I love it when non-astrologers speak so precisely about astrology.
In her book “Becoming,” Michelle Obama gives us great insight into Barack’s 12th house Saturn. From the beginning of their relationship, it was clear to her that he was someone with a very rich inner world, and that this had very specific requirements. Wherever they lived and traveled, a room or a nook would be carved out for his “Hole”, where he processed, worked through books, newspapers, ideas and had the necessary space to himself to churn through it all, uninterrupted.
Anyone with 12th house planets knows of this notoriously difficult terrain. Anyone with Aquarius Rising is right now getting a pretty clear idea about it. Often called the house of ‘self-undoing,’ there are few interpretations of this area of the sky that would ever make it prime real estate. It’s that house out in the country that’s always for sale. It has an air about it that you can’t quite put your finger on, but when you walk inside you’re very aware that it could swallow you up and no one would think to look for you there. It is mysterious and difficult grasp.
The 12th house, or 12th sign from the Ascendant, is the last to have risen and therefore is the one with the greatest journey ahead of it. Any planets in this area of the chart were rising when the individual (or event) were being born, having ascended from the deepest, most personal and primal part of the sky into full view, adding extra-extra to its influence in the life. The 12th house is where planets get to test the waters of expression with the naivety and inexperience of anything young and fresh. It’s new, and deeply uncertain. The depth of vulnerability here can often result in retracting these energies inward, calling forth privacy and self imposed isolation, though sometimes these energies are nurtured in family environments and these planets become a great source of power in the individuals life.
The 12th house is also often aligned with secrets and hidden enemies. In the case where these energies are not supported in the early life, part of the self is retracted and hidden from view, becoming something hidden and secretive. Pushed down deep enough it becomes repressed and bent out of shape, potentially resulting in either illness or other people representing the very characteristics consciously, or subconsciously, buried. As Rob Hand says, planets in the 12th house “confine one by working against one’s expression. They undermine one’s ego because they are denied by it.” As with most things in life, astrology is not black and white; the grey areas can encompass a bit of both in alternating measure at different times.
As Barack Obama worked his way through Law school he remained tightly connected to various community initiatives; he allowed his Saturn to work for him. With a strong Leo Sun, his ego was never going to be denied fully, but his 12th house Saturn required an outlet that allowed him to be part of the greater whole, of service to those he saw himself reflected in and placing him in situations where he could learn to understand and develop his relationship with authority in an egoless manner. By creating space where he could study, process and be uninterrupted allowed him what he needed to create structure on the inside so he could be effectual externally. As Michelle Obama so eloquently says, “For him, the Hole is a kind of sacred high place, where insights are birthed and clarity comes to visit.”
With all that hetero norm core tells us about what we should and shouldn’t expect in relationships, people often feel inhibited to ask for space or to live separately. 12th house planets, however, demand attention at the inner level. Without this space and time alone, projection can become a serious issue. Choosing a partner who is a pilot or a sailor, someone who is gone for long stretches of time can loosen these stressors, or like Michelle and Barack, sometimes it takes time to establish the parameters of what does and doesn’t work. Relationship or not, 12th house placements take yeeeeaaars to understand and unravel.
“Barack, I’ve come to understand, is the sort of person who needs a hole, a closed-off little warren where he can read and write undisturbed. It’s like a hatch that opens directly onto the spacious skies of his brain. Time spent there seems to fuel him.”