Why exactly all the fuss about the 12th house Sun?
I hear the reality of a 12th house Sun bemoaned on a frequent basis. That Venus in the 12th has its plus points too, but generally, wouldn’t it be better for me if…? It’s funny, because nobody makes a great hue and cry about having Sun or Venus in Pisces – which is fundamentally the exact same condition with only a nuance of difference at best – and yet the 12th house, like the 8th and to some extent the 4th gets this ongoing bad press. It all stems from the astrology of the ancients of course, for whom a 12th house Sun had undoubtedly harsher connotations in a world without the leisure and affluence to support any but the most worldly of considerations.
And that’s all it is really. People with an 8th or 12th house Sun have to be identified with non-worldly, non-superficial objectives. For the 8th, that means that privacy and power are the keystones of personal expression and self-development. In the 12th, the ego has to be transcended – which can potentially be astonishingly difficult because the level one exposition of that imperative is to be everyone’s doormat – a common complaint levelled both at and by your average Piscean incidentally – but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Tony Blair, Margaret Thatcher and Gordon Brown, all British Prime Ministers, shared a Sun in the 12th. Hardly doormats or ‘background’ types. So what makes the difference between the future leader of the nation and the future heroin addict or perennial fall guy?
For various reasons, superfluous to this discussion, I have been attending to this issue of late. Why does it happen that the 12th house Sun so often, as Alan Leo said it, is: “promised much improvement in worldly affairs as your life advances”? Sue Tompkins – whom I respect greatly even though I believe in this instance that she has it wrong – determines that the Sun in the 12th is so tired of being overlooked that they push themselves forward with even greater vigour in later life. Of course, this seems logical, but if that were the case then why should they often manage it so well? It’s not as though arriving late at the party qualifies one for being the life and soul of it after all. Surely those who have put more time into the business of being out front in life really ought to benefit more obviously.
I think the answer is very simply found in the instance of the Secondary Progressed chart. This perspective is sorely neglected in contemporary astrology, because the nativity is not in stasis. We are not fixed any more than the seed determines the tree. Certainly it determines the species of tree, but myriad elements of environment, meteorology and soil acidity will shape the resultant outgrowth. In this way, transits and progressions quite deliberately progress our nativity. It might not be therefore that the Sun literally emerges from the cabined confines of the 12th, but countless aspects of strength and dignity are shifted in the ongoing miasma of cosmic interrelationship as the chart progresses. In Tony Blair’s case, for example, he graduated from Oxford in the same year that his Jupiter emerged from the 12th house, the Sun having moved out of the 12th two years previously at the same time as his association with the Anglican minister Peter Thomson awakened within Blair a deep concern for religious faith and left-wing politics. The Solar identity begins to emerge at the exact moment that the Sun emerges from the 12th house by Secondary Progression.
This is no mere coincidence: it happens in every case. With Gordon Brown, the Sun emerged by SP from his 12th house in 1996, less than a year from the Labour party being elected to office whereupon he became Blair’s chancellor; and too the year that – when you follow the news stories of the day – Brown actually thrust himself into the public consciousness. This is not coincidence. Of course, anyone with an 11th house Sun has by definition therefore, to weather the relative obscurities of the long years of the 12th house transit. Consider as an example George W. Bush, whose Sun crossed the Ascendant by Secondary progression in 1983, the same year his father (Sun) became president. In 1995, when he was elected to office, his SP chart evinced not a single hard Ptolemaic aspect, a most beatific astrological disposition. The impression that any retrospective of Bush’s life confers is really one of obscure origins, a slightly murky past (complete with alcoholic tendencies and DUI convictions!) and an earlier life that is lived, to some extent, in the shadows. This period concurs perfectly with the 12th house transit of his Sun by Secondary Progression.
In some ways then, it is perhaps better to be born with Sun in the 12th than with Sun in the 10th, because there is a life that starts well and ends – if not badly – at least with greater obscurity than it began. The arc of that narrative is clear too, consider the businessman (10th) who makes his fortune then through a growing consciousness of the plight of less fortunate humanity (11th house) eventually becomes a philanthropist and gives all his money to the world’s poor and afflicted (12th).
Of course, we will never escape the blueprinting of our emergence into incarnation, so the 12th house Sun will ultimately require an identification with something that represents the infinite, that corresponds archetypically with the return to Eden, and that is why selfishness backfires in the long run on the 12th house Sun and the Pisces Sun alike, but to believe that such placements confer a life-sentence of obscurity and defeat is provably very wide of the mark.
“Sadness flies on the wings of the morning and out of the heart of darkness comes the light.”