partners cease to take responsibility in doing what’s necessary, then things could spiral down quickly.

Advanced students of astrology know that 6th house is the derivative 12th house of the 7th. So the 12th house dynamic of “self-undoing” could happen in a relationship when the partners fail to cooperate with each other in meeting various responsibilities.

Planets in Natal 6th house: How You Need to Work With Others

Planetary placement in your natal 6th house could represent your unique needs and style in working together with others.

Sun in the 6th house: Working together invigorates you.  Although this will depend on the Sun sign, this position could suggest that you need to assume a leadership position when working with others, or be given enough autonomy and independence so that you can do your own thing.

Moon in the 6th house: This has been called the “workaholic Moon” for a good reason.  However, it’s also useful to think about the importance of cooperative dynamic for someone with this Moon position: She does not want to just work – she wants you to work with her and celebrate the accomplishment together when you’re done.

It’s probably correct that such a person cannot be happy with irresponsible partners that won’t show up to tackle projects with her. 

Mercury in the 6th house: Others you work with may perceive you to be a born communicator.  There is a need to express yourself fully, with skill and knowledge, while working together.

Venus in the 6th house: A need to work harmoniously with others.  This position seems to indicate a natural grace in cooperative relationship.  Depending on the rest of the horoscope, it may also suggest the need to work with others regarding artistic or beautiful things.

Mars in the 6th house: If Mars is under tension, this position could suggest a tendency to express anger or outrage while working with others.  It could be an outrage against injustice, or a drive to protect someone or something that’s weaker than you.  Another expression is that of working together with others in a physically demanding task. 

Jupiter in the 6th house: A need to work with others in an inspiring or uplifting way.  A need to achieve and succeed through cooperation.  Feeling of being capable, an optimism about teamwork.

Saturn in the 6th house: This placement may suggest someone that likes to work alone, or at least with the capacity to work well alone.  There may be a need to work with others in an organized, structured, or experienced manner.

Uranus in the 6th house: A need to work with others doing what you perceive to be significant.  A need to work with unusual, unconventional people or issues.

Neptune in the 6th house: This may suggest cooperating with others in order to help others.  There may be a strong idealism connected to the cooperative relationship.

Pluto in the 6th house: There may be a need to work with others in a deeply insightful way, to bring about meaningful transformation.

Closing Thoughts: Impact to the 7th House
One or more planets being in the 6th house creates a powerful need to be doing something with others, both at work and in close relationships.  Usually, the energy of 6th house cannot be contained by just your personal relationship, and has to be explored as concrete work projects or home improvement plans that you can accomplish.

Failure to fully express the energy in the 6th house could create major frustration in your intimate relationship, since your partner cannot give you the experience of work accomplishment that you should be looking for with others.  So if you feel that there is a call on your life to be doing something significant with others, chances are that you may need to look outside of your primary relationship – and that’s a good thing.

What does your 6th house say about your experience and style in working with others?  How does that impact your primary relationship?  Please feel free to share through email or comment!

(photo: MorBCN @ flickr)

6th House Zen: Practicing For Success

The House of Servant
6th house planets are like zen apprentices practicing to be a master someday. The idea is that service leads to personal growth, and continuous service leads to excellence.

Whereas 10th house may include the glorious experience of career success and public achievement, 6th house activity is more humble in nature, such as:

  • Management of daily tasks
  • Learning how to cooperate with others
  • Working to serve customers or a boss
  • Practicing to improve oneself or one’s performance (e.g. a musician practicing his instrument or a martial artist practicing his forms.)

If you have a planet or two in your natal 6th house, it may be useful to consider your daily work as a “practice” that can make you grow. By faithfully meeting the challenges of daily life, you could be making yourself ready for a new level of development in your career or relationships.

Planets in 6th House: Training to Serve
The condition of your natal 6th house can represent the kind of attitude you might have about daily work and service, as well as the manner of your growth. Whatever planet you have in the 6th house will be your strength that allows you to succeed, after you have some years of practice under your belt.

Here are some examples:

  • Sun or Moon in the 6th house: Identity or emotional needs are tied to your daily work, so much so that you may begin to define yourself through your work (or service). This can lead to excellent quality of work, which is energizing. If out of balance, this could lead to exhaustion through self defeating perfectionism. Look to the Sun or Moon’s sign to see what quality will become your strength later on.
  • Venus in the 6th house: Developing relationship skills through daily work. This may also suggest a pleasant or aesthetically-oriented work environment.
  • Mars in the 6th house: Building strength, courage and competence through daily work (practice.) There could be fights or problematic relationships at work due to clash of egos.
  • Saturn in the 6th house: Developing responsibility and authority through daily work. By working with integrity, more responsibility can be entrusted to you later on.
  • Uranus in the 6th house: Development of individuality through daily work. Progressive co-workers. Possible feeling of alienation at work. Unique ideas or style could become the asset later on.
  • Neptune in the 6th house: Possible feeling of victimization or sacrifice during daily work. Compassionate understanding may develop as time goes on. Another possibility is that creativity reigns in the workplace.
  • Pluto in the 6th house: Development of a deeper perspective through daily work. Possible power struggle in workplace, having to do with controls and intense emotions. There may be a deeply significant reason for wanting to serve others.

