When I first started studying Astrology, the 12th house was a soft spot for me. I especially wanted to learn all about it because of my Sun, Moon, Mercury and North Node (coming soon!) all sitting pretty in the 12th in Aries and Taurus. I wandered through many bookstores filled with Traditional astrology writings that described the 12th house in the most hopeless way. Classically speaking, the 12th house is often regarded as the House of Misery, Karma, The Unconscious, Isolation, Self-Undoing, Sorrow, Witches, Fears and Imprisonment. Those who are aware of their own planets being in the 12th often wonder if their lives are doomed with sadness and tragedy. I wondered, was I meant to go to prison or a mental institution? Is past-life karma going to follow me around, constantly reminding me of pain I didn’t know I caused?
Then I stumbled upon Modern Astrology, which views the 12th House as a place of great potential in addition to it’s intrinsic downfalls. Although it remains as the awful-sounding House of Self-Undoing, it is also the house of Unconditional Love, Secret Aspirations, Dreams, Compassion and Imagination. It is a house of choice – was I going to allow my planets to just chill in the hourglass they were born in, or was I going to break that hourglass and set them free? The obvious choice was made, but I knew it was going to take a lot of painful self-discovery. I continued to learn astrology and used it as a tool to help me learn more about myself. To some, the concept of taking so much time to learn about oneself may come off as silly. However, to those who are aware of their own 12th house planets, it is a very common theme for us.
The splendid 12th house mercurial mind…
Have you ever seen a movie scene in which the main character’s head is suddenly infiltrated by what seems like a million thoughts per minute, and they’re all in different voices and accompanied with flashes of images? That’s how my 12th house Mercury affects me every second I am awake, except for when I meditate. When I do anything that requires paying attention, such as watching a movie or having a conversation, my mind continues to race with thoughts. I watch and listen to what is around me; my mind is constantly bombarded with sound bites of things I’ve heard, analyzations of events, analyzations of my own thoughts, and images of things and people I have seen. It sounds like symptoms of ADD or schizophrenia. The differences are that Mercury in 12th house people are very capable of paying attention despite what runs through their heads, and that the thoughts in our heads are based on reality unless aspects in the natal chart say otherwise.
Mercury represents objective, non-emotional thought.*
In addition to non-emotional thoughts, Mercury in 12th house natives are prone to receiving empathic and psychic information.
When I was a child, my classmates amused themselves by making fun of other peoples’ clothing for being mismatched, tattered, old or ugly. While my friends found it easy to laugh about other peoples’ outfits, I envisioned what it took for them to look into their dresser and closet every damn day and see the same outdated, tattered clothes. I thought about how hard their parents worked just to put food on the table. Instinctively, these kids had to have known they were being made fun of for their clothes. I recognized how much strength and courage it took for them to look past their circumstances and put on a happy face. I felt such sadness and empathy for my classmates, though I’ll be the first to admit – I laughed along with my friends. I figured I wasn’t hurting anyone since we made fun from a comfortable distance away. I also knew I’d stick out like a sore thumb if I didn’t.
I still empathically process peoples’ lives the way I did when I was a child. When I see people I know or walk past someone on the street, I think about the factors that shaped them to become who they are now – why they act the they act, choose the clothes they wear, sit the way they sit, walk the way they walk, and how they feel about all these things. Sometimes vivid scenes from other peoples’ lives play in my head, as though I had recorded them. Although many of these instances are just fleeting moments, some of them remain in my psyche and spontaneously pop up in my thoughts. Needless to say, this hindered my learning processes for most of my life. In grade school, my teachers called me out for daydreaming. I knew I wasn’t daydreaming, but I didn’t know how to describe what was going on in my head.
Mercury in 12th house people are adept at thinking objectively as well! In fact, because we usually juggle so many thoughts at once, we can piece concepts and thoughts together as if they were of the same puzzle. 12th house thinkers tend to think in terms of unity, so forming the “big picture” with tidbits of information is one of our specialties. We also possess a talent for seeing significance in and building upon ideas that have been overlooked by others.
Mercury represents thought processes.
From early childhood to recent years, I was too timid to engage people because I lacked confidence in myself and anything I had to say. This is another huge reason why school was so difficult for me. If my teachers called on me to answer a question, I was like a deer in headlights. This lack of self-confidence in addition to my overstimulated brain made me one of the worst students in my class. I resented the educational system for making me feel unintelligent.
