About the Moon: House and Sign

Dear Fellow Traveler:

One week ago today, I sent out an assignment, suggesting that if you’re into astrology it’s a good idea to know the house and sign of your Moon. With the Sun (and a recent solar eclipse) in Cancer, I thought this was an appropriate time to get you started. Many people are participating in a discussion page on the topic. [Note that Tuesdays we run monthly horoscopes when available. Today’s edition is a bit more elaborate than I usually do on an off-horoscope Tuesday — this article took on a life of its own, and our Moon Experiment is turning into a fun adventure.]

Frankish castle at Aliveri, Evia. The image brightness is improved with an extra-overexposed shot. Photo by Chris Kotsiopoulos.

Why know your Moon information? It’s as influential as your Sun, though often in subtler, more introverted ways. Knowing your Moon will help you understand yourself, help you observe your emotional tendencies, and working with the information will help you get more out of astrology. Depending on how you relate to it, your Moon sign can represent what feels like a ‘true self’ or inner core reality. It can represent the self that was familiar to you as a child, and which was overpowered by the more public aspect of who you are that is described by the Sun. The Moon can describe a diversity of emotional themes and insecurities that you experience inwardly and rarely reveal to others. And it can reveal what motivates you based on your deepest inner needs. So obviously it’s good to know this information.

The Moon also tells us something about the chart native’s mother, and her influence on our lives. Mother and father contribute equally half of our DNA, but mother’s body is where we are gestated. She is the first voice we hear and the first face we see. Many of us are nursed by mother, and spend most of our time with her during the first two years of life. Therefore she shapes our personality profoundly. The Moon’s house, sign and aspects describe this process, and also describe something about the mother’s life. The wise astrology student treads this territory carefully, and fills in the chart with as much information from the client as possible.

Let’s start with the basics: defining our terms. Even more basic: here is a key to the astrological symbols you might see in these charts. They are not coded by color; this is a black and white table.

The Moon Sign. This is the sign of the zodiac where the Moon is at the time of your birth. The Moon moves through a sign in about two to two-and-a-half days, depending on the speed it’s traveling. The speed depends on how close the Moon is to the Earth. When it’s close (perigee), it moves through the signs faster, and when it’s far (apogee), it moves through the signs slower. You don’t always need your time of birth to know your Moon sign, but if it comes up near the beginning or the end of a sign, the time becomes more critical. The Moon sign describes your personality style, the kind of kid you were, your approach to your feelings, the quality of energy you run through your body, and describes the cyclical tidal current of your emotions.

The Moon’s House. The house placement describes how and where you tend to express the energy of your Moon. The sign is more of an inner reality that others can notice; the house is more about what you do, how you express yourself, where you hang out, and where you are comfortable. Houses often address physical locations, settings and scenarios. The house the Moon is in depends on your time of birth, sometimes (such as when the Moon is in an angular house) down to the minute. The house, as a physical thing, tells us where the Moon is in relationship to the Earth’s rotation: is it high in the sky? Is it on the horizon? Is it directly below? The Moon’s house changes 12 times a day, which is why you need to know your time.

Fill in the blanks and you have all 12 houses. House 1 is always on the left side of the chart, below the horizon line. The ones in color are the sexually-oriented houses — though all houses have some suggestion of relationship and creativity. Chart by Eric and Sarah.

To combine the house and sign takes some study, observation and imagination. It takes seeing the Moon, the sign and the house in the context of one another. Then you factor in the aspects. This is why one of those database ‘custom printouts’ cannot actually read your chart. It takes a human being to see these layers in the context of one another. To do the basic math, first you consider the sign and house separately. This is part thinking, part feeling.

Then you make up a story about how they go together, using tangible examples of expression. Symbols stand for something else; we are here to find out what they stand for. If you look at your own chart you might see the connections right away, though these placements will gradually give up their secrets for years and years.

I don’t have a ready-made guide to the Moon through the signs, though those are easy to find and not entirely dependable. Make sure you look up many descriptions of your placements. Don’t let anyone traumatize you by telling you how boring or weird you supposedly are.

What I do have are two different guides to the houses: one that addresses the houses generically, and another that looks at the houses as an expression of sexuality. This one also has a map so you know which house is which.

Note, the houses and the signs overlap in a pattern unique to each chart. The numbers around the outermost wheel are the location of the house cusp within the sign. There are 30 degrees per sign and any one of them can land on any house cusp. Note also that the house cusps are fuzzy, while the signs are distinct. When a planet or point gets near a cusp (which happens often), it will take on the properties of the next house, or combine the influences of two houses. The example charts will make this a little more obvious. See if you can follow my thought process.

Let’s start with The Artist (formerly known as Prince, or Prince, formerly known as The Artist formerly known as Prince). Below is the section of his chart that contains the Moon. His Moon is in early Pisces and the 4th house. Note that the 4th house is one of four angular houses — that is, it’s extra prominent. Those houses are the 1st (identity), the 4th (home/security), the 7th (partnerships) and the 10th (career/reputation).

