Posted by: Donna Cunningham | December 26, 2010

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about the 12th House—but Were Afraid to Ask

New-Insights-into-the-Astrology-Chart-220x300©12-26-2010 by Donna Cunningham, MSW

This is an excerpt from Donna’s 2014 ebook, New Insights into the Astrology Chart, a collection of 25 essays. To learn more, download a sampler of its contents here: Sampler–New Insights-Cunningham  The ebook, delivered by email is $15. (Order at

When I first began studying astrology in 1968, astrologers did not automatically come equipped with rose-colored glasses. They were not afraid to forecast personal disaster—in fact, they appeared to relish it. Nowhere was that more true than in the ways the 12th house was portrayed to students and clients.

(Note: Slight exaggerations may occur—strictly for your edification. If you’ve blundered onto this blog by accident, please don’t post indignant diatribes in the comment section. This is meant as astrological parody. Lighten up! You’ll find links to more balanced articles on the 12th below. )  

In that pre-Deepak Chopra, pre-Eckart Tolle era, the 12th was described as a veritable House of Horrors. Those unfortunates who had the Sun or Moon (or, God save us, a STELLIUM) there left the consultation room quaking, because they now knew they were screwed.

It was the house of prisons, hospitals, asylums, and other  institutions. The 12th also ruled drunk tanks back in the dark ages before they had rehabs and 12-Step programs for darned near everything.

It was known as the house of secrets, secret vices, and secret enemies. The house of the unconscious and of self-undoing, which is an antiquated term for shooting yourself in the foot.

If you were having a transit or progression to a planet in the 12th, you may even have concluded that there was no hope or help for you, unless you betook yourself to a monastery, where they began by shaving your head and then amputated your 8th house.

What I don’t get is why they dumped all those disasters into one house.  Surely it would have been fairer to spread them around.  The happier houses like the 5th or the 3rd could have taken up some of the slack.

By now, those of you with planets in that perilous sector must have questions, but you’re probably afraid to ask. Besides, if you did ask, people would know your secrets.

Not to worry—below are answers to concerns a person in your shoes would probably have. You’ve come to the right place, because with two planets in the 12th, I’ve definitely been there, done that.

Q: Will my secret come out?

A: Are you kidding? In this age when surveillance technology, a.k.a. snoopology, is readily available to anyone, there ARE no secrets! It’s not a question of whether, but when.

That’s where your astrologer comes in handy, giving you timing of 12th house transits that might Reveal All so that you can work on damage control in advance. One secret I can’t fathom is why politicians and other news figures think that the sleazy things they do won’t come out and that they’ll get away with it!

Q: Worst-case scenario, will I go to prison for what I’ve done?  

A: I hear from quite a number of prisoners in my Dell Advice column, but they mostly want to know when they’ll get out. (Watch for transits to the Midheaven, involving planets that cross from the 3rd to the 4th, the 12th to the 1st or the 9th to the 10th.)

There was one instance in which I unknowingly was hired to do a day of readings for a flock of felons who hadn’t been caught yet. It took naive old me most of the day to figure out why every one of them asked whether I saw any legal problems in their future.

But, as it turns out, I was quite accurate in my predictions for several of the gang, who were subsequently put away. It was a matter of the 12th house AND the 9th being activated at once.

Several had Pluto or Neptune transits to 11th house planets as well, and my warning that a friend might betray them turned out to be all too true. One of the Bros flipped on the others!

Q:  Do I have any secret enemies?  Is __________ conspiring against me? 

A: If you’re really worried about that, look at rulerships—what house the ruler of the 12th is in, and what houses are ruled by planets in the 12th. Then read A Who’s Who of your Horoscope–the Players in all 12 Houses  to find out who to worry about.  (Update:  Apparently many of you ARE worried about secret enemies.  239 of you have read that article in just 3 days!)

Okay, here’s a serious thought for you to ponder, given that the 12th is also the house of self-undoing. IF you do have secret enemies, it’s usually because of:

  1. things you’re doing that you THINK are secret but really are apparent to everyone around you, as is commonly the case when a 12th house planet is within a 10° conjunction of the Ascendant.
  2. Or secrets you’re keeping from yourself that cause you to behave in ways that alienate other people. When they can’t raise the issue openly with you because you deny that you’re doing any such thing, they wind up feeling like they have no recourse but to go behind your back.

Q: What secrets AM I keeping from myself?

A: I’m not so sure I want to answer that—and especially not here on the internet—because if I did, then you’d have to kill me.

But you can figure it out for yourself by a thorough examination of the signs in the 12th and especially by analyzing each planet in that house—including its sign and aspects.

Think about ways you’re disowning that planet’s energy and needs and how you might be projecting its undesirable qualities onto others (like those secret enemies you think you’ve identified in other houses of the chart).  And then shock yourself by accepting that just maybe, deep down inside, you’re a lot like Those People.

Q: How can I stop shooting myself in the foot?  

A: See above. Awareness in and of itself is a deterrent, especially if there are future transits that look like trouble.

Use my transit tracker to look at past aspects to the 12th or a 12th house planet.  This handy one-page reference summarizes the transits of Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto from 1990-2012. Download it to look back on past transits and to look forward for the next few years: Transit Tracking Table for 1990-2012.

Then find healing tools like those in the category METAPHYSICS/HEALING/SELF-HELP on the right hand side of this blog to help you turn the energies of those planets around. If it’s a long-standing pattern and the accumulated emotions are tough to work through, find qualified people to help you.

When you see a transit coming, reflect on past meltdowns during transits to that part of your 12th and how you contributed to the situation by things you did or didn’t do. If you own up to your own part in the situation and change the ways you use those energies, you need not go though a replay of  the earlier transits.New-Insights-into-the-Astrology-Chart-220x300

 This is an excerpt from Donna’s 2014 ebook, New Insights into the Astrology Chart, a collection of 25 essays. To learn more, download a sampler of its contents here: Sampler–New Insights-Cunningham  The ebook, delivered by email is $15. (Order at

Readers, look at back at past 12th house meltdowns and see what ways you contributed to the situation. What natal and what transiting planets were involved? What did you learn, and what helped?  Share what you can in the comment section.

