The word "planet" means wanderer. Ancient man realized that certain planets appeared to wander around the night sky in a way that through study corresponded to physical occurrences on earth. This was in relationship to the canopy of fixed stars, which did not move. The fixed stars of course do move, being so far away from us and outside of our solar system their movement appears infinitesimal. Over time man realized that not only did the planets movements correspond to physical phenomenon on earth, but also to individual experience. This is the true manifestation of "as above, so below".
The planets are not ‘doing’ anything to us, they reflect unfolding and cycles in the physical, spiritual and emotional experience of the individual. No one would deny that the ocean tides are in perfect sync with the phases of the Moon. It is a scientific fact. Under close study one discovers that all of life is mirrored in the heavens. Nature has provided us with an exquisite map. One that can enable us to be more closely aligned with our true nature and the path we are on. The planets are symbols of energy forces working within us. They are like the actors in our own personal play.
The Sun, Mercury, Venus, Moon, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn 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.
The closer to earth, the more individual the experience connected with a planet in the horoscope. "Personal", means they speak of an individual’s personality, approach, preferences, style and attitudes in the sphere that the planet governs. You can read more about the Sun and the Moon by going to the "Luminaries" page. Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto are termed the "Transpersonal" planets.
These planets are not visible to the naked eye, and have only become known to us through the advent of technology. Because they are so distant from the Sun and Earth, their movement is very slow in relation to us. Therefore their effects are felt en masse, and tend to be very intense and significant on more of a collective level. They mark particular generational trends and attitudes that affect groups of people born at a particular time. These can be traced quite powerfully to what we describe as "generation gaps".
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!
Chiron (rules: no known rulership)
Chiron was only discovered in 1977, and is a renegade planet that was mysteriously drawn into our solar system at some unknown time. Consequently, this planet has no rulership that can be determined. There are many theories regarding which sign it should rule, I agree with Liz Greene in that it might not rule any.
Chiron’s myth involves a wound that cannot heal; hence the most common term used is ‘wounded healer’. It marks where life has unfairly wounded us. There is no logical explanation or deserving on our part in regards to this, therefore we can feel embittered, alone and victimized around it.
If we develop insight and compassion for ourselves through acceptance of this pain and vulnerability, we become more tolerant and compassionate towards others. The wound can never be healed, but it can be
understood and integrated into our essence in a way that enriches rather than cripples us.
Choice comes through acceptance. This planet is generally between the orbit of Saturn; the last of the visible more personalized planets, and Uranus; the first of the collective planets, (it does have a unique elliptical orbit) and acts as a bridge between the personal and the collective.
Uranus (rules: Aquarius)
Uranus was discovered in 1781, at a time when issues of freedom, equality, and brotherhood were being awakened in the collective consciousness. For the individual, Uranus represents where one will be tapped into this concept.
In the chart it shows where we strive for independence and originality, it is also where there is surprising sudden change, flashes of insight, sudden upheaval and unpredict-ability. It is about liberation from what is old, stagnant and outdated.
This planet can be ruthless, unsentimental and destructive in the way it tears down old structures. As with all the outer planets we need to bring awareness to where it is as there can be extreme restlessness and eccentricity, as well as spontaneity, inventiveness, and humanitarian principles.
Neptune (rules: Pisces)
Neptune was discovered in 1846, at a time when there was a resurgence of interest in spirituality and the metaphysical arts. It is like the Holy Grail of any generation, and shows where there is a powerful collective yearning to become one with something far greater than ourselves. In our personal chart this planet signifies where we are the most idealistic and spiritual in our aspirations. Ecstasy, faith and devotion belong to the mystical realm. Ordinary earthbound experience and flesh and blood mortals cannot live up to these things.
Neptune in the chart can indicate where we feel the most confused and disappointed by life, as well as where we have boundless faith and a sense of divinity. There can be a tendency for depression, confusion, addiction and any means of escape from the harsh realities of life.
To avoid feeling victimized around Neptune we need to allow our vulnerability, receptivity and sensitivity to be channeled into mystical, imaginative or creative spheres that encompass something intangible beyond any earthly expectation. Only through surrender to these mysteries can we access the deep well of faith and sense of union that Neptune can ideally tap us into.
