The meaning of the planets and their placement in astrology.
The planets constitute one of the most significant chapters in astrological analysis. Their transits through our chart help us understand what will happen in our life and how it will affect us. Their position in our birth chart sheds light on our fixed character traits, and the manifestation of these traits is triggered by planetary transits, which signify events. The planets are divided into two groups: the personal (the Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars) and the collective ones (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto). The former represent the primary features of our personality and events that exert a direct influence on our life; the latter are related to broader concepts, which pertain to collective life aspects. Each sign is ruled by a planet and, by extension, shares its characteristics, while some planets rule two signs: the Sun/Leo; the Moon/Cancer; Mercury/Gemini-Virgo; Venus/Taurus-Libra; Mars/Aries- (traditional ruler of) Scorpio; Jupiter/Sagittarius; Saturn/Capricorn; Uranus/Aquarius; Neptune/Pisces; Pluto/(modern ruler of) Scorpio. The names of the planets have their roots in ancient mythological tradition, which provides useful insight into their role and function in modern astrology. The planets depict the various facets of our life, which we are called to thoughtfully ponder, in order to conquer the key to our self.
THE SUN IN ASTROLOGY
The Sun is an immense source of energy, light, and warmth; a vast sphere of fire around which revolve the other planets, thus rendering it the center of our solar system. Its role in astrology is equally influential and prominent: as the exponent of our Ego, our luminous core, it represents the bright light of our identity. The Sun’s placement in our birth chart traditionally answers the question “What is your star sign?”, which underlines its central role in astrological analysis.
In most ancient civilizations, the Sun, as a source of vital energy, was treated and revered as a deity. Either in the form of Apollo in ancient Greece or in that of Mithra in ancient Persia, it was the first celestial body people prayed to. Accordingly, in modern astrology, the Sun bears the spiritual needs we are called to satisfy and express in order to attain our self-fulfillment. Forming the exponent of our individuality, it is fully described by the word “individual”, which etymologically evokes that which cannot be divided into smaller parts. Determined by the sign in which it was placed at the time of our birth, our Sun constitutes the driving force lying behind our every action. Representing our Spirit, this nucleus of light demonstrates our creative forces and our way of expressing them. Resembling its function in our solar system, where all other planets get their light from it, its role in astrology is fundamental: the brighter our Sun is, the more the other planets in our chart are illuminated, i.e. expressed.
In addition, the Sun is associated with our father figure and the way in which he has influenced our personality. Either as a parent or as a symbol of power, the Sun stands for the male force that motivates and impels us to act. If we are to achieve spiritual harmony, we have to discover and adhere to the demands of our Sun as the key-bearer of our self-realization.
THE MOON IN ASTROLOGY
Forming the brightest object in the night sky, as well as the Earth’s closest celestial body and sole natural satellite, the Moon has similar composition characteristics to those of our planet’s mantle. It affects the tides and when it moves into a position of direct alignment with the Sun and the Earth by passing precisely between them, it causes a solar eclipse.
The Moon constitutes the opposite, female pole of the Sun and is of equal importance in astrological analysis. If the Sun consists in the Spirit, the Moon consists in the Soul. It represents our female side –our soul, which bears our feelings and dictates the emotional wants we have to satisfy in order to feel safe. Its placement in our birth chart sheds light on our subconscious, our instincts, our reflex/involuntary emotional reactions, and our automatic patterns of behavior, i.e. our everyday habits. At the same time, the Moon constitutes our emotional memory, the space comprising the past experiences that had an impact on us and have since determined our attitude.
Occupying a central position in the mythological tradition of many cultures, the Moon was frequently worshipped as the Mother Goddess –the figure that protects, nurtures, and caters to the child. Accordingly, its position in our birth chart defines our relationship with our mother, how it has shaped our character, and -mostly with regard to women- whether and how much we long to have children and create a family. The dual role of the mother as nurturer and protector indicates that the Moon is related to both our sentimental and imperative physical needs. With their fulfillment being integral to our growth into well-rounded adults, its placement in our birth chart demonstrates whether and the extent to which they were satisfied during the first years of our childhood. Therefore, all in all, the Moon reflects our childhood, our family environment, our ancestors, our past, and their overall influence on us. Moreover, as the center of our emotional intelligence, it unveils the way in which we attract people into our life and relate to them; in other words, how we form intimate bonds and how these will lead to the creation of our own family (in the wider sense of the word). Hence, the value of the Moon is equal to that of the Sun, since it exposes our basic needs, which have to be covered in order for our individuality to be expressed.
