Buddhist view of the Astrological 12th house – Part II

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I would recommend reading Part I first, as this post is an extension of the former post – “Buddhist view of the astrological 12th house.”  Also, I added a section at the end explaining how all this 12th house shadow material can be worked through, giving us more creativity, intuition and joy – it is not all trouble with the 12th! 🙂

When we break out of the conditioned habitual tendencies of thinking of ourselves first; when we start to serve others sincerely – just for the sake of benefiting them (not out of fame, gain or praise or any other distortions), then we start to purify our negative karma and therefore purify our bad habits.  It is possible – but it takes time.  We should not start out on the spiritual path thinking we will become completely and perfectly happy in one year, or even five years, because that is absolutely unrealistic.  Think about it – we have spent millions and millions of lives – countless years perpetuating many challenging habits – to try to break a deeply ingrained chain like that, in a short period of time, is almost impossible.  Therefore have patience, be kind to yourself along the way – take some breaks to integrate, make mistakes make repair but keep practicing, keep analyzing, keep being gentle to your self and others.

Then we start to unravel the 12th house.  We don’t have to be Buddhist – when we have been sincerely practicing Bodhicitta for many years, or even for many lifetimes, then we can start to move toward unsurpassed, perfect, complete, precious enlightenment – to gain an understanding of the ultimate nature of reality.  But until that time, we are caught in these cycles of dissatisfaction.  One of my heart teachers, Julie Henderson, the creator of Zapchen Somatics constantly reminds me, when I use the word, “addiction,” that this word is not kind – it has a rather negative connotation.  Rather, I have habits which perpetuate my suffering and dissatisfaction – I have taken refuge in behavior that will not lead to enlightenment – therefore I should call these habits an “insufficient refuge” or “temporary compensations.”  I whole-heartedly agree but I have to catch myself – I have a habit of being hard on myself and reverting back to calling them “addictions.”

[Revised 2021: I mention the above advice from Julie Henderson with some distance from it. I say that because I have now worked with numerous people in the recovery population – whether over-eaters, narcotics, alcohol, etc. And for them, there is a problem, there is a sickness, and they need to be honest about it to begin to repair it. Therefore, if it benefits you to call it an addiction, then by all means please do that! Once we can put some distance between my self and my thoughts, my witnessing consciousness and my compulsions, this witness part of me and my emotions, etc, then we can more easily say these are habits are merely insufficient sources of refuge and temporary compensations. But in the meantime, we need medicine for our sickness. So we should get that in any appropriate way we are able to!]

[Update Nov. 2017: the more I learn about the autonomic nervous system, the more addictive behavior makes sense. For instance, when a situation is too overwhelming, we slip out of possible social nervous system down into sympathetic areas – and we revert to fight flight or freeze (wary freeze is different from below). Then if that situation remains too overwhelming and does not change for the better, we can slip even further down the nervous system tree into parasympathetic freeze or shock. When this occurs, we often compensate by dissociating, disembodying or checking out / numbness. And here is the important part: the body starts to produce endorphins as a last defense against dying. Endorphins make the mind feel some bliss. It is as if, “well I’m about to be eaten by a lion, might as well bliss out ahead of time!” But today, in this modern world, this evolutionary defense is a detriment. Because for those of us who have felt that parasympathetic shock and accompanying endorphins, we unconsciously yearn to get back to that state. If we move toward health a little, but then have some of our overwhelm history get triggered or activated, then we will be tempted to do some behavior (or substance) which gets us back to dissociative numbness with the accompanying endorphins. This might explain a little about addictive behavior.]

It is these habits or conditioned patterns which work against us, and show up through the 12th house.  When we are reactive and self-oriented, the 12th house might show some afflictions (challenging aspects to planets within it).  But our frequency and our understanding determines how these afflictions manifest – I have seen clients with Saturn and Pluto in their 12th house be completely happy and content through serving others.  Sure they did not have a lot of spare time for themselves, their lifestyles may not be for everyone, but they themselves were very content.  Who can honestly say that about most areas of their life?  “Yeah, overall I’m quite happy.”  Overall are you content?  Maybe some of us.  I’m not sure about my answer.

