I knew that as soon as we approached the subject of the fifth house I’d be wading into the treacherous waters of a slowly roiling controversy among astrologers, especially those on the Internet.
Somewhere in the development of the modern psychological approach to astrology, matters related to sex got assigned to the eighth house. There’s a strong case that can be made if we are approaching this from the Freudian framework that conceptually joins sex and death. Of course, the French euphemism la petite mort immediately comes to mind.
I’m one of the holdouts that insists on sexuality belonging to the fifth house. I wanted to rip that bandage off at the beginning, because I think there’s a solid reason for that peculiar topic to take its rightful place in the fifth along the other matters that fall within the gilded halls of the fifth house.
Remember that the houses either take the bulk of their meanings from their astronomical characteristics, as is the case with the four angles as well as the second and eighth houses, or from the significations of the planets that have their “joys” there. When a planet is in the house in which it rejoices, it’s a little bit happier. All other factors being equal, it at least gets to be involved in something it actually enjoys instead of being stuck managing something it has no interest in.
Deborah Houlding’s book Houses: Temples of the Sky (affiliate link ahoy) compiles and interprets historical sources on the origin and nature of planetary joys, which is a fabulous discussion of the subject in addition to being The Book on houses. Likewise, astrologer Chris Brennan wrote a wonderful article exploring the influence of the planetary joys in house rulership throughout the astrological tradition. I don’t want to go too far into the weeds here as to why planets rejoice to be in the houses that they do; just remember that this is where the bulk of house meanings get drawn from prior to 1900 AD. Those resources are the ones you want to have on hand if you decide to do a deep dive into this subject.
When we come to interpreting the fifth house in astrology, it’s best to know that we’re dealing with three primary elements that import their influence into the meaning of this house. These influences inform the questions that we need to ask here.
First off, this house is the joy of Venus. In fact, most of the meanings of the fifth house emerge from this influence alone. To get there, let’s consider the nature of the planet Venus to begin with.
Venus and Mars both represent interior, intuitive, nocturnal influences that cause us to move and to act in accordance with instinctual nature. This is because they’re part of the night team, the “nocturnal sect” of planets that operate on a subconscious level. Together, Venus and Mars form a polarity of energies that we see manifest in our behaviors and pursuits: while Mars’ function is to drive us (which we will explore more next week when we address the sixth house), Venus’ function is to draw us.
In her bid to join and harmonize us with one another and with the natural world, Venus inflames the hearts of humans with a desire to merge. Consider the last time that you’ve been absolutely captivated by something of tremendous natural beauty, whether a sunset, or a landscape, or a flower, or a birdsong, or a flavor, or perhaps even another human. The intoxicating factor here is the Venus principle at work.
Aesthetic beauty has the peculiar property of drawing us to it. Throughout history humans have made attempts to imitate and replicate this beauty with their own hands, skill, and intellect, crafting art to reflect reality in rarefied, idealized form. Aesthetic beauty isn’t the only thing that draws us; writ large, the principle here is pleasure. Anything that pleases our senses has the ability to draw us to it quite apart from our intentions or better judgment at times. Venus, then, has rulership over anything that brings sensory pleasure to us and draws us out of ourselves into richer engagement and union with the world of matter.
None of the senses are immune from her inexorable draw: sight, taste, touch, hearing, and smell all are susceptible to Venus’ indolent vacuum. The simplest reason for sex belonging to the fifth house is due to the sheer fact that it’s a pleasurable experience (or at least it’s supposed to be; I know this is tragically not the case for many). For the bulk of human history, sex was the sine qua non of having children, and so naturally children and pregnancy also belong to matters of the fifth house. Venus, of course, is conducive to life and is implicated in cycles of fertility—which reminds me, have you bought Nicola Smuts-Allsop’s game-changing book on fertility astrology yet? (It’s an affiliate link, Harry.)
