If you’re new to astrology and you’re doing your due diligence to learn about what each of the 12 houses mean, then no doubt your initial encounters when studying the 8th house have been met with dread. It’s just one of those things in our current astrological climate that get a lot of flak, much like the 12th house (the house of your subconscious and ergo, your undoings) and the South Node (your “past life” karma). Of course, if you haven’t reached this point in your study yet, or don’t study astrology at all, then you’re likely asking what the hell an 8th house is in the first place and if you should bother to care!
Before we go further, I want to start saying that, even if you don’t study astrology, you can still benefit from this knowledge. Leave behind the terminology that doesn’t make sense and focus more on what you can gain by understanding the themes of the 8th house as they apply to your life. After all, we will all one day die, and no doubt (almost) all of us must pay taxes — whether you believe in astrology or not, the 8th house hangs over us for the entirety of our lives.
Now let’s come back to the 8th house and how to survive when planets, asteroids, and nodal points are being activated. As previously mentioned, the 8th house (who is ruled by Pluto/Lord Hades) deals with death and taxes, but it does so much more than that. Students and masters alike sometimes refer to this house with dread because it is the house where your fears are hiding, where psychological traumas fester, how you cope with debts you’ve accumulated, and how you bare your most intimate self in sex with a significant other. This is the house of letting go when it hurts the most. This is the house where you are invited to Charon’s ferry ride down the River Styx, knowing that the person you are upon entry is not who you will be upon exiting.
I don’t think you need much knowledge of astrology to feel when you’re going through an 8th house transit. This kind of transit isn’t something you miss — if the IRS is riding your ass because you messed up filing your tax return last year, or you’ve become a bereaved widow, or even if you’ve just had a nagging itch to purge the excess of items in your house — you’re more than likely in the 8th house’s grip.
But if you are learning and want to see what this looks like in action, go no further than astro.com – > Free Horoscopes – > Natal Chart, Ascendant. Once you’ve put in your information (your name and your date/time/location of birth), it will spit out a fancy-looking wheel with symbols thrown about. After this, you want to go back to Free Horoscopes, this time selecting “Extended Chart Selection.” Under Sections, there’s a drop down menu for Chart Type; scrolling through the options, select “Natal Chart + Transits,” then generate the chart. If you see any green symbols in the area of your wheel with the number 8, you are dealing with an 8th house transit!(1)
Using myself an example, I’ve been experiencing a long 8th house transit. Pluto, whose transits through each sign can be anywhere from 14 to 30 years, has been casually sauntering its way over every single one of my natal planets since 2008. When Jupiter and Saturn caught up to it towards the start of 2020, to say that I’ve been feeling the pressure is putting it nicely. Just counting this year alone, I’ve let go of my job, paid off my remaining debt to my friend, and let go of a partner that I’d been intimately involved with for almost three years — all 8th house matters.
All of this is to say: it’s been hard. Sometimes it’s been crushing. Letting go of people you love hurts. But I know that not letting go only hurts me more because I would be dishonest in my intimate dealings, something the 8th house and Lord Pluto will never tolerate. My affair with this partner was a cycle, and like all cycles, there are beginnings and endings.
And here is where the key to surviving an 8th house transit comes into play. The pain you endure when confronted with a crisis, or letting something go is this house’s way of forcing you to evolve. Even though Pluto rules over the dead, he is also befitted with wealth beyond imagination. By letting yourself accept the changes you are undergoing, and releasing the things that don’t serve your growth, your emerge richer than before. Sometimes that wealth will line your pockets; other times, it will fill your spirit, but all the same, your reward for enduring loss is to come back a stronger, more unified version of yourself. Yes, letting go of my partner hurt, but I’m moving by the end of the year and I still have a wonderful boyfriend(2). who gives me the soul-transforming love my natal 8th house placements demand. I’m also in the throes of launching a new business doing something I love, and I could not do had I held on to my job that left me emotionally drained.
If you are struggling to survive an 8th house transit, it can also help to revisit the lessons of the previous house. The 7th house (which falls to Venus’ domain and involves partnerships) can be a source of comfort to turn to while you work on integrating Pluto’s lessons. Confide in a close friend or your significant other what you’re feeling. Make a post on your social media that you are going through it and could use support. The journey to the Underworld may be a solo journey, but you need not bear it all in silence.
Remember: the main goal of an 8th house transit is to create growth through crisis. Entrenched intimate relationships, deaths, and debts can all spur the type of life-changing experience that Pluto oversees. Often, you may find yourself feeling like you’re on the verge of breaking — and that’s because you are. But in your breaking, Pluto promises to rebuild you in his image. Your soul will be reforged in steel, your will unbreakable as you rise back to the surface victorious.
(1) You can experience an 8th house transit regardless of whether or not you have natal planets in that house; however, an 8th house will have a more profound impact if something is actually IN the house. Example: Pluto, Jupiter, and Saturn are all in Capricorn right now — the people who are feeling this the most are those with placements in Capricorn (where the planets are conjunct your natal placements), in Cancer (where these planets are opposite your natal placements), or in Aries/Libra (where these planets will square your natal placements). Refer to your natal chart to see if you have planets in these signs.
(2) I am polyamorous — I previously had a partner in addition to my boyfriend, hence the wording here.