MERCURY IN ASTROLOGY
The smallest planet in our solar system, Mercury, is also the planet closest to the Sun; that is why, in our birth chart, it is often positioned in the same sign as our Sun or in the one immediately following it. If the Sun symbolizes our Spirit, Mercury forms its irreplaceable assistant in the externalization of our personality. Corresponding to the messenger of the gods in ancient Roman mythology (derivative of the Greek god Hermes), it is clearly correlated to communication, information, and our mental abilities. Thus, our need to communicate, our way of doing so, and our skillfulness at it are largely dependent on Mercury’s placement in our birth chart.
Mercury sheds light on our habitual line of thought, our preoccupations, our interests, and how evasive and flexible we can be in our relationships; also, on our capacity for analytical thinking, our perspicacity, and our aptitude for speech, the most fundamental means of expression. Apart from speech, Mercury is associated with written expression, literature, and particularly our introduction to education (our first school years), how we responded to it, and how it shaped us. As the planet of wisdom, it is responsible for our ability to explore the diverse aspects of life and draw constructive conclusions about it; in other words, for our way of assimilating experience and subsequently sharing it through the exchange of ideas. By extension, the discoveries achieved and the knowledge acquired through scientific research and experiments are related to this planet as well.
In addition, Mercury rules our nervous system –which reveals the connection between our thoughts and our physical reactions–and what it is we tend to notice first in our environment. At the same time, it rules all forms of transportation; travel, and short-distance trips in particular; and all means of communication, along with our ability to use them. Mercury symbolizes the predominance of spirit over matter and demonstrates our capacity for analyzing, comprehending, and categorising the elements of the outer world. It is the planet that endows us with reason, so that we can separate ourselves from and transcend the animalistic aspects of the human condition.
VENUS IN ASTROLOGY
The second planet from the Sun, Venus
, has a similar internal constitution to the Earth. Its surface is composed of many volcanoes and lava plains, its atmosphere is extremely dense, and it exhibits a strong greenhouse effect.
As the mother of Cupid, the ancient Roman god of love (the counterpart of the Greek god Eros), Venus is associated with romantic relationships, and our need for tenderness, intimacy, and sentimental contact
. It rules our instinctive tendency to fall in love and use relationships as a means to creation, to our familiarization with new aspects of ourselves and, eventually, to our self-actualization. The extent to which we fulfill this need, along with the way in which we express it, has to do with our Venus. This planet represents our eroticism and charm, our hedonism and sensuality;
it mirrors the female side of our sexuality, and its position in our birth chart demonstrates the degree to which we have embraced and express it.
At the same time, Venus functions as an index to our self-esteem, to the value we ascribe to ourselves, but also to what it is we appreciate in others. There are two sides to it: one of them concerns our material needs, and the other is related to our emotional bonds and social life. Venus’ placement in our birth chart
shows what we need in order to enjoy life: our desires, our want for pleasures, the luxuries we take delight in; our relationship with money and how we spend/manage it; and, generally, all goods we deem valuable, be they of a material or an emotional nature.
Correlated to the ancient Roman goddess of beauty (as derived from the Greek goddess Aphrodite), Venus is additionally connected with beautification, our outward appearance and our interest in it. Moreover, it rules art, music, and colours; it infuses us with creativity and translates our imagination into actual artistic expression. It is also identified with taste and determines the kind of aesthetics with which we surround our life. Representing pleasure, welfare, and all that adds value to our life, Venus is generally considered a planet of good fortune.
MARS IN ASTROLOGY
Often described as “the red planet”, Mars, the fourth planet from the Sun, is similar to the Earth in composition (like Venus), but also in other characteristics (such as land features and seasonal cycles). It is believed to have had water on its surface in the past, which either evaporated or was absorbed into the soil, and theories abound about the possibility of life on it.
As the exponent of male activeness, Mars can be seen as the complementary opposite of Venus; besides, the god of war –after whom it was named– and the goddess of beauty were lovers both in Roman (Mars/Venus) and in Greek mythology (Ares/Aphrodite). It can also be regarded as the Sun’s right-hand planet, since it is responsible for the fulfillment of our needs and goals; its position in our birth chart sheds light on our dynamism, our vigour in the pursuit of our objectives, and the effectiveness of our efforts. Corresponding to the god of passion and aggressiveness, Mars demonstrates our assertive tendencies and way of acting, by embodying the archetypal Male that fights, conquers, and stakes his claim. It reflects the part of us that perceives the self as a separate entity having to ensure survival by struggling against the world, but it also represents the demise of the Ego through death.
