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Chapter 9

The Personal Planets

In This Chapter

bulletContemplating the personal planets in astronomy, mythology, and astrology

bulletUnderstanding the planets in the signs

bulletInterpreting Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn in your chart

The Sun and the Moon carry masses of information. All by themselves, they provide a skeleton key to your psyche. But to fully grasp the complexity of your own horoscope, you need to include the planets.

To ancient astrologers, that meant noting the positions of Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn — the only planets visible from Earth. For thousands of years, stargazers assumed that there were no other planets. Then, in 1781, an amateur astronomer in England discovered another planet, and the race was on. Today, astronomers argue over how many planets there are in the solar system. Some claim there are only eight. Others insist there are 23 — and counting. The answer depends entirely on whom you ask.

Astrologers regard those five planets, the ones you can see for yourself in the night sky (and sometimes during the day), as the ones with the most immediate impact on the individual. That’s why Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn are known as the personal planets. The outer planets,which aren’t visible without a telescope, are less personality-driven and more generational in their effects (with exceptions that I note in Chapter 10).

Locating Your Planets

If you’ve slogged your way through Chapters 2 and 3, you probably have a copy of your chart in hand, in which case you already know your planetary placements. If you don’t have a copy of your chart, return to those chapters — Chapter 2 if you want to get your chart from the Internet or Chapter 3 and the Appendix if you plan to cobble it together yourself using the tables in this book.

To figure out what those placements mean, list your planets by sign and by house and then look them up in this chapter (for the personal planets), Chapter 10 (for the outer planets), and Chapter 12 (for the house placements).


Each planet performs a different function in your horoscope. To clarify the distinctions between them, bear in mind that each planet has at least one keyword that summarizes its meaning. Table 9-1 lists the keywords, along with the mysterious little symbols that represent the planets.

At first, the information you find may seem random. After a while, certain ideas will repeat themselves, and a coherent picture of your own possibilities will start to emerge.

Table 9-1 Planetary Keywords and Symbols































North Node



South Node

The past


Don’t worry if you notice occasional contradictions as you look up your planetary placements: They’re inevitable. As Walt Whitman said, “Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.)” Concentrate instead on the ideas that pop up again and again. Once you identify those themes, you’re on your way to being an astrologer.

Mercury: Communicating with Style

Astrologers get their understanding of the planets from many sources, including science, mythology, and the astrological tradition.


In astronomy, the little planet Mercury is distinguished by its rapid pace — it whirls around the Sun in a mere 88 days — and its proximity to the Sun.

In mythology, the Roman god Mercury, known to the Greeks as Hermes, is also recognized for his speed. In his winged sandals and cap, he was the messenger of the gods as well as a thief, musician, trickster, and accomplished liar who could talk his way out of anything. A master of spin, Hermes escorted dead souls into the underworld. The ancients worshipped him as the god of travel, speech, roads, boundaries, sleep, dream, and the nameless places that fall between here and there. Two of those in-between spots deserve special recognition: the shadowy realm between wakefulness and sleep, and the transition between life and death.


Astrologers see Mercury as the symbol of communication, speech, writing, knowledge, the intellect, reason, wit, and learning. Its position in your birth chart determines the way you think, the speed with which you gather facts and process information, the style with which you express yourself, and your ability to tell a story (truthful or otherwise), give a speech, and use language.

Because it orbits the Sun so closely, Mercury is always either in the same sign as the Sun or in an adjacent sign — and in no case is it ever more than 28° away from the Sun. To discover its position in your chart, turn to the Appendix.

Mercury’s symbol has three metaphysical components: the cross of earth or matter, the circle of spirit, and, perched on top, the crescent of personality looking like a tiny satellite dish, ready to receive information.

For a description of the way your mind operates, look up Mercury in the Appendix and read the appropriate paragraph in this list:

bulletMercury in Aries: Never slow to jump to conclusions, you have a lightning-fast mind and a direct, forceful way of expressing yourself. Though you can be impatient, competitive, and irritable (and often find it difficult to concentrate), you’re never boring or wishy-washy. You’re willing to lay down the law if you must. You express yourself assertively, and people generally know what you think. (However, if Mercury is in your twelfth house, you may try to conceal your opinions, usually without success.)

bulletMercury in Taurus: You’re thoughtful, conservative, and remarkably sensible. You gather your facts, construct a careful argument, and present it diplomatically. After that, you only appear to consider other points of view. In fact, having reached a reasoned decision with all deliberate speed, you see no reason to alter your opinion. You tend to be inflexible, and it’s difficult to argue with you, in part because you have the facts, and in part because opening up to fresh ideas is not easy for you. You already know what you think.

bulletMercury in Gemini: You’re smart, inquisitive, perceptive, persuasive, humorous, slapdash, and clever. Your intellectual agility is extraordinary. Your curious mind engages easily, you juggle a multitude of interests, and you talk like the wind. You also bend with the wind. All too adaptable, you can rationalize anything. Still, this is an enviable placement. Mercury rules Gemini (and Virgo), so it works very effectively here.

bulletMercury in Cancer: Sensitive and empathetic, you’re insightful, reflective, and exceedingly well tuned-in. You can communicate with verve and compassion, and you absorb information readily. You have an amazing memory and a remarkably intuitive mind. But your moods may swamp your better judgment, and you’re prone to wishful thinking.

bulletMercury in Leo: Dramatic, dignified, and ambitious, you think creatively, express yourself vividly, and are confident in your opinions (though less so if your Sun is in Cancer). An opinion leader, you usually see the big picture and are persuasive, eloquent, and organized in your thinking. You can also be dogmatic, boastful, and unreserved in your enthusiasms. Okay, sometimes you go overboard. As often happens with Leo placements, your warmth overcomes your tendency to show off and carries the day.

