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The Second House
by Dana Gerhardt

Like a mischievous boy releasing a mouse in a roomful of cheerleaders, try dropping the subject of money into a gathering of metaphysical people. Watch how many scramble for the tabletops. When you're discussing the 2nd house, you have to talk money. Yet in most spiritual circles, money is a dirty word. Craving dollars is an affront to spirit and decidedly uncool (except of course, for those spiritual teachers whose hands are always open for donations). Nor is astrology exempt. More than once I've heard that charging for readings is blasphemous, since astrology is a “gift” (this might explain the profession's drive to prove that it's a “science”). New Agers, on the other hand, like money. They'll recite affirmations and magic mantras to get more of it. If you don't have enough, they argue, it's a sign that your thoughts are uncool.

Whether money is dirty or evil--or spirit-inspired--or as is more likely the case, energetic but neutral, “How do I get more of it?” is one of the top three questions on most clients' minds. Frequently it's followed by the lament, “If only I didn't have to make money!” What a tragedy the world expects us to be house painters, insurance salesmen and loan officers, when our souls cry for grander personas, to be artists, philosophers, adventurers. Having to make money seems a wretched detour. I've heard it said that God needs more dishwashers than kings, but why then, wouldn't God plant in us a burning desire to wash dishes instead? This dilemma is especially acute for the Pluto in Leo generation, whose dream of creative self-expression is so keen—despite being raised by Pluto in Cancer parents, for whom money, the security of it, the status of it, was the greater prize.
Aside from love relationships, little provokes so much longing, anxiety, resentment, or confusion. Astrology locates one's financial status, along with the attitudes and conditions that help or hinder it, in the 2nd house. If you want to unravel your own money mysteries, it's through this house you must travel. What you encounter there, however, will hold the key to far more than just your bank account.

In Sacred Contracts, medical intuitive Caroline Myss identifies the energetic ground of the 2nd house. (1) Though Myss is not an astrologer, she has a keen grasp of archetypal energies. To diagnose the condition of your 2nd house, she suggests looking at an area of life where you feel continually disempowered. Though this conflict may surface in areas associated with other houses--your relationships (7th) or your career (10th)—your disempowered approach, she suggests, will likely source from the negative attitudes in your 2nd house. In other words, the key to your power in the world—or the lack of it—lies here.

The 2nd is a “succedent” house. This means it succeeds or follows an important house on the angle. The angular houses (1,4,7 and 10) are, as John Frawley writes, the “structural key to the chart, like the main beams in a roof.” (2) Planets in angular houses are stronger, have more power to act. They define the pillars of your life: your personality, your home and family, your relationships, your career. A planet transiting through an angular house will often bring more dramatic changes than the same planet transiting another house. Angular transits can initiate a theme that survives long after the transit has passed.
This doesn't mean succedent houses are less important. Rather, their significance is bound up with the house that came before. Succedent houses play a necessarily supportive role. They're meant to stabilize whatever the angular house has launched. The succedent 5th, for example, rules children, romance and creativity-—but together they have a job to do. As activities, they further encourage the self-essence nurtured by home and family in the angular 4th. Likewise, the deepening intimacies, financial and sexual, of the succedent 8th test and/or strengthen the partnerships forged in the 7th. Similarly, social networks in the 11th can affirm or undermine the professional status developed in the angular 10th.

The role of the 2nd house, therefore, is to support whatever entity was birthed in the 1st. A vigorous 2nd house not only ensures your survival, it can make you a force to contend with. If you were a nation, for example, your 2nd house would describe your national assets, your banking system, the health of your exports and crops. If you were a country declaring war, in the war chart's 2nd house you'd find your allies, your ammo and your guns. Similarly, if you were a plaintiff in a lawsuit, the lawsuit chart's 2nd house would show the people testifying on your behalf. A strong 2nd house can make the difference between winning and losing.

