The astrological Twitterverse is aflame today with reports of something called the Infernal Astral, or Astral Hell.  Apparently in Brazil this is an established thing among astrologers.  I found this website which says:

You have certainly heard someone complain that they are experiencing ” astral hell ” as they approach their birthday. This period is popularly known as a turbulent phase where everything goes wrong and the person goes through some kind of suffering or difficulty. It is believed that during this period things tend not to work very well, health can be a little weakened, business confused, mood and energy low … It is as if we had to go through some kind of ordeal before enter a new cycle. However, does it really exist?

The most appropriate answer is: it depends. There are no records of the term astral hell in the astrological literature. So it is believed to be an invention made in the twentieth century and has no clear meaning to the more traditional scholars of this science.

The Infernal Astral, or Astral Hell,  apparently suggests that the month before one’s birthday (or Solar Return – the time when the Sun returns to its place in our birthcharts) is when this hell takes place.  Some astro-commentators on Twitter hypothesize that perhaps this is because if you put the Sun on the ascendant at the time of the Solar Return (which I never do and haven’t heard of) the Sun would be going through the twelfth house during that month before one’s birthday.  There would be a sense of completion and releasing that could for some people be a difficult process.

If one’s Sun is stressed in the natal chart, then the Solar Return (or birthday) chart would shine a light on that stress.  For example, in my own chart Saturn and Neptune straddle the sun.  Each year the Sun illuminates that stressful aspect and for many years I hated my birthday.  No one wanted to celebrate with me (Saturn) and I didn’t know what I wanted to do (Neptune).  Fortunately, as we age we begin to work through some of these issues and now I know a little more how to handle my birthday.  I make solid plans (Saturn) and don’t expect too much!

My friend Matthew Currie posted this link to a Wikipedia article reporting that we are statistically more likely to die by suicide during the month before a birthday :

The first large-scale study used the records of 2,745,149 Californians who died between 1969 and 1990. After correcting for confounding factors such as seasonality in deaths, elective surgery, and people born on February 29 [leap year] , there was a significant increase in deaths in the week before the individual’s birthday for men, and in the week after the birthday for women – in both cases, mortality did not peak on the birthday, but close to it. This effect was consistent across age and race cohorts.[5]

The idea that for some death came before the birthday and for other suggests that the correlation may have more to do with solar aspects in the natal chart than anything having to do with the birthday. I dug around a little more and found this post from 2008, quoting a Brazilian astrologer named Eduardo Maia about whom there is no online information.

According to the astrologer Eduardo Maia, the “Astral Hell” just happens when we don’t realize that we should leave the stage to behold the world and disattach, in benefit of those that need some emotional or practical assistance. “It’s time to be an instrument for the others’ goodwill and not be concerned about oneself”, he says. Considering that it mostly doesn’t happen, comes the anguish, the emptiness and the sense of disorientation.

That certainly sounds like the twelfth house – leaving the stage and detaching for the benefit of others.  But is this a theoretical idea, unproven? or something that has been observed?

It’s an interesting concept, and one I’d like to investigate further.  If you have thoughts or stories on the subject, please leave your comments below.

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