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RIP: The Little Death of “La Petite Mort”® and Sex as an 8th House Topic

La Petite Mort. It is a phrase which means “the little death” in French and is a popular reference to the transcendent bliss one experiences after an orgasm. In astrology, the phrase has taken on a very peculiar role in propping up a view of the 8th house as being related to sex. Spoiler alert: it’s not. On the most trafficked astrology website on the internet Astrology.com, the phrase “La Petite Mort” appears by the third sentence when discussing the 8th house. Seriously. Even on Astro.com’s official wiki entry for the 8th house, an association is drawn between the 8th house and sex. It’s high time this received some scrutiny.

In this article we’re going thoroughly in-depth with the 8th House in theory and in practice with several (gasp!) real world examples. I want this to be a definitive and convincing explanation of why the 8th house is not about sex so that you can pass it around wherever it’s needed. By the end of this, you’ll hopefully understand what the 8th house is really about so that once and for all, we will see the “little death” of the modern association between the 8th House and sex.

Why Do Some Astrologers Associate Sex with the 8th House?

The 8th House has traditionally been associated with death, the finances of one’s partner, taxes, inheritances, etc. Scorpio is a malefic sign ruled by Mars, with some violent and sexual connotations. These collided through the use of the so-called Astrological Alphabet or twelve-letter alphabet, which I think is more appropriately called the Aries Alphabet. It’s an attempt at a conceptual framework to help understand the houses by associating them with the signs. It seems to be widely assumed that it was developed by astrologer Zipporah Dobyns in the 70’s, and it basically makes direct associations between signs and houses in the following manner:

This is where Aries is  analogous to the 1st house, and Taurus with the 2nd and Gemini with the 3rd and so on so that Scorpio, a sign associated with genitals, was associated with the 8th house which is associated with death. These are somewhat disparate topics however, so there needed to be some logical or poetic way to connect the topics of sex and death. Enter the phrase “La Petite Mort”. There’s just one problem.

via GIPHY

I have exhaustively analyzed and explained why the “Aries=1st House” paradigm does not make sense on a historical or conceptual level in this article here. TL;DR? The Aries Alphabet loses connections between planetary phases and other zodiacal constructs like the exaltations because the original conceptual framework for many of these concepts was the Thema Mundi with Cancer Rising. Ultimately, the Aries Alphabet is not how we got the meanings of the houses, so Scorpio cannot be the archetypal basis for the 8th house or vice versa.

I might also add at this time that I will be working with Whole Sign Houses exclusively for this article, so that the 8th sign from the Ascendant is what I consider the 8th house.

  • Aries Rising = Scorpio 8th House
  • Taurus Rising = Sagittarius 8th House
  • Gemini Rising = Capricorn 8th House
  • Cancer Rising = Aquarius 8th House
  • Leo Rising = Pisces 8th House
  • Virgo Rising = Aries 8th House
  • Libra Rising = Taurus 8th House
  • Scorpio Rising = Gemini 8th House
  • Sagittarius Rising = Cancer 8th House
  • Capricorn Rising = Leo 8th House
  • Aquarius Rising = Virgo 8th House
  • Pisces Rising = Libra 8th House

If you want my full argument for why Whole Sign Houses should be seriously considered as the primary form of house division, you can watch it below.

You’ll also see from the following explanation that the very origin of house meanings primarily comes from a planet and sign’s relationship to the angles, rather than the divisions of the angles. In any case, consider yourself forewarned, this is Whole Sign House territory going forward.

So, How Did We Get the Meanings of the Houses?

The meanings of the houses are emergent properties, primarily a result of the tension between diurnal motion (turn of the Earth) and zodiacal motion (planetary motion through the zodiac).

This is diurnal motion, the regular day/night cycle over a period of 24 hours. The Sun, planets and stars rise in the east. As the Earth turns, they set in the west. At the location in this gif, you’re in the northern hemisphere looking south, so you can see the Sun rises on the left and sets on the right.

This is the same location at the same time every night over ~3 months. Notice how the planets are moving through the zodiac from west to east, or from this perspective, right to left. You can really see it with the Moon and Mars especially.

These opposing motions of a planet’s diurnal motion versus its zodiacal motion are where the meanings of the houses come from, along with these other considerations.

  1. Day & Night (Sect): Diurnal houses in the sky above are about intangible things of the mind or spirit, whereas nocturnal houses on the other side of the Earth, effectively through the ground below, are about tangible, physical things of the body or matter.
  2. Diurnal Motion: The 4 most pivotal points of the Sun’s daily journey are symbolically equated with a life cycle, from conception in the 4th, to birth in the 1st, to the height of life in the 10th, to death in the 7th, etc.
  3. Angularity:  These 4 most pivotal points of the Sun’s journey, or angles, are strong houses, central and focal to one’s life. Each succedent house is a stable house, things which are more constant throughout someone’s life. Each cadent house is a weaker house, with themes less central to the narrative of one’s life.
  4. Zodiacal Motion: The cadent houses have already moved past the angle, so they signify things that happen before the event of the angle. The succedent houses have yet to move past the angle, so they signify things that happen after the event of the angle. These are also extended towards the ages of life represented by the sun’s apparent daily cycle.
  5. Aspects: Each house that makes a whole sign aspect to the rising sign is considered a “good” sign, productive or life-supporting. The houses that don’t are considered “bad” signs, unconnected to what supports life. The 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th, 9th, 10th and 11th are connected to the Ascendant by conjunction, sextile, square, trine or opposition, and these are the “good” houses. The 2nd, 6th, 8th and 12th do not form proper aspects to the Ascendant, and so they are the “bad” houses.
  6. The Thema Mundi/Rulerships: The order of the signs themselves do bear relationships to the houses, but the correlations begin from the lights rather than the beginning of the zodiac. This is all borne out in the Thema Mundi’s planet and sign placements.
  7. The Thema Mundi/Exaltations: The exaltations of planets are signs which embody each planet’s diurnal/nocturnal and benefic/malefic nature relative to their domiciles, but only within the horizonal reference of the Thema Mundi so that all exaltations are in “good houses”, able to make a whole sign aspect with Cancer. Exaltations are a blend of planetary, zodiacal and horizonal concepts, and are therefore relevant to the interpretation of houses.
  8. The Joys: The Joys of the planets are houses which match each planet’s diurnal/nocturnal and benefic/malefic nature, so those houses take on the nature of those planets.
  9. Relative Houses: Some significations of the houses are interpreted by their relative position to other houses, especially the opposite house.

