The House of Unintended Consequences

kitchen anatomy copy

I was speaking with my father this morning and he misheard something I said.  What he heard me say was “The House of Unintended Consequences.”  Which I now wish I had said, despite it having nothing whatsoever to do with what we were speaking about, but simply because I’ve been so far up my 12th house for the past few months this phrase resonates profoundly.

To whom do I appeal for an addition to the definition of the 12th House?

It’s described as the House of Sorrows, Secrets, and Transcendence, and it’s associated with self-destruction and undoing, but Holy Moly, if those experiences aren’t inextricably linked to Unintended Consequences I certainly don’t know what is.

My girl Beth gave me the cutting board pictured above for my birthday a few years back.  I’ve never been able to bring myself to actually cut anything on it and it makes me uncomfortable but it hangs above my stove because I love it anyway.  Visually it expresses something difficult I know to be true about myself but for which I cannot find a cure and for which I’m no longer certain I ought to try.

kitchen anatomy I’ve always said too much at the wrong time (Mercury in the 12th)  I’ve had difficulty recognizing boundaries and I’ve often unwittingly or not trespassed against them (Venus in the 12th).  This blog continues to be an experiment for me in playing with those boundaries, exploring them, running up against them, and risking the danger of cutting myself.  It’s compulsive, I’m open-handed about it, I’m exposing myself willingly, but my organs are vulnerable.

I know it, yet I cannot seem to stop it.  I don’t know how else to be.  I know it’s too much but if I don’t do it than I cannot be myself (Sun in the 12th) and if I cannot be myself then what the hell is the point?  I understand secrets and the need for discretion.  Christ, do I understand.  It’s just that I don’t LIKE it, it pisses me off.  Secrets may sometimes be necessary, but who decides?

A good friend of mine has four planets in the 12th, but they’re in Scorpio, she’s silent as the grave about things.  Also, she isn’t cursed by an Aquarius rising or Uranus squaring her 12th house Sun.  I’m torn between the need to understand hidden things and the need to reveal them.  But truly understanding them must always include respecting the value in keeping them hidden.

I’ve not mastered that.  I’m far from certain I ever will.  But at least I know this truth now.  (Thank you, Saturn in Scorpio!)

I know I’m not for everybody, I know I say things, do things  other people find awkward or gauche or too personal or simply just “too much,” (an anonymous commenter tweaked me about it in response to something I wrote a couple months ago) but in the words of my childhood heroine, Anne of Greene Gables, “if you only knew all the things I wanted to say and don’t, you would admire my restraint.”

organsWith Pluto transiting my Sun and Venus edging up against them both now it seems as good a time as any to own this contradiction in myself.  It’s a contradiction, the kind that cannot truly be reconciled, but perhaps I can find peace with it.  Perhaps I can just accept that there may be blood, there may be repercussions, there may be Unintended Consequences.

It is, after all, my essential nature.  All I can truly do is ride this knife’s point to the edge.  Hope for the best, forgive the worst, and do my absolute best not to betray anyone else.  If organs must be offered, let let them be mine.

9 replies
  1. Tino
    Tino says:

    Neuromancer: You read my mind with this one! I have the Aquarius rising and the Saturn in Scorpio in the house of secrets (the 8th)I too have learned that painful lesson, with Mercury riding conjunct the ASC, and squared by Saturn and Pluto I say too much as well and it often changes everything. I would like to say though you have never been too much to handle in my experience, I truly believe it is your intensity equally matched to mine which attracted me to you in the first place, it plays so nicely.

    • Wonder Bright
      Wonder Bright says:

      Yes, though we may disagree about which house is the house of secrets, Tino, I could never fault your passion, intensity or conviction! I have Mercury and Saturn square as well, and I agree, it pushes ALL the envelopes, buttons AND boundaries I’m presented with and then some. I’m not sure who it bothers more, me or those around me. It’s always easier to be around those who don’t/can’t take it personally, as it’s never meant so. <3 you, brother mine. X

      • Trish
        Trish says:

        I too am an 8th House person – with 4 of my 5 personal planets in the 8th house. The 5th personal planet is tightly conjunct Pluto in the 4th. People know I’m a tomb. Good luck getting me to say anything!

        Luckily, I was spared from 12th House placements with the traditional planets, although when adding Ceres & Vesta, I end up with a Grand Trine in Earth.

