Posted by: Donna Cunningham | July 1, 2010

Readers Ask: Q & A about the 12th House

©7-1-2010 by Donna Cunningham, MSW

So far in this popular series, you’ve asked general questions about the houses and questions about the 2nd 3rd, and 7th houses, and I’ve answered them in the comment section. We’ve had a great time.  So today, let’s look at the 12th house of the natal chart, which happens to be one of my all-time favorites.

In some regards, the 12th house shares certain interests, preoccupations, and life patterns with people who have Neptune and the sign Pisces strongly featured in their charts.  They aren’t identical triplets, but they’re surely first cousins. 

Traditionally, the sign on the cusp of the 12th house and any planets within it describes things that are repressed or hidden, the unconscious, secrets you keep from yourself and others,  self-defeating behavior, how you’re your own worst enemy, addictions, secret enemies, chronic conditions and psychosomatic illnesses. The functions of the planets and signs involved can also be ones we have difficulty bringing out into the world.

The 12th is also the house of selfless service and ways we care for with others less fortunate than ourselves, such as helping professions, volunteer service, and charitable pursuits.  It signifies institutions like prisons, nursing homes, mental hospitals, and hospitals and staff in those places.  It’s also associated with spiritual (as opposed to religious) pursuits like meditation, dream work, and chanting, as well as the places people go to focus on them, like ashrams, abbeys, and convents. 

Is the 12th house something you’ve long wondered about?  This is your chance to ask me.

I am happy to entertain general questions like these:

  • If the 12th house is empty, does that mean I don’t have any self-defeating habits?
  • If Pluto is in the 12th house, does that mean I’m doomed to die?
  • What, exactly, is self-undoing, and where can I get some?
  • How long does a Saturn transit to the 12th house last?

That sort of thing, phrased in 25 words or less. For this post only, no long personal stories this time about what your sister or brother did and no back and forth discussions among readers. Here, I’m looking for the kinds of questions and discussions you’d raise in a class or at a conference.

UPDATE:  Readers asked many excellent questions, and I answered more than 50 of them before closing the comment section. To read the questions and answers, scroll down below this article to the comment section. 

The Complete Miniseries on the 12th house:

Readers Ask Series:  (Readers’ questions and my Answers are in the Comment Sections)

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Responses

  1. Donna – can you give a very short summary of what to expect when each planet transits one’s twelfth house?

    • Nope, there’s no such thing as a short summary of that. It would take a series of 2000 word articles for the Mountain Astrologer. However, the article “12 into 1″ does it briefly, focusing on Jupiter and a quick once over for the other planets. Donna

  2. Dear Donna,

    Personally, with a very strong virgo signature in my chart I’ve always felt, at least, uncomfortable with pisces-neptunian-12 th house vibe (i have capricorn, the earthiest sign of all in 12th cusp. not exactly natural). How do you see the differences among the earthy-watery-fiery-airy approach of the energies of the 12th?

    regards,
    Syd

    • A good question, Syd, but once more I’m left feeling that there are no short answers. Maybe that’s because of the complex nature of the 12th.

      Well, possibly one level would be that the element in the 12th shows the nature of the retreat from the world that would best serve us for contemplating what it is that’s being handled in a self-sabotaging maner. Because maybe part of the self-sabotage comes from not managing that element well.

      Oh, lets say it’s a water sign on the 12th cusp or the 12th house planets, then buried emotions need to be brought to the surface and sorted out in order for the self-sabotage to stop. I know for me, being a 12th house water sign, nothing settles me out like a good, long swim.

      Or with earth signs on the 12th, the person not being present in the body and not handling material concerns is causing some grief, and maybe a day in the woods, raising houseplants, or doing some pottery or weaving would help.

      I’m just winging this, Syd, but it sounds like a good track. I’d have to write a whole article, and believe me, article ideas are stacked up like crazy circling the airport of my mind, so it doesn’t sound like an idea I’d get to in this decade. Perhaps this is enough to give you the idea. Donna

      • I get the vibe Donna. Grounding works for me, but the main problem is to find some balance, not be alienated from my spiritual self.

  3. As a Pisces, and having no planets in the 12th, I always thought of the 12th as a quiet pool of water at the end of the river rapids. A great place for solitude and getting ones shite together. But the last 2 1/2 yrs. I’ve had Saturn (in Virgo, my opposing sign) transiting my 12th and it’s been hell.

    I read your article on “Transits from the 12th to the First, like day and night.” It’s given me some hope that I might see a rainbow soon.

    Why did this transit over the 12th feel so personal and have such a tremendous effect? Is it simply because it’s the 12th House? Does the 12th House carry more whallop than the others?

    • Good question, Terri. Whallop comes from a transiting planet–or two or three transiting planets, these days–setting off repetitive natal patterns and forcing attention to issues that aren’t being handled. And, since the 12th deals with things we’re hiding from ourselves, yeah, I’d guess it could bring a whole can of whallop.

