Astrology 101: Planets in Signs (Part 1)

Here we see what appears to be a representation of the Planet Saturn -- the old man with the sickle -- taking a stroll, as all Planets do, through the various Signs of the Zodiac...
Here we see what appears to be a representation of the Planet Saturn — the old man with the sickle — taking a stroll, as all Planets do, through the various Signs of the Zodiac…

We’ve now met the 10 most major Planets used in modern Astrology, along with the 12 Signs of the Zodiac. However, instead of racing right into the third and final of the three primary symbol-sets in this field – the Houses – it might be more helpful to take a look at how those first two sets work together.

Astrology is complicated quite a bit due to the fact that it’s a system composed of multiple sets of moving parts, and it’s absolutely essential to be able to interpret a veritable platoon of combinations of them before you’ll really be able to make heads or tails out of a chart. You’ll eventually need to be able to understand how Planets work with Signs…and how Signs work with Houses…and how Houses work with Planets. It’s a lot to keep track of…

So before we slap on yet another coat of conceptual paint, let’s take a deep breath and look at what we’ve got so far. As I mentioned in earlier posts, the Planets symbolize certain drives within all of us: the drive to be truly alive (Sun), the drive to feel emotionally secure (Moon), the drive to communicate (Mercury), the drive to love and relate (Venus)…the list goes on. The point is that the Planets describe what we do.

The Signs are modifiers. Planets work through Signs, and so the Signs explain how we do what we do.

To read charts, you need to become adept at melding together the meanings of a given Planet and the meanings of the Sign that it’s placed in. It’s not enough to just memorize the meanings of each; you have to get a feel for sensing the organic joining of them.

Some examples may help. I’ll start by walking the same Planet through a few different Signs in this post…and then in the next one, I’ll look at the same Sign modifying the actions of a few different Planets…

Venus, the Roman Goddess of Love, with characteristic grace bestowed her name upon the Planet that symbolizes for us the same attributes that she so radiantly embodied...
Venus, the Roman Goddess of Love, with characteristic grace bestowed her name upon the Planet that symbolizes for us the same attributes that she so radiantly embodied…

Let’s start by escorting Venus through several Signs. We know that at the heart of it, fresh off the assembly line, whenever a new person steps onto the stage of the world at birth, they’re equipped with a Venus signature – we all are. And every factory-issued Venus is, in a vacuum, more or less the same. That is, Venus is the human drive to form relationships, to love, to celebrate things as beautiful. But obviously not all humans approach these things in the same way: relationships that appeal to you might not work for me at all…you and I may want very different things from love…my ideals of beauty might leave you completely indifferent… Explore the concept, though, that Planets always beam their energies through the differing filters of the Signs, and it starts to become clear why a lot of these differences exist.

Take a look at how differently Venus energies turn out after being refracted through the three very different filters of, say, Cancer, Sagittarius, and Aquarius:

Venus in Cancer – like any Venus – is still always about the main Venusian concepts of love, romance, relationships, beauty… But when Venus shines through the Sign of Cancer, these Venusian drives take on a distinctly “Cancerian” quality. Cancer energy is very maternal, nurturing, empathetic, highly emotion-based. A person with this placement in their chart will likely have a need to be a bit of a caregiver in their relationships – they might need to be somewhat “mothering,” even within the context of romance. They may tend to withdraw behind their crablike emotional armor at times, even from those they love, when they feel vulnerable. Being able to nurture others may be a major pathway toward tranquility for them. Their notions of beauty may be geared toward those things that have a definite emotional component, whereas an absence of emotional content may leave them cold – math-based artwork, for example, might really engage one of the more intellect-based Air Signs, but Venus-in-Cancer would be more likely to shrug its shoulders, and move along to find something more appealing elsewhere in the gallery…

Venus in Sagittarius starts off with the same Planet and the same set of drives (Venus → love, romance, relationships, beauty)…but the end results are strikingly different from the Venus in Cancer vibe. Where Cancer can arguably be summed up as the Sign of the Nurturer, Sagittarius is the Sign of the Explorer. Cancer energy requires emotional interchange, and the ability to tend to the needs of others. Sagittarius energy, though, is more about raw spirit. It’s concerned with passion, and with roaming far-off lands and delving into grand philosophies. It’s about long journeys and higher learning. A Venus shining through this kind of Sagittarian filter, then, will require relationships that facilitate travel, both literal and metaphorical. Venus-in-Cancer may seek people it can stay home and nest with, but Venus-in-Sagittarius will more likely desire traveling companions with whom it can trek to the far side of the globe. The Sagittarian Venus doesn’t need to talk about feelings – it needs to get into unfamiliar territories and be a stranger in a strange land. It’s the exotic that will most likely register as beautiful to someone with this placement in their chart, and it’s that feeling of being cast into unknown circumstances that might bring the Sagittarian Venus person a sense of peace.

Aquarius bestows yet another very different tone to Venus. Aquarius is the Sign of the Visionary – it’s about being unique in a society, and it’s concerned that everyone else also gets to be unique. Aquarius wants originality, innovation, nonconformity. When Venus operates through this filter, the Venusian drives get skewed toward these concepts: relationships need to be unusual, non-traditional…love has to be odd, different, unprecedented…the things that register as beautiful for someone with this placement are the quirky, the off-center, the “interesting.” Aquarian Venus finds peace when everyone is individualistic and maybe even a bit downright weird. At times, the Aquarian Venus may not even need any specific brand of idiosyncrasy…sometimes, just the fact that something is idiosyncratic may be enough to seem like the basis for a relationship, or for something to be pronounced beautiful.

Venus -- and each of the other Planets -- may be found working through the filter of any of the 12 Signs in a given chart.
Venus — and each of the other Planets — may be found working through the filters of any of the 12 Signs in a given chart.

Each of the three Venus placements just described is just as much about the human drives toward love, romance, relationships, and beauty as the others…it’s how they get expressed that differs. The Cancerian Venus finds love and beauty where it can engage in nurturing and emotional exchange. The Sagittarian Venus’ love and beauty responses are triggered by exploration into thrilling new landscapes that lie far from the familiar. The Aquarian Venus starts to feel love and recognize beauty when it comes upon the odd, the unique, the nonconforming standalone element. The Planets represent the same imperatives across the board – Venus doesn’t change what she’s doing from one person to the next. It’s when the Planets transmit their energies through the Signs, like light being cast through differently colored lenses, that the differences from person to person start to appear…

So that was a look at one Planet working through a few different Signs; next time, we’ll look at one Sign modifying the energies of several different Planets…

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