The 10th house: What Goes Up, Must Come Down

Peaceful pyramids of the past

Pharaohs accomplished a lot in their lifetimes, leaving legacies that can still be seen today in the pyramids of Egypt (where, sort-of coincidentally, there is political unrest right now in the land of sand). What did their accomplishments mean, is the 10th house question, however.

What we strive towards, our goals, and all the seeds we planted in the 4th house, have come to fruition—or not—in the 10th. If we were lucky and had a good beginning, or were born with certain talents (an undeniable truth, in spite of the desire for egalitarian genes) whatever effort was put into us when we were children, will show fruit now. Hence the organic metaphor; as we mature, we grow into what was given or promised to us in the 4th.

The 10th house represents the interstice between our intentions and our abilities. Pharaonic intentions were sky-high; their goal was to build edifices that would last through all eternity, celebrating their reigns as gods on earth. That they achieved this goal is due largely to enormous efforts put in by hard work, because no matter how much we plan or prepare, the only thing that gets us up the side of mountain is the effort we put into the climb and how good you are at the task you’ve taken on. Plus, pharaohs were smart: they delegated.

There’s a point beyond which effort becomes wasted, and that lesson is hinted at in the rise of the pyramids, for they will fall eventually. This is illustrated by the law of diminishing returns. You learn to work smarter and more efficiently, or you fold. I find the pyramids an excellent metaphor (and/or analogy) for the 10th house. If you want attainment, you might get frustrated when you come up against real-world limitations, and how many people do you know are willing to sacrifice all the things that make life pleasant (family, recreation, etc.) to support their work, their vision, their obsession?

Asterix, the redoubtable French comic book hero, travels to many eras and places on the planet.

When you walk through the door of the 10th house, you’re walking into your egoic desire for attainment; how are you going to attain this potential success? Usually it’s through some form of work, but it’s more than a ‘job’, it’s a calling. For some of us, our work is also play; your work might represent your passion. But attainment is not necessarily attached to work, so where does attainment come from? How will you know you’ve arrived at your goals if your definition of success is personal, not defined by the group mind?

My contention is that the 10th house, like the 4th, represents one of the most difficult of all life experiences (certainly one of the most complicated) affecting virtually everything that happens to you. Think about it: if the 4th represents our intimate home life, and the 10th represents our external work life… that combination alone takes up most of the energy we will ever expend in our lives. We all have family of some kind we must deal with; we all have work we must do. That negotiation, that commute, if you will, from home to work, work back home, dominates everyone’s existence.

The 4/10  axis provides us support, and that emotional support is supposed to feed whatever ambitions we might be working towards. Anything we attain in the 10th house tends to affect our home lives, hence the struggle inherent in this axis, because most people cannot have both a comfortable home life, where everyone’s needs are met, and a thriving ambition to attain something in the outside world. If you have that, what sacrifices have you made to attain it? How much of a strain is your sacrifice having on you, or the people you love? I know 4/10 axis people for whom this is their primary challenge in life, how to integrate their ambitions with their desire for security.

Looked at from one perspective, ancient edifices are a reminder of the futility of excesses of attainment, because they will eventually erode—but they were once considered entirely necessary to the culture and people of the time. Their builders were motivated at least partially by the illusion of permanence. Here is some background information about the Great pyramid and the complex of pyramids:


  1. The pyramid’s features are so large they can be seen from the Moon.
  2. The pyramid is the oldest structure in existence.
  3. The pyramid was begun 4,617 years ago.
  4. The great pyramids of Giza are the oldest remaining seven wonders of the world.
  5. The pyramid ranked as the tallest structure on Earth for more than 43 centuries.
  6. It has been suggested that there are enough blocks in the three pyramids to build a 3 m (10 ft) high, 0.3 m (1 ft) thick wall all the way around France.
  7. The area covered by the Great pyramid can accommodate St. Peter’s in Rome, the cathedrals of Florence and Milan, and Westminster and St. Paul’s in London combined.
  8. All of the interior stones fit so well, a card won’t fit between them.
  9. Early Arab explorers of the Great Pyramid gave the Queen’s Chamber its name in the mistaken belief that the queen was buried here. Instead, it most probably held a statue of the king that represented his “ka,” a form of his spirit.

The question remains, however: what do we accomplish when we build for tomorrow? What is it that’s right in front of us now that we’re most likely losing sight of? Most people, on their second or third marriage, will tell you they sacrificed their family life for their calling, because normal people don’t sacrifice their private lives, represented by the 4th house, for a mere 9 to 5 job.

Illustrating this 10th house principle, recent political unrest in Egypt has brought about the fall of Zahi Hawass, who has, for a long time, been the Minister of Antiquities in Egypt, and was zealously trying to collect artifacts from countries that had taken them as plunder. Yet he incurred animosity from many he had thwarted in Egyptian politics, and with the end of one regime, the old order was ousted, and his replacement was found, someone less determined to resist change. His star rose, and fell. Will his star rise again?  

This was inevitable, since you know by now how Alan Parsons influences me: