The Astrology of Sorrow

In astrology, the positioning of planets in Pisces, aspects with Neptune, and the presence of celestial bodies in the 12th house collectively contribute to what is often interpreted as the astrological theme of sorrow in a natal chart. This cosmic alignment is believed to shape an individual with heightened sensitivity, empathy, and an acute awareness of the deeper, more profound aspects of existence. Pisces, as a zodiac sign, is symbolized by two fish swimming in opposite directions, representing the dual nature of this water sign. The ruling planet of Pisces is Neptune, known as the god of the sea in Roman mythology. This celestial pairing provides Pisces with a unique ability to connect with the vast spectrum of emotions and experiences, much like the ebb and flow of the ocean. The compassionate and empathetic nature of Pisces enables individuals with strong Piscean influences to resonate with the suffering and struggles of those around them.

Neptune, as a planet associated with dreams, illusions, and spiritual transcendence, further amplifies the intuitive and empathic qualities of Pisces. When there are significant aspects between Neptune and other planets, it can enhance the individual’s receptivity to the emotions and energies of the collective consciousness. This heightened sensitivity may result in a deep understanding of the interconnectedness of all living things and a profound sense of compassion.

The 12th house in astrology is often referred to as the house of the subconscious, the hidden, and the spiritual. Planets placed in this house are believed to operate in a more profound, subtle, and sometimes elusive manner. With celestial bodies in the 12th house, individuals may find themselves attuned to the collective unconscious, experiencing a sense of interconnectedness with a higher or universal consciousness. This spiritual depth can contribute to a heightened awareness of the sorrows and challenges present not only in personal lives but also in the broader scope of human existence.

To be marked by sorrow in the astrological context does not necessarily imply a constant state of melancholy. Instead, it suggests a deep emotional intelligence, an ability to resonate with the suffering of others, and a profound awareness of the complexities of life. Those with prominent Piscean and Neptunian influences may find solace in creative and spiritual pursuits, using their unique empathic gifts to inspire compassion and understanding in the world around them.

In the astrological wheel, the transition from the eleventh house to the twelfth house signifies a shift from the focus on community and like-minded groups (eleventh house) to a more expansive and all-encompassing perspective that includes not just human experiences but the collective pain of all living things (twelfth house). The eleventh house is traditionally associated with ideals, hopes, and aspirations related to community and social groups. It represents the networks we build, the friendships we form, and the shared goals we pursue with others. In essence, the eleventh house captures the essence of humanity’s collective ambitions and the synergy that arises from like-minded individuals coming together for common causes. It reflects the sense of belonging to a larger whole, where personal goals align with the aspirations of the community.

On the other hand, the twelfth house, following the eleventh, takes this sense of connection to a broader and more spiritual level. It transcends the boundaries of human-centric concerns and encompasses the suffering and experiences of all living beings. The twelfth house is often associated with the subconscious, the hidden, and the mystical. In this context, it symbolizes a profound understanding of the interconnectedness of life and the shared experiences of joy and suffering that extend beyond human existence.

In essence, the twelfth house invites individuals to tap into a sense of “fellow feeling” that transcends individual egos and encompasses a more inclusive, spiritual, and compassionate awareness. It encourages a recognition that suffering is not limited to the human experience alone but is shared by all forms of life, making it a powerful and poignant space on the horoscope wheel.

“The 12th house is traditionally styled the house of sorrow, and afflictions in it will not only cause grief and misfortune, but also tend to bring the native in contact with the sad aspects of life. Planets strong in this house, however, raise the native from low beginnings, and often bestow benefit through charity and charitable institutions. In its highest aspects, the house denotes the release from sorrow through resignation and atonement.” C.E.O Carter – The Encyclopedia of Psychological Astrology

Here is a conversation by astrologer Kathleen Burke discussing the distinctions between Aquarius and Pisces, and how Pisces’ sensitivity to suffering takes center stage during an intimate dinner.

One evening when discussing the wedding date, she happened to ask, “by the way, what do you actually do all day long? I know that you’re a laboratory scientist, but I can’t really imagine what that means. I have no background in Sciences.” “Oh,” he said, “Well, right now we’re involved in a very interesting project doing research for a company that manufactures shampoo. The company wants to be sure the product won’t hurt people’s eyes or cause allergies, so they have us testing it on rabbits. Rabbits, you see have particularly sensitive eyes, so if rabbits aren’t adversely affected by the shampoo that means most likely that people won’t be either…” She cut him off abruptly. “What? You mean your job is to squirt poisonous chemicals into the eyes of defenceless animals? Such cruelty. Well, forget it, our engagement is off. I certainly won’t be comfortable with you anymore, knowing your work was so sadistic.”

