Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and the Sun and Moon are termed the "Personal" planets. These planets were used in Traditional Astrology because they are visible to the naked eye and were the only ones seen before the discovery of the telescope.
Planets move at vastly different rates: the Moon orbiting the earth in 28 days as opposed to Saturn taking 29 years to cover the same distance. Considering the vastness of our Solar system, they are all relatively close to earth and fast moving. Hence, their effects have been discovered to operate on a personal level. There is a relationship between how fast they move and how personally they are experienced.
MERCURY (rules: Gemini and Virgo)
Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun. This planet has to do with the mind, communication, language, our personal intellect, how we learn, and our style of processing and utilizing information. It is the messenger and speaks of our ways of mentally connecting and communicating with the rest of the world. It can also be where we are the ‘trickster’, in terms of self-deception as well as the delusion of others.
Mercury also serves as the bridge between the earth and the other realms of consciousness. In mythology Mercury was the only god with the ability to freely move between this dimension and the "Underworld". He volunteered to escort the souls of the departed to their next home. So too it is through our minds and intellect that we are able to transcend all boundaries and explore all realms of possibility.
Mercury represents the curious, youthful, changeable aspects of life, and has an androgynous quality.
VENUS (rules: Taurus and Libra)
Venus' orbit is between Mercury and Earth, and she serves as a mediator between the mind, heart, and practicality. Venus is the goddess of love, beauty, desire, harmony, sensuality and pleasure.
In our birth chart this planet has to do with our personal values, sense of self worth, plus our relationship to the aforementioned Venusian qualities. It also has to do with our relationship to the material world in regards to personal financial resources. The planet Venus is associated with relationships; more from the vantage point of love and pleasure for it’s own sake than from commitment or marriage.
She is handmaiden of the Moon, symbolizing the youthful aspects of the receptive feminine principle. Her premise is one of whatever brings joy, grace, and a sense of appreciation and acknowledgment of our own value and need for love. Venus speaks of how we value ourselves, appreciate beauty in the world and others, and our ability to recognize and then magnetize our heart’s desires into our lives. She can also be where we are the most self-involved, vain and superficial.
MARS (rules: Aries and Scorpio)
The 1st planet outside of earth’s orbit of the Sun, Mars has to do with how we move out into life and individuate. Mars is the warrior god, who goes into battle for what he desires. He is the lover of Venus, and their relationship in mythology is a strong one.
If Venus is where we come to know of our desires, Mars is the one who goes and does whatever is needed to get us what we want; it's about our will, passion, perseverance and energy. It is the youthful aspect of the masculine active energy. Mars is the champion of the Sun; together they symbolize our heroism and sense of determination in the face of adversity plus our courage to be truly individual.
Mars is also where we can be aggressive, impatient and brutish. The true goal is to actualize who we truly are, and to stand up for ourselves. Mars is where we need to be triumphant.
JUPITER (rules: Sagittarius and Pisces)
Jupiter is a very significant god in mythology. His quest in life is for meaning and truth, based on the belief that these do exist. This planet in the birth chart speaks of our belief systems, our ability to trust in life and our optimism. It is about prosperity, abundance, confidence, dignity, justice, generosity, expansion, reverence, ethics and morals.
The highest manifestation of Jupiter is dignity and trust in oneself and life. It embraces higher education; travel in both the physical and mental sense, and life philosophies. It is where we have the ability to experience true joy.
On the downside it can indicate where there are excesses in the form of self-righteousness, extravagance, exaggeration, and preaching and philosophizing at others with the assumption of always being right.
It is the planet associated with luck, success and personal fulfillment, and our sense of how blessed and deserving, (or not!) we feel in regards to these.
SATURN (rules: Capricorn and Aquarius)
Saturn was the outermost planet visible to man before technology brought us the telescope. This planet is about boundaries and concrete physical reality. It constantly reminds us of our limitations, obligations, and the need for discipline, structures and hard work.
Saturn in our astrological chart shows where we are vulnerable to life’s blows and demands, and where we need to take responsibility, plus where we need to keep proving ourselves over and over again, because of self-doubt. It is never fully mastered and requires ongoing commitment. This planet does not allow for self-pity, laziness or blaming others; if we chose that route it shows where reality will keep grinding away at us until we accept the cold hard facts.
There is harshness around Saturn, and at the same time it is where we can develop deep commitments, strength of character and realistic expectations based on our actual abilities achieved through our own labors. The values inherent in this planet are often not fully under-stood until later in life when one has a lot of life experience, and of course, some people never get it!
You can read about the Sun and the Moon on the Luminaries page.