Let us start with this premise: nothing which has a design and a function is superfluous; that which is superfluous must be annihilated for the coherency of other parts to remain a functional whole. This is why the Eighth House, though at a first glance an apparent anomaly, is perhaps one of the most necessary parts of the cosmos.
The Eighth From A Distance
I remember my initial classes with Vic while he was teaching me the fundamentals of Houses. None of their keywords my attention more than those of the 8th House, the Earthly counterpart of the sign of Scorpio. Most of the houses had a positive trend regarding different spheres of life, but not the Eighth. In the Eighth, life’s aim to expand and grow seemed to grind to a contracting, disjuncturous halt.
My initial question was: Why have this space right in middle of the chart? Why is this the place for themes like invisibility, secrets, mysterious incidences, sex, reproduction, and extortion? Shouldn’t these themes be tucked away in some more remote corner of the sky?
Vic always reinforces that we must not come to specific conclusions before grasping the bigger entire picture. Only then can we accurately understand how the detailed parts work and fit together. The significance and usefulness of an astrological chart can only be grasped through a holistic evaluation of its entirety. As I learned to consider the location of the 8th House relative to the rest of the houses, it started to make a lot more sense.
Getting To The Eighth
In the 1st House, I experience my body-self; my tangible existence. In the 2nd, I learned something about how I’m rooted into the world through those who enable that existence to manifest. In the 3rd, I figured out what I desire, how to do it and get it for myself. In the 4th, I came into contact with my inner self, and how I feel about it all. In the 5th, I learn how to express my feelings and concepts to others. In the 6th, I have to work with, and even defeat, their often challenging response me. In the 7th I learn the art of cooperation and partnership.
And then I got to the 8th… which felt like an abyss that dissolves and grinds everything else to a pulp.
The Grinder’s Purpose; “I”
I imagine the 8th House as a mysterious, creepy, mystical “factory” — a blackbox that “fixes” everything put into it, except what comes out of the other end of the box isn’t necessarily the same thing that went in. It’s akin to the magician’s hat, what goes in as a stick comes out as a rabbit —transformed!
The Eighth is that corner of the sky with its own peculiar predicaments —and like all peculiar predicaments we encounter in life they end up changing us, either our bodies, emotions, thought patterns, perspectives, beliefs, habits or actions. It is the magic blackbox that holds within itself an ability to transform the thing most difficult to transform: the concept of “I,” a transformation which, it seems almost by design, is visceral.
The totality of the self in how it perceives the world and conceptualizes itself within the world is configured within the first seven Houses. The Eighth House, however, challenges all of those assumptions and opinions about who we are and what the world might be. And that makes everything come undone.
When I look the North Indian style of drawing charts, the visual perspective makes the Sixth and Eighth Houses seem to me like the foundations of the building. They sandwich the Seventh House between them, and hold the Fifth and the Ninth on either side, upon which the rest of the houses sit. Like the Eighth, the Sixth is another difficult house to deal with. There we encounter life’s first set of hardships, since it demands that we give part of ourselves to the worlds of others. Here we meet people who challenge us and even become hostile, perpetually challenging and defying our sense of “I.” Nevertheless, the I-self can engage with opposition through work and even war to eliminate the problems associated to the predicaments of the Sixth House. Really, the Sixth House doesn’t do much to transform the “I.” If anything, one’s self-concept becomes more entrenched here, as it mostly teaches how to defend oneself.
Thank’s to the Sixth, we have a type of a mastery about how we need to locate and position ourselves in relation to others by the time we arrive at the Seventh House – where we really develop a more a more keen understanding of ourselves in relation to others. Here in the Seventh House the “I” has its first opportunity to become “we”. This “we” (a subject-pronoun initiating action) will become “us” (an object-pronoun receiving the fruits of action) in the Ninth House, but before this can happen, the “I” must be extracted from the “we.” And that’s a grueling process that takes place in the Eighth House.
The sun rises in the First and sets in the Seventh, but the Eighth house is the twilight, the entrance-gate to the pitch of night’s black where all things that gleam in the light will dim to a void of darkness; where all things solid and textured dissolve into elusive shadows and silhouettes; where scorpions hide, patiently waiting to feast on its prey, after which it will shed its exoskeleton to grow and become the phantom king that cannot be pinned down.
In The Eighth House
This House is a game changer. Here we come to understand who and what the I of the self is about. The curse of this house is the disappearance of tangible things. Yet, that is also its blessing, for it promises an opportunity for the self to explore the world within itself, rather than thinking itself a part of the known world, the tangible world. In the Eighth, we get to experience the configuration of our own interiority. In the Eighth we get to feel that innate and primordial nature of the self-manifested within itself, its inherent instincts and drives which have pushed it to all the glory or misfortune it has become on it’s journey from the First through the Seventh.
This is a house of self-lessons, not merely “life-lessons.” In the Eighth House one finds oneself, within oneself, existing in its own infinitude, not as a conditional member defined by its relationships to external objects. Here there are no reference points, distances, directions or destinations. The Eighth seems like a “void” precisely because it is utterly devoid of those familiar external objects. In the misty and disorienting shadows of this house, we must learn how to locate and position ourselves without reference to such externals, we must find destinations and goals that do not glimmer in the bright world of daylight. It is dim here, there is no clear reflection of “I” upon something else. Here one either learns to see the “I” in its own form, or one becomes utterly lost and dismayed. This strange darkness of the Eighth House is the game changer for how we come to experience ourselves and the world.
Blessings of The Eighth
When the lights dim and darkness falls, travel becomes difficult. We can no longer reach the destinations we are habituated to travel to. We feel trapped and suffer vertigo, and fear.
There is no where to go but inwards.
Our mind is conditioned to know and define itself relative to some external point. The Eighth House dissolves those reference points. The only point of reference that remains is the self itself. Here, the self must become self-referential; it must become its own distance and destination.
When we can no longer rely on sight, we must find some other way of seeing. There is an inner eye, and the Eighth House forces it to open. This eye sees by meditation, contemplation, speculation, imagination, and deliberation. Perception in the Eighth house is a supra-sensory intuition, for there are no “objects” to “see.” There is only oneself. Within that self is the destination and its distance; the object and its perception.
Memories of visions from the external eyes now fall under the Eighth House’s scruty; each and every external self-concept becomes an exoskeleton the scorpion-self must shed to discover its true “I.” Each and every one becomes a strand in the cocoon the caterpillar must shed to become a butterfly.
When the lights go out and our eyes become useless, fear descends. To be sure, the Eighth House is a fearsome place. But, something profound can always follow fear and that is action. The Eighth Houses’ fear inspires action towards self-discovery, not in relation to others, but in relation to ones own inner content.
Only in the void of the most heavily relied-upon perceptual faculty do we begin to learn how to really perceive, to really experiences. Only in the absence of relative points of reference for self do we begin to discover the objective, infinite, absolute self. Only in the Eighth House does one learn the true value of the Second House; what really nourishes and sustains the self. Only after passing through the Eighth can one be of true value and success in the public, social houses that follow.