In honor of El Dia de los Muertos and the Sun in Scorpio (10/23-11/21) – the season we have greater ease of access into the deep psyche, and can potentially transmute old attachments & griefs – my three-part article on the Eighth House.

In Mexico there’s a holiday ‘day of the dead’ or dia de los muertos, the one day a year set aside to symbolically honor those who have passed, their favorite foods are made, and family comes together to remember, celebrate and pay homage to the people they love. A Mexican acquaintance of mine says, “This is one of the most beautiful holidays in our culture.”

In modern America, when the heart stops beating and the funeral is over. At large, there is no symbolic ritual or gesture of remembrance for honoring the dead. We may visit the cemetery or remember them in our heart, even as most of us believe that ‘life goes on’ (even if we don’t know where it is going on), we move on in our above-ground realities. But in Mexico, they know the dead live among the living. They may even sit down to eat dinner with us at night, if we set a place for them. It makes sense; where does the Spirit of our ancestors live, if not among and even within us? Our legacies are far more layered & complex than character traits we pick up from our parents, shared DNA and an inherited china or good silverware set. To deeply consider our ancestors is to consider all of the inheritances they left us, material & immaterial.

The Eighth House is a many-layered house. It is a house of intimacy. It is the house of a particular kind of intimacy – sharp, honest, loyal…the till death do us part line following our Seventh House marriage vow. It is the container holding stuff we push away, that we’re ashamed of, our wounds, unresolved psychological material. The Eighth House is activated through intimacy, which could explain why the trouble we encounter in marriage are so complex & difficult to see. We all have unresolved psychological material with our parents, hot spots that only come out once we enter the cauldron of committed intimacy. Maybe we’re horrified the first time we discover that the attention we crave from our partner, is the attention we always wanted from our opposite sex parent – or any number of revelations about our wounding, how it affects and controls us today. Once we decide to partner up with someone for life, we enter the cauldron of intimacy, and the lingering ghosts of our past enter our primary relationship. These ghosts can extend beyond our remembered family and into the psychological histories of our ancestral memory, our far-reaching gene pool.

‘If you can’t get rid of the family skeleton, you might as well make it dance.’ -George Bernard Shaw

The Eighth House is a mystery for many astrological students, where trying to apply the description “sex, death and taxes” to their own chart is a lot like looking for what’s floating on the surface of a deep lake because we don’t have the eyes to see into the deeps. This is, in essence, a water house and water is the blood of life shared by all. Water houses join us to Mystery, of memory, legacy, ancestry, and collective influences. Consider that there is a powerful inheritance we share with our ancestors, which, if goes unclaimed or unexplored may become the ghost stories of our own lives. After all, when Aunt Myrtle sat in that chair next to the window for all those years, lost in regret – where did the regret go? What about the love of a father, who was somehow incapable of showing love to his child? Or a grandfather’s unexplained disappearance? A break up? When not honored, ghosts have a way of taking up residence in the lives of the living, even unacknowledged ancestors from generations ago.

I come from a long line of ancestors, just like you, and although I know a few ancient histories, I don’t know many. In my childhood I recall my father once mentioning that my mothers’ father was a ‘ghost’ in their marriage, but I had no idea what that meant until much later during my own psychological ‘dig’. Psychologists make their bread and butter off of family of origins issues. I wonder, what if we aren’t going far enough back in time? We may identify traits and difficulties shared with our parents, but what if identifying how the business of our great-great grandmother  plays out in our life could help us? Could our family ‘secrets’, our ancestral unfinished business, be somehow invisibly related to the issues that haunt and trouble us? If ‘forgetting’ is way to repeat the mistakes of history, maybe remembering can help us move freely forward.

Click here for The Eighth House, Part 2: Talking With The Dead