Posted by: Donna Cunningham | January 14, 2010

The Houses–12 Different Ways to Heal from Stress and Trauma

©1-14-10 by Donna Cunningham, MSW

Resiliencethe ability to spring back from stress or trauma—is an important survival skill. Since the survival of the fittest is how evolution occurs in all living things, it’s a bet that we all have an innate capacity to recover from hard times like those we’re facing now.  But where would we find in it our astrology charts?

Donna Cunningham phoenix Skywriter Did you immediately think of Pluto and of planets in Scorpio? I certainly did—that, and the 8th house.  Resilience is related to regeneration, rebirth and renewal, and so it belongs to the Pluto family of planetary expressions.  It’s the phoenix, rising from its own ashes.

Pluto transits can herald times of loss and even, worst case, of trauma. And yet Pluto is also the planet of healing and rebirth, so analyzing natal and transiting Pluto can provide clues on how to come back from our losses.

The house Pluto is placed in at birth or by transit may show people, places, and activities we can look to for solace and healing in tough times. So can the house that has Scorpio on the cusp and any planets in Scorpio in that house.  Sometimes they’re spread out over two adjoining houses, and in that case, you have several areas of life that can help you regenerate yourself.

 Examples of Havens, Based on the Houses 

As an illustration of how this works, I have Scorpio on the 5th house, and for me, creative projects like writing or web design have been a source of comfort and renewal.  When I am worn down by a grinding period of losses or emotional tribulations, I turn to writing as a way of getting it all out in front of me so I can look at the situation more clearly. In those times when I focus intently on my inner process through writing, I also get comforting messages from the other side—guides and friends who have passed on who remind me who I am.

If it’s the 9th house, you might find that sort of respite with a trip, even a pilgrimage to a power vortex or a spot that has spiritual meaning to you, even if it’s the local yoga center.  You may come back with renewed resilience. If you can’t afford a trip, go to a bookstore or even a library, and read everything you can by spiritual teachers or people who are experts in helping people recover from losses like yours. The knowledge that others have gone through the same things and gotten their lives back can help you regain confidence.

People with Pluto or Scorpio in the 12th need a retreat into solitude where they have quiet times of meditation and contemplation that help them understand how and why they’ve been self-destructive. In places of retreat and silence, they reconnect with Spirit and with the wellspring of their own power.

Since the 8th house is naturally related to Scorpio and Pluto, the sign and planets in the 8th can suggest additional avenues of healing.  Neptune or Pisces in the 8th might show music, meditation, or dance as a way of rebooting your joy in living. Aries there might say that engaging in a competitive sport, do-it-yourself home remodeling project, or other vigorous activity can reenergize you.  Cancer on the 8th might suggest a trip back home, long, heart-to-heart talks with Mom,  or cooking a big, traditional holiday meal could give you a sense of your roots restored and a sense of connectedness going back generations.

These are just a few examples. You’ll find lots more articles that cover the houses of the horoscope in detail at the end of this pDonna Cunningham Skywriterost.

 Housemates—Who Helps and Who Hinders Recovery?

 Extroverts are likely to regain their resilience in the company of other people.  If they have Pluto or Scorpio in the 11th or 7th, for example, a mate or dear friend may provide them with the strength they need to get through a grueling situation and may suggest or provide tools for healing.

If it’s in the 3rd, they may find that sort of guidance from a sibling or relative, or even that helpful soul next door to them.

I’m not saying that these relationships are based on unconditional acceptance. Relationships that develop in the Pluto/Scorpio houses can get pretty gnarly if you focus too much of your energy on that one person and expect them to meet all your needs—or if you allow them to expect that of you.

If that’s the case, look for another individual who belongs to that house position as a temporary source of support. The 7th house represents counselors, life coaches, astrologers, and other people that can help you heal.  With an 11th house Pluto or Scorpio placement, find a support group, like a bereavement group or a chat room for fellow sufferers.  (To find out who’ll you’ll find in the house of your own Pluto, see A Who’s Who of your Horoscope–the Players in all 12 Houses.)

 More Articles to Help you Find the Haven You Need

If I didn’t cover the house your own Pluto is in,  you’ll find out more about that house in the downloadable chapter from my ebook An Astrological Guide to Self-Awareness  here: AGSA ch13-houses

If you’re new to this blog, you’ll find many articles here about the difficult transits and how to work them through.  They’re sorted into categories, including these that you might want to mine:  A Pluto-Saturn Preparedness Kit, Houses of the Horoscope, Relationship Astrology, and Relationship Help.

