Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Hiding Out in the 12th House

The 12th House in our birth chart is often described in terms that are especially gloomy and fatalistic. It’s been called the house of isolation, karmic debt, confinement, self-undoing, and delusion. Too bad that astrologers sometimes fail to mention that the 12th House also represents spiritual transcendence, artistic gifts, divine inspiration, compassion, and a sense of oneness with humanity. It’s also too bad that those old doom-and-gloom interpretations make most people not want to touch their 12th House with a ten foot pole. Most people are scared of their 12th House or just deeply misunderstand it. The irony is that, for a large part of our lives, this is the essential yet unfortunate role we assign to this house: to be denied, misunderstood, or dissociated from.

Our 1st House is called, by some astrologers, as the house of self. This is not so accurate, in my book, as I don’t believe that the 1st House and the Ascendant exactly represent our sense of self, as this is the Sun sign’s domain. The 1st House represents the persona that we learned to create while growing up. It was this persona that got us the approval that we needed from our early environment, even though it wasn’t necessarily us. It becomes such a go-to manner of behaving and presenting ourselves that we wear it like a second skin. It’s like an actor taking on a role yet getting so lost in it that he identifies with it as if it were him. And like good actors, we toss aside anything that gets in the way of us being convincing in this role that we’ve created.

This is where the 12th House comes in. There are 12 houses in astrology, so this is obviously the last one. It’s a container for everything that has come before it. The 12th House actually precedes the 1st, which starts the wheel all over again. The 1st is supremely conscious and intentional, while the 12th is very unconscious. Therefore, this is where all the “stuff” goes that gets in the way of the 1st House role that we play. Everyone has a sign on the 12th House Cusp (it’s usually the sign that precedes your Ascendant sign) and many people have one or more planets in this house as well. These represent the traits that go against the Rising Sign character and that your “director” (typically one or both of the parents) implicitly or explicitly told you to discard.

As children, the approval of our authorities means everything to us. So, discard these traits we do. But, any metaphysician or psychologist worth their salt will tell you that repressed or disowned energies never disappear. They are merely re-energized and projected out into the world. This is what happens to our 12th House sign and/or planets. We disassociate from them and begin seeing them out in the world, instead of in ourselves. It’s not exactly the way in which we project our Descendant and 7th House Cusp sign, which are both opposite the Ascendant. This becomes a clear dynamic that we work through in our relationship to achieve harmony. The 12th House operates differently. On the lower octave, it can make us victims of the traits that put so much energy into disowning.

The Leo Rising individual, for example, might feel as if they’re constantly coming up against the needy, moody negative habits of others, in a way that’s reminiscent of their 12th House Cancer cusp. But, they can actually be the ones who are the constant drain on others, if unevolved, with an endless demand for attention and reassurance that’s not unlike Cancer’s potential for self-absorbed neediness. Someone with Mars in the 12th House might perpetually feel threatened by others’ temper or aggressiveness. But, they can unconsciously express their own anger in toxically passive-aggressive ways that make others feel uneasy and drive them away. Then, they feel like “everyone’s mad at them” for some unknown reason.

When we keep meeting these mysterious obstacles, when we keep finding ourselves at the mercy of some seemingly cruel fate, maybe we need to look inward for the true source of the problem. I think the 12th House is considered the house of isolation because such solitary introspection is necessary to really access the true meaning of our 12th House. The sign and planets here are hiding out and it’s our job to bring them out of the dark and into the light. We must free these traits from their imprisonment and integrate them into our conscious awareness of ourselves. If not, then we’ll receive our karma for unjustly locking them away. If the 12th House represents self-undoing, then this is exactly how. We victimize ourselves through this house. But, we can free ourselves with this house, as well, finding a transcendence that we never knew before.

What I find interesting, in this case, is when a person has a 12th House planet that is conjunct the Ascendant. The expression of this planet will be quite different than a regular 1st House rising planet. A 12th House rising planet becomes a quality that everyone can see except for you, more so than other planets in this house. If you have 12th House Neptune conjunct the Ascendant, you don’t realize how ethereal and compassionate you come off to everyone else. If the 12th House Sun is on the Ascendant, you’re unaware of the fact that you show off a lot. In fact, you might be quite offended when people point out the less-favorable sides of your 12th House rising planet (or, maybe more accurately, the sides that you just don’t like personally). This isn’t how you consciously present yourself and it, therefore, becomes a real blind spot in your mannerisms.

