While all of the Houses, and for that matter your entire natal chart, are obviously also about you, the First House is literally about you, where other Houses are more about the various areas of your life. The cusp of the First House is your Ascendant, or rising sign, which indicates the way in which others perceive you. As a general rule, you will exhibit the traits of any sign(s) that are ruled by planets in your First House. So, for instance, let’s say you have the Sun in your First House. The Sun rules the sign of Leo; therefore, you’re going to exhibit Lion characteristics such as pride, a love of the limelight, and generosity. Furthermore, any First House planet whose placement is within 10 degrees of the Ascendant will amplify the traits of the sign(s) which are ruled by those planets.
But suppose you don’t have any planets in your First House. After all, there are Twelve Houses and just ten planets (in astrology, the Sun and Moon are considered to be planets), so there are always going to be at least two empty Houses in a chart. So what does it mean for the life areas represented by those vacant Houses?
In an empty First House, meaning without any planets, asteroids, or nodes, this could indicate that the focus of the individual isn’t really on what this House represents: egos, first impressions, appearances. It can also mean that they are somewhat lost or aimless when it comes to those particular aspects of their life. Perhaps they are confused about who they really are. In any event, when a House is empty, it can still be interpreted by examining the ruling sign of that particular House. The ruling sign of the First House is the Ascendant. Whatever the Ascendant is, the qualities associated with that sign will shed some light on the native’s approach to issues that are associated with the First House.
To illustrate, let’s assume we’re looking at a chart with an empty First House and the individual’s Ascendant is Aries. Well, we all know that some typical Ram characteristics are impatience, a desire to be the leader, and stubbornness. Again, because the First House represents the self, the ego, etc, Arien qualities will tend to manifest relative to the First House’s theme of self, giving others the impression of someone who is very “me, me, me” and who will be very defensive of anything affecting the ego; for instance, they might stubbornly defend something about which they are criticized (constructively or otherwise), even if they are well aware, deep down, that the offending party has a valid point.
Next we would take a look at the House placement of Aries’ ruling planet and find its position in the chart. Mars is the ruler of the Ram, so let’s say we find Mars in the Fifth House of Creativity. This means that the First House’s ruler (Mars) is placed in the Fifth House, therefore the First and the Fifth Houses are connected. In this faux scenario, this might indicate that the ego (First House) is of particular importance when undertaking creative pursuits, a competitive streak, and definitely indicates a need to win. It could also infer that this person is a sore loser.
Sun in the First House
This is someone who insists on being the center of attention. They have formidable willpower and determination, tend to come on rather strong, and strive to take control of any given situation. Sometimes a person with this Sun placement is actually quite self-conscious, which seems counterintuitive to what we would expect to see in someone with the spotlight-craving Sun in the House of Self…but when this is the case, the individual is very adept at concealing their insecurities and putting on a confident face. Alternatively, a Sun in the First House can cause the native to develop a sometimes unhealthy obsession with their appearance. This is an innovative person with the uncanny knack for recognizing and seizing opportunities, usually turning them into successful ventures.
Moon in the First House
The Moon, which is also the ruler of the water sign of Cancer, is an ultra-sensitive, emotional planet that, when located in the First House, gives us a person who wears their heart on their sleeve. This is someone whose moods can ebb and flow like the tides, which can cause difficulties in close relationships, particularly because of an innate tendency to knee-jerk reactions and emotional outbursts. This one is easily wounded emotionally, often taking offense where none was intended. Emotions tend to cloud their judgment and govern their decision-making, and try as they might to hide this hypersensitivity, they simply can’t do it. This person needs a partner with whom they feel safe and secure in opening up and sharing their innermost feelings in order to find fulfillment in relationships.
Mercury in the First House
Chatty Mercury in the First House gives us a person who is upbeat and enthusiastic in their manner of communication. This is an individual who loves to talk…so much, in fact, that they have a tendency to dominate conversations and energetically dart from topic to topic. Many times, even when they appear to be listening attentively to someone, they’re actually silently planning and rehearsing what they’re going to say next. The native is open-minded with the admirable ability to effortlessly adapt to a wide variety of different people and situations. This is a curious individual whose first reactions are more cerebral than emotional. An Aquarian girlfriend of mine has this Mercury placement and this, combined with my own talkative Gemini-Air weighted chart, means that more often than not, we find ourselves immersed in lively discussions…with each of us simultaneously talking over the other.
Venus in the First House
This position of Venus, planet of love, beauty, and pleasure, often results in an extremely personable, attractive individual to whom others seem to be magnetically drawn. They have a deep need to be liked and appreciated, and this can sometimes express itself by appearing phony and/or superficial. If the native feels they are not liked by someone, they frequently resort to passive-aggressive behavior toward those against whom they harbor resentment. A person with this Venus placement craves love and affection and needs to have a romantic partner, and sometimes they’ll stay in a relationship with someone with whom they are not truly happy because “it’s better than having no one.” A master of the art of persuasion and charm, this one rarely has trouble winning others to their cause.
