Greetings, and welcome back to Journeys! This month we continue looking at the houses, discussing the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th.
The 5th Temple: Joy, Creativity, Self Expression and Luck.
Location: The 5th temple is a space half way between the nadir of the sky and the western horizon. This means it is a completely non-visible area of the sky that is always below the horizon and out of view.
Discussion: At the 5th temple our tour of the temples has traveled over one quarter of the way around the wheel of the chart and this means that we are approaching the second of the 3 temples focused on pure existence, life and being (the first such temple was the 1st), and it is a place where that light of being is expressed as spontaneous joy and fun. It is worthy of deep reflection that such a place as the Temple of Joy and Pleasure exists alongside a temple for acquisition, memory, being and communication. Fun, or leisure, is just as fundamental an ingredient in life experience as any of these things are. In fact it is something vital, as the temples of existence – the 1st, 5th and 9th – are fundamentally about the experience of being alive.
The 5th temple is a place of joy, co-creation and pleasure and it develops and harmonises with the expression of the previous temple of spirit or existence, the 1st, by channel ling self identity through our creative outpouring of the life force, securing our procreative and co-creative life essence in acts, so its core aim is ‘Security of the Awareness of Existence’, a search for some kind of affirmative display and sharing of the creative potential of our own truly unique inner light through an emanation of it into the world. Whereas in the 1st the task is simply to be who we are in the 5th the task is to create who we are, to externalise who we are as some kind of creative output. It is a region that often naturally aspects the ascendant by trine (120 degrees, a harmonious, flowing aspect) and is a succeedent temple (temples 2, 5, 8, and 11 are succeedent temples because by primary motion objects are succeeding to or moving to one of the places of power, the Angular temples) therefore any natal planetary occupants tend to experience a slow but steady re-vitalising climb in energy through the course of life (this only applies to the occupants of a temple, not their rulers, so Mercury is only succeedent if it is inside a succeedent temple, not if it rules one.). In the 5th objects get charged up by our inner creative light and take form in our creations. This is the temple of The Art, the temple of creative power in which our lives become our creations. This is why the ancients called this temple the ‘Good Fortune’ (for it is indeed a great fortune bestowed on us by life) and attributed it to matters of mundane (earthly rather than spiritual) luck and chance. It has some connection then with reputation, with fame, lucky wins, notability and notoriety, especially for entertainers, gigolos, lovers and sports enthusiasts, but really it is fundamentally about securing a sense of joy in life by expressing our own uniqueness brilliantly to the world. It proclaims “I exist, and I am uniquely creative in this way…”
The 5th temple on the surface then is simply about fun and creativity; it contains and gives active expression, identity and meaning to all our procreative and artistic efforts, from the birth of children to love affairs to competitions, practical jokes, art, sports, our natural talents and hobbies and dramatic or theatrical gifts. In no other area of life do we connect with the radiant feeling of being alive so directly and vitally than in the 5th. It’s why countries go crazy ape shit with happiness when they win the world cup. LIFE IS MEANT TO BE FUN. Divine Providence has gifted each created thing with the capacity to enjoy all of creation. This is why the 5th is so fundamental a part of life experience, along with communication and memory and the other temples. When there are problems in this temple, the whole chart can suffer as the joy of life is felt to be missing. We can feel very dead inside and cursed with bad luck when the creative spark is dim. Usually it becomes this way because we do not nurture it like the child it is. Our child. It has to be regarded as if we were its parent.
As a temple which creatively expresses our unique experience of existing it is more objective than the 1st because the 1st temple planets are right in front of our nose, so to speak, and we can suffer from not being able to see the woods for the trees, we are them, whereas planets in the 5th are not so entwined with our identity but more with what it creates, though 5th temple influences can still become factors in our displays of ego through our expression of creativity and self confidence, especially in the form of a desire for fame and praise. Our creativity allows us some objectivity on our own identity, so there is greater objectivity on ourselves in this temple than in the 1st temple as we can externally perceive ourselves in our creative acts, but this objectivity can make disruptions here have greater effects on our sense of the joy of being alive since we will equate it more with fortunate and unfortunate external effects and conditions – ‘luck’, the ‘slings and arrows of outrageous fortune’ which either crush our creations or exalt them (with the danger that the ego will identify itself with its creations and grow self important). In this sense, working with the 5th temple can feel like falling in love or being heartbroken. In fact, those well known states are often very much to do with things stirring in the 5th. The joy of this temple is Venus, for here her essential meaning is strengthened by location in a region of sky that is fundamentally suitable to her principles, specifically, that of pleasure and romance, art and fun.
