9th house: Education and Experience
10th house: Career
11th house: Friends
12th house: Withdrawal
The ninth house is one of those houses that seems like it ought to be straightforward enough. It's the symbol of pretty straightforward things like higher education, study, and philosophy. In reality, it's not that straightforward. It can relate to everything from your vacation to your in-laws to whether or not you get along well with God.
Among the grab bag of things covered by the ninth house are religion, international travel and relationships, the legal profession, life experience, your outlook on life, college, career preparation, the higher mind, and your ethics and morals. Einstein had sun in the 9th house--and Einstein was pretty doggone smart. So the 9th house is partly a house that reveals your highest intelligence. But it can also reveal the meaning you place on your intelligence, as in your understanding of God and the cosmos. It can relate to your efforts to find meaning and intelligence through the pursuit of new experience. The pursuit of new experience is a pretty broad category, and therefore transits to the 9th house can encompass a broad array of things.
Planets in the 9th house can indicate the amount of pleasure you take in your own mind, but they can also indicate how your basic understanding of life evolves. I know a Gemini person experiencing the Neptune in Aquarius transit of his solar 9th house. Neptune is a planet of compassion and he has spent the last several years running around practicing compassion on a scale completely unlike his former ways of relating. But he is also investigating the mystical side of Neptune via an interest in New Age and ancient arts like Tarot and astrology.
And so it goes with the 9th house. Natal planets and transits here are not unimportant--they can dramatically affect how other people see you and how you see others. But they are not quite so clear cut and defined that you can ordinarily tell yourself--well, I'll just force myself to think such and such. The 9th house, since it is associated with the sign of Sagittarius (which places a premium on adventure and experience) wants you to earn your new ways of perceiving by seeing their value in your own life. Thus, a significant 9th house transit may be just as likely to spur you to take up mountain climbing as the Tarot, as a bracing confrontation with a mountain can be as eye-opening as any esoteric art.
On a less momentous scale, the sun's annual transit of your solar or natal 9th house is traditionally a good time to simply take a good vacation, get away from it all and return to your regular life refreshed and ready to look at everything with new eyes.
For most people, most of the time, the 10th house operates as a significator of their job aspirations. In contrast to the 6th house, which indicates the daily circumstances of your working life, the 10th house tends to indicate what you aspire to as far as your working life goes. So it symbolizes the promotions, career changes, and dreams of glory that most of us harbor from time to time.
The 10th house can mean other things as well, though. An active or prominent 10th house natally or by transit can indicate that the time is right to become an entrepreneur. The charts of most people I see who become self-employed or who start companies that employ others have planets in the 10th house or in the 9th house close to the 10th house cusp.
For people who work in fields where fame is a perk (or a curse), 10th house transits can indicate the fortunes of their professional visibility. The 10th house rules falls from public grace as well as sudden elevations to fame or notoriety. More broadly, it deals with reputation in general, so an individual who puts in long years in a single field may live to enjoy an enduring reputation for competence or success when major planets transit the 10th house.
Sometimes it works the opposite way, and a transit to the 10th house indicates the need for a career change or the need to escape a stifling image, reputation, or lifestyle. Some people drop out of work when a major planet hits their 10th house.
For people who don't work, the 10th house sometimes correlates with participation in community affairs. It is the house of status, but it is also the house of the responsible citizen. It is ruled by Saturn and Capricorn, both symbols of conservatism, duty, responsibility, and stepping up to the plate. A transit of the 10th house by Saturn, then, can indicate a reckoning, a life report card, in which an individual can assess whether or not he or she is on the right track. On a less momentous level, transits of the personal planets (sun, Mercury, Venus, Mars, and sometimes Jupiter) can simply indicate times when things at work are generally going well.
As an angular house concerned with items that are of interest in our tangible, everyday lives (I mean, most of us do have to work these days), the 10th house has a lot of effect on the horoscope. And, just like in real life, in astrology, a significant focus on work and career can interfere with and create tension with other areas of your life, such as personal needs, family relationships, or marriages. The bottom line, though, is that transits to the 10th house can be very helpful in terms of allowing you to establish yourself in the world the way you would like to.
Traditionally, the 11th house represents group activities, friendships, and hopes and wishes. It can be considered the sign of one's social life in general. It is associated with the sign of Aquarius and the planet Uranus. Due to its association with the sign of Aquarius, perhaps, activity in the 11th house often manifests as humanitarian activities and concerns. It can also represent social idealism, a prominent 11th house is often present in individuals who seek public office. More personally, it often represents a person's long-range goals or aspirations, the big life tasks they kind of know they want to do when they get around to it. The 11th house can represent both hopes fulfilled and hopes deferred. It is also the house of astrology itself.
For entrepreneurs and the self-employed, the 11th house represents business income. For careerists of all types, the 11th house is associated with networking activities, professional associations, conferences and conventions.
