At the holidays there is a focus on family which often necessitates an examination of what family means to us as individuals. Many of us who grew up in the 1950s and 1960s remember the paintings which turned Norman Rockwell into an adjective as well as a painter “the Norman Rockwell family, the Norman Rockwell holiday.” For those of us in a family experience which was less than idyllic, which I would guess is most of us, these images evoked a fantasy of comfort and security and safety in the bosom of a group of people who loved us unconditionally.
This is the ideal that lives in the fourth house in the astrological chart. In the fourth house we look for a sense of home and family that nourishes and nurtures us and which offers a sanctum from the outer world. In the fourth house we discover the essence of who we are by becoming deeply integrated with our inner selves and the core essence of who we are.
In the fourth house we also discover the ancestral roots that have fed our genetic history, and our psychological history from those roots also play a large part in forming the inner selves that are deeply protected within us. From the core Self within we build a home and network of family relationships, and these are also found in the fourth house. Sometimes we are rejected by our family of origin, or we detach from them and create our own family; however, it is the actual family lineage that lives in the fourth house rather than an adoptive family.
The sign on the cusp of the fourth house (which we also call the “nadir”) and planets in the fourth house describe our relationship to this family lineage, our home and real estate that we own, as well as the way we create a sense of home within us. In my view, too much importance is often placed on the fourth house as being the actual house in which we live. That is certainly a part of what we find in the fourth house, but there are many deeper layers of meaning there and at the core of the fourth house we have our inner world and the place in which we find our Self. The family environment provides the nest in which we develop as an individual, for better or for worse.
The fourth house is often associated with the father or mother, and there is some debate as to which parent is represented by the fourth and which by the tenth. If you consider that we find the style of nurturing and home life in the fourth and development of a public persona in the tenth, you can see why the mother has traditionally been assigned to the fourth house and the father to the tenth. However, family dynamics have changed and we rarely find this traditional balance any more. I generally find the more nurturing parent in the fourth and the parent who was perhaps more distant or more of a role model in the tenth.