The Sun represents the conscious ego, the will to live, the self and its expression of personal power, pride, and authority. It is a symbol of leadership and represents the principles of creativity, spontaneity, health, and vitality. The sum of which, is named the “life force”. In a sense, it is our “purpose” – our purpose as to where we shall express its willpower. Hint: if you ever hear someone say something along the lines of “I’ve lost the will to live”, then look for hard aspects to their Sun.
The Moon, like a mirror, reflects the light of the Sun (ego). It is our instinctual mind, emotional well-being, feelings and unconscious nature; the behavior that we unconsciously picked up during our upbringing and development of our psyche. How we interpret and utilize that behavior is seen by our Moon sign.
Although the Ascendant is not a planet, it is important enough to mention as it is part of the core personality with the Luminaries (the Sun and the Moon). It represents the way we assert our ideal selves; the kind of “self” that we wish to be perceived as during our lifetime. The Asc basically reveals how we “want to go down in history”, and is directly related to our karma since the houses and chart placements are all derived from the Ascendant.
Mercury represents the intellect, intelligence, the rational mind but also the bridge between divine knowledge and common knowledge (Hermes, Thoth, Mercury – the founder of astrology). A Mercurian mind is swift, verbose and analytical. Mercury as the impartial messenger is capable of travelling between different realms and dimensions of our existence – that is why it also rules Gemini (diversity). Mercury can simultaneously exist here and there, in our world and in a parallel world. It reminds us of Neptune because Neptune blurs the lines and the perceived limits of our mind. However, unlike Mercury, Neptune is also the higher octave of Venus (love), and is the very epitome of transmutation and unconditional love; it also represents the source (12th house) of existence. Mercury is not related to the source but rather to its intellectual manifestation, the grand architect.
Venus is the planet of love but not the transcendental, unconditional kind. It represents the conditional and romantic love of our world as well as lust, pleasure, beauty and comfort – it is comforting to be loved by another, “love is beautiful” and makes you “glow” (Venus as the brightest star in our sky), and along with love comes lust and pleasure. So while Neptune is spiritual and universal, Venus is physical and personal. Everything that we find pleasing is related to Venus. Interestingly, Venus is also related to social justice and peace (through the sign of Libra) – wanting peace for oneself, wanting to see justice, preferring harmony to conflict/war (Aries, opposite sign of Libra) or chaos (Uranus) as those are things that disrupt one’s comfort zone and the experience of pleasure. Similarly, Neptune is also related to peace but for a selfless cause. It achieves spiritual peace through self-sacrifice and surrender, by letting go of the conceptual mind and the very notion of “me vs you” (think of the Buddha or Jesus Christ).
Mars as the ruler of the first sign of the zodiac is related to primitive life (think of the prehistoric times), the lower octave of Pluto, primal instincts that lead to action in the heat of the moment, the element of fire worshiped by the ancients. It is the spark or the flame of physical life. Bonfires were made to chase away demons in the night or creatures lurking in the dark. Fire was made to cook food, to light a path, to fight back against the enemy. Whoever wielded fire had power, the upper hand, a potential guarantee for survival in a ruthless world.
Jupiter is the wisdom within that wants to find meaning and purpose before reaching the Midheaven (MC); the planet that seeks answers. But unlike Saturn who tries to find these answers through scientific means, Jupiter seeks answers via philosophical thought – like an old sage contemplating the meaning of life, meditating in a cave, realizing the interdependence of everything that exists. Jupiter is like the law of attraction, the magnifying glass that expands anything it comes into contact with.
Saturn is literally the “Lord of the Rings” or the other planets – the devil that rules over time and the illusion of time, over hell or our experience of being “stuck in hell” when life brings us pain. Saturn is related to the number 666 (three times six), the illusion of linear time: past, present future; birth, life, death, etc. It represents matter and physical existence, the 3rd dimension, and the “exit point” of our solar system. In Tibetan Buddhism, Saturn is represented by the wrathful Mahakala (“The Great Time” or “The Great Black One” in Sanskrit). The psycho-spiritual message of Saturn is very much the same as that of Mahakala – change, growth and transformation- a threefold lesson learnt through the hard experiences of Time. Thus the planetary archetype of Saturn is the manifestation of Mahakala or Time.
Minor planet Chiron, known as the “Key to Heaven”, orbiting the Sun between Saturn (Time) and Uranus (Heaven) deserves a mention too – it represents deep awareness and being mindful of everything that surrounds us. A strongly placed Chiron gives a keen perception to gain a true understanding of things, which inevitably includes the experience of suffering and healing. Chiron also represents contemplation and the ability to think outside the box and the established filter; to question the truth of the matter with pure clarity. In a way, we can say that Chiron is our higher mind or higher self. Chiron in the chart surprisingly reveals how open-minded one is.
The modern outer planets (Neptune, Uranus, Pluto) are transpersonal, the higher octaves, that is, beyond the personal. Neptune represents the collective subconscious. Uranus is how we identify who we are on a collective level (“mankind”, “humanity”) whilst retaining our individuality; and Pluto represents the principle of collective transformation, psychology and survival, often through suffering, death, endings and pain. Mars fights for physical survival whereas Pluto walks through death and comes out a survivor. Therefore prominent Pluto transits are very typical in times of war (World War I, II) and especially psychic and psychological warfare. Uranus and especially Saturn-Uranus transits are typically prominent during revolutions (for example the French Revolution). Pluto (death, destruction) and Uranus (shock, sudden events, change) together – plutonium and uranium – represent nuclear weapons.