The Eighth House, Part 3: Finding Your Ancestral Legacy

by | May 24, 2011 | The Eighth House, The Houses | 5 comments

Could our family ‘secrets’, our ancestral unfinished business, be somehow invisibly related to the issues that haunt and trouble us? Continued from Part 2: The Eighth House, Talking With the Dead

Ancestral energies can get trapped in psychological ‘complexes’ we don’t understand, and control our lives from the deeps. As said, the Eighth House is not rational, it is a water house, and the house of ‘other people’s stuff’. Our inheritance may be material or immaterial, from people living or dead – which presents a problem. To free the story from the stone or bone, shamans, regressionists, and therapists act as psychopomps. But there may be ways to help our self, like working with symbols, objects and forms. Think about how emotionally charged relics, possessions and items of those who have died, are to us; we often attribute the objects bequeathed to us with an awesome numinous power.  Could they have psycho-magical power? Touching these objects, art-making, dialoguing with them, as Virginia did with her grandmother’s scarf, could help free the spirits trapped within our bones.

Art is a direct way of allowing the unconscious to speak. During art-making we can experience an Eighth House alchemy – as sensing, touching, physically working with objects outside of our own psyche has a way of making the invisible touchable, the mysterious and unknowable, immediate and real. Like the Eighth House, art is not logical, it is intuitive, associative and symbolic.  Art-making mysteriously transforms consciousness, reaching corners of the psyche logic cannot. Extraordinary transformative leaps can be made through trusting what the creative process reveals – even if what reveals seems or sounds ‘crazy’ (which is what Virginia asked if I thought of her when she told me about her experience of Sarah). This kind of intentional art-making is purposeful and alchemical (in Crowley’s Thoth Tarot deck, the Art card and Alchemy card are one in the same). Through art-making, opposites like life and death, shame and acceptance, unite- the definition of healing.

Is this necessary submission to the non-rational the missing ingredient that explains why talk therapy can only go so far? In the Eighth House we need symbols, symbol interpreters (like astrologers, tarot readers, dream interpreters, depth psychologists) and symbol- making. We need to artfully free the unlived and unresolved- what our ancestors either couldn’t express, or require healing resolution from us.

We are living embodiments of our ancestral gifts, talents and cultural inheritances as well as their wounds, hurts, griefs and unfulfilled and un-lived lives. The Eighth House is the storehouse for this. Our ancestral line is rich with wisdom and creativity and when unexpressed it can hold our most difficult symptoms & patterns.

So if the phrase “your problems may not be your own” rings bone true to you, they likely aren’t. It may be an expression that was thwarted somewhere along the family line; patterns you may be ‘elected’ to resolve. Grieves un-grieved, love affairs unacknowledged, lives left unfinished – ancestral events affect our lives today. We may need to complete their story with our own lives.This isn’t cause to be spooked or alarmed. Finishing business is an honorable task, and to experience wholeness, necessary. With intention, we can ‘finish’ or complete the ancestral unfinished business causing us problems. Remembering, through family lineage research, art, spiritual inquiry, symbol-making all can help us move forward with recovered power. There are numerous ways to experiment with this idea, some of them I offer below.

Exercise: Right To the Roots

Is there a ‘ghost’ in your marriage or relationship? Could a ‘haunting’ problem in your relationship go all the way back to relatives that you never even knew? Karmic Astrologer Patricia Walsh eloquently says, “You are not an island, and you stand at the end of a very long lineage, that still lives within and around you through the spirits of your ancestors.” The following ideas were inspired by her article, Pluto in Capricorn – Healing Ancestral Patterns which I heartily recommend.

-Visit a shaman or someone trained in soul retrieval. These are people trained to locate lingering spirit energies, or find the points in your energy body that have been “split off” from your core due to trauma.

-Find a Family Constellations Therapy facilitator in your area. This is a powerfully profound experiential way to directly work with stuck and mysterious Eighth House energies.

-Hold a seance either by your self or with others (see hyper link). Write down your ancient pains at the top of a page, light a candle for you and your relatives, both living and dead. Invite them to say whatever they like about the topic. It may help to have pictures of your relatives out, or items that they’ve given you. If that’s not possible, try symbolic items representing them, something they liked to eat or do, or as I did, use their birth chart(s).

-Build an ancestral altar. Put out things they like, sweets, a cigar, a bit of fruit, an art piece or a piece of them- a clothing item or picture. Hold this altar space for a period of time. Invite them into your dreams. Ask them for answers or guidance on a specific topic or question. Offer to help them, to relieve them of any burden they’re still carrying (without taking it upon your self). Give gratitude.

-Call a living relative. Ask them to share their memories with you. Listen for themes that may be similar to your own life. Pay special attention to cataclysmic, traumatic sounding or mysterious events and circumstances. These are people with unanswered longings, griefs and traumas which may mirror your own, thus helping you to understand your self & to heal.

-Research your family tree. Build a family of astrological charts. If you can, get birth dates, places (and times, if possible), for as many people as possible and print up birth charts. I’ve done this with clients in a simple spreadsheet. Put the names of your relatives across the top and a list of planets down the side. In each box put the sign and the house. Pick up the recurring patterns, noting an emphasis of signs, planets, houses. If you recognize a pattern similar to yours, ask questions, make comparisons; use those people as the subject of further spiritual or genealogical investigation.


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  1. Signe

    So interesting. It comes as no surprise, after reading this blog, that Pluto conjunct my Venus in Virgo in my 6th house, really feels like it speaks to the incest that was rampant 1 generation ago, and even in my generation, in my family. I have long struggled with my own sexuality, and was particularly aware of it at a young age, when both my mother and aunt were
    incested, while my cousins were in their teens, another tumultuous time in my life…
    Sounds like some work that needs to be done. Thank you, and yikes.

  2. VJ

    I certainly relate to the phrase “your problems may not be your own rings bone true to you, they likely aren’t.”

    Many years ago, I visited a “past-life” regressionist, who indicated that no ancestral demons were attached to me. However, I beg to defer because I can feel something of a “ancestral curse” that lingers over me like a “dark, rainy cloud,” blocking me at every turn with oppositional defiance.

    It is also obvious to me within the family unit that there are ghosts that need to be put to rest. When I was growing up, the ancestral wolves rode my back tearing at me with nightmares, low self-esteem, and dishonor. My mother’s “fork tongue” is a major source of my Moon in Scorpio (5th) square Pluto in Virgo (3th) that destroyed my self-esteem as a child.

    I am turning 54 years old on June 10th, and would welcome an opportunity to release “other people’s stuff” off my back.

    Thank you, again!


  3. Neeti

    Thanks for sharing this, Jessica. Much appreciated!

  4. Jessica

    Thanks for reading, Neeti. I hope you took something away from it. The 8th house is fascinating because it holds so much content that’s ‘hard to see’ in our self. xxoo!

  5. Sag

    Hi Jessica,

    I’m so happy you wrote a bunch of articles on the 8th house. It’s hard to find them out there! I have 4 natal planets(sun/venus/mercury/saturn) in my 8th house, cancer on the cusp. I was born into a family legacy of sexual abuse(also the catalyst towards alcoholism I believe), more common than what people dare to acknowledge. Although I was fortunate in my own childhood, others in my family were not. However, I’ve had to endure my own fair share of traumas throughout my life lol. So as a child I was always picking up all of the energies of this ‘secret’. I now know I was meant to help heal/help bring forth this secret energetically. I’ve worked with a shaman to heal my family secret as well as past generations and I believe it’s my 8th house placements that points the way to those possibilites.

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