©1999 by Donna Cunningham, MSW
Donna says: In response to the wish expressed by some of Skywriter’s readers for information on 12th house transits, I’m reprinting here part of an essay in my ebook, Astro-Analysis: Select Topics in Chart Interpretation, available at Moon Maven Publications.
Over the years, I’ve observed what happens when a planet that has been transiting the 12th house finally emerges into the 1st. It is then that an important process that has been deeply private for some time finally emerges for the whole world to see. Though hidden from view, the 12th house is rich with significance. Analyzing the associated signs and planets in the birth chart can reveal secret wellsprings of growth and strength, or it can point out ways we covertly undermine ourselves and create suffering. The difference between these two possibilities is willingness to consciously examine and take responsibility for self-defeating behaviors and thoughts and to take a look at feelings we don’t like to admit we have. The tendency of natal 12th house signs and planets, however, is to remain hidden from others and, all too often, from ourselves—we deny self-defeating patterns of behavior not only to other people but also to ourselves.
Typical 12th House Transits
It is precisely during a transit of the 12th house that these hidden parts of ourselves are revealed so we can begin to work on them. We are given the opportunity—and, usually, the impetus—to change them if they are hurtful or to enhance them if they are of value. The unconscious becomes more and more conscious, whether through painful encounters with consequences of self-defeating habits or through voluntarily entering into contemplation and self-inquiry.
The 12th being a house of retreat, we are usually given the gift of space to work on these patterns in private, without having to expose our shortcomings or our wounds. Sometimes the circumstances that create this valuable space seem like misfortunes—a prolonged bout of ill-health, say, or a spell of unemployment—but in the long run they are revealed as gifts of Spirit. When we embrace the silent and often solitary process of self-exploration, we can stop undermining ourselves. The energy that self-defeating pursuits used to consume can instead be directed into growth and spiritual seeking. With our new insight, we are granted a compassionate understanding of others, so we may also find ourselves giving service in new ways.
Suppose, instead, we choose to remain in denial and even beef up our defenses against owning these painful facets of our lives. Then the 12th house transit can show a progressive intensification of old self-defeating habits and their destructive potentials. For instance, depending on the content of the 12th natally, we might escape into addictions to substances, compulsive or even abusive relationships, or workaholism, until they take on a life of their own.
As time goes on during the transit, we enter a “bottoming out” phase, madly persevering in these old behaviors despite their increasingly obvious failure to fulfill our needs and their increasingly painful consequences. In the end, we can only go so far down that path before we reach a turning point, and, hopefully, choose to pursue the 12th house’s more loving expressions.
A 12th house passage and the processes associated with it can go on for some time, as determined by the number of degrees in that house natally. You may even find that the month or two each year that the Sun, Mercury, and Venus are coursing through your 12th are a time when you instinctively withdraw from involvement in the world and its demands and devote time to inner life. It is only our results-oriented society that devalues these retreat periods as unproductive rather than recognizing the ways they restore and revitalize us and grant a new perspective on our lives.
The longer the 12th house transit lasts, the more life-changing the process, and the more important self-awareness becomes. Jupiter transits generally last a year and Saturn takes two or three years to pass through a house. Uranus may take seven years, while Neptune and Pluto transits may endure 10-12 years.
The Shift from the 12th to the 1st
However long the transit, and however intense the inner process, there is a distinct shift when that planet emerges from the 12th house into the 1st. With slower moving planets, the energetic change can be gradual, as they cross the Ascendant, then retrograde back into the 12th a couple of times.
Let’s use Jupiter as an example. As Jupiter spends a scant year in each house in turn, it is there long enough to notice the effect of the transit on the matters of the house yet short enough to notice the sequence it creates when it moves along to the next. During Jupiter’s year in the 11th, there’s often a social whirl that seems to give way to a time of contemplative solitude during its sojourn in the 12th. People instinctively pull inward to contemplate their life direction and observe their emotional life. The 12th house is the house of the ashram, and a Hindu word for Jupiter is Guru, so even those who have not been especially drawn to spiritual practices may find themselves studying philosophy more seriously.
These, of course, are the more positive expressions of Jupiter, which is supposedly very fortunate in this house. Still, Jupiter is inclined to excess, so this transit can exaggerate any self-destructive behavior patterns, as represented by natal 12th house placements. People overdo wildly in the belief that, “I can get away with it, God is on my side, and anyway I won’t get caught.” For those inclined to addiction or overeating, Jupiter’s thirst for More and More can lead to an intensification of the addiction.
