The Awkward but Fruitful Marriage of Houses Three and Six
*This article was previously published in the December 2015/January 2016 edition of The Mountain Astrologer and has been republished with permission.
We astrologers take the universe and all its possibilities that have ever existed or ever will exist, then we divide that huge pie into twelve slices. Each house of the horoscope represents an archetypal field of such epic proportions that it would require an infinite number of astrologers writing an infinite number of articles in an infinite number of Mountain Astrologer magazines to thoroughly explore any one of them. When Tem Tarriktar invited me to write an article about houses three and six, I breathed a sigh of relief — ah, only 1/6th of all infinity!
My aim here in this brief article is not to offer an exhaustive analysis of these two vast subjects. Instead, I aim to explore the curious, awkward linkages between the two of them. Underlying everything is the fundamental paradox that both merges and divides houses three and six: They are forever joined at the hip by their common association with Mercury, while they are simultaneously forever at loggerheads via the fact that they square each other.
“Rulership” is a fraught question in the modern astrological world, with many arguments about modern versus classical rulerships. Some astrologers object to the notion of specific planets intrinsically ruling specific houses. To my way of thinking, rulership is essentially about an energetic affinity. In my own practice and teaching, I employ (for example) the notion of Mars being the natural ruler of both Aries and the 1st house; Venus, of Taurus and the 2nd house; and so on. From this perspective, Mercury, as the ruler of Gemini and Virgo, also “rules” houses three and six. Semantic arguments aside, the foundation of what I want to present here is that there is an underlying pattern of common astrological DNA linking the 3rd house to the 6th via their shared symbolic association with Mercury.
Let’s take this step by step. We start our exploration by thinking some deep thoughts about the square aspect.
If You Are a Virgo, Don’t Marry a Gemini
When a person first encounters astrology, he or she is very likely to hear about “bad” aspects that are alleged to have the power to doom a relationship — or doom the people who happen to suffer from having them in their natal charts. Among the major aspects, the opposition and the square are the Prince and Princess of Darkness, respectively — at least as far as that limited view of astrology goes. It is not a very helpful view, nor ultimately a very accurate one, in my opinion.
A line that my students hear over and over again is: All aspects are about integration. In plain English, here is what that means: Always, the aim is to bring the voices in your head into some kind of unity or shared purpose. With the so-called bad aspects, that integrative process is simply more difficult. They are hard, not “bad.” In a human partnership, a “scattered, distracted” Gemini person can drive an “orderly, reasonable” Virgo crazy. Meanwhile, a “picky, critical, negative, narrowminded” Virgo can frustrate the pants off the “soaring, visionary, experimental mind” of a good Gemini. The tensions can be very real.
But so can the higher, integrative possibilities. Gemini can trigger “thinking outside the box” in Virgo, if Virgo listens. Virgo can correct and improve Geminian thinking, if Gemini can accept constructive criticism and the scrutiny of rigorous analysis. And therein lies the whole point of squares. Leavened with humility and openness, the tensions they represent, once integrated, can be evolutionary rocket fuel.
Keep all this in mind as we proceed with our exploration of the friction between houses three and six. Their natural square could be called the “disharmonious link” between them — and we will, indeed, see how they can undercut and undermine each other. We will also see how they can make each other shine.
But first we need to think about the “harmonious link” between these two houses, the symbolic link that has joined them in an eternal cosmic marriage. They share a common natural ruler: Mercury.
The Messenger of the Gods
“Data in and data out.” That’s a modern phrase, but an old idea. And it is very much the essence of Mercury. These five words actually provide a good working definition of some elusive, hard-to-define concepts, such as life and consciousness. How? Start with this: Anything alive and aware responds to its environment. The triggering mechanism of that response is always via the senses, in some understanding of the word. There’s “data in” — and one-half of the Mercury equation. “Data out” arises as those senses, having fed awareness of the environment into consciousness, then catalyze behavior of some sort in the organism. We respond to what we have sensed about the world around us. That resultant behavior is always the outgoing signal. The unicellular amoeba propels itself away from a too-hot electric wire. Data out: “I don’t like you,” says the amoeba.
Mercury thus links consciousness to cosmos. It does so via the senses that feed cosmos into consciousness, triggering thought and reaction, which is then fed back into the cosmos via behavior. Among humans, one major form of behavior is speech. And in practical terms, speech is absolutely central to our understanding and experience of Mercury.
