Blink hard, and you may miss this one…but for part of today, the Sun, the Moon, and far-distant Pluto will line up in a configuration known as a Grand Earth Trine. Trines are usually thought of as pleasant relationships that form between Planets as they go careening about the sky. When three of them step up so as to form an actual triangle in this Grand Trine fashion, then the effects can ramp up considerably. It can feel like three distinct sets of capable, cosmic hands are all working in unison toward some excellent goal. Grand Trines are believed to bring harmony and apparent good luck with them when they manifest, so most Astro-minded people tend to welcome them.
This one involves the three Earth Signs: Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn. Do you have any important placements in these Signs in your own birth-chart? And if so, are these placements in the 15-20-degree range of those Signs? If you can accurately answer “yes” to both of those questions, then this fleeting but powerful development may really make itself felt in your corner of the world today.
And even if you have no Earth Sign placements in that vicinity, you may still feel some of this energy. The Moon moves fast, and it will break ranks from this formation by the close of biz today, thereby dissolving the Grand Trine, but while it holds, be aware of any new happenings in your own Earth-centric affairs: career, money, health, family, home, and possessions are all possible hosts for this Grand Trine activity.
Despite the quickness factor, this could be large-scale action, too, as it involves both the Sun and the Moon, which are two of the grandest and most primal symbols in all of Astrology. They’re also joined by Pluto, an exceedingly intense energy with ties to such heavily loaded concepts as sex, death, the occult, great riches, transformation, rebirth, and extreme power dynamics. So some very big lights will shine briefly on some very dark subject matter today, but in ways that work well for all of the energies involved…and hopefully for all of us, too, down here where those energies will be touching down.
What do you want to transform in your life today? How do you want to transform yourself? What Earth-business of yours would benefit from some Phoenix-style rebirthing? Put some effort into making these changes today, and the Universe may throw its weight behind yours. It may not be easy, and it may be frightening, but you have a lot of light at your disposal at the moment to help show you the way…
Seeds… They’re like little treasure chests full of concentrated life-force. If you take good care of them – if you plant them in good soil, feed them, water them, keep them free of weeds and pests – they will respond with surges in growth and vitality. These two results seem to go hand in hand, and it’s even possible to sometimes think of growth and vitality as being the same thing.
Growth and vitality are not exactly interchangeable synonyms, though. They’re often linked, and each can lead to the other, but they’re not identical.
It’s possible to have an increase in growth without a corresponding increase in vitality: consider what happens when cancer cells begin to grow unchecked in an unwitting host body. In a case like this, there’s mad growth for a while, for sure, but overall vitality in the system takes catastrophic hits, often to terminal degree.
And on the flip-side, it’s also possible to witness a rise in vitality without there necessarily being any new growth. Think here about someone making a strong recovery after some illness or mishap had confined them to bed for some extended period of time. Our hypothetical sufferer bounces back in tandem with a steady rise in vitality…but they don’t start growing simply because they got more lively. No one ever shucked off a full body cast after lying almost dormant in it for 8-10 weeks and then grew a foot taller upon rising to greet the world again.
Which brings us to Jupiter and the Sun.
In Astrology, symbols always have multiple meanings. Each symbol’s meanings are generally related to each other, but it’s virtually impossible to sum up any given Planet or Sign or House with a single keyword, not without leaving a bunch of equally applicable and necessary keywords lying on the cutting room floor. Attempts at this kind of intensive nutshelling can lead to fairly drastic and potentially misleading oversimplification.
So having said that, please allow me to oversimplify anyway…
Among other concepts, Jupiter represents growth. When Jupiter gets activated, things tend to expand.
And then there’s the Sun. Among its allotment of symbolism, the Sun embodies the concept of vitality. Just as the real Sun is the source of all life here on Earth, the astrological Sun stands for anything that causes a spike in our life-force.
Why does any of this matter?
