Back to Basics Series - Planets
© 2009 by Joyce Mason
One of my favorite mindless things to do on Facebook is to take one silly quiz after another. I’ve learned from What Inanimate Object Are You? that I am a spatula. From What Famous Painting Are You? I’ve discovered that I’m Kahlo’s Las Dos Fridas. (Apparently, I let my dark side come out in my responses to that one.) In a quiz called What Planet Are You From? I’ve learned that I hail from the Pleiades. (I figure that’s why I always loved pliés in ballet and still do them as stretches, because I am Plié-idian.)
Bad puns aside, this last quiz suggested a way to approach the next leg of my journey around the astrological basics. If we review the planets in our solar system and their astrological meanings seeking the “prize” of resonance or affinity, we’ll uncover important information about our astrology charts in the process. The planets that sound good to us are probably ones we want to emphasize—either for now or in the long-term of our lives. Those we would not care to visit on vacation when space travel becomes commonplace—they are probably our trouble spots that need healing attention. After all, the ultimate goal is to integrate all the astrological archetypes represented by the planets and the other features of our charts. Peace in Earth (our bodies are considered to be made of the earth element) is having our internal universe operating like a finely tuned clock with all its moving parts acting in accord with one another. Peace on Earth results from the divine domino effect of individuals who have made peace with their astrological, metaphorical planets in order to make peace on the physical planet itself. Peace is an inside job; that’s where it starts.
Back to Basics
This is my second topic area in a series of articles taking a new look at the astrological basics. We started in the High Signs articles with the twelve signs of the zodiac, looking for their optimal expression and discovered that each sign represents a phase of individuation that parallels plant growth. My goal for these adventures is to make the basics user-friendly to beginners, while uncovering new insights for people who have spoken the language of astrology for a long time. I believe the deepest astrological ahas come from exploring and re-exploring the basic building blocks of this rich, symbolic language. Those building blocks are the signs, planets, houses, and aspects or geometric angles that planets form to each other in the sky at the moment of birth or any event for which we’re casting a horoscope.
Like all writers who speak my native tongue, I share information, ideas, and create stories with the same 26 letters of the English alphabet. There are 12 astrological signs and 10-11 “planets” typically described in astrology. (Planet actually means wanderer and suffices as a generic term for all the sky objects that move in orbits.) We do astrology from the perspective of the Earth, so we don’t usually work with the home ground, but we do count the Sun and Moon, even though they are not technically planets. (The Sun is a star and the Moon is a satellite of Earth). The Sun and Moon have an indisputable close relationship to us as Earth’s most visible “lights.” I also use the centaur planet Chiron and still count Pluto, as most astrologers do, regardless of its demotion by astronomers from planetary status. There are more than these 11 if you include additional bodies such as the other centaurs or asteroids. Next, there are 12 houses, and 5 major aspects and 6 minor aspects. This adds up to at least 46 “letters” of the astrological alphabet. As you can see, that makes astrology, on the sheer basis of “language bits,” more complex than English. There are more potential combinations, and they come with rich associations in mythology, universal stories that were tapped in naming the planets and signs.
Yet, when we grok the basics down to our toes, the language nearly speaks itself—almost a starry version of speaking in tongues. We know it so well, it channels through us, just like children who learn language by ear and experience. I share this observation, especially with beginners, so you won’t be overwhelmed or discouraged. Immersion in the basics leads to fluency.
Pack Your Bags for the Rocket Ride
Without getting ahead of myself (houses will be covered in a separate article), it’s important to mention that each planet is associated with a sign and house. With the signs already covered, I’ll introduce these trios or triplets that have affinity to each other in this middle article.
Here’s a quick reference chart to take with you on the rest of our tour around the basics. If you’re a beginner, think of it as a Berlitz pocket conversation guidebook translating astrologese to English for our trip to the stars. The sooner you recognize each trinity, the quicker you’ll catch the way these parts of astrological speech work together. It’s like learning the multiplication tables. Don’t worry about the why for now; it’ll become clearer later on.