The planets in 6th house represents the qualities that you’re developing through daily work and service. Next time you have a difficult day, consider what qualities might be being developed through this challenge. Is there a consistency to the pattern of work challenges? (i.e. do you always have a problem about similar things? Can you do something to change it?)

Do you have a planet in the 6th house? What role does it play in your daily work? How important has it been for your success so far?

Relationship Astrology: 4th – 9th House and Different Kinds of Relationships

The Importance of Relationship

The circle of the horoscope is actually a spiral – each time a transit cycle (e.g. Saturn cycle) is completed and a new cycle begins, you’re on a different level and able to grow further than the last time around. At least that’s how it happens for most of us, as long as we continue to pursue happiness in whatever paths we’ve chosen.

The key ingredient for this spiral growth (or at least one half of it) is our relationship with others. We need others in order to grow, to survive. Without meaningful relationships, it is difficult to get our needs met, and we live without the vital nutrients for personal development.

In our natal chart, at least one half of our horoscope (the Western hemisphere) has to do with relationships with other people. Let’s look at each of the houses in the Western hemisphere to see what needs are being fulfilled through each kind of relationship:

  • 4th house (home, family): In this life area, your need is to experience and provide nourishment, protection, and unconditional support to the closest circle in your life, which you may call a family.
  • 5th house (children, love affair): Through loving your children, romantic partner, or your audience, you get to express your passion, enthusiasm, humor and creativity to others – showing you at your best. You may also be in the receiving end of other people’s passionate interest and creativity.
  • 6th house (work, cooperation): You get to experience self confidence and show/increase your competence through working with others for the common goal, most often in your work. The experience of being taught first-hand by a skillful mentor is also a part of this house.
  • 7th house (partnership): Here you gain self knowledge through the mirror of relationships. There is support and encouragement from others to help you be the best “you” possible. In other words, these are people that “get” you, and vice versa.
  • 8th house (healing): There is a potential to experience deep healing and well being through alternative healing methods or counseling. It’s often about releasing emotional wounds. In turn you may help heal others emotionally or physically.
  • 9th house (higher education, religion, publishing): You get to expand your mind, find life direction, or gain a new worldview through the relationship symbolized here. You may meet a deeply influential spiritual teacher, or a favorite author/professor/scholar that profoundly impact your mindset. In turn you may provide such mind expanding opportunities for others through sharing your knowledge.

A Few Comments On Relationships in Your Natal Chart

Venus in one of the relationship houses imply an important connection (or connections) to be found in that area. A musician may have Venus in 6th house (working together with others to create art), whereas an aspiring yoga student may find her Venus in the 9th house of philosophy, spirituality and internationalism.

Saturn in a relationship house can suggest several things: 1) You tend to be quite self reliant in that area, and experience relative isolation as a result. 2) You tend to attract older or serious (i.e. Saturnian) people in that life area. 3) You’re somehow going to play the role of Saturn, i.e. the wise teacher, in that area for others.

Pluto in a relationship house can suggest profound emotional experience in that life area. A lot of repressed emotions may be brought up as a result of the relationship suggested by the house. Another possibility is that the relationship represented by that house is very intense, emotionally.

If most of the planets fall in the Western (right) side of the horoscope, chances are that too much energy is being given to others, and not enough for your own well being.

If most of the planets are in the Eastern (left) side of the chart, there could be a tendency to defend and withdraw into the self (i.e. too much energy goes to protect the Ascendant), which is another way to be out of balance. You could still link to the relationship houses through the planets’ rulership connections (i.e. which planet rules the 7th house, etc.) and arrive at similar interpretations.

Conclusion: Personal Examples

A difficulty in one or more of the relationship houses will profoundly impact your level of happiness and personal growth. At the same time, these very difficulties may provide the opportunity for you to heal the wounds that you may have been carrying for a long time.

If you feel that some of these houses are not at all activated in your life, but you see planets in it, then that may be a cue to start looking for new connections in that area, or to find ways to be more deeply involved with others. Usually the planet within a house also represents the kind of person you’ll attract.

I have Mercury and Pluto in the 7th house, and naturally I have a life coach (both Plutonian and Mercurial) that I see regularly, which is having a profound impact on my growth (Both planets are in Libra in my chart, which learns better through relationships.) This investment in turn helps me to help others through astrological consultation, in which case I’m using the Mercury-Pluto energy for the sake of others’ benefit.