Here’s a list of specific pieces related to this article:Donna Cunningham Skywriter Mars

free astrology booklet by Donna CunninghamIf this post was helpful, DON’T MISS THE NEXT INSTALLMENT IN THIS SERIES.  Sign up for a subscription, and get a FREE EBOOKLET for Skywriter Subscribers Only: Mothers, Daughters, and the Moon, a 50-page excerpt from The Moon in your Life. Read more about it here: New: Free Booklet For Skywriter Subscribers!

If you’re already a subscriber and want a copy, forward the most recent email post to me at To sign up for a subscription, go to the top right hand corner of the blog and click on “Subscribe.”  Then send me an email with your subscription confirmation or an email post with a request for the booklet in the subject line.

Art Credits: The pictures of a phoenix came from the public domain collection at WikiMedia Commons–free photos and art.  The first was contributed by Hautala (talk | contribs); the second from Triton (talk | contribs).


  1. Enjoyed this post, DC, thank you for sharing!

    • Thanks, Neeti, I’m writing up a storm these days–as often happens with mercury Retrograde–and enjoying it immensely. Donna

  2. Donna,

    I’m finally starting to regain my balance after a series of very long, drawn out and traumatic experiences. Part of the healing process (for me) has been through sharing on these blogs, which not only greatly appeals to my 6th house Aquarius Chiron/ 12th house Uranus Leo opposition, (wanting to impart what I know as a way of providing insight for others), but also fits right in with what you wrote about Pluto’s placement offering us a safe haven.

    Interesting that my place of solace is through my 12th house Pluto which — with Scorpio as ruler of my 3rd (and with Jupiter placed on the 3rd house cusp) — is expressed through my writing and done in relative solitude. My Jupiter/Neptune/Mercury conjunction gives me a philosophical/spiritual outlook, and also contributes to my never being at a loss for words (LOL).
    And of course, with my natal Pluto in the 12th, I’ve been compelled to try and figure it all out.

    As I write this, I’m also reminded that a neighbor of mine (again 3rd house), coincidentally one with a Scorpio rising, has been a real angel through a lot of what I went through and has ended up becoming a dear friend.

    Anyway, it’s something I never thought of but will be more aware of now. When things get challenging, I’ll consider writing as my refuge (and I’ll write while I’m alone). Unless of course a friendly neighbor comes a knocking, in which case, I’ll open my door and invite them in.

    • LB, it’s so true that writing can be a healing and a solace. You get those icky feelings all out of you and you can see it and make sense of it. And it’s just there and never fails you and you can confide without fear of someone else’s judgements or Pollyanna prescriptions for what you SHOULD do about the thing you’ve written.

      I have a semisquare between Mercury and Pluto, and when the writing is really close to the bone, it would put me in fits to share it publicly. In fact I have a pen name I use when I write stuff that is healing for others yet so personal I don’t want it known that it’s mine.

      But I’m making myself write what’s really going on with me and what I feel about things on this blog. And I hit the publish button and then spend the day wanting to go back and delete it. And those are the posts that people seem to really get the most from. So Mercury-Pluto kind of writing can be a powerful healing tool both for the person who writes it and and the person who reads it. Donna

  3. Thanks for the validation Donna. I’m glad you force yourself to hit the publish button or think of what we’d miss.

    I have a sextile between my Mercury in Scorpio and my Pluto in Virgo and they’re in mutual reception. I’ve heard this aspect described as potentially representing the Inquisitor, so I’m well aware that what I observe and share is not always well received. But that’s o.k. too. I always carefully think it through before inevitably hitting the “Submit Comment” button.

  4. Saturn is in retrograde in my 9th house for the next while, and I have put myself into the next level of ‘graduate study’ with Astrology and Healing as the coursework of focus. Later blooming me goes between all the new information from your blog and other fantastic internet classrooms and the retreat of my tiny vardo/cave for restoration.

    Spending time with your posts about HOUSES is really powerful. In true Scorpio with Mercury and Chiron in the 10th I was doing a meditation to exchange Qi with the Universe, a relaxing bit of restoration. Mid-way I heard the JACKHAMMER below, doing major break-through on the streets.

