Sometimes it can be tricky for astrology students to get a feel for how different planetary energies express themselves and interact with each other. Viewing the planets as people has been a significant help to me in this regard. Some astrologers suggest viewing the planets as gods, which I think works out about the same. Without getting sidetracked in a theological discussion, I’ll just say that for the purpose of astrology, capturing the planets’ archetypal nature by picturing them “come to life” is key. Of course, they are “come to life”… but sometimes that can be easy to forget when the process of study tends to make almost anything feel academic. This is one reason I like doing celebrity horoscopes – they’re a way to discuss astrology literally happening, as opposed to hypotheticals.
I’ll use this as a jumping off point for further discussion about planets in signs and houses, aspects, dashas, varga charts and pretty much everything else. For that reason, I want to keep it pretty simple and just focus on who the planets are and what they’re all about. There are multiple indications for some planets, and I’m not addressing every last thing here; this is just meant to be an introduction and reference sheet.
The Sun (ruler of Leo) is the father, king and general. The Sun is in charge and likes it that way; the Sun’s individualistic nature and ambition make the Sun want to shine, but sometimes the Sun can forget about fair play, equality and humility.
The Moon (ruler of Cancer) is the mother and a representation of the mind and emotions. The mind and emotions are what make us human and the archetypal mother cares for us and nurtures us. The Moon is loving, kind and thoughtful, but can become clannish and overly attached to routine.
Mercury (ruler of Gemini and Virgo) is an intelligent and charming young aristocrat. Mercury is active, playful and romantic, but can also be anxious or moody and a bit arrogant.
Venus (ruler of Taurus and Libra) is a beautiful woman, an artist and the love partner for a male; Venus is surrounded by love, luxury and a wonderful feel for aesthetics. At times, Venus can be impulsive and emotional, but Venus’s overall nature is very pleasant.
Mars (ruler of Aries and Scorpio) is a warrior and an athlete. Mars is strong, fast, efficient, hard-working and loyal; however, Mars is the person who follows orders, not the person making decisions. Because of an abundance of loyalty, energy and determination, Mars can also turn short-tempered or violent.
Jupiter (ruler of Pisces and Sagittarius) is the guru or spiritual teacher. Jupiter is insightful, generous and expansive. Jupiter is extremely good-natured, although possible pitfalls can be pride or dogmatic views.
Saturn (ruler of Capricorn and Aquarius) is a strict old professor who is wise, but often seems difficult or tedious. Saturn’s lessons can feel very harsh if we don’t really accept Saturn’s role in our lives (and, sometimes, even when we do). Despite people’s fears, Saturn holds the keys to success and wisdom.
Rahu (the north node of the Moon) is a materialistic modern person who keeps up with technology and trends, desires the coolest car, biggest house and most attractive partner (sometimes only for a night). Rahu points us towards what we haven’t experienced and, thus, desire; However, Rahu tends to be compulsive about this.
Ketu (the south node of the Moon) is a mystic who is removed from the world. Ketu is psychic and deeply spiritual but can cause emotional anguish and a sense of “disconnect” because we live in the material plane.
(Rahu and Ketu are not traditionally considered to rule signs, although I tend to agree with those who consider Rahu to co-rule Aquarius and Ketu to co-rule Scorpio.)
So, even if you’re new to astrology, you can probably guess ways the planets interact with each other or what sort of energy each planet might like or dislike. After all, you don’t have to make an academic study out of the people in your life to know who will get along or work well together.
By the way, although I like to incorporate the three outer planets (Uranus, Neptune and Pluto) into my analysis, I don’t think they work quite as well with archetypes; this is partially because they stay in signs for so long that they have a generational effect that is colored by a specific sign. I’ll discuss the outer planets another time in a way that I feel suits them better.