In summation, because the successful and fortunate outcome of any creative effort is always joyous and uplifting for the human spirit this temple concerns our self confidence as well as our capacity to have fun, kick back, and amuse ourselves with recreation, hobbies and games, leisure time, sport, theatre, entertainment or art. In astrology it is therefore consulted in matters relating to ones own co-creations, our joys, creative acts, our children (and thus our fertility and issues involving pregnancy and parenthood) and in any matter in connection with fame, fun, games of luck and fortune, risk taking (which makes us feel alive) or following bliss, such as pleasurable hobbies and romantic flirtation and love affairs, gambling fortune and dating, but above all and most fundamentally, it is important to turn to whenever we are neglecting ourselves or life feels dull or overwhelmed with sorrows. Its planets and its key are the ones we should turn to when we cannot smile. The quest of the 5th temple is simply to live a happy and joyful existence and to express our unique creative power.
To truly know the joy of being alive and to unleash our creativity we have to express the highest creative power of:
1) The sign that opens this temple
2) The ruler of that sign
3) Any objects within the 5th temple, whether that be a natal placement or a temporary one
The secrets of the art of living are enacted here, and when we tap deep into them the inspiration is endless. Often we will sabotage this temple in the same way that we sabotage the inner child within us – we discipline it too much and keep it hidden away, because as every performer knows you make yourself vulnerable when you step into the spotlight. Yet this vulnerability is most often rooted in our need to impress the audience, and vanishes almost entirely when we focus on the creative flow, the art, the muse that is playing with us. Thats when we become extremely powerful, because we can allow the creation to happen without editorial gatekeeping – we become the creative power. Aside from this another major challenge of this temple is that we need to unlock our own point of contact with that creative power, a task which often involves ridding it of the narratives and stories of other creators. We have to overcome the tendency to copy our icons and heroes in order to reach our own creative inspiration. Its only when we do this that, magically, other people start to take notice because we are triggering in them their own embrace of their unique creative power – this is the greatest gift we can give to others through this temple.
Concepts: The art of living, eminence, creative self expression, dating and romance, gambling, fun and hobbies, leisure and sport, games, theatre and entertainment, fortune, procreation, our children.
Ancient terms: The Good Fortune, Place of Good Doing, Place of Freed Slaves.
The 6th temple: Purification, Service, Daily Work, Apprenticeship, Skills
Location: The 6th temple is located just below the western horizon and is the place where everything in the sky goes to after it is seen to set and is no longer visible. It is therefore the place where the planets, Lights and stars visibly sink into the Earth like celestial seeds.
Discussion: At this point in our journey through all 12 temples which began at the eastern horizon (1st temple) and sank below it traveling through the non-visible portion of sky, first reaching the nadir at the 4th temple and then beginning to rise, we are now approaching the western horizon from underneath. This is the invisible region where planets and the Sun go after they completely set in the west, where they are buried like seeds each day by the turning of the Earth. It is the temple of physical service – the planets essential meaning is being absorbed into the Earth to be broken down and employed in natural processes, it is moving into the soil and the Plant and Elemental Realm, producing remedies – and it is the temple of the purification of flaws, a place where planetary energies tend to swiftly discorporate and become disembodied, just as the Suns light does when it sets here. The essential focus for the 6th temple is simply ‘Physical Awareness Learning’ but this simple phrase hides a complex set of expressions in human experiences. Here is where we learn to treat the physical body itself as a temple that receives Divine input and so discover the daily practices that are involved in maintaining it.
The cadent temples – the 3rd, 6th, 9th, and 12th – are traditionally the ‘weakest’ places in the sky because by primary motion they are places where planets and the Sun and Moon go after they have been in the places of power, the 1st, 4th, 7th and 10th. What is really meant by this is that the objects in these regions are undergoing processes which tie up their energies, usually dissipating their effectiveness to some degree, draining them of substance but resulting in a learning experience. Thus they are busy places of learning. The 6th is the place where this learning is focused physically. It is not a place of high ambition (the 10th temple is that place) – here instead is the temple where we learn how to feed, clothe, clean and care for ourselves and other people in material terms and set about doing what needs doing to tend to such essential necessities. This is a temple that is grounding and habit forming for us. It is a place of apprenticeship, a place where we hone our skills.
