©2009 by Donna Cunningham, MSW
The 12th house is one of the more mysterious territories of the birth chart, and possibly the least understood. As you probe its secrets, you may find hidden gold. Or, as we’ll see with the chart of former senator John Edwards, you may find dirty laundry–or both. For people on a path of self-discovery, pondering your 12th produces important insights into your shadow side and into the ways you shoot yourself in the foot.
As an astrologer, counselor, or healer, the client’s 12th may shed a great deal of light on sources of compulsive behaviors and self-sabotage that your work together can address. Probing it sensitively when a client is ready for change can result in a deep healing.
However, you should never, ever force such revelations on clients who resist them, for you can force their secrets even deeper into hiding and increase their resistance to going for help in the future. Trust that their resistance is the psyche’s wise way of protecting itself until all the ingredients are present for a healing.
The 12th house reveals a Rising Sign’s hidden agendas. My early mentor, Rod Chase used a technique of studying the 12 signs in which he placed each one in turn on the 1st house and the following signs in turn around the 2nd, 3rd, and so on. The 12th house sign would be the one immediately before the sign on the first.
For instance, with Sagittarius Rising, Scorpio would be on the 12th. Thus you might discern that Sagittarius’ preaching about morality, ethics, or religion may conceal a desire to control others or the self. Leo Rising puts Cancer on the 12th, and behind the show of seeming confidence and even conceit lies a great deal of shyness and insecurity—that’s why they need so much applause. You can learn a great deal about any Rising sign by using his technique.
The 12th house is the house of secrets. In your birth chart, this house shows what you keep hidden from the world—the things you’d rather people didn’t know about you. If there’s nothing placed in the 12th, you probably don’t have any major secrets, just some of the less wonderful traits of the sign on the cusp that you try to keep from showing others. However, any planets in that house—including their sign and aspects—can show major sources of difficulty. There can be a good deal of shame attached to matters depicted by that house, and that’s why you’d rather not reveal them.
There lie the secrets you hide from yourself. Along with the Moon and the planet Neptune, the 12th shows things about yourself that are unconscious and thus not readily dealt with. In these unconscious urges, emotions, and memories lie the seeds of neurosis.
Your Secrets can be the source of self-undoing. When it comes to shooting yourself in foot, the 12th house should be #1 on your suspect list. Whenever you get to the point of asking yourself, “WHY, WHY, WHY do I keep doing that to myself,” that’s the time when you need someone wise and knowledgeable about astrology—and human nature—to take an unbiased look at your chart. We can seldom be that objective about our own charts and especially about the 12th house.
The closer a 12th house planet is to the Ascendant, the less of a secret it really is! A 12th house planet that is conjunct the Ascendant within 10° is much more apparent to people around you and the world at large than you believe. You’re probably not fooling anyone but yourself, even if they don’t call you on it. An example would be the flamboyantly gay but closeted person who believes that if they don’t talk about it no one will know.
During a transit to 12th house planets, the secret will come out. When politicians’ dirty secrets are revealed, their careers usually go down in flames. A recent example was Senator John Edwards, a promising Democratic candidate in the 2008 presidential campaign—I was all prepared to vote for him in the primary. The AstroDatabank Record for Edwards, John notes that he was born June 10, 1953, in Seneca, SC. His mother gave his time of birth to a campaign staffer as 7:02 AM EST, but his wife later gave it as 7:23 AM. In either case, the resulting chart shows a 12th house trio of planets—the Sun and Mars conjunct in late Gemini and Mercury in Cancer.
He withdrew from the presidential race on January 30, 2008. That summer, when the National Enquirer began publishing rumors of an illegitimate child, he finally revealed (on 8/8/08) an affair he had 2 years earlier. His 12th house Gemini Sun and Mars were prominently featured in transits in that two-year interval—as Pluto went through late Sagittarius—and continue to be prominent in the aftermath, as the transiting Uranus-Saturn opposition from Pisces and Virgo square them. As of March, 2010, details of his affairs continue to surface and to make tabloid television news.
Probing your secrets is a good thing. In the 12-step programs, they say, “you’re only as sick as your secrets.” One of the major sources of healing and reclamation for a person in recovery from an addiction is the process of writing it all out in an inventory and telling that inventory to a trusted person like a sponsor. Secrets can fuel addiction like nothing else! In the case of John Edwards’ 12th house Sun-Mars conjunction, the secrecy of the affair(s?) apparently added extra thrills to the sexual compulsion. However, dealing with hidden issues can be a huge release and relief for anyone with a strong12th house.
One caution: it isn’t wise to confide your secrets to just anyone—pick the person and the timing very carefully. Often a professional counselor or spiritual advisor who is sworn to confidentiality is the best place to start sorting things out. And, so you know, there’s no such thing as a secret in emails or on the internet.
Skywriter’s Complete Miniseries on the 12th house:
- Doomed by a 12th House Stellium? Think Again!
- A Sensitive Guide to Planets in the 12th House—Guest Blog
- 12th House People as Introverts: the Power of Solitude
- Readers Ask: Q & A about the 12th House
- New Insights into the 12th House from our Q&A Session
- A Tool for Analyzing Your 12th House Sign
- Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about the 12th—but Were Afraid to Ask
- The 12th House—Comparing Ancient and Modern Views
- Daybreak and the 12th House Sun
- 12 Famous People with 12th House Suns
- 80 Qualities of Venus in the 12th or other Venus-Neptune Combinations
- Jupiter in the 12th—When Does Good Luck Turn Bad?
- Transits from the 12th House to the 1st–Like Night and Day
More Posts in the “Things You May not Know” Series:
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