Fertile and Dark: On Creativity & The Fifth House
Using traditional meanings of the Fifth to stretch our definition of art
The artist is not a special kind of man, but every man is a special kind of artist.
This morning, in the midst of writing, I took a break. Other than some vague faith in the power of space, it simply felt right to step outside and move my body. I am blessed with a bountiful backyard. I say hi to the tiny yarrow blooms and marvel at the size of my overgrown motherwort plants, what is both mine and not. I lounged on the outside couch and listened to music. But, so as not to exclude any special messages, I put my songs on shuffle and paid attention to the first song that started to play.
There was nothing particularly consequential about any of these events, other than all of these activities falling under the auspices of the Fifth House. Though modern astrology has dubbed this place in the sky the house of creativity and our unique artistic potential.
But, dear readers, no art was made.
Something I’ve noticed over the past few weeks as I work my way through my Creative Praxis Beta Readings is how little of our lives we consider creative. Especially if you are an artist in any capacity, our neoliberal capitalist mindset makes it so any time you are not specifically painting or dancing or making something substantive out of your chosen medium, then you are not being creative. But what would our art be without our experiences, our loves, our obsessions, as well as our ability to witness them?
By exploring all of the facets of this house, I hope to help people see all that the art-making process contains, incorporating our whole life into the act of creation, joy-making and love.
What is the Fifth House?
The Fifth House is located below the horizon. That means, when the Sun occupies it, it is nighttime. While the house above it, the Sixth, corresponds to the time of night when people are cooking, cleaning and switching to their household tasks after work, the Fifth corresponds to the time of day when the night is yours; the kids have been put to bed, the meal has been made, and now it is up to you: do you want to sleep? go out? curl up with a book or a movie? Perhaps engage in some romantic endeavor? This type of embodied pleasure captures the spirit of the Fifth. As a nocturnal house, the fifth is terrestrial and gives insights through the cavern of the body. As it forms a harmonious trine aspect to the ascendant, it is considered a fortunate house. No wonder, then, that its name in Ancient Greece was agathe tuche, or, quite literally, good fortune.
Before being seen as the house of creativity and self-expression, the Fifth had a long history with plenty of other interesting significations that, while different than our modern topics, weave beautifully with the new.
I will explore the various traditional significations of the house with an eye towards using these topics to help us understand the creative process better. As artist, nun and teacher Corita Kent reminds us: “There is almost nothing that is not related to art”.