Going counter-clockwise from the ascendant, house by house, the 8th house is the second house that appears above the horizon, or in the southern hemisphere. This hemisphere is about the “other”, to do with others in your environment, and more broadly the world. The seventh house is literally the other person-spouse, romantic partner, business partner. A core meaning of the eighth house is the other person’s resources. Since the 2nd house in the horoscope is the individual’s resources, the 8th house is the other person’s resources since it is the second house from the 7th house. In other words, if you take the 7th house of your horoscope to be the 1st house of the other, then their 2nd house would be the 8th house of your horoscope.
This meaning, of other person’s resource, gives rise to the real life significations including loans (money lent you by a financial institution–the other–which owns the money), legacies and inheritance that are bequeathed to you (these are/were your parent, ancestor, or benefactor’s assets), lottery winnings (state’s money), taxes (money flowing from you to the other, the other being the state here). The resources are not always material. The 8th house can also indicate spiritual or other non-material resources such as advice, mentorship, or guidance that you obtain from another person–these arise from the other person’s intangible assets such as wisdom and spiritual largesse. And the flow can be from you to others–you can be the benefactor, the philanthropist, the advisor/mentor/coach/spiritual guide.
You can interpret the quality of these offerings through the nature of the planets, if any, in your 8th house. If Jupiter is in the 8th house, you can expect generosity–material or spiritual–from those that are closest to you. Or they can expect the same from you. Or you can expect an easier time getting a loan or mortgage from a bank that most other people. On the flip side, you might also get promises that are not kept–no one said Jupiter always follows through. For that, you need to look to Saturn. Saturn in the 8th house might mean extra checks when giving something to you–more i’s being dotted, more t’s being crossed on your loan application, inheritance smaller than expected, etc. But you can depend on the thing being promised coming your way sooner or later.
One of the most important things to remember when interpreting the significations of planets is that it’s not necessarily a value judgment along the lines of good/bad, such as Jupiter is good, and Saturn is bad. You need to keep in mind the quality of the planet’s functioning, and how that quality can play into a situation and affect the outcome. Jupiter is expansive, so it can make a bad thing worse by blowing it up. Saturn can save you from making a bad move because it introduces delay and caution. So, you can land a balloon mortgage you can ill afford because financial institutions are giving away money to anyone with a pulse. And then when the interest rate that was adjustable firms up into a fixed rate, you are in a s**tload of trouble. Remember the US mortgage crisis of 2008? That’s Jupiter, plain and simple. A good dose of skeptical Saturn–check, double-check, triple-check–would have denied most of the loans. Yes, people might have been disappointed at not getting that chance to live in a mansion, but they wouldn’t have lost their shirt on one either.
Another group of significations of the 8th house relate to Scorpio, since it is the natural 8th house sign. On such meaning is depth exploration of any kind since Scorpio gets to the bottom of things. This could be literally archaeology, cave diving, deep-sea diving, or more broadly, research in any area, or deep exploration in the inner world including psychology or mental and emotional therapy or counseling.
Another meaning is secrecy and intrigue, which are also Scorpio significations. A person with one or more planets in the 8th house will likely be secretive, or want to be in on any intrigue in their close environment. Private investigation and forensic analysis are very much 8th house areas of expertise. Seeking and wielding power are Scorpio significations that also find play in the 8th house–think politicians.
Consultants and advisors are often found with strong 8th houses because they work behind the scenes, exhibiting Scorpio’s inclination to not reveal itself. Astrology and metaphysics are also attached to the 8th house since these are endeavors that plumb the inner life, diving deep to see beyond the obvious and unearth the hidden.
There is another signification attached to the 8th house, and that is death. Some astrologers use the 8th house planets to interpret or suggest the experience surrounding death: whether a person will die peacefully or in difficulty. I am not inclined to go there because there is nothing to be gained from a blanket prediction of this sort, even if it is an accurate take. Because what can one do about it anyway? (It is mildly amusing to note that both death and taxes are associated with the 8th house.)
What is more useful is to interpret death in this context as the death of a circumstance, which then gives us the flip side of it which is regeneration. This death-regeneration point of view comes from Pluto, which is the ruler of Scorpio, and hence the association with the 8th house. Resilience, the ability to rise after being down, the gift of being able to rise from the ashes of destruction are all Pluto-sourced 8th house significations: planets in the 8th house tend to mirror a life that is turbulent to various degrees, and offer opportunities for the individual to build resilience–typically emotional and psychological–in the face of adversity.
Returning to the original concept of the “other”, and combining it with the Scorpionic need for deep attachment, intimacy in a romantic partnership is very much an 8th house thing. Intimacy here is both physical and emotional. So, sex as an outgrowth of emotional intimacy, or sex that promotes emotional intimacy is an 8th house signification. (Casual sex or recreational sex, on the other hand, is very much a 5th house signification, because of its connotation of pleasure simply for the sake of it.)
To do a complete analysis of the 8th house in your horoscope, consider planets placed in the 8th and their aspects, the sign on the cusp of the 8th house, the ruler of the sign on the cusp of the 8th house and its aspects, as well as Pluto (as the natural ruler of the 8th) and its aspects. This approach is detailed in an earlier post on the 7th house. This is somewhat more elaborate than you might want to undertake here, so I will leave it for another post. What you can do to start with is see if there are any planets in the 8th house, and tie the energies of those planets to the 8th house significations, like I did above for Jupiter or Saturn in the 8th house. And if you have no planets in the 8th house, then although you can still analyze its influence in your life, it’s less significant than the houses with planets in them.