Pluto (rules: Scorpio)
Pluto is the outermost planet to date in our solar system, and it is also the smallest (besides Chiron). It was discovered in 1930, at the same time as the discovery of plutonium, and when depth psychology was coming into collective consciousness and acceptance. Pluto is another name for "Hades the Lord of the Underworld", and represents the power of deepest transformation and the sacrifices necessary for that to happen.
It represents the bottom line in our survival, our deepest fears, our darkest emotions and personal power, or the lack thereof. With Pluto there can be no shying away from the deeper darker aspects of life, such as compulsions and obsessions, control and manipulation, sexuality and taboos and anything else we might prefer to keep hidden or relegated to the shadows.
Collectively and individually, Pluto forces us to face death, physically or metaphorically, to let go of what no longer serves us in order that there can be new life. Pluto is often brutal in its process, and at the same time can bring about the most powerful transformations and the opportunity for complete renewal or rebirth.
The Sun and the Moon are termed the "Luminaries" in Astrology. They are the lights and arguably the most important planets. This is a risky statement because every planet is important in regards to a human being living a complete, fulfilled life...any part of us that is cut off or repressed wreaks havoc in our lives.
The Sun and Moon are powerfully central to the personality and emotional nature of the individual, as they are the most visibly obvious bodies in the sky. The Sun belongs to the daytime and the conscious nature of the individual.
The Moon belongs to the night, reflecting the light of the Sun and has to do with deeper, more unconscious realms. They are opposites yet partners, as with day/night, masculine/feminine, light/dark, active/receptive, yin/yang. They are different yet vital to one another.
In an individual’s horoscope, the relationship between the Sun and Moon will tell a great deal about how balanced they feel around wants versus needs, exterior versus interior experience and masculine versus feminine nature. The symbol for the Sun is a perfect circle with a single dot in the middle. The circle signifies completeness… no beginning and no end. It symbolizes Spirit, the ‘masculine’ energy. The dot in the middle represents the divine spark, that tiny piece of God that each of us contain. From that spark we hold the potential to be fully alive enlightened souls.
The symbol for the Moon is the half crescent. This signifies receptivity and Soul, the feminine, the container that needs and nurtures relationship. To quote Darby Costello, ‘ we imagine our destiny through the Sun, but experience our destiny through the Moon’. It has no light of it’s own and reflects the light of the Sun. It is the closest planet to earth and is a satellite of the earth. The Moon in a sense wraps and polishes the earth in its cycle of motion. Ancient people believed that we incarnated through the planets picking up the archetypal/astrological qualities of the planets on this journey.
The Moon as the closest body to earth was seen as the womb, the mother, and the vessel for life. It speaks of how we feel nurtured and fed, quite literally our relationship to our mother, and to women in general. The Moon shows how we take care of our own needs, and how comfortable (or not!) we are with this. It is our emotional nature, our primal need for sustenance, nurturing and to belong. It connects us to family, our roots and to the past. The Moon takes us into relationships through this need to belong. The Sun takes into the future and to what we WANT in order to individuate. The Moon anchors us to the past and speaks of our needs and emotions.
The Sun in our birth chart is like the Sun in our solar system. It is the source of light and life, without it we would not be here, it provides 99.9% of our energy. People who know a little astrology generally know their Sun sign, and more often than not relate to the characteristics ascribed to that sign. We often don’t come into full expression of our Sun until later in life, and some people sadly never reach that goal.
To fully express ourselves we often have to stand alone, and the first half of life is typically spent trying to belong and fit in. This does not mean that we need to be alone, but we need to be courageous enough to follow the beat and rhythm of our hearts and spirits, even in the face of differences or adversity.
Unless we do we are far more likely to express the negative rather than positive characteristics of our Sun sign, because what we repress becomes shadow-like and unconscious. The Sun literally represents the HEART of who we are. This does not lessen the significance of the other planets; they all represent vital forces essential to life. The Sun is central, as the physical heart is.