Deeper Astrology Articles


              Understanding The House Intensity Curve

          by Joyce Hopewell

As an amateur singer who gains a huge amount of pleasure and satisfaction from singing in a choir, I’ve had to learn to use my voice in a variety of different ways in order to fulfil the directions given in the score and respond to the directions of the choir leader. Sometimes in a performance, the choir can give a loud shout as this is part of the music, and it can be exhilarating to let rip in this way, raise the roof, and make our presence felt! At other times we sing with feeling, or reach a high crescendo, making the sound swell, or we sing sharply with staccato and so on. And sometimes, following the direction of the choir leader, we whisper words quietly. 

You’re probably wondering by now what on earth this has to do with the House Intensity Curve! Simply put, the position that a planet has in a House is very important as its placement can affect its expression of energy output and its recognition in the outside world. And this is where the House Intensity Curve comes in, as an understanding of it can help us, as astrologers, identify how a planet can express itself  - by giving a shout, by singing, or by whispering.

Cardinal, Fixed, Mutable

As astrologers we are familiar with the qualities of Cardinal, Fixed and Mutable and these three qualities are present throughout the Huber Method. Aspects in a Huber-style chart have a Cardinal, Fixed or Mutable quality which relates to their colours ( red - C, blue - F, green - M). The planets are seen to express these qualities, with, for example, Sun and Mars being Cardinal, Mercury Mutable and Saturn Fixed. We also relate these qualities to the Signs and Houses, but when working with the Huber method we find that within each House we have three zones - a Cardinal, a Fixed and a Mutable zone.

The division of the Houses into three distinct zones or areas is based on the principle of the Golden Mean, a scientific and mathematical technique of measurement used by architects and by Renaissance painters to ensure balance and harmony within a piece of work. Bruno Huber applied and worked with this division of the Houses into three zones in his empirical research as an astrological psychologist.

The House Intensity Curve


Energy, which comes symbolically from the central “core” of the chart, has its greatest output at the four Cardinal Points of the chart - the Ascendant and Descendant, and the IC and MC, as shown in the illustration. Around the outer circle of the chart, where the House cusps are positioned, we see a graduated curved line - the House Intensity Curve. 

This appears to have a wave-like shape and motion and can be likened in appearance to mountain peaks and valleys, or even to the shape and profile of a roller-coaster ride. The House Intensity Curve reaches its highest point of intensity at each House cusp, and then gradually falls away from the cusp, passing the Balance Point, until it reaches the lowest point in the curve of energy which is called the Low Point. This sequence is present in all 12 Houses.

Psychologically, each House begins at the Low Point ( the “valley”) of the preceding House. It is at this point that interest in the existing House starts to wane in favour of the up-coming House. For example, planets in the 2nd House, positioned on or after this point are far more interested in 3rd House matters. This is where they want to be and this is where they will seek to direct their energy. This suggests that areas of life overlap, and that a House (and the life experiences that go with it) does not  begin precisely at one cusp and end abruptly at the next - qualities of the Houses ( and life) tend to mingle and flow into each other.

Planets placed within this curve will respond and react differently depending upon where they are. Using the House Intensity Curve we can see whether they are likely to shout, sing or whisper. I’m going to describe the curve from the Low Point of one House to the Low Point of the next, along with the significance of the Cardinal, Fixed and Mutable zones within the House.

Low Point to cusp

The Mutable zone is from the Low Point to the cusp. Planets placed here will tend to behave in a changeable, mutable way, to be indecisive, and at times as if unable to make up their minds.

The Low Point itself relates to the “valley” mentioned earlier. It is the point in each House which is furthest away from a cusp; indeed, the cusp ahead may appear like a “mountain” waiting to be climbed! From the Low Point position, this can appear daunting and challenging. The area between the Low Point and the cusp can be stressful, and the closer to the cusp that a planet is positioned, the greater the sense of stress it will have because the demands of the environment will be felt more  keenly. The planet responds to these demands and expends more and more energy in doing so. The greatest stress of  all comes just before the cusp. Planets here are very visible, will feel under pressure, and will try to live up to the demands of the environment. In the mountains and valleys analogy, this is like climbing up the final stretch of ground before the summit. We can see the goal but we may not have the stamina to reach it. Likewise, a planet just before the cusp is in danger of collapsing or giving up, so for help and support it draws on the energy of other planets to which it is aspected, thus depleting their energies in an effort to sustain its own.

The closer to the cusp, the louder the planet will have to shout to assert itself. We call these planets “Stress planets”. The cusp is in sight, and within reach, and as that is where the planet wants to be it may well behave in a noisy, thrusting and obvious way.