Aries – Mars – House 1
Taurus – Venus – House 2
Gemini – Mercury – House 3
Cancer – Moon – House 4
Leo – Sun – House 5
Virgo – Mercury/Chiron* – House 6
Libra – Venus – House 7
Scorpio – Pluto – House 8
Sagittarius – Jupiter – House 9
Capricorn – Saturn – House 10
Aquarius – Uranus – House 11
Pisces – Neptune – House 12
*(While there remains some controversy over Chiron’s rulership, I associate Chiron with the Virgo to Sagittarius sector of the zodiac. Since The Chiron Sector begins with Virgo, I also feel there is merit to using Chiron along with Mercury as a co-pilot in navigating Virgo and the 6th, even to consider Chiron its modern ruler, if we have a need to use the concept of rulership consistently.)
As we tour the solar system in order starting with the Sun to the farthest reaches beyond it, remember to make mental or actual notes on which planets sound like nice places to visit. Disregard details like a climate that would boil, bake, fry, or freeze you, if you could breathe the air long enough to stay more than a minute. This is a metaphorical tour. Anyone can afford it, and it requires no astronaut training.
Sun - It’s the center of our piece of cosmic real estate. All the other planets in our solar system revolve around it. This life-giver stands from an astrological perspective for will, self-awareness, personal power, self-expression, and the drive to make a difference. It governs the child phase of life and creativity itself. The Sun is associated with professions such as teacher, artist, actor and other entertainers. It is a symbol of the masculine principle, father, the ego and leaders. The Sun governs yearly cycles. As an energy, it is concentrated and focalized. Its primary association in the human body is the heart.
Moon - The Sun’s complement, the Moon reflects rather than shines. It governs moods, emotions, sensations, perceptions, and change. Its realm includes feelings, instincts, gut reactions, sensitivity, and protectiveness. The Moon is associated with the feminine principle, mothering, food, digestion, hunger, comfort, and the family. It particularly rules the mother-child relationship and all bonds that nurture. Comforts and habits are its domain, along with the home. The Moon governs monthly cycles. In the human body, its primary associations are the breasts, digestion, and the lymphatic system. As you can imagine, all professions that involve nurture from caretaking to food industries “come from this planet.”
Mercury - A quick moving planet that rules communications, thought, and clever ideas, Mercury governs our brains and nervous systems. On its downside, a Gemini friend (Mercury ruled) once complained how he “beats himself up with his brain.” Too much thinking, like too much accumulation of mercury in the fish we eat, can have negative, even fatal consequences (mercury poisoning). Mercury’s realms are thought, logic, research, and analysis. You might like to live on our metaphorical Mercury if you like facts, news, writing, and learning—and communications devices. If an extraterrestrial landed on Earth from Mercury, he might have numerous cell phones, PDAs, computers and other gadgetry hanging off a tool belt on his spacesuit—or the Planet Mercury equivalent of those gismos. Writers and communicators are associated with Mercury, inventors and those who conduct commerce. Other affiliations: short trips, work, and dexterity. The dead giveaway to a Mercurial person is their love of trivia. They are fact collectors who bore easily. Once boredom sets in, it’s time to find more facts or something else new to entertain and engage them!
