Lesson Three: Houses 7 to 12
Houses 7 to 9
we explored the meaning of the first six houses, and it is worth pausing for
a moment to consider the relationship between the first six houses and the
remaining six houses. Every chart is divided by the angles into two sets of
hemispheres. The first six houses lie under the horizon, which means that they
are under the earth when we are born, hidden from view. They are the houses
of self-exploration, describing our subjective, internal worlds. The natural
rulers of the first six houses are personal planets, with Mars ruling the 1st,
to Venus ruling the 2nd, and so on to Mercury (3rd), Moon (4th), Sun (5th)
and finally back to Mercury again, which is the natural ruler of the 6th house.
The point about this is that, in order to engage successfully and creatively
with houses 7 to 12, the collective houses which describe how we relate to
others and to the world around us, we need to be able to build on and draw
from the personal resources, self-development and self-knowledge we have achieved
in the personal houses.
For example, successful adult-to-adult relationships (7th house) depend upon our having a good sense of our own identity, on our ability to decide what is right for us personally (1st house). Nor can we safely surrender to the emotional depths of intense encounter with another (8th house) until we have a sense of our own personal stability, self-worth, security, and enough personal 'ballast' to support us (2nd house). Nor can we make any sense of or gain any benefit from higher education, philosophy travel, teachers or experiences outside our ken (9th house) until we have learned to process information and order our thoughts (3rd house). Nor can we take our place effectively in the world (10th house) until we have a stable enough base from which to operate (4th house). Nor can we make a meaningful or creative contribution to the society in which we live (11th house) until we have something of personal value to offer (5th house). Nor is it appropriate to retire from the world (12th house) until we have mastered its demands (6th house). Otherwise we would be turning our back on the world and trying to get straight back into the womb.
In this sense, the houses tell the story of our gradual sequential development and maturation, and it is worth taking this into consideration when we are interpreting charts. There is always a temptation to live our lives backwards, and on some level I think we all try to do this, to some extent, until the world teaches us otherwise. For example, we tend to start out from a narcissistic position in which we assume that the world owes us a living and expect it to accommodate our every wish (12th house), paying no attention to the actual practical realities or to the way in which we might serve or contribute to the world (6th house). Or we might expect the community or society to which we belong (11th house) to recognise and accept and include us immediately, without us having to go to the trouble of developing our own particular talents, or discovering the unique and special contributions we can make to the group (5th house). Or we might expect the world to provide us with a job, or a public platform, or respect and influence in the world (10th house) before we have built an inner sense of security and stability for ourselves (4th house). Or we might expect exciting opportunities and adventures to open up for us (9th house) without bothering to prepare or learn anything about them beforehand (3rd house), or we might give our power to others (8th house) and end up feeling used and abused because we haven't established a sense of personal security and self-worth (2nd house). Finally, we might seek to find ourselves solely through our partner (7th house) without getting to know ourselves first. These descriptions may sound rather harsh, but hopefully you can see what I am getting at. Can you see how these opposite areas of activity are intimately connected and, in fact, dependent upon each other?
Audience: Actually, this sounds fairly realistic to me. I suspect we all instinctively take the second route around the chart but, as you say, life teaches us otherwise. It seems that life is meant to be difficult.
7th house: relating (Libra house - natural ruler Venus)
of the 7th house is also the Descendant, and we will be looking in more detail
at the Ascendant-Descendant axis next week. The 7th house describes all one-to-one
relationships of a contractual nature, such as business partnerships and marriage.
It is the house of equal, negotiated relationships, and describes what we meet
through others and how we find ourselves through such relationships. Traditionally,
this is also the house of open enemies, so it is the battlefield on which we
meet our equal opposites.
Although we usually recognise that the first six houses belong to us, the 7th and 8th houses almost invariably seem to describe the qualities belonging to those with whom we are in relationship. It is very difficult indeed to recognise ourselves in these two houses. In the 7th and 8th houses it is no longer us, it is 'them'. The 7th and 8th houses describe the qualities we draw towards us, and we find these particularly hard to identify with. Ultimately, however, they do tell us more about ourselves than about others, although it seems that we can only learn these things about ourselves through our relationships. Ultimately, our task is to recognise that these two houses tell us more about ourselves than about those with whom we are in relationship. With Saturn in the 7th house, for example, we may find that our partner is boring, withholding, critical and heavy. However, if we move on to another relationship, then before long our new partner will start to become boring, withholding, critical and heavy. Eventually we may realise that there is a pattern and that this may have something to do with us. This is often a very difficult realisation, because with Saturn in the 7th it is possible that we are afraid of relationships, and that we have made our choice based on our need for safety and security. It may be that we can only enter into relationships cautiously or formally, wearing our protective armour, which eventually becomes rigid and prevents our continued growth and development - something for which we then blame our partner.
