Marcia Moore & Mark Douglas

In the previous section, the astrological characteristics of the Sun, Moon, and planets were described. The next step is to consider the ways in which the influences of these heavenly bodies are modified by the qualities of the signs through which they are passing.


Stellar Semantics

Just as verbs and adverbs are combined into phrases, planetary and zodiacal meanings are combined to describe the subject of a natal chart. The planet acts; the sign tells how it acts. Later, adjectives (planetary aspects), and objects (the twelve houses), will be introduced in order to supply additional information. In this manner, the astrologer can assemble a series of sentences which sum up the drama of an individual's life history.

It is important to be aware of the distinction between a planet and the sign it rules. For example, Mercury and Gemini are both associated with communications. However, Mercury being a dynamic factor, or life-principle, is a source of energy, while Gemini represents a conditioning attitude which provides a suitable channel through which this energy can be expressed.

In astrological parlance, the Sun and Moon are called luminaries, or lights. For the sake of convenience, however, the convention of referring to them as planets will occasionally be followed. In the original Greek, the word "planet" meant wanderer. Therefore, astrologers call these members of the solar system which appear to move against the stationary backdrop of the stars, "planets."

Similarly, it is customary to speak of planetary "influences," even though all astrologers realize that the causal relationships involved are far more complex than this outdated term implies.  Since existing words cannot adequately express the idea of cosmic correspondences occurring simultaneously on different levels of being, misunderstandings sometimes arise through too literal a translation from the symbolism of the signs and planets to the symbolism of the spoken language.

These semantic difficulties have led to the accusation that astrologers confuse the signs and constellations because they bear the same name. Most astrologers are cognizant of the astronomical basis of their calculations, but their descriptive phraseology is derived from an era when the distinctions between geocentric (Earth-centered) and heliocentric (Sun-centered) points of view, as well as the distinctions between signs and constellations, were not popularly understood. At the present time, certain words may be archaic, but the thinking behind them is not. Every science has its own terminology, and astrology is no exception.


Astrological Affinities

Every planet rules a sign of the zodiac with which its energies naturally blend. Thus, Mars, the planet of initiative, rules Aries, the sign of beginnings; Venus, the planet of attraction, rules Taurus, the sign of possessions; Mercury, the planet of communications, rules Gemini, the sign of connections, and so forth.

Each planet is also exalted in a sign with which it has a deeper affinity. For instance, the Sun, exalted in Aries, is the emanating source from which creation springs. The Moon, exalted in Taurus, measures the rhythms inherent in nature. Mercury, exalted in Virgo, bestows the faculty of discrimination.

Certain planets and signs are temperamentally incompatible. These uncongenial signs are said to be detrimental to the action of the planet placed therein. Mars is in detriment in Libra because its militant impulses must be subordinated to the necessity for compromise. Too pugnacious and assertive to harmonize with Libra's love of ease, Mars throws the scales out of balance.

The least congenial situation occurs when a planet is in its fall in a sign. The Sun is in its fall in Libra because this midway sector deals less with originating causes than with the outcome of previously launched enterprises. The power to act is subordinated to the obligation to cope with the effects of what has already been done.

Planetary rulerships, exaltations, detriments, and falls give the key to the metaphysical significance of the zodiac as a pathway of the soul.

The ruling planet of one sign is always in detriment in the opposite sign of the zodiac that is, six signs removed. An exalted planet is in its fall in the sign opposite its exaltation. People with planets in the signs of their detriment or fall have as much inherent ability as those whose planets are more happily placed, but they are likely to encounter obstacles in drawing upon their resources.


Elements, Qualities, & Polarities              

Signs are divided into four Triplicities, three Quadruplicities, and Two Polarities. The triplicities are composed of the elements fire, earth, air, and water. The Quadruplicities are composed of Cardinal, Fixed, and Mutable qualities. The Polarities, termed positive and negative, are also called male and female, or active and passive.

