In the art of astrology, the sky is viewed as a giant sphere, which on paper translates into a circle. Astrological charts reflect this view, and are circular in shape, and operate on the ideas of cycles and turning. Because the chart is circular and involves ideas of movement, there are certain points on the circle, as seen on any chart, that have special significance. These points are evenly spaced around the chart, and are four in number, based around the intersection of the veritcal and horizontal axes of the sky. Each one of these points, called “Angles,” has a spcial significance. There are two Polarities of Angles. The first of these Polarities is the Polarity of Interaction (Self vs. Other), made up by the Ascendant and Descendant, which describe how you express yourself to others and how others express themselves to you.
The first Angle is the Ascendant, and the Sign that lies on this Angle is rising over the eastern horizon (the left of the chart). This is also called the Rising Sign, and is one of the three aspects of an astrological personality. It represents how your Sun Sign expresses itself to the rest of the world, and the mask that you wear when out in public; it is how you appear to others, and how your energy manifests.
The second Angle is the Descendant, and it lies opposite the Ascendant, setting over the western horizon (the right of the chart). The Sign here shows what it is that you seek when interacting with others; what you look for in your relationships, what qualities you seek in companions, and what energies manifest themselves in your relations with others.
The second Polarity of Angles is the Polarity of Function (Role vs. Actor). This polarity deals with how you as an individual interact with the larger world around you, and is made of the Medium Coeli (Midheaven) and the Imum Coeli (Undersky), which describe how you fit into larger society and how you as an individual fit into your own life.
The Medium Coeli is the Angle highest in the sky at the time of the chart, and so is also called Midheaven. This Angle represents your role in the world at large, and your utmost public face (not the Ascendant mask you wear, which appears even to close friends; this is the public self that even strangers can know, such as your internet profiles). It also represents how you fit into society as a whole, including your job, social circles, social class, race, gender, among other things.
The Imum Coeli is the Angle lowest in the sky at the time of the chart, and is also called the Undersky, as it was not visible during the time of the chart. It lies directly opposite the Medium Coeli, and represents your “backstage” and role, and corresponds to your private self, and how you express yourself outside of the public eye. It represents the emotions, feelings, and thoughts of you as an actor in the great social game, playing the role of the Medium Coeli.
The purpose of the art of astrology is to better understand oneself and the world around you. In fact, that is the purpose of every esoteric art; to attain a new understanding of the life that you live and what makes it – and you, as an integral part of your life – work they way it does. Astrology explores this understanding through the use of astrological charts: explaining and understanding different parts of yourself, an event, or another object based upon the position of planets and zodiacal signs at certain times. In this way, astrology is unique among esoteric arts, because it not only deals with static interpretation, but also of changing interpretation, by adding a concrete element of time into the mix.
Most commonly, astrology is used in the context of natal, or birth, charts, in order to help discover what astrological forces acted upon someone at the moment of their birth. These forces do not wholly or completely define who you are, and the position of the astrological planets, and even the very evolution of the art of astrology, are merely manifestations of the universe’s consciousness, or animus mundi, in the corpus mundi. The state of the universe at the time of birth affects the shape of that child’s life, expressing itself through biological and social factors, as well as bringing its own addition to the soul into the mix. These factors coming together, as expressed in a natal birth chart, represent the shape of one’s life. A more fundamental aspect of this shape is one’s personality, the baseline of which is laid down by three astrological Signs, and is then modified over the life course. These three Signs are the Sun Sign, the Moon Sign, and the Rising Sign (or Ascendant).
The Sun Sign – the Sign that the Sun was passing through at the time – is the most well-known of the three Signs, and is often used as the primary, defining factor of one’s personality. The Sun Sign defines one’s conscious perception of oneself, one’s purpose, and one’s sense of their own identity. It represents the present, and the progression of the years. It is the realm of the mind. It represents how you manifest to yourself.
The Moon Sign – that which the Moon was in at the time – represents one’s inner self and the subconscious; those parts of ourselves that we are not aware of, and those most private feelings that no one else is aware of. It also represents the past, and the passage of months. It is the part of one’s personality most in tune with intuition and emotions, and is the realm of instinct. It represents how your subconscious manifests itself to you.
The Rising Sign – the Sign that was emerging on the eastern horizon at the time – is also known as the Ascendant, and represents one’s outer personality and appearance; the mask that everyone has and presents to the world. It also represents the future and the passage of days, and represents how you attempt to achieve your purpose. It is the realm of perception. It represents how you manifest yourself to the rest of the world.
In order to truly understand someone’s astrological personality, they must understand these three Signs and how they interact. Common characteristics in any of these Signs indicate that that trait is particularly strong in someone’s personality. In interpreting the three Signs, one looks at the Sign’s meaning, and then at the position it occupies; for example, a Leo as a Moon Sign indicates that one is naturally creative and that they have a sense of pride deep inside of them that they may not be aware of, and are emotionally secure and assured. Leo as a Sun Sign indicates that your drive is to be creative, and your purpose is to display your abilities to the world. Leo as a Rising Sign indicates that outwardly you focus on elevating yourself in the eyes of others, and appear prideful or even arrogant, and are confident and self-assured, and in pursuing your Sun Sign’s purpose you are creative and confident.
Astrological Signs represent the medium of expression, while the Planets represent the energy of expression and the Houses represent the site of expression. If an artist is venting his frustration with society using spray paint on a concrete block, frustration is the planet, the concrete block is the House, and the spray paint is the Sign. The spray paint is serving to express the energy of anger. In Astrology, that is the role of the Signs. Each Sign represents a particular way of expressing energy, and adds a little bit of its own energy to the mix itself.
The most common use of the Astrological Sign is in determining one’s Sun Sign. A Sun Sign is the Zodiacal/Astrological Sign that the planet of the Sun was in during the time of the Astrological chart. The Sun Sign represents the prevailing trend of the chart, from which other things modify it, as the Sun as a planet represents the energy of Identity, and so whatever Sign the Sun is in is how the chart’s primary identity – and by extension, how the person or event the chart is for – expresses itself. The Sun Sign is the only factor in many horoscopes, but a true astrologer will tell you that just the Sun Sign means nothing. You need a full reading with Planets, Houses, and other Signs in order to fully understand a chart – and that is the art of Astrology.