But along with sex and sexuality come all the other sensory pleasures: flavors and aromas, colors and forms, harmonies and melodies that transfix us and give us a taste of the transcendent beauty of the world in material form (remember that the fifth house is also configured to the ninth house by trine as much as it is configured to the first). For that reason, any activity, person, or environment where these drawing elements are placed at the fore belongs to fifth house.
Second, the fifth house is referred to as the house of Good Fortune. There’s a reason that gambling is addictive: just as one can become addicted to any kind of sensory pleasure that draws us, one can also become addicted to the emotional thrill of inviting good fortune into our lives. “You have to play to win,” says the person who buys scratch-off tickets by the dozen. So the fifth house, then, rules games and any activity that joins us to Fortune, and any happy accidents that happen along the way.
(By the way, if you have the Moon applying to Jupiter in Cancer with the Part of Fortune all in the fifth house, playing the lottery might not be the worst decision for you—but your mileage may vary.)
Third, the fifth house is configured to the first house by trine. Astrologer Sam Reynolds explains this configuration makes the fifth house the house of “swagger.” The flowing partnership between the first and the fifth creates a space for the energies of the first house to express themselves.
Note too that this is a superior trine from the first: planets in the first have a direct impact on anything happening in the fifth and determine the outcomes here. Joined to the aesthetic sensibilities of Venus, there’s a strong case for this house and its ruler being implicated in a person’s style and self-expression through their aesthetic choices, dress, preferences, and performance. Child-bearing is also a natural part of this narrative: what’s more “expressing yourself” than making another human who looks like you?
How to interpret the fifth house in astrology
When it comes to interpreting the fifth house in astrology, we of course need to begin with the ruler of the fifth house to determine which area of life the person’s tastes and desirous factors work themselves out in. Likewise, we also need to determine how the planets placed within the fifth house express themselves.
SOAPBOX ALERT: I have, in my relatively brief time practicing professionally, encountered more than one client who has been told that they will not have children because they have no planets in the fifth house. This is patently wrong, and I will happily die on this hill. This approach to delineation ignores the fact that the fifth ruler might be wildly well-placed.
For example, say we have the fifth house cusp in Pisces in a day chart with nothing in the fifth, making Jupiter the ruler of the fifth (and very likely Venus as the almuten). Jupiter in this case is in Taurus in the seventh, with the Sun and Venus applying to Jupiter by sextile from Cancer in the 9th. If someone with a chart like this came into my practice and asked whether they would have kids, I’d have to ask them how many they already had.
That said, if Mars or Saturn were implicated somehow by hard aspect in this configuration, I’d expect there to be some difficulties depending on where they are afflicting Jupiter or any of the other planets involved from. Say Saturn were in an overcoming square to Venus from Aries in this same example, the issue might not be the native at all, but it might have to do with the fertility of their partner and we’d need to explore some medical interventions to help that out (since Saturn is in the sixth).
The most important thing to do in these instances, I’ve found, is not to pronounce an interpretation with finality one way or another but investigate all the factors that need to be considered and work with the client to discern solutions that they might not otherwise consider.
All that said, here’s a series of questions that we need to ask in analyzing the fifth house.
- What is the individual’s relationship with pleasure, fun, and aesthetic sensibilities?
- How can they bring more joie de vivre into their daily experience?
- What is the impact of the native’s creations and creativity in this life?
- How will the native’s creativity express itself naturally?
Taking the same example from above, we have Jupiter in Taurus in the seventh house as the fifth ruler, supported wonderfully by sextiles from the Sun and Venus in Cancer the ninth, not otherwise afflicted. In this instance, the native’s creative work will be wondrously fertile, their aesthetics are richly Venusian and tend towards the comfortable and classically elegant. Their creative priorities are pulled towards engagement one-on-one with other people. There’ll be a natural pull of this person to do creative work that renders physical objects that beautify their surroundings, and there’s a strong chance that this individual will become a parent, or otherwise have children as a significant part of their life if they choose not to have children of their own.
