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From the Forum:
'The 12th House, Why Sunrise?'
Some horizon and house system thoughts,
'What is NOT Spiritual?'

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Discuss This on Moses's Message Board

Here's an excellent question discussed recently on the forum:

Why is the twelfth house such a dark, secluded, house of doom and undoing when it is just above the horizon at the dawning of a new day? (btw, my best answer is contained in the last few paragraphs of this post)

That's a great question. Synchronistically enough, i was just considering the same question within the last 24 hours. And to be honest, I don't entirely see how this does make sense, but I think I've got a decent answer. But here are some things that make it somewhat somewhat less strange:

I was reading Hart deFouw and Robert Svoboda give one reason for this. They said, in paraphrase, that the most dramatic solar moment is when the Sun is close on the rising horizon. That's true. And that after this, the placement of the Sun pales in comparison in significance to when it is close to the horizon. Thus there is a loss of 'specialness', say, an hour after the Sun has risen, and therefore an emphasis on loss. This makes some sense.

In this respect, a house system that uses either the entire rising sign as the 1st house, or a house system that uses equal amounts of space on either side of the horizon (for ex, 15 degrees on either side of the 1st being the 1st house) would seem in some ways to make more logical sense, because then it's the area AROUND the horizon which becomes more signicant, rather than only the space BELOW the horizon. The whole-sign system, which would take whichever sign is rising and make that whole sign the first house, would sometimes emphasize the area above the ascendant, and sometimes the area below the ascendant, depending on if an early or late degree of a sign was rising. So this is still very erratic, but at least is more likely to emphasize the area above the horizon, which is obviously the most dramatic place for the sun to be (other than at sunset), just after sunrise. Why someone born just after the sunrise would be a 'hidden' 12th house Sun is obviously a counterintuitive situation, at least at first glance.

Yet even the whole sign approach, such as that used primarily in the Vedic tradition has it's problematic and counter-intuitive nature also. The first house is determined by the sign rising, and other other planets in that sign are considered in the first house. If 29 Scorpio is Rising and Jupiter is at 0 Scorpio, Jupiter would be in the 1st house, even though Jupiter is almost 30 degrees from the horizon, and above it. Or, if 0 Scorpio is Rising, and Jupiter is at 29 Scorpio, then Jupiter is just as much in the 1st house, even though it is almost 30 degrees below the horizon. If a planet was at 10 Sag or 20 Libra in the above cases, such planets would be considered in the 2nd or 12th houses, even though they are three times as close to the horizon as Jupiter in these examples. At least in these cases, it is the horizon which becomes more central, rather than the area necessarily below it, which is the case in all of the popular Western house systems, such as Equal House, Placidus, Koch, Porphyry, Campanus, etc.

One could say that the closer the Sun is to the horizon when in the 12th house, even in conventional Western astrology, the more the Sun is emphasized anyway. So the contemporary practice isn't that counter-intuitive. For example, in western astrology, when we see the Sun five degrees behind the Ascendant, we still recognize the Sun as angular and emphasized.

I'm reminded of Gauquelin, who found that the MUTABLE/CADENT houses and the the areas just after the angles in the cardinal/angular houses are the strongest places for a planet to be. And intuitively, i have long felt this to be true, at least in the case of 12th and 9th house planets. When i see a planet at the middle of the 12th house, i intuitively sense it as being more significant and emphasized than a planet towards the latter part of the 1st house, for example. I sense placements in the 1st house lose emphasis rapidly after the pass, say, the middle of the 1st house.

I teach my students to get comfortable looking at a natal chart and transits from multiple house systems, because I think this is essential if we are to see the most complete picture, and also because it opens our minds and shows us that we cannot make things nice and simple and just one-way in astrology.

Here's a possible symbolism for why first house planets would be so significant to an individual. In keeping with Hilarion, Ii see the 1st house largely as the self-image which is also projected to others, a conscious filter of our experience. Since the first house is the area below the horizon, it could symbolically show the unconscious determination of the conscious self BEFORE entering the life/new day. First house planets are hidden, but JUST ABOUT TO RISE. It's the new
personality with essential characteristics predetermined before incarnation.

