From the soul’s point of view, planets in the twelfth house represent hidden power, and if accessed by the Soul would ensure that the purpose of the incarnation would be accomplished. The power represented by twelfth house planets is so significant that it is veiled from the eyes and understanding of the personality, precisely so that it cannot be misused. Yet from soul’s perspective, if the personality understood the innate ability or quality represented as being imperative to the accomplishment of a lifetime’s higher purpose, then confusion and veiling would fall away. The personality then would live as a more powerful expression of Beingness in the world.
How can we say this? The answer lies in the relation of the twelfth and first houses to the Ascendant. In esoteric astrology, the ascendant or rising sign portends the soul’s purpose for the incarnation. It tells us what the purpose is and how the soul will seek to accomplish it. Both are revealed in the sign of the ascendant. Therefore, planets on either side of the ascendant (in the twelfth or first house) are particular tools as far as the soul is concerned. It has literally placed them near at hand. We should understand, then, that planets in these two houses express tendencies or abilities that are very familiar, possibly too much so. In fact, we probably live them in an automatic way. Also to the soul’s eye, these tendencies or abilities are a very large part of how the persona sees itself (1st house) or has gotten what it wants in past lives (12th). These are skills that have made the sense of self grow strong. The soul therefore has put these skills or tendencies in the twelfth house so that the personality cannot easily access them. (And if they are in the first house, personality may be so enmeshed with the planet’s tendencies that eventually one will become consumed, maybe even compulsive in that planet’s tendency.)
But let’s keep our thoughts to the twelfth house, since there is a veiling and therefore general lack of understanding about the twelfth house and anything in it.
Whatever is in the twelfth house is a power. It is a power that the soul wants the personality to learn to use wisely and judiciously. It is a power that more than likely has been misused or abused in the past. The twelfth house is a karmic house.
Truth is – we actually know this power. We have used it well in the past. The suggestion is that as long as the ability is used or lived as done in the past, it will have a negative influence in our life. Discontent in the planet’s expression is showing one that self-awareness or, more correctly, self-less-ness has not been gained in this regard. However, as we become aware of the planet’s abilities or tendencies and understand how to live them free of the tendencies of the self, then we begin to free ourselves of the karma and karmic patterns associated with the planet and sign, as well as discover whole new powers within both. The discovery leads to right responsibility and joy, instead of blame, misuse, or abuse.
The twelfth house is one of default. We do not usually recognize our default patterns. When we do, it is a challenge to change how ingrained they are. It could be suggested that all planets no matter what house they are in have a default tendency; and that would be correct. The default is the personalization and therefore limitation of the full range of a planet or sign by the limiting sense of self. As long as our point of view of self is finite, circumscribed by events, fault-finding, and blame of others instead of clarity and ultimately emptiness of self, then planets everywhere in the chart will have their default patterns. However, a primary goal of each lifetime is an increase in self-awareness and a release from old patterns. Having acknowledged that all factors in the horoscope (chart) can and probably are being lived that way, we come back to the 12th house.
Just as fish don’t think about breathing in the water, we tend not to think about our 12th house tendencies. The 12th house is not considered a ‘mental’ house. Being a ‘water’ house, the native does not have clarity on the qualities represented or is incapable of living them without distortion. Here lies the challenge. Yet, the distortion is self-derived; it comes from personalization of the qualities or aspect of the self represented, and therefore one’s view of oneself. If we could see how personally we are living the qualities or abilities of 12th house planets and signs this would begin to change the default pattern and personalization.
Parenthetically, 1st house signs are a particular default as well. Here the personality cannot see itself as separate from the tendencies of the 1st house factors. The difference between the two houses is that with the 1st house the person sees the tendency but usually prideful about it, sometimes even in a self-destructive way. With the 12th house usually the person a) might not see the quality as beneficial, b) has not noticed that the self-serving or self-full way in which he or she is living the qualities are boomeranging back. The latter brings about repeated negative results in the life. Instead of pride, the person often grows to feel shame or discomfort with the qualities or aspects of self represented in the 12th house.
The twelfth house is one of sacrifice. We tend to live either of two levels of sacrifice: a) the sacrificial or b) the sacred. The second requires Awareness and egolessness (emptiness). Most people are living the first level with the experience including loss, negation, pain, suffering, blame, scapegoating, death in all its forms, and abuse.
From soul’s perspective what is needed is to let go of (sacrifice) our self-involvement with these abilities or tendencies. It is the same story for planets in the first house. If we are living these planets as the finite personality, there lies the problem. As we let go of the personal face that we put on the planets and signs in our chart, then the Soul that we are can use them, thereby dramatically changing the expression of those planets.
Also, being a karmic house, the twelfth house requires sacrifice. Continuing to play the game the same way, we only perpetuate our karma; we do little to undo the self-will that created the karmic knot in the first place. Therefore, we must come to a full and radical understanding of the factors in the twelfth house.
What might our life purpose be? According to esoteric astrology, the purpose of a lifetime is revealed in the highest meaning and living demonstration of the sign on the horizon (ascendant).
Planets in the twelfth house, if there are any, might describe how the person is holding him or herself back through sacrifice or confusion, or holding oneself back through fear or wrong expression (trying to hard, fits and starts, trepidation with the quality). One note: the fear factor might not be obvious. In fact, the quality or tendency that the 12th house planet represents might have been misunderstood or abused so often that the person is afraid to use that quality. He or she might expect a negative response all the time. As a result there is a calculated tendency with the 12th house factor(s). This powerful quality has had the power taken out of it thus becoming a prime source of the person’s confusion or lack of seeing (him/her)self clearly. And since this is a karmic house, others interact with the person in the way s/he puts the energy out: obliquely. The results are power-plays, need for validation, yet often with invalidation as the result.
Our life purpose is to grow in consciousness and to serve. The Ascendant reports how to do that and what that should look like as we proceed. Planets in the 12th house have been placed there specifically by Soul and Soul would like to use these planets consciously and creatively and will not let the personality use them in an old way. Each time the personality does, the results will be moderate to troublesome, but rarely excellent.
Because the planets in question represent power, and because the soul does not want to increase the negative karma of its personality instrument, Soul will hold the personality back through limitations until we can see ourselves as Soul and empty of self. Then 12th house pours forth its gifts, as does the rest of the chart.
originally published in The Beacon magazine in 2007
- Fast forward to January 2020: This article on the 12th house and all its comments and inquiries inspired me to write a series on the astrological houses viewed spiritually. That series is complete and here on this blog. It began with the 11th house and proceeded through the 1st to the Ascendant. You can search BlazingLight for any house specifically for its post or read the entire series. Because each house is viewed from the three ruling planets of the corresponding sign, there is much information on the planets that helps one understand oneself more fully and one’s Path.
Donna Mitchell-Moniak is the founder of Spirit Fire Meditative Retreat Center, its meditation and conscious living programs. SpiritFire
Courses in the esoteric sciences are offered rhythmically through Spirit Fire. Meditation training and practice is as well and occurs daily free online. Donna’s second book is Astrology Illumined, Revealing Soul Through Astrology, co-authored with Sara Traub. It is for sale through this blog.