      It would depend on what natal planets the transiting planet was setting off. As you have no 12th house planets, I can only imagine that Saturn (and don’t forget transiting Uranus at the same time, since they were opposite one another for so long) was touching natal planets in other ouchie houses of your chart.

      That transiting Uranus-Saturn opposition was particular hell for people born in the mid-1960s because of the combination of aspects their charts had with natal Uranus, Saturn, Chiron, and Neptune. don’t know if you were one of them. Donna

      PS. See more about a Saturn transit of the 12th in my reply to Margaret, below.

      • Yes, I have natal Saturn conjunct the cusp between the 3rd and 4th House (my IC) and recently this transit has squared it. Lucky me, I have also had transiting Pluto conjunct natal Saturn, forever! A witches brew of shite for sure.

        But I have felt this transit since it first entered my 12th, before it started to square natal Saturn. It got worse as the square became closer in degree. But I have felt it the entire time.

        I guess that begs the question, how close is close enough to start noticing/feeling the aspects?

        BTW, thank you. I’ve learned a lot from your articles.

      • I think a sensitive and self-aware person can start feeling transits as far as 3 degrees away. So often when I was doing a consult and I described a slow-moving transit that would become exact 6 months or so later, the person would say, “Oh, I’m already feeling that one–I just haven’t felt ready to take action yet.”

        And people also feel transits up to three degrees past exact too, especially in one of those stationary periods when the planet is either turning retrograde or turning direct and they sit on the same degree for a month or so.

        When the stationary planet is past the exact point for the last time, it usually doesn’t correlate with an event, but with tying up any loose ends for the issue at hand. Donna

  4. Could you comment on the South Node in the 12th? I’ve never been sure how to work with this energy (it’s in Taurus). Thank you!

    • Hi, Lainie. Sounds like a potential double dose of self-undoing, since the 12th already has that potential. How I tend to see the South Node is that it’s a type of behavior or even a gift developed so thoroughly in past lives that it’s what we do when we go on automatic pilot, as it’s just the easy way out.

      It’s not necessarily a bad thing in and of itself if done in balance and in moderation, but when that’s all we know to do to meet a challenge, it doesn’t help us grow….we just stay stuck in patterns that may not meet life’s new challenges. Like a dinosaur effect, and given the challenges we all face in a critical era like now, we need to be open to handling the crisis in new ways.

      There’s an article by Elizabeth Spring on the South node on this blog that would give you some additional insights It’s at http://skywriter.wordpress.com/2009/08/16/fool%e2%80%99s-gold%e2%80%94the-slippery-slope-of-the-south-node/ . Donna

  5. During the last Presidential election, I noticed that John McCain was doing quite well until Saturn moved into his 12th house, after which his campaign began to stumble and lose steam. He made some bad choices, I think, but I was wondering – is Saturn’s transit through the 12th house typically a time when a person’s career lags or runs into difficulties, or does that only happen when someone makes choices that bring out the “self-undoing” quality of the 12th house?

    • Very interesting, Margaret. Well, I’d say McCain got pretty Saturnian in some negative ways that were self-sabotaging and may have cost him the election. Oddly enough, he sounds lots better and pretty stately lately. Perhaps the Uranus in Pisces/Saturn in Virgo combination was the bigger picture.

      But I’d say with Saturn transiting the 12th, there’s a need to retreat from a long era of pushing for career success that has begun to wear the person down. When a planet transits the 12th, there’s an instinctive–and not intrinsically unhealthy–urge to retreat from the world and contemplate where your life is going.

      In modern life, we are expected to produce, produce, produce without resting from time to time…we all need a sabbatical from time to time, not just academics. (A sabbatical is a year off that academics–at least in the past–were granted every 7 years in order to spend time learning new things and working on papers and books. Probably not given now.)

      And so during a Saturn in the 12th interval of 2 1/2 years, the career may seem to be waning or in a downturn, and if we push through it by working even harder, it can come out as a crazy-like-a-fox series of self-sabotaging bad calls career wise.

      Or, since the 12th is also one of the more serious health houses, continuing to push compulsively can come out as an illness–even a hospitalization–that gives the person time off to reevaluate where their life is going.

      We don’t HAVE to be ill and we don’t HAVE to shoot ourselves in the foot during 12th house transits. What we need is to give ourselves that retreat time from the world…and to have a really serious re-evaluation of what our lives have been about up to now and whether that way of living still works for us, given our current stage of life and current needs.

      As always, Margaret, you draw the best out of me with your insightful questions. Thanks. Donna

      • Donna, what you said was completely accurate. I just had Saturn transiting my 12th, and I experienced that “break” in my career. Now with Saturn in my first, it’s time to head in a new direction.

      • Donna and Margaret,
        It might interest you to hear that having Saturn on my 12th house cusp natally, square to my sun on the 3rd house cusp, that I have a father who spent most of my life telling me I should get a career, and as you have just mentioned, with Saturn in the 12th, I have always felt as if I’d “been there, done that” and that it was not in the cards for me. But the highlighting of it from my father was so painful and caused me much self-undoing. Donna, your explanation of this was very right on. Regine

  6. Hi Donna
    A short question on the 12th house:
    What does it mean when a person has the same sign on the cusp of the 12th and the 1st house (I have Libra on both) ?

