Planets are the performers on the stage of your chart. Each planet in your chart represents a need, a force in you looking for expression. The Sun is a need to shine, create, exist. Venus is a need to love and be loved, to find beauty in life. The Moon represents your quest for safety and security.
The sign is the costume the character wears, the role they play. It indicates how the planet’s need can be met, and what happens if it is not met. For example, someone with the Moon in Capricorn is serious about security and needs a solid sense of structure and personal responsibility. If that is not present, there are feelings of insecurity, fear, and a fearful, cautious, or negative outlook on the world.
Each planet has a special affinity to one or more signs. This is known as rulership. Planetary rulerships of signs are important to know because they help you see the links between the different ideas in the chart.
The planets closer to us (the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars) are the personal planets. They represent our everyday personality features and the way we relate with those close by us.
The planets’ energy gets more complicated, abstract, and outside conscious awareness, the farther out you go. As we move outward to Jupiter and Saturn, the planets become less about personality and more concerned with how we relate to society in general. Jupiter and Saturn are the transpersonal planets.
Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, the outer planets, connect us to something more universal– a globalized collective unconscious. They are generational planets– planets whose sign placements mark the different generations and humanity’s evolving relationships to technology, spirituality, and psychology.
The word “planet” in modern astronomical terms describes the Earth and other bodies that orbit the Sun. However, the word originated from an ancient Greek root meaning “wanderer.” The planets were traveling lights that moved across the backdrop of the motionless stars.
In astrology, we still use the ancient, observational meaning of the word planet. We understand that the Sun and the Moon are not planets in the scientific sense of the word. However, they are bodies that circle the earth (from our perspective). That’s why astrology still considers them to be planets.
Ancient skywatchers saw the light reflected from the planets and personified those energies as gods. Each one had its own pure expression, its own strengths and weaknesses. As you study the planetary energies, you will see more and more how the planets represent universal archetypes that are very much alive and part of our day-to-day lives.
If you were to geometrically represent the paths of the planets orbiting around us (from our perspective), the resulting shape would be a disk. That disk or plane where the Sun and most of the planets appear is called the ecliptic.
Your birth chart is a map of the locations of the planets along the Ecliptic, as seen from the Earth.