Just like the local weather affects our lives, the cosmic weather does, too. If you’re curious to find out how to work with the planets, or even how you detect their energy as it plays out in your life, here’s an intro crash course on the 8 major players in our solar system.
So here’s how this works: Astrology holds that each planet rules a part of human life, from communication, to our daily emotions, to our desires, to our long-term karmic lessons. In general, what determines how directly / acutely we feel a planet’s influence includes where it’s placed in the solar system and how quickly it moves in its orbit.
So, you remember the diorama you made in grade 5 science, right? There are ‘inner planets,’ which are situated closest to earth (the sun, moon, Mercury, Mars and Venus), and ‘outer planets,’ which are further out in space (Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, Uranus, and Pluto). The closer a planet is located to earth, the more immediately we feel its energy. The further out they are, the more they tend to influence very large trends in our lives and in whole generations.
The way a planet expresses itself at any given time changes depending on which sign, (or, constellation of stars), it’s occupying. There are certain signs the planets function optimally in, and others they don’t jive with. For example, the moon, which rules our emotions, likes being in sensitive Cancer. It isn’t so comfortable in say, Aries, the competitive fire sign. When a planet is in a sign it ‘feels good’ in, it manifests as ease or flow down here on earth. When it’s in a sign it’s not so at home in, we might feel tension in the area it rules.
Of course, there are no ‘bad’ placements, or ‘bad planets,’ but there are challenges that can result. We can learn how to navigate them better by understanding what each planet means for us.
Here’s a character profile for each:
The Sun: The big ball of fire at the center of the solar system keeps us alive, and hence, rules our self, or personality. Our sun sign determines our basic essence, our natural strengths – how we shine our light on the world. The sun moves signs once per month, and gives us our astrological season. The sun rules Leo, the expressive, bold fire sign who likes being the center of attention.
The Moon: While the sun rules our personality, the moon rules our inner world of emotions. When the sun goes down, the moon rises and reminds us that we also need to reflect on how we feel about everything that happened during the day. The moon switches signs once every 2.5 days, so, our moods change fairly rapidly too! Look to the sign the moon is for an indicator of what might be influencing your mood. The moon governs Cancer, the intuitive water sign.
Mercury: Mercury is the messenger planet, named after the Roman messenger of the gods. It rules how we think, speak, write, edit, banter, collaborate and co-create. It moves signs once every 2 weeks or so, and, notoriously goes retrograde a few times every year – which means, communication breakdowns abound. Mercury rules Gemini, the curious air sign, and Virgo, the health-oriented earth sign.
Venus: Venus is named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty. This is the planet of desire, and rules the way we idealize romance and want to be courted, but also our aesthetic preferences and what we’re willing to spend money on. Venus rules Libra and Taurus, both of which excel at enjoying the fruits of the earth. Venus moves signs every 4 – 5 weeks.
Mars: Mars is the action planet. It’s associated with sex drive, passion, determination, combat, and in some cases, work. Mars shifts signs every 6 – 7 weeks and rules the fire sign Aries, the first sign of the zodiac. Look to what Mars is up to in your horoscope for how you can get the most shit done at any given time.
Jupiter: Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system (you could fit 1,300 earths inside it!) It rules opportunity, growth, and luck, and is said to grow whatever it touches. So, when Jupiter is in a sign like Aries, we might feel our ambitions, or even aggression, expand. This planet governs Sagittarius, the traveler / philosopher of the zodiac, who is compelled to learn from experience and live life to the fullest. Jupiter switches signs every year or so.
Saturn: Saturn’s job is to make sure everyone is doing their job and hasn’t cut any corners. Saturn rules karma, life lessons, time, structure, and maturity. The period called a ‘Saturn return’ is when Saturn returns to the same position it was the moment you were born (it happens every 28.5 – 30 years), and delivers an epic dose of karma – for better or worse. It is the ruler of Capricorn, the ambitious, methodical sign of the zodiac. Saturn moves signs every 2 – 3 years.
Uranus: Uranus rules electricity, technology, and change. Fittingly, it’s the only planet named after a Greek god – Ouranos, the god of the sky. Uranus hates rules and wants to smash any structures that keeps energies oppressed. Millennials born between 1988 – 1996 were born with Uranus in Capricorn, which means we have the task of bringing about change, but must do by using traditional systems and ideas. Capricorn rules Aquarius, the forward-thinking humanitarian of the zodiac.
Neptune: The 8th planet from the sun rules dreams, the imagination, and spirituality. It’s named after the Roman god of the sea, and rules the water sign Pisces, the mystical intuitive of the zodiac. Neptune moves signs every 12 – 13 years. Millenials born between 1984 to 1997 were born with Neptune in Capricorn, which means that many of us will idealize work and our careers.
Pluto: Named after the god of the underworld, Pluto is considered a ‘dwarf planet’ (it is only half as wide as the United States), but it holds a lot of importance. This planet rules rules death and rebirth, power, and transformation. It governs Scorpio, the fixed water sign who’s mission is to feel deeply. Millennials born between 1983 and 1995 are the Pluto in Scorpio generation, which means we’re the bringers of radical transformation, tasked with bringing what’s hidden to the surface.