    Kind regards
    Henrietta

    • Then, given Libra on both houses, Venus is doubly important in the chart, for it not only is the all-important “chart ruler” (i.e. ruler of the Ascendant) but also indicates the area of life where there is the most tendency to self-undermining. Rather a lot riding on the planet that rules both houses. So you’d have a good look at Venus’s sign, house, and aspects. Donna

  7. I am interested in your proposed question: If the 12th house is empty, does that mean I don’t have any self-defeating habits? I presume that means the person does still have them, but does that mean those habits are driven by something else? Are those 12th house things harder to find, more hidden from the person or expressed through different signs and houses?

    • When the person has a planet or several in the 12th, those planetary energies are actively working with 12th house issues–whether on a self-destructive or a spiritual level or both.

      When there’s nothing in the 12th, the person may not be as prone to self-sabotage, but still you’d need to look at the ruler of the 12th, where it is in the chart and what aspects it forms, for that’s the area of life where the greatest potential for self-sabotage lies. Donna

      • Thanks! That helps a lot!

  8. How about Chiron in the 12th?

    This seems like two very similar energies together; an indicator of wounding in the house where we are arguably most vulnerable…

    • Yes, Sarah, but Chiron would be also a dual indicator of someone who might develop gifts in the healing arts, since once they get a handle on their own wounding, physical or emotional, they have something of value to share with others. Donna

  9. Does a 12th house sun mean that when the person displays sun qualities… ego, etc, that it will be their undoing?

    • LOL! Have you ever heard of George W. Bush? Leo rising, 12th house Sun/son.

      Yes, I’d say that either extreme of solar qualities can be the undoing of a 12th house Sun. That is to say, the person who has tooooo much Sun going for them, and is egotistical, self-centered, and can’t seem to soak up enough attention to satisfy their ego, then people are likely to resent them and become secret enemies–or at least write them off as a braggart. (It’s only secret because with solar hogs, who can get a word in edgewise!)

      On the other hand, the 12th house Sun with little self-esteem or confidence who hides their light under a bushel, and is afraid to show their true self to others can sabotage the gifts and talents they were born to give to the world. And undermine themselves, for instance never having enough money or being recogized for their true worth.

      Oddly enough, there is one flower essence that covers both extremes, and that is SUNflower essence, by a variety of companies, but I like the one from Flower Essence Serivces. Or, when summer gets here, you might be able to make it for yourself. Donna

      • I have sun in 12th house scorpio and found myself very much the one that with little self-esteem… yet with the uranus also in 12th but conjucting the asc… the idea of wanting to shine but so afraid of shining become so dominating and hard to handle…… perhaps i should try the sunflower essence….

      • Yes, it would be a good idea–with a 12th house Sun, you might have to take it for several months and then repeat any time you go through an experience that is ego-wounding. Be sure to download my book chapter on how to use the essences and what to expect while you take them. (It’s linked to articles about essences under Healing Tools.)

        With Uranus conjunct the Ascendant but in the 12th, one’s eccentricities or striking differences are all to obvious to the outside world, but expressed so self-consciously or stridently that others view them as problematic. Becoming comfortable with one’s differences (a lifetime effort, but easier after the transiting Uranus opposite natal Uranus at midlife) really lifts some of that conflict.

        Essences that might help would be Goldenrod (for holding with your own truth) and Shooting Star (for healing the alienation that leaves you feeling like you must come from another planet), again from the Flower Essence Society’s collection. Donna

  10. complimenting Lanie’s question – north node in the twelth
    plus, does a planet squaring this axis amplify the twelth house ‘challenge’

    many thanks, Rob

    • North Node in the 12th would mean that the positive uses of the 12th–like service and spiritual studies–are part of your curriculum for this lifetime.

      A planet square the North and South Node does complicate matters, depending on what it is. I have Uranus square the Nodes, with North Node in the 2nd, and making a living as an astrologer has proven to be quite the challenge. Donna

  11. Donna,
    My North Node is in Taurus, intercepted in the 12th. Of course, Aries is on the cusp. Ditto Libra and Scorpio in the 6th. Lately, I’ve discovered this hidden quiet place in my self that wants to withdraw from the world. Ah, but that South Node in the 6th says “Nose to the grindstone, girl! No slacking!” Could you give some advice on finding a balance here?
    I’ve been one of your avid readers for many years, though this is my first try on the blog!

