12th House of Loss & Transcendence

There’s a church in Glendale with the strangest sign out front. It lights up clean and bright at night. I passed once in the daytime and there was a security guard out front with a dark navy jacket with the word “SECURITY” emblazoned on the back. I asked if I could take a picture of him in front of the sign but he said, “no pictures, no pictures” and looked at me like I was trying to steal it.

I can still see him, all gruff and grizzled and silver haired, mad at me. It’s stuck in my mind’s eye. Him guarding that sign, keeping it safe.

And you know what? I wish I had security guarding my FAITH CENTER sometimes. When my faith gets shaken I often wish there was something standing between it and the outside world, some force that could alleviate the worst effects. But in truth I’m less and less convinced that yelling at people or trying to instill fear is the best way to go about it. In fact, the more my faith gets rattled the more convinced I am that the best security is almost always to open, not close. To surrender, not stand on guard.

But learning this didn’t come easy. I was born with my Sun in the 12th house of Loss & Sorrows. I’ve been losing what I wanted most since I was about nine years old. What I see now is that the actual things I’ve lost aren’t important, what’s important is how I’m just wired to think of things from the perspective of loss or gain, so I’ve felt losses acutely and feared them consequently. It’s taken me many years to appreciate how loss is actually a gift. Loss is a great teacher because it reveals the fundamental truth of reality. Resisting this truth causes more sorrow then the losses themselves.

But if you surrender, if you release yourself from the need to protect yourself from the inevitable, from loss, from failure, from betrayal, from the certainty of it, than you will tap into real power. Modern interpretations of the 12th house always say it’s about transcendence, but I’ve never seen a good explanation of why. In my opinion this is it, this is why. It’s because when you accept loss as inevitable life becomes precious. It becomes real.

Faith is its best when it comes to accepting things as they are, not as we want them to be. There’s this virulent notion in our culture that faith, the kind “you gotta have” is there for you to keep believing impossible dreams, to get you the money, the man, the house of your dreams, to keep your babies safe at night and to never let anything bad happen to anyone ever. And when bad things happen to you, it’s somehow your fault because you didn’t believe enough.

But real optimism, real joy, real faith starts from accepting things as they are, not as we want them to be. It’s no good wishing you hadn’t spilt the milk. If you want to clean it up you have to accept the fact of it, you can’t pretend things are anything other than what they are. And it requires determination to do so. It’s not for the faint of heart. You have to be willing to swallow some very bitter pills if you want to live in this world.

The Five Remembrances of the Buddhist faith speak eloquently to this:

I am subject to aging, I have not gone beyond aging

I am subject to illness, I have not gone beyond illness

I am subject to death, I have not gone beyond death

I will be separated and parted from all that is dear and beloved to me

I am the owner of my actions, heir to my actions, born of my actions, related through my actions, and have my actions as my arbitrator. Whatever I do, for good or for evil, to that will I fall heir.

Impermanence is the one absolute we can all unequivocally count on. How we be with that is all that we can control or should even attempt to.

It’s a paradox that the experience of being alive should make being mortal so hard to embrace. But accepting it is a relief. Accepting it makes it beautiful. Accepting it makes the present moment so precious.

I can’t say I accept it 100% of the time – more like 20% of the time, but that’s, like 20% more than I have since I was about nine, so I’m counting it a win. When my ex and I split I remember vividly at the heart of the anguish, at the heart of the despair, at the heart of the darkness, this overwhelming alertness. It was like being woken up.

So the funny thing is that I remember my faith most when I’ve lost something I really wanted, because it’s always then that I need to remember it most. It’s always when you’re down in it that you know what your faith really is or isn’t. I’m glad this is mine.

I will be separated and parted from all that is dear and beloved to me

This is the center of my faith, and the truest security I’ve ever known.


5 replies
  1. Sabina
    Sabina says:

    Is it any good wishing someone else hadn’t spilt your milk? And they aren’t going to clean it up, you have to.
    Just wondering.
    I’ve read and reread Katie Byron and pondered and practised her questions but still I cannot relax into that kind of total acceptance of ‘what is’. If none of us had ever acted to change what is, well, you can imagine. Stuff like septic tanks full of dead Irish babies is not a kind of is-ness I will ever accept.
    Faith and security, I dunno. Besides that pesky 12th house Sun, I’ve got Venus cj Saturn opp Moon and Jupiter cj Uranus. In my Human Design chart what you might call the heart chakra is not activated which kinda means you project your heart into me. Sometimes I’m okay with being heartless.

    • Wonder Bright
      Wonder Bright says:

      To accept things as they are doesn’t mean you can’t work to change them. Actually, it’s precisely when you do accept things as they are that you have the most chance of changing them. It’s no good wishing your mum hadn’t left you, or imagining how it would be if she hadn’t, you can’t change what’s so. All you can do is change how you’re going to be about it. In other words, no, it doesn’t matter who spilled the milk, if you’re the one affected, and the one who notices the spill, then you’re the one who has to clean it up. But you can’t do that if you keep waiting for someone else to do it. Meanwhile, you’re the one living with the ugly toxic mess.

      At the end of the day, whether you accept septic tanks full of dead babies or not they do exist. There will almost certainly be till the day you die septic tanks full of dead babies. Accepting this as a fact doesn’t mean liking it, it just means you live in the world. MLK and Ghandi were not in denial. Gloria Steinem is not in denial. True activism relies on an absolute apprehension of reality, for good and bad.

  2. JellyB
    JellyB says:

    I will be separated and parted from all that is dear and beloved to me…
    Thank you for reminding me at this time of this. Its seems a bitter pill but freeing at the same time..

    • Wonder Bright
      Wonder Bright says:

      I understand perfectly, JellyB. At different points it’s had the same effect on me. It may be worth repeating, however, that while the statement could be read as an emphatic denial of happiness, the true value of it lies in the reverse, as it’s a meditation on impermanence, not on grim certainty. Sadness also doesn’t last. Change is inevitable, and loss and death are, at the core, experiences of change.

      Since I wrote this I met the love of my life and have enjoyed seven months of the most profound happiness I’ve ever known. And yet I know it will change. I’m plagued by fears that he will be hit by a car or one of us will fall ill. Best case scenario is that old age awaits and we won’t always be able to enjoy our lives together the way we do now. All there can be is gratitude for the present moment and the riches we currently enjoy.

      My prayers for you that you find that still point inside yourself where you are timeless, eternally loved and fully blessed. May the beauty in your environment gift you with the experience of joy in the present moment and may you find connection to those around you.

      May you be peaceful
      May you be loved

Comments are closed.