In the art of Astrology, the planets are the elements that tell you what is going on in a chart, and represent the primal energies of the universe. The Signs of the Zodiac – commonly referred to as the “Sun Signs” – tell you how the energies of the planets are translated into what we see before us. The Houses tell us where this translation is taking place.
In order to illustrate this, let’s take an example. If the Sun, the first planet, is in the Sign of Scorpio, this means that you Sun Sign is Scorpio. Why is this the case? Because the Sun is associated with identity and consciousness – it represents you at the fundamental level. Therefore, the energy of the Sun – the energy of identity and purpose – is expressed through Scorpio as undergoing transformation and cyclical change. Therefore, the energy of the Sun is expressed as Scorpio. Now, let us say that the Sign of Scorpio is in the Third House: the House of Communications. This means that one’s identity as a Scorpio is manifested in interactions with other people, and your transformative abilities are strongest when communicating and interacting with others – perhaps you even spread your transformation onto them.
Following the above example will allow you to fully interpret a planet in a chart. Without knowing a planet’s house and its Sign, you cannot do very much with it.
Like I said above, the Planets represent the primal energies of the universe. Everyone has some of each planet in us, which is why each planet appears on every Astrological chart. The primal energies associated with the nine major planets are below:
Venus: Attraction (as the opposite of Action)
The first seven planets, from the Sun to Saturn, are the planets visible to the naked eye, and so what were used for most of history in astrology. The three following it, the Trans-Saturnian planets, are all not visible to the naked eye, and are associated with breaking free of limits, taking on a different character from the other planets. The latter three major planets, then, to an extent transcend the “primal” energies of the other planets, breaking free of the restrictive nature of the other planets and the Astrological world.
There are other planetoids and asteroids that matter in Astrology, was well, but have lesser impact than these nine planets, though act in much the same way.
These nine planets tell a story, if you look at them in order. First, one is born in the Sun, and receives an identity. They are nurtured and cared for by the Moon, who gives one the gift of emotions. As one emotes, one begins to think about what one emotes, and so learns Mercury‘s Thought, and breaks free from the parental planets of the Sun and Moon. This thought allows for the phenomenon of attraction and interaction with others to take place as one arrives at Venus. In order to please the Venus in one’s life, one must take action, like Mars. However, in doing so, one must also learn to keep one’s actions in check, and so learns the morals of Jupiter. These morals set down the limits of Saturn, until you are able to break free of them with the power of Uranus, and then slowly unify the shattered fragments together and transcend with the power of Neptune, before finally transforming oneself into a new, better being with the forces of Pluto.
That is the story of the planets, from birth in the Sun to the transformation of death in Pluto. It is the journey of life, broken down into energies, and symbolized by the planets.
Transformation, Renewal, and Rebirth
Pluto is the last of the Trans-Saturnian planets, and also the last of the entire set of planets. Like Uranus and Neptune, Pluto is associated with breaking free of the limitations of Saturn, but in a different way than the previous two. Uranus seeks to smash asunder the barriers, Neptune seeks to transcend, surpass, or dissolve them slowly, and Pluto seeks to eliminate the retrictions by transforming them irreversibly.
Pluto is the planetary Ruler of Scorpio, which is fitting, as Pluto is most commonly known as the god of Death. He is also, however, a god of Life, and in ancient worship was actually revered as representing the balance between these two halves of existence. He ruled the Underworld, and yet at the same time, cornucopias were made in Pluto’s/Hades’ honor, representing fertility by depicting his penis (yes, that is what cornucopias really mean).
Pluto is, then, a symbol of both life and death, and more importantly the transformation that occurs when one passes between states. Pluto is a planet of large transformations and of renewal. If life did not die, then nothing would be renewed; everything would remain stagnant. The cosmos would stop progressing, and eventually would wither away. Pluto represents the forces that transform, reshape, regenerate, and renew. The planet’s energies change everything around them drastically, and not always for the better, for Pluto’s energies include both creation and destruction. An excess of Pluto typically leads to excess destruction, but at its best, Pluto is the balance between the two that allows for existence to continue to exist. It is the constant change and transformation that fill our lives, allowing us to change form, personality, and spirit.
Transcendence, Unity, and Empathy
Neptune is the second of the Trans-Saturnian planets, and takes the freedom embodied by Uranus to its next logical step: transcendence. Neptune is the planetary Ruler of Pisces, the Sun Sign of the mystic, and shares many things in common with this Sign. Neptune represents the freedom from the limits of Saturn that comes by passing through them and uniting with what lies beyond them. Neptune represents, essentially, the coming together of the universe, and unity in its purest form. Like the mystic, Neptune represents the loss of the individual in order to merge with the greater universal consciousness, and thus bring one’s existence into harmony with everything else.
Neptune is associated with intuition, leaps of insight, empathy, and the supernatural. The energies of Neptune are what allow people to see into other worlds, to experience sensations beyond the physical, and to understand the larger picture and purpose of life and the universe. Neptune is a sensitive planet, and grants people with the ability to perceive what is going on around them to the point where they become one with their surroundings, sometimes unable to differentiate themselves from the mass. Neptune represents the knowledge that can only come by losing oneself completely.
Uranus is the first of the Trans-Saturnian planets. Saturn was considered to be a planet of limitation in part because it was the farthest planet visible with the naked eye, and for a long while was considered to be the farthest planet, making it literally an astrological limit. Following the discovery of the first planet, Uranus, however, these limitations were shattered.
Saturn represents the outer limit of consciousness, and Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto all represents the awakening of a higher sense of consciousness, and so work on a different level than the preceding planets; a higher plane of awareness.
Uranus is the ruler of Aquarius, and itself embodies the ideals of all of the Trans-Saturnian planets. Uranus is the liberator, whose consciousness is finally awakening. Unsurprisingly, Uranus is associated with our ability to break free of the limits and restrictions imposed upon us by Saturn. Uranus is also associated with change and inventiveness, such as that divinely-inspired creativity associated with Aquarius. Uranus is a rebellious planet, breaking free of its bonds, doing things that no other planet would ever think of doing.
Uranus also represents individuality, as distinct and separate from the masses. This individuality that Uranus represents encompasses the uniqueness of every individual; what makes everyone special, everyone different, and what makes every single person break from the rigid order associated with Saturn and its associated sign, Capricorn.
