The 12th house: Know thyself, or else

Today, class, I would like to take you down into the depths of your psyche, so come with me on a 12th house excursion, as we dive to the deep and see what life under the sea is like.

For that’s what goes on in this house: all the buried sediment of your life lives here.

You know those sea creatures who barely have eyes, and survive by feeling their way through the inky black sludge that is the bottom of the deep sea floor? They are the denizens of your depths, and will be our tentative, sightless guides as we ponder this murk.

The 12th house in your chart is either tenanted or it’s not. If a tenant is squatting there, it’s likely you only know about it because, like a ghost tramping about in your cellar, you hear it go bump in the night. You haven’t heard denial until you’ve heard someone who has no idea their 12th house planet controls them, deny that’s what’s happening.

  • Pluto in the 12th? I’m not controlling! Are you kidding? I give everyone complete freedom, until they disagree with me, that is.
  • Saturn in the 12th? My childhood was idyllic, except for Uncle Rutabaga, and we don’t talk about HIM.
  • Sun in the 12th? I own my own power, except my husband takes care of all the little ‘details’ I can’t handle.
  • Moon in the 12th? I’m never sick. I just have this persistent cough.
  • Venus in the 12th? I’m gorgeous, I know, that’s what everyone says, but does this make me look fat?
  • Mars—you guessed it. This one is never angry.
  • Mercury hides their intelligence, or is inordinately proud of it and can’t let anyone know.

Planets in the 12th tend to cover their abilities the way cats hide litterbox offerings.

It’s an insecure house, a house of inferiority, because planets here are uncomfortable. They feel guilty for existing, and then they never get the attention they so desperately want. This is the house of introverts and shy people, people who struggle too often to feel okay about expressing themselves, who never believe they are okay as they are.

I am sad just writing this, but there is hope, 12th house people! You’ll feel better knowing that you’ll have to earn this happiness, though. 12th house people, like 6th house people, want to suffer a little (okay, they want to suffer a lot) to know their trek on this planet was worth it, and are happiest when the world obliges by strewing their already-thorny path with boulders.

This gives them something to struggle against, and that’s how they know they’re alive, too much of the time. Hence the denial, running away, and tragic ends. I strongly suspect Anna Karenina had Venus in the 12th, and if she were real, she’d have Pluto there as well, preferably in Pisces, for dramatic effect.

Hope lies in acceptance of one’s self as merely mortal, something the true 12th house person has some trouble with because they come into this life aware of truths most of us only dimly discern. Divinity and attainment of the godhead seem to be just out of reach for the 12th house person, but because they are so close to the source of inner knowing and wisdom, this house has the potential, like no other, to produce people who have true humility, true goodness and purity of spirit.

Your family of origin gave you what lies here; you learned it like the little sponge you once were, absorbing this energy, so don’t be surprised if you are unconscious you possess these abilities. For those who believe in karma, this house represents what you own and what you owe. For those who believe in past lives, much of what you used to be can be found here.

It’s the land of Ward Robe that leads to Narnia, the pirate’s bounty in Davy Jone’s locker. It’s buried away for a reason—so no one can find it easily. Therein lies the work of a lifetime, and it’s why we go to church, to psychiatrists, and to astrologers: to find a way to unlock the door to this room.

12th house planets are usually not overt until you bring the energy to the surface. This might come after some life trauma, but it’s more likely that insight will require trips to visit a therapist, a past life hypnotist, a non-traditional medical practitioner, a medium, an astrologer, the church of Scientology, or practitioners of Zen Buddhism—any of a number of resources designed to assist you in suppressing your conscious, rational mind, and release the messages your inner world is trying to show you.

Many use drugs to facilitate this release, but drugs are not strictly necessary on this journey, although unless it’s life-endangering, I say give it a go. During 12th house transits, I remember the words of my allergy doctor: “Go ahead, mix your meds. Who knows? You might attain Nirvana.”

The 12th house also represents a time of year, in that the Sun transits through the 12th house at a certain time of year for you. Each year, you get another opportunity to go inside your psyche and feel around, much like Mary Poppins searching inside her carpet bag, or Pandora rummaging around her box.

Ask yourself if you are especially “tired” this time of year, if you find you need more time alone, more time to ruminate, more time to allow whatever comes up during daydreams and fantasies and sleep to simply emerge.

Do you find that you have a lack of energy? That’s your body’s way of saying you’ve been living too much in the hectic light of day, and now it’s time for 12th house slumber. As with dreams and nightmares, the 12th house does not mean your mind is inactive. Instead, it is being prepared, like the ground lying fallow in the winter, for a new season of activity.

But what happens to the ground as it lies fallow? I’ll tell you what happens, since we’re extending this metaphor. First of all, it “rests.” This means it isn’t used for new plantings. The ground has become depleted of oxygen and other nutrients, all of which have gone into creating whatever was recently harvested.

During the transit of the Sun through the 12th, attention is being brought to this part of your reality; you are, temporarily, used up, and it’s time to rest and let nature work its miracle of healing and regeneration. The sludge that lies at the bottom of the oceans keeps many life forms alive with the nutrients that fall there, and this is what is going on in your 12th house psyche; dark stuff, the stuff of dreams, fairytales and nightmares, fall to the bottom and occasionally get dredged up.

Dark yucky sludge is not pleasant to look at, so it’s usually sifted through and allowed to fall gently back to the ocean’s floor again.

However, sometimes the sifting process that occurs when you take your deep sea submersible down there, unearths something useful, beautiful, or amazing. It is my belief that no other house is more capable of self-transformation and true attainment of spiritual truths, and I’m not saying that out of ego; my own 12th house is untenanted, so I have nothing at stake here, I just report what the voices tell me.

However, the 12th house is a potentially spiritual house, one that requires the 40 metaphorical years of isolation in the desert to find the treasure chest lying inside the submerged wreck everyone likes to put in their aquarium.

How to attain spirituality in the 12th? First, by owning what belongs to you. With the 12th, it’s too easy to see others as the problem (unconscious prejudices learned in childhood live here, along with everything you do not like about yourself, as well as untapped strengths and abilities you disown for one reason or another).

Everyone you’ve ever known who declares they’re nothing like the people they deplore has a weak, vulnerable, all-too-negatively human side, which lurks like a noisy ghost under the floorboards of this house. Someone else’s planets falling in your 12th tend to make your weaknesses transparent to them, a very uncomfortable feeling when they see right through your defense mechanisms and call you on all your tricks and denials.

Transits through the 12th might bring all of your inadequacies to light in extremely uncomfortable ways, until you own your negative self and the energy you expend on denial is no longer suppressed. I know it’s hard, but think of these transits as opportunities to know yourself better. Or else.

TimePassages Astrology Software

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