 Coming next in this series:  Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about the 8th House –but Were Afraid to Ask. (Relax, Readers, there won’t be 12 of these grim visions!)

By now you need a more positive look at this house, yes?  See Skywriter’s  Complete Miniseries on the 12th house:

      INDEX OF SKYWRITER’S 438 POSTS by category. Excellent resource for students. Save it to your hard drive rather than print it, and then all the links are live. Download it here:

Articles Index Skywriter 11-2010


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  1. Yeah but…maybe deep down inside we are NOT like these people(secret enemies)
    maybe these people are in our lives to teach us how Not to be?

    Happy new year Donna

    • You’ve got me thinking, Captain. I have Sun in Cancer in the 12th square my Aries Moon in the Midheaven, and I am sorry to say my mother was a mean person and took great glee in cutting someone down. My experiences with her lead me to vow to be a kind person and never be mean or insulting with anyone. Donna

      • Interesting thing about the Aries Moon regardless of aspects to it. Every person I have met or even heard about who has Aries Moon either has/had a angry Mom and/or they themselves are angry at Mom.

      • Boy, howdy!

      • One more comment on the Aries Moon thing: I’ve found that the women with Aries Moons have the actual meanie mothers and the men with Aries Moons are just plain mad at mommie,
        The Aries Moon men I have met tend to be mad at mommie regardless of what she did or didn’t do and they carry that anger over into their relationships with women in general.

      • Ah, yes, that would be my observation in a nutshell. Donna

      • Hey MEL0810 and Donna – One of my closest friends growing up -you know, the kind of friend where you spend more time at their home than you do your own- has an Aries Moon in the 6th opposite natal Jupiter in Libra (ruler of her Sagittarius Sun) in the 12th. Her mom was more self-absorbed than anything else, which, on the plus side, helped to foster a strong sense of independence and self-reliance in my friend. My friend’s home was never warm and cozy (the mess and lack of food in the fridge always bothered my friend), but her mom made up for it by taking her children on numerous exciting adventures, thereby providing a temporary escape from the mundane world and all of its responsibilities. Unfortunately, my friend’s needs for nurturing and attention were sometimes overlooked.

        She was a very feisty mom as well (her children describe her this way, and I’d have to agree) although thankfully, it was never directed at any of them. Just had to add this since my Aries-Moon friend is dealing with mother related issues right now.:)

        Interestingly, my friend eventually became a physical therapist who works one-on-one with patients in a hospital setting as well as an alternative healer with a thriving private practice. Libra is on the cusp of her 12th.

  2. Transit Saturn just moved through my 12th house and is in the 1st now filling in a grand Air trine. Saturn did not do any damage in my 12th house when it conjuncted my running conjunction of Jupiter, Chiron and Neptune which is 4 degrees from my Ascendant.
    Two things happened. I firmed up my plans for a future project that includes taking foster girls and teaching them culture. I also attended an introductory workshop on becoming a foster parent and acquired the forms necessary. When Saturn squared transit Pluto in my 3rd house and opposed transit Uranus in the 6th; the Gulf oil spill happened and my car died. Haven’t had a car since then.
    I will need to replace it with a van when I get moved and get the foster children….so it had to happen regardless.
    If it wasn’t for the spiritual protection represented by Jupiter in the 12th I would have been a dead duck in childhood and many times since.
    From early childhood on until I turned 21 I was exposed to people with emotional/ mental problems and I did my best to help them with advice. Not one ever took my advice except one and she made a total recovery.
    At 21 I met healthy people for the first time ,and entered college and by then I had over dosed on the emotional basket cases and never wanted anything to do with those kind ever again. If I had to be exposed to one more I would rather hammer them than look at them. It seemed to me most relished their problems and were more interested in dragging you down with them than in getting well.
    It turned out I never had to deal with another one until my youngest son started dragging them in as his girl friends. Now I am no longer hyper about them but I am really no psychologist and prefer healthy people. I realize foster children may need some help but if we get a really bad case as a foster parent I can refuse them . I am more interested in, and good at, teaching culture than working with other peoples emotional/ mental issues.

  3. My brother has a 12th House Scorpio stellium of Mercury, Venus, and Neptune conj his Ascendant.

    My 12th House cusp is Aries, Cancer Mars Rx in 3rd…hmmm… <–>

    • Parin, is this a 12th house riddle? or are you implying what I “suspect” you’re implying? Guessing that your Scorpio 7th was the beginning of a beautiful “friendship”–(if this IS a riddle, it’s a good one).

  4. When I began studying astrology, I was taught how horrible the 12th House. Then, because it’s my nature to disprove “absolutes”, I set out to discover the good things about this oft feared House.

    What I learned is that it’s actually a powerful place to have one’s planets. Their energy is being seen to Rise and gain in strength as they cross the Ascendant and travel through the 12th and 11th toward the Midheaven and then, of course, lose energy a bit as they cross the Midheaven and travel through the 9th, 8th and 7th before Setting, dipping past the Descendant toward the IC. Planets in the 12th, especially if well-aspected, can carry quite a punch and a great deal of power. And that’s all there for the Native to use, if he or she should choose to.

    I do enjoy how you shine a light on the “scary” parts of astrology, Donna. It helps to defang the ‘bad” and encourage people to realize it’s really in their hands regardless of where the energy is working from (12th, 8th, 2nd, whatever) in this lifetime.

  5. THIS JUST IN! 12th House astrologer correctly predicts DEATH in her OWN home!!
    …along with Plutonian power struggles, hidden enemies emerging with Uranian surprise, Martian rage, poison and Saturnian dishonor. It ALL happened this week.
    Having lived 60ish years with a natal 7-planet Cardinal Cross on the angles I’ve seen many “nasty” transits come and go…but the congruence of several “biggies” with last week’s Solstice eclipse placement had me SPOOKED. Even though I know better, really,niggling thoughts of ‘negative bargaining’ were catching me offguard…(“maybe just a minor heart attack…while driving”…”maybe just a burglary…with violence”…”maybe…”).
    At 4am on my self-appointed Doomsday (12/22, Pluto mess on my 12th house stellium, etc.), hubby woke me and his voice was shaking and I was sore afraid. He said, “I just saw a MOUSE run across the kitchen counter!”. Then he put his head under the covers and STAYED there, (Double Libra).
    ALL my self-inflicted predictions came to pass. There have been several DEATHS, by the way, but aside from the inconvenience, gross outs, and mouse-killer karma,–(DONNA, should I have adopted those mice before killing them??…edit here)—my only personal “trajedy”, so far, has been that pesky “loss of prestige” and “damaged rep” as none of my neighbors received the cookies they’ve come to expect this time of year. I could only give vague excuses, pleading illness,–excuses Mr. Libra Moon claims are NOT LIES as he’s “been just sick about it” and Mrs. Double Cappy says, “Yeah, well, the other shoe could still drop…”
    As self-fulfilling prophecies go, I thought this worth sharing.

