Recently I have seen several online astrology articles with multiple approaches to the reading of the 12th contemporary houses. Some of those articles were quite good, but some left me questioning whether the general basics of the 12th house were fully understood. It is truly not one of the easier houses to understand and read. This article will take you back to basics, 12th house basics, and all remarks will be based on the Tropical Placidus system. First of all, what are astrological houses?
The sky is full of stars at the most amazing distances from each other and from Earth, yet through the centuries we have been able to generate an “as above, so below” set of references. We study the patterns of the sky and their general effect on our earth and its inhabitants, the energies in signs and aspects. That is the “as above” part of astrology. What about the “so below” part of the process? My description starts with the fact that when we look at the area of chosen effect, our local physical space and our lives, we must therefore make our reading physical. As a planet in a solar system we are contained within those sky bodies we see, but because this is our common footing, we don’t count ourselves among the stars. This footing is physical reality for us, earthly experience. Cosmic energies are continually bombarding and influencing us, affecting and sometimes infecting us, the physical inhabitants of the physical earth. The first realization should be that houses have to do with our physical reality.
When you look at any standard chart, the entire sky is laid out in its actual circular pattern, usually around the outside of the wheel form. We have an arbitrary starting point, the Ascendant but it is a complete 360-degree circle. What is not readily understood is that the center of that circular chart contains the Earth itself. Let me repeat that. Earth and its inhabitants are in the very center of every chart. You are in the center of your chart and the point that represents you individually is the Ascendant. To attempt to study all of human experience in one bite is just too difficult, so we must break down that experience to smaller increments to achieve understanding. The whole of the chart is you and your experience. The divisions we use to create understandable compartments are the houses, arenas of physical reality and experience.
We use the number 12 for houses just as there are 12 signs. Our wheel is 360 degrees and 12 conveniently divides evenly into that number. Equal house charting reflects those equal 30 degree segments. Have you ever noticed that life does not seem all that equal? When you add the dimensions of longitude, latitude as well as date and time, those houses change in size and range, what was once equal becomes unequal. To me unequal reflects reality. There are many scientific ways to mathematically measure that division of space but that is too large a subject for this article. I choose the Placidus house system because it works for me.
Just to paint a clear picture, date determines the broadest stroke of a chart. Time of birth refines it to some degree but it is longitude and latitude that further refines it to the personal. No two objects can occupy the same space at the same time, so each chart cast must be different, occasionally marginally different as in the case of multiple births. When you add time of day to location of birth (longitude and latitude) a unique map emerges, one based on that local space at a particular moment in time, individual in nature. The local space is clearly defined and the increments (houses) of that specific space at that specific moment are created for that chart.
The 12 increments commence at the Ascendant and proceed counter-clockwise around the chart, traveling a full 360-degree circle back to the Ascendant. Why counterclockwise? This is because the signs and their natural motion are measured clockwise (just look at any chart) and the Earth rotates one full circle every day bringing each degree of the zodiac to all points of possible charts every day. As the Earth spins on its axis, the point of the zodiac that signifies birth moves forward in the signs (clockwise) as the Earth rotates on its axis within (opposite direction for rotation or counter-clockwise). As you progress in your growth, your Ascendant and the balance of the houses attached to that progressing Ascendant move forward in the zodiac and your whole chart view changes. You experience, grow and become and that is reflected in your changing signs and bodies (as above) as well as your house system (so below).
There is a natural, predictable order to your growth and progress. You start as a helpless infant, reach out into life gradually, involving others and experience, through the full range of human activity until you reach your sunset years and the end of that particular life cycle. If you are a believer in continuing consciousness, then each end must also mark a new beginning, hopefully on a much higher turn of the spiral of life. The houses reflect that growth and progress sequentially. You would be wise to additionally study hemispheres and quadratures, the 6th/12th house axis and the common house breakdown of life, wealth, association and abstract to deepen your understanding of houses. I will be featuring these concepts in future articles.
The first house is I/me. The second house is mine. The third house is my immediate environment and my communication, (I am, I want, I communicate that want). With whom do you communicate? The fourth house brings in the whole family. You hopefully grow in grace and talent in your fifth house. You learn there is no free ride in the 6th house. You develop socialization skills in the 7th house. The mine of the 2nd house must give way to yours or ours in the 8th house. Outside environments and communications develop in the 9th house, You will make it or break it in the 10th house. Your rewards or lack of them accrue in the 11th house and you wind down in the 12th house as you prepare for the coming change of cycle. See the natural sequence? Not all segments are equal or easy, hard, rewarding, frustrating, or any adjective you choose for any segment.