Let’s imagine another conversation between an Aquarius man and a Pisces woman based on the general traits associated with these signs. Aquarius, an air sign ruled by Uranus, is often associated with innovation, intellect, and a strong sense of individuality. People born under this sign tend to value independence, have progressive ideas, and are drawn to humanitarian causes. On the other hand, Pisces, a water sign ruled by Neptune, is known for its compassion, intuition, and a deep connection to the emotional and spiritual realms. Individuals with strong Pisces influences often exhibit empathy and a profound understanding of the interconnectedness of all living things. As the two sit down for dinner, the Aquarius man may start the conversation with discussions about the latest technological advancements, social issues, or intellectual pursuits. He might express his excitement about pushing boundaries and challenging the status quo for the betterment of society. The Pisces woman, however, might interject with a more reflective and empathetic perspective.

Pisces: (smiling gently) “It’s fascinating how technology is advancing so rapidly, but have you ever considered the impact on the soul? Sometimes, I find solace in the quiet moments when we connect with the essence of life around us.”

Aquarius: (raising an eyebrow) “Well, I think progress is essential for the evolution of society. We need to embrace change and use technology to solve global issues.”

Pisces: (nodding thoughtfully) “Of course, progress is crucial. But in our pursuit of innovation, let’s not forget the beauty of nature and the emotions that make us human. I believe our connection to the world goes beyond just human achievements.”

Aquarius: (leaning forward) “You’re talking about a deeper connection, aren’t you? Like, a spiritual connection to everything?”

Pisces: (smiling warmly) “Yes, exactly. I believe we’re all part of something much larger, and understanding that connection can bring about a different kind of progress—one that involves compassion and a sense of unity with all living things.”

Aquarius: “I just don’t understand why you’re so focused on these intangible, emotional connections. We live in a world driven by logic and progress. Maybe you’re too caught up in your dreams and not grounded enough in reality.”

Pisces: (visibly hurt, holding back tears) “Sometimes, the most profound truths are found in dreams and emotions. There’s more to life than just logic and progress, you know.”

Feeling hurt, the Pisces woman abruptly stands up and rushes out of the restaurant, leaving the Aquarius man momentarily taken aback by the impact of his words. Outside, the night air is cool, and the Pisces woman finds solace near a serene body of water, her natural element. Aquarius, realizing the weight of his words, takes a moment to collect his thoughts. Recognizing that he may have overlooked the depth of her feelings, he decides to follow her outside. Finding her by the water, he approaches tentatively.

Aquarius: (apologetic) “Hey, I didn’t mean to upset you. I guess I can be too caught up in my own perspective sometimes.”

Pisces: (teary-eyed but composed) “It’s just that, for me, emotions and dreams are a significant part of understanding the world. I wish you could see that too.”

Aquarius: (reflective) “I may not fully understand it, but I respect that it’s important to you. Maybe I need to be more open-minded and appreciate different ways of experiencing life.”

Pisces: (softening) “Thank you for saying that. I just want you to know that there’s beauty in both our perspectives. It’s about finding a balance.”

Aquarius: (nodding) “Balance, huh? I guess that’s something I need to work on. I care about you, and I don’t want my words to hurt you.”

Pisces: (smiling through tears) “I appreciate that. Maybe we can help each other see the world in new ways.”

Aquarius: (noticing Pisces’s emotions) “I didn’t mean to discount your feelings. It’s just sometimes hard for me to grasp the depth of emotions you experience.”

Pisces: (looking into the water, her voice carrying the weight of her emotions) “You see, for me, it’s not just about my feelings. I feel everything—the joy, the pain, the suffering. It’s like I carry the weight of the world’s emotions within me.”

Aquarius: (curious but sincere) “What do you mean by ‘everything’? Isn’t that a bit overwhelming?”

Pisces: (softly) “I absorb the energy around me. When someone is sad, it’s not just their sadness; it becomes my sadness too. I can sense the struggles of all living things. It’s a gift and a burden, I suppose.”

Aquarius: (trying to understand) “So, you’re saying you feel the suffering of everyone? That sounds… intense.”

Pisces: (nodding) “Yes, and it can be overwhelming at times. But it also connects me to a deeper understanding of life. I believe that by feeling everything so deeply, I can offer compassion and support to those who need it.”

Aquarius: (thoughtful) “I’ve never thought about emotions that way. It’s like you’re carrying the world’s suffering within you. How do you cope with that weight?”