    Warm regards, Amy

    • Finding a balance between the North Node in the 12th and South Node in the 6th would be to avoid being too much of a workaholic and to nourish the soul by times of quiet introspection and spiritual practice. Donna

  12. What is a good (as in helpful) use for a 12th house Mercury in Gemini?

    • You see one right here in this blog. I have Mercury in Gemini on the cusp of the 12th, and writing and teaching about spiritual/metaphysical topics in a simple way is my lifework. Donna

  13. I have Neptune in Scorpio in 12th. It’s supposed to be a good place for it, but I don’t quite see it. Mostly I’ve ignored it because I find the energy so foggy and hard to grasp. Addictions, self-sacrifice, self-defeating, subconcious lies – it always sounds like the 12th house is the yellow brick road to the asylum. Neptune in the 12th is strong, but I have no addictions and I’m not overly charitable – but I am very good at being invisible. What I do for other people is not things one would notice (like house work and taking care of people), and I dont’ think of it as sacrifices. I’ve always considered sacrifices to be more Plutonian, because they lead to resentment. And if the 12th is were you fool yourself, then how will you even know you are lying?
    So here’s my question: what’s the positive side to the 12t house?

    • Read what I wrote in various comments. Service, taking time away from the world for spiritual seeking and contemplating your life. Donna

  14. Hi Donna

    I am following your notes and I find them extremely helpful.

    I have a problem of fear. I am suspecting it is because of saturn in my 12th house in scorpio? Saturn is also squaring my Sun.Developed a chronic illness in time and i am thinking Saturn’s placement has great part in this. How can i handle this fear problem?
    Thanks so much.

    • Saturn in Scorpio in this postion would probably show a lot of fear based on trust being broken in childhood. To get over it, you’d need to have healing work, and it would take time, but it can be done. Donna

  15. How does the 12th house reflect inherited family issues that we carry into our lives. maybe it can be seen as karma or as what we have absorbed from our past in some way. How does a plant in the 12th express this.

    • The 12th house isn’t necessarily related to ancestral or long-ago family issues, unless the Moon or Cancer or the ruler of the 4th house is part of the picture.

      Difficult planets in the 12th may or may not be related to karma or past lives, but you’d need more than a chart to see what it was. You’d need to work with a past life therapist or someone who can tap into the akashic records. Donna

  16. My husband has Cancer – late degrees on the 12th and depending on the house system his Cancer Sun is either conjunct the cusp of the 12th from the 11th or conjunct the cusp but in the 12th. His 12th house stellium of Pluto, Moon, and Saturn tight conjunction in Leo all square Jupiter in Scorpio in the 3rd but Jupiter is conjunct the IC. He’s a military brat. Childhood was chaotic – moved at least 14 times, grandfather committed suicide or was murdered (lots of family secrets!), family was Southern Baptist fundamentalist, but he’s agnostic. Profession – writer. His 12th house is very complicated. He’s 63 years old.

  17. Hi Donna,
    How does a planet conjunct the Asc from the 12th differ from planet conjuct the Asc from the 1st, especially the outer planets, Uranus, Neptune & Pluto?

    • The qualities, needs, and urges of a planet conjunct the first from the 12th house side are not very conscious for the person who has it, or else they do know about it but think they are hiding it from the outside world. Unfortunately, those qualities are quite apparent to the outside world, and the attempt to hide it may make people think the person is being deliberately deceptive. Donna

      • I understand what you are saying except in the case of Neptune. What you are saying sounds like Neptune in the 1st as well. Does Neptune on the Asc function pretty much the same regardless of which side of the Asc it falls on?

      • Hmm. In either case, it intensifies Neptune’s energies and creates a hazy interface with the world. It would be hard to quantify which was haziest! How would you sort it out? “Hazy today with a chance of chaos.” Donna

  18. Hi Donna!

    I always read people with Venus in the 12th will have affairs/clandestine romances..pretty much all I’ve found actually. What are some other ways Venus in the 12th could play out?

    • Nice question, Carol. After all, isn’t Venus exalted in Pisces, meaning that that’s its most evolved position? Venus in the 12th could have a variety of positive expressions:
      Unconditional love expressed toward troubled and unfortunate people (for instance, in volunteer work, Big Sisters, etc.)
      Uplifting art with a spiritual theme
      Doing makeovers and collecting clothing for women who are trying to get back into the workplace
      Befriending lonely, downtrodden people
      No doubt there are more, but you get the gist. Donna

    • I have a friend with Venus in 12th and she constantly has crushes on other people, despite being happily married. She hasn’t acted on it (and she keeps it a secret because her husband wouldn’t like it), but it always happens. I think it’s her mental “escape route” sort of thing. So she hasn’t had the affair, but somehow she always has a crush on somebody whether she wants to or not.

      • I had a lover once who has not only a 12th house Venus, but also Moon. He’s been notorious as a flirt (Gem Sun/Mars conj Asc) and having affairs, both before and after his marriage (I think 10 years now). He doesn’t like to talk about the emotional side of it all, at all, except with the closest of friends (and still hardly then). So in this case the traditional interpretation seems spot on.

  19. Can the sign on the 12th mean the same as the natural ruler of that sign in the 12th? Example Cancer on the 12th meaning the same as the Moon in the 12th?