    I’d like to explore VR’s great topic on a serious level. That ‘negative bargaining’ we 12th housers seem too good at. Would you comment on that, please, Donna?

    • Funny story, Berta. I once predicted my own death (though thankfully not in print) when transiting Pluto in the 4th (“the end of the matter”) squared my 12th house Sun. I would leave my will out on my desk whenever I went out, just in case.

      How it really worked out was that I got my heart and soul involved with a Scorpio man I met in a 12th house setting who was nearly the death of me, and I surely lived to regret it.

      I’m not familiar with the term “negative bargaining,” but it sounds like a viable concept. What does it mean? Donna

      • A lttle late with this,…busy season.
        As to “negative bargaining”, maybe I coined the phrase, dunno, but I have experienced it in myself and others as illustrated in my post. It always reminds me of the stages of terminal illness, denial, and mourning. Also what Christians mean when they say,”bargaining with God is not prayer”. Maybe “hedging ones bets” would apply more, astrologically, as to prediction.
        Great stuff on MC blog. I see the comments are turned off, (hope that means you’re enjoying the holidays!). ONE question there–how about a chart, Placidus, that’s so widely intercepted that the MC is sextile the ASC and trine the DC? Best, B

      • The Ascendant and Midheaven are seldom square one another (except for MidVirgo to MidLibra Rising charts)–it just looks that way in certain styles of printed charts. Look at the signs and degrees on those angles vs. the arbitrary shape of the printed chart. Because the earth is tilted on its axis, and depending on how far away from the equator you live, the Asc and MH can be anywhere from sextile to square to trine one another.

        Actually, I’m going to save this and put it in the Question and Answer session I’ll be holding about the Midheaven on New Year’s Day. Donna

        PS. I still don’t get what negative bargaining involves, which probably means it’s something I do, 12th house Sun that I am. (Would that be when I talk to God and say, “if you don’t stop making my ankle hurt so much, I’m done with you for good!”)

      • I’m afraid my question should have been: How much, if any, mitigation of planetary opp/sqs. to the angles can be offset by the MC/IC sextile/trine to those angles? –as when a planet opposing the AC would be trine the MC.
        That bargaining is not a threat but the exact opposite–a sacrifice. You can extrapolate this to its ancient roots:
        “Don’t take our crops,god…here, take this virgin instead”….(also the popular aphorism, “There are no atheists in foxholes”). Surely you have heard this sort of fuzzy logic from clients on a mundane level. The ancient rituals are still quite active in the 12th. Thanks! Looking forward to the series.

      • OH, some mitigation, no doubt. Donna

  6. I hope you’re having a good Christmas, Donna.

  7. I have always believed that humor is one of the greatest teaching tools. Love it!
    Saturn conjunct Mercury in 12 in Virgo here. Could be summed as “pack your bags, we’re going on a guilt trip” and “dress up nice, we’re attending a pity party”.
    Also add, “please, please shoot me in the foot, beat me.” and “massive daddy hang-ups within” and “I criticize myself to death before you can add your venom.”
    And” I did something, awfully, terribly, dreadfully wrong in a past life and decided that my current life should live like a bad Dickens novel as a punishment for my sins real or imagined.”
    Howsomeever, as of my Second Saturn Return, I decided to use that energy to its best use and drop my relentless self-criticism and undervaluing of my own worth both personally and professionally. No more “I’ll work like a Hebrew slave for free because I think that what I do is never professional or good enough to merit decent pay” and no more false modesty because I don’t enough guts to toot my own horn for fear of people thing I’ve gotten too big for my britches and am an arrogant braggart. (It’s a crying shame for a Leo Sun to feel that way!)

    • Mel810, I get that 12th earth thing totally, mine in Cap. Also my recent 2nd Saturn return is manifesting the same way you describe yours, thankfully. The sense of humor can only be my Sag Moon/Mercury conjunction just 13 degrees behind that Cap Sun conjunction. (It also put the kibosh on any nunnery options). Toot your horn!

    • A great and hilarious description of Mercury Saturn in Virgo in the 12th, Melo. Wry, able to laugh at yourself–this sort of dry humor is very typical of Mercury/Saturn and shows a great deal of sweat equity gone into self-awareness. Donna

    • powerful! awesome!

  8. No planets in my House 12, but oh my gosh, I checked out the ruling planet, and it all fits. My 12th house is Virgo, ruled by Mercury, located in Pisces and House 6, and with Saturn transiting House 12 recently, I discovered I had been engaging in “self-undoing” by keeping my mouth shut (Pisces) about stuff I needed to communicate about (Mercury), and that it had a terrible effect on my health (House 6). Saturn is so often the great revealer! The process wasn’t fun, but I’m so glad Saturn opened my eyes.

    I’m self-employed now, and I never had a lot of people I would call enemies, but when I did work in an office, that was indeed the place where “secret enemies” tended to show up. A good reason to remain self-employed.

  9. I like this post. I’ve never really understood the 12th house very well.

  10. Great post, DC, thank you for sharing.

    This is really funny, loved it: “If you were having a transit or progression to a planet in the 12th, you may even have concluded that there was no hope or help for you, unless you betook yourself to a monastery, where they began by shaving your head and then amputating your 8th house.”

    • Yes, it is funny! Especially to those of us who amputated our 8th house 20 years ago…(mine holds Leo Pluto square MC Venus in Scorpio).
      Since I seem to be dominating this topic, (tonight is my Solar Return and I’m just TOO full of myself),– I’ll toodle off until tomorrow. Best wishes for ALL of your New Years!

