Home » Astrological houses » The 1st house: To be, or not to be, that is the question

The 1st house: To be, or not to be, that is the question

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” Hamlet: Act 1, Sc. 5

If the 12th house is a watery house, filled with deep insecurities, nameless fears and dreads, and potential for hidden strengths that require one’s lifetime to bring to fruition, the 1st lies in sharp contrast in its focus on the immediate expression of obvious potential. This is the house that forces us to ask ourselves, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And when I am for myself, what am ‘I’?”

The first house is a fire house, traditionally ‘ruled’ by Aries, a forceful, head-butting sign little disposed to asking for permission. Mars here will do what it will, for will is what runs this house. I will to will thy will becomes a mantra only for the most conscious 1st house person, who grows over time to understand that getting what you want isn’t as satisfying as making sure that others are taken care of. Learning how to control and discipline the will becomes the highest-order principle of this house, but first we must find out what else we have to offer others by finding out what it is we’re made of.

The first is the house of me-first self-interest, but let’s not be simplistic now that we’re spreading our legs on a walkabout here in the “first” of the houses. The 1st house has the inordinately difficult task of living out the “I” we must all discover as we go through life. If the chart were comprised of Tarot cards symbolising the self’s journey, this would be the Fool’s house, and the Fool in the Tarot is not a narcissist. If anything, the Fool is an innocent, and innocents are self-absorbed. They can’t help it; or perhaps I should say, “we” can’t help being self-absorbed.

Planets here tell me what it is you’re self-absorbed about, but again, that’s too simplistic. It’s a terrible temptation to be simplistic when it comes to the 1st house, because it’s easy to say “just be,” and much harder to actually do. How easy is it to understand one’s persona, for example? Are we the sum total of everything others think they see in us, or are we one unified ‘self,’ coherent, always ourselves no matter what? If we are shaped by forces outside ourselves, as we shape others, does Pluto in the first mean we were born with a strong, dominant, yet subtle and potentially manipulative personality, or did we learn how to be like that?

Were we born confused about relationships, charming, yet diffuse, if we’ve got Neptune in the 1st? Are we always children born to rejecting parents with Saturn in the 1st? If Moon is posited in the 1st, are we always more sensitive, introverted, and moody in our outward behavior, or is the 1st house a mask we wear, as has been suggested by many astrologers? If it is a mask, that implies we can take it off, yet we can’t do that with any other house; why should this house be any different?

Instead, I believe the 1st house is our doorway into the chart, and ultimately, into our lives. A planet here tells me how you cope with each new experience, since the ascendent represents the horizon at the moment of birth, and as the ‘clock’ of your chart shifts, the initial moments of life are to be found in the 1st. If the astrological chart is a time-keeper, the 1st house indicates the earliest moments of life, but it also symbolises how you will experience everything new now that you’ve been here awhile. If you are the Fool and the chart represents your journey, this house is the first step you take off the ledge—what kind of first step will you take?

With the Sun here, your first step will possibly be bold, daring, unashamed (but only if the Sun is well-aspected). The Sun here reinforces the fire imagery of the 1st house, so try not to incarnate with an airy, watery or earthy sun, because you just mess up the energy. The Sun here has no choice but to express itself, but then, the lifetime’s journey becomes one of defining one’s self, not the easiest task in the world. If you compare what it’s like to have Sun in the 7th, where self-definition is dependent on the Other, then self-definition with Sun in the 1st means no other can be allowed to obscure the view.

The task of the 1st is To Be. A heavily-loaded 1st house is typical for driven people, people who feel they are on a mission, who must simply act. Much of how this works out depends on the nature of the ascendent plus whatever signs might also be included in the 1st house (intercepted houses, for example). A chart with a Mercury/Virgo/Gemini theme will incline the native toward a much more obviously Mercurial expression of self. The native might be a writer, an obvious ‘Mercury’-type profession, but the point of this house is that you can rather easily identify the person ‘as’ something. For those with Neptune here, of course, that might become more problematic; the native might spend their entire lifetime projecting their personality onto others, all the while ‘confused’ about who they ‘are,’ when in fact, they are rather obviously Neptunian.

The goal for the person with 1st house planets might not seem simple to them; after all, they are on the inside, looking out, but to us, it’s pretty obvious that what they’re here to do is to ‘be’ themselves. “But,” you wonder, “aren’t we all here to ‘be’ ourselves?” And the answer is, yes, of course we are, but being ourselves doesn’t become the focus of a lifetime with other houses. The focus of your lifetime will be determined by which houses are most heavily tenanted. Most people have planets spread out across part of the chart; fewer have a focus in one quadrant. The 1st house focus will compel the native to live out their very own path, and yet you’ll frequently find the 1st house person fighting to be themselves and to remain free of others’ definitions.

