Astrology is a scientific art that uses a poetic language as its main tool. Interpreting a chart, you weave together different words into a larger picture or tapestry. Coherent phrases or sentences are made by putting together those words and considering what might happen when they combine.
We will learn lots of words, but let’s start with the most basic types—Planets, Constellations, Houses.
Beginning to learn this language, it’s helpful to know that many of these words are synonyms—by understanding what one means, you can get a good sense of what another signifies. I’ll discuss a couple exceptions, but this is mostly true. For example, the 1st house is associated with Mars and Aries, and they all share a similar meaning. Thus, even though today we’ll be exploring the Planets, Constellations, and Houses, in a sense we’re only learning a few major concepts.
Planets provide the ‘what’ in a sentence. They describe the basic energy being expressed. You can think of them as psychological functions, or as archetypes that animate the whole world. Planets rule constellations. In other words, each has a strong affinity for one or two. I’ll present them in the order of the constellations they rule, so you can start to connect the dots.
A couple constellations have two rulers—a traditional one associated with the planets visible to the naked eye and a more modern one which we’ve discovered with a telescope. You might not even recognize a couple of these minor planets, but trust me, they’re really cool. Either way, I’ve provided both sets of rulerships.
Mars—Assertiveness and physical energy. Aries and the 1st house, Scorpio and the 8th house.
Venus—Attraction and value. Taurus and the 2nd house, Libra and the 7th house.
Mercury—Perceiving, thinking, and communicating. Gemini and the 3rd house, Virgo and the 6th house.
The Moon—Basic emotional needs. Cancer and the 4th house.
The Sun—The main plot or character of our life. Leo and the 5th house.
Chiron—Order, health, and healing. Virgo and the 6th house.
Eris—Balance and equilibrium, in relationships and the community at large. Libra and the 7th house.
Pluto—Transforming shadow into soul. Scorpio and the 8th house.
Jupiter—Seeing the big picture and feeling expansive. Sagittarius and the 9th house, Pisces and the 12th house.
Saturn—Discipline and responsibility. Capricorn and the 10th house, Aquarius and the 11th.
Uranus—Experiencing insight and expressing individuality. Aquarius and the 11th
Neptune—Connecting to spirit, channeling music and poetry. Pisces and the 12th.
Additionally, there are a couple of important points and several other cool asteroids which articulate more nuanced energies. The most important are the North and South Nodes—the points at which eclipses occur, which have been tracked for a long time. The Indian tradition calls them “Rahu and Ketu,” and imagines them as the head and tail of a mythical dragon.
The North Node (Rahu)—Our Dharma, evolutionary ‘True North.’
The South Node (Ketu)—Our Karma, our ancestry, and momentum from past lives.
Here are some cool asteroids. For simplicity’s sake, we don’t need to worry about Constellation/House associations.
Ceres—Food and sustenance.
Juno—Soul-level partnerships and authentic power.
Vesta—Devoted purity and service.
Pallas Athena—Strategic vision.
Lilith—The unrestrained erotic.
Constellations describe the how in a sentence. They are the clothes the planetary energies wear. Constellations have been categorized into elements—Fire, Earth, Air, and Water—and modes—Cardinal, Fixed, and Mutable. Each constellation has a specific elemental energy it carries and a mode through which it is conducted. Your imagination can quickly figure out the elements, but in case you aren’t familiar with the modes, cardinal describes a starting, creative energy, fixed describes a sustaining energy, and mutable describes a changing energy.
Aries—Initiative and trailblazing. Cardinal Fire. Mars and the 1st house.
Taurus—Beautiful and sturdy. Fixed Earth. Venus and the 2nd house.
Gemini—Curious and communicative. Mutable Air. Mercury and the 3rd house.
Cancer—Empathetic and caring. Cardinal Water, The Moon and the 4th house.
Leo—Brave and theatrical. Fixed Fire. The Sun and the 5th house.
Virgo—Discerning and orderly. Mutable Earth. Mercury, Chiron and the 6th.
Libra—Diplomatic and protective. Cardinal Air. Venus, Eris and the 7th.
Scorpio—Intense and investigative. Fixed Water. Mars, Pluto and the 8th.
Sagittarius—Adventurous and understanding. Mutable Fire. Jupiter and the 9th.
Capricorn—Dedicated and determined. Cardinal Earth. Saturn and the 10th.
Aquarius—Unique and detached. Fixed Air. Uranus, Saturn, and the 11th.
Pisces—Dreamy and intuitive. Mutable Water. Jupiter, Neptune and the 12th.
Houses provide the where in a sentence. They are the domains where planetary energies play out. Houses start from the point on the Eastern horizon at the time of our birth, which is also called the Ascendant. This is another, independent point that is also very important. It describes our general style—our way of doing things, and how we show up to the world. It’s thought to describe your physical appearance. Anywho, without any further ado, here are the houses:
1st—Engagement and exploration. Mars and Aries.
2nd—Feeling abundant, internally and externally. Venus and Taurus.
3rd—Curiosity and communication. Mercury and Gemini.
4th—Feeling planted and cared for. Moon and Cancer.
5th—Performance and play. Sun and Leo.
6th—Health, habits, and service. Mercury, Chiron and Virgo.
7th—Eye to eye relationships. Venus, Eris and Libra.
8th—Sexuality and alchemical transformation. Mars, Pluto and Scorpio.
9th—Expansive experiences and maps of meaning. Jupiter and Sagittarius.
10th—Profession and integrity. Saturn and Capricorn.
11th—Friends, tribe, and the community. Saturn, Uranus and Aquarius.
12th—The dream realm and the otherworldly. Jupiter, Neptune and Pisces.
Now, putting the words together, we could make a phrase by putting together a Planet, Constellation, and House, as a what, how, and where. For example, we might look at someone with the Sun in Capricorn in the 4th.
The Sun, the central character in our lives, would express itself in Capricorn, in a sturdy and determined way, in the 4th house of home and place by:
-buying a house or owning real estate.
-trying to be a good father or mother
-working in a home or community of some sort.
If the Sun was in Sagittarius, we could imagine someone being a traveler or a nomad, loving exploring new places.. Perhaps having a mobile home.
The fourth house describes where things are drawn to happen, but it also describes a general temperament, even if it’s not always going in that direction.
Challenge 1: Understand your Sun, Moon, and Ascendant. These are called “the Primal Triad,” and a lot of people use it to understand and introduce a more mythological dimension of themselves. Knowing the constellation associated with these is often enough, and the Ascendant doesn’t have a house associated with it. See if you can test yourself to understand how your Ascendant constellation might describe you, as well as what your Sun and Moon constellations and houses might say. If you don’t know this data, feel free to reach out to me with your birth info! Email me at email@example.com