Dennis M. Harness, Ph.D.
The twelfth house in the natal horoscope is often a mysterious domain of perplexity and paradox. According to Vedic astrologer, Dr. B.V. Raman, the twelfth bhava (house) “indicates misery, loss, expenditure, waste, extravagance, sympathy, piety, divine knowledge and worship, moksha (final emancipation) and the state after death”. Whether an individual encounters loss or gain through the twelfth bhava is usually reflected by the natal chart, navamsa and current dasas and transits. But just as important, the attitude and consciousness of the individual exploring the twelfth house will have great influence as to what the soul learns through the experiences. How we react and respond to life’s karmic lessons is our free will or choice. As one encounters the twelfth house, it may be said that, “some pain is inevitable; suffering is optional”.
My very first experience with a professional astrologer was in 1976 and involved the twelfth house. The astrologer noted that both Moon and Jupiter were placed in my natal twelfth house and that Saturn would be transiting over these planets in the coming year. His dire prediction for 1977 was that I should ” be cautious because you may end up in jail”. This was a little disconcerting for a twenty-one year old who was moving away from his family to California to complete his college education. However, his prediction did come to fruition. My first job in California was as a youth counselor in a juvenile prison facility. I was literally in jail for up to sixty hours a week counseling adolescent boys. I have always thought that this was Divine Mother’s loving and compassionate way to balance the scales of karma for Saturn’s transit over my twelfth house planets.
In addition to the twelfth bhava signifying jails and prisons, confinement can also come thru ashrams, monasteries, and other places of spiritual renewal. The great saint of India who taught in the West, Paramahansa Yogananda stated that “seclusion is the price of greatness”. The twelfth house can teach us the benefit of aloneness, instead of the experience of loneliness. Meditation, yoga, and other spiritual austerities may be experienced through this house. Islands, remote places, and caves are also associated with the twelfth bhava.
The traditional karaka or significator of the twelfth house is Saturn. Sani or Saturn can reflect the loss, suffering, austerity of this domain. In my opinion, Ketu can also be viewed as a secondary karaka of the twelfth bhava. Ketu is the “moksha karaka” graha and also reflects twelfth house matters to an extent. Ketu is the planet of enlightenment and liberation as well as loss and confusion. Ketu placed in the twelfth bhava can reflect a deep spiritual awareness. The great saint, Mother Teresa had Ketu residing in her twelfth house of her natal horoscope.
The twelfth house is also reflective of the unconscious mind. The great Swiss psychiatrist, Dr. C.G. Jung once wrote “that which we do not face in the unconscious, we will live as fate”. One of the goals of both psychotherapy and astrology is to make the unconscious, more conscious. Both methods of introspection attempt to bring light into the caverns of the sub-conscious mind. Planets transiting thru the twelfth house can bring to light certain psychological complexes related to fear, worry and paranoia. Hidden family secrets or ancestral patterns may also be revealed. As Jung had stated; “the greatest sin” is to remain unconscious.
The twelfth house is also associated with the bed. Activities such as sleeping, dreaming, and even making love (bed pleasures) are depicted here. Benefic planets here may reflect the enjoyment of the bedroom and its related pleasures. Malefics posited here can reveal insomnia, nightmares, sexual dysfunction or lack of sexual enjoyment. The left eye and the feet are correlated with the twelfth bhava. Thus, poor eyesight and/or feet problems can occur due to afflictions to the twelfth house or its lord.
Loss of money, heavy expenditures, extravagance and debts can be experienced in relation to the twelfth house. However, this house can also reveal unusual resources and be a hidden treasure chest at the time of need. It is important to remember that the twelfth house is the eleventh house of gain from the second house (money) and also the second house from the eleventh house. It can provide the proverbial ” the check is in the mail”. Benefic planets in the twelfth house provide sustenance during the difficult times. Humanitarian or charitable work may be suitable for a benefic twelfth house person.
In summary, there are many methods to consciously explore the twelfth house. Psychotherapy, astrology, hypnosis, journal writing and working with one’s dreams can be effective tools for exploring the unconscious mind. Meditation, prayer, and other spritual practices can also assist one in contacting the super-conscious mind of the higher Self. The ultimate goal of “transpersonal psychotherapy” and Vedic Astrology is God Realization or Moksha. Exploration of twelfth house activities can assist us in finding our way home to God and the state of consciousness we may experience after our final liberation.
The following is a brief synopsis of the grahas in the natal twelfth house. Of course, the sign of the planet, aspects, and current dasas/transits will greatly enhance the interpretation and outcome.
Planets in the Twelfth House:
Sun: Hermit nature, need for seclusion, absent father, lack of family support for ego-development, dominant mother, low self-esteem, the power behind the throne, trouble with authority figures. Search for personal identity.
Moon: Lack of nurturing as a child, absent mother, fear of appearing childish, need for meditation time, enjoyment of the bedroom, sensitive to sound, water is healing, success in foreign lands, spiritual mother with different religious beliefs, raised by siblings.
Mercury: Good for writing and keeping a journal, psychic nature, tendency to ramble in speech, excellent for research and working behind the scenes, poetic, worry or fear issues, creative dyslexia.
Venus: Good bed pleasures, fear of loss in love, little public display of affection, trouble in early marriage, hidden treasures and gifts. Love of mystery, good longevity, peaceful death, attains heaven.
Mars: Kuja Dosha, early marriage may end in divorce, passive-aggressive personality, possible hidden abuse issues, good for hatha yoga. Assertiveness training may be beneficial.
Jupiter: Good for meditation and yoga, Guru may be absent, hidden financial resources, discouraged to expand past parents narrow belief systems, attains heavenly state after death.
Saturn: Need for spiritual discipline, path of service, issues with fear and withdrawal, feet and/or eye problems, sexual dysfunction. Father not available, may seek older mates, heavy debts.
Rahu: Difficulties with sleep disturbance or sexuality, difficult to diagnose illnesses, astral disturbances, need to focus on sadhana or spiritual practices.
Ketu: Good for moksha or spiritual liberation, intuitive gifts, need for spiritual community or ashram, enjoys distant travels. Need to create a peaceful living environment.
The Outer Planets (not utilized in traditional Vedic Astrology):
Uranus: Good for astrologers, unconventional, inventive mind, may have had originality stifled by family of origin. Underlying nervousness.
Neptune: Creative inspiration, need for fantasy time, poetic, psychic, escapist tendencies, need moderation with drugs, alcohol, transcendental mind. sensitive, compassionate, need time near water.
Pluto: Repressed sexuality and passion, tantric yoga may be helpful, fear of owning one’s power, manipulation of others, intense womb experience.
Hamaker-Zondag, Karen. The Twelfth House: The Hidden Power in the Horoscope. Samuel Weiser, York Beach, ME, 1992.
Jung, C.G. Man and his Symbols. Doubleday, Garden City, NY, 1964.
Marks, Tracy. Your Secret Self: Illuminating the Mysteries of the Twelfth House. CRCS Publications, Sebastopol, CA, 1989.
Raman, B.V. Hindu Predictive Astrology. UBS Publishers New Delhi, India, 1992, Twentieth Edition.
Rudhyar, Dane. The Astrological Houses, “The Twelfth House”. CRCS Publications, Sebastopol, CA, 1972.