Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The 12th House: Being and Nothingness

I’ve already written a lot about the 12th House. But, I’m keeping my series on the houses going with yet another article on it, as I haven’t written one yet in this series. And as I’ve said before, you never truly get to the bottom of the 12th House. Instead, it’s truly the bottomless pit of your chart because it’s the place where boundaries don’t totally exist. Everything blurs in your 12th House as it’s where we fully transcend the “personal” and gain access to the “universal.” You might have an empty 12th House but don’t think that it’s not influencing you. Everyone has a sign on their 12th House cusp, at least. And that sign shows the universal part of your humanity that simultaneously belongs to you and doesn’t belong to you at all. Of course, if you actually have any planet(s) in the 12th House, this feeling of being here and not here affects you more profoundly.

When I was in college, I went through a phase where I was really into reading about philosophy. I was particularly interested in existentialism: a theory that basically teaches that life can be as meaningless as it is meaningful. Jean-Paul Sartre is probably the most famous existentialist and one of his most famous books is called “Being and Nothingness.” It’s been a long time since I’ve read it but I remember the whole theory of existentialism having quite an impact on me. There was something about the “nothingness” that Sartre spoke about that made a lot of sense to me because, in some sense, I had been living with it. I have my Saturn and Neptune all in the 12th House. And as a 12th House person, life seems to revolve around being and nothingness.

Inside of your 12th House is a wide range of characters and archetypes. Since this house has no boundaries, you can literally be whoever you wish to be in this house. You aren’t “bound” by anything or anyone via your 12th House cusp or planet(s). Yet, this can also bring on a feeling of crisis. If you can be anyone, just who you are? The 12th House is the part of our birth chart where we are at our vaguest and most confused. So many different energies, messages, impressions, and visions reside within the 12th House that it overwhelms us. Then, we can veer off into the nothingness end of the spectrum, just floating away in this sector with no end goal or no real consciousness of what we’re doing. It’s like living out a dream and, often times, while we’re awake.



It’s so different than the self-defined energy of the 1st House. The 12th House is the end of the birth chart wheel, while the 1st House represents the beginning. In our 1st House, we receive our “label.” We play this role in a clear manner. In the 12th House, there are too many labels to list. So, just what role do we play? I’ve mentioned before that whatever sign or planet is in your 12th House represents something that somehow was not “allowed” in your early years. You received the message that you either shouldn’t or didn’t have to express those traits. Sometimes, there’s a theme of shaming, guilt, repression, or even abuse going on, especially if you have planets in the 12th. If your 12th House is empty, you were probably just told that the traits of your 12th House cusp’s sign didn’t matter. You didn’t have to worry about that! So, you shoved it back into your unconscious.

Those with either Cancer on the 12th House cusp or the Moon in the 12th are given the message that they don’t need to examine their emotions. Just keep on moving, stay strong, and don’t stop to recognize what you’re feeling. Maybe you were also given grief, directly or indirectly, for being sensitive or expressing your emotional needs. So, you lost your conscious awareness of your feelings. With the 12th House in Virgo, you weren’t allowed to be critical of other people, even if it was constructive or in a way that expressed your intelligence. Therefore, these are traits that you began to repress. I do think  that everyone has some form of repression to work out, whether it’s major or minor. Whatever you’re not totally dealing with can be found in your 12th House, as it’s so easy to remain blind, deluded, or in denial here.

When you feel like whatever’s in your 12th House doesn’t matter, then it’s easy to ignore the expression of these traits within yourself. Repressed energy never disappears. It only emerges in another form. With the 12th House sign and/or planets, this is through dreams, unexplainable feelings, anxieties, phobias, or premonitions. This is the house of the spirit and it’s where things haunt us, on many different levels. The concerns of the 12th House are at times seen by the mundane world as “not existing”, just like the signs and planets here can be treated like they don’t exist throughout your life. But, they definitely do exist. They just don’t exist in a very straightforward, clear-cut, practical way. You have to conduct a séance to bring them to the light.

Those with a 12th House Moon or Cancer in the 12th often don’t really understand their emotions until something spooky or outside of themselves happens to get them to “wake up.” It usually takes such uncanny or mysterious happenings to get a person to stop being oblivious to what they’re feeling or why they’re reacting the way they are. Going back to the 12th House in Virgo, someone with this placement can be oblivious to their judgments of others, as well as their sharpness and efficiency, until they are sort of lost at sea. It’s not until they’re confused, overwhelmed, or drained by life that their acute intelligence and work ethic dawns on them.