The 1st house shows your emergence into life and the 2nd shows what keeps you here. It holds everything you can call “mine.” Through the 2nd you extend into the world and ground your being. As a baby, this begins with acknowledging your very own fingers and toes, the food you possess with your mouth, the teddy bear that no one can sleep with but you. As you grow, you must continue the process of grounding, which keeps deepening your 1st house process of self-discovery. You keep learning about who you are through the things you want to own, the resources you have to use, the value you place on yourself.

The 2nd rules both what money can buy (possessions and material resources) and what it can't buy (talents, self-esteem, and values). If you're unhappy in your career, the work you're doing may not utilize your natural talents--described by the collection of sign and planets in and ruling your 2nd house. Moon in or ruling the 2nd, for example, suggests strong intuitive resources, emotional sensitivity, a desire to nurture. Unless this Moon is in Capricorn, Virgo, or Taurus, a career as an accountant might be torture. Maybe you like what you're doing but it doesn't pay enough. Why does your co-worker march into the boss' office and demand a raise when you couldn't do it if your life depended on it? He's got an assertive Mercury/Mars conjunction in the 2nd while you have a self-defeating Sun squared by Pluto.

Your 2nd house ground must be worked. You have to transform what you find there. As an infant, this house was a veritable Garden of Eden. Everything you needed—toes, food, and teddy bears--was magically supplied. Yet as you grew, you learned that gardens must be maintained. Vines need pruning, fruit trees must be planted, flowers have to be fertilized. Earth is a paradise, but it's also full of reality. Pests can destroy your garden, predators can steal your crops. If you don't learn how to increase your garden's yield, your needs won't be met, your desires can't be satisfied. If you wait for manna to drop from the heavens, you'll starve.

In other words, you have to get real in this house. You must learn how to use, protect, and manage its resources, or you'll suffer a fall from grace. Anyone who has a problem with money is just plain naive about that.

John is forty-nine years old. He has no savings to speak of and plenty of debt. For much of his adult life John has struggled to hold various minimum wage jobs. For the past ten years he's lived off his girlfriend's income. Benefic Jupiter in diligent Virgo rules his 2nd house cusp. John is a gifted artist and craftsman. His mosaic jewelry designs are truly inspired. “They're like paintings in stone,” a friend once enthused. Yet John produces his jewelry infrequently. Even during his prolific times, he's been unable to support himself. Talking with John, I learned that his father, a carpenter and set designer for the Hollywood studios, had repeatedly warned his son not to work with his hands. Resenting his blue collar life, his father concluded that if you work with your hands, you won't make any money. The artist in John's 2nd house lay pinned and wriggling under this heavy pronouncement.

John's 2nd house ruler Jupiter is itself ruled by the planet of hands and craftsmanship, Mercury. Both these planets are in a tight hard aspect to Pluto. One is generally powerless to use planets in difficult aspect to Pluto until something is transformed. Mostly John has felt paralyzed--unable to do his art, unable to do anything else. Given John's hands are his best resource, by devaluing them, his father had essentially told him he was worthless. And for much of his adult life, financially and otherwise, John has unconsciously been proving this was true.

Patti has a 2nd house Jupiter in Cancer, conjunct the Moon and Uranus. When she first came to see me, she had money troubles too. Patti is a talented, well-educated woman, but her recent work history included a string of relatively low paying jobs, none of which she particularly enjoyed. In fact she'd just left such a job and wanted to know where to turn next. She hated being economically dependent on her husband.

It took a few sessions to unravel the financial secrets of Patti's 2nd house, but slowly the picture came clear. As a child, Patti observed her father's relentless criticisms of her mother whenever she spent any money. Patti decided to hold onto (Cancer) whatever money she got. By saving her allowance, she could win her father's approval. Working for her own money would later become important too, because that meant independence and freedom as a woman (Moon/Jupiter/Uranus). At the least, it meant freedom from a husband's criticisms!