Our learning process in respect of life in the material realm takes place chiefly through the acquired skills we develop and employ in daily acts of service and the toil we undertake in service to others and self while we are embodied here (any work and employment which does not directly further our ultimate goals – as noted above, those goals are symbolised by the 10th temple instead), also through our repetitive experience of humdrum routines (washing, cleaning, repairing), the mundane requirements of modern corporeal life, and through our experiences with the debility of health and the necessities of being tasked with the regular maintenance of a physical body (food, fitness, the prevention of and treatment of illness). All these areas embody the chief matters of the 6th temple.
Today this learning manifests in a truly vast variety of human expressions such as the countless fads in food and diet, physical illness and injuries sustained by accidents, toil and labour, workers rights and our employment of others (our servants and people we pay for services; in ancient days, also our slaves (with slavery in the ancient world being a matter of both the 6th and 12th houses), trade unions (in ages past, guilds), skills (practised abilities, rather than innate talents), tenants, hygiene and daily routine, servitude, any kind of daily work which holds little or no promise of advancement to our ulterior goals (scrubbing the kitchen dishes, cleaning the windows, taking out the garbage), the countless variety of remedies for the little things that ail us, our relationship to work colleagues, daily rituals, relations to pets and other small animals, and to cattle and farm animals, to name but a few. Along with poor maintenance of the body, work stress, unemployment and anxiety over day to day issues are fundamental causes of poor health and the 6th temple expresses this reality. There is a strong connection between the state of our health and the toil and labour we undertake every day.
The connection to small animals (‘pets’) and farmland animals is often taken as a “master and servant” relationship when in reality animals are far more than our servants and have much to teach us about material life. The truly magical expression of this temple towards domesticated animals is in allowing them to be what and who they are and respecting their spirit as equal, not training them to do whatever we command or using them as resources without respect, although some lines of communication must always be established within appropriate boundaries. In other words, our human perception of animals must often be purified of arrogant, superior human attitudes toward ‘lesser’ life forms in order to permit the magic to flow.
Some animals, though, have taken it upon themselves to gently remind us of our true significance…
Mars has its joy in this temple not really because it accentuates his malevolence and ability to injure and sicken or because he indicates some form of enforced slavery as traditional books may indicate, but more because his energies and drive are given a regular outlet and because he gives such people a lot of energy to get their backs into labour at repetitive hard work, or for healing (many surgeons will have a prominent Mars here for example). Mars in this temple is also often a robust boon to physical repair or body strengthening – the blood is ruled by Mars and when found in the 6th, being ‘sunk’ into the flesh, Mars commonly purifies it via heat and more robust circulation, giving the cells of the body greater fighting spirit and empowering the muscular system. Being born with Mars in the 6th temple also busies our daily life and the drive of our will in helping other people, a focus which undermines the tendency of Mars to act selfishly, and at a more metaphysical level the cutting edge of what defines us as individuals (Mars) is what we achieve not for ourselves but for the benefit of other individuals. These are the real reasons Mars is given joy in this temple.
So the 6th temple represents all fields of life where we learn about the day to day realities of being in our body and in a physical world and so try to do things to keep it fit and running – it is where we learn about our basic physical condition and through this learning perform some kind of act of material service, a helpful contribution to or even a purification of physical matter. We get up early in the morning to bake bread for the town, we take the dog for a walk, we clean up the living room for guests, etc. It is more than our sweat and time that we must learn to physically give, as the Prophet of Orphalese in the well known book by Kahlil Gibran said –
“Work is love made visible….for if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger”. – Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
The ancient world was not a very comfortable or easy world in which to try to make a living or even to physically survive day by day. Plagues, quakes, fires, floods, storms, famines, droughts, wild animals, insurrections and all kinds of troubles assailed daily life, and there was little to nothing in the way of support when calamity fell, as it regularly did. Struggle, toil, hardship and the danger of being eaten by a hungry or pissed critter were widespread. There was frequently nothing to stop someone else claiming your body and using it as a commodity in the slave markets, especially if you were a woman. Most people had to find water every day. Hard won stocks spoiled easily. So in the ancient world this temple is called The Bad Fortune, because the facts of life were far harsher. Today, such ill fortune still exists for billions of people all over the world and ancient world slavery is still very much alive and well, contrary to popular belief – its just less visible in polite society – but modern astrology focuses on sickness and the drudgery of being a wage-slave as the chief misfortunes of this temple. Like all the temples this place is really neither good nor bad, troubles come from anywhere and there are many blessings to be found in each of the houses. We can see illness as a bane, or we can see it as a signpost calling for healing. A true healer has experienced pain and been healed. My mum, on the advice of my nan, let me play in the dirt. This was very wise as I grew stronger in constitution. My immune system was also made stronger after the measles, the chickenpox, and who knows what else. Your day job might suck the life out of you, but it pays for all your stuff, staves off hunger and thirst and puts clothes on your skin. So there is something of a trade-off in this temple and our attitude to that is important in terms of how much ‘bad fortune’ we will draw from it. I have met people crippled in wheelchairs with less ‘bad fortune’ than some healthy millionaires I have known. They might complain endlessly about their daily troubles, while the person in the chair has had to purify and transcend them. Trouble is character building, and taking the easy short cut is not always wise – ask the sorcerers apprentice!