Discipline, Responsibility, and Limitation
Saturn is the planetary Ruler of Capricorn, and its meaning’s relationship to this Sun Sign is fairly obvious. Saturn represents one’s ability to discipline and order his life, much like Capricorn represents… well, the same thing. Saturn represents a method and way of growing and learning, paradoxically, through limiting oneself. It is a way of teaching and of learning. By mastering first that which is within your limits, you are able to expand these limits and move on, master your new limits, and then move on again. This is a responsible and mature way of learning, and so the energies of Saturn correspond to learning responsibility through discipline.
This discipline, in turn, is learned through successive limitation. This is not necessarily limitation in a negative sense, but rather in a positive sense; it helps one moderate his growth, and allows for greater mastery and control later. Knowing one’s limits is always a good thing, and they can help one in the learning process. Saturn is also an Earthy planet, and reminds us that knowing one’s limitations is a practical concern, and often can save our lives (for example, a human limitation is the lack of the ability to fly. Knowing this practical limitation is very helpful in survival). Saturn can also represent negative limitations if too strong, as well as restriction and a lack of growth, creating stagnancy. As with everything else, the key is balance. Saturn, then, represents practical knowledge and wisdom that directly affect our lives, and corresponds also to the principle of karma and the Golden Rule.
Saturn, of course, corresponds to the Titan Kronos, Lord of Time. As such, Saturn also represents the cycles of time in our lives, and the slow growth that comes from learning one’s limits, mastering them, and then moving on. Saturn is also the farthest of the planets visible to the naked eye, and is the last of the personal planets. It represents the limits of ourselves, and indeed is an important astrological limit, which will be broken by Uranus.
Inner Strength, Ideals, Consciousness
Jupiter is the ruler of the gods, and makes up (most) of the ideals of our existence. As such, at its core, Jupiter represents our compulsion to seek out the higher ideals of life: understanding, truth, justice, meaning, ethics, and other abstract values and concepts. Jupiter is a planet of exploration and expanding the borders of the soul and mind. This planet seeks a greater understanding of the world, and in order to do so studies everything; it does not focus on one thing only, but rather on learning some of everything in order to broaden its worldview.
Jupiter is the Ruler of Sagittarius, the Sun Sign associated with philosophy and learning. This goes very well with Jupiter’s association with the broadening of the mind and one’s own consciousness, and with this increase in awareness comes a sense of hope and a deepening of faith in something. Jupiter represents, then, spiritual growth as well. It is also associated with good fortune, and in particular that which comes from one’s own inner strength, optimism, and comfort.
Projection, Energy, and “Manhood”
Mars is the god of war. Unsurprisingly, the planet Mars is Ruler of Aries (which is the Greek name for the same entity), and is very similar to the Sun Sign. Mars is the male counterpart to the feminine Venus, and represents male sexuality and the “ideal” of manhood, whatever it may be (as with womanhood, there are many different kinds). Traditionally, Mars has been associated with Western perceptions of the ideal man, particularly as the warrior.
Mars is then associated with the warrior, but not necessarily the warlike or conflicting aspects of the warrior; certainly, an excess of Mars’ energy can lead to this, but the principles most associated with Mars are the activity and projection of the warrior. By “projection,” I mean the ability of someone to assert himself, get his point across, get things done, and generally influence other people. Unlike the passive Yin/Femininity/Passivity of Venus, Mars is a Yang planet, associated with masculinity and activity. In the same vein of projection, Mars is associated with male sexuality – the desire to spread and “project” one’s seed outside oneself, into Venus, who can then nurture it and give it life.
Mars and Venus are intertwined, and both are needed in equal amounts for balance. Too much Mars leads to war and violence, and too much Venus leads to too little getting done and a lack of progress. Mars has a great deal of energy – certainly much more forceful than that of Venus – and restraining that energy and directing it towards a purpose is a skill that comes in handy, and one that Venus excels at.
Attraction, Beauty, and “Womanhood”
Venus is sometimes called the goddess of love, but is really more accurately termed the goddess of sex, and especially female sexuality. Venus is often seen in mythologies (as Venus, Aphrodite, Ishtar, and other equivalents) as a dangerous figure, which tells us how the male-dominated culture feared the sexual power they believed women to have. Venus is one of the feminine planets, and represents female vitality and passion, in opposition to her counterpart Mars. She also represents beauty and grace, as well as attraction.
In the astrological tradition, she loses much of her fearsome sexual appetite and has come to represent the forces of attraction that allow us to find and keep the people and things that have meaning to us. She does also represent the vital feminine, and she is the spirit of female energy, who can create and maintain life. She is associated, then, with creation, and especially beautiful creation, for Venus is associated with beauty. Those who express themselves through graceful and pleasing to experience works of creativity owe Venus their thanks. In this way, she represents also an aspect of the Sun Sign Leo.
However, she is not the Ruler of Leo; the Sun is. She is the Ruler of Taurus and of Libra. The first association is clearer than the latter; Taurus is a feminine Sun Sign associated with fertility and the earth, and is greatly helped by Venus’ ability to find those things needed to make oneself happy. Venus is also associated with Libra, as Libra is the Sun Sign of diplomacy and balance between forces and individuals; Venus is the attraction that can provide that balance. Venus is also associated with the ideal woman, and represents the pinnacle of “womanhood,” whatever that may be (for this definition can vary wildly, and depends upon one’s own beliefs, culture, and opinions). In traditional readings, she is often associated with the idealized Western woman.
Intelligence, Communication, and Learning
Mercury is the Messenger of the gods, and in many esoteric traditions is one of the most important mythical figures, as he brings wisdom as messages as well (Thoth and Hermes share the same associations). Mercury is also a clever figure, and so is the god of cunning and thought. His planet, therefore, is the same, and is also the Ruler of the Sun Signs of Gemini and Virgo. Mercury is the planetary manifestation of our ability to think on a higher plane, and therefore our ability to use logic and to speak with others.
Mercury is also associated with the intellect and communication, combining Gemini and Virgo. Mercury is associated with writing and teaching as well, and the imparting of knowledge between generations. It is generally a very Airy planet, though it’s Airy aspects are often applied to Earthly uses (such as to deceive and use cunning), making Mercury similar to the Prince of Disks or the Princess of Swords in the Tarot. In its association with intellect, logic, and reason, Mercury also represents learning and our ability to do so.