This is not unlike Aquarius’ journey, but independence and freedom are intellectual concepts for Aquarius in ways dissimilar to the issues of the 1st house. Freedom of thought, action, and self-perception are the lifeblood of the 1st house, and are frequently denied, making the task of a lifetime self-definition. If you are a first house native, or identify yourself as such, and find that you have dominating siblings or family members, just know that this is normal. This is part of your task, to find your way on your terms. How you go about doing that will be indicated by the planet ruling the ascendent, how it’s aspected, and if the planets in your first are allowed expression, or if they’re somehow curtailed.

To truly understand the nature of the first house, which comes ‘first’ by virtue of the hierarchy of Spring’s eternal primacy over darkness, and the coming of the light that conquers the darkness of Winter, I’d suggest reading Hamlet. Hamlet is consumed with the question of self, and asks some very pertinent 1st house-type questions.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” and it is up to the 1st house native to decide how s/he will enact that first step. If you begin by shucking off the guilt of the 12th house, you’ll never let anyone else define your truth for you. That’s step #1, the most important step of all.

8 thoughts on “The 1st house: To be, or not to be, that is the question

    • Much depends on how tight the stellium is, and what is conjunct what, and whether any of the planets involved actually fall (even by a hair’s breadth) in the 12th, or near the ASC. I have seen strong 1st house stellia, and, especially when Mars is involved, the person is usually a force to be reckoned with. But, as always, the entire chart is at issue. Even one large or dominant stellium cannot explain *everything*.

  1. Wonderful site you have here. Beautifully written and highly informative. I’m not sure exactly where to leave this question, but it’s as relevant here as elsewhere.

    So, like the other poster, I’ve got a stellum in my 1st house (born in 89, so there was that that lovely Saturn, Neptune, Uranus triple conj already going around). Venus, Uranus, Saturn, Neptune, and the Sun are present, all in Capricorn, with Venus&Uranus being conj my Sagittarius rising. Venus is also conj with USN. Now, I THINK I’ve started grasping the implications of a stellum in this position (HELLO Charisma!), however, as I was perusing your site today I came across your Nodes series and you finally enlightened me towards that specific factors which had been missing from my equation.

    So to make a longer story shorter, my N. Node is in my 2nd house, under the sign of Pisces (my Moon is also Pisces, but 3rd house, with a rather positive aspect to Saturn IMO).

    Basically, my inclination is that what this implies is that, not only must I find a way to support myself, but it /must/ be through a method in which I’m being “me.” The thing is that when you say to look at Neptune for clues…well…it’s there in that stellum all mixed up with all those other energies (although I’ve come to look at Saturn with a peculiar fondness…)

    Am I on the right track here, maybe?

    Sorry for the wall of text.

    • Hi there, and thanks very much for commenting and reading and even liking the blog. :-) You have the same stellium (different houses) as my daughter, also born in ’89. She also has the Moon there, in Capricorn.

      You know, finding a ‘job’ isn’t really the answer if Neptune is involved. I have Neptune in the 10th; I’ve never had a ‘job’. I think Neptune longs for a proper calling. If you have any interest in working with people who could benefit from your skills (whatever they are) you might consider (going out on a limb here) the Peace Corps (as an example of a Neptunian idea). This is just one of many possibilities. Basically, wherever Neptune is involved, I now tend to think in terms of non-profits. Especially with Sag rising, because that generally tends to incline the person towards overseas work (since Sag rising, which I also have, is fond of believing the grass MUST be greener elsewhere and we’re always on a mission of SOME kind).

      But keep in mind also that the combination you’re dealing with has to do with believing in something. You’re not likely to be happy doing something with your life you don’t believe in. This is why it can be for the best to dedicate your life to helping others, if you can.

      Charisma never hurts in situations where you need to please others to get ahead. :-) But it always reminds me of David Lee Roth and his ‘charasma’. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen that video, but every time I hear the word ‘charisma’ now all I can see is David Lee Roth. LOL. 1st house people usually do have lots of charasma. ;-)

      Here we go; thanks to the modern-day miracle of the Internets, I can show you what I’m talking about:

  2. Thank you for this blog! I appreciate your insight and clarity. Reading astro blogs has an become early morning ritual for me (likely a 1st house response). It is an early morning pleasure to find a new site with great insight and information.
    I am writing wondering about your insight on Chiron in Aquarius (singular) in the first house with a Capricorn ascendant? My chart did not make sense to me until I added Chiron which forms a grand trine with Neptune in the 9th and the Sun in the 6th house that becomes a kite formation with Pluto opposing Chiron in the 7th. It has not been an easy ride…
    I was born in ’58 and have faced subtle pervasive health issues all of my life. I now work for non-profits as a grant writer – mercury is 6 min from my Cancer Sun in the 6th.
    Any insight you can offer would be greatly appreciated!

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