Concepts: Daily chores, routines, skills, our employees, co-workers, apprenticeship, illness (diagnosis and/or remedy of health problems), services, animal companions.
Ancient terms: The Bad Fortune, Place of Slaves, Place of Sickness and Troubles.
The 7th Temple: Partnership, Contract, Rivalry and Polarity.
Location: The 7th temple lies directly above the western horizon and is the first of the temples in these articles to be a completely visible area of the sky.
Discussion: This visibility shifts the focus from the private world of the individual (1-6) firmly into the court of the public areas of experience, the areas of life the rest of the world has a window on. They don’t see our family interaction, our creativity, our bank account, our state of health or our thoughts, or if they do its because something is up there and we are showing something that is usually private. From the 7th to the 12th temple, the houses are now about things that have more of a public edge to them. The heart of the private sphere is in temple 4, while the heart of the public sphere is the 10th.
Importantly, the quality of light now shifts too – if we are born in the night hours then the Sun has to be in the 1st – 6th temples, so that temples 7-12 will be without daylight, and conversely if we born in the day the Sun must be in temples 7-12, filling them with daylight, so that temples 1-6 are dark. Every chart is half light and half dark. The light of the Sun will then fill an entire hemisphere of the chart, indicating more of a broad life focus on public or private experience. If the placement of planets reinforces this, for example if all of our planets are above the horizon including the Sun, then that hemisphere becomes super emphasized and the other one is often underdeveloped.
So the 6 temples following govern realms of life which are more public and in general nature they involve the notion of public self and attitude to dealings with others (above the horizon), rather than focusing on the inner realms and personal resources of the private self (below the horizon). This temple therefore introduces the concept of temporal polarity, the stark difference between night and day, internal and external, private and public, self and other. It is the place where night and day exchange evening kisses in the twilight, where I become you and you become me and together we become something new. Its magic is a measure of our ability to co-operate with another.
This is the temple of partnership or relating and its key phrase could be described as ‘Mental Awareness in Action’. The mental awareness or mental body joins with whatever it focuses itself on. Through our interactions, partnerships and face to face relationships with others we learn about our own way of thinking, communicating and being and see ourselves reflected in the thoughts we think about others and the faces they present to us. Our face to face relationships are mirrors. The intellectual and social dimensions of this temple encompass our intimate relationships as well as our business partners and open opponents (known enemies and rivals, competitors etc.), because all face to face relationships are reflections of our own thinking processes, our conscious and unconscious awareness. This region of the sky is the place where our spirit of being is reflected in the people we pair with, who are in turn drawn to us for mutual contact in mental and social experiences, but it is also descriptive of the way we relate to relating itself.
