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Astrology Basics - Planets

If Signs provide a general idea of what is happening in a particular part of a chart, Planets provide the specifics. Everything in a chart except the Planets (Signs, Houses and their Cusps, and Aspects) are abstractions painted by the minds of astrologers on the canvas of space. 

Therefore, the Planets’ positions in the chart provide points of reference astrologers use to discover which abstractions are meaningful. 

Planets are active influences; wherever they are in a chart, something is happening. What specifically is happening depends on the combination of the active Planet or Planets involved on the passive elements (Signs and Houses), and what “angle” their energy is coming in at (Aspects).

Astrological Chart - Planets

In the chart above, the Planets are represented by the symbol/number combinations in the middle wheel. 

For example, at the bottom of this chart is the Sun. It is symbolized by the reddish circle with a dot in the middle. In a direct line toward the middle of the chart from the Sun-symbol are two numbers separated by another symbol. 

These numbers and symbol represent what Sign the sun is in, and where in that Sign the Sun is; every Sign has thirty degrees assigned to it, and each degree has sixty minutes. 

The number closest to the Sun symbol represents a degree (14), the middle symbol represents the Sign (Aquarius), and the final number represents the minute of the degree that the Sun is in (33). 

Why this information is important will be explained in the article on Aspects. Some planets—such as Saturn, at the top of the chart displayed—will have an extra symbol which looks like an “Rx” inward from the “minutes” number. 

This symbol translates to “retrograde,” which means the Planet appeared to be moving backward in its orbit at the time when viewed from Earth. All this information is needed in order to discern which parts of the chart—including other Planets—a particular Planet is influencing (or “Aspecting”).

Below is a list of the commonly-used planets and their symbols, and a brief description of what each Planet’s influence is like.

Astrological Planets - The Sun

The Sun   Wherever the Sun is in a chart, that area is brightly illuminated. The Sun in a person’s chart often represents the person’s self-image and how they reinforce that self-image. When someone says they are a particular Sign, they are usually referring to their Sun Sign (the Sign the Sun was in when they were born). The Sun is usually considered the single most important Planet in a chart.

Astrological Planets - The Moon

The Moon   Usually considered second only to the Sun in importance (and sometimes considered more important), the Moon represents a person’s emotional nature. While the Sun may represent how a person thinks about or sees him or herself, the Moon represents a person’s “gut reactions.” The Moon can also describe the relationship between the native and his or her mother.

Astrological Planets - Mercury

Mercury   The fastest-moving Planet, Mercury shows how a person communicates and reasons. Mercury can also indicate how the person deals with change.

Astrological Planets - Venus

Venus   The Planet of love and beauty, Venus often talks about what makes the person comfortable. Venus can show how a person experiences romance, as well as the things in life the person is inclined to value (or “love”). In a man’s chart, Venus will often show how he views women, and what kind of impact women will have on his life.

Astrological Planets - Mars

Mars   The Planet of action, Mars indicates how a person gets what he or she wants, as well as how the person deals with stress. In a woman’s chart, Mars will often show how she views men, and what kind of impact men will have on her life.

Astrological Planets - Jupiter

Jupiter   This Planet represents a person’s free lunch. Wherever Jupiter is in a person’s chart, that person will tend to enjoy good luck and easy success in that area. Occasionally, Jupiter can represent overexpansion or overindulgence.

Astrological Planets - Saturn

Saturn   This is the Planet of limitations and responsibility. Wherever Saturn is in a person’s chart, it will indicate where the person has to show up and be responsible, where they have to “get serious” if they want to succeed. Sometimes, Saturn represents a major obstacle in the person’s life. Saturn can also describe the relationship between the native and his or her father.

Astrological Planets - Uranus

Uranus   The Great Awakener, Uranus is the Planet of unpredictability. Wherever Uranus is in a person’s chart, abrupt changes and opportunities to learn from experience will manifest in that area.

Astrological Planets - Neptune

Neptune    Wherever Neptune is in a person’s chart, it shows where in life the person tends to navigate by intuition rather than by reason. Neptune’s Aspects—the relationships between Neptune and other elements of the chart—are especially important in discerning Neptune’s influence, because they can show when and how far intuition should be trusted.

Astrological Planets - Pluto

Pluto   The Planet of death and transformation, Pluto indicates where negotiation and compromise do not work for the person, or where the person has to change something fundamental in his or her life.

These are the ten Planets almost every modern astrologer works with. Even though astronomically, Pluto has lost it's planet status, it's still used by astrologers as a planet. 

There is a lot more that could be said about any—and all—of them. This article is meant only to provide a brief glimpse—a “taste”—of each.

Also, it is important to note that there are other elements—other ingredients—some astrologers prefer to have pictured in a chart, which occupy the same area in the chart as the Planets. 

These can include planetoids (Chiron), asteroids (Hera, Athena, etc.), fixed stars (Arcturus, Rigel, etc.), Planets that have not been discovered by astronomers (Zeus, Poseiden, etc.), even Positions...points in the chart with no physical reference such as the Lunar Nodes or Arabic Parts (the Part of Fortune being the most commonly used). 

I bring these up simply to let the reader be exposed to the terms, and know that all of these are beyond the basics that are necessary to read a natal chart (and also to give readers who are interested in a more in-depth study of astrology further starting points).

The next article will talk about the final class of distinct ingredients in a chart: The Houses and their Cusps.

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