House Foundations: The Sixth House

Maritha Pottenger

This issue we will deal with the Sixth House of the horoscope. The focus here is on health and work. Virgo and the Sixth House symbolize our need for efficient functioning: on the job and in our bodies. The instinct is to look for flaws and to correct them, to “do it right.”

Planets connected to our Sixth House show what kind of work we seek, in terms of its everyday details and patterns. They show potential earning abilities and talents. They also show what parts of ourselves we will tend to meet on the job and in co-workers. This can be negative or positive. Such planets show as well our potential strengths and weaknesses in terms of health.

It is no accident that health and work are closely tied in the horoscope. For many people, the link between health and work is clear and strong. Picture the man (or woman) who is totally into his/her work. Retirement arrives; s/he loses his/her work, feels unproductive, and rapidly becomes ill. Remember the many people who get sick to get out of a going to a job they hate. How we feel about the work we do has a profound impact on our health.

It is important to remember that health problems can show up in a variety of ways in the horoscope. Of course, any planets ruling or in the Sixth House are part of the picture. Aspects to other planets can bring in additional issues. But any conflict in the horoscope, if not integrated, can help create health problems. “The Psychological Roots of Illness” by Zip Dobyns discusses some illnesses and the associated astrological conflicts.

Again, we begin with Mars (in the Sixth). Here, the basic identity is tied to work: “to be is to work.” On the positive side, this is a fire-earth, productive steamroller, active and energetic. One’s natural instinct is to analyze, produce, discriminate, improve. If carried to a negative extreme, this can indicate powerful performance anxiety: “I am what I do, and I am nothing unless I am working and producing.” Self-criticism may be strong, looking for the flaws in ourselves.

Such individuals need to work, and tend to feel inadequate when not working. Sometimes, they are ill when young, blocking the self-assertive urge until they find a job to pour their identity into. This is a potential for the classic, “I am what I do” script, which men in our society are encouraged to buy. There is a danger of the person being so identified with work, s/he falls apart in retirement (psychologically and often physically as well).

If the individual is using his/her Mars, s/he seeks a job with lots of personal freedom. There must be a minimum of repetition; Mars is easily bored. Pioneering spirit is high; this is a natural for loner pursuits. Energy is high and the work may involve physical activity and/or assertion/aggression (e.g. sports, military, forest service, competitive selling, etc.)

If the people are out of touch with their Mars, they may attract Martian workplaces and co-workers. They may always feel surrounded by aggressive, selfish people in their job. Or their colleagues may be excessively into personal freedom and expression. One typical negative manifestation of Mars in the Sixth is having to deal regularly with anger on the job: our own and/or other people’s!

If our anger is not channeled positively into accomplishment; if we lack the desired freedom and variety in our work, we may express negative Mars in our health. Bottled-up resentment/anger can lead to minor cuts, burns, accidents when we unconsciously turn our energies against the self. (This is even more likely if Mars forms a self-against-self aspect to the Ascendant or a first house planet, e.g. quincunx, tri-octile, or opposition.) We may be susceptible to fevers (another form of internalized energy) or attract aggression from others in the workplace if we disown Mars too much.

Positive expression of Mars in terms of health (like work) is an active pursuit. Such individuals are identified with being healthy. They often exercise, and actively support their health. Very often, they are drawn to nutrition or holistic health interests. They are willing to pioneer in the health field and do what fits their own personal needs/desires. They are naturally efficient at work and in their bodies.

Venus in the Sixth is double earth: stability-oriented. People with this placement tend to want security in their work. If handled well, they are comfortable in their work and at ease with those around them. This is the capacity for loving and enjoying one’s work and co-workers. Pleasure and work are blended. Variants could include working on relationships (e.g. counseling); artistic work; beauty work; sensual work (e.g. massage); work with resources (e.g. banking), and so on. The work should provide comfort, pleasure and security.