More technically, the spirit or mental body has a component which is analogous to the Earth Element which Bardon calls the ‘I – Consciousness’, the mental awareness of the being as a discrete and physical self (this does not mean that the 7th temple is always ‘Earth Element’ because in the section under discussion Bardon is talking about the pristine Elements of the universal mental body, the spirit, and the astrological chart is a map of the soul). This ‘I Consciousness’ contains and gives form to all the other Elements of the spirit through its binding cohesion of the spirits intellect, will, and feelings and operates as a transceiver on the timeless mental planes, thereby materially attracting and binding to us other mental qualities – other minds and ideations – ‘Others’ – according to its maturity and development. Whatever we identify our Self with must, due to the law of polarity, have an opposite which is not identified with Self, but like two sides of the same coin or night and day these two concepts express a singular meaning or idea and are thus inseparable. What we see in others we must first have within ourselves and then see reflected in them in mirror form. If we think someone is jealous it must first belong to us on some level, otherwise how could we re-cognise it when it comes? Further, since within the mental plane like attracts like, having thoughts attracts experience to us that is similar in nature to that thought; it attracts to itself that which complements it. That is the deeper mystical meaning of the biblical words ‘Love thy neighbour as thy Self’. It is the understanding that we are all connected as unified expressions of the Eternal, and seeing this in its infinite variety as everyone and everything we interact with. Mind is One Mind, with an infinite number of unique facets, each refracting the light of singular awareness into infinitely varied prisms. This temple is positioned to teach us this truth and to explore it through our primary and most significant personal relationships. Simply put, it is the temple where we learn to walk in the shoes of an infinite multitude of others and to see the world from their perspective, as well as explore the mystery of how we open the doors that invite them to do the same, either with us or with other people in their lives.
Thus, this temple – and so all human relationships, not just those we have with a singular but significant other – serve as a reflective mirror of being (a mirror of the 1st temple) in external forms which change shapes and appear as different ‘others’, different partners and opposite numbers who are drawn to us as complementary forces by the radiation of our whole Self and yet are also discrete and independent embodiments of awareness in themselves, drawing us to them at the same time but from within their own centre. There is much more meaning and wisdom in the old adage “When the student is ready the teacher will appear” than is at first apparent, but we might also say “When the teacher is ready the student will appear”.
When we say “This is who I am, this is my identity” we are speaking from the 1st temple, but this identification automatically imply an Other which we are not – “that is who you are” – which is to say, something we actually are in truth, because it is shown in our 7th temple, but we do not recognise it being so because we do not identify our own being with it, it becomes something ‘others are’. These others then seem to complete us.
Deeper thought on this reveals that identity does not take on mental form without another for a reference point. Many people experience this as a person who complements them, but for a magician, who must be whole in and of themselves, this is not satisfactory and a deeper exploration is required in order to own the projections and experience the partner objectively, as they truly are, as well as to own the whole self so that it can be gifted to them. This is sometimes called clearing the air in relationships. Others call it chemistry, the kind we commonly experience between people but which can also apply to things, places and concepts – it is possible to fall in love with an idea and to marry oneself to that idea for life. All are appropriate views of what the 7th temple is about, but 95% of the time people gravitate to another human being who can mirror their own complexity to them.
Although its form is as infinitely varied as the variety of individuals who come into being, the purpose or intention of this process is always the same: to relate to others in a way which fully expresses our own uniqueness and in a way that the uniqueness of the other person (or thing) can open itself up to, thus creating a mutual enhancement of both identities. We have to know ourselves and be ourselves (1st temple) and at the same time allow partners to be themselves, adapting our own uniqueness so that it can be understood by theirs, which means we have to know what their needs are too (7th). This is what ‘making love’ really is – two people consciously engaged in this process: I am loving you in the unique way that I have to give my love and in a way that your unique way of receiving love can appreciate, and vice versa. Its what elevates having sex to spiritual communion and connection.
So this temple describes our marriage partners, known enemies or major rivals in public life, the type of people we are attracted to and attract, and our associations (often unto death), because who we are attracted to, the quality that draws us to them, is precisely that quality which we ourselves feel a lack of – or antagonism towards – within our self projection or being; that is, it is the opposite quality to that of the ascendant, and thus a quality that is not easily recognised by or as the Self in the now moment and is thus sought for externally in others – a lesson in polarity. The 7th temple is a ‘mental magnet’ that pulls people into a close orbit of our chart and so these people offer us what we have denied ourselves while at the same time receiving from us that which they need. Yet more than that it is also a way we have of interacting with entities who we perceive to have a life outside of our awareness, so for a magician it has important connections to evocation as well as the wandering of the mental body.
