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From the Discussion Board - 7/09/03

Question:
I had an interesting thought on the 2nd house, which is known as being a "maraka" or death-related house in Vedic Astrology. You mention in an article that the 2nd is the 12th from (loss of) the 3rd, with the third being a house of longevity (the 8th from the 8th). At the same time, the 2nd is the 2nd from (gain of) the 1st house, with the 1st showing life and longevity. This would at least seem to almost cancel out the death-causing component of 2nd house-ruling planets in Vedic Astrology. What do you think?

Answer by Vaughn Paul: 
It’s a great question. You’re right, in Vedic astrology, surprisingly enough, the 2nd house and the 7th house are considered maraka or death inflicting houses. The logic being that the 8th house is the house of longevity, which makes also the 8th from the 8th, or the 3rd house, as you mention, also a house of longevity. Taking the principle that the twelve house from any given house represents the loss of the indications of that house, then the 2nd and the 7th houses represent the loss of longevity or death. That makes sense enough.

However, the problem comes, as you mention, about trying to understand how the 2nd house or the gain of the 1st house, which represents the birth of the body, or life, can also represent death. You’d logically think it would be just the opposite if indeed the 2nd house from a given house represents the further fulfillment of the indications of that house.

Three things come to mind. The first being that my general experience is that astrological indications don’t cancel each other out. There could be instances where that’s the case but I usually find that both indications take effect at once. James Braha also talks about this. I’d be curious to know if that’s also your experience? I chock it up to the fact that we lead complicated lives and a lots happening. For instance, someone could die when they’re just starting to make a lot of money! Both could happen when the 2nd house is strongly active in the chart.

The second point is that while the 8th is a house of longevity, it is also a house of death, being like Scorpio in the natural zodiac. Taking the principle that the houses opposite one another reflect the meanings of that house, then the 2nd house also carries the dual characteristics of the 8th house in that it can give longevity or death depending on the nature of the planets involved. So it’s one of those tricky interpretations that can mean the opposite of what you’d logically expect. For instance, like how Saturn, the planet of death, is notorious for giving longevity when placed in the 8th house, the house of death. Maybe this is an example of two opposing indications canceling each other out – the death of death gives life.

The third point is that the 2nd house is a transitional house in that it represents the death of the night being just below the eastern horizon. The planets in the 2nd are about to give birth when they move into the 1st house on the eastern horizon. The other transitional houses on either side of the horizons generally cause difficulties particularly to one’s health – the 12th (above the eastern horizon), the 8th (above the western horizon) and the 6th (below the western horizon). So in this sense, the 2nd house has a transitional quality and can cause difficulty to one’s health. Of course, the death of the night is generally considered a positive transition. For this reason, I generally consider the 2nd house as less of a death inflicting maraka house than the 7th house. Especially when you consider that planets in the 7th are just about to “die” by dropping below the horizon into night, the 7th makes more sense as a dangerous maraka house.

That's kind of a long winded answer but it's such a great question and the logic seems so confusing that it seemed worth it to look at it closely.