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This article was written by Stephanie Clement on May 31, 2002
posted under Astrology
The planets (including the Sun and Moon) are the actors in the astrological drama. They represent ten general categories of energy – ten sub-personalities – that reflect facets of your personality and ways that you function in the world. Each planet has its own character that is similar to the mythological character after which it was named. You may want to investigate the myths surrounding your favorite planet!
In addition to the Sun, Moon and eight planets other than the Earth, most astrologers consider other points in the chart:
- The Ascendant or rising sign
- The Midheaven
There are other objects on the Solar System. These are not as commonly used, and depend on in-depth study that not all astrologers undertake.
The nodes of the Moon
Chiron and asteroids
Midpoints between planets
The Sun rules Leo. Vitality is the energy reflected by the Sun in the astrological chart. Just as the Sun is the source of life for all living things we know of, the Sun’s position in your chart is an indicator of the way you approach life. Nearly everyone knows their Sun sign and a little bit about it. We read the astrology column in the newspaper to see how the day will be for our sign. Many people like the time of year around their birthday, not just because it is near their birthday, but because the energy of the Sun sign is so conformable.
Young children express the Sun sign energy clearly and directly. We tend to move away from this clarity as we learn different forms of expression, yet we always come back to the foundation of the Sun sign, learning to perfect the strengths that it indicates and to compensate for any weaknesses. The Sun is, in addition to being the source of life, the sustainer of our individual character. When you understand the deeper nature of your Sun sign, you also understand the core direction for your personal expression in the world.
The house position of the Sun in your chart indicates one area of life that takes on greater importance than any other. It is the area where you are perhaps the most self-conscious, it is where your will can be best expressed, it is where you can develop the greatest arrogance. You will focus loyalty and generosity in that area, as well as discover your own personal dignity.
The house and sign of the sun indicates an area in which you will strive to express yourself, and you will want to be recognized for your activities in that area of life. As you gain experience in living, you may become bolder in your efforts to attain your Sun sign goals. You can become a leader in this area because you understand the deepest and broadest values of this area of your life.
When you read about your Sun sign, take the details to heart. Make a personal effort – use your will – to develop the highest and best expression of this sign. It is your birthright, and the area where you can learn to speak and act with authority.
The Moon is in its sign of rulership in Cancer. The Moon is visible to us because of reflected light from the Sun. Its monthly motion through the heavens and its phases are timers we should all take seriously. Hospital employees tell stories of increased birth rate or emergency room traffic as the Full Moon approaches. Astrologers know that important activities are best begun just after the New Moon.
The Moon in your chart reflects your subconscious mind. Its sign and house describe your emotional bias – the way your express your feelings most easily and directly.
It is interesting to note that the Sun and Moon appear to be exactly the same size in the sky. If this were not so, we could not have total eclipses of the Sun. But what does this mean to the astrologer? It means that the vitality of the Sun is equal in importance to the action of the Moon in your life. The expression of your individuality is equal in importance to the nurturance of your emotional well-being. Conscious awareness is equal to subconscious motivations. Studying your Moon sign can provide clue to your inner life and suggest paths to increased personal satisfaction with life.
In terms of career, the Sun may show what you want to be when you grow up, but the Moon shows the path – the means – to that end. (This relationship happens to be true for all kinds of astrological charts – for events, nations, weather forecasting, etc.) Learning about the sign and house of your Moon will provide answers to many questions you may have about how to take positive action. This is the area of the chart that shows your emotional changeability, and it also reflects your best path to any other kind of change in your life.
Finally, the Moon shows, by its sign and house, how and where you can be comfortable. It suggests the physical surroundings, the material objects and the emotional tone that is pleasant for you. It also shows how you assimilate – food, information, emotional vibrations.
The Sun and Moon together form a team. You will find that be considering them together, you get a fuller, richer sense of who you are and how you can become happier and more successful.