That’s how the 12th House works. It’s like being in a dark room and trying to find the light switch. You have to walk through the dark, not knowing where you’re going, uncertain of where the light switch is until you fumble around and find it. If you just have a sign on the 12th House cusp, you are going to have to take the nonlinear, in-the-dark approach to figuring it out. Say you have Aries in the 12th. You might be blind in the expression of your anger, passion, sexuality, or assertiveness. Working out that side of yourself is like walking through the dark. But, eventually, you will find the light. We aren’t meant to remain blind when it comes to our 12th House energies. We have to learn how to discover them and then start expressing them with the light on.

I say all of this as a person with three planets in the 12th. I’m sure all of my 12th House people can relate to me saying that it truly took me many years to even begin figuring out these planets. For a long time, I just thought, “Yeah, they mean I have psychic moments, bad emotional boundaries, and that I’m very sensitive and artistic.” But, other than that, they just felt super-vague and confusing. I’ve been studying astrology for eight years and it literally wasn’t until last year that I finally turned on the light when it came to my 12th House Saturn and Neptune. Until then, I’d spent my whole life stumbling around in the dark. People with planets in their 12th House have a much more overwhelming running theme of obliviousness and denial that we have to work through.

Saturn represents fears, worries, and doubts. With Saturn in the 12th, it took me forever to wake up to how bad my anxiety could be and how my melancholy could totally spin out of control. Uranus is about sudden changes, breakthroughs, and thinking outside the box. Neptune is right at home in the 12th, symbolizing fantasy, intuition, and sensitivity. Having Neptune in the 12th made me unconsciously live out my sensitive side, doing my best to keep up a thick skin in spite of how much everything could affect me or how much I could live in my own fantasies and illusions.

So, it wasn’t until I hit a major wall about a year or so ago that I was forced to come to terms with these planets. And, without irony, it was through a period of isolation. The 12th House is called “the house of isolation” but it shouldn’t be viewed fatalistically. I say that all the time. Don’t worry about the old-school, doomsday interpretations of the 12th House. But, yes, in a way, you do have to experience some isolation here. This house is about being alone, to a certain extent. Everything has to clear away. I said this in my Saturn in the 12th House article: this is the house where you realize that you’re going to die alone. Fun times? Not exactly. That’s why all of us 12th House people can be so plagued with an indefinable spell of the blues. We know that everything eventually has to come to an end. We know that the alternative to being is nothingness. But, to dwell in your 12th House, you have to be willing to face nothing, to confront the void, and to find peace with it.

In doing so, you will find peace with whatever is in your 12th House. Entering this house is a meditative state, in some sense. It’s transcendent, allowing you to engage with another reality. That’s why I associate spirituality and art so much with this house and it’s why people with 12th House planets are invariably very spiritual and/or very artistic. In a way, you are kind of “dying” in this house, in order to rise above your own ego and enter a new state of consciousness: whether it’s through peaceful acceptance, awareness of the forces of the Universe, or imaginative journeys as another person or through another world. Therefore, you cannot be selfish and ego-driven about your 12th House placements. They cannot be used for personal gain. They have to be used in order for you to understand your greater connectedness to humanity and the Universe. So, you have to sacrifice this sign/planet(s), from the beginning, in order to benefit from it.

Say you have the Sun in the 12th House. This one can be a tough one, as it represents the personality itself. Yet, your ego expression cannot be ego-driven. You must use your personality in order to bring out the personality of others. Your confidence must be directed toward helping other people find their confidence. Now, with Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune in the 12th, I have quite a tall order. I’m meant to spiritually guide other people toward purpose (Saturn), liberation (Uranus), and healing (Neptune). I cannot seek these things selfishly. That’s not the point of the 12th House and if you don’t like that, complain elsewhere. Worldly concerns have no place here. I have to use these planets in order to bless other people’s lives and constantly remind myself that we are One.

I’ve read that the 12th House also represents one’s prenatal state. I think that’s very true, especially if you consider a couple of things. The first is that the 12th House precedes the 1st, which symbolizes one’s birth experience and the way you entered the world. Well, the 12th House shows what was going on before you came into the world. A lot of us didn’t even have a name yet before we were born. Being in the womb is that 12th House state of existing yet not existing, at the same time. It’s also a very symbiotic time, as the baby is intertwined with the mother. The umbilical cord connects baby and mother not only through physical nourishment but emotional response.

It’s the reason why being born with 12th House planets often means that your time in the womb was quite a dramatic one. Mothers with children who have 12th House planets were usually very stressed, overwhelmed, depressed, or conflicted while pregnant with them, which sets us up for a lifetime of taking in other people’s feelings and problems all the time. 12th House people, in many ways, constantly wish to return to the womb. That doesn’t mean that you cannot separate from your mother, although such relationships can occur between mother and child. It just means that you somehow long for the peace of not being separate, in general. Yet, it’s a difficult thing for us to articulate. It’s why we end up spending our lives with such an interest in communicating with the Divine and escaping into art, as well as why we can feel so isolated. People with planets in the 12th are painfully aware of separateness but also idealize, secretly or not-so-secretly, that state of oneness, where we are all sharing the same umbilical cord, so to speak.