At the same time, as the male counterpart to Venus, Mars mirrors the male side of our sexuality, which is unaffected by emotions and only aims at the satisfaction of our physical needs and the self-contentment derived from it. By extension, it is related to our self-confidence and the courage we display in our fight to defend and promote our desires. In addition, Mars is associated with cold hard honesty and forms the exponent of our aggression, revealing what it is that triggers it and how easily we lose our composure. It also rules war, weapons, and all forms of competition, demonstrating our spiritedness, our competitiveness, and the degree to which we are minded to strive in order to preserve what (we feel) we are entitled to. Despite its negative role as the force representative of war, Mars constitutes an integral factor in the evolution of life, as this often originates in conflict and rapid, drastic changes.
JUPITER IN ASTROLOGY
Correlated to the father of the gods, the supreme god in the Roman mythology pantheon (the equivalent of the Greek god Zeus), Jupiter constitutes the largest planet in our solar system; its size renders it visible from the Earth with the naked eye. It rotates on its axis very fast, while its thick atmosphere exhibits alternating dark belts and bright zones, and so far no research has been conducted below it. Up to this point, the planets discussed are the personal ones, which play a decisive role in the shaping of our personality; Jupiter ushers in the group comprising those representative of broader concepts, i.e. the collective ones.
The first feature associated with Jupiter is excess. It is the planet that manifests our need to surpass our limits and expand, by placing ourselves within our mental representation of life. Depending on its position in our birth chart, this expansion can be achieved through higher education, philosophy, religious wanderings, and/or long-distance travel. Jupiter represents everything that nurtures our soul, and forms the exponent of our higher mental abilities and their characteristics. It demonstrates how liberal we are and is, in fact, also indicative of our relationship with the supreme being(s) of our religion. It embodies the force of optimism that motivates us to pursue higher goals and improve our life, and it simultaneously reveals the extent of our faith in ourselves and of our positive outlook on life. It mirrors the collective human soul that aspires to a better future, and it is identified with ethics and justice, showing how just we are, but also how much we believe our world is fair.
As the planet of good fortune, Jupiter is generally characterised by a duality: on the one hand, it may impart humanism oriented towards the common good; on the other, it may generate arrogance. It may bestow abundance, material goods, and unexpected opportunities, but the chances it offers should always be framed with reason; the optimism it infuses us with may not be founded on realism and the excess it brings about may stumble over practical issues. All in all, Jupiter reflects the force that gives birth to ideas, which have to be actualized through work in order for both the individual and society to succeed.
SATURN IN ASTROLOGY
Saturn is the second largest planet in our solar system. It is a gas giant (like the preceding Jupiter and the following Uranus and Neptune) with no solid distinct surface, emits large amounts of energy, and is best known for the rings encircling it; these, occasionally visible from the Earth, are primarily composed of floating chunks of water ice. The Roman equivalent of the Greek Titan Cronus, the mythological Saturn, had set out to devour all his children to prevent anyone of them from overthrowing him, which urged his son Jupiter to kill him and, thus, become the king of the gods. This myth is enlightening with regard to the astrological Saturn, whose role is to set limits, pose obstacles, and cause inconvenience. If the essence of Jupiter resides in the transcendence of the soul over matter, Saturn consists in the circumscription of the soul within materialist conditions and limitations –the responsibilities and discipline we have to adapt to, in order to make it in life.
Saturn constitutes the planet of harsh demands; it is the ruler of work, but also of the social recognition achieved through it. It is the stern teacher reminding us that if we are to be rewarded, we have to be industrious, diligent, and persevering. By extension, it provides us with clues as to the career we will pursue and how successful it will be. By and large, it shows how we structure our life in our effort to ensure our safety and protect our gains.
As a collective planet, Saturn is also associated with the established social structures, the law, the status quo, and our relationship with them. It forms the exponent of all forms of power and its position in our birth chart demonstrates how domineering we are, along with the extent to which we accept the dominant social hierarchy. At the same time, it represents our dark side, which we reject and try to suppress. Saturn’s traits become more evident with the passage of time, when we are old enough to have reached a certain point of maturity; that is why this planet symbolizes aging. Presiding over time, Saturn dictates the unbending frame within which we have to act in order to be realistic about our life goals. Apart from being a harsh judge, however, Saturn also rewards us when we remain faithful to our ambitions. As the ruler of karma, it prescribes that our actions have consequences and that the more consciously we act, the more benefits we will reap.
URANUS IN ASTROLOGY
Uranus is the seventh planet from the Sun. It exhibits long alternating periods of day and night, its core is speculated to be composed of rock, and its surface is believed to be covered by an extremely hot ocean. Astrologically speaking, from this point onwards, the planets discussed represent non-logical forces.
