Astrology can be considered the world’s oldest celestial science. Since the earliest times, watching the sky has been a part of man’s life. The seasonal changes were marked by the longest and shortest days (the solstices), and by the times when night and day were the same length (equinoxes), this became a simple calendar for hunting and planting. Besides these practical routine cycles, the position or state of the sun or moon was noted at the time of significant events. It was soon realized that certain phenomena in the skies coincided with certain events on earth. Eventually, these parallels were considered omens, and each tribe embellished them with their own myths to suit their view of the world. Gradually, the heavens became replete with fables which told about gods, demons, and heroes that formed a complex hierarchy of celestial beings who watched, judged, and manipulated the lives of men.
As civilizations evolved and the body of knowledge grew, the earliest astrologers kept meticulous calendars and more complete records of celestial movements. The most convenient way to study the stars was by connecting their groupings into recognizable patterns we now call the constellations. The sky was thus divided into twelve segments each one represented by its own constellation. It was also noted that the visible planets often appeared to wander through they sky against this backdrop of constellations. These planets eventually acquired personalities and mythologies of their own, and astrologers soon began to affix significance to the position of these planets against certain constellations in the sky. The night sky was a grand soap-opera, where gods and goddesses played out their dramas, and the consequences were manifested on earth through droughts, floods, and a host of natural occurrences.
Through the centuries, Astrology has dealt with the charting and interpretation of the cycles and movements of celestial objects. Through the use of computers, calculations that once took months for mathematicians to perform by hand can now be done in seconds, and the positions of planets can be computed to a hundredth of a degree. The interpretation part is another matter, relying vastly on centuries of richly embroidered legend and mythology.
Astrology deals with ten planets. Eight of these are the sister planets of the earth: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. The other two are the Sun and the Moon, neither of which is a planet. (A planet circles the Sun.) However, as seen from the earth, the Sun and Moon follow the same path as the planets. Astrologers, interested in the relationships between the positions of all ten objects, simply call them the Ten Planets, and that’s what we will call them.
The path followed by the ten planets is called the ecliptic. You can visualize the ecliptic by imagining yourself looking out from a glass-enclosed observation tower located at the center of a giant circular racetrack. The tower represents the earth. The racetrack represents the ecliptic.
As you look out from your tower, you see all ten planets moving around the track in the same direction, from the right to your left. Since the planets move at different speeds, they are all spread out around the track. Faster planets circle the track several times a year, overtaking and passing slower moving planets that take centuries to make one lap.
Astrologers are interested in where each planet can be found on the track, and where they are with respect to each other. They use the signs of the zodiac to describe planet positions, and Aspects to describe the relations between them.
Planets represent different cosmic forces that affect your basic character traits and your changing urges and needs. They provide the energies that drive your physical, emotional, mental, and intuitional systems. These planetary energies are modified by the planet’s position in the zodiac, and by its relationships (aspects) to the other planets.
Planets fall into three groups according to how long it takes them to make one trip around the track. The first group of planets takes less than two years to make a full cycle. These include the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, and Mars. Since we experience the influence of these planetary cycles so often, we soon learn to recognize and control our reactions to them. These are the Personal Planets. The key characterizations from them are as follows:
Sun Identity, Purpose (Individuality)
Moon Feeling, responsiveness (Personality)
Mercury Intellect, Communication (Mentality)
Venus Attraction, Harmony (Affection)
Mars Energy, Assertion (Initiative)
The second group of planets includes planets Jupiter and Saturn. Their effects are felt more as long-term inner urges rather than immediate conscious needs. These urges determine how you view the world.
Jupiter Enthusiasm, Adventurousness (Expansive)
Saturn Caution, Restraint (Conservative)
The third group of planets moves so slowly that its energies influence entire generations in essentially the same, setting the culture tones for long periods of time. Uranus makes a full cycle in about 84 years, a full lifetime, while Neptune and Pluto take about two centuries (164 and 247 years respectively). The characteristics of these Transpersonal planets are as follows:
Uranus Independent, Intuitional (Originality)
Neptune Inspirational, Mystical (Sensitivity)
Pluto Regeneration, Obsession (Control)
The influences of these transpersonal planets will vary between Individuals, depending on how they relate to the other planets of the horoscope, and how they fall into a person’s natal houses.
The Sun’s position in the zodiac is your familiar Sun sign. The Sun sign shows how you express your creative urges through conscious acts of will. The Sun rules the sign Leo
The Moon’s position in the zodiac shows your unconscious emotional reactions to situations based on your early childhood experiences and family training. The Moon rules the sign Cancer.
The Planet Mercury:
The planet Mercury’s position in the zodiac shows how you think things out and then communicate your ideas and decisions to others. It also reveals how you make decisions and what you consider before making a decision. The planet Mercury rules the sign Gemini.
The Planet Venus:
The planet Venus’s position in the zodiac shows how you give of yourself and how you express your feelings for others. It also reveals how you attract the good things of life, both the material and the spiritual. The planet Venus rules the sign Libra.
The Planet Mars:
The planet Mars’s position in the zodiac shows how you use your physical energies in expressing your needs. It affects your sex drive, ambitions, endurance, and aggressiveness. The Planet Mars rules the sign Aries.
The Planet Jupiter:
The planet Jupiter’s position in the zodiac shows how you express your need to grow. It shows your interests in the higher values of life and how you share those interests with others. The planet Jupiter rules the sign Sagittarius.
The Planet Saturn:
The planet Saturn’s position in the zodiac shows how you try to establish and protect your position in life. It also shows how you face responsibility and seek recognition for your efforts. The planet Saturn rules the sign Capricorn.
The Planet Uranus:
The planet Uranus’s position in the zodiac shows something about the motivation, goals, and originality of those born in each seven year period during which Uranus is in each of the signs. The planet Uranus rules the sign Aquarius.
The Planet Neptune:
The planet Neptune’s position in the zodiac influences the collective outlook of all those born within the same thirteen year period during which Neptune remains in one sign, showing the mystical and inspirational influences felt by each generation. The planet Neptune rules the sign Pisces.
The Planet Pluto:
The planet Pluto’s position in the zodiac influences the entire generation of people born within the same twelve to twenty-two year period during which Pluto remains in one sign, showing human need for regeneration and control in each generation. The planet Pluto rules the sign Scorpio.