How does this apply to the 8th House?

So let’s look at the astronomy of the 8th House.  A planet in the 8th house is in a sign that is setting due to diurnal motion, even though the planet within it is moving the opposite direction through the zodiac. It has not yet set, but it is going to, and although the planet is resisting by travelling in the opposite direction through the zodiac, the Earth’s turn guarantees its eventual setting into the unknown, towards darkness. At the same time, by zodiacal motion it comes after the sign that is already setting/dying, and so it represents conditions after one’s death. This paints a vivid picture of the 8th house, a place of mortal anxiety, fearing what is to come.

We can further determine more about the 8th house by taking these other factors into account.

  • Day/Night (Sect): It’s a diurnal house, so it primarily is about something intangible, relating to the mind/spirit.
  • Diurnal motion: N/A, not on an angle. “Dragged” down by diurnal motion as it resists setting.
  • Angularity: It’s a succedent house, so its affairs are more stable and unchanging rather than eventful like the angular houses or transient like the cadent houses.
  • Zodiacal Order: It’s the house that sets directly after the setting sign. Since sunset represents the moment of death, the 8th represents conditions after death.
  • Aspects: It’s a house in an opposing aversion or “quincunx” to the Ascendant, so it is unseen, it’s not a classic aspect. There is a lack of connection or support toward life and purpose, and is not mitigated by an antiscia relationship. It’s a blind spot, avoided or otherwise invisible. No one can “see” what’s after death except those who die. Related to the Saturnian concept of ignorance or unawareness.
  • The Thema Mundi/Rulerships: In the Thema Mundi, Aquarius is in the 8th place, empty, but ruled by Saturn. This connotes that the 8th house is a place of fear, coldness, limits, hardness, harshness, seriousness, gravity, corruption, decay.
  • The Thema Mundi/Exaltations: No planet exalts in Aquarius because it doesn’t match the nature of any planet except Saturn itself. Aquarius is a diurnal malefic sign but it is not square (malefic) or trine (diurnal) two domiciles of another diurnal malefic planet, and it is in the 8th place in the Thema Mundi, a house unconnected to Cancer. In other words, no planet exalts in the 8th, no planet has an agenda elevated here, it’s avoided and ignored.
  • The Joys: No planet rejoices in the 8th because there is no other diurnal malefic planet less diurnal than Saturn, except perhaps completely speculatively, Uranus. I’ll mention it but I won’t take it further for our purposes here.
  • Relative Houses: 
    • By opposition: The 8th is opposite the 2nd house of ownership, possessions, money, material things. So the 8th must mean something complementary or opposite. If the 2nd is a house of owning material things, perhaps the 8th is a house of losing these material things.
    • By trine: The 8th is trine to the 4th and 12th. The 4th is associated with one’s origins while the 12th is associated with a period before birth, so it would make sense if the 8th is also associated with a period outside of the regular timeline of one’s life.
    • By square: The 8th is square the 5th and 11th, the houses of giving and receiving respectively. So the 8th completes a cycle between the succedent houses, from receiving (11th) to having (2nd) to giving (5th) to losing (8th).
    • By sextile: The 8th is also the 11th house from the 10th. If the 10th is authority and government, and the 11th is about receiving and acquisition, then the 8th is again what you lose materially, in the form of dues, taxes and bills.
    • By adjacent aversion/semi-sextile: The 8th house is 2nd from the 7th house. If the 2nd house is about finances, and the 7th house is also about one’s partner, then the 8th house would be about the finances of one’s partner. Your finances ultimately become theirs, but I’ll have more to say on this in a bit.
    • And more!

So to recap, it’s a bad somber place for your mind/spirit that you are unable to see or see past, relevant for the aftermath of your death where nothing is precious or sacred AND it kills your wallet while you’re still alive.

Interestingly, the 8th House is called The Idle Place in the Hellenistic tradition, and if you overlap the Thema Mundi with the planetary exaltations and Joys you’ll notice…

…the Aquarius 8th house is the only sign that doesn’t have anything going on. There’s nothing happening. It’s…idle! And I suppose being dead is the most idle state you can possibly be in. Y’know I gotta say this does NOT make me look forward to any “Age of Aquarius” coming. Luckily that’s a sidereal thing.

Here is how Hellenistic astrologer Vettius Valens interprets planets in the 8th House:

Benefics appearing in this place are ineffectual and weak, and they do not bestow their proper benefits. If in addition they rule the Ascendant and the Lot of Fortune, they are even more ineffectual and variable. If malefics are in conjunction and rule the Lot, the native is a vagrant, losing whatever he may have gained. If the Lot falls in this Place and if malefics are in conjunction and are houserulers of the Lot, the native will be poor, unable to clothe himself. If also rule the Ascendant, he will be abject his whole life. If the houseruler of the Lot or of the Ascendant is under the rays of the sun, the native will stretch out his hands to beg. If Mercury alone is in this Sign and is ruler of Intelligence (as Daimon is called), it makes fools, dullards, those handicapped in speech, illiterates.  If Fortune , the native, besides being dull, will also be stupid and poor, especially if is under the sun’s rays. If under these circumstances malefics are also in conjunction, the native will be deaf and dumb.