If you relate strongly to your natal planetary placements in the relationship houses, please feel free to share your experience through emails or comments.

Your Ascendant and Physical Characteristics – Classic Views Shared By Noel Tyl

Different Sun or Ascendant signs usually have different physical characteristics. If a birth time is unknown and the person has a physical characteristic that is not associated with her Sun, Moon or anything else in her horoscope, chances are that it is coming from the Ascendant. This is by no means an exact science, but is very interesting and often works.

Physical and other characteristics traditionally associated with each Ascendant

During the Newark seminar Noel Tyl mentioned the following traditional characteristics associated with each Ascendant (with the caveat that they don’t always work):

Aries rising: Longer and/or pointed jaw*; favors the color red.

Taurus rising: Stocky build.

Gemini rising: Nervous energy – watch for biting of nails, wiggling/tapping of foot (these characteristics can also be observed with strong Uranian energy, e.g. Uranus square Sun.)

Cancer rising: Round face, the pot belly, emotional caring. Color preference: silver and/or white.

Leo rising: Hairline is forward (like Scorpio); grandeur of expression; loves to be in the Sun.

Virgo rising: The distance between the eyes are close together (in order to focus on the minute details, I suppose.)

Libra rising: Carrying a mirror all the time (literally or figuratively); narcissistic look (e.g. John F Kennedy, Bill Clinton.)

Scorpio rising: Hairline is forward; hairy arms.

Sagittarius rising: Large feet; outdoor, rangy look.

Capricorn rising: Oval face, receding hairline. Color preference: black (definitely not pink.)

Aquarius rising: Prominent forehead. Color preference: Sunset color (rust, orange.)

Pisces rising: Dreaminess; wistfulness. Color preference: dark blue.

Conclusion: I have to say I fit quite well with the description for Pisces rising – how about you? Feel free to share through email or comment (or even add your photo for reference!)

* The picture of Bill Cosby (Aries rising) above shows a classic Aries jaw – long and pointed.

Relationship Astrology (4) Ascendant – Descendant Axis and What We Look For in a Partner

I am very happy to have attended Bob Mulligan’s class tonight, on astrology of relationships – Bob was the nicest person you could meet with, and had the kind of self deprecating sense of humor that kept everyone laughing and liking him at the same time.

I’m going to share Bob’s explanations of the polarity of Ascendant – Descendant axis here (with slight paraphrasing and added thought.) As taught in most classic astrology books, Descendant shows what you look for in a partner on a conscious or unconscious level:

Aries rising (Libra Descendant): on a basic level you’re looking for someone that will listen to you and follow you. You need your partner to provide you with options so that you’ll feel balanced.

Taurus rising (Scorpio Descendant) : There is a sense of stability (or attachment to the status quo) here, and on a low level you may be looking for your partner to provide you with some excitement. On a higher level your partner needs to give you the opportunity for you to experience a deeper understanding of yourself and others.

Gemini rising (Sagittarius Descendant): There is a perpetual youth – like curiosity and inquisitiveness here. On a basic level you may be looking for your partner to provide you with an adventure. On a higher level your partner needs to help you see things from a larger perspective.

Cancer rising (Capricorn Descendant): There is a deep need for family oriented security. On a basic level you may be looking for a partner that can take care of you. On a deeper level, you may be looking for someone that can provide you with the structure to create that family you desire in your life.

Leo rising (Aquarius Descendant): On a low level you may be looking for an audience, someone that help you shine. On a higher level, the partner needs to be able to teach you detachment.

Virgo rising (Pisces Descendant): On a low level you may be looking for someone that needs help, or can provide you with a really wacky (weird, transcendent, ‘out there’) experience. On a deeper level your partner needs to be able to give you a vision of the higher reality (perhaps through ideals, spirituality or creativity.)

Libra rising (Aries Descendant): The partner needs to help give you a sense of direction and purpose, for better or worse (you’re who you associate with.)

Scorpio rising (Taurus Descendant): On a low level you’re just looking for someone to hang out with, to make you feel comfortable. On a higher level your partner’s sense of calm may give you the stability that you need.

Sagittarius rising (Gemini Descendant): The partner may be able to help you overcome your shortcomings, through providing you with necessary facts and information.

Capricorn rising (Cancer Descendant): On a low level you may be looking for someone to take care of you emotionally. On a higher level your partner can help you get in touch with the emotional side of you.

Aquarius rising (Leo Descendant): On a low level you may be trying to live through your partner’s accomplishments. On a higher level your partner needs to help you find your sense of personal power.

Pisces rising (Virgo Descendant): On a low level you may keep attracting criticisms from your partner. On a higher level your partner needs to provide you with the necessary discernment to ground your vision.