The new student need not memorize these combinations by rote. The descriptions of the behavior of the planets in the next section should make the rationale of the various correspondences virtually self-evident. Owing to their internal consistency, the rules of astrology will eventually seem as natural as the grammar of a familiar language.


The Art of Synthesis

In interpreting the meanings of the planets in the signs, it is imperative to realize that these influences operate in terms of the unique structure of the natal chart. Everything must be considered in context. No zodiacal position can be correctly understood unless the astrologer also takes into account aspects, houses, progressions, and the general balance of the natal chart with regard to Triplicities, Quadruplicities, and Polarities. These varying interactions are as complex as the nature of the subject whose chart is being analyzed.

An individual may react positively or negatively to the same factors according to his place on the evolutionary path. Thus, Mars in Scorpio may land one person in "hot water" because of his vindictive outbursts, while another will use the same aggressive force to push "full steam" ahead.

Often, conflicting tendencies are indicated. A Mars-Aries person with the Moon and Saturn in Cancer might be positive and outgoing in his actions, especially where major issues are concerned, but, at the same time, overly sensitive to other people's reactions to him personally. In such an instance, the astrologer can assume that both sets of influences will operate, and that since Aries squares Cancer, the urge to push forward at one moment and to retreat at the next will produce inner conflict. Other factors will show how these stresses may be resolved.

The paradoxes implicit in every personality are productive of the dramatic situations that make human life endlessly varied and eventful. Nevertheless, inconsistent behavior raises numerous problems. The astrologer can be forewarned of the probabilities of success or failure in his undertakings because of his greater awareness of the potentialities existing in a situation from the moment of its inception.

The complexity of astrology should not discourage the novice from making a start as best they can. A little learning may be a dangerous thing, but no learning can be even more dangerous. With practice, the neo-astrologer learns to synthesize a variety of indicants into a single coherent picture, much as they would note the assorted traits of a friend but at the same time regard them as a unified personality. Some individuals are, of course, better integrated than others, and this quality of cohesiveness is reflected in the natal chart. As long as the student realizes that one influence is always subject to modification by others, textbook delineations can prove relevant and helpful.


The Outer Planets

The Sun and Moon symbolize a person's essential nature. They indicate what he is at the core of his being. Mercury tells how he expresses himself to the world, and also how he perceives the world via the senses, thereby setting up reciprocal lines of communication. Venus and Mars show his attitude toward other people, especially with regard to sex, business, and human relationships. Jupiter and Saturn are less personal and orient the individual to society. The positions of these ponderous planets suggest certain basic assumptions about a person's moral and ethical outlook, his sense of responsibility, and his philosophy of life.

The necessity to consider the planets beyond Mars from a collective-point of view correlates with the astronomical fact of their slower progression through the zodiac. Saturn spends approximately two and a half years in each sign, requiring twenty-nine and a half years to complete its circuit around the Sun. Therefore, any commentary on the meaning of Saturn in Aries would apply to everyone born between May 1937 and March 1940, with the exception of a few months when Saturn temporarily left Aries due to its retrograde motion. In judging the specific effects of Saturn and Jupiter in a horoscope, major emphasis must be given to house positions and aspects, even though the signs still modify the quality of their expression.

Since Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto require about seven, fourteen, and twenty-one years, respectively, to journey through each sign, it is unwise to ascribe specific qualities to an individual on the strength of their zodiacal positions. One can speak only in terms of certain overriding influences that affect a particular age group.

Thus, the passage of Uranus (which concerns freedom of self-expression) through the signs, helps to account for the various areas of rebellion that differentiate one age group from another born only seven years earlier. The slower transits of Neptune and Pluto give the clue to the more basic transformations which divide whole generations from each other and from their ancestors.

To make the meanings of the planets in the signs more graphic, each description has been prefaced with a keynote and a symbol. These word pictures should be clearly visualized so that they may serve as keys to lock associated ideas securely in the mind.


Astrology, the Divine Science