Audience: I have Venus and Uranus conjunct in Gemini in the 7th house, and I would say that I recognise that as belonging to me, and always have. I have always been the disruptive one in relationships.
Clare: So what would you say that you value about relationships, with Venus conjunct Uranus?
Audience: Freedom and space.
Clare: I wonder if this is something of a two-edged sword, because it may hark back to early experiences of being abandoned by loved ones. It is possible that you may expect your partners to leave you in the end, so you break off the relationships before they can do so, and take the blame yourself. Where the 7th house is concerned, there is always the question of 'who is doing what to whom'. But with this placement, relationships don't necessarily need to end in separation. It may be possible to negotiate enough space and freedom within a relationship, or a real friendship in which each of you respects the other as individuals and adults, so that neither of you feels trapped.
Audience: Well, I have certainly always taken the blame for breaking off from relationships in the past. And I do see that it would be nice to find this kind of space within a relationship.
Audience: I have Jupiter in the 7th.
Clare: With Jupiter in the 7th house, we are often attracted to people
from different cultures or religions, or to people we feel we can learn from,
because they expand our horizons.
Audience: I have Mars and Neptune and Saturn there. Saturn and Neptune are in Libra, and Mars is in Scorpio.
Clare: Well, what we could say first of all is that relationships are a big area for you.
Clare: Saturn in the 7th indicates that relationships are a serious issue for you, and you are unlikely to enter into them lightly. Many of your most important lessons will be learned through relationships. With Neptune in the 7th, you are likely to idealise your partner. There can be a fantasy about finding a perfect partner, someone who will redeem and rescue you, or someone you can rescue. The same thing happens when Pisces is on the Descendant. On the one hand we can accept our partner uncritically, exactly as they are, but on the other hand we can be deluded, and end up feeling disappointed or betrayed or let down. And Neptune is where we are always thirsty, where we always want more, so we will long for the perfect, ideal other who exists in our dreams, and feel dissatisfied with the ordinary mortal we end up with. On some level it is we ourselves who are unavailable for relationship. The dilemma with Saturn and Neptune in the 7th house is that they are opposites, in the sense that Saturn has strong boundaries and Neptune has no boundaries. So do you stick with the reality or hold out for your dream?
Audience: Does this also mean that we sacrifice ourselves for our partner?
Clare: Yes, that can be one interpretation, although we are unlikely to realise that this is what we are doing, as long as we are tied up in the fantasy of perfect love. With Mars in Scorpio in the 7th house, we are likely to attract intense relationships and power struggles. So there is a combination of the romance and idealisation of the Neptune in Libra generation, the hard work indicated by Saturn, and the sexual intensity and passion of Mars in Scorpio.
Audience: Well, I did say it was complicated. I certainly find it very hard.
8th house: sharing (Scorpio house - personal ruler Mars, collective ruler Pluto)
house is where we meet with intense emotional experiences and encounters which
change us forever. The natural Scorpio house, the 8th house is where we are
confronted by inherited issues and secrets which lie deep beneath the surface
and which are often taboo, or which most of us would prefer not to look at
all. Our 8th house inheritance is not just about hidden personal or family
issues, but extends to our inheritance of unresolved issues and old poisons
which exist in our society and in the collective generally. If we have planets
in the 8th house, then at some point in our lives we will be impelled - forced
- to engage with and to purge whatever has become corrupt or poisonous about
them. Our task appears to be to bring the issues associated with these planets
to the light, so that they can be cleansed and healed. I often advise students
to knock carefully before entering the 8th house. The reason for this is that
8th house issues can be so deeply buried in the unconscious that our clients
may have no idea they are there, so I think the astrologer therefore needs
to tread very carefully.
The 8th house describes the most primitive, archaic emotions which lie quietly under the surface until they are activated. When planets in the 8th house are active, they are volcanic, unstoppable forces that take us over and possess us. This is the house of sex, death, taxes and joint finances, where hidden emotions come to the surface, often shocking us with their intensity.
Audience: I have Mercury, Uranus, and Sun in Leo, and Venus and Pluto in Virgo, and they are all in the 8th house. And Leo is the sign on the 8th house cusp.
Clare: Right. So the ruler of the 8th house is in the 8th house. Now I am assuming that, because you have offered your own 8th house as an example, you have opened the door for us and we are allowed to enter?
Audience: Yes, you can enter. Uranus and the Sun are together, and Pluto and Venus are together, but Mercury is by itself.