-Vettius Valens, Book II, pg. 28

Jesus. That paints a picture, doesn’t it?  Almost as if whatever is there becomes corrupted, is made less than ideal somehow. I’m surprised by how many material associations he makes with this house, but especially in terms of losing what one has. I wonder if this shows that the 8th’s opposition to the 2nd of money and possessions was already factoring into the interpretations of the 8th. Do you notice what’s missing from all of this though? What’s missing in all this astrological theory underlying the 8th to the oldest references we can find? SEX. So what logical rationale rooted in tradition is there to associate the 8th house with sex?

The New Marginally Better Argument for an 8th House Association with Sex, and Why it Sucks

If the succedent houses refer back to the events of the angle they’re adjacent to, then the 8th could theoretically be about sex due to following the 7th house of marriage and partnerships. A wedding night follows a wedding day if you catch my drift… This is a much better argument to make for an 8th House association with sex because it’s based on the post-ascensional nature of the house following the Descendant, but I still have some problems with it.

Problem #1:  Sex mostly precedes marriage.

And that’s not just a consequence of our modern sexually liberated society, that’s pretty much always been true. I’d bet that a very slim minority of people actually don’t have sex before marriage. I’m honestly surprised to hear such a Puritan sentiment from a group as generally progressive and accepting as astrologers. Hell, even the Puritans couldn’t keep it in their pants, you can listen to/read these two historians talking about it. Therefore I think associating the 8th house with sex on this basis is reflecting an arbitrary value judgment on when sex should occur, and it happens to be largely inaccurate.

Problem #2: Sex can happen outside the context of a relationship.

I mean, yeah. There’s masturbation, toys, hookups, sex services, etc. This is all about pleasure, not a consequence of relationships necessarily. This is a problem if the rationale for the 8th house as sex is predicated on following the 7th of relationships.

Problem #3: The 8th House as sex breaks the diurnal/nocturnal associations of the houses.

Sex is very physical, and only the nocturnal houses pertain to things of the body or matter. The 8th is a diurnal house, so theoretically it should pertain to something more intangible of the mind or spirit. The reason why the 7th represents partnerships is precisely because it’s a meeting place, where the Sun meets the Earth, where it touches down from what is intangible to what is tangible, a meeting of mind and spirit with body and matter.

Problem #4: The 8th House as sex is incongruous with the arrangement of “good” and “bad” houses. 

Sex is generally a normal human need and part of having a full life, and while it can take many forms between adults, overall it is about some sort of pleasure, and in its most standard and commonly recurring state, a conventional good for the welfare and psychological well-being of individuals, societies and our species as a whole. It can twist into ugliness with imbalanced power dynamics, lack of consent and through violence, but by default if we were to put sex in some sort of category it should still surely be considered more “good” rather than “bad”.  This is why if sex belongs to any house, it should belong to one of the “good” houses in configuration with the Ascendant, and certainly not an unconnected “bad” one like the 2nd, 6th, 8th or 12th.

Problem #5: The notion of sex as “what comes after marriage” is pretty short-sighted.

When people get married it’s intended as a lifelong commitment. “Till death do us part”. What comes after a lifelong marriage? Well, divorce or death ends a marriage, and let’s not forget that the 7th house is also associated with divorce and death because it’s where the Sun “dies”, just as the 1st house is connected to birth because it’s where the Sun is “born”. If the 8th is what follows the 7th, then it’s going to be about what happens after a marriage has ended, after death or divorce.

Now we might wonder how exactly the 8th may be related to the aftermath of a divorce, but we must remember that the 8th is also associated with the loss of finances, and connected with finances of the partner since it’s the 2nd house relative to the 7th. I don’t know about divorce historically, but today at least divorces are very expensive and often lead to financial losses and stress for both partners. If the 8th house is about sex because people have sex after they get married, then what house represents the partner and potentially decades of marriage after the wedding night? Why would the 8th house just represent one part of marriage?

So What is the 8th House Actually About in Practice?

Let’s look at a few examples of people with planets in the 8th house.

Raymond Moody: Dusk chart with Mars, Jupiter and Pluto in Leo 8th House

Source: AstroDataBank

Raymond Moody is a philosopher, psychologist, physician and author who is widely known for his work with NDE’s or near death experiences. His Midheaven, the place of one’s career or life’s work is in Scorpio, and its ruler is Mars in the 8th. So his reputation and work is connected to the topic of what happens after death – literally. Additionally, this Mars is conjunct Jupiter in the 8th, so he’s a professor and expert on the subject. The 8th house tends to corrupt the planets within it, so his body of work and knowledge has been criticized heavily by other academics who accuse him of not being properly scientific. After his own unsuccessful suicide attempt, he became so entranced by mirror gazing that his family attempted to put him into a mental health facility. I’ve noticed that the corrupting nature of the 8th with Jupiter in this place tends to make someone seem like a “mad scientist” in some sense, obtaining knowledge that they otherwise shouldn’t have access to, or see and understand things others can’t. A fount of wisdom to a select few, but seeming off their rocker to others.

Hunter S. Thompson: Night chart with Mars as Ascendant Ruler in Scorpio 8th House

Source: AstroDataBank

Seeing his Ascendant ruler in the 8th would lead us to believe that he navigates his way through life in a coarse, rough or brave manner like Mars, especially in areas related to the 8th house, involving death or danger, fear and ugliness that isn’t always seen, and in some way at an expense to others and himself. Here are some highlights from his life that illustrate this dynamic of his chart:

  • He is known for his fearlessness, iconoclasm, vicious invective, penetrating insight, insubordination and violence.
  • He first became famous for his work as a journalist writing articles about the Hell’s Angels gang, and he did this by practically becoming a part of it. He rode with them and lived among them for a year, and once they realized he was exploiting them for profit he was severely beaten.
  • When he was discharged from the military, his commanding officer remarked “In summary, this airman, although talented, will not be guided by policy…Sometimes his rebel and superior attitude seems to rub off on other airmen staff members.” 
  • His investigation of a murder eventually led him to taking a trip to Las Vegas which resulted in his seminal novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Even the phrase “Fear and Loathing” that he popularized summarizes some of the themes of Mars in the 8th house. It’s not just a word for going on a drug binge, but a part of Thompson’s commentary on the anger and distrust engendered between politicians/law enforcement and the people they are supposed to serve.
  • Towards the end of his life he became somewhat of a recluse and amassed a huge artillery, obsessed with weapons and violence.
  • He eventually committed suicide with a gunshot to the head on February 20th 2005, during an 8th house profection year.