As I write this, it’s a Wednesday – the 5th of April. Out there in our solar system, from our point of view, it appears that Jupiter and the Sun are moving into positions such that this coming Friday, they’ll achieve perfect opposition. That is, if we were to look straight at Jupiter during the next few days, then the Sun would be directly behind us, and blocked from view by the Earth itself. The reverse would also be true: if we were to gaze toward the Sun in the daytime during this period, then Jupiter would be at our backs and screened from us by the bulk of our own Planet even if we were to turn around in a full one-eighty.
An opposition arrangement like this generally tells us that the two opposing Planets’ energies will be making a very strong sort of circuit with each other…but those energies may not integrate all that easily. In the opposition, specifically, the resulting dynamic is often a lot like a seesaw in a schoolyard playground: you can’t lift both ends of it at the same time.
So for the next several days – peaking on Friday and then lasting for a couple of days afterwards – it may be the case that you’ll be furnished with some real opportunity for both growth and vitality. The downside of this is that it may also seem that the two things are mutually exclusive at this time, so you can have one, but not the other.
Oppositions can be frustrating. They can make you feel like you’re stuck in a boat with two big leaks, but only one free hand available for doing any plugging.
With Jupiter tightly opposing the Sun, you may get the sense that attending to your growth will sap your life-force. Is it good to grow if doing so makes you feel sickly?
Or you might feel that working on your vitality and doing whatever energizes and enlivens you right now will undercut your ability to grow. Is it helpful to work on boosting your sense of well-being if that work prevents you from growing?
Another possible effect here is an apparent duel between faith in something greater than us (a Jupiter concept) and faith in ourselves (Sun business). Does embracing one necessarily mean abandoning the other? Not always, no, but it may be difficult during this period to feel any other way, and it may seem that the Universe around us is delivering this message with some vigor, too.
So what can you do when two usually happier and more positive Planets are foiling each other’s efforts to brighten your existence? The trick with most oppositions is to treat them like that schoolyard seesaw: lift first one side, and then the other. Breathe deeply, and repeat. You can’t lift both sides of the seesaw at once, remember…and for the lion’s share of the week ahead, you probably won’ be able to both enjoy growth and to stoke the flames of your life-force at the same time. First work on one…and then tend to the other. Making a conscious effort at doing this may pay large dividends for you.
This particular opposition will remain in effect until around the 11th, when the Full Moon in Libra ushers it offstage with a classy overture. Until then, good luck riding the seesaw!
The other day, I taught an Astrology workshop focusing on what birthcharts can say about a person’s romantic potential (you know: Valentine’s Day and all…). We leaned mainly on the personal Planets and the Ascendant, and off to one side, I tallied up all of the Sign placements in the attendees’ charts, because I’m nerdy like that, and because I thought it might be illuminating to see which Sign-energies might be most likely to propel people out into the cold to try to improve things in their romantic spheres…
Q: Care to guess which Signs were the most represented?
A: By a very wide margin, it was the Signs of Virgo (first place) and Leo (very close second) that topped the polls here. Not a gargantuan sample size, and only one event in one geographic locale studied here, but still interesting (he says, with his Mars in Virgo…).
Here’s where we finally circle back around to the technique that I hinted at when we looked at the concept of Planetary Rulership a few posts back in this series…
I’ll start by refreshing that notion of rulership… Each Planet has a special affinity for one or two of the Signs – astrologers will say that the Planets “rule” these Signs with which they share these affinities. For example, the Moon rules the Sign of Cancer…the Sun rules Leo…Mars rules Aries… When placed in a Sign that it rules, a Planet can then perform its functions with a sort of enhanced purity and power. Such placements tend to take on added significance in a chart.
This table lays out the most commonly used modern rulership assignments:
Modern Planetary Ruler
Pluto (traditional Ruler = Mars)
Uranus (traditional Ruler = Saturn)
Neptune (traditional Ruler = Jupiter)
We can also take this concept a step further, and use it to spot subtle but definite connections between various Houses. This works in one of two ways:
1. Cusp to Ruling Planet. Start by looking at the Sign that lies on the cusp of any given House that interests you (remember that the cusp is just the line that divides the House in question from the House that came before it).
