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What House Rules Sex in Western Astrology?

What House Rules Sex in Western Astrology?

Episode 157 is a solo show where I discuss the tricky question of which of the twelve houses rules sex in western astrology.

This is a problematic question because it turns out that over the past 2000 years western astrologers have assigned sex to three different houses during different eras.

In the Greco-Roman astrological tradition sex was evidently originally assigned to the 7th house, and then later it shifted to the 5th house at some point during the Medieval or Renaissance traditions, before eventually moving again to the 8th house in modern times.

The fact that sex hasn’t always been assigned to the 8th house is a relatively recent revelation due to the recovery and translation of older astrological texts over the past few decades, and it presents an interesting problem in terms of how to resolve the issue.

While astrologers sometimes assume that the shift in the assignment had to do with cultural changes, one of the things I point out in this discussion is that often the shift seems to have been motivated by conceptual changes in how significations were derived from all of the houses. As a result of that, this topic becomes a useful access point for understanding how astrologers developed meanings for all twelve houses in different eras.


A full transcript of this episode is available: Episode 157 transcript

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  • ”This is a problematic question because it turns out that over the past 2000 years western astrologers have assigned sex to three different houses during different eras.”

    It is problematic that people have assigned death to the 8th and gods to the 9th. It is problematic that we fall short of the divine ideals that Hermes and Petosiris left us where angles signify goodness and relatives and that all bad comes from the declines. It is problematic that we go with assignments that make no sense and do now work in practice. Children should be assigned to the 10th house and siblings to the 1st house. Marriage and affairs to the 7th house for every emission weakens man. The west is dry and like autumn right?

    • West is actually moist and like spring according to Ptolemy, nvm. Still Hermes assigned injury and death to 7th and probably had the reasons you mention – setting symbolizing death. I note that Hermeticists and Gnostics were dualistic and did not have very positive views on sex.

      However there is another rationale that could explain those two assignments, being bad and good in one place. The diurnal scheme has it showing old age or death (by some authors like Critodemus who uses the setting bound). I think that it is possible that the wife and the parents assignments do not have to do with the diurnal rotation, but rather other symbolic reasons of roots and the other you mention.

  • Hi Chris,
    I think one cannot reduce the topic of sex to only one house(you allude to this at the end of the show ) for me it is a combination of the fifth and seventh house.
    Regarding the eighth house one can point out that the eighth house is also the fifth house clockwise counted from the twelfth house(12=1 ; 11 = 2 ; 10 =3 ; 9 =4 ; 8 = 5 and so on) I think the eighth house and the association with sex serves a more impersonal purpose. The eighth house wants to preserve the genetics of your lineage . Sex here serves the purpose of the survival of your ancestry. That is my kind current understanding of this topic
    Thanks for the great podcast
    Kind Regards Philipp

  • Great podcast, as always Chris! Thank you!

    You are correct – in Jyotish there are some slight differences in which houses are associated with sex. Here is my understanding of the subject and observations from my practice of almost two decades of reading charts:

    (I have to preface the below statements with the following: I am in NO way saying this is right, MORE right or the ONLY indications within Jyotish, nor is it a statement saying it is right, MORE right or the only answer vs. Western Astrology. I began my studies in Western astrology and have a solid understanding of the western system and really enjoy the differences and the qualities each individual system brings to the table for clients!). Also, within Jyotish, like any other astrological system that I have studied, there are MANY different teachings that will contradict one another. That said…here is my take (Parashara Jyotish)!

    What I have learned and observed is that there are four houses associated with sex in Jyotish:

    The fifth, seventh, eighth, and twelfth houses.

    The fifth house (dharma): Mostly associated with love affairs. The fifth house is the house of children, speculation, games, past life credit, intellect, creativity and amusement. Therefore the angle that this house is more associated with an affair vs. a long term relationship (which can have some amusement but ask ask anyone in a long term relationship, it is more about commitment and hard work than fun and games!). If the fifth lord (or in the fifth house) was associated with the seventh (partnerships) or ninth lords (contracts) that could change the dynamic to a more permanent type of relationship. I think you can see where I am going with this…always the nuances! More love affair-like if the lord of the fifth is associated with or in the twelfth. The fifth house is also third from the third (bhavat bhavam)…the third house being associated with siblings, communication, courage, action and extending oneself socially and charisma. Instead of the twins, the symbol for the third in Jyotish can be seen as a couple.

    The seventh house (kama): The house of relationships, both business and personal, as well as contracts for these indications. It also signifies procreation. The seventh house is also ruled by Venus (Shukra). Shukra is associated with the sperm of the male and the translation of the Sanskrit name also implies this indication. The seventh house also is connected with the external sexual organs for females/males and with the right understanding it can show the level of sexual desire of the native. Saturn the planet of hard work and commitment is also exalted in Libra, the natural seventh house.