Tom DeLonge, Day chart with Saturn as Ascendant Ruler in Leo 8th House

Source: AstroDataBank

This guy is known to most people as the bassist from the pop-punk band Blink-182 (Venus-Uranus conjunct MC), but compared to the rest of his resume, his stint as a musician is almost a footnote. His Capricorn Ascendant is ruled by Saturn in Leo, in the 8th whole sign house. He has thrown himself into the 8th house fringe world of “that which cannot be seen” as a bonafide UFO expert. I mean, like, seriously. Read this Washington Post article to get the idea: “UFOs are suddenly a serious news story. You can thank the guy from Blink-182 for that.” He has pulled together a real-life team of physicists, aerospace experts and former Department of Defense officials to bring about the disclosure of UFO’s by the government through his company To The Stars Academy of Arts & Science.

With his Saturn in Leo, there is a skepticism or rejection of central authority, government, identity and celebrity, and in the 8th house this is going to be sustained efforts in hard-to-see areas. After all, this is a guy who made an album called “Enema of the State” and featured a song called “Aliens Exist“, so this has definitely been on his mind a long time. Additionally, Saturn rules his 2nd house and the 8th house is a place of loss, which would indicate the potential for serious financial problems. It just so happens he’s also made the news for his UFO/paranormal activities putting him in significant debt: “Blink-182 singer Tom DeLonge’s UFO-hunting organisation is reportedly $37 million in debt“.

Is the 8th House always bad then?

Not always. Strangely, a couple of Hellenistic astrologers go out of their way to talk about how awesome the Moon is in the 8th House.

“Only the moon, when its light is waxing, seems to rejoice in this Place [the 8th house].”

-Vettius Valens, Book II, pg. 28

Firmicus Maternus has a strangely particular boner for Moon in the 8th House.

“…no planet rejoices in this [8th] house except the Moon, and then only in nocturnal charts. If the waxing Moon is found in this house in a nocturnal chart, and if she is not in aspect to any unfavorable planets, and if Jupiter is in trine or sextile aspect to her in her own sign or in the sign of Venus or Mercury or Jupiter, or in the terms of any of these planets, this portends the greatest good fortune and riches beyond measure, great glory of material power and outstanding recognition in worldly position.”

-Firmicus Maternus, Theory and Practice Bk II, pg. 50

Alright Firmy that’s quite enough. The only reason I think this might be considered good is because a waxing Moon in the 8th house is about to go underneath the horizon at night, its own sect. I couldn’t find anybody who fulfilled all of these conditions all at once, but Prince William comes pretty close. Here’s a less extreme and more positive example of someone with an 8th house emphasis (and hey look, he’s got Moon in the 8th!).

Mike Bloomberg, Day chart with the Sun, Moon, Mercury Rx and Venus Rx in the Aquarius 8th House

Source: AstroDataBank

Mike Bloomberg is this billionaire philanthropist businessman-politician known for his eccentric personality and fierce political independence and results-driven management style. That all of his personal planets (including his Ascendant ruler) are in the 8th is interesting when we consider the 8th’s associations with the world of finances, and that’s been a major focus of Bloomberg’s life. Part of the reason his 8th House emphasis seems to focus more on the financial themes of the 8th as opposed to the death themes likely has to do with the fact that the ruler of the 8th is Saturn in the Taurus 11th house of gifts, allies and organizations. Additionally, the Sun rules his 2nd house of possessions and money, and that’s in the 8th house as well. With Venus Rx in the 8th, we don’t know if Bloomberg is freaky in the sack, however we do know that he refers to his ex-wife as his “best friend”, and she has even campaigned for him in his political activities. This is illustrated by the mutual reception between Venus in Aquarius and Saturn in the Taurus 11th, house of friends and allies. The house position and sign combinations simultaneously indicate positive circumstances and the achievement of ever greater heights after a divorce, as well as having an ex-spouse as an ally.

The 8th House as the Occult and the Unknown

Now, I know some people are going to give me some pushback on some of the supernatural/occult stuff and the 8th house. The occult is just that which is ‘hidden’, and a big component to the 8th house is that it is an invisible place because of its lack of an aspect to the Ascendant. Some people like to give the occult a 9th house association, to put it on equal footing with other religious endeavors, or to the 3rd for its association with heterodox religious movements, an interpretation I’m sympathetic to. However, I suppose the 8th is connected more specifically to supernatural phenomena and various forms of necromancy, since those concern invisible unknowns or connections made to those who have passed on, and the 8th concerns that which is “after death”.

Raymond Buckland, Pisces Rising with Jupiter in the Libra 8th House

Source: AstroDataBank

He brought Wicca to the United States from England, and started his own tradition based on Anglo-Saxon paganism. He opened the First Museum of Witchcraft and Magick in the United States. He wrote a book called “A Pocket Guide to the Supernatural” and “Witchcraft Ancient and Modern”, “The Anatomy of the Occult”, etc. So he was someone who had a wealth of knowledge in this arcane topic, as well as some insight into realms into which we can’t directly see into or see past. To someone in the occult, he probably appears to be a Jupiterian father-like figure of the field. To people outside of the occult, he probably appeared to have a ‘corrupted Jupiter’ as it were, by pontificating and professing about things which are unseen or unverifiable, the “mad scientist” trope again, like in the Raymond Moody example. If he is really to be considered a religious leader, I don’t see much evidence for it via the 9th or its ruler. However, if he’s properly considered a prophet of the occult and supernatural, having his Ascendant ruler as Jupiter in the 8th house makes a fair amount more sense.