As the house of one's social life, it can correlate by transit with all kinds of things--parties, close friends, not so close friends, cliques, neighborhood associations--you name it, if people gather to do it, the 11th house can be involved in it. As an air sign house, it is a relationship house, and it has to do with how one relates to people outside one's immediate circle. In some cases, it can be considered a symbol of how one views humanity itself. For many people, the 11th house represents whether or not they feel they "fit in" anywhere, whether they have a sense of belonging. At its heart, the 11th house is partly about the universal human longing to be a part of something greater than oneself, something that will carry forward and benefit future generations, that will make a contribution, no matter how small, to the collective human enterprise.
For some people, 11th house concerns can get quite weighty, and some with a natal chart packed with 11th house planets, much of life is spent striving to do something, achieve something or possess something that will allow them a wider platform to perform humanitarian works. Others treat the 11th house quite lightly, whether purposefully or not, and activity here more closely relates to whether they perceive themselves as popular or not. A difficult transit to the 11th house can simply mean a temporarily curtailed social life. For others, it means a thorough overhaul of goals and aspirations.
Happy or beneficial transits to the 11th house can be among the most rewarding because they can represent wishes come true. These can be quite concrete wishes (more money) or much more nebulous wishes having to do with a longing for meaning or a sense of peace with one's place in society.
In short, the 11th house is a mixed bag. It is in many ways one of the more mysterious houses for an astrologer to penetrate. It seems to have many layers of meaning, some of which most of us can only dimly grasp. How exactly, for example, does the universe make 11th house hopes and wishes come true? No one knows, perhaps, but it seems to have something to do with synchronicity and the connections between every living thing in the universe. It seems also, to have something to do with the idea that some things of spiritual significance are meant to manifest here in the material world, in this life. The myth of the 11th house is in some ways counter to the myth of heaven.
In the myth of heaven, one is rewarded for one's good deeds in the afterlife, after physical life has ceased. In the myth of the 11th house, Prometheus steals fire from the gods and shares it with the mankind. Mankind thereby partakes a bit of divinity and gains a power to improve his own life and the lives of his fellows by mastering the primal technology of fire. The 11th house is like the bridge between physical man and the realm of the spirit, in which we must take responsibility for improving our own well-being while acknowledging the role of spiritual and the extra-physical. We must partake of our divinity in this house, and share its fruits with our fellows.
The 12th house can be considered to have an odd mixture of meanings. It is sometimes considered the house of self-undoing, exile, spirituality, prison, and the subconscious. I also like to think of it as the house of withdrawal, and all the various positive and negative forms that withdrawal takes. In this form, the 12th house covers activities as diverse as sleeping (withdrawal from consciousness), retirement (withdrawal from work), and reflection (withdrawal from the hustle-bustle of mundane concerns).
It is also concerned with the mystical side side of spirituality and religion, the side that requires withdrawal rather than engagement. The 9th house is concerned with the outer forms that religion and spirituality can take and with ethics and the rules of morality, but the 12th house is concerned with visions and the soaring disconnection from earthly concerns that visionary and mystical spirituality can bring. The 9th house might build a big temple, but the 12th house can spot the Virgin Mary in a piece of French toast.
The 12th house can also relate to addictions and drug problems, another way that people have of withdrawing and even escaping from their problems and even from reality. In this way, it also concerns itself on occasion with mental illness and with institutions that are designed to care for the psychologically or physically ill. It is easy, perhaps, to see why such things as prisons and exile would also be forms of withdrawal.
It may be less easy to see why the house would be the house of self-undoing, although self-sabotage might be considered a method of withdrawing from difficult challenges I suppose. But I suspect it also has partly to do with the fact that planets in the 12th house often "hide," their expression being inhibited as they withdraw from active engagement in the world. Planets that don't express themselves openly are often seen as weak or even as problems and afflictions. What I have seen from doing the charts of people as they age, though, is that planets in the 12th house are often enormously influential and flower as a person grows older.
Much about the 12th house is positive, in that withdrawal is one of the great refreshments of human life, and that the ability to escape from the daily grind is essential to creativity, inspiration, and insight. Without sleep, for example, we deteriorate incredibly rapidly, and sleep deprivation is often used as a form of torture! Relaxation, another manifestation of the 12th house is another benefit of the 12th house.
The 12th house can be difficult, though. For many of us, things that are subtle and hidden might as well not exist, and thus transits of the 12th house can be a trial for those who don't like to withdraw from anything. Indeed, the 12th house is associated with the sign of Pisces, a sign whose influence is felt most strongly in the very dead of winter, right before spring begins. This is often a difficult time, as the natural human desire for sunshine and light strains against the final days of coldness and darkness. At such times, I suppose it can be helpful to remember that without the natural rest and withdrawal of winter and the 12th house, nothing would ever bloom again and spring would never come.
copyright 2007 Victoria Bazeley