Astro 101 — Introduction to the Planets in Astrology

12Introduction to the Planets in Astrology

In our last session, we discussed the astronomy of the solar system.  I described the major components that we use in astrology of the planets and other entities (energies) that revolve around the Sun.  In case you missed that blog you can always backtrack and read “The Astronomy of Astrology” at your leisure.  Additionally, I think it is time that everyone gets a copy of their horoscope which you can get for free on my website.   If you do not understand the chart, you can always check out the tutorial that I created to help you understand your horoscope.

Let’s now begin with this lesson.

The Planets:

Frank Clifford in his book, “Getting to the Heart of Your Chart,” says the following about the planets:

“The planets are the energy, the players/actors, the nouns” (pg. 16)

I would like to continue this theme of planets as actors through this course because I feel that it is the best way to understand the planets.  So, let’s begin by taking a look at what an actor is.   Webster says:

 one that acts


A: one who represents a character in a dramatic production

B: a theatrical performer

C: one who behaves as if acting a part

Claire Martin has this to say about planets in her book on Psychological Astrology, “Mapping the Psyche”:

“Each one of us is a reflection of the entire cosmos as it exists in space and time at the moment of our birth.  This means that each one of us contains the pattern of the entire cosmos within.  The archetypal or universal symbolism of each planet is modified and personalized according to its placement in our birth charts.  In this way, the planets will function as a unique, personalized, cast of characters.  Each planet has its own personality, motivation, attitude, desires, goals, and expressions, right down to its own way of walking and talking, its own body posture and the particular clothes it wears!” (pg. 25)

To sum this up, the planets of the horoscope are archetypes – meaning they reflect universal energies that exist within all of us.  We all have a desire to become individuals (Sun), feelings (Moon), a need to communicate and learn (Mercury), a need to be in relationships (Venus), an ability to go out into the world and get what we want (Mars), a need to be nurtured (Ceres), a need to have beliefs and ideas about life (Jupiter), and a defense system (Saturn).   As Martin suggests, the planets will express itself through its placement in the horoscope; however, they still remain the planets and represent certain parts of the personality. In essence, they become an inner cast of characters that are alive and well inside of us.  Some of them get along and others seem to be rather antagonistic and it is our goal to understand these characters so that they become useful allies rather than unconscious enemies.

It’s All in the Playing:

I would like to introduce you to one of the most creative uses of archetypal energies (which the planets represent and symbolize) that I have encountered in both my astrological and psychological journey.  It’s called the ‘commedia dell’arte’.

The Commedia first recorded performances happened in Rome as early as 1551.  This type of performance was unique because the stories were not scripted in the manner that plays are scripted now, yet utilized the art of what we now call improv – meaning the actors (again think planets) all know the characters that they are supposed to play and a bare-bones sketch (or themes such as jealousy, sex, love, and old age) of what they are supposed to act out, yet the dialogue and the action is up to them to perform based on the natures of their character.   In some cases, the storylines were based on the current scandals or political ideologies of the location that the Commedia was being performed.

The characters of the Commedia are the most interesting component.  They are referred to as “masks” (a lovely word for archetypes) and as I mentioned earlier these masks could not depart from their basic nature.  In other words, the miserly old man cannot become the fool nor can military officers divert to being a villain.   Similarly, in astrology, planets must remain the same they cannot change their own nature.  Venus is always going to be Venus and Saturn is always going to remain Saturn.

Here is an example of character performances from the Commedia.   I will continue to use the Commedia in future lessons when we learn about signs, houses, and aspects.

Here are some basic introductory keywords for the astrological planets.

Planetary Keywords:

The Sun – Identity, ego, center of personality, self-expression, psychological inheritance from the father
The Moon – Emotions, feelings, security, psychological inheritance from the mother
Mercury – Communication, thoughts
Venus – Love, beauty, values
Mars – Energy and aggression
Ceres – Nurture, nurturing, and unconditional love
Jupiter – Expansion, excess
Saturn – Limitation, structure
Uranus – Change, liberation, rebellion
Neptune – Imagination, illusion
Pluto – Transformation, renewal
Chiron – wounding, healing


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