My teachers were shocked at the difference between my homework performance, and my testing and classroom performance. My papers were top-notch, yet my test scores and classroom participation were at the bottom of the charts. When I was in the comfort of my own home, I was able to learn and work without social distractions. In order to even realize that I absorbed any information, I had to write or type in solitude. When I realized that I was better off teaching myself, I skipped school as often as I could. Unfortunately, skipping classes didn’t help my grades much since I lacked motivation to go in the first place. Grades never mattered to me. It is also a 12th house trait to be non-competitive.
It was difficult for anyone, including myself, to understand that I needed to be alone in order to learn. During my adulthood, I finally learned to lower the volume on my thoughts so I can process information under any circumstances. Now, I can harness that same willpower to lower the volume on external distractions.
As for my long-term memory, it’s pretty much shot. I blame the fact that my mind runs at 1,000 miles per hour and the fact that I’m constantly absorbing both meaningful and irrelevant information. Because of this, I now document information I am given, I put plans and events in my phone calendar, and I keep a to do list that is constantly updated.
Mercury represents communication styles.
I speak for all Mercury in 12th house people when I thank whomever invented letter writing, texting and emailing. It’s hard enough that we have to sift through all the different images and thoughts in our heads to figure out which ones are our own! The struggle continues when attempting to communicate with other people.
I have been told that I was a lively and outspoken toddler. After that, my communication skills somehow got lost in time. I’m pretty sure it has to do with one instance when I was in preschool. I don’t remember all the events surrounding it. However, I do remember that it was so childish, silly, and easily laughable. It was during storytelling time, and I was sitting in the back of the class with my “friend” Joyce. I looked at her and whispered, “I hate onions!” And I shit you not, my “friend” Joyce looks at me with confidence that you can feel for miles and says, “ARE YOU CRAZY?! ONIONS ARE THE BEST!!” All of our classmates turned to us and agreed with her, and I felt stupid for being called “crazy” over something I thought was so trivial. I was so embarrassed from that, that it stuck with me for the rest of my life.
It wasn’t until adulthood that I felt safe sharing my own opinions with my peers, including my disdain for onions. Another reason that I am now confident about my own opinions is because I have been given many chances to reinvent myself and figure out what works best. I have attended quite a few schools, dated a variety of men/boys, been exposed to many different groups of people and have worked quite an array of jobs. When my environment changed, my fashion style changed and my level of self-confidence went up a little. Also, the more people I met, the more I learned about how to engage others in a way that complimented my personality. This pivotal change occurred when I was about 21 years old.
At the age of 21, my social life was heavily centered around going out drinking. I’ve said this about my identity (my Sun is also in 12th house), and I’ll say the same about my communication issues: alcohol’s ability to lower inhibitions helped make me a better communicator. When going out and meeting new people under the influence, I felt comfortable talking with strangers. In fact, just knowing that I would probably never see these people again made it easier for me to come out of my shell. As empty as that sounds, I feel like I needed to experience anonymity to realize that people actually took kindly to my voice and my opinion.
Another crucial factor in my communicative development is the rise of texting, chatting and emailing. Because I now have the ability to backspace, cut and paste my thoughts into coherent sentences, I understand how to organize my thoughts in case they need to be expressed out loud. Now that I am blogging, it’s as if I am organizing my thoughts for speeches! And wow do I hate public speaking – hence the lack of a YouTube business account. I’m taking baby steps, though! First, listen to myself. Second, like myself. Third, let myself be heard among friends. Fourth, let myself be heard on the World Wide Web. I have yet to figure out what the fifth step is :).
I was a really, really late bloomer in terms of social development and self-understanding. Even though I felt alone in my mind for most of my life, I’ve had great friends and an understanding family for the most part. Some friends have drifted away and some have stuck around. The ones who stuck around probably don’t realize it, but they knew me when I honestly felt like I wasn’t going to amount to anything. I was a horrible student, I didn’t understand my own thoughts and I was just learning how to communicate verbally. So I have them to thank for loving me when I didn’t know why, and inspiring me to find my voice even though they didn’t know I needed to.
Other 12th House entries from Mary Jo Montevirgen:
My 12th House, Part IV: North Node – Coming Soon!
Click here for all other entries by Mary Jo!