Emotions, Receptivity, and Mystery
The Moon is the opposite of the sun, its counterpoint and consort. The moon reflects the light of the Sun, and is the Yin to the Sun’s Yang. It’s calmness and receptivity allow the Sun’s energy and vitality to fully come into itself, for it cannot be called active without the Moon’s passivity to compare it to. While the Sun manages our identities and purpose, the Moon is in control of our emotional world, and to an extent the routine tasks we are comfortable doing. The Moon is the archetypal feminine planet, just as the Sun is the archetypal male planet.
In this association with the feminine, the Moon is associated with fertility, nurturing, and caring, aspects reinforced by the fact that it is the Ruler of Cancer. The Moon represents the female in its mother phase (as opposed to the maiden or the crone), and so is associated with all things motherly. The moon is also, as mentioned above, the ultimate feminine; in occultist and esoteric traditions, the feminine is associated with Yin and passivity. The Moon’s receptivity and reactivity allow for the Sun to come into its full glory.
The feminine is also associated with Water, which is appropriate for the Moon, as it is the Moon that controls the tides. Water is associated with one’s emotions and feelings, and the Moon rules these realms. Like Water, the Moon is flexible and adaptable, its intuition allowing it to do well in almost any situation. The Moon also represents one’s unconscious purpose, in contrast to the Sun’s conscious purpose, and the thoughts and feelings we have beneath the surface. The Moon is shrouded in mystery, and represents the hidden parts of ourselves we cannot always reach, as well as those parts of us we cannot control – our emotions.
Identity, Purpose, Will
The Sun is the most influential and powerful of the astrological planets, and also by far the brightest. When one says that someone “is” a Libra, a Capricorn, a Virgo, a Leo, an Aries, or any of the other Zodiac symbols, what they are saying is that their Sun Sign is that particular symbol. What determines someone’s Sun Sign? What zodiacal constellation the Sun was in on the day of their birth. One’s Sun Sign is merely derived from a natal chart, where the Sun is treated just like any other planet – but its meaning given more weight, and is the primary (but by no means the only) determinant in understanding an astrological chart.
The Sun represents our center, and what makes us… well, us. It is a planet of identity, and in many ways (unsurprisingly) is very much like the Tarot card of the Sun. It is the most influential factor in determining where we stand and who we are, and its position is extremely important. It is, in many ways, our “identity” planet, and represents who we are as an individual, as well as our drives, consciousness, and purpose.
The Sun also has its own sets of associations. The energy of the Sun is clear and has a definite purpose. The Sun is creative and confident, though can sometimes be dominating and selfish – the sun is the brightest and the center of the solar system, is it not? The Sun is strongly associated with and is the Ruler of Leo; the Sun shares many themes with this Sun Sign, and the two strengthen each other. The Sun is the giver of life, and it is from the Sun that we all originate. We are all stardust, primarily that coming from the sun. This is reflected in the Sun’s role; we are all dependent on energy coming from the Sun, and if we cannot use that energy well, we often have low self-esteem and a weak sense of self – and on the other end of the spectrum, if we overdo the Sin in our lives, we become arrogant and self-absorbed.
The Sun is also sort of on fire. In reality, it is not fire that fuels the sun, but it still has the spiritual energy of fire. It is also, then, associated with the element of fire that Leo is also associated with: creativity, origins, willpower, and identity.
There are twelve Houses in the art of Astrology. Each House is associated with one of the twelve Sun Signs, as well as one or two of the astrological planets. In a birth chart or other astrological reading, the Houses are arranged in a circle, and the depending on the date, the Sun Signs revolve around them, influencing them. The planets are also each placed in one of the Houses, further affecting them. The Sun Signs and planets represent the influences and actions in a birth chart or other astrological reading, and the Houses are the fixed points representing the areas in which these influences create actions to affect them. For example, if Mars is in the Second House, it means that the war god’s intense activity and driving identity manifest themselves in one’s personal possessions, perhaps indicating that one prides oneself in their material possessions, is a collector of goods, or use their personal possessions in ways suiting the war god.
The Twelve Houses are below:
The First House: The House of Self
The First House of Astrology is known as the House of Self. It bears the greatest resemblance to the Sun Sign of Aries, and the planet Mars. It is associated with identity, with an emphasis on how others perceive you. The House of Self is one’s identity projected outward onto others, and when planets and Signs appear in this House, they are acting in the realm of appearance, image, and one’s personality as perceived by others. This House governs the affairs of personal interaction and the image one projects onto others.
The Second House: The House of Value
The Second House of Astrology is the House of Value. It is associated with the Sun Sign Taurus and the planet Venus. When Sun Signs and planets appear in this House, they are acting in the realm of material possessions and resources, such as money, belongings, houses, and the like. The House of Value is focused, like its associated Sun Sign, on the material, and represents actions in terms of physical resources owned personally by the querent.
The Third House: The House of Communications
The Third House of Astrology is the House of Communications, associated with the Sun Sign Gemini and the planet Mercury. This House is associated with interpersonal interactions on a larger scale; social connections and networking, learning, and giving out information. It is the sum of and the parts of one’s communications and interactions with others. Any Sun Signs or planets found in this House are acting in the realm of interactions between people, and the exchange of knowledge and ideas.
The Fourth House: The House of Home and Family
The Fourth House of Astrology is the House of Home, or the House of Family, or the House of Home and Family. It is associated with the Sun Sign Cancer, as well as the planets of the Moon and Ceres. Actions in this House take place in the sphere of one’s home and family, as well as the deepest levels of oneself. While the First House of Self is associated with one’s outward self, the House of Home and Family is associated with one’s inner self, as seen by one’s family in the home, where one is most comfortable. Planets and Sun Signs acting in this House make actions in the realm of one’s personal space, family members, and one’s inner self.
The Fifth House: The House of Pleasure
The Fifth Astrological House, the House of Pleasure, is associated with the Sun Sign Leo and the planets of the Sun and Pallas. Actions taking place in the Fifth House are taking place in the realm of creativity, entertainment, and luxury. This is the House of the arts, as well; Sun Signs and planets in this sphere act in the realms of creativity, children, entertainment, and leisure.
The Sixth House: The House of Health
The Sixth House of Astrology is the House of Health. It is associated with the Sun Sign of Virgo and the planets Vesta and Mercury. Actions taking place in this House take place in the spheres of one’s daily well-being, the services and actions one performs on a daily basis, and one’s own state of mental and physical health. In these ways, the House of Health also covers those areas associated with one’s own sense of belonging and integration, as those are important aspects of mental health.