Clare: With five planets in the 8th house, no doubt the underworld is familiar territory to you. It is your home. Let's start by looking just at Mercury in the 8th house. It is like having a Pluto-Mercury contact, which means very deep, penetrating, intense, and secretive or private ideas and thoughts. This is the investigative mind - you need to get to the root of things, to understand what is not being said or communicated, to read the signs. The 8th house is very deep but non-verbal, so it works on the level of intuition and emotion. It could even say something about your siblings, because Mercury is also the natural significator for brothers and sisters, so it might be a particularly intense relationship with a brother or sister. With the Sun and Uranus in Leo in the 8th house, you will feel compelled to plumb the depths of understanding and use your insight to bring new knowledge to the surface. This configuration is about bringing things from the dark, where they are hidden, into the light, into the open air. This is the seat of your creativity and your unique gift.
Audience: In fact I am bringing things from the dark into the light
all the time, because I am a midwife.
Clare: Well, it seems that you are in exactly the right profession, because you are dealing with life and death issues, and Leo is the sign of the child, of new life and potential. You have the ability to be both detached and scientific, with the Sun-Uranus connection, but I suspect that you are also strongly guided by your intuition and by your instinctive understanding of medicine and healing, which is also an 8th house matter. The Venus-Pluto connection describes your love of intensity and your function as a powerful woman working with women who are going through profound and often terrifying and painful experiences. With so many planets in the 8th house, you will be wonderful in a crisis. That is when you come into your own and into your power.
Your work is a wonderful expression of these 8th house planets, and no doubt there are more personal issues here as well, which will concern your relationship with your father. Sun-Uranus can describe a distant father, and you may have feelings of abandonment around him, although there will be a strong psychic connection between you because it is in the 8th house. And the Venus-Pluto connection in the 8th house can describe your sexual power as a woman, and issues about power and powerlessness in relationships, so there are many other personal levels of meaning here which are probably best explored in a private setting.
9th house: seeking (Sagittarius House - natural ruler Jupiter)
house is the house of god, and describes what we believe in, what is meaningful
to us, and how and where we draw meaning from life. It is a Sagittarius house,
ruled by Jupiter, so the 9th house describes how we broaden our horizons, either
physically through travelling and having contact with different cultures, or
mentally and intellectually through higher education and our philosophy of
life - seeking the bigger picture - or spiritually, by finding a god we can
serve and who serves us. On a mundane level, it can describe our experiences
of higher learning, or of groups devoted to spiritual or philosophical exploration.
Whatever specific shape this takes, what we are really doing in the 9th house
is searching for wisdom and meaning in order to find out what we believe in.
It is about what makes life worth living, not just in the personal sense, from
a 5th house point of view, but in the context of the bigger picture.
Saturn in the 9th house can, like every planet, be interpreted on a variety of different levels. It might mean, for example, that we were denied the opportunity to go to university, or that we studied structural engineering at university. It may mean that we have never been abroad because we are afraid of travelling outside our immediate environment, or that our work is a 9th house matter, so we might be a travel agent or a tour rep. And it is likely that, if we have one at all, our god is rather strict and demanding. It will be hard work to build our 9th house and it may take a long time, but we will build on rock. So we might end up going to university in our fifties, or eventually finding our own faith based on real experience of the world.
Audience: I have Saturn in the 9th house, and I find it very difficult to have faith.
Clare: In my experience, with Saturn in the 9th we often feel as if our god lays down the law and demands strict obedience if we are to avoid being punished. This can lead to a kind of cynicism and to periods in the wilderness, where we may feel utterly unsupported and alone on a spiritual level. With Uranus in the 9th house, on the other hand, we might have studied science or politics at university, and we could have unexpected experiences and encounters, or sudden insights when we are travelling abroad. We may be seeking enlightenment, or our god may be rational, highly intellectual, or egalitarian, so we may be a Quaker or belong to a non-denominational church.
Audience: I have Neptune in my 9th house.
Clare: With Neptune here, you are likely to have a longing to merge with god, seeking a mystical union in which you are in god and god is in you. And you may have studied music or dance at university, or spent periods of time abroad in ashrams or on retreats. But, unless you are travelling by boat or ship, there may be problems when you are travelling.
Audience: Why do you say that?
Clare: Because it is possible that you will encounter confusion and chaos. Or your luggage might get lost, or your reservations turn out not to have been made, or your passport and money might get stolen - that sort of thing.
Audience: I have travelled around the world without any problems. The only thing is that other people always let you down - they can't be trusted.
Clare: Perhaps you have projected your Neptune, in which case it will be evoked in the shape of other people when you are travelling.
Copyright © 2007 by Clare Martin.
More Information about the Book.