Mercury was the messenger of the gods, and the planet is the fastest in motion. It moves back and forth through the sky, changing its apparent direction six times each year. This apparent back and forth movement is a reflection of how we learn. We listen, then we try. We go back to correct a pattern and we try again. Once we grasp a concept we can move forward quickly to the next challenge.
Our mental processes have two basic patterns. Inductive reasoning is something we are born with. It is the capacity to remember an experience and apply it to future situations. "Once burned, twice shy" is one way of looking at inductive reasoning. The other is deductive reasoning. This is the ability to take a number of observations and draw conclusions from the information. This is the ability of abstract thought. Statistical research has inductive qualities. If we ask ten people if they like a certain candy and six say yes, we tend to assume that 60 out of a hundred will like it too. Sherlock Holmes used deductive reasoning, putting several seemingly unrelated facts together to learn about his quarry.
Mercury provides us with a specific path for both kinds of reasoning, based on its sign and house placement. And Mercury, more than any other planet, takes on the attributes of its sign, house and aspects. Just as the god Mercury delivered a message without changing it, Mercury in your chart shows how you deliver your personal message. The sign shows your personal bias – how you typically choose to express yourself- and the house shows the area of life in which self-expression is the most important to you.
Mercury in your chart has to do with all kinds of communication. It shows the speed and quality. It indicates how you use the senses. It shows the area of your life where the reasoning processes can best be exercised. Thus it shows where you are likely to achieve the clearest and most potent expression of your inner thoughts to others. Aspects from other planets show how your communication is influenced by the events and people around you.
Venus is the goddess of beauty, and is the ruler of Taurus and Libra. She makes everyone feel comfortable. She has a positive outlook on life and imparts that feeling to others. Venus in your chart may indicate, by its sign and house, the part of your body that is most attractive, or a part of the body that you find attractive in others. The seductive part of your personality can be described by looking at Venus. This capacity is clearly not restricted to sexuality, but extends into every area of your life. Venus shows how you can convince others, not through force of will, but through a magnetic attraction.
As an indicator of how you interact well with others, Venus does not suggest co-dependence. It does suggest interdependence, something that has been essential for human development. Babies have a perfection of form that makes us fall in love with them. Movie stars are dressed and made up to be as attractive as possible. Politicians demonstrate the magnetic charisma that convinces us to vote for them, sometimes in spite of all logic.
There is a rhythm to this magnetic attraction and beauty. We get closer to someone to find out what they are like, and then we withdraw to consider how we are feeling about what we discovered. The sign and house Venus occupy describe how all of these functions work. It shows what we like, what about us is the most attractive, and how we engage in the interactivity of human life. It shows how we approach companionship in general.
Venus also indicates where we look for harmony in our lives. When you seek cooperation from others, you want it to fit in with your ideal of harmony. Thus, whatever the context, you will put your personal spin on the situation, molding other people to suit your thoughts on how things work best. Occasionally you may find that the way you want to do things is not practical in the situation, or doesn’t work so well for other people. By understanding Venus in your chart, you can develop alternative methods that both achieve the desired goal and provide a level of comfort for you personally. This refinement process is indicated by Venus’ sign, house and aspects.
Mars rules Aries. Mars is energy. It is the kind of energy that your body uses to contract muscles, to assimilate food, and to fire synapses in the brain. It is the kind of energy that makes gasoline burn, pushing pistons up and down, thereby moving your car. It is the dynamic energy of all action in the material world.
The god Mars was responsible for two distinctive kinds of energetic activity: He was the god of war, going around sowing terror and fear in the enemy and inspiring courage as well. On the other hand, he was a god of agriculture, encouraging the planting and tending of crops, and even encourage the crops themselves to grow.
The sign and house of Mars show where your personal energies tend to go when you are not guiding them. It also shows where you can concentrate your energy through decisive action for the strongest results. There is a certain reckless quality to Mars. This planet has to do with sharp instruments and vigorous force. We need to understand this planet in order to manage energy well, or it can become angry and destructive. Thus reading about Mars in your chart can provide answers to your questions about why some situations may have turned out badly, and how to use your physical and emotional energy more successfully in the future.