Patti's 2nd house conjunction is a gifted combination; she has an abundance of talents to explore. As a teenager she Patti interested in music, but her father's ringing disapproval hit hard. "You can't make any money at that," he scowled. So Patti followed her father's footsteps and got a degree in his field. But curiously, she couldn't make money at that either. Patti eventually unraveled the mystery at the bottom of her 2nd house: Her father's devaluing of her creative gifts translated to the subliminal equation "You only make money when you do things you don't love." She complied with a history of jobs that she hated. Her resentment against this bargain kept her salaries low.

One of the biggest problems with 2nd house attitudes and values is that, initially at least, they're received. I remember sitting in a therapist's office years ago, complaining I was a failure because I didn't drive a Mercedes. “But Dana,” my therapist replied, “you've never struck me as someone who cares about such empty status symbols!” It was a liberating moment. My father wanted to see me in a Mercedes; that would have signaled his daughter had finally arrived. The irony is that years later I actually did buy a luxury car (though not a Mercedes). Venus rules my 2nd house cusp; I like luxury items! By the time I bought the car, I had raised my income considerably. I had finally grown into my own money values.

Writing about the 2nd house, Dane Rudhyar makes an important point: We must transform this territory to suit our individual purpose and destiny. (3) If we don't, we're merely servants of the past, agents of ghosts, our lives being lived by our ancestors. Possessions must be used, says Rudhyar. This means impressing them with the rhythm of our individuality--—whether that's material possessions, our natural gifts, or the money we spend. We need to lead in the 2nd house and give its holdings a personal significance (which is how the 2nd truly supports the 1st). Rudhyar advises we dedicate what we have to who we are, for it's being that gives meaning to having. “Nothing is more futile and spiritually empty than having without being, and this is true of all kinds of possessing.” (4)

John is lucky to live with a woman who believes in his talent. But years of her loving support did nothing for John's development as an artist. It was only when Lysa got fed up and demanded he start earning his share, that John took the emotional risks of supporting himself. Lysa has a good business sense and supplies a lot of the drive for his now budding career. But the excruciating steps of putting his work out there, whether sitting in a booth at a craft fair or even just hearing how customers received his commissioned pieces, are all John's. He is maturing, though shedding the old skin and growing the new one is painful. It takes courage. John couldn't have done it without the prickly need to make money.

That's why I'm suspicious when I hear people complain how the pressure to make money ruins the spiritual life or interferes with one's personal quest. Spirit and matter are inextricably bound. We find ourselves in physical bodies, on earth, needing to make relationship with other material things for good reason. Matter gives form to spirit. What better way to grow and develop soul than against the hard edge of materialism. If we could simply fantasize or "intend" our way to growth, would we ever descend from the ethers?

Modern astrology grants Venus rulership of the 2nd house. Traditional astrology makes Jupiter and Taurus its co-significators. All three may be important in getting the full 2nd house picture. Venus certainly describes one's tastes, the style one prefers to be kept in. To assess someone's self-esteem, aspects to Venus may tell an important story. But it's also helpful to look where the grounding, stabilizing force of Taurus is applied. Further, the North Node currently in Taurus (through December 2004) adds emphasis on 2nd house issues. Collectively, some will react with a greater desire to spend money on security (funding the war against terrorism, for example). Others will feel this as a need to clean up the nation's finances (addressing the deficit and unemployment). Individually, many will be focused on getting their financial act together.

Jupiter is the planet of wealth. You can't accurately assess someone's wealth potential without determining this planet's strength. That said, I've long puzzled over the following observation: People I've known with the greatest money difficulties often have Jupiter in or ruling the 2nd--while the more successful ones often have a 2nd house Saturn. This runs counter to conventional wisdom, which says Jupiter brings good fortune and Saturn brings bad luck.
Maybe this is because we no longer live in the traditional world—where the family fortune spelled one's own financial fate, where jumping class lines was difficult, where Saturn described the limits of a life, rather than the efforts to overcome them. Jupiter brings an expectation of privilege--although most I've known with Jupiter in or ruling the 2nd come from middle class lives. Even so, their sense of entitlement is strong. No matter the actual balance in their bank account, about their future, they tend to feel secure. “Something will come,” they say. And something usually does. John, for example, always had a roof over his head and a good meal, also money for shoes, his masseuse and his dental bill, despite going years without any income.