Albert Einstein, Cancer Rising with Jupiter in the Aquarius 8th House

Source: AstroDataBank

He’s the guy who made some profound insights into invisible areas, the occult opaqueness of physics, matter, time and space. Here we can see that the 8th is not just the occult specifically, but what is unknown generally, which applies in both esoteric and scientific contexts. One wonders exactly how the Jupiter of a great mathematician and scientist might be corrupted by being in the 8th, or how it relates to the 8th house theme of death until we think about what ultimately happened because of his discoveries. His insight into the equivalence of mass and energy led directly to the development of nuclear weapons, a mortal threat to all humanity. I couldn’t tell you that you would be Albert Einstein and inaugurate a new age of superweapons if you had Jupiter in the 8th, but I could tell you that your insights, discoveries or successes come at the expense of others, tainted by the losses they generate, coming upon “forbidden” wisdom or knowledge. And as far as contributing to the trope of “mad scientists”, Einstein’s individual quirkiness and iconic unruly hair have certainly become part of the “mad scientist” look.

So What is 8th House Sex Actually Like in Practice?

Far from being some sort of intense transformative tantric sexual experience, we might want to rethink the way some astrologers are romanticizing a place that we probably shouldn’t. Let’s agree for now that we might be able to see something about someone’s capacity for connecting and relating with others sexually by looking at Venus. Now let’s look at a few people with Venus in the 8th House.

Jeffrey Dahmer, Day chart with Libra Rising and Venus in the Taurus whole sign 8th House 

Source: AstroDataBank

There’s a lot more to be said about his chart because obviously not everyone with Venus ruling the 1st in the 8th is Jeffrey Dahmer who raped, killed and ate people. On the other hand, if we focus on how Dahmer’s MO fits this dynamic of Venus in a corrupting place it starts making some sense. Clinical psychologist Samuel Friedman testified at Dahmer’s trial that he killed out of a “longing for companionship”. At the same trial, forensic psychiatrist George Palermo testified that Dahmer killed men to kill the source of his “attraction to them”. Dahmer himself said he liked to keep the bodies because “It was [his] way of remembering their appearance, their physical beauty.” While it’s a very extreme manifestation of this placement, it’s not outside the realm of interpretation. He was Venus in some sense, just pretty messed up, and for no other obvious reason except for its house placement in the 8th.

Adolf Hitler, Day chart with Libra Rising and Venus Rx conjunct Mars in the Taurus whole sign 8th House

Source: AstroDataBank

With Libra Rising, Hitler was in some sense represented by the planet Venus, although it was a pretty messed up Venus, in a day chart, retrograde, conjunct Mars and in the 8th house of death. Again, not every person with this combination is going to be Hitler. But Hitler was a guy who wanted to “purify” the world in the most messed up way imaginable, through genocidal violence, war and death. So in his own head at least he was still like Venus in some sense but otherwise acting out in violently insane ways. Remember he wanted to be an artist before getting rejected from art school put him on the path to becoming a genocidal fuckhead. Regarding Hitler’s sexuality there has been wild speculation, but even if you stick to what we verifiably know to be true, it’s still pretty weird. Two women he was romantically involved with attempted or comitted suicide (one of which was his half-niece). His wedding night with his wife Eva Braun consisted of cyanide and a gunshot to the head. And this is someone primarily represented by this messed up Venus in the 8th. Just saying.

Charles Baudelaire, Day chart with Virgo Rising with the Sun, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn in the Aries 8th House

Source: AstroDataBank

Baudelaire was an iconic bohemian French poet. His life is a dramatic presentation of 8th house themes. He struggled with finances his entire life, wasting his significant inheritance through excessive spending on sex, drugs and clothes. His father stepped in and legally forced him to only be allowed to live on a small allowance, keeping him in relative poverty. His family rejected the toxic relationship he had with his on-again off-again girlfriend, a drug addicted sex worker who he nicknamed his “Black Venus”. His poetry was controversial for its time, which focused on themes of profane and sacred eroticism, suicide and death, corruption and oppressiveness. Most of his fame occurred after his death, when most of his works were finally published. Even just with some of these facts in mind we can get a sense for how even the benefic planets Venus and Jupiter are “tainted” or “corrupted” in the 8th house.

So if the 8th house isn’t about sex then which house is?

Typically the 5th and 7th are closely associated with the topics of sex and relationships. But even if we didn’t know that, here’s how we could figure it out independently:

    1. Is sex physical?
      Yes. Must be house 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or the nocturnal parts of 1 and 7, because the nocturnal houses pertain to the body and the physical realm.

 

    1. Is sex a conventional good?
      Yes. So it must be house 3, 4, 5 or the nocturnal parts of 1 and 7, since those are the  nocturnal houses making aspects to the Ascendant, compatible with life. The 2nd might only be considered as a ‘good’ because diurnal motion pulls the sign in the 2nd up to the angle, but otherwise it’s considered a “bad” house. The 6th house is more unambiguously malefic and in aversion to the Ascendant, so it’s out.

 

    1. Is it ultimately more self-oriented or other-oriented?
      Sex involves at least two people, and even when it only involves one, it usually involves imagining at least one other person. The western houses are closer to the Descendant, our “other” and the opposite point of the Ascendant, which represents ourselves. At least half of the 4th could be considered west, but it’s the house pointing mostly north (in the northern hemisphere). Otherwise the two remaining houses are the 5th and at least the nocturnal half of the 7th.

 

This matches up with the houses most commonly associated with sex, the 5th and 7th. Let’s remember that the 5th House is where Venus takes her Joy, because it’s a nocturnal benefic house. Venus has a reputation for bringing people together to have a good time, so the 5th is looking pretty good as a house to represent sex, but the 7th might also have some incidental connections to sex via partnerships.

As we can see here, the divergent motions of planets in the 5th house contain the dynamic of being related to family, but what comes after family, what or who becomes part of your family. This is why the 5th house is associated with children, who are part of your family but only come after you’ve matured up and away from where you once came, your original family.

