The Twelve Year Spiral
In the Natal Chart

A very useful astrological technique that I often use in forecasting involves a system of repeating cycles of twelve years where each cycle consists of twelve clearly defined one-year periods. I usually use this system in conjunction with the Jacob's Wheel cycles (which latter also provide very accurate results).

This system involves a series of spiral arcs that cycle around the natal chart in successive twelve year arcs from age one until death. Each arc of the spiral follows the symbolic movement of the individual through each of the twelve terrestrial houses of their astrological birth-chart, and then the cycle is repeated on the next higher arc of the spiral. The house system I use when interpreting these cycles is the Placidus system.

The spiral begins not at birth, but at age one (i.e. on the first birthday). It's at this time that an infant is first awakened to 'self-hood'—i.e. as symbolized by acquiring the number '1' as the age number. Prior to age one the ego of the infant is still very strongly merged with that of the mother and therefore isn't considered a separate entity. But at age one the infant separates from the mother to such an extent that it can be rightly termed an individual. This, of course, is only the beginning stage of a long process involving a deepening sense of individuality. At age one, the child gains the first glimmer of consciousness of its individual identity. This initial awakening occurs within the context of the first house of the birth chart during the age of one.

Looking at the bigger picture, the complete process of awakening to a conscious sense of self (or personal identity) takes a total of twelve years—i.e. from age one to age twelve. This period coincides with the first twelve-year arc of the spiral through the houses of the birth-chart.

In terms of the bigger time frame, we spend twelve years focused in each of the houses of our natal chart so that each arc of the spiral is specifically associated with a long-term evolutionary process relating to the development and expression of one particular house (or, more specifically—house axis). In other words, the long-term evolution of each house occurs during a period of twelve years broken down into twelve one-year stages corresponding to a symbolic movement (within the lesser time-frame) through the twelve houses on a particular arc of the spiral. This concept is much easier to explain using a diagram. I will use my own chart as an example...


The image above is labeled to show the twelve-year period spent in each of the first six houses of the natal chart. These six periods correspond with the first six arcs of the spiral through the houses of the birth-chart. Thus, each house can be imagined as being divided into twelve one-year sub-periods that are represented by the symbolic movement through the twelve houses of the chart—one house per year.

Example: Currently (January, 2009), I am aged 48 which places me near the end of the 4th arc of the spiral. The 4th arc covers the twelve-year period from age 37 to 48. During the whole period of this arc I am symbolically focused within the 4th house of my natal chart. More specifically, I have just now entered the last one-year stage of the 4th arc which places me, symbolically speaking, in the 12th house of my natal chart. (See the table below.)

The stage that I am now at could thus be written: 4th/12th—where the 4th house refers to my current twelve-year cycle, and the 12th house refers to the lesser one-year stage of that greater cycle.

Spiral Arc 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th
House Axis 1st (7th) 2nd (8th) 3rd (9th) 4th (10th) 5th (11th) 6th (12th)
Age Period 1-12 13-24 25-36 37-48 49-60 61-72
House Age Spent in Houses During Sub-periods
1st 1 13 25 37 49 61
2nd 2 14 26 38 50 62
3rd 3 15 27 39 51 63
4th 4 16 28 40 52 64
5th 5 17 29 41 53 65
6th 6 18 30 42 54 66
7th 7 19 31 43 55 67
8th 8 20 32 44 56 68
9th 9 21 33 45 57 69
10th 10 22 34 46 58 70
11th 11 23 35 47 59 71
12th 12 24 36 48 60 72

Thus, on the 11th January, 2009 (i.e. my 48th birthday) I entered the 12th house of my natal chart and will remain focused in the 12th house for one year until my 49th birthday. On my 49th birthday I will leave the 4th arc of the spiral and enter the first sub-period of the 5th arc of the spiral. This means that I will enter (symbolically speaking) the 5th house of my birth-chart for a period of twelve years, and at the same time I will enter the 1st house for twelve months—the 1st house representing the first sub-period of this new twelve-year arc of the spiral.

So it needs to be understood, that although at age 49 we are working with the archetypes of the 1st house, we are doing so within the larger context of a twelve-year period spent working within the realm of the 5th house. And so it is with all the one-year sub-periods in relation to the larger twelve-year spiral arc periods.

There is an interesting synchronicity involving the 5th house transition that occurs at age 49 in this system and a similar transition that occurs at age 49 in the Jacob's Wheel system. Age age 49 in the Jacob's Wheel system we experience a major shift from the seventh (i.e. the last) spoke onto the first spoke, and thus begins a new 49 year arc of the Jacob's Wheel spiral. As it happens, the cycle that we move into at age 49, and that begins the new 49 year arc of Jacob's Wheel, is a seven year Sun cycle. Both the seven year Sun cycle and the twelve year 5th house cycle involve a major period of expansion of consciousness and ego development leading to a more perfect expression of the Self, so the fact that they both begin at age 49 is quite a coincidence.

