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The Real Houses of Astrology: The Real Sixth House

The Real Houses of Astrology: The Real Sixth House

Good help is so hard to find. In the past, you would look to the Sixth House to find it because that's where all of your servants lived, but times have changed. Astrology has changed with the times, and in recent years, the Sixth House has received a fresh coat of whitewash. It now claims to be the house that relates to your job, to selfless service, to diet and nutrition, and to physical routines and exercise. But no amount of public relations and marketing can change the fact that the Sixth House is the house of slavery and illness. And this isn't a bad thing.

The Sixth House is a part of life. It's not always a pleasant part of life, but it can't be avoided. And the best way to keep it in its place is to accept it for what it is. It's time to meet the real Sixth House. 


Cadent House: The Sixth House is a cadent house. The word "cadent" is derived from the Greek word apoklima, which means "falling" or "decline" and was used to describe these houses in the chart. The cadent houses are the weakest houses because they're the farthest from the angles in the chart.

Prominence: The Sixth House is an extremely weak placement in the chart. Not only is the Sixth House a cadent house, but it's also one of the houses that can't be "seen" by the First House. In terms of aspects, the First House and Sixth House are in a quincunx or inconjunct relationship (150°). They are "averse" to each other and have no connection and no common ground. Planets that occupy the Sixth House receive a score of –4 for prominence.

However, when evaluating prominence, a planet within 5° of the Descendant and in the same sign as the Descendant gains the prominence of a Seventh House placement and a score of +4. If a planet is not in the same sign as the Descendant, but is within 2° of the Descendant, it also receives the +4 score for prominence.

Relationship: The Sixth House describes a number of relationships, but what they all have in common is an imbalance of power. As the Sixth House is the house of slavery, it describes the master–slave or master–servant relationship, which today shows up as employer–employee relationships. The Sixth House also describes relationships with your co-workers. At first glance, co-worker relationships don't seem to involve an imbalance of power; however, co-worker relationships are actually defined by the relationship to the employer. The dynamic of co-worker relationships is competitive, as everyone competes for the favor and attention of the boss.

Triggers: Triggers to the Sixth House and/or the ruler of the Sixth House can create illness, especially when they occur while the First House of health and vitality is weakened. Generally, triggers to the Sixth House affect your job and workplace relationships. 

The Sixth House in the Natal Chart: Slavery, Service, and Sickness

When considering the Sixth House, it's important to remember its relationship — or more accurately, its lack of relationship — to the First House. The First House is the house of health, vitality, and happiness. The Sixth House has no connection whatsoever to the First House, so you have to expect the absence of health, vitality, and happiness in the Sixth House. The Sixth House is not fun, or enjoyable, or especially pleasant. But it is a necessary part of the human experience.

The first major domain of the Sixth House is hard work and labor.

Traditionally, the Sixth House was the house of slavery, but "slavery" isn't a word we like to use today. What characterizes the work of the Sixth House is that it's performed for the benefit of someone else, and that you have no expectation of receiving recognition or advancement from the work. Today, the Sixth House describes your job, but I maintain it's only a semantic distinction.

Notice, however, that money is not a consideration. You could be making a six figure salary working as an Executive Vice President in a global corporation, but because you don't run the company and you work for someone else, it's still a Sixth House job.

Because the Sixth House isn't about money, it also relates to all forms of service, including volunteer work and selfless service to the community. Giving of yourself and being of genuine service can be deeply fulfilling. The only sacrifice required is the desire for personal validation or recognition.

The Sixth House also contains all work- and service-related relationships. This includes relationships with your supervisors, your subordinates, and your co-workers. It also describes your relationship with the people you hire to perform services for you. This not only includes domestic help, but it also includes plumbers and accountants.

The other major domain of the Sixth House is illness.

While illness is still a part of modern life, modern medicine has changed the context of medical astrology. Through the seventeenth century, astrology was used for both diagnosis and treatment of most illness. Issues with the Sixth House in the natal chart established the types of illness you were inclined to experience in your lifetime; the Sixth House in a solar return helped predict your health for the year; and the Sixth House in a medical horary chart revealed the nature of your current illness. While this may be of interest to astrology students, most people today get their medical diagnoses from lab results not chart interpretations.

There is value in exploring the Sixth House in the natal chart in terms of preventative care, and this may be why the Sixth House has come to be associated with diet, nutrition, and exercise. By considering the types of illness and imbalance suggested by your Sixth House, you can make lifestyle choices that can lower your chances of creating those conditions. 

Planets in the Sixth House

Planets that occupy the Sixth House are, in a sense, your servants and employees. They express out of necessity, and they're used to hard work with little appreciation or recognition.

The Ruler of the Sixth House in a Natal Chart

The planet that rules your Sixth House represents your job.

Aries or Scorpio on the Sixth House

If you have Aries or Scorpio on the cusp of your Sixth House, Mars, the Archetype of the Warrior is your job. You do the job that's in front of you, and you aren't afraid to get dirty doing it. You enjoy solving problems and overcoming obstacles, and may find that you're the most comfortable in a workplace where you're given clear instructions and expected to perform your tasks. You must be careful not to become personally invested in your work; it's what you do, not who you are.

