Astrology 101: The Sixth House of Slaves, Disease, and Pets
July 21, 2008 by Nina Gryphon
The sixth house is traditionally considered malefic and harmful to life. This is because it is one of the houses (including the 8th and the 12th) that does not get the light which enters the chart from the Ascendant. In the natal horoscope, the sixth house is primarily associated with those lower on the social scale who work for the native (or slaves), disease, and small animals.
The Sixth House and Slavery Today
The ancient astrologers quite literally saw the sixth as the house of slavery and slaves. Many pages are dedicated to determining whether a native’s parents were slaves or whether he himself would end up a slave. At first glance, we can think that slavery is no longer applicable to our lives today. However, we do well to remember that even though slavery is illegal throughout the world, it is quite rampant even in the United States, though it is now called human trafficking. Therefore, for the average practicing astrologer to see a chart with indications of slavery for the native or others in his life is not at all unlikely.
Even outside of the explicit slavery context, many people all over the world hold jobs that are very low in prestige and income, and are quite menial. Again, as an example, if we saw an indication of the native’s parents being slaves, and we could rule out the fact of slavery, we might say that the parents were always employed in menial or miserable conditions.
In the traditional society, the sixth house also represented one’s clients, people who depended on the native for favors and patronage. The word client has different connotations today, but in a traditional society, people with reasonable assets were expected to take care of and aid those below them. Similarly, today, the sixth house represents one’s employees and staff.
Disease in the Sixth House
Some modern authors say that the sixth house rules health and disease, but this is sloppy thinking. Because the sixth house is associated with largely unpleasant things, or lowly people and animals, the positive concept of health does not belong in the sixth. Rather, the sixth house in the natal horoscope can show one’s propensity toward disease, and the types of diseases to which the person is prone. Mostly, the type of disease to which the person is predisposed will be shown by an overall analysis of the whole chart, but the sixth house, if implicated, can give clues to the kinds and sources of illness the person may expect.
If the sixth house afflicts some of the life-giving planets and houses seriously enough, we will know that the native does not make it to adulthood, or even to childhood. Such is the power of the sixth house and its ruler to afflict one’s well-being.
The Sixth House and Small Animals
Ibn Ezra says that the sixth house rules animals which are not “mount for man,” and this definition includes most animals that people have as pets today. But how can pets be so bad so as to deserve the malefic sixth house? I believe that the sixth house ultimately rules people and animals assisting us in household tasks. Thus, dogs and cats and even birds meant to guard and enrich our homes are ruled by the sixth house. Believe it or not, some people still have a use for their cats other than hairball production: cats keep their houses mouse-and rat-free!
But enough from me. How has the sixth house manifested in your own horoscope?