I could say so much more about this house but it would take forever. Signs and planets here contain multitudes. They are like a separate Universe within that you need to unlock. That’s why I just laugh when I hear all of this doom-and-gloom stuff about the 12th. As someone who’s highly influenced by this house, I can tell you that it’s not the easiest house but I truly think that it’s the most beautiful, magical house in the birth chart. Your 12th House is an ocean, in and of itself. All you have to do is go for a swim, trusting in the flow and not worrying about what’s at the bottom. 

12 comments:

  1. Great article again, thanks.

    The isolation aspect is interesting, I do often just feel 'alone' in some way.

    Not sure about the time in the womb being stressful - as far as I know my mother's pregnancy with me was fine - but I do agree with the whole 'wanting to get back in' thing. I had to be born by emergency caesarian [I'd been strangling myself with the umbilical cord] and it happened in a short space of time apparently, so it was a quite abrupt entrance into the world.

    Agree also with the bit abt the end about going for a swim and not worrying about what might lie beneath, as in my experience having a 12H Scorpio Saturn has manifested itself on a personal level as a phobia of swimming in deep water. I'm fine with swimming baths where you can see the bottom, but the thought of swimming in the middle of a lake or ocean way out from the shore sends a shiver down my spine.

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    1. Saturn in the 12th House people can get really anxious over random things. I have this terrible thing about really tight, enclosed places or feeling trapped somewhere and not being able to get out. I think it's an issue about being overwhelmed by something bigger than ourselves. So, your fear of the ocean or of lakes does make sense. When we can truly surrender to something greater, we can overcome or manage those kinds of fears.

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  2. Also just to add that this 12H focus is producing some very enlightening articles. If possible I'd be interested to see you do an article about the effects of transiting planets through this area of the chart, as I feel 12H transits carry a lot more power than in other houses.

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  3. This was fascinating! I'm always astounded by the depth of your insight. Thank you so much for the gorgeous chart reading, by the way! I feel like I struggle to understand the 12th house because I'm not really sure how to separate it from my 1st house--they're both in Scorpio, and I don't have any planets in the 12th house. Could you shed any light on how the 1st and 12th houses influence us when they're both in the same sign?

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  4. First, let me just say this is perhaps the most helpful thing I've ever read concerning the 12th house. I've always had trouble with this house (and the 8th and 11th as well). It was very easy to understand and it made a lot of sense to me.

    As I'm reading this, I just realized Natalie Thompson had already asked my initial question about the 12th and 1st houses (which I thought of because I just looked at the chart of one of my friends-- who also happens to have 12th and 1st house Scorpio), so I'll just bypass it so that I won't make the comments too repetitive, lol.

    I have Gemini on my 12th house cusp.

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  5. That's an interesting thing when the 12th House and 1st House cusp are the same. In a way, the person both denies and claims that sign's energy. They're doing it but don't think they're doing it. So, the denial may be more dramatic, in that case, and can make the person seem very deluded.

    Most of the time, the 12th House energies are more successfully hidden from others. I've read a few people say that everyone can see them but you. I don't think that's true exactly. I think the 12th House energy just ends up emerging in very indirect or elusive ways. Unless, it's the same sign as the 1st House sign. Then, it's being directly expressed but denied at the same time. Very confusing, for others and for the person, but it will take some honesty for the other person to stop and realize what they're doing. When they do, they can learn to be a sort of vehicle for what they sign stands for. In this case, the 12th House energy will be brought out into the light much more but still must be expressed selflessly.

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  6. Wow now I understand a lot more the 12th house. You really explain astrology so easy Wayman xD.Could you help me in how can I interpret my north node in sagittarius in the 12th house?. My jupiter is in libra in the 10th house. It always been difficult to me to understand my north node.

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  7. I read your article The 12th House: The Collective Unconscious a while back and, to be completely direct, I got scared. As a 12th houser myself I figured out some things by living them, but your thoughts are very interesting. You said there that 12 house planets don't really belong to us and you gave one example with Venus there being a 'wonderful unconditional love'.
    I want to ask you: are 12th housers superhumans? Human condition is a selfish one, humans are ego-based. I am asking this because of a selfish reason: I have a Venus-Mars conjunction in Pisces, 12th house. Overall these planets are even heavier for me, Venus is chart ruler and NN ruler and Mars is co-ruler of SN. This is why I am grateful to you for the generosity with which you write about the 12th house. And this is why I am alarmed. I want to enjoy life, to love and be loved, to be happy as a mere mortal. Unconditonal love is not for mere mortals, it's for nuns and saints. I am neither, nor do I want to be. I want to live my life with courage not to inspire others to be courageous.
    You are saying I have to give away my Venus and Mars, 2 planets that are very personal. Of course, it's not like right now they are very functional, I am pretty much a doormat.
    So basically, are 12th housers superhumans? And who protects them when they can't give and act selflessly anymore?