Pisces: (smiling through her tears) “I find solace in the beauty of moments, in the kindness that exists in the world. It’s about balancing the heaviness with the lightness, appreciating the simple joys that make life meaningful.”

Aquarius: (reflecting) “Maybe I’ve been too focused on the big picture and missed the beauty in the details. I want to understand your perspective better.”

Pisces: (grateful) “I appreciate that, truly. It’s about finding harmony between our differences and learning from each other. Our unique perspectives can create something beautiful.”

The general grief and sadness associated with individuals born under the Pisces sign often elicits a range of misconceptions. Some may perceive their emotional depth as sullen, neurotic, or self-pitying, misunderstanding the empathy that characterizes Piscean energy. The astrological influences of Pisces, Neptune, and the 12th house in a natal chart can contribute to a deep and intricate emotional landscape. When these energies are dominant, individuals may find themselves prone to a sense of disconnection from the world, often leading to a heightened vulnerability to melancholy and apathy.

Pisces, as a water sign ruled by Neptune and associated with the 12th house, is characterized by a profound sensitivity and receptivity to emotional currents. While this sensitivity can be a source of creativity, compassion, and spiritual insight, it also makes Pisceans susceptible to becoming overwhelmed by the weight of their emotions. Neptune, as the ruling planet of Pisces, further amplifies these qualities, often blurring the boundaries between reality and the idealized or fantastical realms.

In times of profound sadness, individuals strongly influenced by these energies may feel an inability to function, constant exhaustion, and a detachment from the practicalities of life. This state can be likened to a deep soul-sickness, where the ailment is more existential and emotional than physical. The challenge arises when the Piscean individual, overwhelmed by the intensity of their emotions and the Neptunian blur between reality and illusion, finds it tempting to give up on life.The inclination to immerse oneself in emotional depths can be disconcerting for those in close proximity. The plea to “live again in the world” becomes a heartfelt call for Pisceans to reestablish connections with tangible aspects of life and rediscover a sense of purpose.

Support and understanding from loved ones play a crucial role in helping individuals with strong Piscean, Neptune, and 12th house influences navigate these emotional depths. Encouraging them to seek outlets for creative expression, fostering a sense of spiritual connection, and providing a compassionate space for emotional processing can contribute to their healing. It’s important to recognize that, while the Piscean inclination to retreat is a part of their nature, with the right support, they can find the strength to re-engage with life and its challenges.

The heightened sensitivity and withdrawal tendencies of Pisces, coupled with the influence of Neptune and the 12th house in the natal chart, can lead to disappointment, pain, and a reduced sense of involvement in life. As these individuals retreat further from society, their sense of isolation intensifies, creating a complex emotional landscape. Pisceans, when withdrawing into their inner world, may find themselves disenchanted by the harsh realities of life. The disappointment stems from their idealistic tendencies and a deep desire for a more compassionate and harmonious world. This can lead to a sense of pain and disillusionment as they witness the prevalence of global issues such as racism, religious intolerance, abuse of children, and cruelty to animals.

The Neptunian individuals often carry a burden of collective sorrow, feeling a profound sadness for the suffering of others, even if it is not directly impacting their personal lives. This empathetic response to the world’s pain can be overwhelming, and there may come a point where they feel utterly helpless in the face of these larger societal issues. The weight of the world’s injustices can contribute to a sense of futility, leaving them feeling victimized by life and dissatisfied with their perceived inability to make a meaningful impact.

The sense of hopelessness that Neptune-ruled individuals may experience is rooted in their deep emotional connection to the collective human experience. While their sadness is not always “personal” in the conventional sense, it is deeply felt on a spiritual and empathetic level. The struggle arises from their internal conflict between the desire to alleviate suffering and the perceived inability to effect significant change.

Support and understanding from friends, family, or mental health professionals become crucial during such times. Encouraging them to channel their empathy into positive actions, such as supporting charitable causes or engaging in community initiatives, may provide a sense of purpose. Additionally, fostering a sense of self-compassion and helping them recognize the limitations of individual agency in the face of vast societal issues can contribute to a more balanced perspective.

Ultimately, the challenge for Pisces and Neptune-ruled individuals lies in finding a way to navigate the complexities of their emotional landscape while maintaining a connection to the external world. By acknowledging their sensitivities, seeking support, and finding outlets for constructive engagement, they can transform their sense of futility into a source of inspiration for positive change.

One time I was dreaming, carried by the wake and cradled by All-Mother, rising and falling in the rhythms of her heartbeat. When I was low, I slept, but when I rose high, I could see and hear for the first time.”  John Lawson