“We are taught that the hero’s journey is the journey from weakness to strength, but I am here to tell you that the stories are wrong. The real hero’s journey is the journey from strength to weakness... you are going to make that journey from strength to weakness and while it won’t be an easy trip, it is a heroic one”. ~John Green,
The Vedic horoscope is divided into twelve thirty degrees sections, called houses (or bhava in Sanskrit) – starting with the Ascendant or first house and ending in the twelfth house. Each represents a successive step in the evolution of the soul from acquisition of a physical birth in the first house to the end of the cycle, where something must die to rebirth again. The zodiac sign of Aries is the natural first house and Pisces the twelfth.
In the horoscope the first house is determined by the degree of the zodiac sign rising in the eastern horizon at the time of your birth. The sign directly behind your rising sign that has just set becomes the twelfth house. Hence, some call the first house the house of the “Rising Sun” and the twelfth the “Risen Sun”.
The first house or, Tanu Bhava (house of the body), drives us to project our conscious, separate identity and self into the world. The twelfth, Vyaya Bhava (house of loss), beckons the sacrifice or tearing down of what we have worked so hard to build in the last eleven houses. However, the twelfth house is also called the Moksha Bhava, or house of liberation and enlightenment. It may come as a surprise to many spiritual seekers that life’s losses and the final liberation from the cycle of birth and death are predicted in the same sector of the sky. (If you are reading this article you probably have a significant influence of the twelfth house in your horoscope).
The twelfth house predicts retreat, seclusion, renunciation or any form of withdrawal from the “real world”. Thus, it is dominant in the horoscopes of those drawn to monasteries, ashrams, or places of mystical and spiritual renewal (or even prison and asylums).
The twelfth house can also keep you fully engaged in society but the feeling of isolation may be experienced on the inner level through a general feeling of not belonging or through the lack of a support system. Self-imposed isolation or behind the scene work, such as by a writer or researcher is also a twelfth house activity. Finally, living or traveling to distant and unfamiliar territory comes under the umbrella of the twelfth house, as this also imposes another kind of “outsider” experience.
As a house that wants us to break free of the boundaries imposed by society, planets in this house function more on the internal and unconscious level. Sometimes, though planets here can cause the edges of reality to become blurred, allowing one to create ideal scenarios in our mind and dreams but not bring them into reality. Other times avoiding reality occurs through the use of addictive substances or self indulgent habits that allow temporary escape.
A well disposed twelfth house allows for a very high level of spiritual inspiration and awareness. The spirituality found in the twelfth house is that of universal consciousness and transcendence. Religion or dogma are completely dissolved here and if the horoscope indicates sometimes even the boundaries that separate us from other dimensions. Hence, psychic phenomena, channeling, prophetic dreams, miraculous healing and empathetic touch are the higher potentials found in the twelfth house.
As a house of loss and expenses, the twelfth house also represents philanthropy or sacrificing our financial resources for a higher purpose. A well disposed twelfth house will give high expenses but also the ability to fulfill those obligations. This is often found in the horoscopes of the very rich and powerful, who cannot engage in society as normal citizens.
Finally, if the first house is “Who I Am”, the twelfth house is “Who I am Not”. In other words, people with a strong twelfth house are on the karmic path in this life, where they are being given the opportunity to detach from their personal wants and sacrifice them into the service of the whole.
Each of the twelve houses are necessary rest stops on the journey of our progression from birth to liberation. When running a Dasha (planetary period) of planets connected with the twelfth house, life will bring situations where we may by choice or by necessity find ourselves in some type of “time out” from the world. Whether we will see this as an opportunity for the highest calling of the soul for introspection, and communion with the universal consciousness, or as suffering, depends on the overall spiritual inclinations of the chart.