I woke to find myself in a dark wood,
For I had wandered off from the straight path.
~ Dante, opening to 'Inferno' (The Divine Comedy)
Gustave Doré's illustration to Dante's Inferno. Plate IX: Canto III: Arrival of Charon
If you are in Chiron return mode, as I am, the question of how to reconcile career with vocation/calling, or perhaps even make a clean break from one to the other, might be coming up for you about now. (Incidentally, I have just purchased a copy of the Divine Comedy and intend to read it).
"Mid-life crisis" begins to nag quietly, at first, around about 40. That's when the Midheaven kicks in, the cusp of the 10th house of 'Career and Public Standing,' ruled by Saturn/Capricorn. The 11th/Aquarius house is also traditionally Saturn-ruled, but flimsily referred to as the house of 'Friends, Hopes and Wishes,' said to show where we connect with groups, rather than individuals.
The 10th house opposes the 4th house (Cancer/Moon) of roots, home, foundations, mother or mothering parent - that which first gave us an inner sense of security. So naturally, the 10th would also deal with security - that gained from what we build for ourselves, through work and effort, in the outer world. Here, we are at the mountain peak, like the Capricorn goat.
The marble fireplace in Cragside House, Northumberland, England-photo © Danny Molyneux
The 11th house is opposite the 5th (Leo/Sun) - the fun house, where we create or procreate, with heart. 'From joy springs all creation,' is the motto of the 5th house, 'by joy it is sustained, toward joy it proceeds, and to joy it returns.*' So the 11th house must also reflect this, in the external sense. If Saturn/Capricorn is the task master who teaches us how to move up the ladder and earn, Saturn/Aquarius is the Liberator, who, around age 50, says we must now, with equal effort, devote our energies to creating our legacy of love. Yes, we also have a responsibility to tend to our soul work, not just our survival work.
Here, if Saturn permits, we can begin to return to joy, though it may mean risking security, if we haven't tended our 10th house well enough. It's easy to 'follow your bliss' when you've got a huge nest egg, not so easy, when you've a huge debt.
If Saturn has been a very hard task-master, it can be difficult to let go of the 10th house mentality, but if we remember that Saturn also rules the 11th, we can see it as a continuum of our work, the second part.
Putting Uranus as ruler or co-ruler in the 11th doesn't change anything and might make it feel more dynamic - but remember, it was Saturn who castrated and succeeded his oppressive father, Uranus.
Friends, according to the 11th house, are not partners or business connections, but people who share a common interest in that which we hold dear, who we meet along, or who can help us on our vocational path. If we are not on it by our second Saturn return (age 58-ish), we will feel older than necessary and indeed may even feel life has been wasted. The good news is that it is never really too late.
Aquarius art by Johfra Bosscha
The 11th house can be a bit of a mystery, in a chart reading, when either it hasn't yet been activated, or the person simply has no particular calling in this lifetime. If there are more or stronger planets in the 11th than the 10th, it is quite likely the person will have a calling, which becomes their life's work. Sometimes the 11th house is more a reflection of the 'children' part of the 5th and Saturn maturity here involves being a grandparent, or returning to joy in other ways, joining clubs, taking classes for fun and to meet like-interested people, etc.
Of course there are many in the world who are not able to make the choice between job, career and vocation, or never consider the difference. Living in a time and place where one is even faced with this decision must have taken lifetimes of work. For some, the Saturn-ruled houses have great karmic potential, especially when there are aspecting planets therein. Since the 12th/Pisces house is where unreleased karmic baggage is collected, we had better heed the calling of the 11th house, if possible.
If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you. ~ from the Gospel of Thomas
That old Devil Saturn ? Illustration of Lucifer in the first fully illustrated print edition of Dante's Divine Comedy.
Woodcut for Inferno, canto 33. Petrus de Plasiis, Venice, 1491.
The number 11 itself is like a portal between realms, the two pillars. It's the neuter, mute number that embodies masc/odd and fem/even qualities. In Tarot 11 is 'La Force' the Force (Strength).
Is there some power that becomes available when we heed the calling of the 11th house ? Does that power become destructive if it is not heeded ? In other words, do we wish to come quietly or..?
Btw, 2016 is an 11 universal year. In the traditional way I was taught numerology, we add January 1 to the current year:
1 + 1 + (2016)9 = 11
Even if not middle-aged, this year will certainly force us to think about the direction our lives are going in and whether we are living or just occupying space, wasting resources- both physical and spiritual. The extreme weather might cause this on a collective scale, too. Aquarius, the Water-Bearer.
(I took this photo on a walk a few hours before we had an earthquake, the other day.
The solar flare cycle is approximately every 11 years, when the Sun sheds it's skin).
Interesting interview with Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) on the subject of heeding the soul's calling (although she uses the term 'vocation' to describe 'career'):
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