The Seventh House: The House of Partnerships
The Seventh Astrological House, or the House of Partnerships, is strongly associated with the Sun Sign Libra and the planets Juno and Venus. Like the name implies, the House of Partnerships covers the realms associated with one-on-one interactions and relationships. While the House of Communications focuses on social interactions on a broader scale, this House focuses on communication among individuals, but in terms of an aspect of one’s relationship (as opposed to interactions only) to others. The actions of the planets and Sun Signs in this House affect relationships between significant others, close friends, business associates, and, of course, diplomats and other meetings of equals.
The Eighth House: The House of Reincarnation
The Eighth House of Astrology is known as the House of Reincarnation, and is associated with the Sun Sign of Scorpio and the planet Pluto. Actions taking place in this House affect the realms of shared physical, emotional, and elemental possessions and resources. While the Second House of Value covers personal possessions, this House focuses on communal ones, such as shared homes, community parks, pooled resources, and the like. Planets and Sun Signs in this House also affect deep unions between multiple people with the potential to transform them; the act of sex, marriage, close friendships, monetary unions, and the like.
The Ninth House: The House of Philosophy
The Ninth Astrological House is associated with Sagittarius and the planets Jupiter and Chiron. It is known as the House of Philosophy, and actions taking place in this House cover the realms of mental unions and the development of one’s mental faculties and viewpoints. The House of Philosophy is concerned with the development of the mind and the broadening of one’s viewpoints through any means available, including spirituality, travel, academics, and asking questions.
The Tenth House: The House of Social Status
Associated with Capricorn and the planet Saturn, the Tenth Astrological House is the House of Social Status, and is concerned with, unsurprisingly, one’s social status and place in life and society. Events occurring in this House affect the realms of one’s occupation, social class, respectability, public image, and role in society.
The Eleventh House: The House of Friendships
The House of Friendships is the Eleventh Astrological House, and is associated with Uranus and the Sun Sign of Aquarius. This House covers the realm of social relationships on a broader scale than covered by the Seventh House of Partnerships, and also includes in its spheres social goals and group memberships, such as those in clubs, worker’s unions, and the like. Actions taking place in this House also affect friendships that are not close enough to be included in the House of Partnerships.
The Twelfth House: The House of Self-Undoing
The Twelfth House in Astrology, the House of Self-Undoing, is associated with the Sun Sign Pisces and the planet Neptune. It is the House of the mystic, and is associated with actions taking place in the realm of spirituality, the powerful influences of the past, the collective world/universe/community as a single soul, one’s devotion to higher realms of thought, existence, and being, and service done for others or higher goals. Actions in this House are in the realm of the universe as a whole, and spirituality and higher ideas.
The Astrological Houses have the same progression as the Sun Signs they identity with. For more on this, see my post on Astrological Progression.
So, after going through all of the astrological Sun Signs, I realized that the way I had approached them had been sequential in terms of their zodiacal progression, i.e. how they were ordered along the Zodiac. This led me to interpret the progression of Sun Signs as they were divided into groups of three by Modality, but not in the “standard” way, but in terms of Zodiacal progression.
This meant that I interpreted them like so:
-Aries initiates action and identity, that is then stabilized and made secure by Taurus, who takes the action of Aries and turns it into something more lasting. This action is then adapted by Gemini, who applies logic and reason to the action to better suit it to surviving the changes of time.
-Cancer initiates care and nourishment that is stabilized by Leo, who provides children to accompany this care to apply to others and is appreciated for what he does, and uses his creativity to turn Cancer’s care into something that can last. Virgo then applies her own earthy analysis of the situation, and allows the family to adapt so that it can survive, and maintain its own identity as created in the first progression.
-Libra initiates balanced social interactions (made possible by the previous progression), which Scorpio stabilizes and allows to last through his flexibility and ability to transform itself. This, in turn, is modified even further by Sagittarius, the philosopher and teacher, who allows Scorpio’s transformations to occur in a logical fashion, better suited to the changing nature of human relations, and also allowing for a closer relationship with the universe.
-Capricorn initiates the pursuit of material success, and Aquarius stabilizes this success through his own originality and deeper connection to the universe (a result of the previous progression). Pisces then allows for one to adapt in order to keep lasting by merging the material with the universe all around them, which in turn can produce a new identity to initiate in the first progression.
By interpreting them in this way, four interconnected cycles are produced. The first creates an identity which allows for the creation of a caring family, which in turn creates the potential for social interactions outside of that family, and that in turn allows for one to succeed in the world, which sows the ground again for the creation of identity.
Each progression contains one of the three Modalities, in order; Cardinal, Fixed, and Mutable. Each group, however, only has three elements. The first has only Fire, Earth, and Air. The second has only Water, Fire, and Earth. The third has only Air, Water, and Fire. The last has only Earth, Air, and Water. This means that the creation of identity lacks overly much emotion, the opposite of the Cardinal Sign of Fire. The creation of family lacks Air, keeping rationality and logic out of the creation of strong emotional bonds. The creation of social relations lacks Earth, indicating that the relationship between people is something above the material, and happens on a higher plane. The creation of material success lacks Fire, indicating that the excessive pursuit of the material causes one to lose their spirit as represented by Fire.
Interestingly, looking at the Sun Signs in this way produces the more traditional order of elements when looking at the cardinal element of each group, such as seen in the Tarot: Fire first, Water second, Air third, and Earth last.
Another way to look at the progression of Sun Signs is by the Orientations, which progress in order throughout the Zodiac. The first four signs are personal, the second four interpersonal, and the final four transpersonal, and each group of four represents the creation of each orientation.
-This means that Aries creates a personal identity, Taurus stabilizes and lets one’s personal identity grow, Gemini creates logic and allows for one’s identity to transcend the physical, and Cancer creates a sort of self-centered ideal of caring and an idea that you are one person, and there are others who might need you.
-Leo then provides care on an interpersonal level (for most interpersonal relationships are about care or lack thereof on some level), Virgo takes that care and makes it logical (like a triage nurse), Libra directly then uses this logic to help improve diplomatic relations, and Scorpio transforms interpersonal relationships and allows them to survive, and also hints that there might be something larger out there.
