This week brings us to the second house in astrology, the house I love to hate.
Part of the reason I struggle with matters of the second house is because I’ve got two things working against me in this matter: the ruler of my second house, Jupiter, is debilitated in Gemini, and the second house itself is afflicted by the presence of an extremely strong Mars in Aries in a day chart. I also have Rahu there in both my Western chart and my Jyotish chart. Yikes.
In the broadest possible sense, the second house deals with our resources, money, and value. By “value” here I mean the matters we regard as a medium of exchange and agency, but more specifically it refers to our relationship with the material resources we need to support our flourishing.
But why the second house, of all places? After all, it’s a little weird for something as “material for human flourishing” to come from a house that can’t even make an aspect to the ascendant. This is where things start to get interesting rapidly.
In the ancient astrological tradition, the second house was often referred to by astrologers as “the Gate of Dis,” or, perhaps more evocatively to modern hearers, “the Gate of Hades.” There was an obvious connection in the minds of early western astrologers between the idea of matters of physical resources and the notion that those materials came out of the ground.
Veins of rich minerals, fresh spring water, fertile soil, everything that human civilization required for flourishing emerges from the earth. And so all matters financial quickly became wedded to all matters chthonic.
And who has charge over that which lies under the earth but the chthonic deities? Dives Pater, Hades, Pluto—in fact, we acknowledge this when we describe someone as a plutocrat, one who rules by virtue of having the biggest bank account. The point here is that all matters necessary for human safety, satiety, and security emerge from the earth, and far too often we drive ourselves to the grave in their pursuit (or on behalf of those who have told us that they are most important).
This requires a beat to consider the astronomy of the second house: any planets or points in the second house are succeeding to the first house as the sphere of heaven rotates through the day. Remember what I said about succedent houses in my first post in this series? That which is moving towards the first house from the second house is coming into being, and in fact, everything that sits on the first house is literally sitting right on top of that which supports it in the second. The second house, for that reason, describes the “foundational materials” of the life that comes to be in the ascendant. So, the ascendant is where those earthly treasures emerge and are put to use.
By the way, the words funds and foundation are etymologically related, both related to the Latin word fundus, which—in addition to “foundation”—also means farm, namely, that place where material resources turn into food. Those of you who took AP Western Civilization will remember that people gathering around farms that produced food is, after all, the backbone of civilization, and it was agricultural societies that developed the practice of astrology in the first place.
I think the more important meaning of the second house for the modern reader is, however, money. This begs some more pointed questions.
What is money, anyway?
As part of my own process as of late I’ve been re-evaluating many of the ideas that I picked up from the atmosphere regarding money: namely that it’s essentially bad and not a subject of conversation in polite company. It’s as though there’s a cultural aversion to money’s chthonic origins (it comes out of Hades, after all!) that’s baked in to the way we approach it, coupled with a general cultural misunderstanding of a saying of Jesus, who did not say “money is the root of all evil;” in fact, the text reads, “money is the root of all kinds of evil,” and furthermore, “you cannot serve both God and wealth.”
Decrying money seems to be a favorite pastime of millennials, anyway (and for good reason, considering the mess we inherited following the 2008 financial crisis). It’s also not very woke of us to pursue financial abundance, is it? We’ve been sold the idea that accumulating money from other people deprives them of resources that they need.
Yes, in a wage society our labor is undervalued and exploited, that’s not an item of discussion. But I would like to posit the idea that money itself, as a means of exchange of value, is fundamentally morally neutral; it is rather what we do with the money that we have, and how we go about accessing it, that engenders good or evil in our approach to the same.
Instead of looking at it as a necessary evil, I’ve made the conscious choice in recent months to work with a more neutral, perhaps even positive, view of money. At its simplest level, money is a means of exchanging value. But the definition I’m working with is this: money is a symbol of agency that facilitates change. Money, as a symbol, both represents change-facilitating agency and facilitates change itself.
If that definition doesn’t land for you, think about how you feel when you get a larger-than-expected tax refund and all the ideas you have because of that extra cash.