Mars is also the planet of desire. We all tend to use our energy to get what we want when we want it. Desire is a good thing, because it impels us forward to something new and better. It helps us to find partners and mates. It helps us to find satisfying food, clothing and shelter. On the mental level, desire helps us to choose an area of study, to select books or movies we want to experience. On a still higher level, Mars indicates the direction of our spiritual passion. It shows what religious or spiritual path will satisfy our desire to understand the universe and master our own actions.
The aspects of Mars in your chart indicate the directions in which you can most easily direct your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual energies. Understanding Mars helps you to direct your actions to gain the best results.
Jupiter is in its rulership in Sagittarius. Jupiter is the planet that can tell you about processes in your life. On the physical level Jupiter relates to glandular function, specifically the liver. The sign and house placement indicate the general level of glandular function, and may indicate the most appropriate diet. Aspects to Jupiter can indicate the timing of diet and nutritional changes to achieve healthier processing within the body.
The same is true for the mind. Jupiter indicates a philosophical level of thinking. Its placement and aspects suggest how you relate to the world on the mental level, where you thoughts tend to expand, and how you approach new situations mentally. Jupiter reflects the area where you are most optimistic about life. It can also show where you can become extravagant or how you tend to exaggerate.
Jupiter also shows how you approach religious concepts. Do you examine the details Virgo style? Do you go with what is comfortable Taurus style? Jupiter shows how you come to understand the Universe and God, what inspires you to greater faith, and how you hold onto your beliefs once they have developed.
Jupiter is idealistic. Its placement and aspects show where idealism will take you during your life. Jupiter provides a reflection of how you pursue your mission in life. Here I am referring to your spiritual mission, but also to your career as that pertains to your spiritual development.
Jupiter reflects the human capacity for forgiveness. Each of us has a personal style where relationships are concerned, and each of us forgives the errors and differences in others. Jupiter’s placement and aspects show how we learn to forgive ourselves for weaknesses and mistakes as well. This is how we come to understand ourselves, not as vessels of perfect human expression, but rather as spiritually guided beings who seek our own most inspired, most confident, most successful expression. Jupiter allows us to indulge in excesses, while at the same time guiding us to our goals. This planet shows how your individual sense of humor works. Through Jupiter we come to understand humanity n general and ourselves in particular, both aspiring to be spiritually wise and understanding of self and others.
Where Jupiter showed process, Saturn shows structure. Saturn is the ruler of Capricorn. Its placement and aspects indicate how structure is perceived either as limitation and restriction that keep you from pursuing your desires or as a container in which you can lead an orderly and productive life. On the whole structure is a good thing. The structure of bones allows us to move about and stand erect. Our skin provides a container without which we would surely die. It is how we perceive the container and what we do with it that makes all the difference.
As Saturn moves through the signs, its cycle defines major life changes. Around age seven you develop a new sense of personal responsibility, at about 15 you become a young adult, able to use abstract thinking in your decision-making process. At age 21 you become an adult in the eyes of the law, and around age 28 to 30 you experience your first Saturn return (It takes Saturn 28 to 30 years to go through all of the signs one time), and you undergo a shift from an extended growth period into an extended productive period. This structure is more or less the same for everyone.
The sign and house placement of Saturn indicate how you can best pursue your career, whatever that career may be. Should you start out owning your own company Leo style, or should you undertake humanitarian goals Aquarius style? By following Saturn’s indicators you can plan a career course that allows a steady development.
Saturn provides a barometer for you in the form of feedback. Sometimes you feel limited in what you can do, and you can use this as feedback about what educational opportunity to pursue. Sometimes you are afraid of the next step, and you can use this fear to show you where to seek emotional support. You will experience authority and responsibility in your life in constructive or destructive ways, based on where Saturn is found. Saturn can become your inner teacher and guide, as well as a timer for major changes throughout your life.
