Lesson 1. Planets in Astrology
The Role of Planets in Astrological Interpretations
When looking at the starry sky, our ancestors noticed that although the majority of stars retain the same configurations year after year, some celestial bodies do in fact move against the backdrop of the stars, changing their speed and sometimes even the direction of their movement, as if they had a will of their own. They called those “self-willed” celestial bodies planets (from the Greek, meaning "wanderer").
And who in the sky can possibly have a will of their own? The gods, of course. So the planets were given the names of the gods: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn. As humanity matured and its knowledge of the universe expanded, three more planets were added: Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.
Two other celestial bodies are very prominent in the sky: the Sun and the Moon — also called the luminaries. The Sun and the Moon play a special role in astrology. However, in astrological interpretations they are very often interpreted as planets.
All in all, we have ten planets that play the main role in any astrological interpretation. When teaching astrology, it is often said that if life is a play, then the planets are the actors in that play. Planets show where the action is; they are the energetic centers of the world. When looking at a horoscope, we pay a lot of attention to where the planets are.
If we continue to follow the principle "as above so below", the prominent bodies like these should correspond to something very important in terrestrial life. However, we should not be too mechanistic in our understanding of astrology. We should not imagine that the planets of the solar system are sending out waves or rays at us, and that this is how astrology works. Don't forget that astrology is actually an applied philosophy. There are some higher ideas or principles of the whole Being, or the macrocosm, that are as if projected into the lower levels of the world, the microcosms of different scales. The solar system is actually one of the microcosms, and the physical Sun is only one manifestation of the higher principle of the Sun. Its other manifestations are the metal gold, the king as the head of the country, the consciousness in the human being, the father in the family and so on.
This idea might be difficult to grasp in the beginning, but with time, as you learn more about astrology, and as you begin to gradually see the world from the astrological viewpoint, it may become second nature.
When studying planets, we'll need to visualize a multi-dimensional portrait of some entity that can be represented in real life by people, events, moods, kinds of weather, attitudes, emotions and so on. To have a good knowledge of the planets, you will need to spend with them some time. Not just reading about them, but also thinking about what else they could be and how they might manifest themselves in this or that situation.
In this lesson, I will give only brief interpretations of each planet in order to not overwhelm you. Later, we shall devote at least one full lesson to every planet. At the end of this lesson, I will give you a kind of homework task: a few mental exercises that will help you develop your understanding of the planets.
Brief Interpretations of the Personal Planets
Personal planets are the Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus and Mars. They are so called because in the horoscope they are most closely related to the owner of the chart — his or her personal characteristics and the events in his or her personal life.
The purpose of life; the source of energy and creativity. Plays a central, prominent role in some area of life. Represents the heart in the body. Often, the Sun can symbolize the father in the person's life. In a horoscope of a woman, it can speak about her attitude toward men in general. The Sun highlights the house of the horoscope in which it is located. (Don't worry if you aren’t sure what houses are. We’ll study them in one of the coming lessons.)
The general circumstances of the person's life. Emotions, subconscious, habits, peculiarities of the way the person's body works. Changeability and adaptability in one or another area of life. In the body, it represents the stomach and breasts. The Moon is often related to the person's image of the mother and with his or her attitude towards children in general. In a man's horoscope, it can speak about his attitude toward women in general. Like the Sun, the Moon highlights the house of the horoscope in which it is situated.
Represents thinking, speech, communication, perception and transmission of information. Also shows peculiarities of the nervous system, reaction to surrounding events, the ability to find one's way in a situation, and dexterity. Demonstrates attitude towards learning and study — one’s preferred approach towards learning. In the body, Mercury is related to the nerves, brain, respiratory passages and intestines. Depending on the other factors, Mercury can have either a positive or a negative influence on the affairs of the house where it is located.
Love, the ability to create and maintain harmony, the attitude toward the opposite sex. Represents the image of the beloved person (more often so in a male horoscope). The perception of beauty, art, and fashion; the ability to handle money and valuable items; the ability to relax and enjoy life, sensuality. In the body, Venus is related to the kidneys and the female organs. The influence of Venus on the affairs of the house where it is located is more often positive than not.
Energy, will, action; the ability to make an effort and overcome difficulties. Bravery, aggressiveness; the ability to work and spend energy purposefully, to create some result. In a female horoscope, Mars is the image of the beloved man. Mars is related to the attitude toward the opposite sex in general, and shows sexuality. In the body, it represents the gall bladder and the male organs. Mars's influence on the affairs of the house where it is located can often be negative.
Brief Interpretations of the Social and Higher Planets
The social planets are Jupiter and Saturn, so called because in the horoscope they are most related to the person's integration with society and the role of society in his or her life. Moon Nodes, North Node (also known under its Latin name Caput Draconis, Dragon's Head) and South Node (Cauda Draconis, Dragon's Tail), are also social factors of the horoscope, but we will take a look at these separately.
