The Planets In Astrology
The planets are the most important part of an astrological chart. The zodiac signs give them color and nuance, spelling out how the planets will be expressed in the different sections, or houses, of the chart. Without the planets, a birth chart is meaningless.
Planets in astrology were first thought of in ancient times as the will of gods. Modern-day astrologers believe the planets represent basic impulses, urges, or drives played out through different parts of our psyche, or our conscious and unconscious self. Put another way, the drives in each of us seek expression through our experiences. These lead to personal fulfullment.
No one can prove for certain how the planets’ powers influence us. Some think the planets affect human biology or biochemistry through gravitational pull, electromagnetism, radiation, or radio waves. A few mention the effects of Sun spots. Still others think the planets mirror basic organizing principles that touch everthing in the universe. Chinese astrology sees the planets connected with the basic forces of nature. Regardless of theory, many sbscribe to the idea that cosmic clocks have a direct influence on our life. If plants and animals can be influenced by the tides and the time of year, why not humans as well?
Planets orbit the Sun. They are all at different distances from the Sun and so vary in the length of time they take to complete their orbit. We call the orbit of a planet its cycle. The more distant it is, the longer it will take and so it will travel the heavens more slowly from the Earth’s perspective. Closer ones take a shorter length of time and appear to travel more quickly.
Just as planets move and change position in relation to Earth as part of their cycle, so people and their lives and their psychology changes. Since planets determine specific modes of behaviour, it follows that people and their lives adapt accordingly. Some changes occur quickly, some more slowly. A birthchart then, is never static. It is a vital, living representative of a moment when the planets were in a particular position — a freeze frame of a moment in time. Because planets travel around the Sun, we use a circle to describe this and the circle is reflected in the astrological chart. The following diagram shows the planets within the circle — a map of the heavens as seen from Earth.
Note that we include the Sun and Moon and call them planets.
This is not strictly correct because the Sun is a star and the moon is a satellite of Earth. But for convenience we group them under the name ‘planet’. The Sun and Moon are also called ‘luminaries’ because they produce light.
Planet symbols are those drawn in the main body of the circle with a number, a different symbol and another number beside them. The first number is the degree that the planet occupies, and identifies its position in the zodiacal sign. The symbol represents the sign itself and the second set of numbers are the minutes that go to make up a degree (60 minutes make a degree). As the planet continues to move it will advance to the next degree, but don’t worry about the technicalities just yet.
If we look at the same chart four days later we can see what changes have occurred.
In the first chart the Sun was at 23 degrees and 56 minutes of the sign Cancer . Four days later it is at 27 degrees, 45 minutes of Cancer.
Notice in the first chart the Moon is at 5 degrees 13 minutes of the sign Sagittarius. In the second it has moved to the sign Aquarius. So in just four days the Moon has moved quite a large distance through the zodiac.
Now look at the planet Venus. It has moved to a later degree of the same sign at a rate that is similar to that of the Sun. This is because Venus orbits close to the Sun so from the Earth it appears to move at a similar speed.
When you look at the planet Saturn it is apparent that it has moved only a tiny amount. This small movement is because Saturn orbits at a great distance from the Sun so its cycle is slower. Looking at the planet Neptune reveals that it has barely moved at all because it is an enormous distance from the Sun in its orbit.
How does this translate into astrological terms? This example is to illustrate the life-filled nature of a chart. What it means is that when you look at the first chart it expresses future POTENTIAL .
In other words, a chart is a freeze-frame of a moment in time, but it carries in its symbolism all the potential ongoing cycles. It represents a living entity, vital and dynamic, not a flat and lifeless picture.
Why is the Sun shown in the same area as the planets if the planets circle the Sun? The answer is that when we draw a chart, it reflects the heavens from our perspective on earth. This is called a geocentric perspective. So we see the Sun in the sky in the same way that we see the Moon and Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn (the other planets are so far distant that they cannot be seen without special equipment).
The centre of the chart represents EARTH. From Earth we see the Sun, Moon and Planets. So we draw the Sun in a position as if it were orbiting the earth, which it certainly does appear to do. Although in astronomical reality the Earth orbits the Sun, from Earth it looks like things are happening the other way round. We live on Earth, so our perspective is a valid one and we use that to draw the chart and the planets’ positions.
Through understanding the ten basic drives within each of us as mapped by the Astrology chart, we can learn to harness their energy into the most productive ways for each of us personally.
All of these factors work together in everyone all the time, however each person has different energies which are stronger within themselves than others; the proportions are all different. Some people have a strong need to express themselves intellectually, while others are more social, and yet others are coming from a religious perspective.
Each of us has all of this within ourselves so nothing can be totally neglected about our total being.