Uranus rules Aquarius. If you have wondered why and how sudden changes come into your life, look no further. Uranus may be the answer. This planet reflects the energy of sudden change and also provides the intuitive information you need to deal with beginnings, endings, and even catastrophes.
Let’s look at the independent, unconventional actions inspired within us and reflected by Uranus in the chart. This planet shows what part of your life will be the focus of your independence and where you will take an unconventional approach to family, career, relationship – everything. Disruptive ideas and events come along to bring you back into balance. Have you noticed that the more eccentric your behavior, the more life gives you a push and forces you to conform? This is Uranian type energy working to bring you back into balance.
Next consider the role of intuition in your daily life. As you have disruptive episodes, you begin to be able to anticipate them, making adjustments ahead of time to minimize the upset. For example, once you slide on the ice a few times you learn how to keep your balance. Then you learn how to control a skid while driving a car. Then you understand how to manage a spiritual disruption ore easily. This is due to your developing intuition – you can foresee the future partly because of past experiences themselves and partly because you recall intuitive flashes that preceded or accompanied them. Uranus shows how this works for you personally.
When you find yourself detaching from people and events, this is Uranus in action. You have the capacity to take an aloof position, a more analytical and less active role in situations. The placement and aspects of Uranus show how you can best achieve an impersonal attitude in the face of difficulty (or it shows you how to remain connected in those moments when you would really rather be doing something else). This energy focuses your attention on invisible inner perceptions of your world in a way that is similar to everyone in your age group (all your friends have Uranus in the same zodiac sign), yet utterly personal in its development and expression, based on the house placement and aspects to other planets.
Neptune is in its rulership in Pisces. All that is glamorous, mystical, metaphysical and inspirational participates in the energy reflected by Neptune in your chart. Like Uranus, Neptune and Pluto remain in one sign for many years, so your friends all share a similar grasp of Neptune’s energy. The house placement and the aspects to Neptune color your sensitivity in a more personal way.
What you consume is what you are on the physical plane. The placement of Neptune indicates how you assimilate food, drink, medications and other drugs. It shows your tolerance for foods and other substances, and indicates where your physical system can get out of balance most easily. Therefore Neptune indicates an area where care can prevent or lessen harm.
Confusion and deception are part of the Neptune picture. Vagueness and glamour can be part of fraudulent activity, or they can be the essence of entertainment. Magic shows are all about deceiving our senses in order to surprise and entertain us. Neptune’s placement shows your level of susceptibility to deceit and your level of ability as well.
Imagination is part of Neptune’s realm. Your creative style depends on the ability to use your feelings and intellect to make something new and different. Problem-solving means imagining solutions and then trying them on for size mentally before rushing into action. Dreams are a function of this energy, and Neptune’s placement can show a lot about the nature of your dreams and their role in your life.
Spirituality is a significant part of human life. Neptune speaks to this area by showing you what area of your life needs a spiritual boost. It also show you what career or other activity will satisfy your inner spiritual yearning. Neptune’s movement through your chart will indicate times when spiritual measures are called for.
Psychic impressionability is in Neptune’s realm. Your ability to tune in to others can be defined by examining Neptune in your chart. Your best path to psychic development may be described by Neptune’s placement and aspects.
Pluto is the god of the Underworld. His actions are mysterious and even frightening. The planet was discovered in the 1930’s at a time when the underworld of gangsters was thriving, causing serious disruption and turmoil. The power of such activities is only one expression of Pluto’s kind of energy. Pluto is the ruler of Scorpio.
Obsessive thinking and compulsive action are indicated by Pluto. The house position and aspects of Pluto show where you can get caught up in destructive thought patterns and activities that are not in your best interest or do not serve the general welfare of people. Often the impulse behind such activities is control at any cost, regardless of the results.
Transitions and transformations of all kinds are a broader expression of Pluto-type urges. The god of the Underworld rules over death; Pluto in your chart can indicate how you face and accept major changes in your life and in the lives of family and friends. It shows the kind of events that come into your life due to outside forces, and therefore how you develop flexible responses to pressure.