    In times not long passed, I cursed the disturbance of jackhammers and now (thanks to your wonderful Ultraviolet Jackhammer visualization) I was able to flick a timely switch. In spite of the meditation tape getting ‘stuck’ more than once, I persevered, cleaned it off, started it up and braided in the jackhammering to allow some much needed crying to warm up my fearful heart.

    Big stuff this ‘next level graduate work.’

    • You are an inspiration, Mokihana, with your eager embrace of these studies. I’m delighted you find so much to learn on these pages. Donna

  5. Another fab post that makes me think about my chart (and others’ charts) in a new light. You covered my placements well and helped me understand why my mom gets overwhelmed by my (over?)reliance on her for emotional support (Cancer on the 8th cusp). When she tries to point me in the direction of meditation (Moon in the 12th with Scorpio on cusp), I get angry at her for “neglecting” me but alone time usually does the trick for me.

    • I’m not much of a meditator, but when I sit and breathe quietly for a few minutes and still the mind, I think it releases endorphins or something, because it shifts things quickly to a more positive frame of mind. Donna

  6. Hi Donna, here I go again digging your old posts. This one is great, it makes sense by principle and observing it on charts of people I know well. But I have a disturbing question, what happens if the difficult transit is in a scorpio house or affecting your natal pluto? I don’t want to bother you with my I-ness here, neither asking for personal counseling, I know it is innapropriate. But let me give you a simple example:

    This friend of mine (who I know wouldnt be bothered by sharing his story) is having a difficult saturn in scorpio transit. He’s a cancer with scorpio in the 4th house. You could say, go home, stick with family, and heal up, it would be so perfect. But as soon as saturn entered scorpio, he moved to a different country, got divorced, moved back, got his house stuck on divorce process, then rented an appartment, the landlord asked the appartment back after 2 months, and he’s living like a nomad. (and I am the bad friend that didn’t sugarcoat the fact that saturn will stay there till the end of the year).

    This is just an example. So, the question is, where to find a haven when your haven is inaccessible?

    • I couldn’t comment without seeing the whole chart, especially the natal Scorpio/Pluto/8th house picture as well as how the transiting Pluto figures in. AND a clear picture of how you’ve been usin Pluto/Scorpio in recent years. And since I retired from doing consultations several years ago, that’s just not going to happen. Donna

      • Sorry Donna, I gave the example just as an example. I was just wondering about the details of the general principle. I thought the answer would be something simple like “then you look for the… (some aspect/planet/point)”. Yes, now I get it, the exceptions must be worked out analysing the whole chart in detail… thanks anyway!

  7. My Scorpio is loaded for bear, but I still feel like my challenges are bought on by the dumbest things. I’m Aries Asc, so my Scorpio is 8th house and my moon is right on the 7th/8th cusp (1st degree) along with a Saturn conjunction and a Retro Pluto that is just on the other side, in Libra.

    And it’s been a palpable part of my chart, maybe the part of it I naturally focus on the most. I definitely do have an almost unnatural way of summoning resilience, but it is almost never at my behest. For example, if I’m going through extreme crisis, it will come along like I’m unphasable. But given some super pedestrian, lame problem, something vanilla… (extended boredom will do it) …. and I can’t summon the nerve for even basic fixes. If you’ve ever seen the movie Melancholia, where the main character cannot handle basic events in life without losing it, but come the literal end of the world and she’s the most rock solid person of her inner circle… that’s me. And since life is 90-something % the plain humdrum nonsense that fails to ignite me, it gives me crazy ideas about PUTTING myself into “scorpio” or “pluto” intense situations, on purpose, just to keep my edge. Mundane things are way worse for me than intense situations. And I don’t really know anyone like me, so I just roam astro forums and comment sections.

    My chart’s ongoing needs out of my “real world” (outer) life are enormously difficult to maintain. I wonder if I was given this super scorpio resiliency because I needed a safety net, but… . what kind of a safety net becomes a home? My chart is flat out dangerous, when I try to read its big picture. These aspects are less consolation for me as they are an urgency to go into dark, hard places. When I DON’T do that is when I just veg and wallow. This cult(ure) is not going to give me an outer world niche, I spend the vast majority of my energies on my inner world. Pluto, Scorpio, Saturn-moon…. wake UP!!

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