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The Houses, Temples of the Sky - by Deborah Houlding  

The Twelfth House

Main Rulerships:
The 12th house represents matters that are hidden, restrained, secret, incapable of action or of being fully understood. This can sometimes suggest conditions that are in a premature state of development and not yet recognised by the conscious mind (a recent horary on 'will I become pregnant?' showed the querent was already pregnant but unaware of it because of a separating trine from the Moon to Venus, ruler of the 5th, located in the 12th).
Traditionally, however, it is a wholly unfortunate house, associated with sad events, sorrow, anguish of mind, tribulation, captivity, imprisonment, persecution, hard labour, all manner of affliction and self-undoing. It represents places that are denied access to public view, particularly those concerned with seclusion or isolation, or where one is restricted from living a carefree life-style, such as institutions or prisons. Many sources attribute monasteries to the 12th house as places of isolation, but otherwise monks and nuns belong to the 9th house which represents religious concerns. It has rulership over scandals generally, personal fears and skeletons in the family closet. I have often noted transits to Uranus in this house denote a time when guilty secrets and hidden vices are exposed. It has much to do with shame and the fear of future consequences and Barbara Watters notes: "very adverse connections between the 8th, 12th and ascendant may suggest that the querent is contemplating suicide" ([JoE], p.68); while Lilly notes: "the significator in the 12th house can show someone in despair" ([CA], p.42). Its significations include secret, unknown enemies, such men as maliciously undermine their neighbours or inform secretly against them: traitors, spies; witchcraft, malicious hauntings; weakness, infirmity and bondage. It also rules great cattle, such as horses, oxen, elephants, of which Ezra notes "Those which serve as a mount for men". It can be used to signify the mother's kin (3rd from 10th); finances of friends (2nd from 11th); sickness of the spouse (6th from 7th) and the death of children (8th from 5th).

In Horary Astrology:
As above applied to the querent.

In Mundane Astrology:
The prison system; reformatories.
Criminals, spies, secret enemies of the nation at home or abroad. Underground movements, secret societies and occult (ie., hidden) groups. Monasteries or places of isolation. Banished or imprisoned persons.
Hospitals, asylums, institutions governing those who are weak, infirm, or in need of support, and as a result, the welfare state. In countries where relevant, concentration camps and those kept in slavery or bondage. Homeless people, the wounded and infirm.

In lawsuits, conflicts or events:
This is the house of incarceration and therefore when emphasised in a trial chart can indicate imprisonment for the defendant. Outside of lawsuits, it may show that the perpetrator of a crime goes into hiding. In conflicts or unfortunate events it suggests the work of saboteurs, unhelpful fateful influences or unknown elements of destruction. The Sun in the 12th house in the chart for an unfortunate event may show that underlying factors do not come to light or public knowledge.

In Medical Matters:
Specifically the feet, but it is a general indication of ill-health and disease.

In Commerce:
Particular care should be taken if the 12th house is emphasised in charts concerning business deals. Unknown factors may be at work, relevant details may be held back, and the general reputation of harm and self-undoing attached to this house does not bode well for commercial activities.


Cadent, feminine, nocturnal. A dark house and reputed to be the most unfortunate in the chart.


Associated Planets:
Saturn rejoices in this house; Lilly notes: "for naturally Saturn is author of mischief' (p.56).
Cosignificators are Pisces and Venus.

Mala Fortuna ('Bad Fortune'). House of Enemies. Lilly notes: "vulgarly called cataphora ['casting down'], as all cadent houses may be".

12 ESE 3 NNE 6 WNW 9 SSW
2 ENE 5 NNW 8 WSW 11 SSE


© Deborah Houlding, 1996; Extracted from the 1st edition of The Houses: Temples of the Sky - now available in a revised, expanded edition

House Rulerships

House 1 House 2 House 3 House 4
House 5 House 6 House 7 House 8
House 9 House 10 House 11 House 12