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The 12th House and Pisces in Astrology

The 12th House and Pisces in Astrology

The 12th house, archetypally associated with Pisces, is a dreaded sector in our chart. We are told it is the sign/house of “self-undoing,” secret enemies, and hidden sorrows.

However, as no part of our 12 fold reality is “bad,” then this is obviously a superstition about our charts and how the houses and signs work. In fact, the 12th house is where we find blessings, harvests, and release the past.

Let’s begin with making the distinction between Pisces and the 12th house. We all have Pisces somewhere, but only a few of us, those with Aries rising, have it on our 12th house cusp. Most people have another sign on the 12th house cusp, and maybe even a planet or 2.


Signs are the filters through which the planets manifest their qualities. Houses are the sectors of our lives. Any sign can be on any house, with the other signs on subsequent houses based in the order of the signs. So we all have Pisces somewhere. The house where we have Pisces shows us the area of life where we tap into collective consciousness and the triumphs and tragedies of humanity as a whole across space and time.

While Pisces is often associated with “doom and gloom,” it is also the living ocean where all life comes from and all life goes to. Where we have Pisces is where we learn to demonstrate empathy, forgiveness, and compassion. Of course, it may also be the area of life where we are betrayed, undermined, or drift due to ambivalence or hypocrisy. We have to master all the sign energies throughout our lives or be at the mercy of malfunction when that sign is triggered by internal or external events.

We all got a new expanded experience of Pisces when Jupiter transited that sign. We got to feel the vastness of the oceanic side of Jupiter, and were guided by the Cosmic Shaman through a lot of collective depth experiences. That has been followed by Saturn in Pisces which will pervade the next two years. What Jupiter opened, Saturn will structure and set boundaries to. That implies wherever we have Pisces will be experienced through Saturn’s qualities these next two years.


The houses are an entirely different thing than the signs on their cusps. The houses show us our view of ourselves and various parts of our world. The houses show us how we deal with the public and private, personal and interpersonal sectors of life. The sign on a house cusp shows our general quality of approaching those areas, and which planet in our chart “rules” that area of life.

However, a planet in a house was in antiquity said to be “the lord” of that house, and the primary influence in all things related to that life sector. For example, we may have Gemini on the 12th house cusp, but we may also have Jupiter in Gemini in the 12th. As the planets are our inner “Lights” and the means by which we come to perfect personality integration and functioning, even though Mercury may “rule” the 12th, Jupiter is the dominant energy IN the 12th house, which conditions our direct response to the affairs of that house.

In the example, we may reference Gemini and Mercury when trying to understand the 12th, but Jupiter is still what we’re realizing and applying when it comes to each 12th house experience. So we may be Gemini in our general lessons, but Jupiter will determine what manifests in our 12th.

Some people feel that Mars or Saturn in the 12th is unfortunate, while Jupiter in the 12th is favorable. In the previous example, Jupiter in the 12th may bring Jupiterian tough times, or favorable times, depending on how the person responds. As I explain in my book on Saturn, each planet has a healthy and unhealthy function. We have to learn to turn malfunction into best function in each planetary department.

The 12th is both "self-undoing" AND harvests. Those who have planets in the 12th value seclusion and solitude, as it helps them complete things. The 12th house, being the end of the journey which began at the 1st house, is the sector of the "movie of our life." If we have a planet in the 12th, we need to allow our movie to be re-edited from time to time so that our lives can be seen in a broader perspective.

Those with Mars in the 12th are helped to “aim correctly” during 12th house transits. And while Mars in the 12th can show as an impulsive temper in undisciplined people, Mars in the 12th also gives great courage to do what must be done, even if it’s done at the last minute, or from a place of concealment. No planet in the 12th has to have a negative expression.

This is where the health of our planetary functions are far more important than what sign is on a given house, since ultimately we have all the inner planets transit all the signs and therefore all our houses in the course of a year, Mars in the course of 2 years, and Jupiter in the course of 12 years. So we have to be able to master each sign occupancy by the various planets, even though these are totally different than our natal positions. Each transit of Jupiter through a sign teaches us about our Jupiter and how it manifests; each transit of Mars through a sign teaches us about our Mars and how well we’re expressing its energies. Once we master of planetary expression, then the transit of that planet could be in any sign and we’ll still know how to express that planet in a healthy way.

How the 12th Sector Functions

All the “cadent” houses, the 3rd, 6th, 9th, and 12th, prepare us for what we experience in the “angular” houses, those being the 1st, 4th, 7th, and 10th, called that because they fall on the angles (Ascendant, Descendant, IC, and Midheaven) of a chart. The cadent houses are where one quadrant experience ends and the next one begins.

Each of the cadent houses leads us to a new experience of a different quadrant of life. The Ascendant shows our “window on the world,” how we view the world of self, the world of others, the subjective parts of our lives and the public parts of our lives. So when we speak of the 12th house, we are seeing both the end of an old Ascendant cycle as well as what prepares us for a new experience of Self.