  11. I have SA conj. PL in the 12th in Leo. Cancer is on the 12th house cusp, with its ruler, the Moon in the 5th in Capricorn. SA and PL square Chiron (in Libra), JU and MA (both in Scorpio) in the third. The Moon squares Chiron in the third. I have one son (a Scorpio). When PL squared the natal conjunction, we had monumental problems with him in school (in California) when PL squared SA. Even though it was only kindergarten and first grade, we were concerned. We finally (when PL squared PL) had to move 3,000 miles across the country (to Florida) to find him a decent education.

    Other than that, most of my difficulties were not with my son, but with my parents and my brother (3rd house) with control issues. Fourth house is ruled by Scorpio, and contains a VE in Scorpio, so that’s the connection to my mother in all this. The rest (all the Saturn, Capricorn and Leo stuff) addresses my father. Nightmare, I tell ya. Nightmare.

    • Nightmare, yes, Pat–and no doubt a number of painful secrets. Donna

      • Yes, painful secrets; but, with those planets in Leo, I finally got the courage (Leo) to face them and found a psychologist who helped me unravel a lot of my twisted feelings. This all happened when my mother died in January of 2007 and Saturn was square natal Venus in the fourth (both at my SR AND exact the day she passed. The transit of Saturn (which as I mentioned is conj. PL in the twelfth) works “in mysterious ways” for me–sometimes through hard work or pain, it brings forth prosperity and/or joy. I could write a book on my 12th house issues!

  12. I feel like I should be super intuitive and even psychic with Nept in the 12th (scorpio), but alas, I’m not. I’ve never seen a ghost or managed to predict a single lotto number. I’m not even addicted to anything – apart from chocolate … I checked your advice on secret enemies. With Nept ruling my 3d house I should watch my siblings. My sister is a Scorpio, so I lol at that. … Wow, I can almost hear the theme from the Twilight zone. Would a nept in the 12th indicate possible prison time by any chance?

    • Hi, Natalie, well, don’t give up on yourself as psychic yet, because a great many people don’t open up their abilities until some transit sets them off, such as a Neptune transit to a natal planet or a planet transiting natal Neptune. Often a Neptune transit to the Ascendant or 1st house melts the walls that keep our natural psychic sensitivity tamped down.

      And, no, there’s little chance of going to prison if you remain a law-abiding citizen. It’s more likely to indicate time spent in another sort of Neptunian/12th house institutions, such as work in a hospital or nursing home or study in an ashram. Donna

  13. If a person’s 12 house ruler is in the 12 house, and it’s their sun… are they particularily prone to self-undoing?

    BTW, I’ve heard that astrology books are amongst the most popular in prison libraries.

    • Hi, Vallie, yes, it’s possible that self-undoing would be a strong dynamic–considering the Sun is the self. (I have that same setup–Leo rising, Cancer Sun in the 12th.) However, we can always undo our self-undoing–if you get what I mean.

      But as you can see from the articles on the 12th house linked in this post, every feature of the chart has its purpose–the chart is perfect as a plan for our lives.

      If we “contract” for a 12th house experience that includes a major self-defeating behavior such as addiction, then there is generally a higher purpose to that experience.

      Often when we suffer a great deal through those experiences (or some mysterious chronic illness–forgot to mention that as one of the 12th house “horrors”), then what we learn in recovering from it, we want to use to help others with similar problems–the service aspect of the 12th. That’s a major premise of all the 12th Step programs–and the 12 step programs, I firmly believe, are related to the 12th house. Donna

  14. Funny you should mention this, because late last night (technically early this morning), as the Moon was transiting through my 12th – within a few degrees of my natal Pluto (ruler of my 3rd), squaring my MC/Mars, and in sextile with natal 3rd house Mercury/Jupiter conjunction – we were awakened for the umpteenth time by shouting and loud thuds coming from the unit directly above our tiny “soundproof” (hahaha) apartment; this particular incident involved a very heated domestic dispute on the verge of becoming physical. So I stood listening, phone in hand, ready to dial the police. Many of my previous “suspicions” were confirmed and then some.

    We’ve had numerous ongoing problems with our new neighbors, and despite loads of evidence to the contrary, our landlord has been in consistent denial about the seriousness of the situation. Instead, he’s tried to make me the problem by telling me how “nice” our new neighbors are, which is beside the point. His other favorite response is to somehow suggest that my complaints are at least partially to blame for his stress. I’ve found this is a relatively typical scenario with my natal 12th house placements (Pluto and Uranus).

    It’s challenging to live like this and when faced with similar situations in the past, my natural inclinations have occasionally led me to do one of two things: either I’ve turned inward with my awareness into my own personal hell; my intense feelings of frustration might very well have been given full self-destructive reign, as in “What’s wrong with ME??” Or, I’ve tried to force my will on the situation, which almost always only makes things worse. What do you do with the truth when no one wants to know, let alone do anything about it? It helps if I have at least one other trusted person who I can share the truth with (my hubby).

    One lesson I continue to learn is that beyond taking practical and reasonable steps (calling the police and documenting our complaints to the landlord), sometimes the ultimate solutions to problems are not within my power and instead lie beyond all reasonable efforts. The trick for me always starts with letting go of any self-doubt or feelings that I’m expecting too much, then doing what I CAN do, and surrendering the outcome to God. It’s not a fixed situation and new (possibly unexpected) solutions may reveal themselves. We know this isn’t a healthy situation, even if it appears we’re stuck here for now.

    So I was able to enjoy my day today and managed not to obsess; once I start to give in to that, I can easily take on the negative energy of others and make it my own. I encounter these types of situations frequently (Pluto rules my 3rd), and this stuff can be crazy-making if I let it get to me. Transiting Pluto trine natal Pluto seems to be helping me to stay more centered.

    • Good work on self, LB–often all we can do in such situations. Not unlike being in prison, in a sense, where great souls like Ghandi and Nelson Mandela opened up to their life purpose. Donna

      • Thanks Donna, I appreciate that.

    • LB…I, too, have Pluto in the 12th ruling the 3rd. I know what you are talking about…it is exceptionally painful in an emotional way to have others force their negativity on you. Right? The comment that you wonder “what is wrong with you” tormented me for years…I think part of the solution is to trust yourself.