Taurus or Libra on the Sixth House

If you have Taurus or Libra on the cusp of your Sixth House, Venus, the Archetype of the Beloved is your job. You search for the Beloved in your job and the work that you do. Your relationships with your co-workers and employees guide you on your quest. These relationships and experiences will help you to discover your Core Values, although often they do that by creating the illusion that those values are absent. When you can see the truth of the Divine in your job and your co-workers, you will connect with the Beloved inside you.

Gemini or Virgo on the Sixth House

If you have Gemini or Virgo on the cusp of your Sixth House, Mercury, the Archetype of the Storyteller is your job. Your need to gather, analyze, synthesize, and interpret information expresses through your job. Other people rely on you to make sense of the world. You tell the story and communicate that story to create understanding. It's possible that your job may directly involve writing, communication, or analyzing information, but that's not the only way Mercury can express. Consider how much of your "little s" story involves your workplace and ask if that story is keeping you small or calling you to your greatness.

Cancer on the Sixth House

If you have Cancer on the cusp of your Sixth House, the Moon, the Archetype of the Reflection is your job. You seek safety in your job and through service to others. The emotional connections and shared experiences you have with your coworkers provide a sense of community, and you may create attachments to these relationships.

Leo on the Sixth House

If you have Leo on the cusp of your Sixth House, the Sun, the Archetype of the Hero is your job. You discover your authentic "Big S" Self through your work and service. You give of yourself, without expectation of personal gain or advancement. Through service to others, even in the form of a job, you encounter your Personal Standards of Integrity.

Sagittarius or Pisces on the Sixth House

If you have Sagittarius or Pisces on the cusp of your Sixth House, Jupiter, the Archetype of the Dreamer is your job. You whistle while you work. No matter how thankless the job, you have an enduring faith that your work and service have a higher purpose and a deeper meaning. The experiences in your workplace, and the relationships with your coworkers help expand your consciousness and change the context of your "little r" reality. Of course, Jupiter discovers limits by expanding beyond them, so many of the lessons you will learn in your work environment involve finding the line that divides enough and too much.

Capricorn or Aquarius on the Sixth House

And if you have Capricorn or Aquarius on the cusp of your Sixth House, Saturn, the Archetype of the Judge is your job. You approach your job with a sense of duty and obligation. Work and service are a necessary part of being human, and an integral part of the world of form. There's no expectation of reward or recognition for Sixth House service, which is good, because Saturn is a hard taskmaster. You receive just compensation for your work, and nothing more.

Houses Related to the Sixth House

The Sixth House has key connections to the First House, the Tenth House, and the Twelfth House.

The Sixth House is illness; the First House is health and vitality.

When exploring questions of health in the natal chart, solar returns, or medical charts, the relationship between the First and Sixth Houses and their rulers is extremely important. An ideal picture of health might involve a dignified ruler of the First House with no connection whatsoever to a Sixth House ruler, but you can't count on that scenario.

The Sixth House is your job; the Tenth House is your career and life path.

In our culture today, everyone wants to believe they have a career rather than a job. The sociological and psychological reasons behind this are complex, and too involved to discuss here. Astrologically, the difference goes beyond semantics, and is quite important. If you have a boss, you have a Sixth House job. If you are the boss — the owner of the company or the CEO, not just a manager — you have a Tenth House career. If you want accurate answers to your work-related questions, you must choose the correct house.

The Sixth House relates to small animals; the Twelfth House relates to large animals.

This distinction has no use in natal astrology, but it was important in horary questions, especially in a time when animals, both large and small, were an integral part of daily life. The size distinction between the Sixth and Twelfth Houses was based on the goat standard. Goats, and animals generally smaller than the average goat, belong in the Sixth House. Animals larger than a goat, such as horses and cattle, belong in the Twelfth House. Pets, including cats and dogs, belong to the Sixth House, but again — and this is important — not to the Sixth House of your natal chart. Any pet-related question belongs to horary astrology, not natal astrology.

The Sixth House in Horary, Electional, and Mundane Astrology

In horary astrology, the Sixth House is of particular concern when asking about health and illness. It's important to remember when working with medical astrology that while the diagnosis may be accurate, the prognosis is based on seventeenth century medical capabilities. Illnesses that at one time were chronic, debilitating, and life-threatening can be eliminated today with a prescription and a $50 co-pay.

The Sixth House also governs questions that relate to the workplace, including hiring and firing of employees, and questions about the workplace environment itself.

Finally, the Sixth House represents pets and small animals in horary questions.

In mundane astrology, the Sixth House represents the working class, civil servants, trade unions, and public health (or more accurately, public illness, since public health relates to the First House). Hospitals, however, as institutions, belong to the Twelfth House. The sixth house has also been linked with the farming industry and the food reserves of the nation. 

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Rave Reviews for Principles of Practical Natal Astrology: Talented Astrologer Training Book 1

Mary Plumb, in her review in The Mountain Astrologer says:

“An excellent guide to astrology that is far more than a typical beginner book. Not only is Burk a skilled communicator (who has studied how people learn), he is also a funny, self-revealing fellow with an astute foundation in traditional astrology (and human psychology) … His book is an in-depth presentation that is spaciously formatted with color in the text and in the cartoons, charts, and tables. His knowledge of traditional astrology, informed by modern views of human development, and his obvious gifts as a teacher combine in this most useful training manual.”

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“A masterful step-by-step guide for learning traditional foundations of chart interpretation in a way that’s accessible to the modern astrologer. Brimming with tips and techniques, it’s fun and practical — the perfect addition to anyone’s astrological explorations.”

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