If carried to an extreme, this placement can indicate persons who expect work to flow without effort. They may be too passive and lazy to be effective. They may desire a beautiful job, but be unwilling to work for it. They may try to charm others into working for them. If we project that Venus, we might attract co-workers and working environments that are hedonistic. We may end up surrounded by people hung up on physical beauty, comfort, or sensual indulgence.

In terms of health, these individuals are generally comfort-oriented. They are not prone to disciplined pursuits. They may over-indulge, especially in sweet things which can affect the health. They tend to seek the easy way in regards to health care and can be quite concerned with its effect on their appearance.

If their needs for comfort and pleasure are not being met through work, these people may become ill in order (unconsciously) to be pampered and indulged, especially with food, drink, touch, etc. Or, to retreat from having to work too hard. Throat problems are often a sign our Venus needs are not being met. Hypoglycemia and diabetes may also be connected to Venus conflicts—our needs for love and pleasure not being met. Excessive sweets can be a substitute for love.

If the Sixth House Venus individual is enjoying her/his work, s/he will probably enjoy good health as well.

Mercury in the Sixth is a natural square (3-6). This is a quantity- quality dilemma in terms of work. Individuals want to know everything about anything in thorough and precise detail. The challenge is to accomplish something while retaining one’s breadth of interests.

Such people are drawn to mental work, where they can learn, communicate, and share ideas. A sibling or collateral relative may be a role-model for work or health. Such people need constant intellectual stimulation. If it is lacking, there is a strong tendency to job-hop with this placement, constantly searching for new ideas, interests, etc.

If projected, we may attract co-workers who are gossipy or cannot seem to stop talking, or over-intellectualized colleagues who analyze everything. The mind and communication must be involved with the work, whether negatively or positively.

With the mutables strong, there is sometimes susceptibility to allergies. This probably has to do with a sensitive (easily stimulated) nervous system. We need a happy medium of stimulation: neither too much nor too little. Either extreme may over-load our health with allergic reactions.

People with this placement are often very curious about health. They will read up on and discuss the latest discoveries in nutrition, etc. However, it is often the armchair approach: more talking than doing. They may know exactly what is best for them, but do not always do it—particularly if it is a boring regime.

If our learning, communicative, curious (Mercury) side is not satisfied in the work, other potential problem areas include eyes, hands, arms, lungs, and nervous system. These are all a part of our interaction with the world in terms of sharing ideas and talking.

Moon in the Sixth is a good Earth Mother (of either sex)—willing to carry the world on her/his shoulders and still have room for you to cry on it. Such people are emotionally involved with their work and are drawn to nurturing, care-taking professions.

There is a tendency for the individuals to always be the mother figure at work and eventually they get sick in order to get some nurturing themselves. Very often the stomach and vicinity is a focus for problems due to unmet dependency needs.

If the person is only doing the “baby” half of the Moon, s/he is likely to use illness as a way to be taken care of. Considerable power may lie in the “invalid’s” hands.

Mother or mother figure is a role-model for work and health. Often, mother worked or was at least seen as efficient and productive. Mother may also have seemed cool and perhaps critical and judgmental. Mothering tended to be experienced as practical, rather than warm.

The individual tends to pick jobs that elicit feelings s/he had with Mom. If the early nurturing relationship was positive, and Mom was able to be loving as well as efficient, the individual is likely to be loving and efficient at work and sufficiently nurturing and nurtured to retain good health.

If the early relationship was not so good, we tend to repeat the pattern till we “get it right.” We may do what Mom did, or the exact opposite, but either is a reaction to the past. We attract people at work to help us work through nurturing/dependency issues. The extremes tend to be: over-doing our “Mother Earth” trip at work till illness forces us to take a vacation and be dependent as well as nurturing; looking for Mommy (and playing baby) on the job and in terms of health; denying or criticizing one’s emotional needs, trying to repress them till they come out in full force in some appropriate ailment.

Once we realize warmth and caring ARE compatible with productive accomplishment, we can support and be supported emotionally and at work, and we no longer need to become ill in order to face dependency conflicts. We nurture ourselves with good health.