Venus - Is there anyone out there who (honestly) wouldn’t want to visit the planet of beauty, love, and harmony? The atmosphere of Venus resonates charm, comfort, romance, and refinements. It’s a place where art, music and luxury thrive. The planet associated with partnership, relationship, and marriage, its realms are cooperation, consideration, balance, fairness, and that most illusive thing of all—happiness. Named for the goddess of love and beauty, Venus is affiliated with our veins and the female sex organs. Like the Moon, Venus represents the feminine. The downside of this planet is an over-the-top love of luxuries, money, and a tendency toward indulgence and not taking things seriously. Diplomats and lovers are Venusian. (Aren’t they one in the same?) Peace, pleasure, and serenity are what people from this planet strive for. You might come from this planet if you have a hard time being alone and simply must be in a relationship at all times, for better or for worse. (Hmm, I detect a vague similarity to certain vows …)
Mars - The complement to Venus (Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus), this planet is all about action, desire, impulse and drive—even force of strength. What a mixed bag of masculine energy—courage, decisiveness, competition, energy, and adventure, alongside anger, aggression, violence, the military, explosions, and sharp objects. Mars is male sexuality, and in addition to the male sex organ, Mars rules muscles. Athletes—especially the most beefy (muscular) ones—are from Mars. The atmosphere of Mars contains impatience, ego and a tendency toward selfishness, but the extroverted swashbucklers who inhabit it are go-getters in the spirit of the yang half of yin/yang. Mars energy is outer and accomplishes things in the world. Can’t sit around waiting! People from Mars make good police officers, athletes, and pioneers of every type. Since there isn’t much unmapped physical terrain left on earth, people from Mars find uncharted territories in whatever field interests them and apply their creativity and get-‘er-done excitement to the challenge. Men from Mars aren’t green in the sense of inexperience; rather, they are likely to be innovative leaders.
Jupiter – Unless you’re a complete stick-in-the-mud, I can’t image that you wouldn’t enjoy a stop on the planet associated with enthusiasm, luck, good fortune, optimism, upbeat attitudes, benevolence, outgoing nature, and goodwill. People who come from this planet tend to love travel, especially long journeys. (They love everything foreign.) On their serious side—the one it’s hard at times to imagine these fun-loving folks have—they are passionate about law, religion, and philosophy. They are likely to argue with you on these subjects until their jaws are sore. They tell the truth, often bluntly, and believe staunchly in their convictions. They thrive on higher education. They are also jovial types who love to play games, sports, and are generous, often to a fault. Santa Claus comes from Jupiter, where I suspect the mythical North Pole is really located. Since the job of Santa is already taken, some other professions people from this planet often gravitate toward are spiritual teacher, minister, professor, and teacher. In our bodies, Jupiter is associated with the arteries and liver. Jupiter is the biggest planet in our solar system, a place where exaggeration and things larger-than-life pervade the atmosphere.
Saturn – A planet many people tend to spurn for its reputation of discipline, self-sacrifice, and responsibility, making friends with Saturn yields a treasure trove of qualities that make life work on Earth. Among its blessings are wisdom, practicality, earthiness, ambition, structure, dependability, and incredible organizational skills. On the downside, there is guilt, fear, pessimism, sadness, and even a tendency toward depression. The darker side of Saturn often comes from difficult father or authority figures in childhood, whether they were within the nuclear family or larger circles of belonging such as government or organized religion. Saturn is Father Time, associated with aging and all things to do with clocks and efficiency. The atmosphere of Saturn contains caution, self-control, and can sometimes dip into too much seriousness, conservatism, and tradition for no other reason than “it has always been done this way.” Saturn rules corporate executives and anyone that tops a hierarchy, as well as politicians. It’s associated in the body with knees, bones, and teeth because Saturn’s best quality is providing structure. If you can imagine a human being without a backbone (hello, jellyfish!), imagine a life without structure. It’s obvious why travel to the resort areas of this planet is a must for successful living.