What about the idea of “rulership”? What does it mean that Mercury is the “natural ruler” of the 3rd and the 6th houses and their associated signs, Gemini and Virgo? In essence, rulership is simply about connection. There is a natural resonance between the energies represented by the planet and the corresponding sign or house. Trigger one and you trigger the other, even when there are no aspects joining them. If, for example, I say, “money rules politics,” everyone knows what I mean: You can’t talk long about politics before you find yourself talking about money. They are not exactly the same, but they are forever linked. Similarly, you can’t talk for long about teaching and learning (Mercury) without talking about a person’s 3rd house. Both symbols refer to the same subject. Specifically, do you want an astrological insight into someone’s natural style of speech or learning? Look to the condition of his or her Mercury — but don’t forget to merge that information with any planet(s) in the 3rd house. That linkage via resonance is the underlying concept in rulership.
So, bottom line, the core language of astrology suggests to us that these two squared houses — three and six — share a major strand of symbolic DNA via their common Mercury rulership. The Messenger of the Gods has a finger in both pies. Meanwhile, the square implies tension — and an integrative opportunity, albeit a challenging one. These two houses are somehow at “crossed purposes” with each other, but there is momentous potential for vitality and energy deriving from that creative tension. Who or what can bridge them, bringing them into alliance and fusion? None other than our hero, Mercury, the gods’ own messenger, the planet that drives us to know the cosmos and to communicate our knowledge of it.
Let’s proceed by looking at each of these houses individually, focusing on those particular dimensions of them that illuminate the Mercurial connection.
The 3rd House: The Heresy of Perception
Conventionally, we think of the 3rd house as the symbol of speaking and listening, reading and writing, teaching and learning. We might encounter the idea of “short journeys.” We learn that the 3rd represents siblings. These interpretations are all valid and supported by our collective astrological experience. They provide a solid practical starting point for our deeper explorations.
You have no doubt met someone who “looked at the world through rose-colored glasses.” We all know what that expression means. It refers to an individual who sees only positive possibilities in any situation — with the implication that blindness to life’s darker side often renders this person naïve, vulnerable, and somewhat clueless.
The point here is that all of us behold the world through some kind of “glasses.” We see the world according to our natures. As people in India say, “When the pickpocket meets the saint, he sees pockets.” Here’s the key: The energies of the signs and planets involved with your 3rd house constitute your glasses. You are looking at the world through those lenses. To take this thought beyond the merely descriptive forms of astrology, let’s add the active ingredient: It is your job to keep those lenses polished and clear. The planets and signs involved in your 3rd house will tell you how to do that. They will also tell you what kind of perceptual distortions you will be experiencing if you fail in that lens polishing.
I was doing readings in Manhattan several years ago. A very Martial gentleman came to sit with me. I had the impression that, rather than actually wanting a reading, he was there at the behest of his girlfriend. He had Pluto in the 3rd, so I knew he would behold the world through a Plutonian lens — looking deeply, suspiciously, and penetratingly into everyone and everything. This fellow sure appeared that way when he looked at me — he was sitting there in his muscle tee shirt, arms akimbo, wearing reflective sunglasses, studying me as if I were a bug in his soup. Normally, seeing Pluto in the 3rd, I might have said, “You have the mind of a psychoanalyst.” But calling him a psychoanalyst would have been ludicrous. He looked more like a bouncer at a chichi nightclub. So, I improvised. I said, “You have the mind of a private detective” — which was basically the same Plutonian idea, modified to reflect his demeanor. His jaw dropped, off came the sunglasses, out came his wallet. He showed me his license. He actually was a private detective.
Of course, I couldn’t “see that in his chart.” What I saw was an archetypal field, of which being a private detective was one possible manifestation. I got lucky, in other words.
So, the sign and planet energies in the 3rd house correlate with perception. That is the root insight. That is the first layer of meaning in this symbolism. The rest follows easily: Upon the foundation of perception rests thought. Without perception, we would have nothing to think about, no dots to connect. And upon the foundation of thought rests speech. And it cycles around again — if I speak, you perceive my speech, you think about what I said, and you form your own views and opinions of it. Then, it is your turn to speak. I, in turn, perceive what you have said, react to it, and so forth. Thus, upon this three-layered system — perception leading to thought, thought leading to speech — rests the human phenomenon of conversation. And here we encounter yet another commonplace 3rd house word.
