by Eleanor Buckwalter © 2000
The third house is traditionally the lower mind. It is the everyday, common and practical type of thinking, cogitating and communicating and includes rote learning about everyday things. It is what we call common sense, horse sense, or “she hasn’t got the sense she was born with.” Day to day repeated activities like typing, brushing the teeth, driving the car, cooking and shopping, etc., become semi-conscious activities, although we had to learn them and be conscious about them once upon a time.
Logical, linear thinking, our normal state of waking consciousness is the Third House. The sign on the cusp describes our normal thinking and learning styles. Fire learns quickly and on his own, especially if it is fun; Earth likes to learn practical things and mechanical skills; Air loves to learn for learning’s sake and is an abstract, objective thinker. Water learns what she can relate to emotionally or rhythmically, as through music and song. Higher mathematics is related to cosmic rhythms; so Water sign Mercuries often excel in this field.
Cardinal signs take one topic and follow it through to the conclusion, then go on to the next. Mutable signs learn quickly, synthesize information, and see interrelated ways of associating ideas. They can carry on three conversations at once. Fixed signs retain information for a long time. For example, a person who has Scorpio on the third house cusp with Moon also in that sign and house can remember everything and everyone who ever hurt his feelings and harbors resentment toward them. He talks from his emotions and wants to stir up yours as well. He prefers a heated discussion to superficial pleasantries.
The third house is also brothers and sisters, neighbors, people in our town. It represents trade and commerce, the telephone, the mail, railroads and rail transportation, in fact, transportation in general including air, bus, and trucking.
Short distance travel these days is generally travel within one’s own country or visits to neighboring nations just across the border. Far away places with strange sounding names are associated with Jupiter, Sagittarius, and the ninth and twelfth houses.
The third is (as are the other Air houses 7 and 11) a relationship house. It generally pertains to people who live with us or near us in place and time. It includes those with whom we have daily contact and interaction in the course of leading our ordinary, everyday lives. These are people we play with, go to school with, and rub elbows with on a regular basis. The mail man, the bank teller, the shopkeepers, the grade schoolteacher, the other kids at school, and the other housewives at the market. The commuters on the train we take to work or the guys in our car pool are the normal, everyday relationships of a more or less superficial nature. We exchange pleasantries. We see them so often, they tend to be taken for granted. They form the background or scenery behind our daily lives. It is usually only when something serious happens to one of them or to us, that we realize how much our sense of security, of well being, of belonging depends on them. “Oh my God, Joe had a heart attack? But I just saw him yesterday; he was always there. He seemed like such a nice guy, I wish now I’d taken the time to get to know him better.” These are the people to whom we turn for aid, assistance and help when we have a crisis. We take casseroles to our just widowed neighbor; we are there for our siblings when they need a hand or a shoulder to cry on. We depend on the banker, the butcher, the pharmacist, and the dry cleaner. They support and sustain our daily life needs.
The third is the first of the cadent houses (3, 6, 9 and 12). All of these houses represent those things and people that provide the sustenance and support and that make up the unconscious fabric and foundation for some aspects of our security. The third is the springboard for our mental initiative and our consciously active lives.
It is the house of the mind where ideas, thoughts, and skills arise. The things that go on in the third house form the basis for our present emotional attitudes and notions about security, for our present emotional reactions are founded in our habitual, everyday patterns of thought. These patterns are formed primarily in early life, during the pre-school through grade school years. Our biases and prejudices are rooted here. While once we had to think through and work out a problem or a process, it later became second nature, or unconscious. The thought pattern has been filed in the memory bank and is now expressed through emotional reaction or impulsive action. We may like certain cars, particular types of houses, specific kinds of music and literature. It is a feeling reaction. If we sit down and re-think why we feel what we do in a particular situation, we often find that it comes from a thought-out decision we made once long ago. It is through the third house skill learning and data collecting (memory), that we move into the fourth house of emotional reaction and security desires. Before instinct (4th house), can affect the consciousness of a child, he must learn to deal with his environment. Its impact upon him exists as a challenge. The nervous system’s development is based on the challenge of coming to terms with the immediate environment. This is where we learn to play the game of life. It is here where we learn the rules of behavior, basic psychological principles, the foundation of all other social interactions. Cunning is such a factor as the ability to play one factor in the environment against another. When a child learns to play one parent against the other, the foundation of social and political manipulation has been laid down.
When there are planets in the third house it indicates major energies that influence the learning process and the ability to communicate. Planets show the particular game of life that person learned and how it was learned. This is a major point in early childhood development, and when there are planets in this house it can indicate that a person is stuck in a mode of expression that is somewhat immature.
Moon in the third can be an infantile thinker or a creative and charming communicator. It is beautiful in the chart of an actor, artist, writer or musician. It can be ugly in that of a political figure. Adolph Hitler had a Moon-Jupiter conjunction in his third house, so does George W. Bush. This conjunction can mark a childishly inflated ego and a questionable sense of ethics. Jim Jones, of the People’s Temple of Doom, was another Moon third house person; he also had North Node, Uranus and Venus there.
Sun here is a very bright person whose intelligence showed up early in life. He may have learned to talk quite early. He may continue to expect the same kind of attention people give to cute kids. Paul Cezanne, Merle Haggard, and Louis Pasteur had Sun (and other planets) in the third.
Saturn in the third is someone very serious about what he says. Maybe he was old beyond his years for he could observe clearly what was going wrong in the environment. As an older person, he becomes a talented communicator.
Jupiter considers the world his neighborhood, may have had early development of communication skills, and his ethics may be somewhat simplistic. Both Mercury and Jupiter in the third may learn languages easily and early.
The outer planets in the third may indicate early contact with transpersonal thought, ideas and messages. This may have been confusing for the child, but may eventually lead to an ability to communicate archetypal concepts through writing, speaking and acting as well as through the arts. Both Al Gore and George W. Bush have Neptune in the third. Neptune can equate to a tendency to inflate and glamorize ones ideas and ideals – a polite was of saying: a prevaricator.
Some famous people with heavily tenanted third houses were: artist Paul Cezanne; pathfinder John Charles Fremont; musician Merle Haggard; Martin Luther, the founder of the Protestant Movement, and Louis Pasteur, founder of preventative medicine. All of them drew their inspiration from their environment and in one way or another have influenced most, if not all of us in our daily lives.
The third house may not be considered the “flashiest” in the horoscope, but it is the one where most of us spend most of our waking lives.
About the author:
Eleanor Buckwalter has studied, practiced and taught astrology in Los Altos, CA for more than twenty-five years, including three years with the late Richard Idemon, a psychological astrologer. Her primary astrological focus of interest is parent-child relationships and family dynamics.