Prince’s Moon is in Pisces and also in the 4th house. To see the sign, you look at the glyph right near the planet in question; the numbers tell you where in the sign the planet is located. In this case, the Moon is at the beginning of Pisces, indicated by its low number on a scale of 0 to 29. Above and to the left, Mars is on the Aries Point, on the 5th house cusp.

You can tell it’s early Pisces because the Moon’s number is low — just under two degrees. Pisces Moon says artist (if you can handle the flowy energy, muster some discipline and not spend your whole life spaced out on drugs, drink and fantasy). It also says sensitive, feminine, imaginative, introverted, mamma’s boy, subtle, isolated. Now when we put that in a house, we get a place: at home. From the 4th house we get some specific themes: security, dependency, family, old-fashioned, oriented on the past. This boy is extremely sensitive: I cannot imagine a more sensitive lunar placement.

Notice that with Chiron having visited Pisces briefly, Prince is back in the news with a new album, (and his ridiculous assertion that the Internet is ‘over’). Chiron is crossing back and forth over his 4th house cusp and his Moon, which seems to have the effect of waking The Artist in him from sleep mode.

Note how his natal Pisces 4th house Moon describes his inner self (homebody, quiet guy) rather than the one he projected early in his career (wild freaky sex guy), which was more like Mars exactly on the Aries Point in the 5th house (Mars is the first red glyph to the upper right of his Moon, with Eris above and to the left, and then a lunar point called Black Moon Lilith above that — as you might have guessed, a complex sexuality and relationship to women that strives to dance with and embrace the dark feminine). The 5th has a lot to do with sex and partying, but at heart, The Artist is a homebody who would rather hang out with his dogs. According to Wikipedia he is not only a Jehovah’s Witness but also one who goes out knocking on doors, visiting people at home. Perhaps this is a little weird, but not when you’re as insecure as he is. After all, according to the Witnesses, only 144,000 people get to go to heaven.

Neil Armstrong is someone who stands out in the history of our country, of science and of exploration. Indeed, he was the first human that we know of to set foot on another planet. Note that his famous quote when making that footprint in the dust was actually, “One small step for a man. One giant leap for mankind.” He was a little nervous and dropped the ‘a’.

The Moon in Neil Armstrong’s chart is conjunct the Galactic Core, for which there is no glyph. You just know that anything at about 26 Sagittarius is aligned with the core.

It makes sense that he has a Sagittarius Moon: these people are optimistic, they like to roam far and wide and they love adventure. There is a pioneering quality to this Moon. It’s fiery and doesn’t like to hear about limits. Note that it’s in an exact conjunction to the Galactic Center, suggesting that Armstrong had an actual spiritual role representing humanity as the commander of our first truly off-planet expedition. The GC is located at about 26 degrees of Sagittarius, and its presence colors that whole sign and all our mythology about it. For example, Sagittarius is about foreign cultures, vast distances and faraway places. We think of it as being unworldly or spiritual. These ideas long predate the discovery of the Galactic Core in the early 1930s.

Neil’s Moon is in the 8th house, which is edgy and daring. The 8th is the house of death and transformation, so it’s always on the brink of something different, exciting and potentially dangerous. Indeed, some 8th house Moon people are addicted to crisis. The 8th addresses collective property, so it’s interesting that he claimed the Moon on behalf of the United States. This Moon has an affinity for death and the affairs of the dead, and would not necessarily be particularly scared — hence he could command a ship that was going on an extremely dangerous mission. His lunar house placement helps explain how he was able to drop The Eagle down on the lunar surface, making many spot decisions in the midst of a computer crisis, with 25 seconds of fuel left, and live to tell the story. Trivia question: what sign was the Moon in, at the time Neil set foot on its surface?

Thomas Edison perfected the invention of the light bulb; then he developed all the apparatus that was needed to power the thing (with some help from Tesla); and was the founder of Edison Electric, which became GE — one of the world’s most powerful, persistent, annoying corporations. Edison had the Moon in Capricorn, which is absolutely perfect about 10 different ways.

Like many inventors and inventions, Edison had plenty in Aquarius, which you can see on the right side of the chart (Mercury, Sun, Neptune). He was part visionary, part delusional and part frustrated. On the left side of this figure you can see the Capricorn alignment: Mars, Juno, Moon and centaur Pholus. The combination of Moon-Pholus in Capricorn says small cause, big effect, specifically in business — that was Thomas Edison.