    • Simliar, yes, but having the Moon or Cancer planets there is stronger than just having Cancer on the 12th cusp.

      Here’s what I would se.e as the order of strength for 12th house placements, with the first one the strongest:

      1) a planet that falls in the 12th, within a conjunction to the Ascendant.
      2) a natal planet in the 12th.
      3) a slow-moving transiting planet in the 12th
      4) a progressed planet in the 12th touching a natal planet
      5) the sign a 12th house planet is placed in.
      6) the sign on the cusp of the 12th and the house, sign, and aspects of the planet that rules that sign.

      I may be missing a feature or two, but that’s the order, maybe depending on the planetary score for the 12th house planet (using the tests of planetary strength on this blog.) Donna

  20. Hi Donna,

    Do you think Venus in 12th indicates you’ll always have difficulties in relationships? I’m guessing there’s that self undoing tendancy to either overcompensate or withdraw in social and romantic situations?

    • If the person with Venus in the 12th is involved in painful relationships that are self-defeating (e.g. codependent, abusive, with unavailable people) , they aren’t doomed to a lifetime of suffering in love.

      But changing established patterns like that only happens with a great deal of healing work on themselves and much self awareness, and in the 12th there is much denial. Many of them tend to just give up on relationships and retreat into fantasy relationships instead or joining romance novel book clubs. Donna

  21. Hi Donna, I don’t have a question, just wanted to say thanks for this post.

    I find the 12th house particularly fascinating and with the sun, mercury and chiron in mine I’m noticing how I LOVE my 12th house placements the older I get.

    I think I felt they were a curse when I was younger, but now I almost feel that I’m growing into them and I’m realising how the 12th house really serves me. I used to hide away and feel insignificant, but I’m learning to shine my light and appreciate my gifts…It’s just that my gifts aren’t ones necessarily sought after by society at large ;)

    Interesting that I gave birth to a beautiful pisces girl – who is obsessed with working in an old people’s home when she grows older (either that or a hospital of some sort – animal or human!) She also loves policemen and is intrigued by people who commit crimes and end up in jail…

    As you know I’m new to all this, so just wanted to share that I’m enjoying your teachings every day and slowly, slowly learning how to piece these things together …

    • Thank you, India. Like you, I do love my 12th house Sun and Jupiter. The more awareness we get of the 12th house patterns we have, the less likely we are to get triggered into the undesirable ones (how much is too much, for example) and the more likely we are to lead a peaceful, contemplative life where we share our gifts happily with those who need them. Donna

  22. When the 12th house is the most occupied of all houses, e.g. has three planets or more, while other houses get a single one at best, how does it influence the chart? Logically, it means that many houses and planets will have their rulers in this house, so a lot of “hospital/prison” interpretations appear in astrological handbooks.

    • Good question, Tatiana. What a strong 12th house (like a stellium) indicates is that we have chosen the full range of 12th house pursuits as the curriculum for this lifetime. I believe we DO choose our charts before we come into body, and there are “guidance counselors” (a.k.a. angels or advanced souls) who help us choose them. And no chart is a mistake or a punishment, though some are certainly much more difficult than others.

      Once a person has chosen a 12th house emphasis in the chart, there are still lifelong choices to make as to whether they will choose the painful and self-destructive ways of living a 12th house life. Unless you’re born as a Dalai Lama or similarly sainted individual, there’s quite a learning curve on the 12th house lifepath, for many of them choose to learn through hitting the bottom with self-destruction…or even bouncing along the bottom for decades.

      I am reminded of the years I taught astrology as a volunteer in an alcohol treatment center in the ghetto. (I tell the story of that in a chapter of my book, An Astrological Guide to Self-Awareness.) Many of them had done the self-destructive route to an extreme–winding up living on the streets. And yet in recovery, they showed such a pure devotion to healing themselves through honest self-evaluation and service to other suffering alcoholics. Their hunger for spiritual growth shone out of their eyes in my classes. It was very humbling and inspiring to work with them. Donna

  23. And yes, your question exactly: “What, exactly, is self-undoing, and where can I get some?”. I think about such things as substance abuse, suicide, self-harm…. but there must be something more to that?

    • Maybe self-sabotage. Getting yourself into situations that deep down, you know you can’t get yourself out of.

  24. Do you think there’s a strong connection between Pluto in the 12th and chronic illness?
    I’ve read various things about Pluto In that house and self-undoing, but that stuff hasn’t seemed right for the (fairly powerful) few I’ve seen with that placement. So I’m guessing the undoing might be from chonic illness…??

    • You never quite know what’s going on with a Plutonian. They’re very private (and, yes, even secretive) in general, and even more so with Pluto or Scorpio planets in the 12th, the house of secrets. So I doubt that you know all you think you know about them.

      Where I would imagine the Pluto in the 12th would wind up with a chronic illness is in resentments and even hatreds they carry around for decades. They typically brood on what has been done to them until it pollutes their bodies and their lives (and by extension, the lives of people closest to them).

