Recently I eagerly tried to post my first ever article on “Empty Houses” to 12th House group on FB. My post kept disappearing, and after a few reposting attempts I realized moderators felt it violated the rules and deleted on sight. Perhaps they felt it was an ad for my blog (which, in a way, it was). We exchanged messages, and after I checked my attitude, i.e. accepted their right to design, interpret and implement any policy they agreed upon, I was able to post the link in even larger group of theirs. In a way I was granted the rite of passage.
Since there are no accidents (except those meaningful dramatic events which may attract hospitals, drugs, suffering, limitations, and other 12th house themes), I felt it was time to look into 12th house closer. The 12th house can be lonely, spooky, enchanted, elusive, even bound to fail. I am a bit intimidated, but undeterred.
Definition: houses are sets of related constructs. As an example, the very word “house” is in the same “bag” as clan (as in “House of Stuart”), family, home, roots, childhood, parents, foundation, real estate (so called “unmovable possessions”), motherland, kingdom, domain, dominion and so on. All of these are mainly 4th house constructs. Simply #4thhouse.
Back to 12th house, it got quite a controversial reputation. On one hand it is a house of “hidden enemies”, hospitals, mental institutions, prisons and other places of confinement, drugs and other ways of self undoing. On the other hand it is a house of compassion, surrendering, letting go, letting it be, prayer, monasteries, meditation, trance, drugs and other forms of exploration and reunion with our larger self. And in a backyard of 12th house are large animals (elephants, camels, horses), perhaps along with things that are still too painful to bring into the spotlight of awareness, feelings we never released and carry with us such as triggers and poison. The rake we keep stepping on over and over. The sleep (or lack thereof) and dreams may be there too (now purists will point out that “dreams” as in “future plans” or “fantasies” may be in 11th, but – without going into “overlapping houses” – we can settle on “dream life” and escapism. All our secrets may fit in there.
So this is a nice list, but something is missing. How are all these seemingly disconnected topics fit together under one roof? For example how on earth is an average camel connected to a hospital connected to “hidden enemies” or “unexpressed feelings”? Unless of course you fell off a camel because you got distracted by feelings or your saddle was compromised by those poor souls you wronged in a bunch of other lives together.
Breathe In, Breathe Out – Work and Rest balance
One way to understand 12th house is to compare it to its opposite, or complementary, 6th. The 6th house is a house of work, routine, health, body, tools. It belongs to the quadrant of Flow (more on that later), it rules the process, so let’s use more verbs. Working with others, collaboration, tending the garden, exercising the body and mind, building something, offering service, walking the dog ( pets are ruled by the 6th).
Work under 6th, rest under 12th. Drive the car under 6th, but stop and look at the map or under the hood for 12th. Walk the dog under 6th, ride the horse under 12th. When 6th is emphasized at the expense of 12th, it may become all busy work and no vision or tangible result, no quantum leaps. If 12th is strong, at the expense of 6th, the pieces are placed on the chessboard and carefully studied, but the game may never be started. This is where “the journey of 1000 miles starts with the first step”, “analysis paralysis” or “just do it” are very relevant.
While it sound like there is a rhythm to this 6th/12th house collaboration, and it is certainly there, these two complementary houses can – and do – work simultaneously, side by side. In any workflow, while in the groove, one also feels how the connected pieces play out, whether things are in or out of place, how inner vision moves along with the creative process. The subtle adjustments are made, the attention is checked, the intention is cleared. Think of the world class athlete competing, or world class musician performing – the full presence is there, the balance of spontaneous flow and keeping the pieces connected to vision and strategy is accomplished from moment to moment.
Connect and Map – Zoom In or Zoom Out?
One underlying theme of 12th house is undoubtedly isolation. Whether you are riding an elephant, bound to bed, locked up physically or in your mind, whether you lost a game or lost everything , closed a chapter or about to close the book of your life you may feel isolated. When you care for someone disabled or with limited abilities, you are also under 12th hose, and you may also feel like you are disappearing. Folks with strong 12th influence – natally or by transits/progressions – often report feeling invisible bubble around them. Everyone wants to be witnessed, but when 12th is strong this issue is front and center. You may feel like you are wearing invisibility cloth. And you may try forcefully to break thru and to bring everyone in, which understandably is met with equal resistance. From outside it may look like a person who is a bit off, kind of lost in their mind, is trying hard to reach out to you, but the harder they try, the less you are willing to bind with them.