Chiron – Chiron houses a heroes’ school where teaching, mentoring, and bringing out the best in people is the purpose of the place. Here, you can learn how to give your gifts in order to make all of society tick. There is that one thing only you can do best. On Chiron, you learn how to develop it and contribute it. Most associated with mythical Chiron’s incurable wound, after whom this comet/planetoid (centaur) is named, there is a paradox to discover. In your wounding lies the key to your healing, and it is up to you to learn to make lemonade out of life’s lemons. Chiron’s function is wholemaking and learning to weave together the fragments of ourselves into a not-so-crazy quilt. Chiron teaches the healing in humor, how to overcome sexual shame, and how to get unstuck from chronic wounds. People from Chiron may have an actual physical handicap. Note that word has “handy” in it, reflecting the hidden gift in learning to make lemonade from wounds that can’t be healed on the physical level. Although its atmosphere is the merging of all opposites—light/dark, higher/lower self, opposing astrological energies—one of its specialties is merging anima and animus, male and female. Here women learn to embrace their recessive male characteristics; men learn to integrate their recessive female traits. Issues often up for healing on Chiron are abandonment and a sense of not fitting in. Chironic occupations are hands-on healers, including the practice of medicine—especially herbalism and complementary (“alternative”) medicine— astrologers, and teachers. In the body, Chiron is associated with the hands, thighs, and the corpus collosum of the brain, the bridge between the right and left hemispheres.
Uranus - Call it Planet Free Spirit! Uranus is a place of the unexpected, breakthroughs, and sudden change. It is the opposite archetype from Saturn, which desperately wants things to remain the same. It is known for brainstorms, innovation, originality, and uniqueness. If necessity is the mother of invention, her child is Uranus, known for its revolutionary genius. Inventors, astrologers and reformers come from this planet. Here, insights, intuition, and experiments thrive. The natives are tolerant, independent, and seekers of truth. Science, technology, electricity, and communications are the industries. Often highly unusual in appearance or ideas, Uranians are the visionaries who light the fires of change, without which humanity would stagnate. In the human body, Uranus is associated with the ankles and capillaries.
Neptune - This dreamy place is the destination for inspiration, ideals, intuition, emotions, visions, hunches, and ESP. It’s not just another planet; it’s otherworldly all together. The natives ooze sympathy, compassion, sensitivity, and universal love. While mystics may be meditating on every street corner, you are likely to find plenty of substances abusers and lovers of mind-altering drugs hanging around with them—or they might be one in the same. On the fun side, Neptune is associated with movies and delicious escapism. On the downside, there are illusions, impracticality, confusion, self-pity, neuroses and other mental health challenges. People from Neptune gravitate to careers in psychology, treatment of alcohol or drug abuse, music, poetry, and other arts that translate deep personal and collective feelings—beautifully.
Pluto – Pluto is not for the feint of heart! This distant planet is the tiniest of all the wanderers in our solar system, but as anyone who has studied astrology will tell you, it packs a wallop. It is the planet of deep transformation, permanent change, death and rebirth, and endings and beginnings. On Pluto, you’ll discover your personal relationship to world events. You will meet the inner you, and if you don’t like what you see, “arrangements” will be made for you to transform yourself. If you don’t go willingly, you’ll be introduced to Darth Vader—or Tony Soprano. Pluto demands surrender. Its realm is power. Some of its associations include insurance, taxes, recycling, sexuality, group consciousness and cultural change, energy release, psychic powers, kundalini, and will. Its downside is fanaticism, compulsions, obsessions and power abuse. Pluto’s inhabitants span the very wealthy to the criminal element. One of the most archetypal Plutonian occupations is spy, but like Neptunians, these natives make great psychiatrists or anyone who does deep in-depth transformation with people. In the body, Pluto is associated with the sex organs and bowels. It may be dangerous territory, but everyone wants some of the goodies in this paragraph, especially personal power—the one thing, when achieved in a healthy way, that makes existence on any planet not only bearable but also rich.
See Your Travel Agent!
If you’re a newbie to astrology or a relative newcomer and want help, astrologers are your travel agents on this space odyssey. Contact me if you need suggestions on where to find someone to work with you. And, by the way, I’ve started recently to do a limited number of astrology readings each month after a long hiatus. If you think I might be the one for you, e-mail me. Let’s explore the possibility and maybe even the heavens together!
Photo Credit: AROUND THE SUN © Wowbagger Dreamstime.com