Management of Measurement Constructs

Analytical Techniques, February 28, 2007

Assessing the 12th House

By guest astrologer Don McBroom

Don McBroom is a highest-honors graduate of the Noel Tyl Master’s Degree Certification Program, and he works as teaching assistant to Noel at the annual seminars for students of the Course. Don is the author of Midpoints—-Identify & Integrate Midpoints Into Horoscope Synthesis to be released by Llewellyn Publications in June, 2007. His office is located in Tucson, Arizona and his Web site, offers two new highly instructive articles monthly with complete archives of past topics.

By their very nature, 12th house planets suggest issues that are challenging or uncomfortable to talk about. As astrologers, we must seek to remove some of the mystery, elusive qualities, or taboo nature of these 12th house planets, and begin a meaningful dialog with our clients—turning this potentially restrictive and frustrating influence into a much more accessible and productive one.

Twelfth House Planets typically possess a decidedly "behind the scenes" flavor when compared with normal planetary energies. I’ve observed a consistent interpretive overlap between a planet in the 12th House and what is suggested by the retrograde interpretation of that same planet. It is as if the retrograde phenomenon of restrained expression (easily remembered mnemonically as Rx—Restrained eXpression) exerts its influence over the planet.

For example, Venus (the planet of social expression, relationships, and aesthetics) in the 12th may interpretively feel almost indistinguishable from a natal Venus Rx. In both cases, the avenues of social expression are relatively restrained, subdued, or suppressed—and thereby not easily utilized or demonstrated.

When a 12th House Planet is also retrograde natally, the feeling of suppression/repression/restraint is even further amplified. Consider Venus in the 12th and also retrograde natally: the oppressive feeling of social restraint or being detached or disconnected from society becomes even more challenging in its social expression. It may, in fact, be easier to internalize rather than to socialize.

Plus, we must consider the placement by sign and aspects to any planet in the 12th as we evaluate its overall impact. Just imagine a 12th House Venus Retrograde in Virgo and in difficult aspect to Saturn Rx! We could easily hypothesize how the father's influence (or absence) might have reinforced the social challenges by being overly critical or creating unattainable expectations.

Thus far, we’ve talked about planets in the 12th. Similar influences also impact the planet(s) ruling the 12th. We could reasonably prefix each 12th house interpretation with, “When [insert planet name] is in or ruling the 12th house, its normal planetary energies are subdued, reserved, or restrained.”

While the Sun and Moon never go retrograde, this interpretive perspective still applies. When one (or both) of this dynamic duo are sequestered in the 12th house, major components of individualistic expression are challenged, reserved, or restrained.

With the Sun in the 12th, personal identity and ego definition are sequestered away behind-the-scenes as if a sunscreen were filtering out much of its normal intensity. One’s workis in itself largely the focus of attention, with the individual being content to be a step or two removed from direct exposure. Even high-profile actors or personalities may exhibit reluctance or a degree of discomfort embracing the traditional celebrity image. The alter-ego (the role played) may be more comfortably demonstrated than the more private persona.

With the Moon in the 12th, emotions or emotional needs may be kept private, or we may be ultra-cautious with whom we share them. Perhaps emotional sensitivity is kept under wraps, or the mother may contribute a behind-the-scenes influence. This placement may paradoxically impart an ability to share very private emotions or relate emotionally, but in an indirect or detached way, such as through writing or acting.

With Mercury in the 12th (or Rx), thoughts and concepts that are obvious to the person may be challenging or frustrating to communicate clearly to others. It's as though these people think and communicate on a completely different level than those with Mercury in another house and in direct motion. One may minimize communication because it's such hard work, perhaps choosing to internalize rather than share their thoughts and ideas.

Communication style may have a decidedly behind-the-scenes flavor as with radio personalities or in the written word which allows meticulous refinement and editing before presenting their thoughts or ideas for public consumption.

With Venus in the 12th house, we may be reluctant to get involved socially, or may find comfort and security in relative seclusion—often at the expense of social activities. It's as though the normal socialization process is somehow withdrawn into the deep reaches of the relatively inaccessible 12th house. The person may also have a unique sense of aesthetics where, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

Mars suggests how we can most efficiently utilize our energy. With Mars in the 12th considerable energy is typically utilized by working behind-the-scenes. We may feel a sense of frustration, or in extreme cases even a repressed, seething anger if this energy remains unused or under-utilized, bottled up in the pressure-cooker-like 12th; we “buck the organization”.

Jupiter is the planet that represents expansion, optimism, reward, or excess. With Jupiter in the 12th, we may feel a sense of restrained expansion (withdrawal or need to be alone), diminished optimism (pessimism or depression), more elusive rewards, or a behind-the-scenes expression of excess (as with alcohol, drug abuse, or even religion).

A more positive connotation of Jupiter in the 12th is a "guardian angel" presence. Several of my clients with this placement confirm that when things look most hopeless, just when they're at the brink of disaster, they're rescued at the last possible moment. Another scenario for a 12th house Jupiter is as a behind-the-scenes benefactor or mentor, contributing support without expecting reimbursement or recognition.

Saturn represents restriction, repression, reserve, and restraint. But it's not always doom and gloom. Saturn also represents necessary controls, structure, focus, foundation, stability, and discipline. With Saturn in the 12th, any combination of these influences may be active. We may feel a sense of holding back, a profound sense of privacy, or a confident determination.

Uranus is the planet that represents individuality, eccentricity, inventiveness, or rebelliousness. With Uranus in the 12th, we may feel a sense of restrained individualistic expression or a reluctance to reveal non-mainstream beliefs, traits, or characteristics. There may be a radical departure from traditional values or beliefs accompanied by (at least an initial) caution about making these thoughts or ideas public.

Neptune is the planet that represents camouflage, confusion, disorientation, escape (including drugs and alcohol) as well as inspiration, creative visualization, spiritual enlightenment, and sensitivity (both vulnerability and awareness). One typical manifestation of Neptune in the 12th is an intensely private dream or vision of how things could be. People may yearn to express their personal vision by creating a fictional character, through fantasy, by providing inspiration (spiritual or otherwise), provoking thought, or helping others (or themselves) escape their respective routines.

Pluto is the planet that represents empowerment, new perspectives, and transformation. It symbolizes the Phoenix principle, necessary inevitable destruction to arise reborn from the ashes. Noel Tyl introduced the suggestion that with Pluto in the 12th "the world just doesn't understand me” is a common manifestation, along with associated feelings of isolation.

As consulting astrologers, instead of avoiding or cautiously tiptoeing around 12th house planets we should actively seek out means of addressing and releasing these restrained or frustrated energies. By having a better grasp of the probable range of expression, it becomes easier to incorporate crucial components into the overall chart analysis and the conversation with our client. We can do this by looking toward supportive or balancing natal aspects and by utilizing transits, etc. to facilitate the release or redirection of these bottled-up energies.

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Next Update: March 31, 2007


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