So we get the Isolation part, but what is the meaning, or purpose, of it? One of the strongest beliefs I have, reinforced by astrology and everyday experience alike, is that everything in life is purposeful and that the blueprint of this reality leaves nothing to chance, and everything to choice. One obvious point we have already discussed is Balance. What is the meaning of siesta? To recuperate and replenish resources, to absorb and process, to disconnect from sun and reconnect with the shadow, to disconnect from coworkers, work and tools, close your eyes and reconnect with duper self. We zoom out, but we also zoom in to some deeper core. Here, if we apply the rule I call “or lack thereof”, we get “Isolation or lack thereof”, and the lack of Isolation is Connection, being Interconnected with All That Is, with our soul and essence.
So the answer to the question of purpose could be that isolation is not the end goal, but the means to achieve deeper wider connections, to see the bigger picture, to chart the unknown territory. Astrologers, and people in the field of psychology and counseling in general, are very familiar with the 12th house for that very reason – they map out the territory of the psyche, they put the pieces of the puzzle together – for others, and for themselves. A little side note here that counseling (the one-on-one interactive aspect of it) is traditionally under the 8th house, and for good reasons, but the 12th is very much in play.
Meditation, prayer and an empty flute
Meditation is definitely 12th house theme. Many times meditation is understood as zooming out, but those who meditate know that as you zoom out of your usual habitual concentration you zoom into something else – either specific topic of you meditation or you zoom into your larger deeper vast self.
I intentionally do not use the word Higher Self as it promotes an assumption that we are somehow little low small beings on a very low Earthly step of a very steep long ladder leading up and up to much higher finer levels and dimensions. We are spiritual beings, we do incorporate all aspects of ours, we do incorporate our highs and our lows, we do incorporate all of our lives or incarnations, in this dimension or beyond. However, and here as a side note 9th house theme is also present, if you prefer to deal with a construct of higher power or higher self, as I do sometimes, as a tool there is nothing wrong with it! We pray and meditate to connect to something ordinarily “outside” of our attention span, something incredibly vast, intelligent and loving. In this we do disappear, but unlike a slave disappearing in predictable mind-numbing chores, we are aware of actually expanding and reconnecting. Both the meditator and the slave are under 12th house influence. As another side note, saying “under 12th house influence” promotes passive choice-less “victim”side of 12th house, so perhaps “activate 12th house” is a better expression.
Once 12th house is activated, and the connections are actively observed and experienced, we may become the proverbial “empty flutes” for our expanded state to flow thru us, onto others, to inspire those (geographically and/or energetically) around us. When gifted musician or singer begins the performance , they open to the audience as well as to the larger self, and even other essences out there, not only enriching themselves, but also facilitating openness and connections for others. The notion that 12th house is naturally ruled (being influenced, and being associated with) Jupiter, Neptune and Pisces can be seen here. And in experiencing the mechanics of this a true humility is born. Not in a sense of any kind of self deprecation or discounting, but in a proud realization that we are all interconnected and being an effective facilitator is more than enough. This I guess is what was meant by being an empty flute.
Addictions, self-undoing and sacrifice
So what happens when we zoom out and forget to zoom back in? We may zoom in – and get stuck – on something that is not to our greatest benefit. Proverbial “shortcuts” or “shadows” or “pitfalls” of these house are substitutes, such as “substance abuse” in attempt to numb the pain. If we are disconnected, and deep inside we know it, we may choose to use alcohol, food, TV or engage in any other “-olic” activities such as shopaholic, workaholic and so on. This provides a temporary respite, an illusion of belonging, a fleeting sense of being content or complete. But we know soon enough that we are just full, and we just masked our pain and drowned our sorrows. That our desires are unsatisfied, harbored feelings unexpressed and not addressed, energy not released and gifts not yet redeemed. Let me also say that I believe the object of addiction is usually benign. Clearly the pot can be used to enhance awareness, appreciation and love, while TV can be used as a road to depression and even suicide. In this, “the war on drugs” is not any different from “the war on television” or “the war on malls”.