The higher planets are Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. They are not visible via the naked eye and were not known to the astrologers of the past. In the horoscope, they are most closely related to either the psychological depths of the chart's owner or to his or her spiritual qualities. Quite often their movements and configurations can be related to factors beyond personal control, such as revolutions, earthquakes and other global events.
Worldview, religion, science, and philosophy, as well as everything related to foreign countries, other cultures and traveling to far lands. Generosity and optimism, development and expansion. The ability to find one's way in society — to understand its goals and motifs. The ability to see the forest for the trees, to have an integral perception of many separate details. Represents the liver in the body. Jupiter is the great benefactor of traditional astrology since in most cases its influence on the house of the horoscope where it is situated is very positive.
Discipline, severity, responsibility, limitations; laws and rules established by society and the attitude of the person to them. Systematic approach, slowness, the ability to concentrate. Frugality, pessimism, methodicalness. In the body, Saturn represents the bones, teeth and hair. Saturn is traditionally considered to be the planet of difficulties and obstacles, so its influence on the house of the horoscope where it is located can often be negative.
A yearning for freedom, independence, a lack of desire to take into consideration rules and limitations. Unpredictability, originality, inventiveness and eccentricity. Interest in everything new, unusual, focused on the future. Uranus does not always manifest itself, and not in every life, but in the day of cardinal changes in one's life, its influence is like a burst of cold wind into a stuffy room: uncomfortable, unpleasant, maybe shocking, but afterward, it becomes easier to breathe.
Ideals, fantasies, illusions, super-sensitivity. Adds an incredible depth to both inspiration and despondency. A separation from reality, but at the same time, the ability to charm a lot of people with one's idea. Like Uranus, Neptune manifests itself irregularly and ambiguously — from complete chaos and self-destruction to missionary work and self-sacrificing service.
Secret power and might, hidden motive forces of the world. Intensity in all manifestations, perspicacity, the ability to manipulate people and bend them to one's will, the tendency to participate in mass movements. Pluto is as ambiguous in its manifestations as the other higher planets: in periods of life crises, it can manifest itself as a heavy loss, a complete annihilation of some aspect of one's life, but as a result of this, an opportunity may arise in which one can start everything anew, from scratch, a blank slate.
Studying the Planets
As previously mentioned, planets in astrology are multi-dimensional entities that can have many different meanings depending onto which realm real principle is projected. They can be imagined as the archetypes that live somewhere deep in the collective subconscious, but in fact they are more like the high-level principles of all of Nature.
It can take quite some time to develop a working knowledge of the planets' principles, and one could say that as long as you continue to study astrology, you will also continue to develop your understanding of the planets, as they are the main active forces in astrology.
Now that you are familiar with brief interpretations of the planets, it would be great if you could begin to notice the planets around you. Each of us has all the planets in our horoscopes, though they manifest themselves differently depending on the exact moment and the location of our births. Quite often, it is possible to notice that one or another planet is predominant in someone's personality.
A person with a prominent Sun will be bright and remarkable in one way or another; proud but generous, often acting as the center of attention in a group of people.
A Moon person will enjoy caring for babies, cooking and will easily manage all those daily chores that many other people would consider too boring.
A Mercury person spends a lot of time chatting, sending texts, consuming all sorts of information and easily finds a common topic with everyone.
A Venus person will do just about anything to be attractive and follow the latest fashion trends.
A Mars person will typically be sporty and energetic. They might be easily angered and may be very interested in sex.
A typical Jupiter person is generous, open-minded, enjoys traveling and probably likes anything foreign.
Those with strong Saturn may be too serious for their age, very responsible and systematic, and perhaps even pessimistic. They may also be quite slow.
A Uranus person can be eccentric, unpredictable, crazy about new technologies and about his or her personal freedom.
Someone with prominent Neptune might be mysterious and interested in all things spiritual, and perhaps a little bit out-of-this-world.
A Pluto person will prefer to stay in the shadows while still try to secretly influence the course of events.
Look around you and try to find typical representatives of different planets in your friends, relatives, colleagues, etc. With some people it can be easy, with others more difficult, as they might represent a complex mixture of several planets.
Next, read the article about Planetary Days and Hours. This is an ancient, non-horoscopic form of astrology that is widely used in all esoteric traditions. Find out the planetary ruler of the hour and the day when you were born. Do the same for your friends and relatives. Are the different planets special in various ways to you or your friends or family members? This is how your knowledge of planets will gradually increase.
Also, try to read everything you can, whether online or in books, about the astrological meaning of planets. In the next lesson, we will familiarize ourselves with the next very important element of astrology: the signs of the zodiac.