Indeed, for you to have access to money in the modern world is tantamount to having access to farmland or a mineral vein or a spring in the ancient world: you have agency. You have some means by which you can improve your own circumstances and the circumstances of those who depend upon you. What you choose to do with that agency is where things can go amiss: I’m of the opinion that abundance multiplies in its sharing, and that in doing so we’ll find that there is indeed always enough to go around.
The second house, in view of all of this, relates to our funds and our foundations: the peculiar veins of wealth that we have access to in this life. I contend that we all have access to something, even if that something is limited in terms of quantity and accessibility. Supposing that we think of the second house as a vein of resources, we can begin to interpret it like this:
If the second house and its ruler are in good condition, that vein of resources is right near the surface and easy to access, and there’s always plenty available.
If the second house and its ruler are in rougher shape, that vein of resources is further under the surface and requires more work to access, and there might not be as much there in terms of flow.
Another thing to keep in mind here is that indicators of plenty and scarcity in the chart are culturally landlocked. Someone who makes $17,000 a year in the United States is living at the poverty level, no question. But if you’ll excuse the extreme example, someone who makes $17,000 a year in Haiti is unquestionably a person of means and access within that context, considering the median annual income is $350.
(Hey, France: pay Haiti reparations.)
Moreover, it’s better to understand wealth indicators in relationship to the second house as indicators of fabulous wealth, far and above the average income for a person’s culture. Likewise, poverty indicators are primarily interpreted in the extreme opposite direction.
So, the person who makes a low five figures in Haiti might have the Moon and Venus in Pisces both applying to Jupiter in Cancer with the 2nd house cusp falling in Cancer, which would be a strong indication of fabulous wealth from a person’s endeavors. Contextualize that chart somewhere else, like the States, and we’re probably looking at a billionaire. This is how matters of wealth are treated in the astrological tradition.
How does that impact me?
What about us average folks, without either wealth or poverty indicators in our charts? That’s the bulk of us, to be quite honest. For us, we’ll be looking at the second house to describe our relationship with money and possessions, how we go about getting it, and what we choose to invest our resources in. I’ll also add as a joiner here that we can use “resources” in a broader sense to refer to our emotional energy, our time, our availability—anything we can invest, anything we own.
The planet ruling the second house describes, in part, our overall angle of approach to our resources. Saturn tends towards discretion, Jupiter towards generosity, Mars towards pursuit, the Sun towards extravagance, Venus towards sharing, Mercury towards managing, and the Moon towards gathering. As always, the condition of the planet determines how well that planet can go about doing its job. Assessing planetary condition is another blog post series… in fact, it’s an entire book (one which you would do well to get if you haven’t already).
Meanwhile, the placement of that planet by house locates the peculiar veins of resources we have access to throughout our life and livelihood, and the areas in which we choose to make our most significant investments of finance, time, and intention—namely, the places we value most. This is determined also in part by the second house ruler.
For example, say that your second house cusp falls in Cancer. This makes the Moon the planet which has most say over your finances and therefore your collecting and investing of resources serves a peculiar emotional security function, for the Moon’s nature is to gather, hold, and seek belonging. Let’s then say that you have the Moon in Virgo in the fourth house. This means that your approach to finances will drive you to gather, hold, utilize your finances to seek belonging in a scrupulous, careful fashion that applies sound judgment to financial management, living out similar sorts of patterns that your parents demonstrated to you. “Bad with money” is probably not a descriptor for you.
Another example: your second house cusp falls in Libra, making Venus the ruler of your second house, and Venus is placed in Aries in your 8th house in your nativity. This suggests that your default approach to finances is one of sharing what you have with other people with whom you’re in close relationship in an effort to broker peace and to win their affection through what you can offer them, to the detriment of your bottom line (remember that the 8th house is the other money house).
Let’s nuance this second example. Say that you also have Saturn in Libra, who is in very good shape there. Saturn’s nature isn’t one of surplus; his nature is of sufficiency. Namely, his concern is that you have precisely what you need when you need it; no more, no less. He sees Venus over in Aries and reins her in: stop trying so hard to pay for the affections of others.
