A recent argument/development between my wife and me, arbitrated skilfully by Chrissy and the I-Ching revolved around the question of dependence and gratitude. My wife has a passion for horses which has played out all her life. She had her first horse at a very young age and continued with them to the point now where she has over twenty horses. The difficulty with horses is that they are expensive. When she was young her step father paid for her horse. This was somewhat uncomfortable and involved my wife on occasion taking money from his wallet without his knowledge. When she was old enough she found a Saturday job which helped her fund her animals – at the time she also had numerous cats, a dog, over twenty rabbits, forty mice and a crow, not to mention guinea pigs etc. When I first met my wife she was working as a teacher and supporting Whisper plus another horse which she had on loan. The result of this was that she was heavily in debt. In order to come and live with me in London, my wife had to sell her beloved horse Whisper; it was a close run choice. I suspect she still wonders about whether it was the right one. The issue revolved around the right relationship between us and the dangers for the future of our relationship. If my wife took from me to support her love of horses that was fine, provided that I didn’t give more than I felt happy giving. At the same time, if my wife took from me but resented her lack of independence then that was dangerous for both our hearts and for the relationship. It is easy to confuse this issues with notions about the relationship between men and women but I think this is a red herring since the context for this was friends where the the roles were reversed between the husband and wife and he was the one in the dependent position but resenting the dependence. I think it is more connected to the 12th house since in both cases the Sun is in the 12th house.
In discussing this issue and noting the fact that my wife has the Sun in the twelfth house, it became clear that the 12th house (and perhaps Neptune generally) seems to be about dependence. In many ways the 12th house represents our dependence in general on the universe. This brings up the notion of how to deal wisely with what the 12th house represents in our lives and particularly the notion of gratitude. My wife with her Sun in the 12th house has worked in Mental institutions (very much associated with the 12th house) and currently with Autistic children, with whom she has tremendous success and an incredible gift for helping them. In turn the people who come to Heartshore Stables are in many cases unable to afford the help needed so my wife works pretty much full-time without earning anything and I subsidise the venture. My ability to do so is predicated on my own 12th house. I have Mercury in Sagittarius right on the 12th house cusp and the realisation that the 12th house was about dependency caused me to reflect on this and realise that my own ideas and livelihood owe a massive debt and dependency to Chrissy in particular (as well as others such as Milton Erickson, Tim Galwey etc.). Were one to trace it, I suspect that one would be able to see that this web of dependency probably links everyone together and indeed is inherent in the nature of the 12th house as the source or womb for all of us (cf. The Golden City by Chrissy Philp where she posits Sagittarius and Pisces as constituting the complimentary connection The Source). In I-Ching terms this is the Well (according to Chrissy’s Pattern of the elements, Pisces is the mutable expression of water and the trigrams that make up the Well, K’an and Sun, represent Cancer and Scorpio which together become Pisces) the universal flow of goodwill or love which nourishes us all.
Gratitude has become a somewhat outmoded notion these days with the focus being on more Aquarian traits of “rights” and independence. Nobody likes to think of themselves as dependent. There is very much a sense of individualism and people dislike the notion that they might be indebted to others. The danger with this is that it means that we take while resenting those from whom we take. I wonder if the lesson of the 12th house is about gratitude. It is interesting that the stables we run is fueled by goodwill and gratitude and I feel it is my privilege to support it. When we discussed this among friends, there were some uncomfortable discussions yet everyone recognised the pattern. There was a discomfort about the notion of gratitude because it implied dependency. Yet to give to someone without them feeling grateful endangers the person giving and the person receiving since it closes both their hearts. Since it is clear that we are all dependent then perhaps it is our opportunity to be grateful to those on whom we depend.
Perhaps there is an even greater subtlety here. In learning about keeping my heart open I discovered paradoxically that it was not about being giving and loving and open hearted, rather it was about preventing my heart becoming closed – not resenting people. In learning to keep my heart open to everyone, I had to learn how not to give. My children have become quite brilliant at working on this with me. If they ask me for a lift or to do something for them, they now regularly ask me if I can do it without resentment. They know that often my default position will be to say yes but they also know that the danger is that if they ask too much of me, there will be a price of irritability or resentment later when I feel I have given too much (sadly they see this much more clearly than me and I am indebted to them for their insight!). Thus I have had to learn to test myself each time I go to do something for someone, to ask myself whether I can do it without any expectation of any return in any form and whether it will close my heart down to do it. If I clear the kitchen and then the children come in and mess it up or are bad tempered, the danger is that if I have done something for them my rebuke is loaded with the resentment of my disappointed expectations. If I have done it freely knowing that I have chosen to do it only for myself then the action is done cleanly. Perhaps the same applies to taking; that we need to be equally careful that where we take, we ask ourselves whether we can do so with genuine gratitude so that even if the person we are taking from subsequently annoys or frustrates us it does not negate our gratitude. It would be interesting to think what the world might be like if our primary focus was gratitude rather than our “rights”.
Since the 12th house is traditionally associated with Institutions such as hospitals and prisons, it makes me wonder whether the lesson here is also about dependency and gratitude. Certainly hospital is an example of dependency, and for most in jail, there is some sense that the laws of dependency (or independence) have been violated and they have taken without sensitivity to those they were taking from (in terms of violence, corruption, robbery, murder etc.)