It's important to embrace this planet but also know that it's not exactly made for manifestation in "this world." 12th House planets, whether they're on the Ascendant or not, are otherworldly and mysterious in their expression. So, this is a subliminal energy that you're going to give off. I don't believe that 12th House planets conjunct Ascendant become 1st House planets. That's a little too simple. A planet is in the house it's in. And you'll have a way of projecting this planet's energy strongly toward your environment, once you're conscious of, while still keeping it very elusive and unable to be pinned down by others. It gives you the chance to transcend your environment, carrying yourself and behaving as if you're on another plane altogether. Without embracing the 12th House rising planet, the Ascendant persona merely feels confining, like a prison. Owning this planet in your behavior allows you to reach new heights.

Others with 12th House planets that are not conjunct the Ascendant will engage in this transformational process more privately. But, the process is still the same. Accessing this energy allows you to transcend. It’s a special place that you can retreat into and explore magical wonders that you never even contemplated before. If all of that sounds too trippy for you, then it’s just a sign that you’ve been too conditioned by your ever-practical world to devalue 12th House concerns. But, some of the greatest gifts lie here: the wildly creative visions of an artist, the profound compassion of a healer, the psychic dreams of a clairvoyant. Things that cannot be easily explained or rationalized reside in this house and you must be fully open to this intuitive realm to benefit from it.

Everyone has an ability to access these things. But, if you have a highly emphasized 12th House – with two or more planets, as well as the chart ruler or Midheaven ruler in this house – then these phenomena become a very powerful part of your life. People with a strong 12th House are usually very artistic, in some way, and have a deep-seated yearning to reach higher heights than everyday realities allow them to. They also tend to have extremely vivid and predictive dreams, especially if the Moon is in aspect to a planet here and/or placed in this house, to the point where they feel very disturbed, puzzled, or bemused on a regular basis when they wake up in the morning. They are tapped into something unfathomable and need to learn to channel this gift into services that can heal and uplift the world. An overwhelming sense of how we’re all connected as living beings usually drives them.

But, even those with a heavy 12th House can’t totally comprehend or explain their connection to this inner realm. In the end, I don’t think that we’re supposed to understand the 12th House all that well. At least not in that highly logical, cut-and-dry way in which our society expects us to understands things. The best way that we can approach the 12th House is to be completely open to it. The rest will all make sense eventually.


  1. With a 12th house Sun/Pluto conj. in Leo I used to have incarceration dreams that were quite fearful. As a young man I almost ended up in jail but slipped by that trap.
    My father was a prisoner of war in Japan. Nagasaki was just down the road. My own deeper sussing had to consider all this material especially the bombings of Japan and my own fathers unconscious projections as I consider the 12th to be highly prenatal material. You write well on these matters...

  2. Thanks. I'd definitely agree that having Sun and Pluto both in the 12th and conjunct suggests that your life is about working out all of that unconscious, past-life stuff. 12th House Sun people can be very free-spirited because they identify with this feeling of being imprisoned, trapped in a cage, and, as you said, probably have some issues to work out around that if they want to build a stronger sense of self. And yeah, feeling like the father's living through you in some way or that you're carrying around his karma/unconscious baggage can result from a 12th House Sun, too.

  3. Hello! I loved your post! I think is true that the ascendant is the persona created by us to get society approval. I have virgo sun and virgo moon in 11th house, and i have virgo mars in 12th house conjunct sun and moon. i have also mercury and venus in 12th house. Venus, lilith and part of fortune are all conjuct my ascendant in libra. So my personality is very librian. I had an tyrant aquarian mother with aries rising, so i was terribly repressed , and had too much responsability in early age ( stelium in capricorn). I aways felt like i could never do what i wanted or my mother would hate me so i aways did everything to never have to fight, but i ask myself if i lost myself in this process, like if i grew with no personality. Well, during this past saturn in scorpio transit, i just could not handle her control and move on from her house suddenly and she had the worst possible reaction. Since that time i am not the same, i felt like i killed my old life to have the chance of a new one, i also feel like i killed my old self to build a new one. I think that it is becouse pluto in scorpio in first house. In relationships i am all libra, i am too open, too kind, too compassionate, people take advantage of me ( my mother did it a lot). But in interests i am all scorpio. Since i was a kid i was seduced by the unknown, the misterys, the tabus, and the scorpio image, even before knowing astrology. i used to think: i want to be like this, powerful and misterious. Now i allow myself wearing anything i want, even if people think i am too excentric, i force myself to not need society aproval. Sorry for the long text XD And the english errors, english is not my native language.

    Can i ask something? Is stupid of me try to deny my ascendant? And my rising planet ( first responder) is venus ( 12th house) or scorpio ( 1st house)?

