Hope we are all maintaining our cool in the August heat. Sorry for the delay in continuing our series, but life has been getting in astrology’s way more often than not lately.
So here we go…
You all know what a stickler I am for astrological and mathematical rules. So I want to assure you all that I haven’t jumped ship and am now insisting that we reformat the quadrants, heaven forbid. No, the ninth house belongs to the third quadrant, as odd as it seems, and I’m going to tell you why.
Think of it this way: cardinal houses initiate, fixed houses consolidate/use, and mutable houses disseminate. In this most intimate of quadrants, the seventh house gets things going between two people, the eighth house tests it, burns it down and refines it so that we know what we have together and separately–and then what? The function of the 9th house is to find greater meaning. Not piddly little Gemini knowing, but meaning, that which is found by discovering the deeper patterns in life. And once that meaning is found, the other function of the 9th house is to disseminate that meaning, spread it around. The 9th house rules shamans, preachers, publishing, the natural laws of metaphysics and the man-made rules of organized religion. It rules our exploration, our visions and goals, our reaching out towards not only what is, but what may be. And the reason this is so fundamental to this quadrant is that, without meaning, without purpose, a relationship flounders. We forget that when we’re in the throes of the seventh and eighth houses, but in the ninth, we must face the truths we have found together and face outwards into the world again.
Have you ever had a deep, intense encounter with a new lover, and then gone out for a walk and found yourself feeling naked and exposed, even though you were behaving perfectly innocently together? That’s the transition between the eighth and the ninth houses. In the ninth house, we suddenly realize we are in the world again–that we are of that world. The world is looking at us, expecting something of us. For couples with an emphasis on the 9th house, being active in that world, becomes our whole world. We take what we have discovered or know to be true (together) and bring it out for others to understand and share.
This dissemination of personal truth can take many forms. It can be spiritual or religious, academic, visionary, political or literary. F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald had their North Node on the very cusp of the eighth straddling into the ninth, and they embodied a couple whose intimate lives were their literature. Perhaps most striking of all the examples I’ve seen, John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline have a composite with Scorpio rising, and a tight Sun/Moon conjunction conjunct both Pluto and Mars in the 9th. (For the role of the Ascendant and the chart ruler(s), flip over to my Sasstrology column.) We remember the ‘Camelot’ years even now, fifty years on, a campaign built on a dream and a vision of the future. They embodied the United States as a Utopia of endless youth, beauty and wit. Philosophers, literary figures, and what was then called the intelligentsia sat at their table on a regular basis. The house of higher learning indeed. Alas, the inherent violence of this placement played out, and then a nation looked to them to learn how to mourn and find meaning in tragedy.
If a ninth house couple doesn’t fall into the religious, philosophical, literary or intellectual pattern, there can be an emphasis on Sag things–adventure, having fun, sports, exploring. They may do a lot of travelling or live abroad. All this is in favour of a couple who do things together to gain a broader perspective of themselves, and to experiment with the way they define their place in the world. They don’t want to be defined by narrow brush strokes. Whether they take the high road or the low road doesn’t matter as much as how wide the road is.
Once we discover that definition, we must move from the ninth house to the 10th. The 10th house emphasized in a composite charts brings along the urge to do your job in the world, to build something together to enhance the community or social structure. Tenth house couples can be very traditional or be at the forefront of alternative change, but they will be serious about whatever they do. These are sometimes couples who marry for status; the wealthy man and the trophy wife. If there is an outer planet there, the relationship may break conventions; Saturn there might be very traditional, straight laced and disciplined. Uranus on the MC of the composite is something else again.
The MC defines how we fit in to our world. The Uranus couple, above, will have to find some unique or alternative lifestyle outside the mainstream, or work at bringing Uranian concepts into their communities. The 10th house couple has a degree of luck in that the relationship is usually accepted by the outside world, no matter how unusual. There may be a huge emphasis on either work or ‘good deeds,’ with their standing in the community highly important. These couples can be caretakers, supervisors, or guardians for their neighborhoods. Theirs may be the one house on the block that everyone gravitates towards, particularly in times of crisis.
All of this focus on the ‘outside’ can leave these couples vulnerable to crisis from the ‘inside.’ Unless the IC and its ruler is well aspectd, or there are powerful planets in the fourth to ground them, this couple can be all show and no substance. Or they get along as long as the social expectations are fulfilled, but the minute they become intimate, or assert their individuality, the fragile walls they have built may come tumbling down. Unless they make true and deep connections to their families, friends, and others around them, they may feel adrift as far as emotions are concerned, as if life has no substance. In the charts of young couples, this 10th house emphasis can often be seen in arranged marriages and marriages that are based on tribal and cultural values, rather than personal choice. When the tie is not recognized as genuine, it breaks, and the long road towards individuation opens up for both parties.
Some couples with a heavy 10th house influence, particularly when the Sun is found there, are meant to live a public life. You see this often with couples who perform together, but there are many other ways this energy can manifest.
People become confused about the differences between the 10th house and the 11th, since both can be community oriented and influenced by service to others. But think about the difference between Saturn and Uranus, and you start to understand the unique ways each house expresses itself. Where the 10th house is based on social standards and accepted ways of being in the world, the 11th house is based on affinity and mutual expression.
Eleventh house emphasis in the composite chart is a friendly thing to have. The couple is oriented towards doing things together, to expressing themselves through joining with others who have mutual values, beliefs and ideals. Their scope goes way beyond home and family towards the greater outside world. Their ‘home,’ their ‘family’ consists of the close group they gather around them. The 11th house, more than any other, is where the ‘one’ stands for the ‘all.’ Planets falling in the 11th in the composite are naturally gravitating towards growth. They enjoy the buzz of fulfillment through dedication to something outside themselves, something beyond the ego identity of the couple. While the 5th house describes the kind of play they get into in private, the 11th house describes what kinds of activities they like to do with others. If the 11th house is emphasized by the sexual planets there, it could mean that they are a very adventurous couple in terms of expressing their sexual selves.
The 11th house is also the house of social activities and social culture, so an 11th house couple might find solidarity and meaning in pursuing theatre, art, film, music, dance–anything where human beings join together to express themselves. (The 11th house doesn’t discriminate between high and low culture, either, and they may be just as passionate about baseball games and trivia contests.)
In the 11th house, we begin taking the steps to joining with the all that happens in the 12th house and Pisces. In the 11th, this consists of pursuing our visions of what human behaviour should be. In the 11th, we conceive of a perfect world and try to wake others up to our visions. It’s the house of the outcast and the rebel, the freethinker, the humanitarian. The 11th house allows us to step aside and see the limitations of the 10th and try to get beyond them. Couples with an 11th house emphasis can be crusaders who pursue an ideal. (The 9th house represents a different type of idealism, the concept of higher thought and higher law. It’s structured and deals with structured thought and form (structured religion and philosophical systems versus generalized spirituality, which is represented by the 11th house.) Couples who are very oriented towards the 11th house may find their greatest joy comes from acting on other’s behalf, and belonging to a community that allows their ideals to be expressed. For these couples, social awareness and individual expression become one.
On the whole, the 11th house is a place of friendship and mutual enjoyment. If we don’t become too rigid in our expression, and allow both partners the right to their individuality, it’s a comfortable place to find planets. It’s only when there are serious squares to the 11th from the 2nd and 8th houses that the communal expression of the 11th house leads to problems with intimacy and ownership.
Next time: The Composite Chart and the 12th House