And how do you get children?

via GIPHY

Meanwhile the 7th could also be a candidate for sex because it’s where planets meet the horizon. If the Ascendant is where planets emerge, the Descendant is where they submerge or converge, a meeting place. Sounds hot.

Proof the 5th and 7th are more about sex than the 8th house.

Ruth Westheimer: Dawn chart with Venus Rising, ruling the Libra 5th House

Source: AstroDataBank

Dr. Ruth is a famous sex therapist, psychiatrist, author and broadcaster, famous for her very frank and upbeat approach to sex advice, made all the more hilarious for coming from an elderly woman. She was born with Venus in Gemini Rising. Venus rules her 5th house of sex. So not only does Venus naturally rule sex and unions, but in its specific role as ruler of the 5th house, it exported these topics to the surface of her personality – this is how she’s made the biggest impression and how she’s most known – for her sex advice and promotion of sexual literacy (Venus in Gemini). This only works if you consider the 5th house to be a house about sex.

If you think the 8th house is about sex, then you’d have to explain why her Capricorn 8th house is empty and the ruler Saturn is in the 7th. Maybe you could say that it reflected her accomplishments in helping the general public and couples in their relationships, but it more likely describes the fact that hardships through divorce and death would be a feature of her relationships. She has been quoted saying her only “real marriage” was her third marriage, which ended with his death.

Warren Beatty: Day chart, Mutual Reception between Jupiter+Saturn, ruling the 5th + 7th Houses

Source: AstroDataBank

Warren Beatty was a notorious womanizer before he got married, rumored to have slept with 12,775 women over 35 years according to his biography “Star: How Warren Beatty Seduced America”. When we look at his chart we see that the rulers of his 5th and 7th are in mutual reception: Jupiter in the Capricorn 5th house applying to a sextile with Saturn conjunct the Descendant in Pisces, the 7th house. What’s fascinating about this reception is that Beatty was a womanizer from age 20-55, and then stopped completely once he married his current wife Annette Bening. It is almost as if with the mutual reception, he only had two modes: womanizing Jupiter in the 5th with no stable relationship or stable Saturn in the 7th with 6 children. And if all that wasn’t enough he was born with Venus retrograde conjunct Uranus in Taurus, so it’s not hard to believe.

Now, he does have the Sun and Mercury in the 8th House, and Mercury rules his 1st and 10th house. I suppose one might try to point at this as being relevant for his womanizing ways but it’s hardly necessary with the consideration of his 5th-7th mutual reception and Venus-Uranus conjunction. His Mercury in the 8th ruling his 1st and 10th says a lot more about his role as an actor (1st) and film producer (10th), and the kinds of projects he appears to be interested in.

He produced and starred in “Bonnie and Clyde“, a movie about criminals famous and controversial in its time for its depiction of violence, and they die in the end. Pretty 8th House-y. He also produced and starred in “Heaven Can Wait“, a movie about a guy who gets trapped in the afterlife when he’s not supposed to be there, which is pretty literally about “after death”, an 8th house topic. He also produced and starred in a controversial movie called “Reds” about a journalist who tries to bring communism to America and dies. He also produced and starred in “Dick Tracy” and “Bugsy“, more crime movies/dramas. So his interests and roles as an actor and producer (Mercury ruling 1st and 10th) focused on these more sinister topics (Mercury in the 8th, ruled by Mars) like crime, criminals, death, after death, etc. Not that sexual themes are absent from his work, but in a sweeping view of his career, it’s not a central feature.

Even when you think you have an example showing that the 8th House is about sex, you don’t really.

David Carradine: Day chart with 5th House ruler Moon in 8th House with Mars

I’m trying to do this in one paragraph so forgive me for only focusing on this one part of his life and chart. He died from an accidental autoerotic asphyxiation. His ex-wife divorced him partly because of “abhorrent and deviant sexual behavior which was potentially deadly“. Now you might be thinking, oh perfect, he has that Moon-Mars conjunction in the 8th house, must be about this deadly 8th house sex. But look bro, the Moon rules his 5th house. So it’s his sexual instincts (Moon as 5th house ruler) that are “abhorrent and deviant” (Moon in 8th) and “potentially deadly” (with Mars in the 8th), and it ultimately did kill him. This particular arrangement of the Moon and Mars in the 8th in a day chart is one of Firmicus Maternus’s conditions for the possibility of a violent death, and well, yeah, it happens sometimes.

Marquis de Sade: Day chart with 5th House Ruler Jupiter in 8th House with Sun

Here’s the guy who sadism is named after, synonymous with all sorts of sexual depravity. I do see that Pluto in Scorpio on the Ascendant which gets to the point pretty quickly, but surely this guy would have some 8th house stuff, if we’re associating it with sex of a controversial nature? Well he does have a Sun-Jupiter conjunction in his Gemini 8th house, yes. But look bro. What does Jupiter rule? His 5th house in Pisces! So it’s really that his sexual interests and forays (Jupiter) that go into a corrupting place (the 8th house). Let’s also consider that his Sun-Jupiter conjunction is in Gemini. He didn’t just have a ton of orgies, he wrote tons of novels, plays, short stories with his signature combination of philosophy, blasphemy and explicit pornographic material, so this is consistent with the nature of Gemini’s ruling planet, Mercury, which is placed in the 7th, another place associated with relationships and sex.

Larry Flynt: Nocturnal chart with Mercury as Ascendant Ruler in Libra 5th, Empty 8th House

Larry Flynt is the founder of the Hustler porn empire, a popular hardcore pornographic brand of magazines and videos built upon his strip club businesses. Since Gemini is rising, the planet which essentially represents him is Mercury, and in the 5th he operates in the realm of pleasure and entertainment. In a sense he is Mercury in the realm of sex, a publisher, producer, businessman and provocateur. He also runs casinos, and Mercury in the 5th could definitely be associated with gambling.