These people have a way of commanding respect, if they can rise above their own emotions for long enough. This is a somber, serious, even depressive Moon with a knack for survival and a love of tradition. Michael Lutin once told me that if there was ever a nuclear war, he would shack up with someone with a Capricorn Moon. Leave it to GE to provide guidance systems for nuclear missiles, because it’s good business (or it was, during the Cold War). That Cap Moon makes it easy for Edison to slip into a corporate mentality. But these individuals also make good revolutionaries because they can dial in the revolutionary tradition.

In the 3rd house, he has a lot of ideas and focuses them on business. With Juno conjunct his Moon, he was married to his ideas — and there was a certain austerity in that marriage. He had a bit of a narrow mind. But notice how those planets are on the Aries Point (from Capricorn). He has literally impacted every person on Earth many times over, whether you count the light bulb, or the concentrated pollutants that GE has introduced to the ecosystem, which are in the cells of every animal. The Sun-Mercury-Neptune conjunction in Edison’s chart speaks volumes about GE’s inability to tell the truth on any matter for which it has responsibility.

Edison recently got some coverage in Time magazine. One observation that comes through the articles is that Edison was great at inventing things but not so clever at sensing their wider application. For example, he was convinced the early phonograph was destined to be an office dictation machine (completely focused on office/business, in stereotypical Capricorn style). He let his competitors beat him with its use for music, in part because he hated most popular music and thought it a waste of time. As for his early moving pictures: he was convinced that his little one-person peepshow-style viewing device was the way to sell the experience to people, not projecting onto big screens for mass audiences. In frustration his head engineer working on the moving pictures projects left to work for several of Edison’s rivals in Southern California, thereby helping to birth Hollywood.

He had dogged determination (Mars, the Moon and other planets in Capricorn), but was often mistaken in where the inventions were most suited/could have the biggest profits, especially where it ended up being entertainment. Except for one thing: his thoughts about private viewing devices turn out to be a century or more ahead of their times. He could be talking about an iPod or iPhone.

Pearl S. Buck or Sai Zhenzhu was one of the most successful and influential writers of the 20th century. She was the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, suggesting her extraordinary place in history. To do this you would need some very strong energy running, which we find in a Moon-Venus conjunction in the sign Cancer. Note, she also has the Sun and Mercury in that sign — and an odd little hypothetical point called Transpluto that gives extremely potent focusing power.

Pearl Buck had Venus and the Moon conjunct on the 5th house cusp, which we would count as part 4th house and mostly 5th house. The cusps are not firm lines, though they look like they are. As noted by William Lilly, a house cusp is sensitive for at least five degrees before the actual line. Here, the Moon and Venus are working together right in that zone. Way to the left, notice the extremely rare Neptune-Pluto conjunction (in Gemini).

That Cancer Moon and all those other Cancer planets and points give us a picture of her deep emotional commitment to the topics she wrote about.

According to Wikipedia, “In 1949, outraged that existing adoption services considered Asian and mixed-race children unadoptable, Pearl established Welcome House, Inc., the first international, interracial adoption agency.” She wrote on a diverse variety of topics including women’s rights in Asian cultures, immigration, adoption, missionary work and war.

We find the experience of the whole planet as her home in her Cancer Moon and we find her daring creative drive in the 5th house placement. She wrote dozens of novels and nonfiction books, which gives a clue to the creative mojo of the 5th house and in particular the 5th house Moon.

Last and certainly not least, we have Rachel Maddow, the first openly lesbian Rhodes scholar, and the first openly lesbian prime time news anchor. We’ve seen her chart before in a recent edition of Planet Waves Astrology News. Here is another example of the Pisces Moon, which you can see in her soft, sweet demeanor, her commitment to service and her diverse mind. She prefers to live in an isolated part of the country (rural Massachusetts), where she moved so that she could get her work done. This theme of isolation often comes with strong Pisces.

Rachel has the Moon in Pisces on the 3rd house cusp. It’s conjunct Mercury in Pisces in the 3rd house; the conjunction suggests that her intuition and her mind are working closely together. She has the kind of mind that knows the truth, then has to go back and document it.

Note that the Moon is conjunct Mercury, which makes her a natural, intuitive communicator. Emphasizing this point is that the Moon is in her 3rd house, of ideas and communications. Let this dispel any idea that the Moon in Pisces cannot focus or that Mercury in Pisces cannot write. Rachel is about 100 times more sensitive and intuitive than she lets on — indeed, there is little distinction between her intuition and her intellect, but she is able to navigate both effectively.

These few examples give you a sense of how to work with the layers of information. There is plenty more that would come out of a detailed study of the Moon’s aspects, and it always helps to have a sense of who the person’s mother is or was, because this will be reflected in the Moon’s placement. How to read this is a tricky call, and it reveals how many layers a single point can work on: though the Moon has a lot of different meanings. The way to work this is to consider the Moon’s placement irrespective of any other concept; just think about how it might describe the chart native’s mother. Try this with your chart and see if it works.

Let’s keep the conversation going on the discussion page, and see where we go from here.

Yours & truly,

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