Food is often a focus, with the Moon wanting to indulge and the Sixth House focusing on the nutritional value of what is being consumed. This is a typical battleground for efficiency vs. nurturance, and we can go to real extremes at either end if we let ourselves play the game. Ideally, in the balance, we eat generally what is good for us, but are not fanatical, and are able to indulge at times in “junk food” or its equivalent because it is a way to nurture ourselves and our stomach.

The Sun in the Sixth ties ego to work. We need to SHINE at our job. Ideally, we go into a field giving us recognition, attention, applause, love, admiration, etc. This can range from the entertainment world, to investments, to teaching, to sales and promotional work. We need an emotional response from the world for what we do.

If my ego needs are not being met, I may have heart problems. This could be an overreaching, overly ambitious ego, or the person afraid to try for his/her “heart’s desire.”

If I disown my Sun, I attract colleagues who constantly play “Star,” unwilling to share any limelight with me. If I am proud of my work (without overreaching) and achieve recognition for my accomplishments, I am likely to enjoy my work and health.

If I am not proud, like Mars here, I can get hung up on: “I am what I do.” With the Sun, it is: “I am only as important as what I do, or what people recognize of what I do.” Therefore, if I (or others) define my work as unimportant, I am letting myself in for some literal “heartache.”

An important note: one’s work (in the Sixth House sense) does not have to be a career in the eyes of the world, nor need it be paid. It is what we define as our function in life; what we desire to do well. The housewife proud of her skills at organization, care-taking, cooking, shopping, chauffeuring, cleaning, etc. is handling her Sixth house Sun better than the business executive who feels he should be a bigger Star at work than he is.

People with this placement often work with children and ideally feel spontaneous, child-like joy and pride in their work. Our own children, as well as others’ children will teach us about work, health, and self- esteem. We learn to appreciate what is really important and useful.

If we do not have a job or function to be proud of, then our Sun can still shine in terms of our health. Thus we can get the health food freak, the person whose ego is tied up in never being sick. We glory in our body’s efficient functioning. If even that fails us, then the hypochondriac takes over, and we get the individuals who take pride in their extensive INefficient functioning. They will take center stage at every opportunity to talk about their various ailments, surgeries, etc. Their health is their only source of attention from others. Unfortunately, the focus is negative. It’s generally much more comfortable to be proud of one’s GOOD job and one’s GOOD health.

Ceres in the Sixth is also drawn to nurturing. There is again a Mother Earth potential, but less emotionality than the Moon placement. Mother is again a role model for work and health and all that was said above in that vein still applies. Mothering (from the mother figure and from the individual him/herself) is even more likely to be practical and analytical. Criticism may be a problem. Such people may work with a mother figure, or turn nurturance into a job.

People with this placement can handle details well and need a well organized workplace. They may try to do too much from a desire to work hard. They can be caretakers of any sort, efficiency experts, researchers, analyzers, etc.

If this double-Virgo focus is projected, we attract efficiency experts who constantly critique our work—but always “for your own good,” in the best Mother Earth fashion. They may be super-organized and productive; the rest of us mortals look terribly inefficient in comparison. They may manage and criticize us; we may manage and criticize them, or both.

If work is pursued too avidly, illness can become the body’s way of taking a vacation. If Virgoan functioning (critical, analytical, detail- oriented) is excessively over-done or under-done, the intestines are likely to be a weak point in the body.

Vesta in the Sixth is a super-Virgo potential. Natives are drawn to detailed, exacting work. They may be obsessive-compulsive. Efficiency and productivity are major foci. They are often super-efficient and disciplined in pursuit of health as well. Indeed, they may over-do self-denial in their desire for good nutrition, exercise, etc.

