The Eighth House: power dynamics, sex and the unconscious sense of security
Mundane and traditional astrology delegates the eighth house to the domain of sex, death, taxes and mortgages. More progressive astrologers have encouraged us to see it as the polar opposite of the second house of our values and our money, and thus, they tell us, it is the house of other people’s money. That explains the connection to inheritances and perhaps mortgages. But the connection to sex is not as obvious although it is logical, as I will explain.
Another important interpretation offered by the depth psychologists among us, is that this is the house of the “products” and “energies” produced by any partnership we undertake whether marital, business, or professional. It describes our approach to these treacherous places where we often take enormous risks in hopes of creating some emotional or financial security. It seems to me it is more about the energies created than the products. It also seems to me that it is more about our attitudes about these affairs and the psychological intelligence that comes from being totally and nakedly honest with ourselves.
As for being the house of death, it does give a symbolic picture of how we will actually leave this physical incarnation, but it also tells us how we can grow from all the “little deaths” we experience. In the Middle Ages sex was referred to as “the little death,” and it is obvious how this metaphor fits the sexual experience. But eighth house often has to do with the transformation and redemption that we experience when we go through very profound encounters and traumatic experiences.
This house is much about our impact on others and the positive or negative energies we foster though association. The first six houses are a map or developmental model of the unfoldment of a personal self and individual consciousness. We meet the other in house 7. Then a new developmental scheme begins, one of a social being who is an integral and connected part of a group, carrying us through to house 12.
I often have thought that astrologers were very wise to place sex and other people’s money together here, since as soon as one begins to exchange sexual favors or borrow or lend money, relationships change dramatically. They change in such a way that power dynamics become primary. The relationship is simply not the same; it has gone to another level where there are new expectations and contracts often become necessary to define terms and foster trust .
That this house is the natural house of the sign Scorpio is fitting. When we enter an intimate relationship where these types of transactions are happening, our deepest and most primal fears can arise. Betrayals could be costly to our heart, our psyche and our pocketbooks, and so it is wise to be guarded, circumspect and shrewd- doesn’t that sound like Scorpio? Scorpio is a sign that has a natural drive to probe the deepest recesses of the human psyche, and he really craves the gritty give and take of intimacy. Yet he wants to be safe, thus his penchant for secrets and mistrust. He knows only too well that we all possess dark primordial emotions of greed, spite and selfishness. He has probed his own psychic depths and has found all of these instinctual drives alive and well. Therefore, he is torn between his desire for deepest union and his need to maintain control. He knows you have this battleground inside, too, and he fears you may not be a strong as he is. You may succumb and leave him heartbroken, humiliated and violated.
The eighth house is the place where we all must deal with the risks and psychological challenges of committed relationship. Liz Greene, the British astrologer and Jungian therapist, calls the eighth house a “battleground.” I appreciate this analogy since the eighth house is where we must assert our will in relationships against the will of the other, and we must rein in those drives within us that society and our partners find intolerable. We must negotiate and bargain and set firm boundaries and often police those boundaries as well.
If we lived completely alone with no other human beings, we would never come to see many of our faults or how our actions sometimes hurt others. Relationship often becomes the vehicle for personal change, where some aspects of ourselves must die, and we become transformed. So it follows that the eighth house is where we may face the ugliest and neediest parts of ourselves if we can transcend a conscious ego that would rather not look. Positive transits to this house can indicate an auspicious time to enter therapy and probe ones’ unconscious. Signs and planets in this house can tell us how we will handle power struggles, the tasks of self-transformation, and about our sexual attitudes and preferences.
It would seem that death would logically be a 12th house matter, and it is in a more mystical sense of complete ego transcendence, the ultimate death of the ego. But ego death starts first in house number 8. It is through self mastery, self analysis, self discipline that we first experience meaningful transformation. Thus, eighth house is also about rebirth and resurrection.