Let’s use vanished aviator Amelia Earhart as our example in all this. Since it’s the Ninth House that contains our experiences in the realm of long journeys, it might be interesting to examine H9 in the chart of this renowned world traveler.
As it turns out, Amelia Earhart’s Ninth House contains no Planets. As we’ve already discussed, this likely just means that the evolutionary, karmic business that she came into this lifetime to work on was happening in other arenas in her life…
But so how do we proceed here…? Remember that as we discussed in previous posts, even with no Planets to guide us in interpreting the workings of a specific House, we can still get some information about that House by studying its cusp. Here, Amelia Earhart’s H9 cusp lies in the Sign of Sagittarius. This is a Sign brimming with explorer-type energy, so it lines up extremely well with the House of Long Journeys. This Sign and this House are almost like two units in a set of matching luggage.
And here’s how we use the rulership technique to acquire a bit more applicable data… The Sign of Sagittarius is ruled by the Planet Jupiter. The idea here, then, is that the affairs of the House that has Sagittarius on its cusp (H9 in this example) will be connected to the affairs of the House in which Jupiter resides. In this same chart, that would be Ms. Earhart’s H5: the House of literal children, metaphorical “children” (the things we create), and joy in general. So we might conclude that some of Amelia Earhart’s truest joy (H5) was bound up in her long journeys (H9)…and possibly also that her long journeys (H9) served for her as “children” of a sort. She had no biological offspring of her own, but maybe each long journey was, for her, like a work of art that she crafted and brought into being (H5)…
2. Ruling Planet to Cusp. We can also work in the opposite direction. That is, we can start with any Planet… Next, anticipate that the House in which that Planet lies will be connected to the House whose cusp is located in the Sign that the same Planet rules.
Here’s another example from Ms. Earhart’s birth-chart that will hopefully make that more clear…
Let’s pick one of the Planets that resides in her H7, the House of Partnerships. One of these is Saturn. There are other Planets in this House, but let’s keep this simple for now, and focus only on that one. Saturn happens to rule the Sign of Capricorn…and in Amelia Earhart’s chart, Capricorn contains the cusp of her Tenth House, which is the House of career, public reputation, the person’s mission in life.
This connection then implies that Amelia’s primary partnerships were inextricably linked with her life’s work, and her life’s work had major influence on her primary partnerships – probably more so than for most people. We know that her husband (an H7 partner) had to accept that their marriage would in many ways take a supporting and subordinate role to Amelia’s career (H10) as a famed aviator: she kept her own surname after they were wed, she refused to halt or even slow her work following the union, and he eventually ended up working in a flight school that she established in California. Meanwhile, her chosen career (H10) determined who quite a few of her other primary partners (H7) would be in her life (mostly drawn from her field of aviation). Again, we can trace connections flowing between two Houses due to this principle of Planetary Rulership connecting them.
So the technique here says that we can look at any House in a chart, and that House will be significantly connected in the life of the chart-holder to whichever House contains the Planetary Ruler of the Sign that lies on the cusp of that initial House that we were analyzing.
One last note… Sometimes you’ll find a Planet residing in the Sign of its own rulership. For instance, in Amelia Earhart’s chart, her Sun lies in Leo – the Sign that it rules – in her Fourth House. On the one hand, this doesn’t allow us to link her H4 affairs with another House in the chart using the technique described above…but on the other hand, it does tell us that H4 affairs were most likely of highly magnified importance in her life.
It can be easy to get a bit lost in this technique once you start to explore it. One House will lead you to another, to another, to yet more Houses… As you experiment with it, though, you’ll start to get a feel for when it can grant you valuable new insight, versus when it just has you scattering your energy like a cat chasing a laser-pointer’s red dot. Try playing around with it, and if you feel like it’s providing some helpful information, you can add it to your toolbox, and if it’s just distracting you, you can set it aside for later, or even discard it and focus on other techniques…
Hopefully, you all got to drink in the sublime sky-show that we were privileged to see this evening… This was the first time during one of these so-called Blood Moon events that the Moon did actually look to be tinged with red from where I was watching. It was really something to behold…
And if you’re into Astrology, eclipses are thought to foretell intense and often sudden changes or revelations. These occurrences can be difficult, but they can also lead to growth and transformation. You may want to take note that at the time of tonight’s eclipse, the Moon was at roughly 5 degrees Aries, while the Sun was directly opposite at 5 degrees Libra. If you have any Planets or Points (Ascendant, Midheaven, etc.) in the 0-10 degree ranges of either of those Signs, or in the same ranges in Cancer or Capricorn (the other Cardinal Signs), you may be especially tuned in to the effects of this particular eclipse. Take a look at your chart to be sure!