Succeeding the ruler of conservatism and the established order, Saturn, Uranus brings a breath of fresh air and introduces new ways of living. Forming the exponent of abrupt changes and revolutionary actions that subvert our life in an almost inexplicable manner, it symbolizes our need to cause alterations both on a personal and on a social level. Its position in our birth chart demonstrates the extent of our familiarization with violent change. Uranus is the planet that paves new ways and demolishes established structures in order for society to move forward. Although the changes it generates may be painful and distressing, in its best form, it represents external events that help us destroy what we cannot destroy by ourselves.
Uranus rules the revolutionary movements that alter the course of history and demonstrates our need to form part of a group of like-minded people fighting in the name of an ideal. Apart from collective struggles, however, it is also associated with how we separate ourselves from others –what it is that makes us different and underlines our individuality. It is representative of idealism and non-conformity, and reflects the aspects of our thought that relate to our dreams and goals for the future. At the same time, Uranus is the ruler of chaos, which comes to reverse the constructs of our life through shocking changes and replace them with new ones. Interrupting our ordinary life course, it can give rise to inspiration by leading to miracles or accidents. Uranus typifies the reconsideration of our way of thinking and presides over technology, the Internet, and the novel scientific discoveries that assist in the advancement of humankind; in other words, it is identified with all things innovative and revolutionary.
NEPTUNE IN ASTROLOGY
Neptune constitutes another gas giant and exhibits a thick atmosphere consisting of hydrogen, helium, and methane. It is surrounded by four rings and has thirteen known natural satellites, among which Triton, Thalassa, and Proteus.
Neptune is the exponent of our need to transcend the material limitations of life. Corresponding to the ancient god of the sea (Poseidon in the Greek mythology), it represents our instinctive impulse to immerse our Ego into the greater Being; it is related to the collective unconscious and the extent to which we can communicate with it and channel it. That is why Neptune, displaying the needs of the collective soul, is associated with the arts: they speak the language of the soul, to which logic does not apply.
The need to surpass the limits of logic is a Neptunian characteristic in all its manifestations. This is the planet that mirrors the escape from reality through delusion and dreams. Its position in our birth chart unveils our illusions, along with the life aspects we have difficulty confronting and, thus, prefer to evade. In the same vein, it is connected with substance abuse, drugs, and alcohol –shedding light on our susceptibility to them– and with show-business –many people working in which have Neptune prominent in their birth chart.
Imagination and romanticism also form qualities attributed to Neptune, as they allude to the possibility and feasibility of an alternative reality. In addition, this planet rules selfless love and demonstrates the extent of our tendency to lose ourselves in a relationship. Of course, it also presides over romantic bonds founded on the victim/martyr role, since it reflects the part of ourselves that wants to help others, but also that which desperately looks for something to cling to. Neptune constitutes the planet that bears illusions and the abolition of logic; through this prism, it also manifests our feeling of religiosity and, generally, our tendency to merge into something superior to us.
PLUTO IN ASTROLOGY
Although its astronomical status has been downgraded to that of a “dwarf planet”, Pluto’s astrological standing has remained intact. Lying at the outer limits of our solar system, it is extremely cold and covered with a mixture of rock and nitrogen ice. In mythology, Pluto (Hades) was the brother of Jupiter and Neptune, and the god of the underworld, the kingdom of the dead; hence, the word describing it par excellence is “death”.
Pluto represents the inescapable force of the laws of nature, which prescribe that everything has a beginning and an end. It manifests the slow, radical changes that absolve our life of all things redundant and moribund. In this sense, Pluto consists in a revitalizing force that always serves the evolution of life; what has come full circle has to be deconstructed and make room for something new. It reflects our capacity for rebirth and symbolizes our strength in the face of the crises afflicting our Ego. Of course, it does not set out to destroy, but firstly shows what is dysfunctional, where we should be more lenient, and when we should relinquish control.
Apart from death as the biggest blow to our Ego, Pluto is also associated with sex. Our physical and spiritual union with the Other represents the demise of our individual limits through contact and conflict. Sexual intercourse causes our animal instincts to emerge; these, too, are related to Pluto, and so is unconditional love. At the same time, this planet rules power relationships –our need to possess the Other. It is connected with abuse of power as well as obscure, illegal activities. In addition, it reflects the darkest depths of our soul, our fears, and all that we try to conceal but always eventually bursts out at unforeseen moments. That is why the most distinctive scientific field linked with it is psychoanalysis.
Apart from darkness, though, the assiduous deep search into our soul also leads us to discover the inner wealth we are endowed with and entitled to. Pluto is the planet symbolizing the renaissance process that transforms what is no longer alive into a propitious ground for the emergence of new life.
And don't forget to read about astrology's maverick, Chiron