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    1. No, 12th House people are not superhuman. If anything, we're actually very, very human. Our actions, on the highest level, come from being deeply in touch with humanity. We're just on a different wavelength and have a different consciousness than most other people.

      Your worries are typical for 12th House people. Many people with planets in this house don't like the idea of selflessness. We're already living with a feeling of loss. And being the chameleons that we are, we can begin to cling to worldly ideals to make up for that: i.e. going out and "getting what's ours." Plus, since we already have issues with guilt and boundaries and giving too much, being told that we have to be selfless can sound like we're never going to get what we want and that we're being punished somehow.

      But, it's absolutely not. Don't hear the words "selfless" and "unconditional love" and think that this means that you need to be walked all over or that you can't live a fulfilling life. Making yourself feel good and being in service of others or something greater are not mutually exclusive things. You can simply use these selfless acts to find fulfillment, without the expectations that are attached. Also, keep in mind that no love should be completely unconditional. When I say that, I mean it in a general sense: having a forgiving kind of acceptance and compassion for other people.

      But, you shouldn't be scared. In the end, going beyond the ego is truly the purpose of those 12th House planets. Certain people may argue with that. I personally just think that they're in denial (especially if they're 12th House people themselves). It's not easy, especially in an ego-driven society, but as someone who is disciplining themselves to live this way, you should believe me when I tell you that it's definitely worth it. Besides, life will have a way of making those planets difficult, confusing, or burdensome until you release the ego.

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    2. i identify so much with what you've said as i have venus, mars, plus jupiter (the house ruler) in this house. it's indeed burdensome to always be expected to be selfless. but then, it's the best for us to be that since in fact, we're actually not completely aware and in control of the said planets.

      honestly, i had terrible anger issues for at least twenty years and after many unpleasant, frustrating, depressing encounters, finally i understand i have to let my anger go. it's a bumpy journey, for i've lost my image in my current place of living because i couldn't control my temper. i've been trying so hard to surpress it, but somehow i feel so powerless when it comes to controlling my anger. it's so much easier for me to submit to its power by immediately acting upon it. then, i know the keys to tame the temper down; it's acceptance. accept the fact we're not in control of them consciously. accept our anger as part of us. but, don't submit to it by immediately acting upon it. we need to find the most suitable medium for us to express it. and in our case, it's in isolation. take it somewhere no one would find out.

      another example, i get frustrated easily (stellium squaring saturn) and everytime i feel so pent up, in the end of the day, i immediately write on a private blog to let out everything; the unpleasant thoughts, unpleasant feelings, everything. i will act completely shameless when it comes to expressing them there. then few hours or days after submitting the entry, take your time to re-read it. by doing that, you'll be able to observe your thoughts and emotions pattern less subjectively, by simply putting yourself as the reader, not the writer. while reading, ask yourself, what do you think of it? if it were written by somebody else, what is your opinion regarding this entry? edit the entry by writing a footnote; a feedback for your 'unconscious' self. keep doing it everytime you have time, and it'll be a pattern for you. the best way to change an unconscious pattern is by creating a new one.

      the result of this habit is i'm now able to manage my anger a bit better than a year ago when i'm in public. for me, it doesn't mean much, but few classmates of mine actually notice it, and they treat me bit better because of it. it doesn't mean i don't lose my temper though; it's just less frequent. doing the habit of observing my emotion as another party does help me in seeing myself objectively. it helps me in being more aware of the planets in 12th house. every planets in this house need attention, acceptance, and outlets to release their energy, and our duty is to find the best for them so we can grow as a better, yet humane person.

      ps. some words are missing in the previous comments. please pardon me for the multiple comments.

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    3. in my opinion, the actual meaning of selflessness is by taking some time to consider others; thinking the consequences of expressing the planets' energy in this house immediately. since they are working in unconscious, it'll be less easier for us to control them consciously when something triggers them to react. so in order to conquer these planets is by being less driven to act upon it immediately (following the ego) and instead, act in a way that more favorable for others, although it's less favorable for us in the given time. the rewards is less visible in short-term, but it will in long term.

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  8. It's good to read articles about the 12th house from a 12th houser. Thank You.
    Me, I am comfortable with my stellium in the 12th house. Every sign and house placements along with each individual birth chart has it's difficulties and strengths. I've known people with no 12th house placements with far more difficult childhoods and lives than me. It's been more of a spiritual/conscious house for me then doom and gloom.
    Thank you Wayman for sharing your wisdom with us.

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