A common problem is the workaholic syndrome. These people end up getting sick in order to take a vacation. Or, if they over-do their nit- picking ways, illness becomes a way to escape from work which is frustrating. Lack of faith (in others or a higher power) can add to the problem and the frustration. They may set up criticism from others to get out of work they hate (on the unconscious level, of course). Or make themselves highly irritating at work with their efficiency expert role. Again, the intestines are a possible problem area. Diverticulitis is one possible dysfunction.

Pallas or Juno in the Sixth links work and partnership. People may make marriage their job or work at relationships (counseling, consulting, etc.) Artistic work is also possible, especially graphics and visual art forms. These individuals could be very cooperative or quite competitive with co-workers.

In terms of partners, we might have a practical, working as well as romantic partnership. If projected, we might pick a partner to work and be productive for us. Or, we might be critical of partners, or pick partners judgmental of us, or both.

If the need for equality is not being met in the work; if the need for practicality is not being met appropriately in the relationships, health problems might ensue. Libra is theoretically connected with the kidneys and skin, and may also be related to hypoglycemia and diabetes.

Pluto in the Sixth again ties the mate to work. We may work with a mate, or pick a mate to work for us, or one who expects us to work for him/her. .

Security needs are important in the relationship and at work. This is an obsessive compulsive trend: excellent for research or detailed, thorough depth work. There is a desire to go beyond the superficial (surface) which can draw one to depth psychotherapy, archaeology, detective investigation, sex therapy, etc. Shared resources may be a focus, as in tax work, banking, commodities, government grants, insurance, investments, bookkeeping and accounting, etc.

The individual desires power in the work and may get into power struggles if s/he feels controlled by others. Or, if projected, the individual is surrounded by power-hungry, manipulative colleagues.

There is a strong emotional investment in the work. Feelings are deep, but may not always be expressed. Resentment and anger, particularly, may not be expressed. Learning to let go can be an important Plutonian lesson. Common physical problems due to hanging on too long include constipation, hemorrhoids, bowel and bladder dysfunctions. As with all water, there may be cysts, fluids, tumors, etc. If carried to an extreme, surgery may be necessary.

If the issue is more tied to the mate relationship, particularly being able to share power and share physical resources, problems with the sexual organs may arise. If a deep equality and sharing exists on the job and with the mate, and if emotions are dealt with and not buried, we are unlikely to develop Plutonian illnesses.

Jupiter in the Sixth ties the search for perfection to the work. The tendency is to look for the perfect job with perfect hours, pay, etc. There is also generally the desire to do one’s work perfectly. Part of the drive for perfection includes a strong need for freedom, intellectual stimulation and idealistic pursuits.

If we project, we may idealize a colleague as bright, perfect, etc. We are especially likely to see him/her as the wise teacher type. More commonly, this is a job-hopping combination, searching repeatedly for the ideal work, never finding it, but maintaining freedom in the quest.

The work should be mentally or spiritually stimulating. This can include philosophy, religion, education, publishing, traveling etc. There is great restlessness. The native needs a lot of space. Some pick outdoor work.

If the perfectionism is too strong, the individual is perpetually dissatisfied. This can go into health problems, especially the liver with Jupiter. The liver is the transmuting organ of the body that renders poisons harmless or even converts them to useful substances. Similarly, with Jupiter, if we have faith (in ourselves and in a higher power), we can handle almost anything. If we lack faith, or put faith only in ourselves and demand that perfection, we may suffer chronic disillusionment and even liver problems.

Saturn in the Sixth is another workaholic potential. The tendency is to be very responsible about one’s job, taking it seriously. This can go to two extremes: over-drive and self-blocking. The over-drive Saturn person takes everything on his/her shoulders—tries to do it all. This can be a power potential, an executive drive. The self-blocker is very self-critical and fears failure. So, s/he stops before s/he even starts, “No use in trying; I’d just blow it anyway.” Both extremes are prone to guilt and being overly serious.

If we project, we surround ourselves with bossy, managing, dominating types or blocked, fearful colleagues at work. This also indicates father or father figure (conditional love parent) as a role- model for work and health. Father is generally seen as a worker and practical, but may also be perceived as cold and critical. He may have been an over-drive workaholic, or a critical self-blocker.

