Astrologers speak of three houses as being “karmic” houses. This means that a house can be especially difficult because it is where we struggle with our deeper challenges in life. These are areas of our life where we run into “forks in the road”—places where difficult decisions must be made and, based on our decisions and actions, we move toward happiness or toward sorrow and difficulty.
The sixth, eighth, and twelfth houses are commonly considered to be karmic houses. The sixth house is associated with work, enmity, enemies, and health (or sickness). Work is often a place where we not only struggle with our duties, often because they are difficult or unenjoyable, but where we also struggle with our co-workers. It is a place where, more often than not, we are told what to do and who to work with. In other areas of life we feel more freedom to choose our associations and our activities, but not at work. The 6th house is one of the few places where our ego can’t dictate what we do and who we are around.
And yet, the experiences of the sixth house, while difficult, help us to mature. We are often forced into the 6th house (work) in order to make a living. Few people are able to support themselves financially without working. And the experience of going to work to support ourselves is a requirement for independence from our parents and feeling free to make our own way in the world. The sixth house is thus an initiation into adulthood. The feeling of independence and freedom it gives helps us to feel happy (which reflects association with the 4th house in the 2nd quadrant).
When people aren’t forced to enter into the work aspect of the 6th house it is often because of their involvement with the 8th house. The 8th house is notorious as the house of “death and sex” but it is also much more than that. It is the house of inheritance—it follows the 4th house as the second water house—and is naturally associated with family and family finances. It is also the house of the underworld and drug-dealing, gambling, prostitution and other such profitable enterprises that fall outside the law.
Therefore, we can see that our entering into the world (7th house—what is across from us as the 1st house) comes with the requirement of entering into either the 6th house (working for money) or the 8th house (inheriting money or breaking the law to make money)—the two houses neighboring the 7th house. One cannot survive as an independent adult in this world without money. And whether we make money through the 6th house or the 8th house can speak volumes about how we are relating to our karma.
Now lets put aside the fraction of the population that inherit enough money to support themselves by calling them people who are on a karmic holiday. Instead, lets deal with only those people who support themselves through work and those who support themselves through illicit activities.
Without going into too much length about the 8th house people, we could safely say that it is a risky path to financial independence. Of course there are many other reasons why people enter into 8th house occupations like drug-dealing, racketeering, and prostitution. My concern here is simply to show that we have to choose one or the other and that one (the path of work) while difficult and filled with drudgery is actually a relatively safe way to feeling peace and independence, and that we are well-served to remember this.
It is no accident that we are so often steered towards work in our lives. It is so because we have to process a large chunk of our karma through work or labor in order to feel peace and happiness. There are few people who are outside of this universal law. And the simple necessity of making money to live pushes us to work.
There are those who will risk the 8th house again and again as a way of avoiding work. But I hypothesize that the people we see who have a life of real happiness have already faced a life of work and risen to meet its challenges by developing maturity, constancy, will power, and endurance. And, furthermore, those people who have developed those qualities are the very people who can safely live above the daily grind of work.
It is easy to forget why we work—why life itself forces us to work. But if we remember that work (properly done) is an opportunity for us to safely transform the negative and dense aspects of our personality then we can see it as a path to freedom and happiness.
If we are forced to work, it is only superficially because we need to make money. But it is really because we, as we currently are, truly need work in order to evolve beyond who we are. And when we have reached the point where work is no longer necessary, life itself will conspire to free us of this drudgery. And yet, I suspect that we are only free of work when we love our labor as an opportunity to help other people. And when we love our labor then we are already free.