THE CELESTIAL BODIES
The Traditional Seven Sacred Celestial Bodies
Since the times of Claudius Ptolemy, astrology was founded on the principle of seven sacred celestial bodies: the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Astrologers who follow the traditional approach will focus their interpretations on these celestial bodies only and apply traditional rulerships. The modern approach will take into account Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, observing modern rulerships. Generally, astrologers will take from both and formulate a personal hybrid approach of both traditional and modern principles.
In addition to the Sun and Moon (discussed on the previous page), there’s Mercury, Venus, and Mars. These are considered the five personal planets. Personal planets denote your personality and personal development. The Sun can tell us about the influence from your father, the Moon, your mother. The Sun can give a sense of your childhood development, while the Moon, your adulthood.
MERCURY governs your intellectual or thought plane. “As above, so below,” the mantra of Key 1: The Magician in tarot, resonates with Mercury, which also happens to be the assigned rulership over the card. As Mercury moves above us, so below is governed the way we think, our path of logical reasoning, our ideas, the way we communicate, and our societal influence. Mercury offers insight into our mental plane and our rhetoric. It tells how you communicate your ideas to others and the way you think. The planet changes signs every 7 to 8 days.
VENUS corresponds with our emotional plane, what we desire emotionally, and offers insight into our sense of style and aesthetics. The planet changes signs every 18 to 19 days, and so for astrologers, is considered an important planet to examine when assessing your personality and character.
Per the law of attraction, our approach to love and relationships, our style and aesthetics subconsciously attracts certain types of admirers. The placement of your natal Venus can offer insights into who is romantically drawn to you. Earlier in the Elemental Analysis section, we talked about the element governing the sign in your seventh house, which notes what type of person you’re drawn to. Venus shows who is drawn to you
MARS is passion, ambition, what we seek to conquer or acquire, and how we assert our social position. It is also about the survival instinct in every one of us. Mars denotes how we utilize our inner fire, our sexual energy, our determination, and our aggressions. Mars will have an impact on the climax of our life and part of the denouement.
The personal planets are the faster moving planets, with the Sun changing signs every 22-23 days, the Moon every 2 days, Mercury every 7-8 days, Venus every 18-19, and Mars the longest, 57-58 days. These are, of course, ballpark numbers.
Read together with their corresponding houses and signs, a mere astrologer is going to be pretty spot-on with a psychoanalysis of who you are, your whole package, what you show to the world and what you don’t show, and why and how.
Jupiter and Saturn are the two social planets. They place the Self within a certain context and environment and denote the influences of that environment on the Self, whether the context we have been placed in is supportive of success or whether the Acts of God tend to throw us curveballs and present hurdles for us to overcome. The social planets show us where we are positioned within the collective whole. Together, they represent our social experience.
On one hand is JUPITER, denoting luck and prosperity. What’s our expansion and growth potential? How popular is the native? Jupiter will tell us. The position of Jupiter in our natal chart shows our luck, prosperity, fortune, success, and where we tend to shine. The planet changes about every 361 days.
SATURN reveals our limitations, our boundaries, the social structure we operate by. It denotes the responsibilities we assume and our moral obligations. It shows hardship, obstacles, inner conflicts, and our personal battles. The planet changes signs every two and a half years.
Saturn brings pragmatism and a certain level of mental clarity and rationalism to the choices you make in life, which while it sounds great, can often cause us to be risk averse and thus create limitations on ourselves that become obstructions. That is why Saturn is often related to limitations, but really, it’s about trying to be practical.
The transpersonal planets, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, pave the pathway for us to our higher consciousness. They express how our personal unconscious connects to the collective unconscious, or the collective cosmic Qi of the universe. If I wasn’t getting spiritual and metaphysical enough for you before, I sure am now. It is said that these celestial bodies vibrate at higher frequencies, though their effects on our daily lives are not immediately apparent, but rather are revealed over time. Uranus illuminates that path to self-awareness; Neptune to our intuitions and clairvoyance; and Pluto to self-metamorphosis.