I heard Robert Hand speaking at a conference once. He was lecturing about the cultural framework of Europe a few hundred years ago. He made the familiar reference to the 9th house as the classical “House of Religion.” He pointed out that, back then, “religion” often meant “The One True Faith” — the Roman Catholic Church. Then, he pointed out that the 3rd house opposes the 9th, and he asked the obvious corollary question: So, what opposes the One True Faith? And the answer was heresy. Back then, the 3rd house was the House of Heresy.
Nowadays, of course, heresy is hardly an issue, but five or six hundred years ago, it could get you burned at the stake. The point is that, if you think about the meaning of heresy, you can learn something really elemental about the 3rd house. Heretics always question orthodoxy. That’s what makes them heretics. There is nothing more heretical than questions. And the 3rd house is the House of Questions — questions that lead to more questions. What happens to the little Catholic girl who asks the nun about the fate of little Hindu girls who die without having ever heard of Jesus? What happened to you when you “came out” as someone who believes in astrology?
The drive that underlies the 3rd house is the hunger for fresh questions. It is a hunger for perception. This drive has a familiar name: curiosity. When working with a client with a strong 3rd house, a line I often use is, “By the time you are old, you will know all sorts of things that don’t make you any money.” When they stop laughing, I mention that my comment was a compliment. I was pointing out that they would always be eager to learn for the sake of learning, and not only for practical reasons.
Speaking of heresy, our thoughts might immediately turn to the chart of the most successful heretic in Western history: Martin Luther himself. (There’s some controversy about his time of birth, but the chart offered in AstroDatabank has a Rodden rating of AA.) If this chart is accurate, it shows Luther with three planets in his 3rd house: Pluto and Jupiter in Libra and Mars in Scorpio. (See Chart, following page.)1 As most of us know, he questioned the Church, named its corruptions, was excommunicated for it, and unwittingly triggered the Protestant Reformation. Note Luther’s strong parallel with my “private detective” — Luther too had Pluto in the 3rd, aided by that very charged, very Plutonian Mars in Scorpio. He looked suspiciously and penetratingly (Pluto and Scorpio) at the culture of his time, saw “enemies” and spoke combatively (Mars) about them, and by all appearances felt positive and righteous (Jupiter) about his views and his right to express them.
One of my favorite illustrations of 3rd house functioning is Albert Einstein. (His chart is shown on p. 38.) He had Uranus in Virgo in the 3rd. Through what color glasses did Einstein see the world? They were distinctly Uranian — he questioned the “received wisdom” of his era. He doubted the very foundations of all he had been taught about science and reason. Specifically, he dared to wonder if space and time were not actually constants. That an inch was an inch and a minute was a minute everywhere in the universe was quite literally the foundation of Aristotelian and Newtonian thought. “Everyone knew that”; it was obvious. But it was incorrect.
Einstein’s name became synonymous with that classic Uranian word: genius.
Why? Because his IQ was in the genius range? To me, that’s a misleading way of thinking about genius. Lots of profoundly intelligent people are not geniuses. It is not intelligence we are talking about, but rather another quality, a wilder, edgier one by far. From the astrological perspective, Albert Einstein was a genius because he was doubly a heretic — first, just for having a planet in the House of Questions, and secondly, that planet being Uranus, with its natural suspicion of authority. He looked at the world through Uranus-colored glasses. And of course, much later in his life, Einstein’s mouth continued to get him into Uranian trouble as he opposed the proliferation of nuclear armaments and espoused other “liberal” causes.
Adolf Hitler can usually be counted upon to serve splendidly as a bad example. He does not fail us here. Hitler had a conjunction of the Moon and Jupiter in the 3rd house in the sign Capricorn (chart not shown). As he perceived the world, what did he see? Here are some hints: The Moon can mean home, land, roots, and family. Capricorn is ruled by Saturn, which is so often related to the Father archetype. Hitler viewed Germany as “the Fatherland” and spoke passionately and emotionally in what he perceived to be its defense. With Moon as Mother and Capricorn as Father, we can easily see how Hitler looked at his nation and its people through the “glasses” of a protective parent, knowing what was best and taking responsibility for those who depended upon him.