We can work out any problems with Dad through our health (or job). We may be trying to compete with an over-drive father figure. Or we may be doing the practical, efficient side our own parent didn’t do if he was into self-blocking. We can get sick to take a vacation if we are into over drive or because we feel unable to cope if we are into self-blocking. Saturn rules bones, teeth, knees and all crystallizing problems in the body: gout, arthritis, gallstones, arteriosclerosis, spine problems, etc. It also is assumed to rule hearing (due to bones in the inner ear).

With Saturn, we learn to be stable, responsible, practical and hardworking. If we over-do or self-block, we are in for trouble at work and/or in our bodies. If we over-do Saturn, we get over crystallization in the body. If we under-do being practical, realistic, responsible, we may have dissolving bones, etc.—a loss of structures that we need to function.

Uranus in the Sixth is drawn to the unusual and unconventional in work. This may be in terms of career (astrologer, inventor, revolutionary) or hours, etc. There is an intense need for freedom which may lead to rebellion against authority. Individuals desire intellectual stimulation and challenge.

If not handled, people may be erratic workers—brilliant at times, but undependable. If projected, we attract weird, unique, unusual, eccentric co-workers. If our freedom needs are not being met, we split or act strange enough to get fired. Uranus is easily bored and needs constant stimulation and challenge.

If we stifle our needs for freedom and challenge in the work, we may have repercussions in our health. Accidents can be a form of the “cooped up” feelings bursting out negatively. Sprained ankles (ruled by Uranus) are particularly likely. The electrical system of the brain and body may also be involved. Nervous tics and twitches can result from trying to bottle up the restlessness of Uranus, and epilepsy is probably partly Uranian.

Ideally, our work is humanitarian, open, free, intellectual, unique and allows us to be friends with our colleagues. Otherwise, our Uranus side may feel stifled.

Neptune in the sixth is an automatic opposition and the polarity principle is there. The natural partnership of Virgo-Pisces operates. This can be an excellent helper/healer or artist/craftsperson. If ill-used, the martyr/victim option is likely.

With this combination, we are learning to integrate the real with the ideal. Neptune provides the vision of the ideal or beautiful dream (artistic, helping, healing). Virgo (Sixth House) provides the nitty-gritty details to actualize it. We can integrate and have a great practical mystic, grounded healer, or realistic artist.

If disintegrated, we may swing from fuzzy headed idealism to overly critical practicality. We may pick colleagues who express one end of the see-saw for us. We may (like Jupiter) search for the perfect (beautiful dream) job and never be satisfied, floating on from one to another.

The victim expression of this polarity is either over-doing the savior trip and becoming martyr or illness as an escape from the sordidness of the world which does not fit our utopian ideals. Any illness is possible, including imaginary ones. Often, there is a confusing or mysterious element and doctors may misdiagnose, whereby the individual is again a victim. There may be over-sensitivity to drugs and alcohol. The liquids of the body may be involved (cysts, tumors, fluid retention, etc) and any melting, dissolving illnesses are possible.

Just remember, everything has a positive side. If we are expressing the nature of our Sixth House in satisfying work, our health should be good. When our health is disturbed, it’s a sign to look at how we are handling that part of life and how we might do it more fully or in a more fulfilling way. Besides the planet(s) in and ruling our Sixth House, any conflicts within the horoscope may point to a potential health problem if not handled.

Every planet symbolizes a human need, a part of the human psyche. If we meet that need well and completely in our job and how we relate to our bodies, and the rest of our lives, we have no problems. If we repress or project a part of ourselves, we get a warning, often, through our health. The longer we ignore it, the more serious the warning signals become. The sooner we face and deal with it, the easier the integration and cure. Cures generally work best when done on ALL levels: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.

Good Health to all of you!

Copyright © 1980 Los Angeles Community Church of Religious Science, Inc.

back to top