The period (greater or lesser) spent in each house of the birth-chart also necessarily involves the archetypes contained in the house opposite to it. So for example, when at various times, we are focused in the 5th house, we are actually working to reconcile the 5th house archetypes with those of the 11th house opposite. (See 'House Axis' in the table above.)

Thus, from age one to age 72 (i.e. the average human life-span) we are challenged to work with the archetypes of all twelve houses of our astrological birth-chart. We spend a total of twelve years working to integrate and reconcile the archetypes of each of the six house axes in our chart. If we are lucky enough to live beyond the age of 72 then the spiral continues, but the energy dynamic is reversed—i.e. as regards the context of our work with the house axes. For example, from age 73 to age 84 we become focused within the 7th house of our natal chart. During this twelve-year period the aim is to reconcile the archetypes of the 7th house with those of the 1st house. The evolutionary process experienced during this period is precisely opposite (with respect to the flow of energy) to that experienced during the period from age one to age twelve (i.e. when we are focused in the 1st house of our birth-chart).

Here follows three tables summarizing some common cycle themes from age 25 to 60.

Age 25 to 36 — 3rd House
Development of the mind; mental faculties; communication skills. Adult education.
Age Cycle Axis Common Themes
25 3 1-7 New ideas leading to new initiatives. Assertion of ideas. Force of mind. Mental will.
26 3 2-8 Development of mental resources. Research. Investigation.
27 3 3-9 Communication and networking. Intense studies. Debate. Journeys.
28 3 4-10 Strengthening the mind. Fundamental ideas. Improving communications. Relocation.
29 3 5-11 Development of the creative mind. Creative application of the mind.
30 3 6-12 Development of practical ideas. Applying the mind in the physical world.
31 3 7-1 Establishing perspective in relationships. Awareness of differing opinions.
32 3 8-2 Applying the mind to business. Business ideas and plans. Mental transformation.
33 3 9-3 Broadening the mind. Travel. Education. Expansion of consciousness. New understanding.
34 3 10-4 Making important decisions. Navigating a path. Career choices. Family issues.
35 3 11-5 Detaching from negative associations. Connecting with like-minded people/groups.
36 3 12-6 Dispelling illusions. Soul-searching. Development of the intuition, or spiritual mind.

Age 37 to 48 — 4th House
Building a foundation. Family. Career. Personal security.
Age Cycle Axis Common Themes
37 4 1-7 New home/family situations. Influence of relationships on home/family.
38 4 2-8 Home/family financial issues. Evaluation of property resources. Family values.
39 4 3-9 Family or emotional discussions. The mind applied to building a foundation.
40 4 4-10 Personal security. Building, renovation, repair. Change of residence. Hard work.
41 4 5-11 Children and friends in the home. Home decoration. Hosting social events.
42 4 6-12 Domestic concerns. Recuperation and healing. Housework. Working at home.
43 4 7-1 Family relationships. Security issues in relationships. Housemate issues.
44 4 8-2 Family finances. Investment in property. Business/finance security issues.
45 4 9-3 Move overseas. Educational foundation. Family planning. Mapping future.
46 4 10-4 Balancing family and career. Big family decisions. Building career foundation.
47 4 11-5 Family dealings with community. Support from/for community. Community building.
48 4 12-6 Resolving family issues. Building spiritual foundation. Family charity.

Age 49 to 60 — 5th House
Rebirth in Consciousness. Deepening individualization. Self development.
Age Cycle Axis Common Themes
49 5 1-7 New creative activities. New friendships and relationships. Personal makeover.
50 5 2-8 Self-value issues. Developing creative resources. Friendship values.
51 5 3-9 Creative ideas/writing. Social networking. Personal interests. Related short journeys.
52 5 4-10 Building self-confidence. Expressing self in the home. Self-sufficiency. Self-nurture.
53 5 5-11 Increased ego expression. Creative surge. New romance. New friends. Social.
54 5 6-12 Strong expression of self in work. New personal health and fitness regime.
55 5 7-1 Increased ego expression in relationships. Need to feel appreciated.
56 5 8-2 Personal business projects. Creative enterprise. Investing in personal interests.
57 5 9-3 Creative intellectual pursuits. Overseas vacation. Art, culture, philosophy.
58 5 10-4 Creative achievement. Recognition. Personal decisions. Creative projects.
59 5 11-5 New community involvement. New friendships and associations. Social events.
60 5 12-6 Self-reflection. Introspection. Communion with Self. Creative sabatical.

Patrick Mulcahy
(January, 2009)
(Updated: June, 2013)