It is a helpful astrological exercise, as we learn about the 3rd house, to remember that it is about what people perceive. Their perceptions may be wildly wrong or even immoral — an easy case to make with Adolf Hitler — but those perceptions establish their sense of reality. Once we understand the perceptions, the craziest behaviors often have a kind of twisted logic about them.
I speak no German, but just listening to old newsreels of Hitler addressing the crowds, I can feel his Jupiterian charisma pouring out of his 3rd house mouth. He spoke with the emotional (Moon), authoritative (Capricorn) voice of the King (Jupiter). Yet, underlying his eloquence, one can easily detect that classic dark Capricornian signature: the need for total control.
I did a deeper analysis of Hitler’s chart in my book Yesterday’s Sky, if you are interested (Seven Paws Press, 2008). At the risk of putting it too mildly, suffice it to say that Hitler failed to clean the lenses of his perceptions of their emotional and grandiose baggage. This distorted his thinking. And what came out of his mouth, while still carrying the theatrical energy of his chart, were lies of the worst and most persuasive kind — lies that he himself believed.
What is our bottom line here? That the 3rd house is about the developmental trinity of perception > thought > speech. Each of us carries inside us a “holy heretic,” which is to say that each of us can potentially see the world according to our own true and best natures, rather than through the lens of how we have been taught to think and understand. And finally, if we get that right, we find our own voice, and that voice is incredibly powerful, original, and authoritative.
The 6th House: Service, Humility, Skill
The 6th house is on my personal short list for the most misunderstood of the twelve. Essentially, it seems to have become the astrological repository for everything left over after the other eleven houses have claimed the interesting stuff. We hear the usual litany of 6th house words: duties, responsibilities, and routines. Visiting your boring relatives. Monday morning, paying your electric bill. Brushing your teeth. On a more interesting note, health — and illness — are often mentioned. But it is mostly dull fare.
All that is true and worth knowing. All those things are part of life and must have astrological symbolism connected with them. But as I mentioned in the opening of this article, we astrologers take the universe and divide it into twelve pie slices. What are the chances that one of them would simply be boring? And, more to the point, why is there so little evidence of Mercury’s fingerprints in any of those familiar 6th house keywords?
The evidence points in one direction: We astrologers seem to have lost something essential in our interpretation of the 6th house. Further, it seems that the conspicuously “missing Mercury elements” in the 6th house might well provide the clue that solves the mystery.
In the June/July 2002 issue of The Mountain Astrologer, I wrote a long article entitled “The Case of the Disappearing 6th House.” Have a look, especially if you’ve got a planet or two there. I’ll summarize here.
I believe that the key lies in what is probably the most common old name for the 6th house: the House of Servants. A servant serves a master, which brings us to the heart of the matter: In this house, we encounter the idea of relationships based upon inequality.
To modern ears, the term “inequality” has a negative ring. We prefer the notion that “all men are created equal.” You know how it is today: All the kids in school have a divine right to receive As on their report cards, lest their self-esteem be bruised. Meanwhile, “inequality” implies an endorsement of hierarchical social structures: snootiness and snobbery, or outright oppression, tyranny, even slaveholding. Of course, there is no shortage of exactly those realities in the modern world. And the 6th house can refer to holier-than-thou dictatorships, whether they are on the national scale or around the dinner table. But let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Not all situations based on inequality are so dark.
Our current discomfort with these 6th house realities creates, I believe, a vacuum in contemporary astrological thought. That led me to search in older astrological literature for the right clues. We don’t have to go back very far in time to find them. Marc Edmund Jones in his Horary Astrology, first published in 1943, writes, “[The 6th house]identifies the deference that must be paid to others because they occupy a better position in the world, together with the same deferring to self that may be compelled from whoever occupies an inferior position.”2
Astrologers have always adapted to the social world in which they find themselves. That’s how we relate to our clients. I am sure this hierarchical, class conscious language worked fine for Marc Edmund Jones back in the days when he practiced astrology. Nowadays, however, his words sound a little off-key. How many of us go around looking at people as “our betters” or as “our inferiors”? How many of us admit doing this? Something that was simply assumed in 1943 is now very much out of style.
