Before computers came along, it was was a complex affair to cast an astrology chart. Now, all it takes is access to software, knowing your birth time, day and place of birth to cast your astrological chart. In theory, this should lead to liberation and self empowerment, after all having access to your astrological natal (or progressed or solar return) chart should give you the guidance you need to explore life. Except for one thing... Reading the chart is just as complex as casting a chart, being able to interpret the reading into useful information is an artform as much as a science.
I encourage anyone with an interest in learning astrology to not only cast their chart, but learn at least the basics of the planets, signs and houses to help gain a better understanding of themselves. It also helps you know when you're working with a good astrologer or someone who is claiming to be an astrologer.
When I write posts like the one on Saturn Retrograde, I encourage you to find where the planet in question is transiting (moving through) your chart. Being able to identify the houses in your chart is the first step. If you look at the chart above you will note that there are numbers near the center wheel., those numbers indicate which house is which.
Below you will find a cheat sheet with general interpretations for the houses. Remember, even if you have an "empty house" there is still that part of life happening for you. Houses with lots of celestial bodies in them simply mean that area is more emphasized in your life, especially in your first 30 years of life. By the way there are many many more interpretations for each of the houses, but these are the foundation to start you off.
No one lives life slice by slice of this pie, you are the whole of the chart, and learning to interpret the chart in a synthesized holistic way takes time, practice and dedication. I chose to specialize in the art of interpretation, to me it isn't good enough to just rattle off the astrological data and try to educate you in a 60 or 90 minute reading. When you come to me you are usually concerned about something important in your life. You may be worried about your career path, your partnership or marriage, you might be worried about your living situation or want to know if it's normal to see/hear or experience energy differently than others. You want relevant answers to life's problems not a lot of astro-speak, and yes the answers to your problems and obstacles are seen in the chart/transits as much as the causes.
Cheat Sheet - Houses and their meanings
FIrst House: How you assert yourself. The person people first meet when you're out and about in the world. Your appearance.
Second House: What is important to you, your values, what you love, how you need to have your needs met.
Third House: How you move about your immediate environment. How you communicate. How you interact socially. Your relationship with siblings.
Fourth House: Your early childhood. Home and emotional foundations. What makes you feel secure.
Fifth House: Creative self expression. Risk taking. Children, play, dating, fun, gambling/speculation.
Sixth House: Daily routine. Health. Service to others.
Seventh House: One on one relationships. Contractual relationships: marriage, business partners.
Eighth House: How you benefit/transform from relationship with others. Mysteries and secrets, relationship with death/inheritance and joint resources.
Ninth House: Growth and expansion through higher learning/study. Beliefs/theology, law and professing of beliefs. Long distance travel. Basically anything that expands your mind beyond the environment in which you were raised.
Tenth House: How you relate to or assert authority in the world. Career/Vocation, where or how you wield sovereignty (or not) in the outer world.
Eleventh House: Your social networks, community, wider social associations. How you connect and contribute beyond your social sphere.
Twelfth House: How you suppress or elevate yourself through your subconscious fears or spiritual connection. Subconscious and spirituality. It's where you find yourself in bondage or liberated.