      • Hi Donna – Yes, I’ve found my inner guidance to be most reliable; I know what I know. Still, it can be hard sometimes to sense what goes on beneath the surface of things – knowledge can be very isolating if no one else shares that awareness, and it can be tough to go without external validation. Whenever I reach for it, I lose my balance – I have to remain vigilant else powerful emotions can swallow me up. On the plus side, my joy is intensely powerful as well. It does get better as I get older.

      • Exactly!

  15. Hi Donna,

    I’ve enjoyed looking through previous posts and comment section, thanks! It seems this holiday I’ve been meditating on the 12th house because I’m also reading the book “Your Secret Self: Illuminating Mysteries of the Twelfth House” by Tracy Marks.

    The 12th house symbolizes retreat. Does the 12th house also include the solitude that comes from grieving over loss of a loved one? I haven’t heard grief mentioned, but I assume that is grief is related to the 12th house and 8th house is related to communication with deceased spirits.

    • Hi, Jen, I hope you’ve had a nice trip. Tracy Marks is an excellent writer–try her t-square book too, if you can find it.

      The 12th is a house of retreat and solitude, true, but more contemplative. I associate the grief process more with Pluto. See my chapter on death, grief, and mediumship in Healing Pluto Problems. Donna

  16. 12th house Jupiter. Shortly i will be having a Uranus transit to this planet, so I’ll let you know. But i went back and looked at mars transiting Jupiter in 2007 and then in 2009 and they are SO different. The first one is when my little sister decided to take umbrage to everything, attack and walk out of my life. the second mars transit involved donating paintings to some favorite fundraisers for charity AND helping a senior family member with her Genealogy book. I was surprised to see how very different the transits were for me. My sister is now back being my buddy for a while, but back then, it really seemed like it was over forever.

  17. Sun, Venus, Saturn tightly conjunct in 12th house, Mars nine degrees away also twelfth house.

    It seemed to take forever to get to know myself – to have any idea of who I was. It can still take some time to know if I want to do something or what I truly desire.

    A lot of life was painful, but the more I did the inner work the better things got, so I did a lot of it.

    This is the bonus of a sun in the twelfth house, whilst I may be a hermit and find most ordinary world things a chore and a challenge, the inner world is open to me, lit up by the sun. I was doing lucid dreaming and active imagination work all my life before I even knew what they were.

    I’ve come to think of the twelfth house as the house of the soul. This is where all things that are not of our essence fall away, this is where we surrender the small self and find our true Self. This is where we learn we have a divine partner in this life, not to mention guardian angels, that we are not left to wander this world alone, but are always offered guidance and grace to fully realise our true Selves.

    I love the twelfth house, this is, for me, where the meaning and depth and richness of this life lies. However I will admit to a slight nervousness as Pluto approaches first Mars in Capricorn, then the Sun, Venus, Saturn stellium in early aquarius and finally the Jupiter, Mercury, Asc conjunction in mid aquarius.

    That is a lot of Pluto tests to contemplate – spurring me on to persist with the inner work in the hope of reaping the treasure of Pluto and not a very long dark night of the soul.

    • I love your perspectives on the 12th, Jay. I have a 12th house Sun, too, and wouldn’t have it any other way. It takes a lot of years to grow into the richness of it, but I think it’s a bit of an old soul position. Donna

  18. with the story of predicting death and the mouse in the kitchen…….my daughter has her Sun at 5 degrees Cap and we had that bunchup of south node, Mars, PLuto and Merc earlier this month. There were accidents and death all around, even kidnapping of two young girls her age from the beach we go to. What happened to her? She was stung by a bee in the knee.

  19. I am curious about the North Node in the 12th house, my take is that one’s destiny in this lifetime is to embrace all 12th house concerns, or the need to embrace them in order to stay out of the loop of futility of the south node?

    • Hi, Christine, there will be a Q&A session about the nodes with a guest blogger who’s an expert on the nodes. You’ll have a chance to ask then. Donna

      • Thanks, Donna, I will keep an eye out!

  20. Hi Donna,

    Is it true that we focus more on the 12 house endeavors, or the 12 house matters become more prominent as we get older? I can see this would be the case if we believe the houses describe our progression from the time we are born (1st house) through our old age (12th). (Do you accept this interpretation of the houses?)

    • Good question, Elizabeth. As someone who is now an older 12th house Sun, I’d say I was always preoccupied with 12th house matters of one kind or another from an early age–at least 10 or 12–and for many years, not in a happy way. But the content of my preoccupations and the answers I tried to use to resolve them developed and became progressively more complex as I matured and learned spiritual principles to deal with them.

      I think as we get older we have the experience to hopefully develop greater spiritual wisdom (not everyone does–some older people are just the same miserable wretches as they always were, only more so.) But in retirement, with fewer responsibilities, some of us seniors may digest our life experience and become more inward, removed from the world, contemplative and quiet. But, again, I’d say we remain the same at the core so extroverts remain extroverts and introverts remain introverts.

      As for houses corresponding to stages of life, it sounds like you are referring to the Age Progression through the houses espoused by Bruno and Louise Huber and their followers. It has quite a following in Europe, not much known here in the US. Myself, I stick with the transits and especially the age-specific series of cycles such as the 1st and 1nd Saturn returns, the midlife cycle, the Chiron return, and so on. Donna

  21. Hi all you 12th housers,

    Not having a thing in the 12th, I feel both lucky and out-of-the-loop. Wah wah.
    12th is POWERFUL…imho it CAN BE the potentially highest spiritual place in the zodiac. The opposite is true too.

    Merry and Happy to you all!

    Molly K.

  22. I have the Sun and Venus in Virgo in the 12th; Mercury (the 12th house ruler) is conjunct Saturn and Pluto in Libra, in the 1st.

    All I can say is that, 28 y/o, I´ve been a loner my whole life, shy, insecure, and feeling that I am not fully myself nor that I try enough hard to put myself into the world (I feel that I am an observant rather than a participant). I´m very sensitive and artistic, but so far I have had an extremely difficult time concreting things in the real world. I have Pisces in the cusp of the 6th house, the house of work, and Neptune in the 3rd (thinking clearly is also tricky!).