All invisible activities are part of the Pluto picture. You may find that many people in your age group share your views concerning ESP, psychic forces and things magical. You also will find that you see particular uses for such energy, and your use will be different from theirs. You may feel this is of grater or lesser importance in your life. Learning about Pluto’s place in your chart can set you on a path of discovery of your own "magic."
Transmutation and rejuvenation are not the least important of Pluto’s expressions. By learning to control less constructive impulses and actions, you can channel your energy into positive directions like hands-on or spiritual healing, strengthening your body’s immune system, and generally revitalizing every area of experience. As you come to understand your hidden urges and control your responses to outside influences, you can experience a rich diverse experience on all levels – you will have choice.
The ascendant or rising sign reflects your persona – what you choose to show to the world. Whereas the Sun sign is your individuality and does not change a great deal, you have the capacity to choose the nature and level of expression of your Ascendant. You can choose the most destructive expression, or you may choose to show a side of yourself to the world that is full of optimism and promise.
The Ascendant is frequently useful in describing your physical characteristics and general health. Aside from geographical and ethnic realities, the rising sign shows complexion, hair and eye color, stature and weight. A Gemini would be rather taller than average, and Taurus might be on the stocky side, within the range of family tendencies.
The Ascendant offers suggestions for what kind of clothing looks good, what colors will make you seem stronger. The general shape of the head and face are linked to the Ascendant. The sign also indicates a part of the body that you can show off to good advantage. It may not be your favorite part of yourself, but it is one that will respond to careful treatment in terms of clothing, movement, etc. The Taurus may not think about the throat very much, but this is a key area to focus on to create a strong effect on others. Aquarians can benefit from careful selection of shoes, as the ankles are "the thing."
As you learn about your Ascendant, you will find a whole array of new considerations for how to present yourself to the world. Should you be flippant or stern, gregarious or darkly serious? The rising sign can provide a wealth of imaginative possibilities.
Because the Ascendant is the way others see you, physically and in every other way, it pays to understand what they are seeing. You can develop a whole range of clothing, movements, communication styles and general attitudes based on your rising sign. You can overcome limitations in other areas by emphasizing the positives here. In this way you actively participate in creating the impression you want others to have, and you become more influential as you project a well thought-out image.
As mentioned in the introductory material, the Midheaven is the first point in the chart to be calculated. The Midheaven is the part of the zodiac that is the highest (most elevated) visible point in the sky at the time you are born. If you ask the question, "How long has it been since zero degrees of Aries was at the Midheaven?" the answer tells you what degree of the zodiac is there in terms of time. If the Sun is at zero degrees of Aries, the Sun will be at the Midheaven at noon. Noon in this case is based on Local Time. Standard and daylight time can affect the zero Aries Sun’s position, placing it to one side or the other of the Midheaven point.
The Midheaven reflects what you know – or can know – about yourself. It represents ego-consciousness. Infants have little or no boundary between Self and Other. As children grow and learn, they come to understand themselves as separate beings, and they learn to depend on their own intelligence, emotions and skills. In short they learn about themselves as they learn about the world. The Midheaven reflects this self awareness.
Psychologically healthy adults have a clear sense of Self, distinguished from Other. They know what their core motivations are, and they know what skills they have to achieve their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual goals. The sign the Midheaven occupies indicates the nature of self-understanding, and provides the springboard from which you can dive into the process of gaining ego consciousness – understanding of what moves you on a deep personal level.
The Midheaven offers a way to understand yourself better, and is key to developing a flexible ego. We all know people who seem brittle and inflexible. We sense that they might "break" if they are pushed too hard in certain areas. Flexibility means developing an ego structure that can withstand the onslaught of life experiences and adapt or adjust to them. Astrology points out one path toward the development of broad-based ego skills, and it describes both the limitations of your ego and the positive potential of self awareness.
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