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The Third House sometimes seems to be the junk drawer of the chart. It contains odds and ends like short journeys, siblings, and communication. It relates to childhood, the lower mind, and your early education. It's also the house of heresy. It's easy to gloss over the Third House with a few words about the intellect, but that would be a mistake. The real Third House has hidden depths, and considerable practical value.
Cadent House: The Third House is a cadent house. The word "cadent" is derived from the Greek word apoklima, which means "falling" or "decline" and was used to describe these houses in the chart. The cadent houses are the weakest houses because they're the farthest from the angles in the chart.
Prominence: The Third House is a very weak placement in the chart. Planets in the Third House receive a prominence score of +1. It's not an accidental debility, but it's not much of an accidental dignity, either. However, when evaluating prominence, a planet within 5° of the IC and in the same sign as the IC gains the prominence of a Fourth House placement and a score of +4. If a planet is not in the same sign as the IC, but is within 2° of the IC, it also receives the +4 score for prominence.
Relationship: The Third House describes a variety of relationships. It includes your personal relationships with siblings, cousins, and neighbors, as well as your relationships with the people you encounter on a regular basis as you go about your routine, such as your mail carrier or dry cleaner. In a broader sense, the Third House describes your relationship with your habits and routines, and your relationship to your familiar environment. And finally, the Third House describes your personal relationship with whatever name or concept you give to the Creator.
Triggers: Triggers to the Third House affect your routine, habits, and familiar environment. The disruptions are immediate, and personal. Triggers to the Third House can also relate to accidents.
Modern astrology tends to emphasize the communication and lower mind aspects of the Third House, possibly because the Third House has become so closely associated with Gemini, and by extension, Mercury. But it's far more practical when considering the Third House to emphasize the qualities of "near" and "familiar." The Third House is your comfort zone.
The Third House contains all of your habits and routines. It's your neighborhood and your familiar environment. You can be yourself in the Third House. You don't have to be conscious of your choices or your actions because nothing in the Third House is new, unfamiliar, or unexpected. Because of this, triggers and disruptions to the Third House can show up as accidents and injuries — events that could well have been avoided had you been paying better attention.
The Third House is your network, including all of the ways that you communicate across your network. In the modern world, Third House communications include email and text messages along with telephones and written messages. It's notable that in horary astrology, the Third House relates to gossip and rumor.
The relationships contained in the Third House are also familiar and near to you. The Third House represents siblings, cousins, and neighbors, as well as the nodding acquaintances you encounter as you go about your daily routine.
Finally, the Third House has an important connection to your personal, spiritual life, although to understand the context for this, we have to consider the Third House in relationship to the Ninth House. In Hellenistic Astrology, the Ninth House is the house of the God, and the Third House is the house of the Goddess. More recently, the Ninth House became the house of religion, and the Third House became the house of heresy. The polarity describes the difference between the Ninth House dominant religious order, which for thousands of years has been masculine, and the Third House alternative paths to spirituality, which tend to embrace the feminine. In modern life, this plays out when people identify as "spiritual" but not "religious." The Third House relates to your personal spirituality, in contrast to any Ninth House public religious affiliation you may have.
Planets that occupy the Third House take action in your familiar environment. They operate out of habit and routine. These planets may influence how you communicate and how you network and make sense of your world. But most importantly, these planets are reluctant to leave your comfort zone when they express. It's quite challenging to teach these old dogs any new tricks.
The planet that rules your Third House represents your familiar environment and daily routine.
If you have Aries or Scorpio on the cusp of your Third House, Mars, the Archetype of the Warrior is your familiar environment and daily routine. For you, Mars takes on the role of protector and defender of your comfort zone. When anything disrupts your routine or interrupts your preferred modes of communication, you get angry. It's important that you are conscious of how you use that energy. You must respond with power and not react with force.
If you have Taurus or Libra on the cusp of your Third House, Venus, the Archetype of the Beloved is your familiar environment and daily routine. You know that the Beloved is always close by, and you expect to experience your Core Values in your familiar environment. Your relationships with your neighbors and the connections you share with the people you encounter every day are very important to you. When you see the Beloved in everyone you meet, you realize the Beloved lives within you, as well.