    The eighth house (moksha): This house is associated with partners resources (second from the seventh), inheritances, transformation, death, the occult, the hidden/mysterious, longevity. It connects to internal regenerative organs (ovaries/testes) and also the anus. So depending upon the sexual proclivity of the client this house may also need to be considered carefully. It could also be associated with sexual matters with a secretive quality, a la 50 shades of grey, depending again on the condition of the house, the condition of the lord of the house, planets within, etc…

    The twelfth house (moksha): The twelfth house is the house of antya ahi – the end of everything. The last breath (death), the end of the day (sleep), the end of freedom (hospitals/ashrams and prisons) and foreign lands (end of living in land associated with birth). You can see pleasures of the bed from this house….Venus is also exalted in Pisces (the natural 12th house). It is also connected to the sub-conscious mind, issues or ease with sleep and sexual pleasure depending on the condition of the house and lord. Also one can certainly “loose” part of oneself (mentally and physically) to be in sexual union with another. The twelfth house is also most significantly a house of loss. Like a petit mort.

    Alternately the ninth divisional chart (Navamsha) can also be observed for this topic….

    So a little different indication for each of the houses and very subtle nuances depending upon the question at hand. Hope this sheds some light on the eastern perspective, as I understand it. Again I am in no way speaking for all eastern astrologers! Just my view from what I have been taught and observed through sessions with clients.

    Love your podcasts and dialogues that you begin with them – Thank you again Chris!

  • Confession = I did not listen to the full podcast because I find it confusing when so much information is contradictory. I appreciate the nuance the above comment points out. Sex for pleasure, sex for procreation, sex that is love making , sex that is not etc. I find it interesting that the focus is not on Mars and Venus and instead, the houses. Where is the passion in the chart? What is the person drawn by and drawing towards them? To me, H 8 is intimacy of any kind, and House 5 is what gives pleasure. And whatever houses are ruled by Mars and all aspects to Mars should be considered.

  • This is so complex that it is hard to boil things down to certain houses. Sex and sexuality brings in so many factors. That being said, the location and aspects of Venus and Mars could be a good place to start in understanding this topic.

  • So do traditional astrologers have a general 5th house view of sex as “fun” and “procreative”? This strikes me as a very superficial view of the power of sex and I doubt if a Hollywood view of sex is something that unites trad astrologers? I hope not anyway.

    How can sex not belong first and foremost to the 8th? Sex is a path of real power and the most available and healthy means of transformation and therefore crisis and the death of self. it can waken all the sleeping dragons, and like death or birth, it is like going through a tunnel to a new world, very frightening but sort of essential to keeping life alive as it precipitates crisis. The power of deep union and the deep needs it awakens require that we move beyond our Selves i.e. ego death. The French for orgasm is not “le petit mort” by accident. Around important deaths people seek sex with people they would not otherwise consider

    8th = Birth, Death and Regeneration. The 8th is where we really share., our souls and shadows as well as bodily fluids, Capitalism has made it into “shared resources” and “other peoples money”. I prefer to keep a deeper aspect. I think you guys/trad astrologers need 8th house sex education!

  • PS, Good for you, Chris, for starting the discussion. One would expect nothing less of a Saturn-in-Scorpio.

  • A few notes, after hearing some of this and the june forecast episode:
    12’th house – things you do in private, also possibly masturbation, and things you keep secret (often goes hand in hand with sexual topics or activities)
    8th house – things you anguish about which is classic for sexual themes – “I don’t get enough sex” “my sexual needs aren’t met” “don’t want to get caught doing this and that with that person” et cetera
    Also 8th as opposite the 2d house – the 2d as house of the body – the 8th is the 7th from the 2d so presenting the body to others or meeting others with the body
    5th as opposite 11th – 11th as ruling platonic friendships, and 5th as ruling non platonic but also flirting (games) and more lively group activities (or activities with others – as 7th from 11th)
    These are my 2 cents for now.

  • Interesting topic, Brennan. Thank you for this.

    I took down notes as if I’m listening inside a classroom. This is what I’ve listed down as I listened: originally sex was assigned to the 7th House (relationship, marriage) because it’s the sector of life that is opposite the rising (self) therefore refers to one’s relationship with an other; then in the Middle Ages and Reconnaissance to the 5th House (children, pleasure) by virtue of it being the house of joy of Venus; then William Lilly assigned took into consideration which sign rules region of the body (pelvic region, the privates) from Medical Astrology to co-signify(?) the 8th House; finally the first mention of the 8th House signifying sex (the act) was through Alan Leo (20th century).

    Around 1:30:50, you said that one can make the argument that with 8th House preceding the 7th House of relationship and partnership so does intercourse precedes relationship/marriage. We all know that in modern times, this is not the case. Sex could happen before partnership and marriage.

    It’s better for astrologers to get to the truth of this by making a sort of a statistical study using the charts they read, to see which house (5th, 7th, 8th, even 12th) practically best signifies the subject. After all, with the aid of technology, it’s easier now more than ever.

  • Statistical study? Good idea! The only way to keep up with our radical and rapid changes of lifestyle and therefore houses. Surely this should be a fluid part of the chart, constantly open to new influences but with research to back up new ideas.