    It´s not easy to speak about the 12th house, so related to blurry Neptune, but I love to read about it and appreciate it!

  23. I have a stellium in the 12th (including my chartruler) which opposes some of my cancerian stellium in the 6th and pluto is just ripping both of them apart. Buuuut, as the idea of *talking* to someobody about this makes my insides turn (Virgo Moon I guess) I suffer in silence. Overall, I guess I’m realizing how incompatible both of these stelliums are with my planets that sit in more ‘people-friendly’ signs and houses. Quality of life sucks as a result.

    Sagittarius is on the cusp of the 12th, I work nightshift at a hospital, I’m the eternal outsider-looking-in, and I’m absolutely terrified of the show ‘Locked Up Abroad’. If that ever happens to me, please put me out of my misery.

    • Hello, Mezza, welcome to Skywriter. Two stelliums in opposite houses? I’ve never seen a chart like that, but it sounds challenging. The night shift at a hospital sounds like a way of living out the two stelliums, but very isolating.

      There are some articles here you might like to read, like the series on the 12th that is linked in this article. The other is a One is a series of 3 on stelliums, with comment sections where loads of readers share about their own stelliums, here: . Donna

      • Thank you! I read that whole series and I thought it was amazing! I can totally relate to the conclusions about the 6th and 12th. I work too much and sometimes isolate myself because I absorb too much energy. It doesn’t help when one of the stelliums is in Cancer.

        Actually, To be more clear: the stellium opposite my 12th house one is actually more of a sign stellium as my Cancer Sun sits in the 7th, but Mercury, Chiron, and Juno (I count her because Ive seen how powerful she is via this ridiculous Pluto Transit) sit in the 6th house in Cancer. The 12th house stellium is mainly Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune which I know are outers but Saturn’s my Chart Ruler and these planets contact others in my chart….. and my whole life is very 12th-housey to me.

        Yes, nightshift at the hospital seems isolating but we’re like a big extended family on the Peds/Post-Partum floor. Its like the one place where I have a good time….I guess that could be satisfying to my social 5th house Gemini Venus (that’s also unaspected…*sigh* )

  24. Hello again!

    Sorry, I actually had a couple of questions, but I forgot to ask them:

    Why do we say that the planets in the 12th house are somewhat “hidden” if they are, as a matter of fact, right over the horizon in the moment of birth?

    And, in desperate cases like mine with the sun locked up there and all that, does relocation really help?

    Thanks soooo much, now I´ll start with the Midheaven series 🙂


    • These astrological teachings are very ancient, and I, think are based on observations of human behavior rather than on theory. From more than 40 years of observing people with 12th house planets–and myself living with a 12th house Sun and Jupiter–I’d have to say that the teachings about 12th house are quite true. Did you read the series of articles on the 12th house linked in this post, and especially the two about 12th house Suns?

      As for relocation, we are still 12th house Suns–we do not suddenly become extroverts–but I do think it becomes easier to show ourselves to the world. I moved to the west coast twice as an adult to places where my Sun and Jupiter were conjunct the Ascendant rather than buried in the 12th. The first time was when I began to be known and to give astrology lectures and speak at conferences around the world. And the second time, again, an increase in recognition. Donna

  25. 12th house Leo Moon, it’s ruler in the 8th conjunct Mars. Cancer is on the cusp of the 11th and unoccupied. The 4th house with Sagittarius on the cusp is unoccupied too but has 10 degrees of Capricorn with transiting Pluto still roto rooting thru.

    I’d have to say Saturn going through the 11th and 12th has been the toughest and most heart wrenching. Saturn in the 7th is quincunx my moon in the natal chart. This last transit along with Pluto transiting in the 4th (since 1998) has forced me to deal with my feelings about events that have gone on in the past and stand up for myself. 7th Saturn opposes Pluto/Uranus conjunction in the 1st. My MO has always been to brush them aside and keep quiet so that I can function, mainly because as a kid you have no power. I’ve experienced, learned and seen the dark side of the people who are supposed to be family, all unseen.

    Mars going through Leo last year was very tough emotionally as well but I’ve gotten out a bit of what I’ve kept bottled up inside for so many years. How do I get the best out of this 12th house Moon?

  26. Hmmm, the 12th house…How should I put this politely? Neptune transits killed me, Saturn/Jupiter transits through the 12th killed me, Lions killed me.
    With Leo on the cusp, my secret enemy would be my 1st house Sun, and I do have a few tales to tell on shooting myself in the foot. But though i’ts true that my solar naivite/magnanimity and my 1st h. daredevilry is not always a good idea, to be honest, I wouldn’t have it any other way, despite all hardship.
    And, now that I think of it, with N.Node in the 12th, maybe I’m just a case of bad karma!
    Leo qualities I don’t own/disown: I’d say blind trust, capacity for unconditional love, warmth and the like. (That’s why I’m an eternal fool for these guys. It’s in those doggish loyal eyes of them!)
    Plus, my neat and Brit virgo asc. is a huge fun of calm confidence, so I try to avoid over the top flamboyancy, in fear of turning myself into a class-clown…. 😳 Oh, f@%k it, I’ll take that bow 🙂

  27. Hi Donna,

    Thank you for this article, it has been very illuminating and helpful for twelfth housers like me.

    Here’s something that might be of interest:

    I’m currently obsessed with the twelfth house, and I have a stellium (?) of planets in the twelfth house and i feel my chart is something that would be of interest to twelfth house fanatics and specialists… you see I have my natal sun (virgo), mercury, venus, pluto, and fortune (all in Libra) in my twelfth house.

    To say that my life has been fraught with difficulty is an understatement, especially these past five years. Despite my relatively young age, I feel older than most. I also feel intuitively connected to the divine (compared to most), gifted even…as if my life is fated and that i’m special (different).

    I have a very close family member in prison (so twelfth housey) and an unconventional family life…My life is the stuff movies are made of.