It is said to be the sector of the harvest of the previous cycle, where we see what worked and what didn’t at the end of an old self-image. That’s why when we speak of the 12th house as the sector of “self-undoing behaviors,” we have to see there are two forms of “self-undoing behaviors” which lead us to a new experience of self at the Ascendant. There are positive self-undoing behaviors, and negative self-undoing behaviors.

If our attitude is positive, or when we know an inner truth, when it's time to end or "undo" an old part of our life, usually it’s clear what we have to do. Whether we want to close an old chapter or not, when something’s done it’s usually pretty clear that there’s no more potential to fulfill in that activity. It’s why stillness and solitude are also associated with the 12th house.

The 12th sector is said to show us what motivates us, as well as “hidden ghosts” related to unexamined material related to “self.” That’s why it’s also said to be the house of sorrows. But it’s also where we find the harvest of the cycles of self-awareness, and see how our motives have brought us exactly what we’ve worked for, and what is now in the past.

The 12th House Assists Growth If We Don’t Get Caught in Negative Responses

There are many times in life when we know it’s time to go forward and leave the past behind. That’s when we have a 12th house event going on. It could involve a transit or progression, or merely one of these working on the ruler of our 12th. In every situation, we are “undoing” some part of our life or way of approaching experience.

This is why when we’re navigating an ending we can’t afford to get attached to old attitude and interpretations, since when we’re finishing an old life experience, the 12th sector shows us that it’s better to step back, look at how our motives brought us to where we are, and go deep within to see how to “undo” some old view of ourselves and our experience up to that point. While our attitude can help us move forward or get in the way of moving forward, mostly a 12th house experience shows us how much we're choosing to suffer or enjoy the journey.

All that said, the 12th house experience can also bring negative “self-undoing” behaviors, and these are what most people have a hard time with. These kinds of self-undoing behaviors are the many unfortunate ways we have of messing up something that doesn't need messing up, often creating sorrow, doubt, confusion, or regrets.

Examples of these kinds of self-undoing behaviors are when we do things that jam our own gears, or turn out to have unintended negative consequences. They are the things we do unconsciously, or consciously without understanding the implications of what we're doing. They often involve doing something we don't need to be doing, and probably shouldn't be doing. It can manifest as working against our own best interests, self-betrayal, hypocrisy, or not listening to our conscience or our inner voice.

Other examples of negative forms of “self-undoing” behaviors include being hesitant when boldness is needed, clutching at old views which don’t work any more, rash behavior putting things needlessly at risk, moodiness when you should be celebrating, or reverting to old behaviors that cannot possibly have a favorable outcome at present. It can show up when we’re trying to achieve something using the wrong tools and not realizing it until after the fact, or trusting something or someone that should not have been trusted to begin with. It could be treating something cheaply that should be held as precious, a verbal slip that destroys social bonds which didn't need to be broken, or thoughtless ways of dealing with something or someone important to us.

Usually, self-undoing behaviors are associated with regrets. They are a good signal that a 12th house activity is happening in your life. And to be fair, just as there are regrets for things we didn't do right, it is also natural for there to be regrets at the end of every cycle, for all the potential that could have been but for whatever reasons never came to fruition. These types of regrets are very human, and shouldn't be taken as an inner signal to give yourself a hard time or start thinking you did something wrong. Endings are normal and natural in an impermanent world that’s constantly changing.

Learning to Live in the Now

All of the ways of experiencing endings and the “self-undoing” which accompanies the conclusion of an old way of seeing ourselves in the world remind us to stay in the NOW. It could be said that whether we got to the end of something with grace and elegance, or error and regret, the only thing to do when we’re at an end is to remember we live in the eternal NOW, being mindful not to do what we shouldn't, or neglect to do what is in our best and highest interests.

Any 12th house experience can bring sorrows and regrets, but also harvests appropriate to our self-awareness gained during the cycle which ends at the 12th house. We can gather all we’ve learned about ourselves and our self-awareness, incorporating it into our motive as we move forward into new experiences. As our self-awareness grows, we come to see old sorrows as leading us out of error, and “self-undoing” behaviors as challenges to adjust to a new view of who we are and what moves us through experience.

Since all we see, know, and live are vibrations, once we realize life is eternal flux we can move with the changes instead of resisting them or clinging to obsolete ways of doing our Being. There may be little comfort and no security in this transitory human condition, but there are lots of ways to learn how to live and give love, to ourselves, each other, and our world. And that's a very good harvest at any turn of life’s wheel.

Reprinted on with written permission from Robert Wilkinson. Copying this article to other blogs is strictly prohibited. It is copyright protected. 

© Copyright 2023 Robert Wilkinson


© Copyright 2023 Robert Wilkinson -

About the author:

Robert wilkinson An internationally-known astrologer, author, public speaker, metaphysician, and futurist, with over 25 years experience as a counselor and educator. He has presented hundreds of public talks on all aspects of Astrology, the Eastern Wisdom tradition, the Western Wisdom tradition and promoted many mass gatherings and cultural events. Some of his specific areas of interest and expertise include personality profiles, degree patterns, integrative astrology, various aspect harmonics, among others.
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Reprinted on crystalwind.cawith written persmission from Robert Wilkinson.

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