It’s not all so grim and off-putting. Going further, let’s look at The Technique of Prediction, by the great Ronald C. Davison, published in 1955. Regarding the 6th house, we read that it “places a focus on ... his work as a subordinate or an apprentice — whether learning the essentials of a trade or whether training himself for physical or spiritual conquests (perfection can only be achieved after long and diligent practice in a subordinate role, understudying those who are more skilled and experienced) ...”4
Davison’s words ring truer today than those of Jones, and I believe they bring us very close to the forgotten heart of the 6th house. In this part of the birth chart, we see the symbolism of those who might guide us. We look to our role models, heroes, and teachers — those who, due to age, accomplishment, or spiritual advancement, are simply further along on the same road we aspire to travel ourselves.
One mysterious feature of this house lies in the inexplicable and “trans-logical” quality of transmission that arises when teacher and student come together in private — relationship. That might sound exotic, but as we will see, it is a common, even universal, experience. Here’s an illustration: Once I shook hands with the great British guitarist, Eric Clapton. We had a friend in common, and Mr. Clapton and I had a conversation that probably lasted five minutes. I was starstruck, of course. All my life, I’ve noodled on the guitar and often played in bands, so Eric Clapton has always been an Olympian figure for me. After that brief contact, I immediately felt a great need to go home and strum my Telecaster. I also felt that I played better. I joked about “not wanting to wash my hand.” Crazy? How could shaking Eric Clapton’s hand make me a better guitarist? It sounds suspiciously like, “Oops, I forgot to study ... I think I’ll sleep with the algebra textbook under my pillow.” But in this case, it actually seemed to work for me.
Consider Eric Clapton’s chart (not shown). There’s a strand of evidence that suggests an early morning birth, as well as a birth time of 8:45 p.m. Having met him and having been aware of the patterns of his public life for many years, I find the 8:45 p.m. chart convincing. The Libra Ascendant certainly matches nicely with his artistry. I also found him courteous and personable. If this time is accurate, it places Eric Clapton’s Aries Sun in the 6th house. Is he anyone’s “servant”? No, he’s a rock star. But Eric Clapton inherited the blues tradition from the Afro-American musical geniuses who came up out of the Mississippi Delta, moved to Chicago, bought their electric guitars, and transformed the sound of popular music. He knows that, celebrates them, and admits his great debt to them. In classic 6th house fashion, he subordinated himself to a tradition. He “sat at the feet of masters.” Think of Eric Clapton in the light of Ronald Davison’s words, “Perfection can only be achieved after long and diligent practice in a subordinate role, understudying those who are more skilled and experienced.” Clapton embodies those words.
Let’s add one more critical link to the chain: As I write this, Eric Clapton has just turned 70. How many generations of guitarists has he influenced? He gratefully and humbly received a tradition, and he has generously passed it on. That two-sided coin is an essential element in our understanding of the 6th house. We apprentice ourselves to those who are more advanced, we receive a gift from them, and we complete the circle by passing the gift on to those who come after us.
You can’t tell the chart of a caterpillar from that of a butterfly — and if you want to be a guru, you must first humble yourself as a disciple.
Our present culture has tended to forget these initiatory dimensions of life. Correspondingly, our present astrological literature generally offers a watered-down version of the 6th house, stripped of its soul and half of its meaning. Since mentoring, apprenticeship, and initiation are pivotal to human development, it profoundly enriches our astrological practice to recognize their symbolic corollaries here in this “disappeared” part of the 6th house.
On my bookshelf, I have a yellowing 1962 edition of Sepharial’s Manual of Astrology (W. Foulsham & Co., Ltd, London). An English Theosophist, he actually lived from 1864 to 1929, and his real name was Walter Gorn Old. On page 29 of my more recent edition of his book, under the 6th house, I read: “the father’s brothers and sisters in a female horoscope; the mother’s brothers and sisters in a male horoscope.” Aunts and uncles, in other words. This is another nearly forgotten piece of 6th house symbolism — and it was actually forgotten for a good, practical reason: These days, most of us are not really very close to our aunts and uncles — nor, by the same token, to our nieces and nephews. The world has changed. The extended kinship systems that defined the word “family” through much of human history are largely fragmented now. People move around; divorce is common. But historically, to be someone’s aunt or uncle implied an active relationship, one of both mentorship and confidential counsel, almost always beyond the purview of one’s parents. It was not unusual in the past for a child to go live with an aunt or uncle and perhaps learn a trade, but more importantly, experience a kind of initiation into adulthood.
