So Many Ways to Interpret! How to Decide?


There are so many possible ways to interpret even the simplest combination of astrological symbols! How can we decide which interpretation is best?

Well, first, you should familiarize yourself with your choices! First you should have a good idea what the many different potentials of a symbolic combination might be. Then you can get to the part about selecting the best among them.

Let’s take a pretty simple combo, “The 12th lord in the 8th house,” and try to familiarize ourselves with the various possible interpretations. We will limit ourselves to the most important (or at least to the first few that come to my mind!).

First, let’s remember what the 12th and 8th houses symbolize.

The 12th is about things that erodes the tangible self: Expending energy (expenses, and exhaustion), sleep (which from exhaustion and in which our tangible body is dormant, and spirituality (non-material/non-tangible things).

The 8th is about things that are difficult to see: secrecy (and all sorts of obscurity), arcane/occult (obscure and abstract subjects, including psychology – how the unseen mind works), and reproductive/life energy (usually quite a private, unseen affair – and always extremely mysterious).

Now if you take the lord of the 12th house and put him in the 8th house – what might this symbolize? Maybe…

  1. Expenses are
    1. secret
    2. on obscure/arcane things
    3. directed towards prolonging life or reproduction
  2. Exhaustion is
    1. secret
    2. because of obscure/arcane things
    3. directed towards prolonging life or reproduction
  3. Sleep is
    1. secret
    2. an obscure/arcane thing
    3. directed towards prolonging life or reproduction
  4. Spirituality is
    1. secret
    2. deeply obscure/arcane
    3. directed towards prolonging life or reproduction

This breakdown is hardly the tip of the iceberg since we still have to ask what each one really means. 

What the heck does “secret expense” mean, for example? Does it mean the person hides their expenses (something like tax evasion, or hiding from their partners or spouses)? Or does it mean the person keeps their expenses very private and secure?

What does “Obscure expense” mean? Does it mean they spend a lot of money on odd, unusual, arcane, obscure things? Or does it mean they hardly ever spend money – expenses are an obscure, seldom seen thing for them?

If their “sleep is an obscure/arcane thing” does it mean they seldom sleep? Or that they sleep so deeply they almost seem to disappear?

“Spirituality is secret, obscure and directed towards life-energy itself.” Does this mean they are more interested just in surviving, and are rarely seen to have any interest in spirituality? Or does it mean they are sexual tantrics? Or does it mean their spirituality is profoundly deep, personal, and connected with the essence of life itself???

The key to selecting which of the many possible interpretations is most appropriate for an individual is to consider the context. This is the way we understand any meaning in anything. Take a word for example. The simple word “fast” could mean one thing when used in the context of describing a female seated at the other end of a bar, another thing when describing a female olympic racer, and something else entirely when describing a student. Context is always all important whenever we want to narrow down the possible meanings of any symbol.

The 12th lord in the 8th house itself implies a bit of built-in context. The reason is that both the 12th and the 8th are considered to lean towards being “difficult” houses (the 12th is about exhaustion, and the 8th is about unseen things). Classical astrologers usually apply the concept of “double negative” to situations like these – where two “bad” houses combine. In other words, “When a difficult house combines with another difficult house, the result is difficulty for both difficult houses – which is good.” It’s good to make things difficult for difficult things. 🙂

So the 12th lord in the 8th house comes with a positive context attached to it. Which is why the classical textbook examples illustrating interpretations of the 12th lord in the 8th house almost always favor positive interpretations – that is: they don’t tend to say “The person spends on strange, obscure things.” They do tend to say, “The person’s expenses are kept to a minimum, seldom seen.” They don’t say, “They have little interest in spirituality.” They do say, “The person’s spirituality is deep and profound.”

Textbook illustrations narrow down the possibilities to the inherent context of the combination, but we still have to judge the specific context of the exact astrological chart we are interpreting. We have to ask, for example, is the 12th lord in the 8th house with good dignity? or with poor dignity? Is it aspected or conjoined with stronger planets that are benefic and in good dignity? or malefic and in bad dignity? Depending on the answers to questions like these, two people with the 12th lord in the 8th house may wind up deserving completely opposite interpretations of that combination.

A person with the 12th lord in the 8th while aspected by benefics in good dignity, and itself not in poor dignity, indicates that the person has wealth (because of moderate expenses, mainly) and that they are extremely psychologically astude and capable with occult and arcane arts and sciences, and have a profoundly deep, personal sense of spirituality and insight into the non-material realities of life. On the other hand, the 12th lord in the 8th house in poor dignity, conjoined by a stronger planet that is malefic and also in poor dignity indicates a person with significant sleep problems, who wastes wealth by spending on useless things, who is sexually addicted, and who is seldom seen to have any trans-material insights.

I hope this exploration of possibilities arising from the 12th lord in the 8th house will open the door wide for you to understand all sorts of fundamental and advanced combinations of astrological symbols!

– Vic DiCara