If the 7th temple and its ruler is well supported, essentially and/or accidentally dignified and with easy to handle aspects, and no occupant of the 7th temple objects and overturns this, the chart typically has its general wishes for partnering heard easily and so this will come more smoothly. If all of these conditions applying to the ruler and occupants of the 7th show a lack of support – the 7th ruler has no essential or accidental dignity, no harmonising aspects and nothing in the 7th temple provides any of these either, then it means that even finding someone compatible to be with can present dramatic problems and relationships in general are fraught with complications and difficulties because they are necessary learning experiences. A Light or planet in the 7th temple will have an even more powerful role to play in this, because planets in this temple are often more manifest than the ruler is, especially when close to the opening degree. Still, with a well placed ruler of this temple we will more likely attract marriage and business partners who work well with us rather than known enemies who spur us on by challenging and competing.
It should also be explained here that, as has been noted earlier, this temple introduces polarity. It should be obvious from a study of the 1st and 7th temples that the cusps of these places delineate the primary way the chart has of expressing the total complex of the Self into the world, through the quality of the identity and the interactions it forms with others. The 1st is “my outlook on my self” and the 7th is “my outlook on other people”. Together they form a fundamental polarity, one that underpins our entire existence. The other temples also polarise in a similar fashion, though they are far less fundamental:
Polarities in Astrology
- Self (1st) and Others (7th) – the identification polarity
- Holding (2nd) and Releasing (8th) – the sensual polarity
- Thinking (3rd) and Believing (9th) – the cognitive polarity
- Memory (4th) and Aspiration (10th) – the temporal polarity
- Making (5th) and Sharing (11th) – the co-creative polarity
- Grounding (6th) and Transcending (12th) – the essential polarity (as in essence)
In the zodiac the Elements are arranged in the following scheme:
- Fire polarises with Air
- Water polarises with Earth
Please note that the Elements of astrology are arranged with Fire opposing Air, not Water, and that Water opposes Earth, not Fire. I call the (non-astrological) oppositions of Fire-Water and Air-Earth a magical opposition, and the astrological type of Fire-Air, Water-Earth a natural opposition. The difference between them is that a magical opposition of the Elements involves Elements of two differing Fluid qualities (it is either an Electric/Magnetic, or Neutral/ElectroMagnetic pairing) and a natural opposition involves Elements of a similar Fluid quality (Electric/Neutral or Magnetic/ElectroMagnetic). Looking at the symbols for the Elements this is clearer:
Fire and Air have a bias to upward pointing Electric Fluid
Water and Earth have a bias to downward pointing Magnetic Fluid
So why is the zodiac arranged in a natural opposition of the Elements (similar Fluid) rather than a magical opposition (different Fluid)? The reason is because the origin of the zodiac and its formulation is tied to nature, to the cycle of the natural seasons marked off by the four major stations of light in the calendar year, which also rotate the Elements in a natural opposition sequence:
- Fire (Aries, Spring Equinox)
- Water (Cancer, Summer Solstice)
- Air (Libra, Autumn Equinox)
- Earth (Capricorn, Winter Solstice)
Another way to say this is that a natural opposition emphasises the Fluids while a magical opposition emphasises the Elements. The natural opposition sequence is rotating, while the magical sequence is radiating in nature. The alternating triangles of the natural opposition sequence of the Elements are more stable and cohesive than the magical opposition sequence, which is more energy releasing, more explosive.
The polarity of the 1st-7th I will call the ‘identification polarity’. This polarity encompasses the concept of what we identify with both in ourselves and in others. The Elements in control of this axis and the factors connected to it will contribute to revealing:
1) The Fluid which is most identified with.
2) The personal qualities we identify with.
3) The relative stability of our identity, i.e. whether it changes frequently or almost never.
4) The processes involved in forming identifications.
5) The basic Elemental qualities of all our relationships.
Concepts: Partnership, co-.operation, empathy, contracts, rivalry, every kind of significant other, from business partner to the love of your life.
Ancient terms: The Setting Place, The Dying Place (many ancient thinkers associate the 7th with death and the end of life, rather than the 8th).
The 8th Temple: Release, Hidden Power, Rebirth, Compulsion, Debt.
Location: The 8th temple is a region of the sky about midway between the western horizon and the midheaven of the sky.
