And now we come to the house that causes more furrowed brows than any other. It’s bad enough that we have difficulties with the 12th house when it involves the natal chart, but it often is downright cruel when we’re trying to negotiate it’s slippery slopes in a composite. It confuses us, as is appropriate with a house that Neptune rules. We feel it has a nebulous, yet mysteriously powerful influence on our lives when we have planets there, even though we can’t quite fathom the type of influence it wields–are we being seduced to a precipitous cliff by external forces, or are the demons within driving us to the edge? Whatever the motive, we know we are facing some sort of extreme–and a choice.
One thing is certain, and that is planets in the 12th house don’t behave like any other. The 12th house is the culmination of all that has come before it–it’s our last chance, our last ride, and planets there can often go to extremes without knowing why (they can blame it on the limitless nature of Pisces, which respects no boundaries). Planets in the 12th can behave in one of several ways. Either the energy of the planet is lost, confused, diffused and (at least in our early years) ineffective, or the planet can completely embody its archetype for all to see, often after overcoming great difficulties and reversals, sometimes in extreme circumstances. The house is famous for being the house of ‘self-undoing’, but it can also be the house where we find our fame and fortune. The twelfth house is about vocation, our divine calling, and is a very different energy from the status-oriented tenth. Fame has its roots in the 12th because that is where we can serve as an example of a prime archetype–we can embody the zeitgeist of our age. We move from the personal world, giving up our individuality along the way, to become a plaything of the collective unconscious.
What the twelfth house demands of us always is that we give the ego a rest, but often challenges regarding the ego are exactly what we have to face with twelfth house planets. We feel that our twelfth house planets don’t ‘work’ the way our other planets do, or the way that same planet seems to behave in other people’s charts. Sometimes the twelfth house energies become lost, and we create false gods from what we cannot find within us (for example, those with Leo on the 12th house cusp may worship creative expression, but not be able to find it in themselves). A recent class in assassins revealed that the victims often had many planets in the shooter’s 12th house. There is, without a doubt, an element of longing in the 12th. This is the empty space, the place where we are not like others, the place where the pieces don’t fit. And this is where we must reach out beyond our small lives to touch the greater life that is possible.
Now, what to think of this powerful symbolism in the composite chart?
Like individuals with 12th house planets, couples with a lot of twelfth house may feel that there is something fated about their lives together. Something is whispering in their ears. It is not so much a question of choice, more that the universe has chosen for them to be together (at least, that’s what it feels like). It’s a bit like getting knocked off your feet by a powerful wave–you and your partner are going to have to swim in the tide for a while, and deal with whatever watery beasties swim your way. I”ve seen couples with a heavy 12th house influence utterly befuddled and bedazzled by their lives (which don’t go the way their friends’ lives go). It isn’t that they’re unhappy–no, they seem to go more the extreme of bliss altering with despair. On the one hand “We are meant to be…” on the other, “But if we are, why is it so hard?”
When a couple has planets, or an important planet, in the 12th, it can go a couple of ways. One, that planet’s energy can be confused and diffused in their lives, especially when in difficult aspect to other things in the composite. You don’t want, on the whole, a composite Mars in the 12th square to Neptune, unless you are missionaries or you plan to open up a swimming pool installation company. It usually indicates that there is something karmic surrounding that planet that needs fixing–it is, in a prior life, something that was missed or misused between them. It’s the last chance to get it right, and there will be a struggle to use this planet’s positive expression easily. In contrast, couples who come together to create something for the collective often have the appropriate planets in the composite 12th, there for all to see. (One expression does not contra-indicate the other.)
This ‘last chance’ element, sadly, often leads us to relationships that are destined to exist only to fix this thing–when the lesson is learned, both these people move on. It often indicates couples who seem to have a lot of shared experience and shared history–even if they are new to one another, it feels ‘old.’ They recognize one another when they meet. They seem bonded before a word is spoken. We romanticize all of this (and well, a little romance never hurt anyone) but the truth is that this familiarity is there to ‘hurry up’ the bonding process so that the lessons and the challenges can be quickly assimilated. These are the couples who are magnetically attracted to one another and who, after making the necessary commitments, find themselves on strange and unfamiliar territory.
Couples where the 12th is strong can often experience–well, let’s say it–Neptunian weirdness. Telepathy, visiting one another out of body, lucid dreaming where they communicate with one another, strange psychic links and melding of the two energetic bodies. (You can have this without the 12th of course, but the 12th is inclined to it.) This can happen in composites of unrequited love, where one person loves another who doesn’t know he or she exists. Now, you can either say it’s karma, or you can say that person A is psychologically hooking onto the archetype formed with person B’s chart, but whatever it is, it can be a very powerful pull. I’m not quick to say its an illusion, but it’s not quite ‘real’ either, and you can get into some dangerous territory in the 12th by telling yourself things that aren’t really true. The weirdness of the 12th usually happens when one or both of the other parties has a heavy 12th influence in the natal.
Again, sadly, this being the 12th, most of the time the lesson is learning to love and then let go. Neptune’s great teaching is that love is a powerful force in and of itself, and should not be used as a binder. Neptune, as the higher octave of Venus, is all about connections, and the 12th house allows us to dissolve the boundaries of ordinary life in order to reach out beyond our mundane reality. Those of us with composite 12th emphasized will be asked to step away from the mundane and step into the world of the extraordinary, where unlikely connections are day to day things. Sometimes we will be asked to make leaps of faith. Oftentimes, once we surrender to the powers of the 12th house, our lives are transformed by meaning, because those unlikely connections have brought us a wisdom beyond our time together. Eventually, we learn that life is not as random as we thought, but full of purpose and meaning. It may have felt like chaos, but later on we know that there was method to the madness.
Couples with a heavy 12th house/ 6th house polarity have to find a way to put their wisdom to some practical use. It often helps to work together on projects they find meaningful, or to spend some time doing community or charity work. Once they have hammered out their imbalance (too little, too much is often a theme with the 12th) they must find a way to make something real of their inspiration. Find a way to bring the god down to the day to day world, so that it, too, is considered sacred. It’s a huge task, but often one the 12th house couple is uniquely suited for.
You may now be more confused about the 12th house than you were at the beginning of this piece, but such is the nature of the 12th, beautiful and terrible. We are fated, but we are meant to part. We have a meaningful journey to take together, but we must ultimately be alone. Our lives are silly and sublime at once. We have the ultimate intimacy side by side with the knowledge of ultimate separateness. We grasp for the handrail, and find nothing to hold on to. We fall, and find the world.