There’s a lot of misunderstanding about the sixth house out there. Today I’m going to do a little astrological housekeeping and clear some of that up. The sixth house in astrology is associated with Virgo and ruled by Mercury. It rules our work, service, co-workers, bosses as well as our ability to perform our work and the environment in which we do our work. It also rules routine day-to-day tasks which we all need to do whether we want to or not and shows to what standard we complete our work as well as indicating whether we are punctual or a terminal procrastinator! Our hobbies come under sixth house rulership as well as health and wellbeing – and this is where a lot of misunderstanding about the sixth house springs from.
Because the sixth house was so closely associated with health issues, it also became the house associated with crisis and therefore a sixth house transit or a planet in the natal chart in the sixth was largely deemed to be a bad thing. When we look back historically there was a very good reason for this. Before the advent of modern medicine and antibiotics, even a simple illness could easily turn into a life-threatening crisis. And in the Middle Ages the loss of a job could bring about homelessness and starvation. In ancient times the sixth house was associated with slaves and slavery. No wonder then people grew to fear the sixth house.
Today, astrologers tend to view the sixth house as the house of wellbeing. Our work and career after all, are major contributing factors to our sense of wellbeing. The ability to earn a living empowers us, knowing we are valued for the job we are doing makes us feel good and when we have bosses or co-workers we get along with this adds to this feeling. This emphasis on wellbeing extends to how we take care of our own health – our attitude to check-ups, eating properly, exercise and sleep are all sixth house issues. How we care for others also comes under the sixth house. People born with planets in the sixth house, may gravitate towards the healthcare and healing professions. Therefore we can also say the sixth house rules service and calling.
If you are in business and employ people, this is again a sixth house issue and your sixth house will determine what kind of boss you are. Because the sixth house is associated with Virgo, it asks us to be mindful of the details in the areas of life that it rules. In fact ‘mindfulness’ is a good sixth house metaphor. We need to remain mindful of how our everyday actions affect our wellbeing – whether personally or professionally.
Pets are also a sixth house issue – not the animals themselves – they are ruled by the third and ninth houses, but our attitude to our pets, whether or not we have them, or even want them, comes under the sixth house. Pets after all affect our sense of wellbeing as we have seen with the dogs, cats and even small horses that have been trained to visit the sick and the elderly in hospitals and homes.
Of course, a major planet making a transit of our sixth house can and often does bring up a career or health-related (wellbeing) issue. This need not necessarily be a negative one. We can move jobs or take steps, radical ones if necessary, to improve our health such as a new diet and exercise regimen.
If we are faced with a crisis that affects our wellbeing, it is well worth remembering that the sixth house also rules how we cope with problems. So, while the sixth house may contain a problem, it also contains its solution. Dis-ease is the opposite of wellbeing. The message of the sixth house is simply: Be well.