Discussion: Although this is a realm of sky above the horizon it is one with a reputation for growing darkness and concealment because when the Sun reaches this place each day its light begins to fade as it sinks into the twilight of the west and the shadows begin to lengthen, especially in winter. As the area which marks the creeping approach of twilight and the dawning of the night the 8th house is the temple of release in which life lets go of the day, governing the ending of things in loss and death but also rest and hence peace. It is also a magical temple in which shadows become animated and lengthened. Its essence is occulted and astral, related to the 4th and 12th temples in that it is also, like they are, somewhat mysterious and deep, each being concerned with matters that are concealed. Each of these temples lead to arenas of life which unlock the most secreted experience, the most hidden and occluded aspects of our awareness where things must first be detected before they can be transmuted, transcended or grown through in order to become personal gold (consciously realised), infused with their own concealed power. This action of wilfully transmuting the Elements of the soul is the heart of the modern perspective on the 8th temple, its key being ‘Awareness of Astral Security’.
What does this mean? It means realising – really knowing in every fibre of your soul – that you are ok and that when you die your awareness will not. It means being at peace with your deeper (feeling) self and with physical mortality and releasing compacted emotional traumas from the tortured places they hide away in. It means letting go of the inhibiting darkness of repression, guilt and shame and casting off our emotional baggage, being ready to face and process what needs to be changed in our psyche, and it often represents something we do not want to give up or go through and have an innate resistance to even looking at but find secretly or even shamefully compelling, something perhaps that is for us taboo, forbidden, but promises great ecstasies as its mystery is unveiled. Hence it is the temple of our sexuality but is also the temple of death (our experience with people dying, and eventually our own death) because it is where things go for regeneration and recycling. The most ancient texts on astrology which survive assert that the 8th temple is not the only temple which has strong ties to death, but the others have fallen out of favour in modern times. The 4th temple is associated with death through its connection with things which are beneath the Earth, hence the grave and the consequences following death. The 7th temple begins at the western horizon, where the Sun sets, and so visually it represents the end of life, nominally in old age. The 6th and 12th temples were also always looked on as abodes of unfortunate or evil occurrence that could result in death. These were more superstitious times. Additionally, the ancient texts make no connection of the 8th temple with sexuality – this is a modern (and somewhat controversial) addition that emerged with the arrival of Pluto. It lies opposite the temple of acquisitions and is all the experiences we have of letting things go, of giving them up – surrendering even – and so of sharing with others. So it shows what we must relinquish in ourselves and with other people, or what we must somehow completely let go of to uncover a deep hidden power within us far beyond that attachment, an encounter that transforms and offers rebirth on a deep emotional level and the experiences which can lead to this. We can say that above the 8th temple is written the phrase ‘Emergency Exit’ and that it avails us an instinctive way out of situations that have outlived their usefulness, often a final way out.
But leaving is often laced with sorrow and regret and the matters of the 8th strips away the superficial layers we have cloaked our deeper feelings in to reveal what is wriggling underneath. So the 8th temple involves us in the journey of feeling more and more deeply and thus securely through connecting with and exploring our own (largely hidden) psychic-emotional and psycho-sexual drives and complexes, especially those related to the 8th temple – death wishes, grief, orgasm and the onset and approach of all kinds of irreversible endings in the world around us, trauma and tragic losses which evoke deep inner demons that confront us with feelings we must give up but don’t really want to surrender or face because we feel powerless against them, through the compulsions or lusts of sexual energy and the private sex life, in material and emotional resources lost or given away to others (taxes, debts, things stolen or favours owed, wrongs done to us), the flowering and the development of occult faculties of the soul and its penetration into the deep mysteries of our own innate magical power. This is the sometimes macabre and unsettling garden of the temple of release.
Its function is different from the preceding astrally focused temple, the 4th, in that its task is to secure a quality of tranquil rest for the soul not by working through or outgrowing habits ingrained in it by the past, but by separating or weeding out – often violently culling – those parts that are no longer valuable to its present security or growth, however painful and grievous that might be; it volcanically purges deep emotional substance, thereby consigning the old of the soul to a regeneration rather than to habitually acting out on the impulses that found its existence. “That which does not kill us makes us stronger”, wrote Nietzsche (who was born with Cancer over the 8th temple and its ruler the Moon rising in the 1st in Sagittarius – which is actually a hopeful and comforting outlook). And it differs from the 12th temple in that here in the 8th there will always be an often traumatic or at least difficult experiential process, a purge or transmutation to move through, a demon to face so that the power within will rise to meet it; with the 12th temple, there is the possibility of an absolution, an immediate transcendence from karmic entanglements; not so here. Here, we have to go through something visceral and intensely tumultuous often because we must give it up, let it go, but feel too attached to things the way they are or are afraid to surrender to its power, which is to say, to our own literally undying power. This is the place where we scare ourselves as we discover what we are capable of, which is always so much more than what we expected. It is also the place where things have to rot and decay, decomposing into sticky substances before they are regenerated. It seems to be a place of horrors, until we look deeper.