And if you missed the eclipse, take a look at some photos posted online, too, as it really was something to see…
Last time around, I spoke a bit about the Planets in general; in this post, we’ll look at the major Planetary players as distinct individuals.
Before we jump into their profiles, I should repeat here again that “Planet” in Astrology doesn’t mean quite the same thing that it means in Astronomy. For our purposes here, “Planet” will refer to any of those bodies that seem to circle us across our sky…so even though the Sun and the Moon are clearly not what scientists would call Planets, and Pluto has been stripped of that title in the Astronomy world, we in Astrology do call all of these bodies “Planets”…
Also, I mentioned that astrologers who lean toward the more Traditional approach will generally stick to working with only the seven “classical” Planets, which would be those that were known in the ancient world. I prefer the Modern approach, though, myself, which also includes those Planets discovered and/or verified only after humanity had cobbled together that handy invention we call the telescope…
I included some of this in table form in a previous post, but to save you from having to dig that one up and then toggle back and forth, here’s a roster sheet listing the Planets, and also adding the interesting little symbols – or “glyphs,” as they’re known – that represent each one of them:
And with all of that out of the way…let’s meet the 10 main Planets!
The Sun. Big, bright Sol – giver of life, difficult to disguise or ignore, and impossible to live without… And just as the actual Sun serves as the gravitational center of our solar system, binding the entire array of Planets into a cohesive whole, so, too, does the astrological Sun represent the primal force that holds our psyches together. The Sun is our great Yang urge, looking outward, acting on the world; it’s our life-force and our urge to thrive. The Sun is our vitality.
The Moon. If the Sun is the great Yang-force within us all, then the Moon is the corresponding primal Yin. The Sun acts, while the Moon reacts. The Sun shines, but the Moon reflects. The astrological Moon explains what we need in order to feel secure in the world. Another distinctly lunar trait is the Moon’s passage through cycles: it waxes and wanes, and creates emotional tides within us as surely as the physical Moon exerts its pull on our oceans. Whereas the Sun symbolizes a more conscious set of imperatives, the Moon is more concerned with our subconscious and even our unconscious selves. The Moon is our instincts and our inner rhythms. The Moon is our emotional core.
Mercury. Speedy little Mercury, closest of the Planets to the Sun… Mercury was the Messenger of the Gods in Roman Mythology (known first as Hermes to the Greeks), flashing about the ancient world at the speed of Thought, delivering words, language, and meaning, and even bridging worlds by transporting the newly deceased to the land of the dead. Mercury is connected to our rational, logical mind, what we call “left-brain thought.” Mercury is our communication function.
Venus. The Goddess of Love… While the Moon signifies our basic emotional make-up and what we need in order to feel secure in life, Venus is more specifically concerned with love, romance, affection, relationships. She’s also a signpost that reveals what our own individual attitudes are toward things such as peace and beauty and art. Venus is who, how, what, and why we love.
Mars. The God of War! Mars is all about what drives us to act, and this can generally be cast into terms having to do with battle. What do we wish to conquer? When will we attack things or people, and how do we defend the things that we care about? Mars describes our internal wiring for aggression in all its forms, and for most astrologers, this also includes our libido. Venus deals with romance and love, while Mars focuses on sex and desire. As the Warrior Planet, Mars also describes our courage and our sense of adventure. Whether it’s for blood or sex or adventure or conquest…Mars is the various forms of our lust.
