The artist is nothing without the gift,
but the gift is nothing without work.
~ Emile Zola
As we discussed yesterday, the Sixth House may be thought of the House of Duty and Health. It is often spoken of as the House that concerns your day job (as compared to the Tenth House which many feel is your career or occupational calling).
As a vestige of a time when most people who had their astrological charts cast would have had servants, it is the House that rules matters to do with the people who work with you and for you. And since it has traditionally been connected to servants and dependents, some astrologers even feel it is the House that rules our pets and small animals. (Although most of us who have pets might well wonder who is the servant and who is the master).
Our own faithful reader Lorna, of Hare In the Moon Astrology adds in an email to me today, “One of the most important parts of Sixth House resonance is the aspect of service. Not in the old fashioned version of the word (servants being seen as less than employers), but the putting out into the world the results all the daily activity for the greater good. Mentoring and coaching are perfect examples of this as we mature via our progressed charts into wisdom agents.”
Thank you, Lorna! I just love this view.
In addition, though, there is historic precedent for seeing the Sixth House in a more somber light.
Astrologer Dana Gerhardt writes, “‘Do better, work harder’ are common Sixth House strategies. But they don’t always make the best life solutions. Perhaps this is the downside to the Sixth’s upside of service — Sixth House Suns [for example] tend to wait on others. When the others don’t come through, these Suns are stuck.”
But she cautions, “Ancient astrologers considered the Sixth a malefic House — not a happy place for a planet to be. John Frawley, a contemporary practitioner of traditional principles, writes about the Sixth: ‘This is the House of the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune: of all the things that the harsh, cruel world and that odd bunch of people who inhabit it conspire to inflict upon us.’
“Planets in this House,” she says of Frawley’s view, “are weakened and can harm the other Houses that they rule. This is not the House of health, Frawley contends, but the House of illness. The First House indicates one’s health or vitality; the Sixth describes what undermines it. Nor is it the House of work or service, says Frawley. This is a modern invention, loosely based on the Sixth ruling servants and tradespeople—those who work for us.”
It is worth noting that Frawley himself states that Houses are not malefic, as they don’t do anything; planets are the doers.
As to that bit of controversy regarding the day job versus the career calling, Dana writes, “Our own work is still described by the 10th. Contemporary interpretations of the Sixth, says Frawley, are simply wrong. They derive from the happy-talk tendency of modern astrologers to whitewash any bad celestial news.”
Dana admits, “Frawley’s views sound harsh to anyone raised on modern interpretations. Yet they fill in a missing note: planets here are often mysteriously under stress…”
Dana then offers this mediating perspective. “Perhaps more useful is Dane Rudhyar’s perspective. He describes the Sixth as territory in crisis—requiring reorientation and adjustment. Following the Fifth House of creativity, children, and romance, the Sixth describes what happens when our Fifth House dreams collide with the real world.
“We realize,” Dana writes, “our creative expressions don’t sing with immortality. We notice our romantic life has lost its radiance. Despite our best efforts, our children grumble and disappoint. In the Sixth we notice life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. We can drown in our failure. Or we can do something about it. We can change our approach, acquire new techniques. We can either suffer or grow.”