***For more information on this project, visit Ashley Otero’s post here.
First we should go over some of the astrology:
Using the specialized timing technique known as annual profections, my 23rd birthday opened me to the natal significations of my 12th house (also known as the place of the bad daemon). This is a place which is considered difficult to access due to its inconvenient proximity to the 1st house (the ascendant). It is made additionally difficult because of its declining nature. The 12th house is falling away from the angle or the pivotal energy that makes up the 1st house, thus inhibiting any placements in this house from expressing themselves effectively. One way to imagine the 12th house is this: a windowless sound-proof room where you can hear only your own heartbeat and breathing… it’s not easy to be there, but also there is no easy way to communicate with the outside world. This is the nature of the 12th house.
In my chart, the 12th house is ruled by Jupiter, which is traditionally considered a helpful and productive planet. On one hand, this can suggest that my 12th house experiences, though difficult, may ultimately offer me a broader sense of connection to my personal narrative and general life direction. But on the other hand, my Jupiter finds itself in the 8th house, which is considered an idle place, often associated with death and debt. This 8th house placement reduces the positivity associated with Jupiter by making the greater benefic lazy and indolent. It also adds the extra layer of death and debt into the isolation and declining nature of my 12th house.
There is more to this of course, but I think this is enough to get a jist of how my story is going to go: the way I told stories to myself was problematic and caused isolation, loneliness, and fatigue amidst experiences of death, and debt.
Here is my experience of the Bad Daemon:
The year I turned 23 was difficult. My dad died that year. It was very sudden, came without warning, and without reason. Like a gun shot from behind; not knowing if I should turn around or duck or run. It left my tiny family in pieces. We relied on him for everything, so it was more than grief, it was survival and desperation. His death forced us to consider, plan for, and make decisions about things we had taken for granted, which in retrospect, taught us so much and we became much more independent and confident in our abilities. But at the time, in those first weeks and months, it was like living in a war zone - never knowing how something might turn out - uncertain of who to trust - blaming each other for things outside of our control. It was chaotic.
Before my dad died, I had already hit a very troubling low point. In hindsight, I can see it reflected so clearly by my environment: many of my friends were depressed - suffering medical conditions - or otherwise experiencing similarly isolating-challenging-traumatizing things, my living space was covered in rats and their shit, and I spent most of my time volunteering with shut-ins or elderly people who had been abandoned by their families. Not to mention the bizarre coincidence (fate?) that I had reconnected with someone who had bullied me in high school, someone who had left me shaking in my boots trying to stuff myself into smaller compartments so as not to be a bother or a burden.
Also, I was spending most days in a state of oblivion/fog - if not via drinking, then losing myself in attempted meditation, practicing yoga for hours, writing sad stories about death, and exploring my boundaries with emotional suffering.
I wanted to feel connected because I felt lost; I wanted to feel meaning because I felt numb. And it was easiest to feel sad all the time, which somehow gave me meaning and connection without making me vulnerable to judgment. - if someone had anything bad to say about me, I had already said it about myself and felt satisfied in being proven correct. I had no direction whatsoever, and desperately wanted to find a path, so suffering was my path.
That is about the time my dad died. The suddenness of it - the fact that the day earlier a friend had attempted suicide - and all the stories of death that I had written, it was almost comical. of course this would happen! What more can go wrong now?
There were a lot of things that continued to go wrong; money problems, legal issues, constantly not having a job, and all the psychological damage I took on. The feeling of being a victim, the trauma of shock, the not-knowing-why, the indescribable disappointment that legacy isn't real and people don't live on in memories and who cares if anyone dies ever? Who cares if I am or am not - what difference do any of us make and why do we care so much about being important or the best or having things when none of it matters?
The real damage, the lasting damage was the way I learned how to survive in such a physically and emotionally harsh environment. Because at the end of all of this, the money and the material world are fixable - with enough work and study you can accomplish so much in hard reality. You get yourself a job, you pay off the debt, you save money to move somewhere better, then you get a better job, and then you have the things you need to survive. Easy. But it is the mind, the spirit that makes it so goddamned hard. The feelings, the emotions, the drama, the paranoia. The backlash or whiplash of having had to broaden the mind to hold grief, and then to be normal again, or to return to a place of emotional stability.
It was because of this - the heaviness of spirit - that I found myself going deeper into metaphysics. I had always loved astrology, had been slowly reading and learning about it, and not even sure that it was something I truly wanted to pursue... But the questions that came out of my grief sparked me to go deeper with my astrological studies. It felt instantaneous, one day I questioned everything about life and the next day astrology was answering every question. By the end of that year, astrology became a language I could speak and I was inspired to continue pursuing it - to become an astrologer. I found that this larger cosmic language helped me bring context to the tragedy I was experiencing; it gave me a sense of hope and meaning. And I wanted to share that language with others.
It did take me a long while, and my journey with astrology is much deeper and richer than I've shared in this brief reflection, but in the deepest of deep grief, I found a direction and purpose. I don't mean to romanticize or glamorize depression, death, debt, or trauma -- or to say that astrology is the cure all. Nor am I saying that my suffering is more or less than others - it just is what it is. And this is my story. This is a narrative that soothes my broken heart and brings context to the life I have lived.