Jupiter. To the ancient Romans (and to the Greeks before them, who knew the same figure as Zeus), Jupiter was the King of the Gods. The most powerful of the Deities and the luckiest, Jupiter could bestow great fortune on those he judged deserving of it. In Astrology, the Planet named for that God bestows similar riches upon us when it makes contacts with sensitive points in our charts. Jupiter helps us to expand, to explore, to have faith and optimism, and also to see that faith and optimism rewarded. Jupiter is our growth.
Saturn. Possibly the least-loved Planet of them all, Saturn has a fairly grim reputation. Where Jupiter helps us to expand, Saturn is the force that restricts and contracts. Saturn binds and scrutinizes, measures and tests. Wherever this Planet appears, it demands excellence, while pointing out weak-spots and failings. In some ways, Saturn is about opposition in all its forms. This Planet is hardly all bad, though… Think of Saturn as being a bit like a cosmic version of a demanding personal trainer: the lessons will be exacting, maybe even excruciating, but if you enter into them with determination, commitment, an honest evaluation of self, and a sense of your own responsibility, Saturn can help to turn you into a spectacular performer. Saturn is our limitations.
Uranus. Just as Saturn might be seen as the opposite of Jupiter in a “contraction vs. expansion” context, Saturn might also be seen as a counter to Uranus… While Saturn can symbolize structure and tradition, and an established order – in short, “the Old” – Uranus stands for “the New.” Uranus delights in baffling and confounding. It defies standards and expectations, and it encourages things to go a bit haywire when it beams its energy into a chart. Uranus loves the innovative, the odd, and the unprecedented. It’s the rebel, the revolutionary, the mad genius. While Saturn is often slow and steady when it applies itself, Uranus strikes like a lightning bolt, even from an otherwise clear blue sky. Uranus is how we become more of the unique selves we were always meant to be, unlike anyone else on Earth. Uranus is our originality.
Neptune. We can set off Saturn as an opposite of yet another Planet here: Saturn is about boundaries, while watery Neptune dislikes even recognizing the existence of boundaries, and will do its best to dissolve them, given the chance. Named for the God of the Sea, Neptune is, in its more negative expressions, liable to bring forth escapism and illusions…but in its more positive expressions, this is the Planet for artistic dreamers, psychics, and mystics. It tells us about our urge to commune with the Universe itself, to transcend our mundane, everyday, “consensus reality.” Neptune sees into other planes of existence, and other states of consciousness. It helps us to hear and feel the pulse of the Cosmos. Neptune is our spirituality.
Pluto. This Planet was named for the God of the Underworld, and the association is fitting. Pluto the Planet is like a cold, dark, unblinking eye, watching us without pity from the edge of our star system. Pluto has no sentimentality, and recognizes no excuses. The Lord of the Underworld understands all about mortality and death, and has walked with the dynamics of great power for untold eons. Remorseless Pluto knows our secrets, sees the things that we try to deny about ourselves or bury deep down in our souls…but it’s through dealing with these issues that we can often heal ourselves, regenerate, and be reborn. Pluto is our ability to transform.
And that’s our cast of Planetary characters… Please remember that while I’ve tried to pack the preceding paragraphs with as many of the important keywords that are generally associated with each Planet as I could, these are just extremely basic little capsule summaries. They’re not intended to replace actual in-depth study of the Planets. They will, however, hopefully give you a solid starting point in your learning, or serve as a legitimate review if you’re already marching down the astrologer’s pathway…
If you want to learn Astrology, there are three major symbol-sets that you’ll have to grasp: Planets, Signs, and Houses.
This came as a real surprise to me when I first felt my interest in the field catch fire. I’d vaguely assumed that Astrology was just concerned with the Signs of the Zodiac, and that would be about that. It’s pretty true, after all, that even non-astrologers know enough about the Signs to name them, and to be able to cite their own Sun Signs when asked. What else is there, right?
As it turns out, though, the Signs represent only one of the primary sets of symbols that populate the realm of Astrology. If you want to practice in this arena, you’ll also need to understand the Planets and the Houses.