URANUS shows us areas of your creativity, the ways you are different from others. A strong Uranus presence in a chart often denotes someone who is eccentric, unconventional, an individualist, and who is born with innate gifts in the arts and literature.
Unless Uranus leads in your chart, I don’t go in-depth with my treatment of Uranus. The planet changes signs every 7 years, and so its influence is often generational.
NEPTUNE brings gifts of intuition, clairvoyance, and psychic dreams. It is the dreamer’s planet, and a strong Neptune presence will show a strong imagination. Neptune also brings compassion and sensitivity. It can also bring innate gifts of music and poetry.
Unless Neptune leads in your chart and thus the Neptunian influence would be strong in your life, I don’t go in-depth with my treatment of Neptune. The planet changes signs every 14 years, and so its influence is often generational.
PLUTO may not be considered a planet anymore by astronomers, but astrologers have long found its metaphysical influences on earth to be significant and worth noting in a natal chart. The house that Pluto is in will often experience upheaval or catharsis. Pluto can also indicate issues involving power and control, trust issues, an innate gift for healing, and also an innate tendency for emotional manipulation.
Pluto in a natal chart also signifies generational influences, since it spends about 12 to 32 years in each sign. For instance, from 1939 to 1957 Pluto was in Leo. Those born with Pluto in Leo lived in a generation that focused on themes of power and world leadership. Individuals from that generation were working through issues of power, both using it constructively and destructively. World power, leadership, and who would rule who and what were the prevailing questions for that generation. Pluto was in Virgo from 1957 to 1972. That generation was all about transforming the way we think about health. Medical research, world-wide diseases, medical discoveries, and the links between mind and body were the main focus points for that generation.
My generation, when Pluto was in Libra, 1972 to 1984, focused on themes of justice and how to transform human relations on the global scale. The popular boundary line between Gen X and Gen Y cuts through this period, and yet most of us have found that artificial division line between the two generations to not fit so well for those born between 1972 and 1984. Often those born between 1981-1984, who are by most accounts “Gen Y,” are going to have more in common with the 1972-1980 Gen X folk than the Gen Y after 1984 because of Pluto in Libra.
From 1984 to 2000, Pluto was in Scorpio, producing a generation all about change, instigating change, reform, global activism, and progress. They say that many indigo children were born during this period. Environmentalism and multi-national conflicts will also be issues this generation will grapple with, given the Pluto in Scorpio energies.
As for the Pluto in Sagittarius generation, 2000 to 2008, they will experience an urgent need to transform religious views and will have to find ways to reconcile disparate philosophies, religions, and cultural ideologies.
Pluto moved into Capricorn in November, 2008 and is going to reside there until 2023. Thus, it would seem like the very backbone, foundation, and structure of society as we know it will be transformed dramatically during this time. Power and control issues tied inextricably with money and commerce will be what shakes our global foundation to its core.
The three transpersonal planets (we’re going to refer to Pluto as a planet here) have a subtle, deeper influence over a native and, read in conjunction with the personal planets that denote the disposition, can reveal whether one is more attuned and aligned with the physical world we live in or more aligned to something beyond, vibrating at a higher frequency, and thus while aligned with that higher frequency, may be in quite a clash with normal society, the physical world.
Before we move on to the other celestial bodies, let’s take a moment to talk about sects. There is the DIURNAL or day sect, and the NOCTURNAL or night sect. Some astrologers will identify two different rulerships for each sign. For instance, Mercury would rule Gemini in the day, or in diurnal sects, but rule Virgo at night, in nocturnal sects. Venus would rule Libra by day, but Taurus by night.
Thus, if your natal chart is diurnal (depicted by your sun sign being in one of the houses in the southern hemisphere or “top half” of your chart) and your ascendant sign Libra, then your ascendant rulership would be Saturn. However, if an ascendant sign Libra has a nocturnal chart (i.e., the sun sign is in the northern hemisphere or “bottom half” of the chart), then the ascendant rulership would be Mercury.