When Jupiter shifts from the 12th into the 1st, the person who has taken the higher path with this transit moves out of self-imposed isolation with a new enthusiasm and sense of purpose. Having learned some important new truths during their period of study and contemplation, they may now feel they have something important to impart, so they may begin teaching or preaching. The signs of natal and transiting Jupiter determine what it is they want to teach and whether they are gifted at it or merely arrogant and opinionated. All the same, the year of quiet retreat with Jupiter in the 12th tends to rekindle energy and hopefulness.
Contrast that with Saturn’s two-year or longer sojourn in the 12th. In anticipating what it might bring, it is important to have a thorough understanding of Saturn’s natal condition—sign, house, and aspects. It is also instructive to assess how the individual, at this stage of life, meets Saturn’s demands for responsibility, maturity, self-discipline, accomplishment, and dealing with authority figures. If the individual is handling those functions well, there is less chance that a 12th house passage will bring unwanted repercussions.
If, however, the individual typically behaves irresponsibly and immaturely, has no real purpose in life or career direction, and expects authority figures to take on the role of indulgent parents, then Saturn’s passage through the 12th may well be an encounter with some sobering realities. Among the sobering realities would be reaping the consequences of destructive patterns signified by planets in the 12th natally.
Even those who are generally Saturn-friendly can find this transit challenging, though they have developed the tools and strategies to cope with Saturnian demands, both inner and outer. Highly-motivated achievers may find it a frustrating period, in that often the career or life goals seem to be on hiatus, enjoying few outer manifestations. The exception, of course, is for those who are pursuing 12th house related careers of service, in which case they may find themselves, finally, in administrative or supervisory positions. For spiritual disciples, also, it may be a time of important initiations.
Those who find themselves stymied or stagnant in their careers, however, may wish to recall what we said earlier about the merits of a retreat time which enables us to process and digest what has happened up to now. Here, it is time to evaluate our accomplishments and how they have or haven’t truly satisfied us. The 12th house is a house of service, and if we have accomplished a great deal or have been given much, perhaps it is time to give back to the world.
It is also a house of inner life, of spirituality, and of health difficulties brought on by repressed emotions or self-defeating practices. If we have sacrificed the inner life, postponed developing our spirituality, and neglected our health in order to achieve material goals, then this is a time to bring our lives back into balance. If we refuse to do so, in the course of this transit, we may be faced with anxiety or depression (Saturn emotional imbalances) or perhaps with work-related health complaints. We may suffer from spiritual angst as well, a sense of emptiness in the midst of material accomplishments that eventually has us turning to spirit for relief.
What happens when Saturn crosses the Ascendant and goes into the 1st depends completely on how the individual has used its passage through the 12th. Those who have a history of irresponsibility and who haven’t grown up any in the past couple of years may find, if they haven’t already, that there are times they simply have to pay the consequences of their behavior. Those who have overworked habitually and ignored their body’s needs and limitations may face a health crisis that forces them to let go of overwork and take care of themselves.
Those who have taken the quieter, more contemplative path of reassessing their life path and biding their time, however, are quite likely to find themselves with new skills and character development to offer the world. When Saturn emerges into the 1st, such individuals begin to impress others with their new-found maturity and capability, and so it is often a time when they are “drafted” to fill a highly responsible new position or role. The mantle of authority now sits more lightly on their shoulders, and they come into their own in a new way.
I won’t cover the outer planets and their slow passages through the 12th, but the same type of assessment will help you to understand the more gradual process these transits bring. What houses, signs, and aspects does the planet inhabit natally, and what does that suggest about the person? How important—or how muted—is its expression in the person’s life? Paramount, of course, is the strength of the 12th house in the birth chart and how the person has come to express any 12th house planets in the course of this lifetime. How has the person used that planet historically, and what development has unfolded in the course of a lifetime in that planet’s expression?
Note: This is an excerpt from an essay in my ebook, Astro-Analysis: Select Topics in Chart Interpretation, available at Moon Maven Publications.
Skywriter’s Complete Miniseries on the 12th house:
- 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
- 7 Secrets You May not Know about the 12th House
- 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
See more articles on the 12 houses in the categoryHouses of the Horoscope.
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