Planets before the cusp are pulled both ways - they are still occupied with the theme of the House they are in, yet are striving to be into the next House. In real life, we’ve all experienced how it feels to be in this position - the rush to get a good place in the queue when the seat numbers are called for boarding an aircraft, the phone call you take just as you’re rushing out for a timed appointment, and so on.


House cusps are areas of high activity and energy and planets placed on the cusp have a strong external focus with easiest access to the outside world. They are readily noticed and can be expressed powerfully.

House cusps are like the peak of the mountain. Once this has been reached the view is very different. Instead of struggling upwards towards the top, our distant goal, we have actually reached it and are there, fully present, proud in our position and achievement. Planets placed on the cusp likewise are very strong. They can express themselves clearly and they have easy access to the environment. With a sense of triumph and joy here, planets on the cusp of a House might well sing their hearts out as loudly as they can!

Cusp to Balance Point

The Cardinal zone is from the cusp to the Balance Point. Once the cusp has been crossed there is no stress, and planets placed here will be active and creative, with a high energetic output. Planets in this zone will behave in a Cardinal way and will identify themselves fully with the theme of the House.

Things happen much more easily in this zone of the House and there is a sense of energy flowing and of things being much easier - rather like the walk down the other side of a mountain, after the peak has been reached.

Balance Point

The Balance Point is that place in the House Intensity Curve where the strong and forceful energies of the cusp are diminishing and a place of balanced energy is reached. Balance Point planets  are able to fully utilise their inherent potential and also respond effectively to the demands of the environment. Energy output is efficient with nothing to drain it, and planets in this House position could be said to have well and truly “got it together”. The way they would sing would be with considerable skill, talent and authority, and they would take the highest and lowest notes in their stride, poised and confident they could deal with anything.

Balance Point to Low Point

This is the Fixed zone of the House where planets respond and react in a more Fixed, static, and less outgoing way. Planets placed in this zone will seek stability and to maintain the status quo. Their expression may be tinged with a conservative outlook, or be more concerned with form and consolidation.

Low Point

Here, the potential energy output of any planet into the environment is at its lowest ebb. At the Low Point a planet is furthest away from the cusp and the outside world and closest the centre of the chart and to the soul’s purpose. Planets here tend to be experienced more at an inner level so they can provide us with rich resources, as the energy is drawn inward rather than projected outward. However, the energy of the Low Point is at rest and is focussed inward and planets here can only whisper - they are not in demand in the outside world, and often they are not heard. This can create difficulties.

A Low Point planet is less able to express itself effectively in the world, and is almost always a part of the personality whose development never took place naturally during the formative years. This part of the person has to be discovered in much the same way that a child learns about him or herself through interaction with the environment. People with Low Point planets often find that they have difficulty in getting the environment to acknowledge this particular aspect of themselves, simply because the environment finds it hard to recognise that it exists.

For example, someone with Mars on a Low Point may find it hard to harness and express the energetic driving force of Mars successfully. The Low Point position of this planet may make them come across as pushy and aggressive, and this will be resented by the environment. Without understanding that a problem exists, the individual will have no success at all. Low Point planets can be developed  and expressed more successfully by the person concerned if they, as adults, are willing to go back to earlier developmental stages and complete unfinished business.

Once they recognise and accept that there is a problem, small tasks can be undertaken quietly on an on-going basis, to build up a more successful expression of the planet involved. A Low Point Mars could be trained by learning competitive or physical skills such as athletics, dance, or martial arts. Assertiveness training could also be a useful thing for someone with a Low Point Mars to consider, whereas a Low Point Mercury would respond well to keeping a journal.

Developmental tasks would apply similarly to the Sun on a Low Point, and it can explain why someone with, for example, a 10th House Low Point Sun might have difficulties in expressing a strong sense of self, or authority, or leadership qualities.

A planet positioned just before the Low Point is likely to be more pessimistic (i.e. the developmental tasks and training of this planet may seem daunting). Just after the Low Point, there is a greater sense of optimism with the next cusp is in sight, and a planet here may rise more readily to the challenge ahead.

Sample chart

Some of the features mentioned in the article can be seen in this chart. When working with the House Intensity Curve, Koch Houses and Huber-style charts are used. Balance Points and Low Points are marked in the Sign glyph area, and are found in all 12 Houses. Balance Points are shown by a small circle, Low Points by a small arrow, pointing inwards.

Sun is stressed before the cusp of 3rd

Moon is in the Cardinal zone of 7th, approaching the Balance Point
Mercury is on the Balance Point in 2nd
Venus is in the Fixed zone of 1st
Mars is on the Low Point in 11th ( North Node is also on Low Point)
Jupiter and Neptune are on the Balance Point in 3rd
Saturn is in the Cardinal zone in 12th
Uranus (11th) and Pluto (AC) are both cuspal

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