A diurnal Libra ascendant is more likely to enter a stable, corporate career and feel the pull of duty and obligations stronger, due to the Saturn rulership influence, than a nocturnal Libra ascendant, who might opt for a more academic career path, and is likely to be more of a philosopher than her diurnal Libra counterpart, due to the Mercury rulership influence.
A diurnal native is likely to exhibit more active yang energy and relate closer to the solar principle, while a nocturnal native is associated with the recessive yin energy and will feel a greater pull from the lunar principle.
As indicated earlier, every sign has a corresponding ruling planet. Some astrologers observe the day-night rulerships in the above table. E.g., all Fire signs, Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius, are ruled by the Sun if it’s a diurnal chart, but ruled by Jupiter if it’s a nocturnal chart; all diurnal Air signs, Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius, are ruled by Saturn, while nocturnal Air signs are ruled by Mercury.
However, today the majority of astrologers will observe single rulerships. Even within the school of single rulerships, there are traditional rulerships (i.e., only the seven sacred celestial bodies, noted below) and modern rulerships (i.e., includes the transpersonal planets, also to be explained below). One faction of astrologers follows the traditional rulerships while the other follows the modern.
Irrespective of the approach you adopt, the main rulership you’ll want to pay attention to is the planetary ruler of your ascendant sign, often noted as the ascendant rulership (or the ascendant lord).
In natal chart interpretation, one way rulerships are applied is to use it as supplemental information. For example, say that your second house, the house corresponding with wealth, resources, livelihood, and personal finances, is occupied by the sign Gemini. In addition to interpretation of how your financial situation is expressed through Gemini (i.e., a native who is likely to use her power of persuasion and charm to achieve material acquisitions), an astrologer might also look to Gemini’s ruling planet, Mercury.
In the case of Gemini, irrespective of whether the astrologer subscribes by the traditional or modern approach, the ruling planet is Mercury. You would then note what’s going on with Mercury in your natal chart. Let’s say that Mercury is right near that cusp between the tenth and eleventh house. I might see that as indicating a person who is likely to achieve public recognition and high reputation for her logical reasoning and communication abilities. Say that Pisces is in the eleventh house, indicating someone who is a chameleon, someone gifted at human relations, who can be exactly who you need her to be for you. What’s more, with the beneficent Jupiter in the diurnal sect in Taurus (refer to the sect tables above), an astrologer might extrapolate that this is a native who is poised for great heights of public success.
The Nodes refer to the points along the Moon’s ecliptic orbit around the Earth that intersect with the Sun’s. The NORTHERN NODE (in older texts, it might be referred to as the Dragon’s Head) indicates the key to your happiness. Follow the Northern Node and the native will find what fulfills him. Some claim that the Northern Node is the predetermined spiritual path a native is meant to take to find self-actualization, while the Southern Node represents the predetermined obstacles in the native’s way. Amplifying aspects with the Northern Node will show personal strengths, natural inclinations, and the innate traits the native possesses that can lead him toward success and achievement of his goals. The Northern Node is the beacon for understanding how one can advance toward personal success.
Study the planets that form aspects with the Northern Node. If there are trines or conjunctions with Venus or Uranus, then the arts and creative pursuits bring happiness and fulfillment. If there are amplifying aspects with Venus or Uranus and another with the midheaven point, then you could be looking at the natal chart of a writer, musician, actor, or model. Often, a good practice tip is to see whether there are strong, amplifying aspects between the Northern Node and the midheaven point (Mc) to get a sense of the likelihood the native will pursue a professional career that fulfills her and makes her happy, or whether she’ll opt for the safer route.
