When astrologers analyze an astrological chart, they are looking at much more than just the position of the sun at the time of a person’s birth. In fact, they look at every planet in our solar system with respect to the sign each planet inhabits as well as each house the planets occupy. Additionally, astrologers look at the angular relationship of each planet to one another, which is what are called aspects. It could be argued that much of astrology is a study of the geometric relationships of planets to one another.
What is the significance of the planets in an astrological chart? In a nutshell, the components of an astrological chart can be viewed similarly to the components of a dramatic play. In a play we have the actors on the stage, the personality they take on for that play, we have the plot and the setting. The planets are analogous to the actors on the stage. Each planet represents a different human component of our being, with the inner and faster moving planets, the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus and Mars, being classified as the personal planets, whereas the outer planets, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, representing bigger picture issues. These are considered to be the generational planets because the outer-most planets move so slowly that they remain in a given sign for longer periods of time and therefore etch their impact on clusters of generations.
At the center of the solar system, the sun is the body around which all planets revolve. It is the giver of life and therefore represents our spirit and our life force. It imparts vitality on a physical level and helps to define the nature of our spirit. Without the sun, we would cease to exist as humans, and eventually all life forces as we know them would cease to exist as well. Think about how we behave based on the sun’s position. When the sun is shining we tend to feel more optimistic, upbeat and hopeful. We feel more motivated to get out and about and soak up the vitality of the sun’s rays. People who live in extreme geographical regions must make adjustments to their routine in order to accommodate the absence of the sun’s rays. Those who live in places like Alaska and the arctics find they benefit from creating artificial sunlight in order to ward off Season Affective Disorder. People who are described as optimistic are often referred to as having a sunny disposition. But when we have a deficit of the sun’s light, we tend to feel gloomy, despondent and sad. So the sun in a person’s chart describes their innate disposition. It describes how we define ourselves and what makes us tick. It tells us what makes us come alive and what we need to do in order to feel we are vital.
The sun changes signs approximately every thirty days, but does not enter a new sign on exactly the same calendar day of every year. It can make its entrance into a new sign anywhere from the 18th of the month to as late as the 24th of month. Therefore, if you were born on what is called the cusp of a sign, you are well advised to have an astrologer cast your chart so that you know the exact sign in which the sun was sitting at the moment of your birth. The sun rules Leo and is ideally placed in Aries, does not operate well in Libra or Aquarius.
The Moon represents many things, astrologically speaking. It is the celestial body associated with fertility, having a 28 day cycle, similar to the female menstrual system. With respect to the signs of the zodiac, it rules the water sign of Cancer, and hence is closely associated with moods, emotions, feelings and our maternal instincts. It talks about our relationship with our mother and our mother’s side of the family, our ability to nurture and how we relate to the public. As you probably know, it is also associated with the tides. It is the most fleeting of all the bodies in our solar system, moving anywhere from 12 to 14 degrees a day, changing signs every two and a half days. It is therefore fickle, changeable and moody. The moon is feminine and relates to things related to women. A common term associated with the moon is that of “void of course.” When the moon has made the last aspect or angle that it will make before leaving a sign, it is said to be void of course because it is no longer making a connection. The popular interpretation of this position suggests that nothing will come of matters initiated during this time, therefore it is best to stick with the matter at hand and not plant any seeds, as they will not come to fruition. The moon operates best in Taurus and is less effective in Scorpio and Capricorn.
This planet is called the Messenger God. It is responsible for the transport of objects and ideas from one point to another and is also associated with any devices that do the same, such as pipes, tubes, wires, computers, telephones or any other communication or transportation devices or processes. It is intellectual, objective, logical, detached and factual. Its rate of motion can vary somewhat, depending on whether it is speeding up or slowing down, but essentially moves about a degree a day. Mercury moves backwards, or retrograde, approximately every four months for a period of about three weeks. This is a time to anticipate glitches in communication and transportation, but is also a good time for reviewing the past and reconnecting with those from you past. Mercury rules both Gemini and Virgo, operates best in Aquarius and is less effective in Leo, Pisces and Sagittarius.
Venus is all about love, beauty and affection. It tells us what and who we love, what makes us content, what we value and appreciate. It is associated with art, music and the aesthetics of life. It is passive, feminine, and prone to a touch of laziness. It, too, moves retrograde, as do all the planets, but it does so about every 19 months and stays retrograde for about 41 days. This is a time to review our value systems and our priorities. Venus rules both Taurus and Libra, operates best in Pisces and is less effective in Aries, Virgo and Scorpio.
Mars is the god of war. It is aggressive, combative, competitive and physical. It represents our urge to get things done, to be productive and is very energetic. It is the planet of force and relates to cutting, surgery, the cutting knife as well as violence. Being the red planet, it is associated with this color. It can take anywhere from about 40 days to a little over seven months to traverse a sign, depending upon whether it is direct or retrograde. It goes retrograde about every other year and stays retrograde for about two and a half months. Mars rules Aries and co-rules Scorpio, operates best in Capricorn and is less effective in Cancer and Libra.
This is the largest body in our solar system and is therefore associated with largess, abundance, wealth, expansion, freedom, optimism, joviality, generosity and long distance travel. It is the planet many love to love due to its benevolence, however, it is known for being excessive and of course, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Jupiter moves through a sign in a year’s time, moves retrograde about every thirteen months and remains so for about four months. Jupiter rules Sagittarius, operates very well in Cancer and is less effective in Gemini and Capricorn.
This is the planet that many people dread because it represents karma, lessons discipline, structure, authority figures, the father and the father’s side of the family as well as delays. There are no shortcuts where Saturn is involved. It forces you to face the music, learn the lessons and be responsible. It is necessary and represents such things as our skeletal system, government, rules and regulations, traffic lights, essentially that which places limits on things. It takes about two and half years to move through a sign, moves retrograde about every thirteen months for a duration of about five months. Saturn rules Capricorn, operates best in Libra and is less effective in Aries and Cancer.
The farther out the planets are from the sun, the slower they move and are therefore considered the generational planets, because they remain in a sign for a much longer period of time. This particular planet is associated with innovation, inevitable and sudden change, ingenuity, breaking the mold and rebelliousness. It is anything but conformist, preferring to look at things differently and try that which is new and different on for size and is unpredictable. It takes about eight years to completely move through a sign, moving retrograde about once a year for about five months. Uranus rules Aquarius, co-rules Capricorn and is most effective in Scorpio, less effective in Taurus.
Like the fog, Neptune is illusive. You can’t contain it, you can’t quite see through it, and in many ways it is hard to put your finger on it. Neptune is illusive, visionary, spiritual, idealistic, dreamy, unrealistic, psychic, highly sensitive, receptive, and in some ways inspirational. At worst it is addictive, deceptive, eroding, obsessive and weird. Neptune rules Pisces, operates best in Leo and is less effective in Virgo and Aquarius. It takes Neptune about 14 years to completely traverse a sign, moving retrograde about once a year and remains retrograde for about five months.
The planet of the underworld, the underground and that which is hidden from view. Pluto represents death and rebirth, transformation and regeneration. Like Scorpio, the sign it rules, it is intense, private, secretive, seductive, strategic, powerful and passionate. It is procreative, subconscious, undermining and can be violent. Pluto operates best in Aquarius, is less effective in Taurus and Leo, remains in a sign for twenty years, moves retrograde once a year and remains retrograde for about five months.
Astrology: The Planets
Organization of Professional Astrologers