Sixth House and the Drive for Excellence

In an early post on the 6th house, I have described several sixth houses significations in detail: work and the work environment, service, wellness (good health), and skill. But when I assess the impact of the sixth house in horoscopes, I often add certain special significations of this house that are rooted in Vedic astrology. The purist Western astrologer may frown at “mixing” Vedic with Western, but I don’t see a reason to not borrow concepts from Vedic astrology if they work with the Western horoscope.

One such special signification is self-improvement. The 6th house is one of the so-called upachaya houses in Vedic astrology, whose results gradually show over time. Add this drive for self-improvement to the “standard” significations of work and skill, and what you get is a lifelong pursuit of excellence. In short, if you want to know your potential for excellence, look at the 6th house for promise.

Let’s look at some examples. Sport is an obvious field where excellence is easily seen and measured, and this is true even more more so in an individual sport like tennis.

In his biography of tennis great Roger Federer (“The Master”), Christopher Clarey says this of Federer’s permanent state of self-improvement: “…he believed that maintaining the same level in pro tennis was actually losing ground, a belief that rubbed off on his younger rivals.” It goes without saying that top athletes work unstintingly in pursuit of their goals, but a mindset of continuous self-improvement even when at the top of one’s game is an extra-special quality.

Here’s Federer’s horoscope:

There are no planets in the 6th house. The 6th house cusp is on Aquarius, for which I consider both the modern ruler, Uranus, and the ancient ruler , Saturn. Both of these are implicated by aspect: Uranus is conjunct the all-important Moon, and Saturn is conjunct Jupiter. Saturn is also square Mars, the planet of athleticism and competition.

Another tennis champion, Novak Djokovic, is of the same mind as Federer in this regard: “The number one requirement to succeed at this level is I think the constant desire and open – mindedness to master and improve and evolve yourself in every aspect… Stagnation is regression.”

Djokovic’s horoscope is shown below:

The 6th house is lit up! Mars is in the 6th, opposite Uranus and Neptune, and square the Moon (the Moon again!, and Pluto. The ruler of the 6th, Mercury, is opposite Saturn (we saw Saturn’s role in Federer’s 6th house connections as well) and also opposite Uranus. Incidentally, the 6th house signification of wellness plays out in dramatic fashion in Djokovic’s life-he is known to be a health fanatic who goes to great extremes in adhering to a very strict dietary regimen.

The next example is that of actor Tom Cruise. He is perhaps the most enduring actor of his generation in sheer box-office bankability, and is known for his relentless striving to give every role 110% of his attention and energy. He insists on doing most of his stunts, literally risking life and limb in pursuit of authenticity and excellence.

Cruise’s horoscope (using the 3:06 birth time cited by several sites) is shown below.

There are no planets in the 6th house. The ruler of the 6th house Mars squares Uranus. Here I would like to emphasize that an aspect to any outer planet-Uranus, Neptune, Pluto-immediately suggests some kind of other-worldly or supernormal lifestyle, and very often a striving or pursuit that is well above the norm. In this case, the Mars-Uranus square is that special factor that makes Tom Cruise the pre-eminent action movie start of his generation.

The other aspect I want to highlight is the Moon-Saturn opposition. The Moon was front and center in both Federer’s and Djokovic’s 6th house complex. Here, the Moon is not in the 6th house, nor is it related to the 6th house ruler, but it’s aspect to Saturn is very important when we talk about excellence because Saturn has to do with striving for impact in the real world, and there no bigger push for doing one’s best than a Saturn-Moon conjunction, square, or opposition.

The last example I want to present is of the famed American novelist William Faulkner, who said this: “Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Do not bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.” This is a clear-as-bell exhortation to strive for excellence through self-improvement.

Here is Faulkner’s horoscope:

There are no planets in the 6th house. The ruler of the 6th house (Sagittarius on the cusp) is Jupiter, which is very powerfully placed. First, it is hugging the IC – any planet that is close to an angle (MC/IC or ascendant/descendant) gains extra prominence. Second it is conjunct the Moon, always a powerful indicator of a connection to the deepest recesses of the soul. It is also conjunct Mercury (the most important planet for a writer). And it is square Neptune. One can argue that it is also square Pluto – yes, the orb of 9 degrees is wide, but Neptune and Pluto are close to each other, and the square to Neptune pulls the Pluto in as well. The upshot of all this the 6th house significations carried by the ruler Jupiter gets utmost importance in Faulkner’s life.

Check out your own horoscope and examine the 6th house. Are there planets in the 6th house? If so, do they form a lot of aspects? How about the ruler of the year 6th house, does it form a lot of aspects? Pay special attention to whether any of these aspects are to the Moon, and if the ruler of the 6th house is close to an angle. The more of these boxes get checked, the more you are driven to self-improvement and excellence.

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