Mars in the First House
Mars — which rules the sign of Aries, giving the native the characteristics of the Ram — is the planet of aggression and assertiveness, and someone with a Mars placement in the First House is a dynamic, tightly-wound individual who often comes on quite strong, perhaps even overbearing and controlling. This person embarks on new projects with unprecedented enthusiasm, only to quickly lose interest and spontaneously jump onboard the next adventure that catches their restless eye. They are easily distracted, very independent, and often straightforward, speaking without thinking, thus causing hurt feelings, but this is usually without any intended malice; it’s just that their mouths move too fast for their brains to edit what comes out. This is a person who needs excitement and probably professes to abhor drama…but subconsciously has a need for it, and if they feel there isn’t enough excitement in their life, they will often — again, subconsciously — manufacture the very drama they claim to detest.
Jupiter in the First House
Jupiter rules the sign of Sagittarius, so a person with this placement will exhibit the personality traits of an Archer. This means the native is someone whose glass is always half-full, has unbelievably good luck, and a bluntness and over-honesty that can get them in trouble with the shocking, sometimes offensive things that spew from their mouths. A First House Jupiter native can easily fall into the trap of relying too much on their luck, finding themselves in some pretty sticky situations as a result. Because Jupiter is also the planet of abundance, someone with this placement sometimes struggle with weight gain. They are drawn to travel, particularly overseas, and have an overwhelming desire to see the world. The individual usually has strong moral convictions and are often perceived as being very “by the book.” However, they can also come across as conceited or egotistical.
…Sagittarius HAS to be the sign of good luck. If it weren’t, everyone with a Sagittarius Sun sign, or rising sign, or Jupiter in the First House would be murdered before the age of ten for saying outrageous things. ~ Astrologer Bob Marks
Saturn in the First House
Saturn, the ruling planet of Capricorn, imposes limitations and obstacles in our lives and gives the native qualities of the Goat. When its placement is in the First House, this translates to a person who tends to have a natural frown or stern facial expression, giving others the impression that they are in deep, serious contemplation. They’re probably often told, sometimes by complete strangers, to “cheer up!” which the native finds puzzling because they are in a perfectly fine mood. This is a person who takes responsibility for others very seriously and will frequently put their own needs on the back burner in order to avoid the guilt and anxiety to which they are prone if they –gasp! — dare to put their own needs first once in a while. A First House Saturn is brutally self-critical and it would serve them well to learn to relax a bit and talk to themselves the way they would talk to a good friend if they were in their situation. The native has difficulty turning down requests for help and learning that it’s really okay to say no can be a lifelong lesson.
Uranus in the First House
Uranus rules the sign of Aquarius, which is easily the most eccentric, unconventional sign of the zodiac. In the First House of Self, its influence gives us an individual who loves to be different for the sake of being different and is quite proud of their usually unorthodox perspectives. This is a humanitarian who dreams of a Utopian society where everyone is happy and content. A First House Uranus person probably dresses a little differently than others and if this one makes plans with you, they are notorious for being late, canceling, rescheduling, or making some other change. Your lesson if you have a First House Uranus in your life is to expect the unexpected and to realize that the only thing that is ever 100 percent certain with them is change. The native treasures their freedom in every sense of the word and will make a beeline for the nearest exit the second they begin to feel trapped or tied down in any way. But this individual, with all their eccentricities, is one of the best friends you could ever hope to have, as they value their friendships like no other.
Neptune in the First House
Neptune’s influence on an individual is an avoidance of reality, seeing only what they want to see. It’s the planet of illusions and dreams. They wear the rose-colored glasses of which I often speak, due to my own Neptune-ruled Pisces Ascendant. When Neptune’s placement is in the First House, others will probably see a sensitive, creative, poetic individual, and as one who seems to have their head in the clouds. It’s interesting to note that a First House Neptune is often perceived differently by different people, as the native often changes appearance or demeanor in an almost chameleon-esque fashion. People are intrigued by this person and are easily drawn to them. Pity parties are commonplace with this individual. They tend to absorb the problems of others as if they are their own, and this person is predisposed to struggles with drug and/or alcohol abuse (to escape reality as mentioned above) as well as depressive disorders and suicidal ideations. It’s important to note that I did not state that this individual will abuse drugs or alcohol, suffer from depression, or commit suicide; I simply stated that they are predisposed to these behaviors.
Pluto in the First House
The personal influence of Pluto, planet of change, in the First House is expressed in an air of intensity which others immediately pick up on and are intrigued by. The first impression others receive of this person is usually of someone who is somewhat intimidating yet very secretive. The fear of rejection is strong here and even if you think you’re 007, do not make the foolish mistake of trying to deceive this individual as they will quickly and easily see through your dishonesty, almost intuitively, as if they can read your mind. Suspicious by nature, a First House Pluto will relentlessly pursue the truth, researching, tirelessly digging for information, and they are dyed-in-the-wool experts at it. The native’s first reaction to a situation is to often become defensive and to attempt to uncover any perceived or actual ulterior motives on the part of others. This is not a trusting individual, to say the least.