So it is an emotionally visceral temple. Here in the 8th, grief, pain and loss are inherent aspects of life itself that must be felt so that the process of purging or releasing the infinitely hidden can emerge. Often this purge is a frightening or even grievous journey because it involves confronting some of the deepest and most troubling aspects of self and our sense of power and, more significantly, powerlessness. Things left overflowing or hemorrhaging from previous lives often end up here. Things left undone or incomplete belong more to the 12th temple.
Just as the light of the Sun begins to wane when it reaches this temple so too do the influences of other planets, they surrender or release control to a transformative process that causes their energy to begin draining by flowing from one state into another – they yield to the horizon of the Earth and prepare to rest upon Her bosom. The Sun dims and falls faster and faster from its height as it moves through this region in the space of each day and as it does it bleeds spectacular colours into the sky. Thus in the texts we find that this temple shows things that are in spillage – either completely out of our direct control, in decay or decline – the inevitable approach of death (of self and others), debts, inheritance, taxation, emotional trauma, victimisation and abuse, the threat of oblivion (fear of armageddon, rape, murder, suicide), our taboos and in modern astrology our inner (often secret) sexuality – this temple is our (often concealed) sexual potency and drive, with our more conscious, openly flirtatious, procreative sexual energy and our degree of fertility belong to the 5th temple. Ancient texts would have sourced all eroticism in the 5th and with the sign Scorpio (as well as Taurus, but less so), and with Venus and Mars. It is also the place of our magical and occult (hidden) power, separation and loss, situations in which our loss becomes another’s gain, etc. All these things are connected here and call for some kind of surrender of our need to control and retain attachment to what we have, emotionally and materially. In essence this temple is an arena whose champions hold the key to understanding and perceiving the purpose of mortality and the nature of what we must give up to experience renewal at the deepest level, for the empowerment of the soul.
All the matters of this region heighten or intensify our astral awareness and put us in touch with potent emotional compulsions and a deep power to deal with attachments and control mechanisms which we need to outgrow, but this requires detection and probing of our deeper motives. Things are never just what they appear to be here. A chart with an emphasis on the 8th temple (natally or through its keys) will need to let go of an over-attachment to some physical or more often emotional things (often shown by planets here) and will either do this via the areas described above or a mix of them, and the sign here will colour our experience and assign its ruling planet these duties in the chart according to the maturity of the soul and what is necessary for its astral growth. But the sign also gives a key quality to use in effecting a deep transfiguration of the self through the separating out and transforming of inner qualities. Master this temple through its sign and planetary occupants and ruler and you experience a profound rebirth and discover your own hidden power. You exit the darkness in ways that will ripple throughout your lifetimes, forever. What other temple offers so great a treasure?
The axis of the 2nd/8th temples – which I define as the sensual polarity of ‘holding-releasing’ – is often associated with income and sex. That is, astrologers often talk about these two temples as being connected to financial and sexual affairs and the level of physical and astral security in our lives that these create. So it signifies a polarity connected with give and take, but fundamentally both the 2nd and the 8th concern themselves with building some kind of security, the 2nd in primarily a material form, the 8th in an astral. Both of these temples can influence our inherent sense of self worth, the worth we hold in our physical body and in our souls. When we are in debt or financially impoverished, when we have been traumatized or feel abused, self worth tends to plummet.
But the sensual polarity, as the name I chose for it implies, is about more than just material and emotional security, it is about sensuality, physical and emotional give and take on all levels. The 2nd temple provides material substance for sensual experience, the 8th emotional substance. Fundamentally, these two temples are about our approach to physical and emotional sensual experience of all kinds, from eating to buying to having sex or making love, and all the baggage we bring to the enjoyment and use of these things. Money is just our common medium of measuring access to sensory experience, a form of permission.
Concepts: Transformation, death and rebirth, survival instincts, debt and lending/borrowing, sexuality, the occult, counseling, natures secrets.
Ancient terms: The Idle Place, Place of Death.
Thats all for this moon, I hope you have enjoyed it and learned something! Next Moonth, the final part.