-Sagittarius allows one to then understand to and relate to the universe on a deeper level, transcending the social, Capricorn translates this deeper awareness into something material, relating the abstract to the concrete, Aquarius channels this metaphysical knowledge into originality, and combined with Capricorn’s materialism is able to invent and create, and finally Pisces allows one to be at one with the universe, and this start the process again by creating a personal identity more in tune with one’s surroundings.
This progression I also briefly covered in my overview of the Sun Signs. Each group of four begins with Fire, which is then made material by Earth, which is then connected to the abstract by air, and which is then given a soul by water. Looked at this way, the traditional astrological progression of the elements is observed in each Orientation.
The final way of looking at the progression of the Sun Signs as groups is one I did not cover in my overview. When grouped together by element, each element has three Signs: one of each Modality (Cardinal, Fixed, and Mutable) and one of each Orientation. The differences in each Sun Sign are a result of the three different ways of expressing the associated element, like so:
–Fire: Fire is initiated by Aries, who creates an identity and initiates all actions. He is the cardinal force of cardinal forces, and is intensely personal. He is the manifestation of activity and identity. Fire is then stabilized by Leo, who turns this identity and action into creativity (note how above I had been emphasizing the familial aspects of Leo; in this progression his more fiery side is needed), which he can then show to others, emphasizing his interpersonal nature. Sagittarius completes the progression, by taking the creativity and identity of before and tying them together to create an active manipulator of the universe who relates to it on a transpersonal level, in the process allowing it to adapt to change through his wisdom. Fire takes one’s personal energy and expands it until it can be connected to the rest of the universe.
–Earth: Earth is initiated by Capricorn, who is the earth of earth, and seeks to gain material wealth through his practical and cautious ways. Materialism and a connection to the physical world are brought into being by the cardinal Earth, who also represents a transpersonal level of the element, indicating the high degree of connection between this element and the universe. Capricorns begin the cycle by bringing the energy of the universe down and translating it into the material. Taurus takes these material and practical concerns and makes them into something more enduring, making them something more practical. Taurus helps to develop a sense of self-possession and care for oneself, and it is Taurus that allows one to see that their own needs are met so that they may continue to survive, making Taurus a stabilizing sign and of the personal level. Virgo finishes off the progression by extending this personal practicality to others, and helping to care for their health (much like Cancer, though on an interpersonal level), and by creating communities of people working together for the common good, creating an interpersonal community able to adapt in order to survive by including many diverse members. Earth takes the energy of the universe and transforms it into something bonding people together, creating communities made up of individuals.
–Air: Air is initiated by Libra, who creates the abstract ideals of justice and equality, and seeks immediately to create good relations between other people, making it impersonal and cardinal. This diplomacy is then stabilized by Aquarius, who takes the energy of the universe and uses his originality to relate these abstract ideals created by people for people to the greater universe as a whole, making it transpersonal and mutable; after all, what better way to strengthen something than tie it to the fabric of the universe itself? The abstract nature of Air is finally brought to a personal level by Gemini, who turns deeper connections to the universe and other people into something easily understood by a single person, allowing for clear and effective communications for one’s own gain. This allows one to maintain their abstract principles by adapting them into something every person can use for themselves. Air takes the social energy of interactions and transforms it into something personal, using the universe as a conduit.
–Water: Water is initiated by Cancer, who sees himself as the saviour of all others, and goes out of his way to care for them, even if they don’t need it, because he himself feels that they do. He as cardinal because he actively goes out and seeks to nurture, yet his care is based on a personal level, and he does not always empathize fully with his charges. Cancer initiates feelings and emotions, and is the water of water. Scorpio transforms this nurturing and caring, and allows for regeneration and healing to occur between peoples, and the emotional bond between people becomes stronger on an interpersonal level. Pisces then finishes this process by adapting this caring and nourishment to a transpersonal level, in which not only are other people cared for, but the entire universe; the world becomes one’s charge, and it is one’s duty to then care for it. Water takes one’s personal feelings and changes them into a deeper care for the Earth and the universe, by caring for others first and then transposing this care onto everything else.
One can also take these signs and look at them as they progress by comparing the three Orientations associated with each sign, yielding an interpretation out of order to but similar to those found above.
In conclusion, then, one’s interpretation of the Zodiac can vary wildly depending on which order you believe to be most relevant to what you are doing – and there are a lot of ways to view the progression of the Zodiac (I won’t even get into the astrological Ages here).
So, I was thinking again (dangerous, I know), and I noticed that the order of the elements in Tarot and Astrology are different! This might seem minor to some, but for people who base part of their conception of the Tarot on the order of the elements (that would be me), this is shocking! The traditional elemental order in the Tarot is Fire (Origin), Water (Potential), Air (Thought), and then Earth (Realization). In Astrology, Fire (Origin) is first, followed by Earth (Realization), then Air (Thought) and Water (Potential). Water and Earth are switched in the astrological system!
After a few moments of panic, I began to rationalize this, and came to the conclusion that both orders are logical. The Tarot order makes sense because it starts off with a spark (Fire), which then gains potential (Water) and is defined then by thought (Air), which results in its manifestation in reality (Earth). An order of creation, based on the Tree of Life.
On the other hand, the astrological model is not one of creation, but of cycles. Fire begins as an initiator, providing activity to start things off, and is followed then by a manifestation on Earth. This manifestation is then observed and rationalized by Air, and after that it gains new potential through Water, which allows for another spark to ignite and carry on the cycle. This model makes sense for astrology, as there is an emhpasis on the cyclical nature of the Zodiac and similar, cyclical changes.
Pisces – ♓ – Fish – Self-Undoing – February 19/March 20 – Water – Mutable – Yin (-) – Transpersonal – Neptune
Scary as the name of its associated House may sound – “The House of Self-Undoing” – the final Sun Sign of the Zodiac, Pisces, is not any more negative than its associates. Pisces is associated with ideas of mysticism and isolation, in many ways like the Hermit of the Tarot (though “officially” the two are not associated with each other). The House of Self-Undoing is also associated with these mystic ideas, and is also directly associated with isolation, hermeticism, reflection, sacrifice (primarily of self), and the unconscious (which is reinforced by Pisces’ association with Water). The idea of “Self-Undoing” is directly related to the Sun Sign’s Transpersonal Orientation. Pisces is concerned with knowledge of the larger universe, and seeks this knowledge by looking so deep into oneself that that self is lost, subsumed by the larger universe. Many mystics and hermeticists believe that this is the goal of existence, and Islamic Sufis (and early Islamic faylasufs) tried to completely lose themselves in the glory of the larger universe, or God, depending on the symbolism you choose. Once they found God, their self would burn away and they would become on with him (many of them, of course, later reconsituted themselves, but as an appendage of sorts of God). It is then fitting that Pisces is the last Sun Sign, as Pisches finishing what Aries started, and allows the self to become one with the universe. Pisces’ association with unity reinforces this idea greatly.
