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Pandora’s Box: The Mysterious 8th House is a 360° analysis of the 8th house, the place in the chart which includes sensible issues like death, debts, possessiveness, entanglements, sexuality or boundary crossings. It links the somewhat fatalistic Hellenistic view of ‘descent into the underworld’ with more modern psychological interpretations of shadow work, transformation and resilience. The deeper one digs, the more complex this house becomes, and ancient and modern approaches complement each other rather than contradict themselves.
With biographical examples of fascinating personalities like Jane Goodall, Kaiser Wilhelm II, Truman Capote, John Dee, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and Adolf Eichmann, the book is complemented by a detailed chapter of planets in the 8th house, 8th house rulership factors in the chart, and transits to the 8th house. Martin Sebastian Moritz’ book is both entertaining and insightful, a good read that will challenge any level of astrologer – particularly those in the thrall of the 8th house.
Includes a Foreword by Lynn Bell
The 8th house is powerful, raw, and visceral. Most astrology books are not.
Approaching the house of birth, sex, and death in anything but a very direct way is bound to fall short of its meaning, and we’re left with a ‘lite’ version of a heavy place. Fortunately, Martin Moritz has tackled the 8th house head-on, providing a book that helps us to understand it from both historical and contemporary perspectives. Well, perhaps not ‘head-on’, as that’s one of the problems of the house – it can’t be approached directly, as it forms an awkward quincunx to the ascendant.
In fact, Moritz changes lenses swiftly during the course of the book, dealing with different facets of the 8th house in a way that creates a kind of kaleidoscopic effect. He presents a section on death and dying, highlighting Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, then moves into the financial aspects of the house, along with the emphasis on power and control. But he returns to the theme of death many times as the book progresses, weaving a tapestry that becomes apparent as the book concludes. Before we’re done, we understand how the 8th house isn’t only about the individual things we associate with it, but rather its coherent underlying theme.
While there are sections that are more or less expository, most of the book is presented in stories that illustrate the essential theme of the 8th house by exploring subthemes. The author gives us a short biography with relevant facts, then goes into the natal chart. That’s a strategy that allows for the reader to feel the meaning first, then shift into a more analytical mode and approach the information astrologically. Since the focus is on one part of the chart, we don’t get overwhelmed by data. The discussions are supported by charts and a listing of relevant 8th house aspects – both of which are very helpful.
About halfway through the book, Moritz considers what he calls “entanglements”, which is a good choice for many relationships that have an 8th house flavor. This section makes for interesting and slightly unnerving reading – I expect especially for folks with strong 8th house placements. We don’t get to see much of the positive potential of the 8th house from the examples given, but I’m sure they are there.
A more positive chapter follows, as the author explores Resilience and Transformation. The message is that there is potential for growth if we go through the difficult challenges of the 8th house with openness and willingness to change. The tenacious and courageous stars of this (rather short) chapter are RuPaul and Jane Goodall.
The book ends with three chapters that serve as a kind of reference, one on planets in the 8th house, one on rulership combinations, and a final chapter on transits to the 8th house. Although the reader can refer to these chapters for specific placements, they aren’t quite ‘cookbook’, and contain more biographical stories (I have nothing against astrology cookbooks, by the way: I think they can be very helpful). The final chapter, on transits, is very short and could have used a bit more elaboration and some examples. Still, there are some insights that are well worth reading.
The overall flavor of the book is more in line with psychological or evolutionary approaches to astrology, although there are frequent references to traditional astrology as well. While not explicitly organized historically or otherwise, the varying perspectives don’t conflict with each other.
As Moritz is German, the examples he uses are not the standard set of Hollywood celebrities, and he relies more on European royalty and figures from political history – not that they are obscure personalities. He translated his own book and added new chapters written in English, and it is a very smooth read.
It is a good book for beginning to advanced students, as well as professionals, and everyone will be able to take something of value from the 8th house. My advice would be to order Pandora’s Box, and when it arrives, open it.
Reviewed by Armand Diaz
Psychological astrologer Martin Sebastian Moritz uses the myth of Pandora’s box as an organizing principle for this book about the 8th house, traditionally seen as a disreputable place. Moritz was inspired to research this book after watching a webinar with Lynn Bell, who wrote the foreword, about vampires and other individuals who leave one feeling drained. In her webinar, Lynn Bell pointed to the Hellenistic term for the 8th house “Epikataphora” which means “to be cast down,” as in a descent into under-worlds.
The 2nd house was seen as the house ascending from the underworld which is better, but the 8th, 2nd, 6th and 12th were all considered in ancient aspect theory to be aversive because they lack a clear line of sight with the Ascendant. The 9th, 8th and 7th are places where the sun has fallen
from its zenith at noon, but the 9th and the 7th are not inconjunct with the Ascendant. The 8th house, Moritz notes, “is the place of shadow during a time of day of very bright light”. The 8th house has been associated with undesirable themes, from death itself, to crime, taboos, debts, and entanglements.