Another way you might experience this is as a transit—say you’ve got that Venus in Aries in the eighth situation happening, but Saturn is currently transiting your second house. The opposition of transiting Saturn to your natal Venus will create a situation that forces you to come to the uncomfortable realization that trying to buy people’s affection is a dead end.
So we’ve got a basic structure to work with here:
The planet ruling the 2nd house describes your basic style of engagement with financial matters. The house where the planet is located describes both the location of that golden vein of resources, and where you’ll invest the resources that you do have. Another way to say this is that your resources get tied up in the affairs of whichever house the second ruler falls in.
As always, the nature and condition of the planet ruling the second house describes the nature and condition of your resources; meanwhile, if you have any planets in the second, their nature and condition describe the peculiar demands that are placed on your resources by other influences, and whether those demands generate ease or hardship.
So where is your vein of gold?
- Second house ruler in the first house: my resources are in my own hands and I invest my energies and funds in myself. If my second house ruler is in good condition, I have everything I need; if my second house ruler is in poor condition, chasing after enough becomes a major plot point for me.
- Second house ruler in the second house: my resources are precisely where they should be and can be uncovered and multiplied through how I manage, spend, save, and invest what I already have. Because the second ruler is likely in the sign it rules, there’s a solid chance that my base financial status is one of ease.
- Second house ruler in the third house: my resources are found in my own zip code, within the day-to-day activities of life, “tasky” stuff, routines, the exercise of word and mind, and in daily exchanges. I might also get money from siblings, relatives, or neighbors.
- Second house ruler in the fourth house: my resources are in the hands of my parents or the legacy that they left. If my second ruler is in good condition here, it’s probable that my parents have helped me out quite a bit. If that second ruler is in bad condition here, chances are that money is a continual pinch point between me and my parents. Another meaning of this placement is resources being found in real estate or the land (or sea, if the fourth house cusp falls in a water sign).
- Second house ruler in the fifth house: my resources are bound up in my creative endeavors, what I make, and the ways in which I enjoy myself. The second ruler in poor condition here can indicate overspending on luxuries.
- Second house ruler in the sixth house: I’ve got to work for what I have. My resources come to me through concerted effort, discipline, and diligence, and money isn’t necessarily “fun” for me as much as it is a stark necessity. This could also signify finding resources in the medical field, or receiving money from AD&D insurance payments (that’s a niche delineation!)
- Second house ruler in the seventh house: my resources are found in partnership, marriage, contract, or enmity. Again, condition and nature of the 2nd ruler: Mars in Aries here ruling the 2nd might describe an arms dealer; Venus in Pisces here ruling the 2nd might suggest marrying for money.
- Second house ruler in the eighth house: my resources are found among other people’s money, and chances are I make a cut or income from judicious management of investments. Problem is, there’s a solid chance that my 2nd ruler is in detriment here, and so my money will always be a problem that needs to be solved rather than something that flows out from and into my pockets with ease.
- Second house ruler in the ninth house: my resources are found among faraway places and people, through mass communications, teaching, religion, or philosophy. I’ll have to go looking for it, most likely (especially because there’s a good chance that, in the 9th house, the 2nd house ruler is in aversion to the 2nd).
- Second house ruler in the tenth house: my resources drive my career here, and one of my driving professional goals is financial security. I likely work as a leader with influence over financial matters in my setting and the 2nd ruler is a powerful overall storyteller in my chart.
- Second house ruler in the eleventh house: my resources can be found among my friends, groups, and associations; I give freely and freely I receive, holding things in common. My network is as important as my bank account. (A niche interpretation: I live on a kibbutz and we hold everything in common!)
- Second house ruler in the twelfth house: my resources are frequently a pain point in my life and it requires a lot of effort to get the engine to turn over financially. The best outcomes from me financially come from diligent saving and prudent use of resources, and I might be able to access money in unusual ways from dealing in hidden matters or working with people who are involved in 12th house situations (patients, prisoners, those in recovery).
Remember, this is just a start: there’s plenty more that can be said about getting your financial house in order! If you want to do a deep dive, I’d love to work with you to identify the vein of resources in your life and help you develop a strategy to earn, save, and give more than you thought possible.
Featured image by Sharon McCutcheon via Unsplash