Pisces is also of the Mutable Modality, meaning that it adapts and changes as it learns. More specifically, the new order created by Capricorn and reproduced by Aquarius is adapted and changed by Pisces until ultimate enlightenment can be reached. Pisces also is associated with the element of Water, reinforcing ideas of passivity within Pisces; the mystic generally does not interfere, and cuts himself off from society in order to understand the universe, and so is, in a sense, the ultimate in passivity (which goes along with its Yin Polarity). Pisces is also symbolized by the fish – two fish, actually, which associate it in turn with rebirth and resurrection, such as that which comes through being reborn with the knowledge of the universe in your head.
Pisces is ruled by Neptune, which is associated with idealism, intuition, and healing – qualities of the mystic and also strongly associated with Water, emphasizing Pisces’ watery nature. Neptune is also associated with unification, just like Pisces.
After finishing my recent Astrology post on Capricorn, I thought for a long while about the parallels that can be drawn between the Sun Sign of Capricorn and the Tarot Card of the Devil. The Devil is a rebel, a destroyer of order, and a god of wild, uncontrolled fertility. Capricorn is associated with order and discipline, and social status and hierarchy. At first glance, the two seem to be opposites, yet Capricorn is the Sun Sigh associated with the Devil.
This could be because of the symbolism. The Devil is a goat, and often represented as Pan. The same holds true of Capricorn, so on this superficial level the two have some parallels. However, the parallels do go deeper, even if you have to think about them.
Capricorn is associated with social class and order, yes, but not necessarily the accepted, established one. Capricorns are, like the goat, often thick-headed and sometimes confrontational, and will try to change the society around them to fit their view of what order looks like. Capricorns are associated with the Yin Polarity, making them passive and introverted, but that does not mean that they cannot initiate change and flip the order of things head-over-heels. One’s sheer force of personality can be enough to initiate an action to change the world.
When looked at that way, suddenly the parallels between Capricorn and the Devil become clear. The Devil tried to overthrow the old order in an attempt to establish his own order, and his sheer force of personality turned many angels to his side. In the end, his new order didn’t fully establish itself, but it did create some very large changes in the universe.
Capricorn and the Devil are also both associated with virility (Pan) and fertility (Earth), but in different ways; the Devil with wanton creation, and Capricorn with ordered reproduction. The two don’t exactly match up, but Capricorns are still associated with reproduction, in the sense that they reproduce their own values in order to spread them and establish their own order; just not in the same wanton fashion as the Devil once did.
So, though some of the meanings of the two symbols may differ at a glance, they are more closely related than one would think. And thus concludes my thoughts on the matter!
Aquarius – ♒ – Water Bearer – Friendships – January 21/February 18 – Air – Fixed – Yang (+) – Transpersonal – Uranus
Aquarius the water-bearer is a Sun Sign of the Air, associated with abstract principles and rational thought. It is also associated with the Astrological House of Friendships, which brings with it an association with ones’s hopes, as well. This association with the House of Friendships also makes Aquarius associated with, as the name implies, friendships and close relationships between similar people, as well as groups, clubs, and relationships on higher levels. Aquarius is of the Transpersonal Orientation, meaning that Aquariuses are concerned with their relationship to the universe as a whole. Aquarius does this by interacting with others, pouring down rivers – as is associated with its symbol, the Water Bearer – to others. Aquarius is a source of water and nourishment for others and serves to bring the energy of the universe down to others by using its lofty understanding to act as an intermediary with the universe. As such, Aquariuses are often considered strange, different, or weird by others, and they embrace this difference, viewing it as a positive thing, which sometimes can lead to rebellion and nonconformity for the sake of itself.
Through this deeper connection to the universe, Aquarius is often able to experience Afflatus Divine – or, in less fancy terms, Divine Inspiration. Aquarius is able to take brilliant ideas from the universe and pour it down into the world, making them amazing inventors, creators, and people who make society and technology move forward. Aquarius is of the Yang Polarity, which is not surprising, given the fact that they influence others by actively doing (and even in its symbol, the Water Bearer is pouring water, not accepting it). Aquarius is also of the Fixed Modality, meaning that Aquariuses maintain the order laid out by Capricorn through the inspiration they receive from the universe.
Aquarius is ruled by Uranus, who is associated with originality, progress, and innovation, emphasizing the creative aspects of Aquarius.
Capricorn – ♑ – Goat – Social Status – December 21/January 20 – Earth – Cardinal – Yin (-) – Transpersonal – Saturn
The Sun Sign of Capricorn is associated with the oft-overlooked goat. The goat is an animal of the Earth, and its horns can either represent fertility or, if they spiral, infinity. Due to its association with Earth, Capricorn is a very practical and materialistic Sun Sign, and Capricorns tend to be concerned primarily with the everyday world and physical things. Because of this elemental association, Capricorn is also of the Yin Polarity, and so is introverted and often passive. Capricorn is also a Cardinal Sign, however, meaning that initiates action, and the actions that it initiates are associated with order. It is associated with the House of Social Status, representing authority, hierarchy, ambition, appearance, and drives. Capricorns are very concerned with how they appear to others and are concerned with finding out how and where they fit into the grand scheme of things. Capricorns are also of the Transpersonal Orientation, and so while they might be introverts and keep to themselves, they are also seeking to connect to the universe on a deeper level. In Capricorns, this manifests in trying to place themselves in an ordered world, and then presenting themselves to others as belonging in that position. They seek to ground their connection to the rest of the universe in reality by figuring out where they fit in. However, Capricorns don’t necessarily have to be content with where they are, and may try to move up in the ranks.