      Learning to forgive and to let go is one path to lifting the dark pall of brooding, recognizing that “even though the bastards don’t deserve it,” forgiveness can bring release from being chained to the past and bring inner peace. One important caution about Pluto in the 12th is that vengence is like the scorpion’s sting–yes, you get even, but it kills you too. Donna

      PS. For articles about Pluto, bitterness, and healing yourself through forgiveness, here’s a good starting place: http://skywriter.wordpress.com/2009/10/06/purge-yourself-of-pluto%e2%80%99s-negativity%e2%80%94get-free-of-bitterness/ .

  25. Does the natal chart remain primary for interpretation when a person relocates? How important is the relocation chart when the cusps change and natal planets move in or out of the relocated 12th?

    • Good question, Nett. I don’t pay much attention to the relocated houses, just to the planets that come up on the angles in the relocated chart. I do find that the relocated Midheaven and midheaven can be activated by transits, though. Donna

  26. Lately i’ve found others (friends/family) seem unwilling to acknowledge my 12th house planets (the personality traits/energies connected to them), even though, or especially since, i’ve started to connect to them more myself. And i’ve noticed being unwilling to acknowledge the 12th house planets in others myself on various occasions.
    Is it common for people to be unwilling to acknowledge the 12th house planets and connected energies in others?
    Do we always need to be serving in some way to be connected to our 12th house planets and have them acknowledged by others, to be seen by others?

    It’s obvious to me though that every connection missing in the human world is being compensated by a connection to the spirit world.

    • Service which is done in order to gain acknowledgement isn’t service at all, it’s done for the sake of ego. And, anyway, for people who don’t have a strong sense of self-worth to begin with, no amount of validation by others can change it.

      Haven’t you known people who constantly seek validation and applause from others, and yet no amount of praise from others ever slakes the thirst for more validation? So self-worth has to begin with learning to love the self, and no one outside yourself can ever do that for you. Donna

  27. Hi Donna,
    You may not want to deal with this question now but I have a question regarding composite 12th house, which has a notoriously bad rep. When synastric contacts are strong with two people, and not indicative of 12 house stuff, do 12th house composite planets (even benefics) make it harder? Thanks, Regine

    • Shoot, Regine, I had composed a long (and ever so cogent) answer to your question, and then it disappeared into the ether. Short version, the composite is a mathematical echo/reflection of the birth charts of both individuals (based on midpoints).

      If one party in the relationship has a particular feature emphasized (like 12th house placements) and so does the other–so many relationships are based on similar chart features–then the composite will have a similar emphasis.

      So, let’s say two people both have 12th house Suns and Venuses, then their charts will automatically have 12th house Suns and Venuses…it’s mathematical. So, even if the chart comparison doesn’t emphasize the 12th, then the composite would have a strong 12th house emphasis.

      This kind of revelation was something I was much aware of back in the day when we did composites laboriously by hand–you know, back in primitive times. It gets lost when all you do for a composite chart is hit that part of the menu on your software program and take a sip of coffee while you wait those few seconds for it to appear. We did the math, and it taught us truisms. Donna

      • So what I think you’re saying is that a 12th house composite would reflect some kind of a 12th house emphasis in the natal charts. (Only because otherwise, why would these two people be attracted to a relationship with a 12th house composite emphasis.) I think this is true. For even when two people have their natal suns in the 9th and 3rd, the composite sun could fall in the 12th. But most likely the natal charts would have some other planets in the individual 12th houses, therefore attracting those people to a 12th house composite sun relationship at all. And yes, I was around for the do-it-yourself composites. Thanks, Donna.

  28. HI. I find the 12th house really hard to grasp. (I have a very afflicted Venus in the 12th so maybe that’s why.) But partly that stems from the fact that it’s such a mysterious house yet it’s above the horizon. I’ve always understood planets above the horizon as playing out in the public sphere yet the 12th house is hidden. How can the 12th house be both hidden and yet play out in the public sphere? Also, do you have any suggestions about how best to channel or use the 12th house energies for healing instead of self-defeat?

    • Yes, it is mysterious how that works, Eme. I suspect that what’s hidden is first and foremost hidden from us, yet it affects the public sphere of our lives far more profoundly than we care to let ourselves know…that’s how self-undoing fits in.

      As a 12th house Sun, I’ve been studying a large variety of healing tools and psychological schools since about my junior year of college (that would be 1962, younguns!) You never get to the end of it, because healing therapies continue to be discovered and evolve all the time, to suit the needs of the time (that would reflect shifts in the signs of the outer planets).

      What healing tools work best for an individual depends on so many factors–history, chart placements, tastes–that I couldn’t possibly give you a particular answer that would work forever after. Just try out the ones that appeal to you, and it might be that the ones that work to heal your own woundings will also become something you can pass along to others with similar woundings.

