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The 12th house is a subject that many astrologers prefer to avoid. It’s generally unpleasant, containing, as it does, prisons, institutions, and hidden enemies. Of course, it also contains large animals such as horses, elephants, and killer whales, but it’s hard to work Sea World into a typical astrology consultation.

You can’t ignore the 12th house; it’s a fact of life. But once you understand how the 12th house functions, you may realize that “unpleasant” isn’t the same thing as “bad.”

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I was recently teaching the lesson in The Real Astrology Academy Online Natal Astrology Class when I introduce the houses. When I got to the 8th house, I reminded my students that the 5th house is the house of sex and love affairs, and commented that the only sex that belongs in the 8th house involves an extensive leather wardrobe and safe words.

I’ve always liked that joke. But then one of my students commented on it, and I started to realize that it’s not, in fact, remotely accurate. More importantly, it’s not remotely practical. I realized that there is no situation where you would ever look to the 8th house for information about a sexual relationship, no matter how adventurous or unconventional that relationship is.

And the worst part about this was I realized I could no longer tell that particular joke.