        • Wonder Bright
          Wonder Bright says:

          Wow, Trish. It sounds like you took quite a huge bite out of this lifetime. I hope that personal planet in the 4th grounds you and brings you home the way it’s positioned to. It intrigues me how the 12th, the 8th and the 4th are configured to make a trine, the two worst houses with one of the best ones. The Dalai Llama has said that of the three jewels a Buddhist is supposed to take refuge in, the Dharma (or way), the Sangha (fellow practitioners), and the Buddha (the teacher), that the sangha are the hardest. I think of the 4th house as the Sangha we take on from childhood. They are the first people we practice our souls on, for better or worse. It’s interesting that the 4th should be trine with the two most difficult houses, it illustrates both the stress we receive from those bonds and the relief that can be experienced with family in times of difficulty. Your phrase, “People know I’m a tomb” will be ringing in my ears for a bit. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Alwyn L'hoir
    Alwyn L'hoir says:

    nice post. 12th house is a tricky house…piscean in nature….if you look at the glyph of pisces (i know you have :-) ) it is two fish swimming in opposite directions….if the fish is our way to swim through the subconscious— or even superconscious— mind, what does the two directions say? I like to look at it like you might be staring into the depths, but the depths are staring into you. A two way fishy street, and hard to pin down. Boundaries are a joke; in this world, everything is porous. But it’s the sign just over the horizon at our birth, and what we will eventually come to. just some musings on the subject, from one with Pluto conjunct Jupiter in a leonine 12th.

    • Wonder Bright
      Wonder Bright says:

      Thanks for the comment, Alwyn! I love this: “you might be staring into the depths, but the depths are staring into you.” I’m too much of a traditionalist to ascribe to the “astrological alphabet” wherein Pisces = the 12th house, but I’m gonna have to steal this for the 12th house anyway, it’s beautifully put.

  3. Frederick
    Frederick says:

    Mercury in my 12th House will share some insights with you about the Sun in my 12th house, and perhaps this will osmotically (very 12th house-ian) transfer over, across the miles, to enter you’re headspace directly, re your 12th house placements/transits — so, hell, you might not even need to read this! (Right there another 12 house bonus).

    I hit my tipping point re 12th house bashing when John Frawley referred to it as the ‘house of masturbation.’ I thought, really? Uh huh. We’re gonna go there with the pile-up (undoing, suicide, unwed mothers, nuns, elephants, monks, serve-or-suffer, enemies, etc.).

    No, I said.

    A key to comprehending the 12th house (that has nothing to do with vapors rising from the earth at this time of day) is to consider the LIGHT that begins to establsih between 6am and 8am, traditionally the 12th house ‘hours’.

    Solita Solano records in her diaries that Gurdjieff noted: “…morning sun is best for us, the only time of day when the rays contain certain properties necessary for our understanding.”

    Coming from a man I highly respect when it comes to the difficult work of awakening, I put stock in his declaration — and those ‘properties’.

    Too, from my own experience (and it is this impression that informs my attitude regarding my 12th house placements) dawn– like dusk — is a period in the day’s cycle that is something akin to the sacred. There’s a palpably still aura to the air, a quiet that is both fragile and vibrant with potential. This is, for the most part, how I feel about the Sun’s manner (in the 12th) of expressing itself in the world.

    This took time for me to begin to appreciate, honor and recalibrate myself to — and that ‘adjustment’ occurred through many years of psycho-spiritual work (more 12 house-isms), long stretches of preferred solitude and question after question as to ‘what’ if anything was available, in an essential way, from other people; and should I receive that ‘stuff’ would it do much to temper my love of quiet, solitude, study and the experience of ‘doing nothing’ (one of my favorite pastimes, which of course is the ‘devil’s workshop!’)

    My lens that looks out on the world is this same soft condition of light that is just arriving, establishing and preparing to ascend and illuminate in stronger wattage, but again, it’s very much a bardo condition.

    To me a bardo’s very essence is one of contradiction; and from the merging of contradictions there is alchemy, which generates light, and movement — but done with awareness and usually softly. We don’t run around yaking and tossing our bodies about like bumper cars at 6AM in the morning, as we do, say at noon time when the fervor and pitch of ‘reality’ is buzzing and making us believe that ITS atmosphere is the one that dominates and defines the world at large.

    So, 12th house light — that atmosphere for the soul — is to be respected, understood, honored and valued. At least in my cosmology.