      That’s one great way the 12th works (and half of why we get saddled with those placements in the first place, I’m convinced) is that through our own suffering we develop compassion for others with similar difficulties who may have it even worse than we do. Donna

      • I think I get it now. Robert Wilkinson told me that a planet in the 12th house is also related to fame. (Meryl Streep and Beethoven both have Venus in the 12th too.) It’s almost like if you learn about your own self-undoing you can teach it on a wider public sphere and empower others. Now I think I understand. I feel much more empowered about this placement. I know that sounds very high-falutin’ but I do think all that suffering has given me something that I need others to know so that they can transcend as well. I really do. Thanks so much!

  29. Donna, what about an 11th house Sun conjunct cusp of the 12th house.

    • In my observations of clients, friends, and notables, any planet that is within 5 degrees of the cusp of a house works for both houses, so any planet on the 11th/12th cusp is likely to work for the 12th, too. ( I use Placidus houses.) Donna

  30. Hmmm,….Donna, I don’t know what to ask about the 12th house!

    There is an ‘unawareness’ as you say, but I wonder:
    How does the 12th house move from unconscious to conscious?

    I have a stellium in the 12th, in Libra. The ‘linchpin’, as it were, is Saturn. It aspects Mars (early Libra) and Pluto (later Libra). Jupiter also sits in the 12th, but it’s 0 degrees Scorp. Pluto and Jupiter ‘talk’ as it were (they are conjunct with a six degree orb, very wide), well, maybe they whisper or shout across great distance – an echo?

    Anyhoo, the only things I’m aware of are my weight (Jupiter conjunct Ascendant) and my short fuse (Mars square Sun).

    How do you practically bring your 12th house into the light?

    I know you mention quiet reflection, but in my case, talking (Mercury) about fear (Saturn) – Mercury trine Saturn – seems to have been my route. Mercury also squares Moon, in my case. The Moon also squares Uranus. (Poor Moon – getting such a battering!)

    • Well, other than talking and contemplating, another tool that helps bring the 12th house contents to our attention is dreamwork–writing down your dreams and thinking about their symbolism. Part of the work is telling your less conscious self before you go to bed that you want insights and healing tools to be shown in your dreams, then writing them down in the morning just after waking in a disciplined manner.

      Perhaps a Tarot spread would be similarly revealing. Art therapy, where you draw your emotions would help too–even if you just got a sketch pad and did it on your own. Writing poetry–anything where the unconscious easily flows to the surface without our internal censorship.

      I think what helps each person get in touch with their 12th is different, depending on the planets and signs in that house and especially on aspects they form to planets in more conscious or public parts of the chart. Like for you, that Moon-Mercury square, but for someone else, maybe Jupiter trining a 12th house planet. Donna

  31. Hi Donna,

    I always enjoy reading and contemplating your very clear and succinct responses to reader questions. This is what I have been pondering about the 12th house:

    As the sun rises, and crosses the horizon (the ASC) it immediately travels through the 12th house, then 11th as it makes it’s way to the MH, the “high noon” point of the day.

    For many, those first 2 hours of the day after sunrise are when we are expected to be bright-eyed and bushy tailed eager beavers, preparing to go out and meet the world (heading for the office, school, breakfast meetings, the field, etc). I find this rather incongruous.

    I know I personally need the first 2 hours of the day to myself and prefer not to have to interact with anyone until I have had my morning time and have prepared to enter the world. However, I am one with Neptune in the 12th.

    I can’t quite reconcile this. It seems most cultures do spring into communal action soon after daybreak, even monastic ones. Would love to hear your thoughts on this.

    • Oh, I think our cultures were fixated on those early to rise rules back in the day when there was no artificial lighting, so they had to get as much work done as possible in the daylight. Daylight Savings Time was instituted for just that reason, and we continue with customs like these mindlessly, even if they only really suit the folks with biorhythms that peak in the morning hours. Donna

  32. I also wanted to say – BIG THANKS!

    This is a very useful post for me – I am getting so much from the questions and answers!

    Astrology – the gift that keeps on giving!

    • Doesn’t it just!! After all these years, I still get insights into my own stuff all the time by pondering my chart and any transits that may be setting me off.

      But I think the 12th house is an especially big goldmine of self-awareness, once we stop seeing it as something outside ourselves, laying in wait to make us suffer, and own it as first and foremost something within ourselves. Donna

  33. Ooh, okay. I have a 12th house Pisces sun tightly square Neptune the house ruler in Sag in the 8th. The similarity of the energies confuses me. Since they’re similar do they all work the same together? How might issues differ or tensions arise within the square?

    • Neptune aspects almost always confuse us and make it hard to verbalize, but with a square we can at least step aside and observe ourselves in action.

      Keep working on observing them, and start with getting clear on the differences between the 9th/Sag and the 12th/Pisces. That’s a DIY assignment that could teach you a lot about yourself, not gonna do it for you. Donna

      • I’ll try to observe myself through the lens of these energies. My Neptune is in 8th/Sag (not 9th). To start, meditation, transcendence through modern dance, healing, intuition … these are active and recognized in my life, although not fully actualized, and I definitely need this sort of thing to avoid veering into self-undoing. I also connect this square to past life situations intuited over the years. We’ll see where it goes from there!

