The planets & their meanings

Astrology is essentially the study of how cosmic cycles impact life on Earth. An astrological chart is a map of the sky, divided into twelve parts, and the zodiac signs are the largest constellation within each of those twelve sections. Theoretically, any heavenly body – be it a planet, star, asteroid, or even black hole – can be interpreted within this map. In this post we’ll break down the astrological qualities of the sun, moon, and planets, as well as list some interesting mythological correlations across ancient civilizations.


Astrology - Planets

Sun

The sun sign is considered the most important player in an astrology chart because it takes up 99% of the mass of our entire solar system. So while the other planets are critical to understanding the nuances of an astrology chart, the sun sign sets the tone.

In astrology, the sun represents life force, purpose, ego, leadership, and the present moment in time. The Sun rules the zodiac sign of Leo.

There are countless sun gods across ancient and modern civilizations, from the Greek Helios and Apollo, the Ancient Roman god Sol, or sun goddess Amaterasu in Japan. Other sun gods include the Hindu Shiva, Incan Inti, Ra of Egypt, Aztec Tonatiuh, and Oxala or Obàtálá of the Yorùbá religion.

The inner planets – also called personal planets – are Mercury, Venus, the moon, Earth, and Mars.

Mercury

The planet Mercury rules communication, time, business (lending his name to merchants), the mind, and thought patterns. Mercury is the ruling planet of the constellations Gemini & Virgo.

Known as Hermes in ancient Greece, the god Mercury was known as the messenger to the gods. Mercury was also associated with Nabu, the god of writing, by ancient Sumerians and Babylonians. To Northern Europeans, Mercury was named Odin or Woden, the god of wisdom, magic, and runes. Mercury is also associated with the messenger god known as Èṣù or Eleggua in the Yorùbá religion.

Venus

Venus rules the principle of attraction – both the ability to attract and attraction to others. She also symbolizes fertility, beauty, values, relationship, harmony, receptivity, pleasure, and attachments. Venus rules the signs of Taurus & Libra.

The Roman goddess Venus after which the planet is named is the descendant of ancient fertility goddesses. She is known as the Greek Aphrodite, Sumerian Inanna, Egyptian Isis, Oshun in Yorùbá, Freyja of Northern Europe, Kissho Ten in Japan, and the Hindu goddess Lakshmi.

Earth

Most modern astrologers do not include Earth in the interpretation of the astrology chart, because the chart is a map of the sky as drawn from the perspective of Earth itself. However, heliocentric or sun-centric astrology interpret a chart as drawn from the perspective of the sun, and therefore includes Earth in the reading. In heliocentric astrology, Earth rules the body, evolution, symbiosis, and children and rules the zodiac sign Sagittarius.

Earth is represented by the Greek Gaia, Shakti of Tantra, Yin of Daoism, Sophia of Gnosticism, Haumea of Hawaii, and Hou Tu of China. In Yorùbá, Earth is associated with the god Babalú-Ayé, “Lord of the Earth.”

Moon

The moon is the ruler of intuition, ocean tides, and the family unit. She represents the subconscious, emotions, personal needs, our basic habits, reactions (versus actions, ruled by Mars), the past, dreams, and motherhood. The moon rules the sign of Cancer.

Moon deities can be found across cultures in the forms of ancient Greek Artemis, the Roman Diana, the Inuit god Alignak, Celtic Cerridwen, and Yamaya or La Sirène of Yorùbá. Other lunar deities include the Aztec Coyolxauhqui, Polynesian Sina, ancient Egyptian Thoth and Isis, and the Chinese goddess Chang’e.

Mars

Mars rules action, war, the primal instinct, aggression, and competition. It also symbolizes the sexual instinct and how we express our passion. Mars rules Aries & Scorpio.

He is known as Ares by the ancient Greeks, Ogum or Ogun of Yorùbá/Santeria, as Nergal, the Babylonian god of war, and Horus by the ancient Egyptians. Chinese, Japanese and Korean cultures all refer to the planet as the fire star, ruler of war and murder.

The outer planets – also called interpersonal or social planets – are all of the planets that are beyond Mars. They are Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.

Jupiter

Jupiter rules the principles of spontaneity, expansion, luck, optimism, and humor, as well as higher learning, cross-cultural connections, and philosophy. He rules Sagittarius and is also the ancient ruler of Pisces, before Neptune was discovered.

In Ancient Roman and Greek culture, Jupiter or Zeus was known as king of the gods.
He was also known as Marduk in Mesopotamia, Thor in Norse mythology, the Hindu god Indra, the ancient Slavic god Perun, Yahweh of the Israelites, and Orunmila, the Yorùbá Grand Priest.

Saturn

Saturn rules discipline, contraction, boundaries, and structure. Saturn was the most distant of the five known planets in the solar system in ancient times, and because he had the longest known orbital cycle, he was also the ruler of time and maturity. Saturn rules the zodiac sign of Capricorn.

Saturn is associated with the Greek Cronus or Kronos, Hindu Brahma or Shani, and is called Shabbathai in ancient Hebrew.

Uranus

Uranus represents originality, revolution, science, eccentricity, and change. It also rules inventions and shocks. Uranus rules the zodiac sign of Aquarius.

In Greek mythology, Uranus or Father Sky was the son and husband of Gaia, Mother Earth. To the ancient Romans he was Caelus, Anu to Sumerians, Assyrians and Babylonians, and it is also speculated that Uranus was originally an Indo-European god, descended from the Vedic Váruṇa.

Neptune

Neptune rules mysticism, inspiration, alternate realities, dreams, psychic receptivity, illusion, confusion, delusion, addiction, enlightenment, and cosmic consciousness. Neptune rules the zodiac sign of Pisces.

Neptune is also known as the Greek god Poseidon and the Etruscan god Nethuns.

Pluto

Pluto rules death and transformation, the deep psyche, regeneration, the underworld, excretion, and the void. This slow-moving planet or dwarf planet exists on the outskirts of our solar system, which means it stays in one sign for a generation at a time. Pluto is the co-ruler of Scorpio.

Pluto was known as Dis Pater to ancient Romans, and is associated with the Wolf in the Celtic zodiac.

In a future post we’ll also discuss the meanings of asteroids, comets, and other key cosmic features – such as the Great Attractor and Dark Moon Lilith – that influence our astrological makeup. Make sure to check out our other introductory posts to astrology, including Astrology 101, The Zodiac Wheel, and How to Read Your Astrology Birthchart.

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