    Be that as it may, despite what astrologers say about the twelfth being associated with misery and loss and doom and gloom, (I have had more than my fair share), I am certain that redemption/heaven for me and those around me is just around the corner..things always get better should we choose them to be,

    My chart:

    Love, Light, blessings and more power … Binah ❤

    • Hello, Binah, as a fellow 12th house Sun, my heart goes out to you. Read more of the articles in my miniseries on the 12th house here on Skywriter, as it’s a complex placement with many possibilities. I wouldn’t have my Sun anywhere else–it’s just who I am. But I have to admit, it took a lot of years of work on myself and lots of spiritual studies to get here. Donna

      • Thank you Donna,
        I’m a bit of a novice at all this astrology stuff, and well into my research about twelfth house stelliums, Pluto, and past life regression. Four years ago (on or about my Saturn Return) I began my spiritual journey borne out of excruciating suffering triggered by my Saturn Return Experience. I have come along way since then, and have discovered the transformative, redemptive healing powers of the Light, I have returned to Her fold. I still have a long way to go and I choose to use my experiences for the Good, to empower others to heal and transform.

        I have recently learned that the Part of Fortune “amplifies” planets conjunct to it. Turns out I’m more Plutonian than anything! Fortune conjuncts Pluto and Venus, in the Twelfth, as well as my ascendant.

        With Pluto retrograde, I feel even more psychic/intuitive/mystical/not of this world/attuned to my inner voice, more than usual . I have come to realize through my dreams that what I have is a gift (not a curse) which I want to harness in order to share with others. I’m seriously considering past life regression, for starters.

        Thank you Donna, for your insightful articles. I wish you more power and blessings.

        Love and Light from the Far East!

  28. hi
    my dob is 16-10-1993 and time is 10:25 am born in new delhi.i have 4 planets in 12th house (mars mercury jupiter moon).does it mean i will always face losses and will not be succesful or have a luxourious life.i want to be an actor can i be one.please reply mam.waiting to get a reply very soon.


    • Sorry, Raman, but I’m retired from doing charts and don’t analyse readers’ charts on the blog. What you have is a 12th house stellium, so you might find it helpful to read the othr articles on the 12th and the articles on stelliums on this blog. Donna

      • well thats fine sir,i am really very glad that you replied.but wish i could be dat lucky that you could personaly analyse my chart.

      • The only charts I do are for my advice column in Dell Horoscope Magazine. You could write to me there with your full birth information and your concenrns about those 12th house planets. The email is Donna Cunningham

        PS, I am not a sir, I’m a m’am.

  29. sorry mam and thanks a ton in advance for your help.

  30. Hi Donna,
    I just wanna tell u that I do apprecieate your humour a lot + that I recently was lucky enough to get a Swedish copy of your book ”An astrological guide to selfawareness” instead of the copy I forgot on a bus (ADD) some 30 years ago in Stockholm.
    Thanks for all your insights!

  31. Hi Donna,

    I understand that you can not give any detailed answers in this column but I feel that the planets are really affecting the way I am feeling. I’m sure that it has something to do with my sensitive Moon in Pisces in my 6th house and my sensitive Neptune in Libra in my 12th house only about seven degrees away from my ascendent. I am thinking that because transiting Saturn is in my first house in trine to transiting Neptune in my fifth house, this nebulous trine is making me feel very weird and ungrounded. Basically, the feeling I am experiencing is scary. I know that I am going through a very major transformation and I am coping the best I can. This transformation is similar to a transformation that I went through in the spring of 1985. Back then, one time, I felt my spirit trying to leave my body. That scared me back then and I was able to keep my spirit grounded.

    Do you think that my spirit is trying to leave my body right now? Do you have any advice that would help to ground me? I am not really interested in astral travel. I want to stay here on earth until I feel the appropriate time comes for me to ascend. I have a major mission here on earth that I need to focus on.

    Elisabeth Barry

    • Oh, my, Elizabeth, you’re right that I do not comment on individual charts to any extent, as I’m older and rightfully retired. And in a way, what you’re needing isn’t astrology, but some healing work on the order of a soul retrieval, which I’m not trained for either. Thankfully, at the NORWAC conference a couple weeks ago, I met Patricia Walsh, who is an astrologer but also a highly trained past life healer and also does soul retrieval. I’d been in touch with her by email before, but on actually meeting her in person, I was much impressed. Her web site is Have a look and see if she feels right to you. Donna

      • Thanks so much, Donna. Patricia Walsh’s books, especially the one on karma, really looks like something that I need to read. I have read about soul retrieval before but I’ve never had any healing work of that type done on me. I think that I really need this type of healing work.

        Thanks, again. Elisabeth

      • Glad it struck a good note with you, Elisabeth. I hope it helps on a deep level. Donna

  32. HIi Donna,when i looked at my natal charts some years ago,i was terrified since i have 3 planets there including sun and neptune capri,venus aqua. I also have a stelium in 1st house including mars,uranus,moon,jupiter in aqua. My sun also square saturn. So,what does it mean???

    • You will find a series of about 15 articles about the 12th house on Skywriter that will give you a better perspective on it. Use the search engine on the top right hand corner of the blog. I have my Sun in the 12th and wouldn’t have it any other way. Also look for articles on Neptune and boundaries. Donna

  33. I have 6 planets in my 12th house, Mars, Sun, Jupiter, Venus, Mercury and N.node, it is as big as 173 of the whole chart, My 6th house is also very big with 4 planets inside Moon, Pluto, Saturn and Uranus. Anyone who know meaning of this, or if it is very uncommon to have as i have heard?

    • Hi, Iris, when you have four or more planets in one sign or house, that’s known as a stellium. You have two in opposite houses, and, yes, that’s rare. You’ll find several articles about stelliums here on Skywriter, and I have also written a very long book on the subject that would help you to put all the pieces of these combinations together so that you can learn to handle them to the best uses of these planets in combination. It’s called The Stellium Handbook: an Owner’s Manualand if you look under the tab on the front page of this blog that says “stelliums,” you’ll be able to download a sampler and learn more. There’s also a series here on the 12th house, more than 15 articles. Donna Cunningham

  34. Hello Donna! I am woman in my mid-fifties, have done oodles of therapy and yet, reading about my birth chart in the last few days has at last brought peace and a certain detachment of ahhh, that’s why. Thank you for this wonderful site, and your humor-integrated wisdom!

