Astrology 101: The Planets (in General)

Symbols in Astrology aren't quite user-friendly enough to have just one simple definition -- each one is more like this umbrella, with a whole pack of definitions bristling underneath its spoked perimeter...
Symbols in Astrology aren’t quite user-friendly enough to have just one simple definition — each one is more like this umbrella, with a whole pack of definitions bristling underneath its spoked perimeter…

Astrology is one complex field, no question about it. Not only is it bristling with all manner of symbols to keep track of – Planets, Signs, Houses, Aspects, Points – but not a single one of these symbols is cooperative enough to have just one single meaning. Instead, each one is more of an overall “umbrella” of sorts, with a menagerie of various meanings peeking out from beneath its conceptual boundaries. This makes each of the symbols much more difficult to summarize, and much harder to memorize and use. Don’t despair, though – it can be done! It just requires a methodical approach, and more of a longer-term view…

First, before even attempting to get into lists of the specific meanings that dwell under each Planet’s definitional umbrella, it’s helpful to note that these Planetary meanings can sometimes be traced back to two very robust sources. In other words, if you find yourself failing to retain a given Planet’s primary meanings at any particular moment, you can return to either one of these wells for a refresher:

Getting familiar with the astronomical/scientific profile of any one of the Planets -- such as that of Neptune, appearing here amid a wealth of great scientific info -- will help to also grant a terrific amount of understanding of what that same Planet represents in Astrology.
Getting familiar with the astronomical/scientific profile of any one of the Planets — such as that of Neptune, appearing here amid a wealth of excellent scientific info — will help to also grant a terrific amount of understanding of what that same Planet represents in Astrology.

1) Astronomy. I touched upon this in an earlier post about the varying orbital speeds of the Planets, but it’s well worth considering again here. Each Planet is different – that may go without saying, but I’m saying it here anyway – and those differences have been studied and catalogued with exhausting scientific rigor.

If you’re having trouble remembering what a certain Planet means in the astrological context, then, go read up on its astronomical factoids. How big is it? How big is it as compared with the rest of the Planets? How long does it take to rotate (i.e., what amount of time makes up its own “day?”), and how long does it take to revolve around the Sun (= how long is its planetary “year?”). Is it visible to the naked eye from Earth? When was it discovered by humankind? Does it go into retrograde motion often…and if so, how long does it tend to stay that way? What materials is the Planet composed of? What’s its temperature? Does it have moons of its own, and if yes, how large is its own little planetary “family?”

The answers to all of these questions can help to shed light on what each Planet represents in the greater astrological context…

Our "next-door neighbor" Planet, Venus, was named for the Roman Goddess of Love (shown here emerging from the sea, to grace the ancient world with her radiant presence)...and as it happens, the Planet, Venus, represents basically the same things in Astrology that the Goddess signifies in her Mythology: love, beauty, peace, relationships...
Our “next-door neighbor” Planet, Venus, was named for the Roman Goddess of Love (shown here emerging from the sea, to grace the ancient world with her radiant presence)…and as it happens, the Planet, Venus, represents basically the same things in Astrology that the Goddess signifies in her Mythology: love, beauty, peace, relationships…

2) Mythology. The less scientific of the two wellsprings of Planetary meanings within Astrology, Mythology still manages to provide extremely helpful information when determining a Planet’s meaning. As a general rule of thumb, our solar system’s Planets are all named for Roman Deities – the exception is Uranus, named for a Greek God who was the embodiment of the sky (and even this fact is helpful here, as Uranus is all about the exceptional, the innovative and the unconventional, and it loves to break rules when it can…so this peculiarity in its naming process only reinforces its astrological meaning). Studying the Roman Goddesses and Gods (and the Greek Deities from which they all evolved) can shed just as much interpretive light on the Planets as can the “vital statistics” characterizing them that are drawn from the realms of science.

For example, Venus is the Roman Goddess of Love…and our love-function is one of the provinces captured in Astrology by the Planet, Venus (which also speaks to relationship capacity in general, and to our individual leanings in terms of what we find peaceful, sensual, beautiful). Similarly, Mars is the Roman God of War, and Mars the Planet informs the astrologer about a person’s penchants for things having to do with battle and conquest (including passion, anger, impulsiveness, courage, and sex drive). All of the Planets can be reverse-engineered to some extent in this fashion of looking at the myths that surround whichever Deity it was that lent the Planet its name…

Next time around, I’ll start looking at the individual Planets, and discussing their sets of meanings in Astrology. For the moment, though, this notion of reviewing the astronomical facts about each Planet, and of examining the mythological profiles of the Deities for whom the Planets are named, will hopefully prove to be a useful tool in trying to get your head around the Planets’ personalities and interpretive meanings…

5 thoughts on “Astrology 101: The Planets (in General)

  1. NICE1 For someone who has always been interested in Astrology and read a little here and there but never had the time or energy to dive a little deeper into the subject, the 101 series is a very nice approach. Thanks for some “enlightenement” 🙂

    1. Hi, Gia — thanks so much for posting some feedback here! I’m happy to learn that this Astrology 101 series is working for you. I do plan to continue on with it for a while yet, so I hope you’ll stick around. I’m aiming to put up some articles on the Planets, the Signs, the Houses, and a few more important topics, and I want to keep it at a very user-friendly level for newcomers to the field. I really appreciate hearing that your experiences with these posts has been about what I was hoping to create for readers of them!

  2. Very interesting post. Even though I am more of an intermediate, I always love going back to the basics. It’s a good exercise in my opinion, since now I am able to understand stuff which weren’t that clear before and that deepens my understanding. I have been able to see the connection between astrology and astronomy, though I have never connected much with mythology (primarily because my knowledge on that topic is pretty less). Now I will be able to do that as well. I love your idea of the posts. Will be looking forward to the series.
    Keep up the good work!

    1. Hi, Ananya — thank you very much for commenting here. I’m really happy to hear that an intermediate-level astrologer is finding these Astrology 101 posts to be helpful! I definitely feel that when dealing with the Planets, it can be extremely useful to look into the Mythology surrounding whichever figure the Planet was named for. It makes the Planets feel more like beings with distinct personalities, I believe, which then makes it easier to keep them all straight! I’m intending to get a bit more into the specific Planets next, and will then move on to Signs, and then Houses. I hope you’ll keep following along…and please feel invited to continue commenting if you like!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s