When it comes to sex itself, the ruler of his 5th house is Venus which is in the 6th house of illness, injury, employees, exiled in the sign of Scorpio, combust by the Sun and conjunct Mars. This suggests that his sexual tastes may tend toward the lowbrow, smutty, looked down upon, and that they may involve his employees or subordinates. He married one of the employees at his stripclub and is currently married to his nurse. Because of his injuries he has sex with his wife and other women using a penile implant. To see how his Venus fully manifests, you can get more of the lurid details in this interview, just don’t read it on an empty stomach: “Larry Flynt: Freedom fighter, pornographer, monster?

His 8th house is empty. The only relevance the 8th house has for him is that it’s ruled by Saturn, and Saturn is in his 1st house. In other words, Saturn brings the complexities and occasional ugliness of 8th house themes to the surface of his persona and appearance in the 1st. He’s considered to be quite an unsavory person, vulgar and proudly trashy. He even called his autobiography “An Unseemly Man“. With Saturn ruling his 9th house as well, and with Saturn and Uranus in Gemini in the 1st, he is simultaneously a stalwart principled defender of free speech rights, even as he tests them with his ever more brazen assaults against decency in courtrooms and the political sphere.

I think this example shows that the 5th is the house more directly associated with sex while the 8th is not.

The 8th House: Trauma, Abusers and Survivors

Bill Cosby, Day chart, Venus in Gemini 8th house, ruling 7th and 12th houses

Source: AstroDataBank

Sometimes the 7th just by itself can provide some signs for sex. For a long time we thought Bill Cosby was born at 12:30 am based on a quote from Bill Cosby himself, until a well-researched biography “Cosby: His Life and Times” by Mark Whitacker came out which provided a birth time of “three o’clock” in the afternoon on page 27. The source is not cited in the text and there are several issues surrounding Pennsylvania birth certificates, but to arrive at a fairly precise (albeit likely rounded) time suggest he had access to the certificate with the birth time.

I say all this to say that provided Cosby was in fact born close to 3 pm, Venus ends up being in the 8th House. Cosby has been convicted on three counts of aggravated indecent assault and faces up to a decade in prison. He has been accused by 60 women for drug facilitated sexual assault, sexual battery, or other sexual misconduct. Even women he had consensual relationships with claimed he drugged them.

Venus just by itself in the 8th shows that it’s kind of stressed out, messed up or otherwise “not bestow[ing] its proper benefits“. In combination with Scorpio Rising, Venus specifically rules the 7th of relationships/sex as well as the 12th house of enemies/imprisonment. So his “tainted”/”corrupted”/impure/criminal amorous impulses (Venus in 8th) and the partners he victimized had the capability to bring him down. This is exactly what’s happened.

Eliza Dushku, Day chart with Venus ruling the Ascendant in the 8th House

Source: AstroDataBank

On the other hand, sometimes this position doesn’t mean that you’re the offender but the victim, someone who still in some way interfaces with these topics even if not perpetrating them. Eliza Dushku was born with Taurus Rising, and the ruler of her Ascendant is in the Sagittarius 8th. She is an actress usually typecast as a “tough girl” or a “bad girl”, known for her portrayals of vampire slayer Faith in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She has spoken about how she gets a lot of uh, fanmail, from prisoners and convicts. But Venus’s tricky placement for her has shown up in other ways.

Dushku revealed that she had been molested at the age of 12 by her stunt coordinator Joel Kramer while filming on the set of “True Lies”. This took place sometime between August 25th 1993 – December 30th 1993. Worse, on the same day she told an adult about what happened, she was injured on set breaking two ribs, in a stunt coordinated by Kramer, apparently in retaliation. This occurred during a 1st house annual profection, which would highlight the position of her natal Venus in the 8th house. We’re also reminded that Venus rules her 6th house, a house associated with injuries.

More recently, Dushku’s complaints of sexual harassment against her co-star Michael Weatherly on the show “Bull” led to her untimely exit from the show and a multi-million dollar settlement. This ties into some of the financial associations of the 8th and the notion of “inheritances”, but like with so many 8th house placements, the gains are tainted. In this case, they’re tainted by the fact that she endured sexual harassment, lost her job, and that the accused kept his job. Again we’re reminded of how Venus rules her 6th house, a house associated with employment or employees.

This is not to say that everyone with this position is a sex offender or victim, and there are other placements that coincide with some of these experiences (looking at you, Venus in the 12th!) What I am saying is that the 8th House is complex, problematic, challenging, corrupting, desecrating and not inherently sexual, and when significators for relationships or sex are involved with this place or its ruler, it’s honestly not that amazing.  Far from the ostensible purported “intense”, “spiritual”, “tantric” sexual nature of the place, having 8th House sex is more likely to get you investigated by the FBI, or you’ll be calling the cops yourself. So, uh, maybe y’all should stop romanticizing and fetishizing the 8th House.

So Are People Totally Wrong to Have Made These Associations with Scorpio and the 8th House?

Well, it’s definitely off-base to associate Scorpio with the 8th House unless you’re an Aries Rising, but it’s not altogether wrong to associate Scorpio with sex. Here’s why:

Venus is the planet of social connections, love, romance, harmony, etc. This is the planet that brings people together. It’s a natural fit for the topic of romantic love and sex. Mars represents a complementary secondary component to sex, that of heat, passion and desire, penetrative and hungering. The signs of Venus and Mars are opposite to each other, so whenever Venus’s signs of Taurus or Libra are rising, its partnership in the 7th is with Mars’s signs of Aries and Scorpio.

Outermost Wheel: Thema Mundi, Middle Wheel: Exaltations, Innermost Wheel: Joys

Because Venus is a nocturnal benefic planet, it takes its Joy in a nocturnal benefic house, the 5th house, which is another reason it has become associated with sex. When you overlay the planetary Joys onto the Thema Mundi, Venus rejoices in the 5th whole sign house of Scorpio, where Mars is and where Mars rules! The sign of Scorpio and its ruler Mars have both been associated with the genitals in different parts of the tradition, and Scorpio’s placement in the Thema Mundi might suggest why that is.

