In a continuing endeavor to question what we think we know, we turn our attention to the 4th house.
What we think we know includes the idea that the 4th is about hearth and home, and we align that belief with its ‘modern’ ruler, Cancer, supposedly a home-loving sign. But Cancer is concerned more with security than ‘home,’ per se. The connection between home and security is fraught with difficulty for many people; perhaps it’s more accurate to say that the fantasy we’ve created about the idea of home aligns most neatly with either Vesta’s or Ceres’ myths.
Instead, try thinking of the 4th as a house of inception. As one of the four axes, its complicated role as the Imum Coeli of the chart is the second of the four ‘doorways’ into our perception of reality. If the Ascendent, our 1st house, is the beginning, the dawn, of our chart and of our life, and if linear time has any meaning at all, the next stage on the journey, the time of youth and childhood that is about to shift into adolescence, is represented by the experiences we find in the 4th house, especially when planets affect our IC.
The 4th represents the time of life when we’re still living at home, not yet ready to be out on our own. Our foundation is in the process of being built. Seeds are being planted that will create what we become as adults, and generally speaking, the people that plant those seeds are those around us who influence us the most: mom and dad, parental figures in general, and authority figures like teachers. This includes your beloved aunt or uncle, and, since I’m a liberal, let’s throw in your beloved art teacher Mrs. Cubist who always encouraged your incipient artistic talents, and told you that the red paint you spilled all over the floor resembled a rose.
We hear messages of encouragement during our formative years; think back now on who said those things to you, and what you did with that encouragement. Did you ignore it, did you have help fostering those abilities or talents? Who helped you, who held you back? What planets or points lie in your 4th house? What sign rules the IC in your chart? This is where you’ll find your earliest beginnings indicating who you could become, as well as who you were born to, and who you might have been ‘born to be.’
Aries on the 4th house cusp, for example, might indicate young parents, or parents who were inexperienced or aggressive about parenting in some way. You were raised with Aries-like values; the family story was based on values of pioneering adventure, with the focus on self-reliance and independence. Or perhaps you have Cancer here. Then the focus might have been on staying close to the family, where you were encouraged to continue family traditions. Sagittarius or Aquarius here might indicate a family born and raised in places other than one’s homeland, or families with children raised in two different places during the course of a year. These are all possibilities; there are no rules, of course, only indications. Your story, like your chart, is unique.
Although Hellenistic astrologers saw this as the “bottom” of the chart, indicating all that remains unseen about ourselves, nowadays the common consensus seems to be pushing the 12th house into that role. The Hellenes saw the IC this way because they associated the unseen with Hades, not the happiest of places. I think most people now believe the 8th house belongs to Hades’ realm, since Pluto is a ruler of Scorpio. Also, the 4th, associated as it is with the IC, implies initiation into the next phase of life, and although I know that endings are traditionally associated with this house, I’ve found that the reality of people’s experiences are much more about fragility, vulnerability, and being influenced by others, especially their parents, who have the most power over us at this fragile time of life.
4th house planets, therefore, seem much more fragile because of the association, not with Hades-like darkness, but with the darkness associated with the tender seed lying buried beneath the ground that is about to burst forth into the sunlight. One wants to nurture the seeds that are given to us, either through native talent, or from our teachers, parents, and older siblings or authority figures. People who give to us, who nurture us, who facilitate our growth, can all be found in the 4th house experience, but so can those who prevent us from being everything we could be.
We have a soul within,
Housed in this vase called the body,
The thoughts and beliefs we carry are like the soil
The bulb is planted in.
And like the quality of soil, determine our growth
From limited to limitless!
All of the information to be a free, living, purposeful
Being lies in the roots and bulb of the soul.
No matter how buried they become,
The materials are there,
All encoded and waiting
For the nurturance to manifest what already IS.
Take the bulb from the
Dark dusty bag of history and fear
And plant it in the rich soil
Of your loving thoughts.
Nurture and accept yourself and then watch as you
Break forth, grow and blossom—
In your full GLORY!