“You’ve got to meet my Aunt Betty . . . she’s not really my aunt, but . . .” How often have you heard that phrase? Funny how we still use the terms “aunt” and “uncle” to refer to this kind of mentoring relationship between a beloved, trusted adult and a younger person. The historic kinship systems may have fragmented, but the basic circuit board of the 6th house remains intact, and it will do so for eternity. It is an archetype. Archetypes change in form, but they are ultimately indestructible.
Being truly human is difficult, but our species has been doing it for a long time. There are stored up treasures of earthy wisdom, often hard won, and passed down through the generations. “Want respect? Learn a skill.” “Want to get married? Stop sleeping with other people.” These insights are not instinctual; they need to be taught and learned. None of us can grow up right without mentoring and guidance. We often hear the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” That’s worth saying. But in the 6th house, we are not talking about the village. We are talking about a small number of adults, not the child’s parents, who at one time or another take a special interest in the child, spend time with him or her, and just vibrate together.
“Vibrate” may seem like a flaky word there. But it isn’t flaky; it refers to a fundamental method for the transmission of integrated body/mind/spirit information between human beings who are in a loving relationship, but on an unequal footing. It is something we feel — and it always involves more than transmitting rote knowledge.
You sit in an audience listening to your favorite author give a lecture. Midstream, in a hall with 200 people, the author makes eye contact with you for five seconds. Something passes from her into you. You feel it; it is real. Probably, the author feels it too. You were 30 feet from the stage, in a crowd. But soul lightning shot between you. If you talk about it, you will sound like you are babbling. But the phenomenon is real, and ancient. That’s the 6th house in action — in a mild form, but real. It’s not just about kids and their “aunts” and “uncles.” It is available to all of us.
Maybe you are reading this magazine because you aspire to become a professional astrologer. Let’s say you sign up for a personal reading with an astrologer whom you admire. The reading goes well; you learn from it. But you have learned something else. By sitting in engaged rapport with that master, something of his or her skill and energy has passed into you. Welcome to the 6th house.
Few of us practicing psychological or archetypal forms of astrology today could do it without having stood on the shoulders of the late, great Carl Gustav Jung. If he really was born when “the last rays of the setting sun lit the room,” that would clearly place his Leo Sun in the 7th house — which leaves his Venus–Mercury conjunction in Cancer solidly in the 6th house (chart not shown). He famously apprenticed himself to Sigmund Freud, and when that mentor–student relationship collapsed, Jung went on to become the “uncle” of just about everyone practicing the deeper, modern forms of astrology, not to mention being the inspiration for generations of Jungian analysts. (I explore his chart a lot more fully in Yesterday’s Sky, by the way.) The point is that, once again, in Carl Jung, we see that lost signature of the 6th house: the giving and receiving of initiation.
Houses Three and Six: Squared but Forever Married
We began our inquiries today with a dilemma: How can two symbols be caught in an “irreconcilable” square aspect and still share a common “ruler”? As we investigated the question, we encountered an intriguing clue: Something seems to be missing from our current astrological view of the 6th house, and that “something” seems to have a connection with Mercury. Specifically, even though we say “Mercury ‘rules’ the 6th house and Virgo,” we don’t actually detect much evidence for that notion in our current literature and practice. The Mercury signature in the 3rd house is readily apparent: communication, learning, teaching, curiosity, the media. But in the 6th? Duty, service and servants, routines, responsibilities, health? Brushing your teeth? Where is Mercury in all that?
Then, we picked up another clue: We realized that there is a long lost dimension to the 6th house, still described in the old books but not so evident in modern astrological practice: lines of mentorship and initiation — the older, more experienced ones passing on what they have learned to the younger, less experienced ones. The elders are grateful to those who have gone before them, and the younger ones are grateful to receive the precious gifts that will help them be more productive, effective, and sane. Exploring further, we realized that the 6th house is not just about elders helping the young, but that it also extends to many other kinds of relationships throughout the life cycle. We may be taking piano lessons in our geriatric years from a youthful prodigy — we know more about life, but she knows more about the piano. And in that case, the prodigy may be learning something about life from us while we are learning our musical scales from her.
From this perspective, the 6th house is a rich, complex part of life, cradle to grave. Bingo! This dimension of the 6th house is about teaching and learning. There’s our missing Mercury signature: teaching and learning. There’s the connection between the 3rd and 6th houses. There’s the common strand of DNA we’ve been missing.
