Metaphysics of the First House

I have often heard that the First House is the house of self....I would rather call it "house of incarnated personality". What's the difference between self and personality?

It seems to me that the ultimate being at the core of everyone, human, plant, animal and even mineral... is no other than the unique universal being, the Great Spirit, the Universe, Allah, the One or whatever you call It... Now, this ONE is dreaming many characters, one of these creatures is you, another is me…

There are two dimensions to these divine characters we are, a self which looks like how God dreamed us, perfect, beautiful and empty like a temple, and the incarnated personality, which is the self wrapped up in a heavy body of flesh and bones, inhabited by instincts, ancestral memories and weighted by karma.... the personality is our self - or soul - trying to express itself in the flesh, but not really succeeding yet...


It's a work of clay in progress. It's a process of self creation.

This is how I understand self and personality. If the words I'm using have different meanings for you, I hope it won't stop you from seeing the picture. Words are but conventions.

We are Russian dolls. The smallest one at the centre is the eternal same one for everyone. Surrounding it is our soul, made up of many layers like an onion….

The first house is the biggest Russian Doll. It is the house of our incarnated identity. It is the surface of our being, but it's not "just superficial", because it is an expression of what's inside.

Etymologically, expression means "pressing out" and to exist means “to be outside”. The personality is expressed. The creator is at the centre.

We usually associate self expression with the Sun and the fifth house. The Sun symbolises what is inside seeking expression. The first house is how Self is expressed by our very existence. This includes the appearance of our physical body, plus our most spontaneous attitudes and behaviours.

In the fifth house, we seek to enhance this self expression. We want to become more who we really are. Therefore we create, make children, perform, paint, sing, we let our "inner child" play around, fall in love...

There are more than just three Russian Dolls actually - I mentioned God, the soul and the incarnated personality. Actually, clairvoyants describe many layers in our auras.

The physical body, seen by clairvoyants is the smallest one at the centre of wider and more subtle auric bodies, but in the Russian dolls analogy things work the other way round, because our ordinary way to perceive reality is to see the material world as being outside, and we feel the psychic and spiritual dimensions as being inside. At the centre the heart.

We are going about in the world, and we meet other biggest Russian dolls. Sometimes what we see is what we get, and sometimes we can’t guess what's inside. A limit of my metaphor is that the Russian dolls we know are all the same. The biggest one looks just like the smaller ones inside.

In our reality, the challenge of manifesting in the material world is that no expression is perfect. Matter is slow and heavy. Things get a bit blurred and distorted in the process, unless we are saints, enlightened masters or someone like that with a golden halo around the big doll.

To express our spiritual selves is a fight against density, which is Mars' job. Mars is the natural ruler of the first house. Aries, the ram, the sign ruled by Mars, is the symbol of the struggle for expression (pushing out) of the spiritual being at the centre. Sacrificing a ram to God may mean nothing but making the effort….

All the other houses will be nothing but a series of footnotes to this first!

Now, the ego is the idea we have about who we are but the first house is our personality, Others can see it better than we do.


We can't get off our bike to look at how we push on the pedals. We can't look at our eyes looking. Our appearance is a blind spot. We need others as mirrors, and this is what the 7th house, which is just opposite the first is about.

The First House is the house through which everything comes up. Our behaviour shows, our inner life is partially shown. Our face shows, our feelings and intentions are partially shown. Our persona shows, what we really are is more or less shown. Our body shows, our soul is imperfectly expressed. We should believe appearances - if only we knew how to read them, without being blinded by projections and prejudices.

The Ascendant and the first house also work the other way round: we see the world and others through it, like through tinted glasses. If our Ascendant is pink, the world is pink. We all have a tendency to believe that others think or feel like us haven't we?

(You don't like onions? How come? I LOVE onions!...)

Let me add a level of complexity to the metaphor of the Russian Dolls. Imagine that all the dolls are translucent. Each doll has her own colours and motifs. At the heart/ centre is the Sun, the light giver. There are a few intermediate layers. The rising sign is surface personality. it's really us, and more of what's inside shines through.

If the Ascendant is a Fire or Air sign, what comes from inside will more easily and spontaneously find the way out than if it is a Water or Earth sign, more naturally secretive and introverted. This doesn't mean that Fire or Air are better. All four elements have their role to play, and for some individuals, being less transparent is the right thing at a particular moment of their evolution...

Any planet in the first house, especially if conjunct to the Ascendant, is especially emphasized. Planets that make tight aspects to the Ascendant, especially from the 5th house also get more immediate access to the surface of the being.

Let me suggest a meditation. The Rising sign is the sign that was rising on the Eastern horizon when we were born. Its meaning is associated with the symbol of this cardinal point. East is where the Sun appears in the morning, at the end of the night. Before he was hidden, travelling through the unseen. Now, a new day is starting. A new life, full of promises, a new era!...

I have tried to explain this First House as well as I could, which makes me more acutely aware of the limits of my own understanding. Symbols express deep meanings, they are the language of the Great Mystery, which is so wide and so deep! No explanation will ever be able to dispense you to deepen your own understanding though reflection, daydream and meditation, giving these symbols time and attention, as we do with whoever we love...

Jean-Marc Pierson

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