The grand irony of course is that if there was a house that more closely corresponds to the notion of sex and death simultaneously, it’s the 7th, not the 8th. The 7th house is a place that is more literally about death because it’s where planets set, where the Sun “dies”, while also simultaneously being about relationships and our “other”, because of it being a “meeting place” for the the planets to touch down onto the earth.

So you’re not crazy to see some of the bad boy/vampire/femme fatale archetypes and associations with Scorpio, but really, unless you’re an Aries Rising, it’s not an 8th house thing, and trust me, that’s a good thing! Just sayin’.

RIP La Petite Mort, RIP.

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12 Replies to “RIP: The Little Death of “La Petite Mort”® and Sex as an 8th House Topic

  1. As always Patrick so thought provoking. Especially for one with a Cap stellium there. I get the invisible part of the 8th. Am curious about what the after life could possibly be, occult interest surely and dwelling on the corruptible element and trying to stay out of debt.
    Thank you so much for your voice.
    Happy New Year.

  2. Amazing article! 😊 I’m also one of those few people who don’t associate the 8th house with sex. It’s kind of sad to see that many, even reputable astrologers just say 8th house is all about sex when in reality it’s not even true and that house has SO much more to offer anyway. I have always thought that 5th house rules sex and in my opinion it makes perfect sense.

  3. Hi and happy new year. I like your articles and your work. I also liked the information you shared in this article. But i think that sex is a very complex thing which can’t be attributed to one house only. There are a lot of arguments which i can state, but I will only give examples with two people which first come to mind when i think about sex. Hugh Hefner for example has the ruler of Asc in the 8th house conjuct Sun and has an empty 5th house. The other very good example is Sigmund Freud. He has almost all of the planets in 5, 6, 7 and 8 houses(I think all of them are connected to sex). But his groundbreaking work on the psycho-sexual development is the best illustration of what sex is and how trauma(8th house) is at the core of how are sexuality develops.

    1. Hi Dimitar,

      Thanks for reading! In the article I did talk about how the 7th could have some relevance for the topic of sex as well, since it is also a western and (partly) nocturnal house configured with the Ascendant.

      This partly explains Hefner’s chart. He was born with Uranus conjunct the Descendant in Pisces, and he certainly had an unusual experience with relationships to say the least. The ruler of his 5th house, Saturn, is in a tight trine to that Uranus on his Descendant. Saturn tends to take a long time to show what he promises, and it was only once he was quite a bit older (his Uranus opposition) that he started Playboy and became THE Hugh Hefner and lived out more of the trine to Uranus on his Descendant. His 7th ruler, Jupiter is in the 6th, showing that his partners were also employees, and several of his wives were Playmates who lived at the Playboy mansion. As for Mercury ruling his Ascendant in the 8th, I’ll need to think about that. He has a very similar layout to Warren Beatty, who also has the Sun and Mercury in the Aries 8th.

      Sigmund Freud’s 5th house ruler is Jupiter in Pisces. He had 6 children. As far as his work, Freud’s work is heavily contested by contemporary psychologists, however influential it is. In his role as a counselor he pioneered the simple act of listening to people’s memories, whether real or imagined. I see this through the ruler of his 9th in the 8th, the Moon in Gemini, which is a receptive, reflective “listening” to what’s unseen or unseeable. Beyond that I’d need to study more about Freud.

      Thanks for reading,
      Patrick

      1. In relating the 8th house to abuse, that seems to be the way it works out in Hugh Hefner’s chart. Holly Madison wrote a memoir about her time as a playboy bunny and the way he treated all of the women on his life was pretty vile. This article goes into detail about that.

        I think when we’re looking at the houses, it is pretty straightforward sometimes. Not only is the 8th house averse to the ascendant and descendant, but the 8th house when we look at it through a chart, quite literally looms over the 7th house, and the 8th house seems to have a lot of associations of other people having power over others, financially (being in debt or keeping others in debt) or otherwise. I think Hugh Hefner would be an example of that dynamic of having power over other people. That’s just my take on it.

  4. Excellent, thought provokjng article! Thank you for the time you put into researching this topic. Looking forward to applying it in my work. With all the focus on men taking sexual advantage of women though their positions of power, would love to see your further thoughts on that connection to 8th House.

  5. Thanks for this very thorough article, Patrick. The only comment I have is aligning the planetary joys to the Thema Mundi makes for a odd case for Venus: Joy in the house of Mars (its antithesis), and where the sign of its detriment/exile is assigned.

  6. God how depressing. I have an 8th house sun and mars in Leo. I’m not an astrologer (wait for it) but, you write about the misconceived association of the houses with the linear progressions of the signs. But when you talk about 8th house opposite polarity the second house, you talk about it in terms of taurus associations. Also you mention (sorry can’t remember where) about someones chart related to the 8th house and you mention penetrating. Penetration (even if it is not literal) is strongly associated with sex and scorpio and I would say is part of 8th house make up, penetrating is about getting inside something you cannot see. Anyway sorry for my ignorance I know nothing about Hellenistic astrology.

    1. Hi Helen,

      Well as you know it’s not all bad! The material notions of Taurus and the material notions of the 2nd place are hard to separate at first glance, but they derive from different origin points. Taurus has those associations because of its dignities but the 2nd has those associations because of its opposed zodiacal/diurnal motions relative to the eastern horizon.

  7. Shitty, bad article. I have venus, mars, neptune, uranus, jupiter in 8th. Asc lord mercury scorpio. Sidreal, vedic, whole sign.

    1. I’m sorry you didn’t like it. I use the tropical zodiac, so my examples are all going to be about 24 degrees from what they are in the sidereal zodiac. From the tropical point of view, your planets may not necessarily all be in the 8th. But as I’ve also shown in this article, the 8th isn’t always necessarily bad, but certainly not ideal.

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