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The Twelve Houses by Howard Sasportas

In this book, Howard Sasportas brings his gifts as a psychologist and an astrologer to understanding the houses of the chart as parts of a greater whole. Rather than simply identifying the third house as siblings or the tenth house as career, he reveals each house in the horoscope to be a stepping stone to the next, with each planet showing a certain evolution in our being as it moves around the chart. “Houses are not separate, isolated, dangling segments of life,” he writes. “They unfold a process of supreme significance – the story of the emergence and development of a human being.”

The sign on the first house cusp is the sign which has emerged from darkness into light just as we make the journey from the darkness of the womb into life in the world. In the first house, we find ourselves as unique, untried human beings, and so the sign on the first house, the planet which rules the first house, and the planets in the first house all reflect not just who we are but how we meet life. This is why transiting planets in the first house often lead us to feel a certain “reset” and a reinvention of the self as we step back into that newly born energy.

We start to build our security in the second house, which includes the nourishment we seek in the early days of life but also our eventual ability to care for and support ourselves. In addition to physical support, Howard Sasportas identifies this as the house of our gifts and talents, “the kinds of inherent faculties and capabilities which we can develop and concretize, and through which we gain a greater sense of self-worth.” In the third house, we connect with our immediate environment, learn language, relate to those around us, and begin to perceive just how things work in the world around us. The deeper lesson of the third house, though, is perception. How we view the environment shapes the way we experience our life. “The way in which we perceive something determines how we will relate to it,” we are reminded.

This houses in this first quadrant of the chart relate, then, to “self-development.” If you have a preponderance of planets in this quadrant of your chart, your purpose in life is concentrated on building a self. As we cross into the fourth house, we enter a new quadrant of the chart which is focused on “self-expression.”

In the fourth house, we become aware of ourselves as members of a tribe. The evolving identity now must assimilate a sense of being from a particular family background and yet, on a deeper level develop a sense of who we are away from the world, deep within ourselves. This rooting into who we are is an important function in the fourth house, and it is a place where we can return when the world overwhelms us.

A keyword to the fifth house experience is “generate,” Howard Sasportas writes. We have built our identity, gathered our gifts, and found our roots, but now what? This evolving identity seeks to be special, to produce something unique to itself, to shine in the sunlight. In this house, we have children, create works of art, and play, enjoying the experience of being alive. As we need to remind ourselves from time to time, “It is the nature of the self to create.” But are these works perfect? Could they be improved upon? These are the questions we explore in the sixth house. Self-expression in this area of the chart lands on the editor’s desk and reminds us of our limitations and “the need for clearer definition.” This is where we bring our lives into balance, tend our health, do our chores, make course corrections and keep our focus on the service we can provide with the strengths, gifts, training and talents we have developed in the previous five houses. And the ultimate goal of the journey through the sixth house, Howard Sasportas instructs, is to become our best selves so that we can contribute to the greater world outside ourselves as we journey through the seventh though the twelfth houses.

The inner work of the first sixth houses becomes a foundation as we now focus on “self-expansion” through the seventh, eighth and ninth houses. In the seventh house, we meet the other. We partner with another for marriage, business, therapy, legal redress, etc., and inevitably encounter aspects of ourselves in the other which we either keep hidden or feel that we somehow lack. “What we are unaware of in ourselves, we invariably attract to us through others,” Howard Sasportas writes. He offers the intriguing suggestion that we examine how much our partner’s chart reflects our own seventh house. And we should also see as our mission with planets in this house to learn to work more cooperatively with others.

Howard Sasporas’ training and experience as a psychologist is at the forefront as he interprets the obscurity of the eighth house. Not just joint resources, the meaning of this house is what happens at the merger of two individuals, as they each give up a part of themselves – and their resources – to become a “we.” This experience of merging with another can bring up deeply repressed issues from our upbringing or past relationships which we project on the other. However, in working through these sometimes “explosive” issues, we learn greater self-mastery and can move forward, “less encumbered by unnecessary baggage.” This process of losing part of ourselves to gain something greater is also indicated by the typical assignment of “death” to the eighth house. An eighth house natal planet or transiting planet can indicate the end of a chapter in one’s life, something that determined our identity previously but now has passed away to make way for a greater awareness or evolved state.

The work of “self-expansion” continues.


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