Moritz’ mentor Wolfgang Doebereiner called it the place of “tendencies to fixation”. Unlike the 2nd house, which is where our talents and resources are built, the 8th house, Moritz writes, “represents our ideas of how things in life and other people ought to be.” It’s where we get stuck. It’s where shadowy parts of ourselves live and are projected out onto
others. (The 8th house maybe also associated with
the occult, though Moritz doesn’t go there.)
In Greek myth, Pandora disobeys Zeus and opens a box she’d been ordered to keep shut, causing evils to spill out onto the earth. But there’s something else at the bottom of Pandora’s box. That is hope, and it’s also where Pandora’s Box ends, as the 8th is a house where one can remake oneself outside of society’s norms.
Moritz’ book is superbly written, a page-turner. There are a few client stories, though most of the examples are of public figures whose 8th house sagas played out in public, over many years, often enmeshed with other 8th house characters. The book was originally written in German, but when Moritz went to translate it into English, he found
that to be not such an easy task. He rewrote it, obtaining a number of the European case studies and replacing them with some celebrity stories more familiar to a North American reader.
One is the story of Truman Capote, author of the non-fiction crime thriller In Cold Blood. In 1959, an entire family was murdered in their rural Kansas home. No motive was apparent. Capote flocked to Kansas to report on the investigation and trials. It is in an early chapter about Elisabeth Kubler-Ross that Moritz introduces the theme of resilience as 8th house work. Hope can be passive. Resilience connotes agency. Resilience, Moritz writes, is “the psychological ability to cope with a crisis and survive unscathed, or rather – like a phoenix from the ashes – rise again with new powers.” In his chapter on resilience, Moritz tells of two 8th house trail blazers. Primatologist Jane Goodall broke the mold as a female scientist, traveling alone into the African wilderness in the 1950s. She then had to
confront the fact that her gentle chimps can also become killers.
At the end of the book, Moritz offers a bonus sidebar about Black Moon Lilith (BML) which he calls a “hot topic de jour in astrology.” Moritz has no conclusions about BML’s meaning in a chart, other than that it involves “values, sexuality, shadow work and transformation,” and is therefore relevant to the 8th house. While the Moon represents that which is most familiar to us, BML is what is hidden from view and thus difficult to feel consciously.
What I love about this book is that it is thoroughly modern psychological astrology and it is also true to the ancient low-down about the 8th as a house of troubles. When your circumstances have cast you down low into the 8th house, you can just stew in the underworld, or you can develop your 2nd house talents, and rise. If you dig through the shadows of the 8th house, there at the bottom of Pandora’s box lies hope.
Sara R. Diamond ©2022 For the NCGR member newsletter. All rights reserved.
Should this book come with a public health warning? The horoscope’s 8th house is a zone of horror if we are to believe certain sources. It is associated with death, taboo, debt and other life shadows; it is ‘the descent into the underworld’. Its potency as a harbinger of endings is never more apparent than in horary. Even in modern astrology, the 8th is a terrain of discomfort but also of challenging ‘transformation’ which accommodates both psychological and mystical undercurrents. Sex finds its place here, too, even if horribly.
Martin Moritz is a therapist-astrologer of immense sensitivity. Rather than contradict the ancient sages on the 8th – who would dare? – he sets out to synthesise modern and traditional perspectives through analyses and many case studies. The Contents page gives an early clue to his approach. In Chapter 1, among the subtitles are ‘Tendencies to Fixation’ and ‘The Values of Others’. Jump to Chapter 3 and ‘Client Hannah: Incest’ links a story of dysfunction with a natal Pluto-Saturn merger in 8th-house Leo opposed by Moon.
Chapter 4 takes us to Nazi Germany while Chapter 6 tackles US drag star RuPaul whose Saturn rules his 8th from the 7th. Aspect patterns with Saturn accord with RuPaul’s early-life shyness and his ‘inner saboteur’ – which Moritiz characterises as an ‘8th-house mechanism’. From this unpromising start, an 8th-house transformative energy produced the fierce and outrageous drag queen. The 8th hellhole is also a place from which to metamorphose, if you’re brave.
As Lynn Bell insightfully observes in her Foreword, Moritz explores the ‘living reality of the psyche’…he ‘examines how the unconscious forces of the 8th house shape our lives’. If the 8th plays host to fears, abuse and repressions, one antidote is the illumination of therapy – crisis requires recognition before release. This is a recurring theme of this book, and Moritz is to be congratulated for adding priceless emotional nuance to a much-misunderstood chart zone.
Victor Olliver for The Astrological Journal March-April 2022