The 4th house is the place of home and family life. Its natural sign is Cancer and its natural ruler is the Moon. This sphere forms the foundation of life and has a profound influence; it reflects our psychological roots, and not just in a personal sense, but in a way that connects us to our ancestral, national, and even our racial origins.
In a way, it is fitting that family life is found in the 4th, ruled by the Moon – since it has its own, familiar rhythms, cycles and phases and could run on auto-pilot. A family means belonging. A family is people caring about what happens to each other and letting it show. A family is people giving and receiving love. The influence of our family and conditioning that we received while growing up are also the legacy of this realm. Planets here reveal what our early home environment was like, and it determines how we find emotional security, plus our attitude towards nurturing, protection and care. It shows our past, emotional history, and the imprint of our family.
In modern astrology, the 4th is usually held to represent the father, though some argue it has stronger connections to the mother. It is important to remember that placements here describe how the individual experienced a parent, rather than who they were as people. The 4th house describes our need to belong to a tight-knit family, and planets here describe how we find the “home” within. It also signifies how easy or difficult it is to express our innermost needs and feelings. The Sun in the 4th house, for example, may present a struggle because the family background is so influential. The Moon in the 4th needs a place of seclusion, and often psychic sensitivity may be strong. This sphere, in general, is where we do things on the basis of habit, and it describes the emotional atmosphere which surrounds a person.
The term ‘nuclear family’ was first coined to describe the ‘average’ family, consisting of a mother and father and 2.4 children. However, the term is out-of-date now and there are many kinds of family – fatherless households, grandparents led households and adopted children. Whatever the situation, the 4th house is the center for the formation of human relationships. It’s a museum of memories, and our interactions with our family of origin – those who raised us throughout childhood – can influence all areas of our lives in adulthood. In general, it is said that we tend to view families through two lenses: (a) how our own family operates; and (b) how we think other families operate and that we tend to look at other families through rose colored glasses.
The 4th house represents the depths of our soul, and most private self. It’s symbolic of our emotional landscape, moods, the unconscious and imagination. Although much of this is likely to be subliminal, this house nevertheless provides us with our sense of our belonging. This sphere of life represents where to go when we need to withdraw from everyday life and reconnect with our inner selves. It is the place we look for emotional support and sustenance. It shows where we retreat, reflect and refill our emotional well. It provides a kind of shelter from the outside world.
Traditionally the fourth house has to do with “endings”: how we bring matters to a close and it represents our later years when we retire.
The fourth house is traditionally associated with the end of life and with endings in general. The fruit and foliage of the tree fall to the ground and once again nourish its roots. In the same way, on a daily basis, the individual might go out in the world and pursue their career (Tenth) during the day but at night will return to their home and their private life (Fourth). On a lifetime basis, we will have some kind of role in society (Tenth). Often this is a career, but towards the later stages of life we retire (Fourth). Sue Tompkins