    I hope this deepens your inquiry, Wonder.

    Thanks for a very honest and probing post.


    • Wonder Bright
      Wonder Bright says:

      Gosh, Frederick. Thank you for such a probing and heartfelt exploration of 12th house themes and your workings within them. I’m truly humbled by your clear compassion and your intentionality in sharing it with me. I feel strongly about the 12th house and its nature, and while we may disagree on nuances, distinctions, and certainly the language we use to describe it, I think you will agree with me wholly when I say that the 12th house is massively misunderstood and conversations about it may be some of the most important we can undertake as astrologers.

      However, it may surprise you to hear that I don’t disagree with anything you’ve said here. The totality of what you’ve shared is wholly in keeping with my experiences of the 12th house. In particular I am drawn to your description of the quality of the light in the early morning hours (or evening, for that matter, which traditionally carries weight not generally allowed to the 7th or 6th houses). I am amazed that despite being enough of a photographer that I have an app on my phone to tell me exactly when the Golden Hour occurs at my location that it never really crossed my mind as a way of looking at/into the 12th house. (You may know that the hour just after sunrise and just before sunset is particularly prized by photographers because it creates such haunting light) However the connection is immediate once made, and thank you for that. It really resonates with me.

      I understand that you hear the phrases I use to describe the 12th house as “bashing,” but I have to tell you I don’t experience it that way myself. I’m incredibly fond of my 12th house, and proud of it too, after all we’ve been through together. It’s just that I am strongly Saturnine in nature, and my 12th house is Capricorn to boot. I like the traditional terms for the houses, but truly they don’t sound like death sentences to me. They remind me of living in England where the best grade you can get, a “first” is 70 points or higher (it’s hardly ever higher) and the national past time is “taking the piss,” or “the mickey” out of someone or something, often yourself. For me the starkness of the traditional descriptions is not just a truth, it’s a term of endearment, a way of familiarizing yourself with demons. Not because “they” are demons, but because we are. We all are, we all possess these tendencies, these points of vulnerability. Can we overcome them? Can we be more than our circumstances? Certainly, but not without honestly assessing what those circumstances are to begin with.

      So when I called the 12th house a “bitch” introducing this post on FB I didn’t mean that in a strictly pejorative fashion. Some of my favorite people are bitches. Lordisa knows I’m a bitch myself and not always when it’s called for.

      So I don’t disagree with your assessment of the 12th house at all, but I don’t actually see how it conflicts with anything I’ve said in my post, to be honest. Everywhere in my post I describe precisely the alchemy you point to in the 12th house. Rather than refuting my basic nature I’m accepting it, surrendering to it, and surrendering to something larger than myself by so doing. When I say “All I can truly do is ride this knife’s point to the edge. Hope for the best, forgive the worst, and do my absolute best not to betray anyone else. If organs must be offered, let let them be mine.” I am expressly saying let me be as pure and mindful as possible, let me do no harm to others, and let my efforts be in service to Universal Truths even if and when I don’t understand them. A bardo demands no less.

      In closing may I gently suggest that you might have a clear cut advantage over me – and over most 12th house Suns because your Sun in Cancer in the 12th rules your first house. Having a connection between the 1st and the 12th (especially when the Sun is the connection!) makes the affinity between the two houses infinitely clearer. When your Sun rules another house the loss of persons, places, and things associated with the houses the Sun rules are not always so cleanly traced back to oneself or ones perspective. It took me a long long time to understand that other people were not me, and I mean that as close to literally as you can get without being a liar or a fool. I have a strange way of absorbing other people that I associate powerfully with my 12th house Sun ruling my 7th house. When certain people pass from my life I experience a loss of self that operates like a powerful undertow. Other 12th house Suns I’ve met with rulership over other houses describe similar phenomenons.

      Learning to separate oneself from “other” is difficult for anyone, but I suspect 12th house Suns are at a worse advantage than most. That LIGHT you describe that shines so beautifully on whatever it looks at is perhaps best served in the 12th by looking at oneself, because in the 12th we are reminded over and over again that “you can’t take it with you.” Ultimately, a 12th house Sun must learn powerful self-reliance and faith, not easily shaken by the slings and arrows of misfortune. Once earned this treasure is like no other and I wouldn’t trade my knowledge of it for anything. I consider it worth more than either love or money, because it cannot be replaced, and once revealed its worth only grows.

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