Astrology's House of the Rising Sun
Re-seeing the 12th House and its panoply of mysteries. It's all good.
“And it’s been the ruin of many a poor boy and God, I know I’m one…” — Alan Price
“Mystery is the only addiction I wholeheartedly recommend.” — Scott Peck
AS DEFINED BY TRADITIONAL ASTROLOGY, the 12th house of the birth chart is a collection of fallen positions, people, and milieus.
And modern interpretations aren’t much better, creating what I call a ‘death-by-euphemism’ blanketing, where cliches of ‘transformation’ and ‘the collective unconsciousness’ have defanged the 12th house to the point of parody.
Traditional astrology explains that because the 12th house makes no proper Ptolemaic aspect to the ascendant, the 12th house and its activities go ‘unseen’ by the chart’s owner (represented by the ascendant).
This same idea applies to the 2nd, 6th, and 8th houses too. Over time, the life events and conditions associated with each of those houses become problematic. In other words: If I am not consciously aware and actively involved with the circumstances involved with each of those houses, I will, most likely, fuck things up.
And wow, there’s nothing like an individual’s relationship to money (2nd and 8th houses) and the consequences related to debt to drive the said person to the brink of addiction or crime. Which, of course, will lead them into the 12th house. The house of prisoners and jailers, drunkards, and debtors (and a bunch of other Dickensonian characters), where he or she will abide like a slave (a classic 6th house theme.)
So this askance situation seems valid because the ascendant is the particular lens through which I view reality, and reality—the world—‘views’ me. There will most likely be blood if unchecked behavior falls beyond the purview of my awareness (my ascendant). Also lots of sweat. And certainly tears.
Some Personal Anecdotes (Or Antidotes)
With Leo on my ascendant, I’ve never jibed with the Jungian confluence of the first house with the persona, the mask that one wears to present himself to the world. I mean, Leo doesn’t like to think of anything related to the self as being artificial, and of all of the signs, the theme of authenticity becomes a gripping quest. (Consider Jung himself, a Leo). So, no, sorry. My Leo nature is the real deal.
I think it was another Jungian, the UK astrologer Liz Greene, who once described the ascendant as being similar to a school or university. One attends a particular ‘school’ to integrate the various qualities of the rising sign into his or her nature. They are acquired rather than being inherent.
In other words, there is work (a 1st house application of self) involved with the ascendant, a deliberate focus, and coming to terms with. Now that rings true.
It wasn’t until I was in my 40s that I understood the intricacies of the ascendant and how, when expressed consciously, I sensed more of my is-ness, my unique mark, and mark-making ability. And understood the ascendant as a gathering and filtering point for the totality of the horoscope.
From a Gurdjieffian perspective, the entire chart can be viewed as a mask. If an individual is sleepwalking through life, it’s logical that the planetary positions, including the Sun, would be shaded or dimmed—operating as ‘unplugged’ consciousness.
If I am bereft of my ‘I am-ness,’ all that’s left to tether me to my chart is the Moon. That is to say, my lunar nature with its instinctive tendency to re-act. The memories of my life glopped together to create a placeholder identity.
As Gurdjieff proposed, a soul is not one’s birthright. A soul is forged. To modernize this notion, you could push it through the Jungian lens and say: One individuates to consciously connect with the qualities that mark her as a unique individual. All of which implies a movement from the lunar to the solar.1
If my life is simply an expression of acquired traits and reactions—emotional states that I’ve absorbed from my mother and father, my teachers, and the culture in general, then my life is, indeed, not my own. I’m a fake. My horoscope then becomes a promise of what could have been.
But more on the 12th…
If the 2nd, 6th, and 8th houses of the chart denote the potential for a disconnect, what exactly is the 12th excised from? Are there clues in that classic list of keywords: self-undoing, ruin, imprisonment, exile, and suicide? And what about the places you will land? Monasteries, hospitals, nut houses, and nunneries.