    Thank you very much :*

    1. If you tried to deny your Ascendant, you'd have a completely different chart. Every house placement and even many aspects depend on your Rising sign. So, you can never get rid of it and you shouldn't try. You can only change the ways in which you express it.

  4. I relate so much to this post and all the comments...love your blog! I am a major Plutonian 12th house person...so everything is mysterious and wacky and out-there. But I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing unless you are living a life style that goes against the "irrational" ways of the 12th.

    I like to think I download information directly from the cosmos. I can tell you in my writing, drawing, music, etc., what came from ME and what came from that OTHER place. I very much don't consider the "other place" to be me. I don't even feel right taking credit for it! But I feel excited and grateful that I can access this universal place.

    The hardest part of being a 12th houser is the dissolution and lack of definition. At least in my life. I have Sun, Mercury, Pluto and Saturn in the 12th. If I don't spend a lot of time in my own isolated world I start to entirely forget who I am. It is very easy for people to impress their feelings and personalities on me and I absorb just about everything in my environment.

    I am 30 and only just now finding some kind of identity. My advice to 12th house sun people is to always have access to some kind of sanctuary that is entirely "you" so that you can recharge and remember who you are. I like to travel and I always drive a big van for this purpose! Whenever I start to wilt I just go to my van, play some good music, lay on the bed and only invite special people to hang with me.

    12th housers...we are sensitive and special. Do not give it to just anyone!

    1. O.Fine I seem to relate to you in some ways. I am a 12th house Scorpio with Sun and Moon conjuncting the ascendant. In addition I have Uranus and Venus in Scorpio. I tend to have incredible dreams that are very lucid just as real as life itself or even more real. I have traveled to places I've never been to in my dreams but these places actually exist on earth in addition to different times whether past or future. My conversations with people in these dreams are very real and coherent almost as if they are fellow dreamers but they seem like real people. I also have a Van and never thought I would love it so much due to how roomy and comfortable and how capable I feel. I play in bands as a form of my artistic expression. There is something to the 12th house and I wonder why I have so much energy there. I have relationships with people, but only very few do I trust to share myself with, never fully. How are working towards bringing your 12th house planets to express themselves more fully from this hidden plane?

  5. I have Venus, Mars, and Jupiter in 12th House (Sagittarius), trine Moon in 8th House, square Saturn in 3rd House and I relate to your posts a lot.

    When I was a kid, I was spoiled with foods and goods by my mother until she had to end her career in her prime time. Later, my mother's sister (my aunt) started taking over her position by paying for my education and living. I was lazy, angry, but chatty kid who only cares about playing around until I hit rock bottom in Junior High School (3rd House) and started becoming serious person who focus on my study (Capricorn rising).

    Now I live two lives (My Capricornian life in college and Sagittarian life in private). I can't leave out one of them because they balance each other out. I wish there were more thought-provoking writings like yours like this that explains 12th House in such less negative manner.

    Thank you for sharing.

  6. You're welcome, Estella! It's good that you have such a clear balance. Your 12th House ruler is in the 12th, so this makes it a very happy area for you, generally. You know what to do in this house and get pretty easy satisfaction here. Jupiter rules my 12th too but it's in my 6th, opposing all of my 12th House planets, including Saturn, which rules my chart. So, it's been a less balanced journey for me, haha, but I'm getting better at it.

  7. Awesome. This is one of the best articles on the 12th house I've ever read and can relate too the most. I have a Stellium of Uranus, Saturn, Mars and Neptune in Capricorn. It's kind of annoying to look at my natal chart because I know that stellium is important but its so elusive! Also Saturn is the chart ruler and final dispositor of my chart. Its hard having so many Capricornian traits that get blurred over with such Neptunian wishy washyness!

    1. Im also a Pisces with her Moon in Virgo in the 8th house.

  8. i have sag north node(12retro) conjunct capricorn ascendant 4 deegree orb, how would that play out? and will it be visible? and should i focus more on the 12th house when working with the north node or sagi traits?

  9. Hi Wayman. My Aries Sun, Mercury and Jupiter are in the 12th house. Jupiter is conjunct my Taurus Ascendant from the 12th.

    What would you say about Jupiter's positions here as I've read you gave a few examples with the sun especially. Thanks in advance

  10. I myself am a pisces rising with moon conjunct uranus and neptune in 12th house , uranus is of great importance because it sextiles mc and inconjuncts mercury as a part of yod and it also inconjuncts vertex forming another yod with mercury vertex base. Moon is also my dominant planet , i have sun, venus , mars conjunct in 4th house , moon also sextiles mc , chiron , pluto all conjunct from 9th house.Neptune as my first house ruler in its own house is also very strong. I would say im a 12th house person. How would you interpret me?