But what are these other things, you might wonder…? For that matter, what are the Signs, really?
Despite the relative popularity of the Signs, I’d personally suggest to any would-be astrologer that they’d do themselves a favor by starting with the Planets first. These are the real drivers of the action in Astrology. And it’s important to first realize that “Planets” to the astrologer are not quite the same thing as “planets” to the astronomer. When talking about the Planets, astrologers include things that aren’t technically planets in scientific terms – the Sun and the Moon are prime examples here. And then as a counterpoint, our own Earth is not included as an astrological Planet in the same way that the rest of the members of the symbol-set are, even though an astronomer would cite it as one of the planets of Star System Sol.
Also, astrologers often have trouble agreeing on which Planets are worthy of being included in this symbol-set in the first place. Some will cling to the classic seven Planets that were recognized by the Greeks, and that are visible to the naked eye: the Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Other practitioners will add in the more modern, post-telescope discoveries, such as Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. Still others include Planetoids such as Chiron, and various Asteroids, like Ceres, Juno, Vesta, and Pallas, and other increasingly fringe-feeling sorts of bodies and theoretical points in space… It will be up to you to decide which of these myriad items feel essential to you in your own astrological practice…
Once you do come to terms with these finer points, the next step is getting a handle on just what the Planets represent in Astrology… They basically stand for our most primal urges: the urge to exist and thrive (the Sun)…the urge to communicate (Mercury)…the urge to expand and grow (Jupiter).
Let’s build an analogy… Part 1 of it: the Planets are unique lights that shine forth from within us. Imagine a collection of spotlights bristling inside of you; next imagine that each person ever born is issued a complete set of these same lights. You have a Venus-spotlight, for example, and so do I…so did Genghis Khan, and so did Martin Luther King, Jr.
Now, I’d advise moving on to the Signs. There are 12 of them, and they modify the expressions of the planetary drives. Analogy, Part 2: if the Planets are spotlights that we shine outward, then the Signs are like colored filters that we place over the business ends of those spotlights first, before we switch them on. And every spotlight must have a filter to shine through – that’s important to note, too. No Planet exists in a chart without working through a Sign.
Let’s say you and your best friend each have a big silvery spotlight that you direct out from yourselves into existence – say this is the astrological Moon at work. Everybody has a Moon in their birth-chart, and stripped down to their pure, core essences, each person’s Moon – pre-filter – is pretty much the same as all the other pre-filter Moons out there.
But maybe your Moon-spotlight is beamed through the red filter of Aries, while your best friend’s moon-spotlight might be shining through the cool blue cellophane of Pisces. The two Moon-spotlights themselves are more or less the same…but the quality of the light that each one will ultimately emit is going to be differentiated by the layers of material that are being wrapped over their respective lenses. The resulting light-beams will be of the same strength, the same size, the same duration…but because of the filters that are being added into the mix, one Moon-spotlight will create a fiery red circle on the wall, while the other’s circle will be a cool ocean-blue…
And now consider the Houses… If the Planets are what we shine forth, and the Signs tell us something about the quality of light that each Planet ends up emitting, then the Houses explain where we point those colored lights. Look again at your Aries Moon: that bright red-filtered light… Now say that instead of a blue Pisces Moon, your best friend also has an Aries Moon, just like yours. But – here’s Analogy, Part 3 – maybe you tend to shine your red, red Aries Moon-spotlight into the bank vault in your home, the place where you keep your money and the things you value…while your best friend shines their red Aries Moon-spotlight into their special, secluded meditation room, where they go to be alone and to get in touch with the pulse of the Universe, to let their ego dissolve… In more astrological terms, your Aries Moon is placed in your Second House, while your best friend shines their almost identical Aries Moon-light into their Twelfth House. The Houses are different areas of life that we all experience.
So the Planets tell us what drive is being expressed…the Signs explain how each drive gets expressed…and the Houses reveal where the drives get expressed.
If you learn the members of each of these three symbol-sets, and then get a feel for the ways in which they interrelate – i.e., Planet beams through Sign, into House – you’ll be well on your way toward being an astrologer!