Here are some questions and answers about the 8th house, from a conversation with an excellent student doing my guided study 103 course.
ME: The main thing to understand is that the 8th house is secret.
The 8th house is literally the area of sky above the western horizon. Next time the Sun gets to the 8th house, go out and have a look at it. It gets right in your eyes and makes it difficult to see. That’s the main motif of the 8th house: it’s very difficult to see what’s in it.
This means that the things in the 8th house are quite occult, arcane, and mysterious… not stuff that is commonly seen and out in the open.
8th house signifies अयुस् (“ayus”) – the source of life, the life-force – because life force is the most mysterious of all things, and the most invisible things because life-force is consciousness and consciousness is difficult to observe because it is the observer itself.
The 12th house has many similarities to the 8th because the 12th is literally the area of sky just above the EASTERN horizon (8th is the area just above the western horizon). In both places the angle of the sunlight is such that it becomes very difficult to see clearly, so both the houses are about things that are obscure and without tangible, visible, physical form.
QUESTION: A lot of people say that the 8th house is the house of sudden ups and downs… where does that come from?
The main theme of the 8th is that it is difficult to see what’s there. It’s like driving with the sun in your eyes. Suddenly something pops out! So things seem to happen suddenly, unforeseen. The 8th is primarily about secret things. A secret thing can hide and sneak up on you… that’s what they are talking about.
QUESTION: I have heard is that the 8th house is the deepest and darkest house of the zodiac. Is it? I would argue that the 4th house is the deepest house in the zodiac because it has to do with your innermost self and privacy (that and it’s directly below the ground, whereas the 8th house is above the western horizon…).
Both the 8th and 4th are “deep and dark” in their own way.
The 8th house is “dark” because it deals with secrets and also has to do with sexuality and very deep psychological urges and drives. So the 8th House signifies behaviors and cravings we prefer to hide or pretend we don’t have.
It is also “dark” in the sense of being somewhat criminal in nature. You see, since it is above the western horizon, it literally holds the weather that erodes the tangible earth on the western horizon. So the 8th signifies the ability to extract, evaporate, or eroding things from others. In this sense it can be connected with some criminal tendencies.
But these darker sides of the 8th house should be interpreted as being relevant only when the 8th lord is in unfavorable conditions, unfavorable lords are in the 8th (in this case the 10th would be an unfavorable lord, because what it represents is antithetical to what the 8th represents), and when other conditions in the chart point in the same direction.
The 4th house is also dark, but in other ways. It is dark in the sense of keeping things private. The word private is different from secret. The 4th is private, the 8th is secret.
Both the 4th and 8th are deep. The 4th signifies the deep things within us and the 8th signifies deep things we can be drawn into.
QUESTION: Does the 8th house represent accidents?
It represents secrets and obscured vision. Many traffic accidents happen when the Sun is in the 8th house, getting into our eyes and obscuring our vision… Accidents happen when we can’t see what is coming next, and that is what the obscuring nature of the 8th house does. Interpret the 8th to indicate accidents if it connects with accidental planets like the nodes and Mars, and if other factors in the chart point towards accidents, too.
QUESTIONS: And what about in-laws and taxes?
In-laws are the family of the spouse. Since the 8th house is the 2nd house from the 7th, some people will say it signifies in-laws – as the entire body of friends and family of the spouse. However, in my experience I haven’t found this to be too useful. However, I do not do much practical work requiring me to figure out stuff about people’s in-laws.
Taxes, to me, are indicated when the 10th lord or house (government) and the Sun (government) contact the 12th house or lord (expenses).
QUESTION: Would ayurvedic medicine be considered an 8th house matter? It isn’t necessarily health, but it has to do with life-force, and it’s not something most people know about.
All medicine is signified by the 8th house and sign (scorpio). Medicine is life-force. We apply medicine to allow the life-force to return to a healthy state, either by stimulating or supplementing it, or by removing things that block it. Ayurvedic medicine and all forms of medicine are entirely 8th house. The pharmaceutical industry is very 8th house.
The 8th sign was symbolized by a scorpion. Medicine is created by manipulating poisons and the chemical compounds found in herbs.
The 6th house is not medicine but health.