The SOUTHERN NODE (in older texts, the Dragon’s Tail) indicates what you want but often cannot have, due to obstacles, conflicts, or tensions present in your life. The Southern Node shows what opposes the Northern Node, areas often left unfulfilled, weaknesses, or negative attributes or behavior patterns formed from childhood (or even past lives). The zodiac sign of the Southern Node can indicate desires, subconscious longing, or old baggage continually left unexamined. Understanding the significance of the Southern Node in a chart will help the native understand what it is that prevents the native from achieving happiness and fulfillment.
For me, nodal analysis is instrumental in a past life astrology reading.
Generally, a natal chart generated by one of the popular astrology software programs will show only the Northern Node. No worries. The Southern Node is the same degree of the opposite sign in the zodiac where the Northern Node is residing. Thus, if your Northern Node is in Sagittarius, then your Southern Node is Gemini.
A native with a Northern Node in Sagittarius can’t be tied down to a mundane corporate desk job, crunching out the same work product day in and day out at a cubicle. For a native with a Northern Node in Sagittarius to be fulfilled and happy, she needs to follow her visions. She will be a lifetime peripatetic.
With her Southern Node in Gemini, she is a thinker, in fact an over-thinker. She over-analyzes and will waste a lot of her energy trying to rationalize her emotions. She over-analyzes other people’s motivations for behaving the way they do. Such a native may spend a lot of time second-guessing people, wondering about their ulterior motives and trying to outsmart them by identifying exactly what sort of sophisticated backhanded scheming they’re involved in. It doesn’t dawn on her that sometimes, people are just idiots and that’s why they’re acting like idiots.
She’s also likely to be someone who demands precision with words. On the flip side of being a peripatetic, she’s mercurial. She can’t seem to make up her mind about what she truly wants out of life. Her greatest weakness is never staying in one place, honing one craft, or doing one single thing long enough to become a master at it.
Per the ecliptic coordinate system, the midheaven (or medium coeli, denoted by Mc) is the measured angle representing the highest point in the sky from our vantage point at the moment of our birth. It represents the path of highest ascension for us, where we aim for. It’s about our social status, public reputation, and our career trajectory, our professional destiny.
Not only is the sign important, but neighboring planets are just as telling. Neptune near the midheaven, for example, could indicate a yearning for an artistic or creative career. Uranus will likely indicate an unconventional career path. Saturn just the opposite, quite a conservative, structured profession. I wouldn’t be surprised if such a native was in business, finance, or law. A cluster of multiple planets might suggest many career changes throughout life, though the influence closest to the Mc will be what the native is most likely to succeed in.
CHIRON refers to the minor planet 2060-Chiron, which is a bit farther out in our solar system. Chiron signifies the wounded healer and represents our deepest wounds. Like the shaman, what wounds us also becomes our greatest strength, and thus also signify areas where we have skills in healing. Chiron can stay in a Sign anywhere from 2 to 8 years.
CERES is one of the largest celestial bodies in the asteroid belt, between Mars and Jupiter. Ceres, which changes Signs every 3 to 4 months, indicates the resources a native will have available to him in his environment, and can show whether or not the native has the resources needed for success. Its positioning compared to Jupiter in a natal chart can prove quite informative about the native’s lot in life.
VESTA, a minor planet better known as 4-Vesta, denotes sex, sexuality, and sexual healing. For those familiar with the tarot, there’s an abundance of High Priestess energy in Vesta. Vesta changes Signs approximately every 2 months, and so it, too, can be an important indicator.
LILITH, also known as the Black Moon, is the point of greatest distance between the moon and Earth in the moon’s elliptical orbit. So it’s not actually a celestial body, but rather a sensitive point, like the Nodes, that is believed to hold interpretive significance in astrology. Lilith symbolizes female empowerment. It can show an area of subversion, a part of the unconscious that remains undeveloped within the native, and express the shadow Self. In essence, what Lilith represents in a natal chart is what the native should consider developing and honing further for penultimate greatness and accomplishment. Lilith is that which the native likely has left latent, but if manifested, could completely change the game, so to speak, and alter the native’s life path.