The goat is often thickheaded, and is associated also with virility and fertility, and reproduction as a whole, through the guise of Pan (and reinforced through its association with Earth). Capricorn represents Pan in the Zodiac, and the influences of the natural world upon us all, again combining the universe’s grand plan with more practical concerns, and initiating actions to shape the world more to their liking, not necessarily through active actions, but just by being who they are. They initiate, but do not start out trying to change the world; by nature of who they are, it just happens. Capricorns have strong personalities, can be confrontational at times, and have very clear ideas of their role in society, and seek order and the reproduction of said order. That being said, Capricorns are also great adapters, and do not usually seek to create new things completely out of nothing; rather, they adapt what they have before them using pre-existing concepts of order and discipline in order to build their new models. This then leads to Capricorns as being, interestingly, in the Cardinal Modality, but whose Cardinality is defined by Mutability.
Capricorn is ruled by Saturn, which reinforces the ordered nature of Capricorn with its association with discipline, responsibility, and thoroughness.
Sagittarius – ♐ – Centaur – Philosophy – November 22/December 20 – Fire – Mutable – Yang (+) – Transpersonal – Jupiter
Sagittarius is the learned centaur, educated on the ways of the world and wise. His wisdom comes not only from learning, but also from personal experience – the Centaur has lived extensively and learned from his experiences. He is not afraid to try out what is new, and is a pioneer and explorer. He is associated with the element of fire, and the courage and initiation (such as that associated with exploration) that go along with it. However, the Centaur is not of the Cardinal Modality; rather, Sagittarius is of the Mutable Modality. It takes the ideas put forward by Libra and stabilized and emotionalized by Scorpio and brings them into a whole new plane, where they can be applied to everyone, revolutionizing thought. It is only appropriate that the pioneer is also the first Sun Sign to be of the Transpersonal Orientation. Sagittariuses identify themselves by their relationship to the universe at large, and are the ones who make Libra’s ideas more related to the laws of the cosmos. The Centaur’s wisdom also reflects a deeper understanding of cosmos, and can be somewhat of a mystical teacher (just like the centaur Chiron).
Sagittarius is associated with the Astrological House of Philosophy, again giving the Sun Sign an association with higher learning, wisdom, complex thought, and new ideas. However, Sagittarius also reminds us that we all “[stand] on the shoulders of giants,” as Newton said, and that new ideas do not come about in a vacuum. Rather, most new ideas are merely new ways of looking at and adapting the old. The Centaur and his House is also associated with long journeys – both physical and spiritual – and cultural interactions. Sagittarius is the “meta” Sun Sign, and most associated with the mystic.
Jupiter is the ruler of Sagittarius, and is associated with optimism and open-mindedness; Sagittarius is open to any and all new experiences, and seeks to do the best that he can with what he has. He is also generous and kind, as exemplified in Sagittarius’ abilities as a teacher. Sagittarius is also of the Yang Polarity, and is associated with activity and action.
Scorpio – ♏ – Scorpion – Reincarnation – October 23/November 21 – Water – Fixed – Yin (-) – Interpersonal – Pluto
Scorpio is the Scorpion. He is strongly associated with the thirteenth Trump of the Tarot deck, Death. It is this association with Death that comes out most strongly in Scorpio’s association with the House of Reincarnation, as Reincarnation and the Cycle/Circle of Life is the meaning of Death in most Tarot readings. In its association with this House, Scorpio represents cyclical change, sexual relationships, rebirth, and hidden meanings and transformation. Scorpio is a complex Sun Sign, as in many regards by its nature it is the Sun Sign of complexity and inner meaning.
Scorpio is also in the element of Water, meaning that it is a passive Sign that deals with emotions (its passivity, of course, best exemplified by its Yin polarity). Scorpio transforms and renews, but it does not initiate this action; rather, it transforms and renews once a cycle is completed. In this way, Scorpio is of the Fixed Modality, representing stability through movement (similar to the meaning of the Tarot card the Two of Disks/Pentacles/Coins, or Change) and cycles. It takes the new ideas thought up by Libras and transforms them into something more accessible to others, making them more emotional, in keeping with Scorpio’s watery theme. At the same time, however, the original meaning of these ideas are not lost, and a deeper level of understanding always exists in whatever a Scorpio might say. They have deep personalities and complex emotions, but do their best to maintain the status quo by constantly transforming the situation around them.
The Sun Sign of Scorpio is also of the Interpersonal orientation, meaning that Scorpios define themselves in terms of their relationships to other people. Indeed, Scorpios transform the ideas of the Libras for the sake of others, and do their best to create security for those around them by their constant adjustments and renewals. Terr Pratchett best expressed this idea of constant renewal to create stability in his book Thief of Time, with the idea that at the hypothetical smallest possible unit of time, the universe is destroyed and then created, constantly in a cycle of destruction and creation. Scorpio represents this idea astrologically.
Scorpio is ruled by the planet of Pluto, which reinforces its association with the spirit of Death, representing renewal and transformation.
Libra – ♎ – Scales – Partnerships – September 23/October 22 – Air – Cardinal – Yang (+) – Interpersonal – Venus
Libra is represented by a pair of scales, very blatantly representing justice (hence this Sign Sign’s association with the Thoth tarot card of Adjustment [VIII]). In this sense, a Libra is concerned with fairness and equality, and in many ways is the most “airy” of the Sun Signs. Libras are often objective and fair, but can also be uncaring, distant, or cold. Their orientation is interpersonal, and they are focused on others. The relationships that they seek to form are, however, fair, equal, and balanced; Libras are concerned with equality. They are also of the Yang polarity, indicating that they seek to actively bring their ideas about the world – that they think up using their Airy thoughts – to other people. This is reinforced by Libra’s Cardinal Modality; Libras are initiators, beginning new actions and change. They think up new, abstract ideas, and seek to apply these ideas to others – whether or not they successfully translate into the real world (in this way, Libras can be similar to Cancers).
Libra is associated with the astrological House of Partnerships, meaning that Libras commonly form close relationships with others (emphasizing the Sun Sign’s Interpersonal Orientation). These relationships are not necessarily built on love, though they do typically involve degrees of trust. Diplomats generally exhibit Libran ideals very well, as they forge (hopefully) close bonds between countries, based (hopefully) on principles of equality and mutual benefit. The House of Partnerships also represents the good qualities we admire about other people, and exchanges of confidences.
Libra is ruled by the planet of Venus, associated with harmony, grace, and refinement. The particularly important association here that Venus shares with Libra is that of harmony; Libras seek to bring harmony to others, and their harmonious nature is why they are able to form close relationships.