Jupiter rules my sister's 2nd. Saturn sits in mine. When we both were pregnant, I worried about how I'd manage the coming obligations, the costs of day care, my baby's health insurance, clothes, diapers, food. My sister was relaxed and happy. She was living on disability and the state paid for it all. I made six times my sister's income—but who had the greater fortune may be a toss-up! The difference between Jupiter and Saturn reminds me of the fabled grasshopper and ant. The ant works all summer while the grasshopper plays like there's no tomorrow, until winter comes and there's no food. I've been a 2nd house Saturn ant. I save and work hard. But I know a lot of Jupiter grasshoppers who play all summer and still don't starve when the winter bill comes due. There seems to be room for both in this world. So I'll leave it to you to decide--which planet is a blessing in the 2nd and which is the curse.

You can hear me speaking my 2nd house Saturn throughout this article. But I got a taste of the grasshopper's carefree spirit the last time Jupiter transited through my 2nd house. A new spirit of confidence entered my life, bringing an orgy of self-esteem that started the day Jupiter crossed the 2nd house cusp. It was as though some fine trade wind had just blown in and puffed up my sails. I started to value myself. A lot. And to the raised brow of my cautious Saturn, always in guilt and fear about buying things, I started to spend money without apology. Almost every weekend became a shopping trip.

Once Jupiter entered my 3rd house, I lost some of the excesses of that time (who could go shopping, I was too busy with paperwork!). Yet my newfound self-esteem remained. In fact my income rose dramatically not with Jupiter in my 2nd, but after it entered my 3rd. Clearly this was due to the positive seeds planted by the previous transit. I began a new twelve-year money cycle that was very different from the one that came before

Of course money isn't everything. It isn't even what I enjoy most about my 2nd house. All of its struggles and successes run much deeper than dollars. Yet for a quick diagnosis of your 2nd house health, money is a good place to start. Look at your assets and bank account. What do they say about your relationship to earth? Next look at your possessions. Do they reflect your individuality? Do you own them, or do they own you? How about your 2nd house talents? Are they being used? And most importantly, do you keep transforming this ground, ensuring that your 2nd house holds attitudes of power rather than defeat?
I used to work with a man who had a stellium of planets in the 2nd, including a Venus in Virgo. Money was not the driving force of Ed's life, but he liked what it could buy. In fact, one of my favorite lunchroom pastimes was listening to Ed romance his latest purchase. Whether food or furniture or the hardwood floors in the new house he just bought, he had a way of describing material possessions with such love and appreciation, you'd swear each was the finest, most delicious thing in the world. Occasionally I'd see or taste the thing he talked about and it actually seemed small and lackluster to me. But what a gift to have first seen it through Ed's more developed 2nd house eyes. The 2nd house after all sets the stage for our physical pleasures and comforts. It reminds us to take joy in earthy things!

  1. Carolyn Myss, Sacred Contracts (Harmony Books, 2001), p. 342.
  2. John Frawley, The Real Astrology Applied (Apprentice Books, 2002), p. 156.
  3. Dane Rudhyar, The Astrological Houses (CRCS Publications, 1972), p. 64.
  4. ibid., p. 65.

MOONPRINTS by Dana Gerhardt

Go to Moonprints Popular with readers of "The Mountain Astrologer" for almost two decades, this beautiful report takes an in-depth look at your emotional foundations. You will gain new insights into your birth moon - its phase, sign, aspects, and house. Discover your life purpose, hidden talents and danger zones through the moon's nodes. Use the moon to position yourself in time - through transits to the moon, your progressed moon sign and house, dates for two progressed lunation cycles, plus a year of new and full moons around your chart. You'll want to read every page of this report, designed to please both beginners and advanced students of astrology.
Moonprints at mooncircles.com


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