Since the fifth house is so multifaceted and expresses so much to do with style, attending to the sign in which the fifth ruler is placed is especially important. Signs determine the style in which planets express themselves. That said, by looking at the house position of the fifth ruler, we can determine what life priorities attune a person’s aesthetic compass. Is it a “beauty will save the world” situation? Or is someone’s draw the sensual allure of history? Of romance? Of death? Of their hometown?
Interpreting the fifth house ruler through the houses
- Fifth house ruler in the first house: that which draws you is you, in the most basic way of phrasing it. Aesthetic sensibilities, pleasure, and creative output have their hand on the wheel in this case and form one of the guiding principles through which you live out your life narrative.
- Fifth house ruler in the second house: pleasure-seeking activities and creative output are tied to your bank account and understanding the role they play in your life becomes important in improving your overall financial portfolio. These aspects of life function as a resource in your back pocket, if you nurture them well.
- Fifth house ruler in the third house: the joy of gathering together with your local community and the beauty of everyday pleasures are important influences for you to nurture.
- Fifth house ruler in the fourth house: the allure of history, legend, inheritance, and the land itself draws you to it and desires expression. Your tastes are likely strongly aligned with those of your family, for better or for worse.
- Fifth house ruler in the fifth house: creation for its own sake is a crucial plotline in your life. If your fifth ruler is in its own sign, you can expect, in general, quite a bit of ease in enjoying anything to which you’re drawn.
- Fifth house ruler in the sixth house: creativity is a labor for you, and chances are that your tastes are aggressively pragmatic. Anything requiring discipline and habitual effort becomes, in its own strange way, fun for you.
- Fifth house ruler in the seventh house: there is a certain pleasure you derive from engaging one on one with other humans. If there’s any placement that signifies bids to win people over (or settle arguments) through an appeal to beauty—entrancing your beloved with art in their honor, or holding a stereo up outside their window—it’s probably this one.
- Fifth house ruler in the eighth house: art must change you, if it doesn’t terrify you. Every opportunity to engage with a creative act has the opportunity to draw you into deeper engagement with the cycles of life and death. Sex can be a fearsome thing (in both the positive and negative connotations of that word). And, you might just really dislike being around children.
- Fifth house ruler in the ninth house: creativity, performance, and pleasure for you are windows into the sacred and the transcendent, and the connection to Dostoyevsky’s position is stronger for you than most.
- Fifth house ruler in the tenth house: aesthetics aren’t just an extracurricular activity for you. Creative work, pleasure, or any of the other fifth house factors are part and parcel of the impact you make in the world as you live your life, and can become a career story for you as well.
- Fifth house ruler in the eleventh house: chances are if this is the case, your fifth ruler is in detriment, and you’ll be investing a lot of effort into drawing a community of friends around you to meet whichever sensual and social needs are going unmet throughout your life. Used well, this impulse can be tremendously beneficial for your friends and audiences.
- Fifth house ruler in the twelfth house: the darkened glass of the unconscious and the forgotten areas of life become rich fodder for your bids at self-expression.
The final point on the fifth house I need to make is this: fun is not frivolous. The deeply utilitarian nature of most modern economic discourse is, in my humble opinion, a load of bullsh*t. I believe, body and soul, that aesthetic beauty and enjoyment of sensual pleasure, as well as the process of creativity, is wholly a holy end unto itself and does not need to be placed in the service of some “higher” priority.
Just because something belongs to the realm of “fun and games” does not mean it can be dispensed with; a soulful and purposeful life depends on nurturing the Venus principle within us. Understanding the matters she rejoices in are critical to the thriving of our souls.
Dostoyevsky was right: beauty will save the world.
(In related news, my fifth ruler Mercury is in the eighth house, ninth sign, in Libra.)
Where’s your fifth ruler at? How does your fifth house ruler influence your tastes and your approach to creativity, enjoyment, fun, sensuality, and the rest of it all? Let me know in the comments!
Featured image by Yutacar via Unsplash