The Sixth House
If the Fool would persist in his folly, he would become wise. …. Make me as one of thy hired servants.
Traditionally, the Sixth House includes work, service and health. It is also employees, co-workers, and the work environment. It describes our daily routines such as brushing the teeth, shopping, cleaning the house. Domestic servants and domestic animals that do work are included. The dog that guards the house or herds the sheep and the cats that control the rodent population in the barn and grain silos render valuable service; so valuable, the Egyptians made some of their gods in the likeness of cats.
Problem solving and decision making are sixth house functions. Daily decision making such as deciding what to wear is of the sixth house, although, actually putting the clothes on is a third house activity. The third, sixth, ninth and twelfth are cadent houses where we spend most of the time in our daily lives: communicating (3rd), working at a job (6th), studying or seeking adventure (9th), and sleeping (12th).
The sign on the cusp of the sixth is an indication of how we go about solving our problems, and what the problems are likely to be.
There is a saying; “The solution is inherent in the problem.” The sixth house is the seat of the problem and the key to the riddle that answers the problem. It is the house of neurosis. The paradox is that by pursuing the neurosis, we ultimately solve it. For example, Taurus on the sixth cusp may correlate with an inability to change, of getting stuck. The solution may be just to hang in there. Libra on this cusp may have a decision-making problem. If he will just keep asking other people what to do, we will eventually realize they don’t have the answers either. Living our problems out creates their solution. We learn the answers sometimes simply by out-growing the problems.
The sixth house correlates to physical health and illness. It represents short term, acute illness, as well as psychosomatic illness. Mercury, the mind, is the general significator of the sixth house. When these issues (problems, health, work and daily routines) are not dealt with immediately through clear thinking and honest communication with others and ourselves we manifest emotional, psychological problems and illnesses. We can look to the quality and topics of our dreams for the first warning red flags. At this point, if we do not, or will not, self-correct the warped or blocked mental and emotional energies, they go into the physical body as psychosomatic illnesses: allergies, arthritis, cancer, recurring colds, autoimmune syndromes, sundry aches and pains.
A person who identifies himself as his body tends to suffer bodily illness and goes to a medical doctor to recover health. He or she tends to suffer physical problems because it is easier to put the issues “out there” in the physical body. Those who identify themselves as their emotional nature, seek a psychiatrist or a wine bottle. Those with the ego identity bound up with the mind, perceptions and thinking patterns can be the most stubborn, for they do not know, do not see, where their perceptions are off base or flawed. They tend to resist feedback that contradicts their ideas and ideals.
There is a story of a man who had chronic back pain. He went to a hypnotist and got rid of the pain, only to become so depressed that he took his life. If he had gone to a psychiatrist and dealt with the emotional pain, he might have pushed it up to the conscious thinking level and solved it.
If the problem or the illness creates enough intense suffering, one must re-examine the lifestyle and change. Both the sixth house of problem solving and the eighth of crisis resolving form a quincunx, a paradoxical aspect, to the ascendant, the first house of the body and personality. Solving sixth house problems leads to a restructuring of the personal, and of the personality. For example, a Capricorn Ascendant has Gemini on the sixth cusp. The problem is too much intellect or doing too many things at once. So the answer is to experiment, to think about it. Find a situation where the diversity can be utilized. Take the intellect to the extreme.
A Leo Ascendant has Capricorn on the sixth. The problem is the inhibition of a driving ambition, an urge for significance and recognition. The inhibition arises out of fear that he is not good enough, cannot be perfect. The solution is to focus energy on the thing most desired, work persistently at it, little by little, over a long period of time until he is an expert. Then he can break out to be the star he was destined to become. It is interesting to note that both candidates for president in the 2000 elections have Leo on the ascendant! They are each highly ambitious for the top job (Capricorn).
Staying with the problem to an extreme forces change which leads to an awakening to a new level of consciousness. In the process, we have done our apprenticeship and, thus acquired the skills to allow us to step out into the public, into the arena of commitment, personal and public relationships and cooperation, which the seventh house signifies.
About the author:
Eleanor Buckwalter has studied, practiced and taught astrology in Los Altos, CA for more than twenty-five years, including three years with the late Richard Idemon, a psychological astrologer. Her primary astrological focus of interest is parent-child relationships and family dynamics.