        I have another square which is pluto-saturn-mars in libra/6th square moon-MC in capricorn, and the past few years have focused a lot more on this. Venus is in aspect to both areas – sort of a tenuous connection between the very different chunks.

        It’ll be interesting to sort this out! :)

  34. And as usual, I go for three:

    If a planet in the 12th house is *just* out of reach of another planet, aspect-wise, can it still have an influence?

    Again, with me as an example, Sun at 4 degrees Cancer in 9th; Saturn at 15 degrees Libra in 12th.

    Using the analogy of an echo, would the Sun ‘resonate’ to the Saturn energy, even though they are too far apart to aspect each other?

    So, I guess teh Saturn would be ‘self-undoing’ through fear and worry in insidious ways, undermining teh Sun’s ego energy? (Be careful how you shine, you may end up getting burned)

    • Nope, I don’t see an 11 degree square as working, unless there is something in the middle that ties them together. Or, if one of them disposes of the other (that is, say that the Sun was in Saturn’s sign, Capricorn.) Donna

  35. Eme Kah’s comments about the 12th house being both hidden and yet above the horizon bring immediately to my mind Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Purloined Letter”, about the letter who cannot be found despite the room being thoroughly searched because it is not hidden – the cunning thief put it on his mantelpiece, in full view, carelessly mixed with other papers. The psychoanalytic critics interpret the letter in the story as – wait for it – the emblem of the unscious – the readers never learn what is in the letter that makes it so valuable.

    • Oh, I love that example, Tatiana, thanks! Donna

  36. This is a great thread. I am currently writing a novel based on many of my 12th house issues…though I have to keep telling myself I will never publish it in order to make myself keep writing (a little denial can be a good thing sometimes). I have Jupiter and Neptune conjunct in there in Sag, but Scorp is on the cusp. Both trine my Pisces Sun in the 3rd. Quite the party.

    • whatever works, Christine. I have a pseudonym where I publish some of my more outlandish observations about flower essences, since they’re mostly about ways they work to heal some of my still-imperfect parts.

      FOLKS, I’ve just published an excellent new article by Dana Gerhardt with indepth examples of 12th house facets. Check it out–I’ll be gone for most of the day. Donna

  37. Hi Donna,
    Thanks for answering these questions about the 12th. I love the 12th house, but I don’t know why because first I seem to get it, but then I don’t. You have already discussed Venus in 12, but if Venus is in 12, in Pisces, and has a trine to Neptune, which is also the ruler of 12, is there any way to seperate these influences? Or should I just say Venus is in 12 BIG TIME?

  38. Does 12th house Mars meaning secret enemies hold water? I knew someone who blamed his Virgo Mars in the 12th on everything that went wrong.

    • Hi, Susie, somewhere in the comment section I talked about the connection between “secret enemies” and self undoing…read that, and if you dare, read it to him as well. Donna

      ps. Dana Gerhardt’s guest post on the ancient and modern theories about the 12th house published here today has an excellent and articulate case of Mars in the 12th, so do read that as well.

  39. Hi Donna
    You wrote “It’s also associated with spiritual (as opposed to religious)” Can you talk a bit more about that (what are the differences according to you). Would you say that religious matters are more related to the 9th house (Jupiter, Sag.).
    Thanks!

    • Yes, that’s what I’m saying. Jupiter, Sag, and the 9th are more connected with organized religions regardless of the sect, the very type of religions that gave birth to codes of law (the 9th rules both the church and laws). Neptune, Pisces, and the 12th are more of the mystical, meditative type of spiritual practice that may be an individual, personal matter. Donna

  40. Hi Donna, I want to know what’s to love about your 12th house Jupiter…? I just remembered one part of it, but is there more.
    what I am guessing is the ability to walk out of a bad situation safely….
    but there’s got to be more, otherwise, what’s to learn?

    • Hi, read the article about Jupiter and the 12th linked in this post. Donna

  41. Hi Donna-I have a stellium in the 12th (Sun, Mer, Mars). I too love having this and definitely feel I ‘chose’ this path before birth. Childhood and young adulthood was very, very tough, but came out on the evolved, forgiving side. I’m crusty, yet soft. :-)

    No questions, love your work.

    • Okay, folks, it’s been a great exchange here, and I’ve loved the way your questions brought out things I knew but have never articulated in a book or class.

      It seems, though, that I’m already quite tired, and so I’m closing the questions on this post. We’ve already had 105 comments, so it’s been quite an intense couple of days. Many of you had questions and concerns about this house of ill repute, and I’m glad I was able to share my own perspectives on it .

      Continue your learning by reading Dana Gerhardt’s wisdom and experience about the 12th in today’s post and Jeremy Neal’s observations about progressed 12th house Suns in tomorrow’s posts. I’ll look forward to another Q&A session soon. Donna


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