Managing an addiction is a subject I know little about. One thing I know is that true addiction usually does not disappear. It is managed. It is managed for example by substituting harmful habit with similar benign equivalent. For example rather than drinking spirits a person begins to drink variety of teas. The ritual – which is in the center of addiction – stays the same, but the substance is replaced. In example of Chekov’s The Darling a character dissolves herself in partners (perhaps here 7th or 8th houses interplay with 12th). In this redirecting same sensitivity to caring for children with disabilities or abandoned animals may do the trick of expressing compassion without losing oneself. This is where astrology may offer more detailed information as to what kind of substitution may be effective.
Another similar influence is sacrifice. Many folks with a strong 12th house report endlessly doing things for others and often getting nothing in return, not even thank you! Isn’t it tricky? The house of hidden enemies is also the house of ananimous friends, helpers and benefactors. If you try to push for recognition, gratitude and reciprocation you may get the same push back we seen with Isolation theme. Remember invisibility cloth? I do not at all advocate self-sacrifice here, especially for those who has no appreciation or even awareness to receive it. Quite the opposite- I think we must choose carefully who our beneficiaries are, and if the acts of our generoucity benefit us – yes ourselfs – to begin with. But what I am also offering is that once we decide to be generous, let’s be generous for generosity’s sake, for the joy of giving. This is not a question of what’s right, moral or religiously correct. This is simple mechanics – 12th house is ultimately not for beggars, it starts with beggars, but it makes Kings!
As always, while I focus on a specific topic, something comes along that helps me with the understanding and expression of it. This time it was a text from a friend.
“Can any one tell the difference between ‘Completed’ and ‘Finished’? No dictionary has ever been able to define the difference between ‘Complete’ and ‘Finished.’ However, in a linguistic conference, held in London England, Sunny Osman a Pakistani American, was the clever winner. His final challenge was this. His response was: When you marry the right woman, you are ‘Complete.’ If you marry the wrong woman, you are ‘Finished.’ And , when the right woman catches you with the wrong woman, you are ‘Completely Finished.’ His answer received a five minute standing ovation.”
Now isn’t this a 12th house theme? Being the last of houses, the 12th is often linked to endings (other schools of thought may assign endings to 8th or even 4th, and in some ways they are also right, but I feel 12th may be primary in this matter). The beggars or vagabonds may be under 12th not only because they suffer, are isolated, needy, or on the fringe of the society. They are 12th favorites also because – archetypically at least – they left it all behind. They are done with the world, finished. In practice there are real people with real challenges on the street, something we individually and collectively must deal with, and perhaps few marginalized people are truly Complete, content, happy. But for any of us (which includes any of “them”) there are moments in life in which we give up struggle, surrender to what is or may be, feel weight lifted of our shoulders, and feel strangely intensely alive . Since we have nothing, everything is suddenly there for us to explore. Since there is nothing to hold on to, we feel connected to all. Even a bit enlightened. It is in these moments that Buddha’s Bodhi tree becomes ours.
My first six month in US I was borderline homeless. I lived in empty houses, dorms, sometimes hosted by complete strangers. On Christmas Eve , when people rushed by looking for last minute gifts or groceries I stood still by the roadside and observed the traffic. After a while I recognized some cars that I’ve seen earlier going in the opposite direction. It felt like I was the only one standing still. I was sad, wishing to hook up with people, go to any party, be part of them. Yet the loneliness was mixed with insight, that usually come in moments of solitude. I told myself – remember this moment! I said – you are vertical! There are many years to come in which you will be rushing back and forth horizontally along with the crowd, but you may never again have the observer position, you may never be truly vertical again. My 8th house Observer met 12th house Acceptance. I gave up. I felt Complete.
In finale of Verdi’s opera Aida leading characters of Aida and Radames sing an aria of acceptance and love as they are buried alive in the vault beneath the temple. They accept their terrible fate (Radamès: Morir! Si pura e bella / “To die! So pure and lovely!”) and bid farewell to Earth and its sorrows. This is most definitely the 12th house ending, and it remains one of the most moving and strangely optimistic finales in opera repertoire.
There is so much more that can be explored about 12th house. Core meaning, other sub-themes, signs and planets in 12th, interplay with other houses, etc. But for now I am done, zoned out, even if the post is half baked
As always, thank you for reading, I truly appreciate the connection. Even if you think I am crazy, my goal has been accomplished, as “crazy” is indeed a 12th house theme!