If you have Gemini or Virgo on the cusp of your Third House, Mercury, the Archetype of the Storyteller is your familiar environment and daily routine. Your familiar environment is a network, and you need to be plugged in to it at all times. You keep in touch and stay connected and always know what's going on around you. You must be careful not to stray out of "My Business" and get involved in "Other People's Business," however. It's one thing to receive information and file it away, but quite another to repeat it.
If you have Cancer on the cusp of your Third House, the Moon, the Archetype of the Reflection is your familiar environment and daily routine. You look for safety in your daily routine, and any disruptions to your habits or changes in your familiar environment will be especially threatening to you. You may create attachments to your habits and your day-to-day activities, and these attachments will make it difficult for you to step out of your comfort zone. You must learn to see beyond the initial discomfort of change and choose the opportunities that call you to your greatness.
If you have Leo on the cusp of your Third House, the Sun, the Archetype of the Hero is your familiar environment and daily routine. You discover your authentic "Big S" Self in your familiar environment and daily routine. You need to embody and adhere to your Personal Standards of Integrity in the small, unremarkable, mundane areas of your life.
If you have Sagittarius or Pisces on the cusp of your Third House, Jupiter, the Archetype of the Dreamer is your familiar environment and daily routine. You expect to feel free, comfortable, and unfettered in your familiar environment and routine. Your comfort zone is extremely comfortable with remarkably few rules or restrictions. You are able to explore, to create, to grow, and to expand. You nurture your dreams and imagination, and express yourself without fear of failure. However, the comfort and familiarity can become a trap. With no challenges or obstacles to overcome, you can't truly grow.
And if you have Capricorn or Aquarius on the cusp of your Third House, Saturn, the Archetype of the Judge is your familiar environment and daily routine. You experience your judgments, and your need for structure, respect, and authority in your familiar environment and daily routine. You have clear expectations of how things should work and how everyone (yourself included) should behave. When these expectations are not met, you expect there to be consequences.
The Third House only has a close connection with the Ninth House, as they define opposite ends of the spectrum. The Third House is "near" while the Ninth House is "far". The Third House is early education, while the Ninth House is advanced education. The Third House is writing, while the Ninth house is publishing.
In horary astrology, the most common Third House questions fall in the general category of "Is the rumor true?" Horary questions about messages and communication also involve the Third House, although with the modern advances in communication, these questions are quite rare.
However, Third House communication concerns may show up in electional astrology. For example, if you wanted to improve your chances of getting a job interview or of having a manuscript considered by an agent, you would pay close attention to the Third House when choosing the best time to send your message.
In mundane astrology, the third house represents transportation, communication, and trade. It governs schools, newspapers, the postal service, railways, roads, broadcast media, and all forms of information. It also relates to neighboring countries.
Rave Reviews for Principles of Practical Natal Astrology: Talented Astrologer Training Book 1
Mary Plumb, in her review in The Mountain Astrologer says:
“An excellent guide to astrology that is far more than a typical beginner book. Not only is Burk a skilled communicator (who has studied how people learn), he is also a funny, self-revealing fellow with an astute foundation in traditional astrology (and human psychology) … His book is an in-depth presentation that is spaciously formatted with color in the text and in the cartoons, charts, and tables. His knowledge of traditional astrology, informed by modern views of human development, and his obvious gifts as a teacher combine in this most useful training manual.”
Donna Woodwell, M.A., former Board Member of NCGR and ISAR says:
“A masterful step-by-step guide for learning traditional foundations of chart interpretation in a way that’s accessible to the modern astrologer. Brimming with tips and techniques, it’s fun and practical — the perfect addition to anyone’s astrological explorations.”
Find out what everyone’s talking about! Print and digital editions of Principles of Practical Natal Astrology are available here. Plus, you can download sample chapters of the book for free.
Kevin B. Burk is the Headmaster of The Real Astrology Academy. Established in 2013, The Real Astrology Academy provides astrology information, education, and training to astrologers and astrology students around the world. He holds an NCGR-IV Certification in Astrological Counseling, is the author of over a dozen books, including Principles of Practical Natal Astrology: Talented Astrologer Training Book 1, and helps clients around the world through his counseling practice.