The planets, including the Sun and the Moon, represent basic forces or energies. The Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn have been used in astrology for over 2000 years, and while their meanings have been somewhat altered over time, the fundamental symbolism has stayed the same. In fact, the interpretations of the planets have remained fairly constant in vastly different cultures. Venus, for example, is the planet of love and attraction both in European and Hindu astrology, while Mars is associated with action or aggression.Interpreting a birth chart involves blending the meanings of the planets with their signs, houses and aspects. It can seem complicated at first, but with experience you can learn how to sort through the information and come up with meaningful interpretations.
The Lights: The Sun and Moon
Of all the planets, the two most important planets to astrologers are the “lights,” the Sun and the Moon. From where we stand here on Earth, the great shining Sun by day and the reflecting Moon at night are our constant companions. They have much to tell us as to where we have been and where we are headed.
The Sun: Our Shining Light
From the Sun comes light, that which draws us into life. The Sun represents all the changes we have not yet taken, that part of us that we have not yet experienced but are headed toward.The Sun represents our identity, or self, in that it is toward these that we are moving and developing. The Sun relates to our will, consciousness, creativity, father and authority figure sin general. It describes how (by sign) and where (by house) we need to shine.
The Moon: Nurturance
The Moon symbolizes emotions, feelings, instincts and day to day habit patterns and routine. The Moon is very strongly related to mother, home and family. The sign the Moon is in describes how a person is nurtured and nurturing. Its house shows the circumstances under which emotions are most likely to express themselves.
Mercury: The Mind and Communication
Mercury is the light in our eyes, the ever-changing consciousness within us that moves from idea to idea. Thus Mercury has always represented thoughts, ideas, and the mental process in general. It governs not only ideas, but communications, too. Communications — by phone, letter, spoken, or however — are ruled by Mercury. Also thoughts, connections, phone wires, and everything that connects and conveys — even conversations.
Venus: Planet of Love
Venus rules our values and sense of appreciation. When we appraise or appreciate something, whether another person or a new car, this is Venus at work. Venus describes how we love and what we want to be loved for. It’s a key to relationships, pleasure, art and beauty.
Mars: Action and Initiative
Mars, the first planet outside the orbit of the Earth, is associated with action, assertion, aggression or initiative. It tells us how we get things going, the way we like to work and how we express anger.
Jupiter: Guide and Guru
Jupiter is the method each of us has for dealing with the laws of life, our Saturn or limitations. The Hindu word for Jupiter is Guru and this planet indicates our particular Dharma, the way we can solve the problems that confront us. Thus Jupiter has to do with our vocation, the way in which we can be successful.Jupiter is the light or path. The largest planet in the solar system, Jupiter represents the principles of growth and expansion.
Saturn indicates where we are bound to learn, the narrowness that makes our way felt, the walls that make homes possible. Saturn holds us together as much as apart. Saturn, the ringed planet, shows us our boundaries and limits and where and how we need to take responsibility in life.
We have just dealt with planets that we can see with our naked eyes. In general, these planets refer to life as we know and live it, and are the so-called historical or classic planets. Beyond these are three planets that are not visible to the naked eye and which have cycles longer than the average human life span. Since they are beyond Saturn or time, astrologers call them the transpersonal or transcendental planets — the planets beyond the physical. One of the ways astrologers learn something about our life beyond time (eternal life) is through these three outer planets: Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. Here we find information on how we discover ourselves (Uranus), how we understand and accept these discoveries (Neptune), and, in time, how we depend and identify with them (Pluto).
Uranus: Breakthroughs and Revolution
Uranus, discovered between the American and French revolutions, symbolizes our capacity to go beyond limits. It is about inventiveness, originality and independence. “Uranian” people (those marked strongly by this planet) are unique individuals who act as agents for change, they are awakeners here to help us break our patterns.
Neptune: Ideals & Imagination
Neptune dissolves boundaries and barriers, enabling us to connect with the universe. It’s about inspiration, imagination, compassion, ideals and communion. But, the other side of Neptune is about confusion, illusion and diffusion.
Pluto is the planet of profound change, starting deep within us and moving toward the surface. It often touches upon the most sensitive psychological areas inside us. Once touched, we have no choice but to change and grow. Pluto is about death and rebirth, the transformation that comes from letting go of that which is unessential so that we can get to the core of things.
The Nodes of the Moon: Crossroads
The Nodes of the Moon are not planets, but appear in many charts. The North and South Nodes are those two opposing points where the Earth’s orbit around the Sun is crossed by the Moon’s orbit around the Earth. The South Node of the Moon shows old patterns of behavior and response. The North Node points in the direction of the future, fulfillment and integration. Together the Nodes provide information about how we link ourselves with others.