But to get back to your primary question, here's my opinion:

Even though a 12th house Sun indicates someone born soon after sunrise, and might therefore seem to be a very positive/easy/fun type of indicator, in my experience I have still found such people to be very 12th house dominated,
with all of the primary themes of the 12 house to be emphasized.

Yet we should remember that the 12th house is naturally ruled by Neptune and/or Jupiter, depending on your preference. There is a very beneficial rulership here. The 12th house has a beautiful dimension to it, but it requires the reorientation of one's values to make spiritual reality primary before it can yield its full beneficence. Maybe the fact that darkness, seclusion, doom, and self-undoing can be so emphasized with the 12th is
actually quite a strength and a blessing, because what is really beneficial is realizing Who We Really Are. Perhaps the strongest place for the Sun, or Spirit, to be is indeed as it would seem, after sunrise in the 12th house, because then the life of the Spirit must become primary, transforming the darkness of night with the light of day. This transformation from sleepiness into consciousness is, I think the purpose of the 12th which the Rising Sun symbolizes, and the best reason why the 12th house and the Rising Sun are connected with the relatively intense situations which it does.

This would be consistent: when the Sun would be just below the Ascendant in the 1st it would really not necessarily emphasize the awakening of spiritual consciousness so much, because the Sun would still be hidden and in the dark. But
once the Sun comes to light, Spirit cannot be avoided. Yet with the Sun either before or after the ASC and close to it, the Sun itself is still obviously emphasized, so solar qualities would still be emphasized in the person with the Sun in either place. But in the case of the Sun before rising, the emphasis is on the programming of the self-image. In the case of the Sun after rising, the emphasis is on the awakening of consciousness through light.


Another's Response: ASC as Gateway 5/16

Would this possibly have something to do with the fact that the Asc. is a doorway of sorts? That is, one of "between times" that are so "magical". Our Asc/Desc, MC/IC are just such Sun noted times here on Earth. Just a thought, though.


My Response: ASC as Gateway 5/16

I'd say, yes. After thinking about this, the doorway between the Sun before rising and the sun after rising is a big one. That's plain enough in that it's the difference between the 1st and 12th houses. It's definitely worth meditating on the significance and the physical symbolism. The Sun comes up,
and the Spirit becomes crucial, with nothing short of awakening to satisfy. The long darkness of night is undergoing a shocking and dramatic transformation, receding as a passing memory.

Another's Response: What is NOT spiritual? 5/17

Spirituality involves balancing ALL of the houses! What is NOT spiritual?? And spiritual consciousness is no exception! We must not forget the cyclical nature of the chart is what I mean to say... And I mean the multiply cyclic nature of it which occurs simultaneously! I think it is misguided when any house or planet is seen as more "spiritual" than any other... The reason we came here is to do it all...and in balance... So we may be working on some aspect of the 6th-12th House axis (on many levels as well...), but this does not in any way mean that this is more important spiritually than, say, the work of the 1st-7th House axis. Just throwing this in for clarification for those less experienced with charts... Seeing the chart in its totality is really essential... And looking too much at a natal chart can make one begin to think in a very static way about charts! (At least it can for me! LOL!)


My Response: What is NOT spiritual? 5/17

I definitely agree with you, x. Very much; I've said the same many times. Yet on another level there are houses there are more particularly related to the development of purely spiritual awareness. For example, the Vedic tradition refers to the water houses as houses of moksha, or liberation; and the 12th house is the house par excellence of moksha. That is a useful distinction. And i think we would both agree on that.

Sometimes I like to point out that the fulfillment of the houses are cumulative and orderly. For example, one can only fulfill the 12th house as well as one has fulfilled all of the houses previous to it. That makes each house essentially as spiritual as the 12th or any other. One can only truly fulfill the 7th house as well as one has fulfilled houses 1-6, etc. Wholeness is a healthful relationship with all the houses, for sure, and that's real spirituality. Thanks for pointing that out.