Astrology, the 12th House and Brené Brown
Brené Brown’s natal chart (available at Astro Databank) provides a deeper understanding of the 12th house - that hidden house where planets become our spiritual gurus.
In Braving the Wilderness, Brown writes “First as a child, then as a teenager, I found my primary coping mechanism for not belonging in studying people. I was a seeker of pattern and connection. I knew if I could recognize patterns in people’s behaviors and connect those patterns to what people were feeling and doing, I could find my way. I used my pattern recognition skills to anticipate what people wanted, what they thought, or what they were doing. I learned how to say the right thing or show up in the right way. I became an expert fitter-in, a chameleon. And a very lonely stranger to myself.”
So many things in this one paragraph! First of all, I can totally relate. I have my Taurus Sun in the 12th house and being a chameleon as a child was how I survived. Turn the color the people in charge want you to turn.
Second, Brené Brown’s Ascendant and Mercury are in Sagittarius so the quest for meaning, an eye for patterns, the desire to connect the dots are the means by which she self actualizes (Ascendant) and how she perceives, learns, thinks, communicates (Mercury).
Third, we see that loss of self, the erasure of the 12th house. Planets in the 12th house are the drives we will sacrifice on an altar. When we’re young, that altar is often the safety of belonging. Brené Brown doesn’t credit her Scorpio psychological insight here, but I would credit that ability to see wounds, pain, psychological underpinnings as part of what made her effective at knowing how to fit in. But instead of using her keen insight to find her own center, she lost her own identity in her drive to understand others'. “As time passed, I grew to know many of the people around me better than they knew themselves, but in that process, I lost me.”
In my own case, my Taurean knack for cultivating a peaceful, easy feeling was pressed into the service of other people's need to calm down, and I lost my own instinctive ability to recognize or honor my own needs for peace or serenity.
The 12th house planets are energies that we are at risk of offering up to false purposes, false gods. The false gods may be legitimate initially especially in childhood when we need to keep people on our side for our own security.
What energies are we offering? It depends on which planets are in the 12th house:
Sun: core identity
Moon: emotional connection, nurturing
Venus: connection, rapport, serenity, artistic pleasure
Mars: will, drive, physicality, sexuality
Jupiter: optimism, faith,
Saturn: discipline, focus, determination
Uranus: individuality, genius
Neptune: intuition, spirituality, consciousness
Pluto: darkness, wounds, power
But as adults we can follow Brené Brown’s example and take back these energies from any false gods we’ve surrendered them to. The first step is to reclaim them for our own good. It sounds selfish, but it’s not. It’s about getting right with yourself as a necessary step to being a force for good in the world.
Part of Brené Brown's reclamation process involved her relationship with her husband. (Note that she has Jupiter in Pisces in her 7th house, so love and relationship are transformative for her.)
In Braving the Wilderness, Brown writes:
“For some reason, I was more myself with [my husband]… He saw me. And even though he caught the tail end of my self-destructive days, he saw the real me and liked me. He came from very similar family trauma, so he recognized the hurt, and for the first time in both of our lives, we talked about our experiences. We cracked open. We would sometimes talk for ten hours over the phone. We talked about every fight we witnessed, the loneliness we battled, and the unbearable pain of not belonging. What started as a friendship turned into a huge crush, then a total love affair. Never underestimate the power of being seen - it’s exhausting to keep working against yourself when someone truly sees you and loves you. Some days his love felt like a gift. Other days I hated his guts for it. But as I started to catch glimpses of my true self, I was filled with grief and longing. Grief for the girl who never belonged anywhere and a longing to figure out who I was, what I liked,what I believed in, and where I wanted to go.”
With her husband’s help, Brown is able to devote her Scorpionic intensity to looking at her own shadow and finding herself lovable and worthy. She takes back her own energy and then, through all of her subsequent work, she takes the next step. She allows that central Scorpionic willingness to face the naked truth to become a channel or vehicle for something greater than herself. When she acts from her Scorpionic identity, she becomes a vehicle through which consciousness-expanding truth (the 12th house Scorpionic Mystery) is expressed.
Brené Brown is a lovely example of how we (and our charts) are holistically interconnected. The Sun and Jupiter and the Ascendant (and the other important energies) don’t operate independently, just as our central identity is not separate from our confidence and our social persona. And when we are getting one of these energies right (connecting with uplifting people who believe in us, a.k.a., Jupiter in the 7th house), a beneficial ripple flows into the rest of our charts and other parts of our lives.
As an aside, Ursula K. Le Guin, is another example of 12th house planets as vehicles for Higher Consciousness. She had Uranus in the 12th house in Aries. She’s courageous (Aries) in thinking differently (Uranus), allowing her Genius (Uranus) to be a vehicle through which we all are able to explore the farthest boundaries of imagination (12th house).