    With my Cap moon and Sag Saturn both in the 12th, I don’t post. ! Also, my sun, mercury, venus and pluto are in Virgo in the 8th. Thank goodness for some fabulous aspects and other nifties, I actually have made it through and see now how these houses I set myself up with are true gifts. And the reason I’m posting here is first, to say thanks, and second to affirm that it literally is written in the stars. My life changed drastically 20-some years ago with the desperate betrayal by a younger sister, an Aquarius, and as the middle of seven daughters, my relationship with my mom was already as slim as the last stage of the moon, and it broke me to watch my sister slink off with the last bits of my mom (though mom and I played along). I’ve been in retreat, more or less, ever since. So when I read your piece on Secret Enemies, I looked at my chart and aha! the only place in my whole chart that holds Aquarius is my 12th moon cusp. Just one of a bazillion and 3 insights that are flooding in. All the gifts I sensed I had have been affirmed, the problems I’ve created are all there, and the answers of what I can work on are shining bright.

    What’s great about all the tools and info you offer is that they empower us to delve deep, using our own inner knowledge to ground what is true for us or guide us to the light. I am so grateful. It has energized me with wisdom. Thank you! Mary

    • Actually, it was more drastic to lose my dad, which also happened then too, and that’s there in the configuration as well (12th house Saturn, cap rising, 12th moon with cap cusp–my dad is cap). And there’s so much more…

  35. There was a fellow who studied with me who used to dish out terrifyingly accurate predictions. Being a science class, it was his hobby to scare the shit out of the atheists. Poor science atheists were so confused LOL. He was from some line of ancient family of Brighu or something. They had the oral tradition passing down, some of which is still not available in writing or hidden. No sugar coating, no mumbo jumbo, straight cutting with the blade LOL. I think he had a kick out of confusing the science students.

    • I would have paid good money to watch him terrorize them. Donna

  36. One advice i need please if u can : How i can talk open with person Who have moon and mars in 12th house , i think all time that she cant be honest with anyone not just me , ty for answer 😛

  37. If you really want to know the truth about the 12th house — I mean the REAL truth — I can help you since I have 8 planetary bodies there to include the Sun, Mercury, Mars, Saturn, Chiron, Pallas, Juno and Lilith! Okay so it is a wonder that I am still alive, but all of these sitting in the midst of Pisces, along with Jupiter in Gemini and a north node of Taurus, does not hurt. It’s been a weird life, but I will say the zodiac sign that resides in the 12th house is CRUCIAL!!!!!!!!!! I have no astral bodies in the 5th or 7th and many other houses are just empty….lol. I was horribly infertile and no surgery or IVF would help, even though I could afford it since my north node brought money to me as needed — meaning checks in the mail from the IRS who would tell ME they made (self-discovered) mistakes on my taxes 10 years prior so they needed to pay ME with interest or some rich company I’d never heard of would offer me a job…. You figure it out. EVERYTHING is amplified!!! I have confused doctors, lawyers, teachers parents, pastors, people, etc. Predestination? Not in the way we think. It is very likely that I killed some queen in a previous life with black magick, going against some vow of celibacy that I made, in order to run away with her king, but because of my many good works, I was only burned at the stake and then sentenced to a life of solitude in this lifetime. I have been married three times (trying to cheat my empty 7th house, using make up and sweet talk) and every husband, boyfriend, crush, etc has cheated on me (since my teen years), even though I am a loving, generous, attractive, smart person (with a Virgo moon…lol). All men seek to DESTROY me. Period. Point blank. It’s not in my head…LMAO! One day I was talking to my 2nd husband about politics and he suddenly became possessed and started to beat me. No joke….lol! My 3rd husband literally ran away saying if he stayed, he could not control the urge to kill me and then he’d have to spend the rest of his life in prison! I know it sounds like a friggin movie. I have accused people of cursing me because my existence was insane and did not make any sense and the heavens know, I shed my share of tears. I laugh about it now because after the umpteenth time and hearing guys say, I have never done this to a woman before, I realized it was my lot in life. If I have one of those ‘serious’ dreams about something, I don’t care what the President, the Queen of England or God himself comes down to say — IT WILL HAPPEN! Sooooo, in conclusion, I have literally seen plasma like prison walls all around me. If I try to veer out too far astrally, I am pulled back with chains. I have been offered 2-1/2 people who understand me in this world. I say 1/2 because one is too new to tell how my karma will affect him in the long run — people flip out on me. I have knowledge about spiritual things that no one taught me in this life. It’s hard, but I know I am special, ancient, horribly psychic, and totally watched by the powers that be. The 12th house is not anything to be afraid of, however it is to be respected because if you have numerous positions there, it is for a reason that’s bigger than you or your existence in this life, and it is to be understood and revered.

  38. I have always been interested in astrology, but because of my parents, religion and society’s views, on the topic, I have kept it at a surface level, however, the older I get , the less I care about other people’s opinions, and I am finally starting to delve into what it all means. I mean, really look at the nuts and bolts, instead of just skimming it on the surface. Plus, I want to understand myself, and traditional psychology, has just never worked for me.

    So, what did I find out, and why am I here, looking at this thing called the twelfth house? Because, today I found out that I have 4 planets in my twelfth house. I guess you could call me the text book example of a very scary chart. Although, I know I am a good person and have done nothing wrong. In fact, I value the truth, which is why I am here.

    I am just starting to learn and grasp what this all means, but….. I can tell you that my Venus is 4 degrees Aries in the twelfth, my Sun is 23 degrees Pisces in the twelfth house, my Mercury is 14 degrees Pisces in the twelfth, and my North Node is 11 degrees Pisces in the twelfth house. I guess that would make me an interesting individual with a lot to overcome. But, I am determined to overcome these handicaps, as I am tired of being taken the wrong way or allowing others to take advantage of me. Time to clean out the closet or basement. The question is, where do I start?

    • Wendy, don’t be frightened by the negative things you read or hear about the 12th house. There are beautiful things about it too, and very positive ways to use it, as in spiritual studies and service. (As a person with Sun and Jupiter in the 12th, I wouldn’t have it any other way.) On this blog, You’ll find a series of 15 articles about the 12th house. Use the onsite search engine at the top right hand corner of the front page. Also, much depends on the nature
      of the planets placed there. Yours are quite benign in nature.

      Donna Cunningham

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