I have also seen people with loaded 12th houses be very self-oriented, in afflicted ways.  Petty theft, lying, personality disorders, the ability (and possibly the enjoyment) of pushing other people’s buttons, etc have all been reflected in 12th house issues – say the Moon in the 12th squaring Neptune (they might use those psychic, intuitive abilities in a distorted, manipulative manner like a psychopath might).  Or as in the case of one of my high school friends – he had his Sagittarian Sun, Venus and Mercury in the 12th, with a challenging aspect to them, and he was extremely oriented toward self gain – it was almost as if he saw the world as an enormous personal challenge and he had to outwit and conquer it.  Ugh!  [From my personal experience of having worked with people who have birth trauma to work through, this could have been the case here.]  Just relax, work to improve your lifestyle and ethical behavior, accept your karma and start leading a virtuous lifestyle – things will change eventually.  Cause and effect is a universal law.  If we put the conditions in place for positive outcomes, they will come.

For me personally, at present, Mars is retrograde and transiting my 12th house.  This is in addition to Uranus transiting my Natal Sun which is in Pisces which is associated with the 12th house.  Recently, I have been very tempted – I want to fall back on old habits which I know in my heart will lead to perpetuating the conditions for further suffering, but the pleasure and the comfort of these patterns is so tempting – I desperately want to revert to my old behavior.  But luckily my practice is such that I am now able to say, “this is my mind moving through space.  This too shall pass.”  I observe my process and I am able to breathe through most of these retrograde thoughts.  And, most importantly, I have surrounded myself with wise spiritual friends who gently point out what I am experiencing, what they notice and remind me of the vows I have taken.  And I have a long way to go.

The 12th house shows us our flaws and defects.  When major planets transit the 12th house, we can be tempted and we will probably fall back on sources of insufficient refuge and temporary compensations (substance abuse, deception and/or indulging in eating lots of comfort foods are easy examples).  We might revert back to some behavior which we thought we gave up years ago.  We might “retrograde” along our path for a few weeks or months.  Especially if we tend to self-isolate.  Without spiritual friends and a loving, supportive community, people who tell us the truth – with wisdom and true compassion – no matter how it might make us feel – we can easily step off our path.

In conclusion, I would not recommend having fear toward the 12th house.  Rather, slowly build up wise habits and constantly aspire to develop good qualities.  Realize that it is okay to take some steps backwards – but build in resources (teachers, spiritual friends, tools for quality self care, daily meditation practice which leads towards a heart filled with Bodhicitta, etc) which will prevent you from backtracking for too long.  Be kind to yourself – we are human and we make mistakes – how else do we learn?  And we can still love ourselves.  Bring failure and success onto the path.  Be aware of a desire to constantly “get it right.”  This is unrealistic and an impossible goal to achieve.  Through diligent practice and analysis, we can gain an understanding of the world around us, as well as an understanding of our inner machinations.  Work to leave the world a better place than how you found it, practice patience and acceptance – of yourself and others.  Then, I feel, we are on a path toward lasting happiness and on our way out of 12th house challenges.

As Garchen Rinpoche says, and I paraphrase, “benefiting self leads to suffering, benefiting others leads to happiness.  With compassion toward others, we can melt the ice of self-grasping from our hearts.”

Update Nov 2017: Wow – I really give the 12th house a bad name don’t I? There are some great boons to having planets in the 12th as well. Especially if we work through some of the unconscious material that it is indicating. For instance, people with planets in the 12th can be extremely accurate judges of character. Their gut feeling about someone is usually right on. Sometimes, if we have Neptune in the 12th, or Moon making a major aspect to Neptune from the 12th, we might be able to see auras or we might have precognitive dreams – seeing bits and pieces about the future. A lot of psychic energy is stored in the 12th house. When we liberate the shadow material – honor our history, resolve old misunderstandings and trauma, bring our little wounded parts along with us on our healing journey, then that psychic energy which was going toward our shadow stuff becomes liberated and we have more psychic capacity, more creativity and more joy as a result! Wow!

Thanks for reading!

Kirby Moore

konchog chakchen


Published by Kirby Moore

Kirby Moore is a healing facilitator based in the beautiful rolling hills of Charlottesville, Virginia. He does sessions in-person and long distance via Skype and Zoom, working with Spiritual Astrology, Somatic Experiencing, Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy and Birth Process Work. His healing work is informed by fifteen years of meditation and Qigong practice. He works with client's intentions and deepest longings to attain clear, tangible results. Contact him for more info at (email): kirby [at] mkirbymoore [dot] com

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