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The Astrological Planets

The planets are the central coterie of astrology. While the signs of the zodiac and the astrological houses set the stage for a horoscope, it is the planets that are the players upon that stage: it is their positions and the aspects (important angles) they make that form the bulk of any interpretation.

Classical astrology considered the apparent movements of seven known astrological planets, including the Sun and Moon, which are not planets in the astronomical sense. These seven were the celestial bodies that appeared to travel through the zodiac when viewed from earth: Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Once they were discovered, the three remaining planets - Uranus (found in 1781), Neptune (1846) and Pluto (1930) - were incorporated into astrological theory. The locations and aspects of other heavenly bodies, such as the asteroid Chiron (discovered in 1977), are also used by some astrologers in preparing a horoscope.

Rulerships, Detriments, Exaltations and Falls of the Planets

Each planet rules one or more signs, and in each case these are the signs in which the planet can most easily express its innate characteristics. A planet encounters most difficulty in manifesting its energies in the signs of its detriment, which are always the opposite signs to those of its rulership.

The planets are also said to be exalted in particular signs, and in the sign of its exaltation, a planet generates its power from the conditions provided by the characteristics of the sign. A planet is at its weakest and most ineffectual in the sign of its fall, where the nature of the sign actively opposes the planet's energies, and a planet finds its fall in the opposite sign to that of its exaltation. Thus a planet in the sign of its fall is a more problematic situation than a planet in the sign of its detriment, though both are negative.

Symbol Planet Rulership Exaltation Detriment Fall
Sun Sun Leo Aries Aquarius Libra
Moon Moon Cancer Taurus Capricorn Scorpio
Mercury Mercury Gemini
Virgo
Aquarius Sagittarius
Pisces
Leo
Venus Venus Taurus
Libra
Pisces Scorpio
Aries
Virgo
Mars Mars Aries
Scorpio
Capricorn Libra
Taurus
Cancer
Jupiter Jupiter Sagittarius
Pisces
Cancer Gemini
Virgo
Capricorn
Saturn Saturn Capricorn
Aquarius
Libra Cancer
Leo
Aries
Uranus Uranus Aquarius Scorpio Leo Taurus
Neptune Neptune Pisces Cancer Virgo Capricorn
Pluto Pluto Aries
Scorpio
Leo Libra
Taurus
Aquarius

Influences of the Planets

The Sun

Sun The Sun is the planet of the self, will, energy and power. It is the most important planet in a horoscope, and a heavily afflicted Sun in a natal chart makes it difficult for the subject to get anywhere in life, as they will not have the basic self-belief and stamina required to progress.

The Moon

Moon The Moon is the planet of the unconscious mind, habits and emotions. The aspects and position of the Moon in a natal chart indicate the subject's way of dealing with the influence of others.

Mercury

Mercury Mercury is the planet of the mind, intellect and communication. In a natal chart, the aspects and position of Mercury show the ways in which subjects use their minds and how they get their message across to others.

Venus

Venus Venus is the planet of love, higher emotions and artistic sensibility. The aspects and position of Venus in a natal chart indicate how the subject deals with relationships, sexuality and social interaction, as well as their capacity for creating and appreciating beauty.

Mars

Mars Mars is the planet of action and the expression of will through activity. A heavily afflicted Mars in a natal chart may give the subject impulsive or violent tendencies. Favorable influences may channel the energy of Mars more positively, into strength, determination and achievement, for example.

Jupiter

Jupiter Jupiter is the planet of expansion, growth and cooperation. In a natal chart, the aspects and position of Jupiter indicate how subjects are able to expand their horizons, and how they fit into and contribute to society.

Saturn

Saturn Saturn is the planet of structure, limitation, experience and discipline. A heavily afflicted Saturn in a natal chart can leave subjects selfish, rigid and limited in their ability to interact meaningfully with others. Favorable influences can make them ambitious, successful and self-disciplined.

Uranus

Uranus Uranus is the planet of innovation, nonconformity, higher intuition and inspiration. In a natal chart, a well-aspected Uranus can bring a touch of genius to the subject, while a heavily afflicted one can lead to eccentricity and unreliability.

Neptune

Neptune Neptune is the planet of transcendence, higher faculties and psychic abilities. In a natal chart, the aspects and position of Neptune deal with the subject's ability to access higher consciousness and their grip on reality. A heavily afflicted Neptune can lead to unrealistic expectations and self-deception.

Pluto

Pluto Pluto is the planet of deep, impersonal energies and transforming forces. In a natal chart, the aspects and position of Pluto indicate areas of life in which the subject is capable of making fundamental changes, for better or for worse.