What about the other horn of our dilemma? What about the square aspect between houses three and six? That’s a complex subject, but here is the heart of it: To learn in 6th house fashion requires tremendous humility. We have to accept that another person is smarter, wiser, or more advanced than ourselves. And we have to be willing to accept discipline and guidance. We must swallow our pride. We must surrender.
But in the 3rd house, we are practicing the heresy of perception. That is to say, we are learning to see through our own eyes, according to our own instincts. We are sorting out what is actually real for us from what we have been taught to see, to expect, and to believe. These authentic perceptions become the foundation for original thought, which in turn becomes the foundation for the fabled Holy Grail of the 3rd house — finding our own voice. To accomplish that, we must be wary of teachers and their teachings. We must listen critically. We must, like Albert Einstein, doubt what we have been told. In the back of my head, I am hearing the words to the song, “Another Brick in the Wall,” by Pink Floyd: “We don’t need no education. We don’t need no thought control.” Some public-school teachers really hated that tune! I can see why. To be ignorant is a dreadful condition, but to be arrogant about it is truly pitiful.
And yet, as we saw, Albert Einstein questioned his teachers. So did Martin Luther. The hierarchies of the 6th house — with all their blue ribbons, booby prizes, grading systems, and name dropping — can be stultifying. Give somebody a badge and a uniform, and what happens? How often have the famous letters “PhD” gone straight to somebody’s head? How often do members of the clergy start believing that they speak for God? And is that the fault of the clergy — or the fault of the congregation? The poisonous alchemy of the 6th house works in both directions.
The 6th house needs the chaos and creativity unleashed in the 3rd. Faith needs doubt; science needs bold, new questions. As Peter Gabriel said (in his song, “That Voice Again”), “It is only in uncertainty that we are naked and alive.”
But of course, without the guidance of those who have gone before us, we may waste a lot of time reinventing the wheel. We may also come up with a wheel that’s a pentagon, promising a bruising ride. There has never been a shortage of stupid things said spontaneously, nor dumb decisions based on erroneous perceptions.
The 3rd house needs the discipline, structure, tradition, criticism, and guidance offered in the 6th.The 3rd house and the 6th house are in square aspect — the way cougars and deer are square. The relationship looks bloody, but they balance and correct each other. Without deer, cougars would starve — and without cougars, deer would proliferate to the point of starvation. In squares, if you look hard enough, you can always find the potential for this kind of fierce, interdependent symbiosis. Remember, all aspects are about integration. This is simply the nature of the integration represented by the square.
So, seek your true teachers, humbly learn from them — and never cease questioning them.
Sounds true, right? You know it, and I know it. And that instinctual certainty is the resolution of our dilemma. That is the awkward, fruitful, interdependent marriage of houses three and six.
Want to learn more about the 6th House? Check out Steven's audio lecture on the 6th House.
Want to Learn more about the 3rd House? Check out Steven's audio lecture on the 3rd house.
Chart Data and Sources
(in alphabetical order)
Eric Clapton, March 30, 1945; 8:45 p.m. GDT; Ripley, England (51°N18', 0°W29'); DD: conflicting/unverified birth time.
Albert Einstein, March 14, 1879; 11:30 a.m. LMT; Ulm, Germany (48°N24', 10°E00'); AA: BC/BR in hand.
Adolf Hitler, April 20, 1889; 6:30 p.m. LMT; Braunau, Austria (48°N15', 13°E04'); AA: BC/BR in hand. Carl Gustav Jung, July 26, 1875; 7:29 p.m. LMT; Kesswil, Switzerland (47°N36', 09°E20'); C: Rectified from approximate time.
Martin Luther, November 10, 1483 Julian Calendar (November 19, 1483 Gregorian); 10:46 p.m. LMT; Eisleben, Germany (51°N31', 11°E32'); AA: B.R. in hand from Steinbrecher, 7/1990.
References and Note
1. This chart shows Luther’s Saturn to be about ½ degree from the IC, which in my view, relates it more to the 4th house than to the 3rd. Splitting hairs is dangerous when there is any question about precision in a time of birth, but the argument for a 3rdhouse focus in Luther’s chart is strong, even without counting Saturn.
2. Marc Edmund Jones, Horary Astrology, Shambhala, 1975, p. 88. (First published in 1943.)
3. R. C. Davison, The Technique of Prediction, L. N. Fowler & Co, Ltd (London), 1955, p. 34.
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