Nowadays, everybody knows what a planet is. Ever since we were children we were taught that planets are a sort of giant rocks that revolve around the sun; we were also told that unlike stars, they don’t shine by their own light. Although all this is true, we can’t deny that we have been deprived of the experience of questioning what a planet is, in a sense. After all, for the human experience—unfiltered by science and technology—all stars are first of all light, not matter; and unlike other stars, which remain fixed, the planets move. Ancient Greeks called them planētes asteres which literally means “wandering stars”. They were special, somehow.
The sky, perfect in its stillness, was a sacred reference point representing eternity; the earth instead, subject to constant change, was shown in all its imperfection. Planets were something in between because although they shared their perfection with other stars, nevertheless they were subjected to change. They easily became the voice of the gods who decreed the fate of the earth’s creatures, and for this reason planets were named after them.
In astrology a planet is a “wandering star”, hence even the Sun and the Moon fall under the same category. Yes, we know we are—from a scientific perspective—wrong. But you must understand that the question about “what a planet is” is very topical even among astronomers. As astrologers, we simply prefer the human point of view, that places mankind at the center of the universe. It might be a narcissistic perspective, but we can live with that. The reward is far more worthy.
The Classical Septenary
With the moon and the sun, the other planets visible to the naked eye are Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Together, they are known as the traditional or classical septenary. As we have seen seven and twelve are both special numbers in western sacred geometry. In this article we are going to enter into the merits of the former.
Both the life and the evolution of an organism can be described by seven, different perspectives—or functions—relating to his body, soul and spirit. You can think of them organized in a seven pointed star, the organism at the center. Dealing with three levels of existence—material, psychological and mental (or spiritual)—these seven views describe both the organism itself and the relationship it has with its environment. In other words, they embrace its inner and outer being. We can say that this scheme is actually quite realistic, since the seven heavenly bodies literally enclose us.
Astrology is the art of changing perspective to describe an organism through these different views; by putting them all together we can get an idea of the whole picture. This organism can virtually be anything: a person, an animal, a friendship, a career, a company, a marriage, and so on. Everything is described by the astral configuration (astrological chart) of the precise moment when it was born. This is why knowing your exact time of birth is so important.
The Astral Forces
The planetary symbolism is very rich and complex. For this reason, we are going to briefly describe here the meanings that mostly relate to human experience. You can visit each planet page for further information.
|The Moon represents the ability of a person to adapt the environment to his own needs. It allows us to get in touch with our emotions and desires. This planet rules not only our ability of taking care of ourselves but also our emotional intelligence and skills.
|The way we think and communicate are ruled by Mercury. It also determines our mentality and smartness, as well as our basic social skills. Everything dealing with information processing and problem solving is ruled by this force. On a physical level it is expressed through movement, on a psychic level it rules good mood, curiosity and surprise.
|Being the first inner planet, Venus describes the way a person relate to his inner life. The way we feel in general, as well as the way we feel about things, people and situations are ruled by her. For this reason she strictly relates to both pleasure and judgement. After all, we tend to judge positively—hence, to choose—what makes us feel good.
|We are here at the center of our own being, the nucleus of our life and experience. The Sun represents life force in the body, as well as the heart and blood circulation; our self-love in the psyche; and our true Self (the “I”) we find in our spirit—the divine spark within each of us.
|Being the first outer planet, Mars is the force which leads us outwards and allows us to act. It’s the power of will and self-affirmation which makes us fight for what we want. Hence it tells us whether a person is aggressive or not, as well as his defensive and offensive tactics. On a spiritual level it determines our moral integrity.
|Jupiter rules our expansion in general. On a physical level it represents nutrition; on a psychic level trust, faith and optimism; on a spiritual level our development and evolution as conscious and aware beings. It also describes the kind of people we meet—which is the way we “feed” on a social level.
|Saturn rules our contraction in general. It represents our stability in life and the solid structure of bones in our body. On a psychic level it is fear and concern, two things that makes us go looking for the just mentioned security. On a spiritual level it represents our independence, from which our freedom comes.
Beyond Saturn planets are no longer visible to the naked eye, so they are relatively recent discoveries. Uranus, Neptune and Pluto were found respectively in 1781, 1846 and 1930. In astrology they are called generational planets because they are so slow their position affects in the same way entire generations. For example Pluto’s transit through Leo lasted 18 years—from 1939 to 1957. Hence, all persons born in those years carry the same Plutonian energy.
|Uranus rules collective unconscious thoughts. Today, they are thoughts of equality and freedom. Mankind developed technology in order to become independent of nature. We can now fly where we want in a short time, connect instantly with the other side of the planet, eat watermelon in winter or mushrooms in summer. We are freer than ever.
|Neptune rules collective unconscious feelings. As you can imagine today humanity is confronting a major turning point in the emotion management. We are evolving, by learning consciously what really love is all about. This will in time lead us to experience spiritual realities in a whole new way.
|Pluto rules collective unconscious instincts. If Neptune is challenging, Pluto is the real problem. Western societies have pushed into the shadow all the physical violence they are capable of, by simply directing it elsewhere. We don’t want to see the truth, but facing real evil—starting with the one we bear within—is a Plutonian calling.
Being energy normally shared by groups of people, the three generational planets mainly affect the collective unconscious. Every time a personal planet makes an aspect with a generational one, you can expect the energies of a group to relate with those of the individual. In this way we can also understand how our personal challanges are actually part of social issues.