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When Princess Diana perished in a car crash on the eve of a solar eclipse on her Eighth House Pluto, she lent credibility to the well-established idea that the Eighth House is a good place to look for information about death. But new students of astrology might find it perplexing to read in almost every textbook that the Eighth is also the house of business deals and bankers. The "other people's money" theme is an extension of both inheritance and dowry, or the money passed with a bride from her father to her new husband.

Why Sex in the Eighth House?

Springing from these two core concepts—death and dowry—have grown a fascinating Rorschach of modern Eighth House associations, including secrets, secret orders like Freemasonry, witchcraft, power wielded over others or the power others wield over us, control and all relationships where these elements are present. Playing off of dowry and inheritance, a variety of monetary themes have emerged, such as taxes, debt, shared resources, common values, investments and corporate takeovers.

But we are also taught to look to the Eighth House as a source of information about sex, as if people naturally stroll into the nearest bank or funeral parlor when they are feeling frisky. The current prevailing logic goes something like this. The French call orgasm the "little death," so that makes sex an Eighth House thingamabob. When you die, you "let go," and when you have sex you should really let go, so that's a match. And money is about power and sex is about power and power is sexy, so bingo.

This gestalt reveals more about the way our culture thinks than it does about the nature of astrology. To plant sex in the Eighth House of financial deals, death, inheritance and the transfer of the female body as a property-right is actually a fairly accurate picture of how we think of the subject. We do get possessive of our sexual partners, we often treat them as property, and most astrologers would agree that jealousy, the volcanic eruption of attachment, is an Eighth House theme.

As for the sex business, open any big-city weekly newspaper and see hundreds of ads for sex hotlines, escort services, and pay-per-call personal ads designed to ease, or rather capitalize on, our sense of alienation.

Does sex need to find a new house to live in? I think so.

How About the Eleventh?

There is considerable evidence in the culture to suggest that sex may indeed be finding a new home: the Eleventh House, the modern home of our friends and our hopes and dreams. As early as 1647, William Lilly reported that one question of the Eleventh was whether people loved one another, a concept I have never seen mentioned in any modern astrological text, and surely one more befitting of sex than, say, embalming.

Poly What?

A recent article in Time magazine ("Henry and Mary and Janet and …," by John Cloud, November 15, 1999) provided some of the first national coverage ever to the "polyamory" movement, which is a way of life in which multiple partners practice committed sexual relationships. Far from the polygamy of the Mormons, these relationships generally do not take on the same possessive nature as marriage; they have flexible structures and are expressed in a variety of forms that vary to meet the needs of the relationship.

Polyamory, as an intellectual concept and social movement, has been around for about 35 years, with some of its roots in the now-defunct Kerista community in San Francisco's Haight district. Popular novels like Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein and The Harrad Experiment by Robert Rimmer provided vision and philosophical legitimacy to the concept, which rippled outward from its cultish beginnings to a grassroots movement with organizations in many states, regular social functions in most major cities, and a national magazine, Loving More.

These days, polyamory usually happens among a circle of friends, and one of its many forms is called an "intimate network," an interweaving of sexual and affectual relationships among an extended group of acquaintances, quite at home in the Eleventh. How this differs from cheating is as un-Eighth House as you can get: there are not secret affairs waged behind the back of one's primary lover. Polyamory is designed to be an honest experience, not something shamefully hidden away in the dark corners of one's life.

Friends and Lovers

Even if polyamory is not practiced in a pure form, the idea that we can be lovers with our friends is gaining popularity, particularly on the West Coast of the United States, the laboratory for all kinds of astonishing social experiments. Even the popular sitcom Seinfeld documented the fact that, more and more, people no longer find it necessary to detonate romantic relationships to shards when they are done, but can live in friendship and peace with former lovers, whom they continue to love. Ex-lovers can become the closest of friends while they accept each others’ new partners.

Rethinking Relationships

Whether we practice polyamory or not, making a transition from the Eighth to the Eleventh means that we will need to learn to think of relationships as something besides power trips or financial arrangements, and of sex as something besides a business deal. Circles of friends, love between people, openness and honesty, equality and good things happening as a reward of discipline, are all keywords for the Eleventh House, the perfect theme for such an experiment.

If you accept the logic that the Eleventh House has an Aquarian resonance, then rethinking our love relationships is the perfect example of where Saturn meets Uranus: blending structure and innovation; commitment and experimentation; friendship and erotic partnership, and creating a way of sharing friendship, sex and affection that takes us far away from the realm of bidding for our pleasure in the house of wills, caskets and business deals.

Additional research by Maria Henzler.


Eric Francis, the Seattle-based astrologer and essayist, writes Planet Waves. His twice-weekly horoscope and news service covers astrology, personal growth, environmental issues and political affairs. Eric blends astrology with investigative journalism and personal narrative to create a humorous, alive, and even responsible news source unique in the world.

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For more information about Eric Francis, click here.

Other StarIQ articles by Eric Francis:

  • Venus and Mars Retrograde: Looking Back, Looking Within   3/13/2001
  • When Lovers Become Parents and What to do About It   2/12/2001
  • Imbolc: In the Belly of the Stars   2/1/2001
  • Unbroken Chain: Samhain, Halloween and Scorpio   10/31/2000
  • The Kursk: Things Fall Apart   9/20/2000
  • Getting It Right: What to Do When Astrology Goes Wrong   7/30/2000
  • Go Figure! Newspaper Astrologers: How Do They Do It?   7/12/2000
  • Spicing Up Mercury Retrograde   7/6/2000
  • The Nuclear Axis   6/30/2000
  • Holistic Astrology: An Introduction to Chiron   5/6/2000
  • Beyond Death and Dowry: A New Sexuality   2/25/2000

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