bulletMercury in Virgo: You’re smart, subtle, persistent, knowledgeable, analytical, and sharp. Nothing escapes your notice, including logical inconsistencies. A secret idealist who bemoans the distance between how things are and how they ought to be, you can be a nitpicker, a critic, or a prosecuting attorney. You’re also a brilliant thinker and a first-rate conversationalist. Mercury rules Virgo, so this planet-sign combination works exceptionally well. Feel confident: You have a fine mind.

bulletMercury in Libra: Rational in thought and elegant in expression, you seek a balanced viewpoint and intuitively understand that the best solution is generally the simplest. Prudent, discreet, and possessed of a strong aesthetic sense, you manage to be objective in a charming, diplomatic way. You love to debate and are interested in the opinions of those you respect. In the privacy of your own mind, you bounce up and down on the seesaw of uncertainty, and because you try to consider all sides of a question, it takes you awhile to reach a decision.

bulletMercury in Scorpio: You have a penetrating, resourceful mind that continually probes beneath the surface. At your best, you’re an eagle-eyed observer and a profound thinker. You take nothing at face value, and often suffer from suspicion and even paranoia. You’re also analytical, shrewd, incisive, and capable of digging out all sorts of information. This is a great position for a detective, a researcher, or a therapist. It can be dangerous too, because it also confers a biting wit and a persistent tendency to use words as a weapon.

bulletMercury in Sagittarius: You have a searching intellect and a wide-ranging mind. When mulling over the big questions, as you love to do, you can be inspired in your insights and grand in your philosophizing. As a conversationalist, you’re entertaining and wise. You can also be dogmatic, hypocritical, and weak when it comes to details, and direct to the point of tactlessness. Evangeline Adams, a great astrologer of the early 20th century, complained in Astrology for Everyone that people with this placement fail to keep their promises due to the “discontinuous and flitterbat quality” of their minds. Your sense of humor is your salvation. (Think of Woody Allen.)

bulletMercury in Capricorn: Methodical, realistic, and organized, you’re a systematic thinker. You know how to focus, and you act like an adult. Though you can be conventional, rigid, and pessimistic, you try to be even-handed in reaching conclusions, even if that means overcoming your own biases. A serious thinker who values practical information, you’re responsible enough to collect the facts, and you communicate clearly and responsibly.

bulletMercury in Aquarius: Fueled by ideas, you have an inventive, often brilliant mind (think of Thomas Edison). Progressive, humane, and happiest when committed to a cause, you express yourself in unique ways and often gain your greatest insight in momentary flashes of inspiration. Your perceptions are distinctly your own. You can become totally excited about a social problem or an abstract theory. Nothing wrong with that — as long as you don’t become so attached to an idea that you become inflexible, refusing to let facts — or people — stand in your way.

bulletMercury in Pisces: Any planet in Pisces leads to the triumph of feeling over fact. You respond to people and situations instinctively, often making the right decision without knowing why. You understand how people operate. And you find it easy to adapt to changing circumstances. Your mind is receptive, subtle, empathetic, and imaginative, but logic is not your strong suit. On the other hand, you have ready access to your intuition, which runs like a river of impressions a fraction of an inch beneath your conscious thoughts.

Venus: Love Conquers All

Whether it appears as the Morning Star or the Evening Star, Venus, the second planet from the Sun, outshines almost every object in the sky.


Astronomers say that Venus is a hothouse hell, its fractured plains and ancient volcanoes smothered beneath thick blankets of poisonous clouds. With a surface temperature of 900° Fahrenheit, a totally toxic atmosphere, and a surface pressure 100 times higher than that on Earth, it’s uninhabitable, as unlovely a place as you can imagine.

The Greeks and the Romans saw it differently. In classical mythology, Venus (Aphrodite to the Greeks) was the goddess of love and beauty. She was the lover of Adonis (and others), the constant companion of the winged god Eros, and the unfaithful wife of the god Vulcan, who caught her in bed with her favorite paramour, Mars, the god of war.


Astrologers associate Venus with love, flirtation, seduction, beauty, art, luxury, harmony, and pleasure. Venus rules the force of attraction, sexual and otherwise. It describes the quality of your interactions with others, the way you express your affections, your artistic impulses, and, strangely enough, the way you deal with money.

Viewed from Earth, Venus can never be more than 48° from the Sun. That translates to a maximum distance of two signs between Venus and the Sun. To discover the position of Venus in your chart, turn to the Appendix.

The symbol for Venus includes two components from the Metaphysical tradition: the cross of earth and the circle of spirit. Most people today associate it with the biological symbol for woman.

Venus represents your romantic tendencies, values, and response to beauty, art, money, and possessions. To discover the way you express that side of your personality, look up the location of Venus in the Appendix, and then read the appropriate paragraph from the following list:

bulletVenus in Aries: Excitable, enthusiastic, and impulsive, you like to think of yourself as a romantic adventurer. You fall in love impetuously and at first sight — and fall out equally fast. More demanding than you realize (and more self-centered), you’re affectionate, ardent, and easily aroused. Even though you ultimately require mental compatibility, what gets you going in the first place is physical appearance.

bulletVenus in Taurus: As the ruler of Taurus, Venus is completely at home here, making you affectionate, charming, artistic, and sensual in the extreme. All the comforts of life appeal to you, starting with rich food and ending with long, luscious sexual encounters, preferably with the same person every time. You value consistency, and though you’re capable of fooling around, it’s not your natural mode. You require security, comfort, cuddling, beautiful objects, an occasional push to get you moving, a committed partner, and a healthy bank account. Not to mention roses, pastry, and sheets with as high a thread count as you can possibly afford.

bulletVenus in Gemini: The planet of love in the sign of the inconstant mind produces witty banter, many happy hours of conversation and bookstore browsing, lots of light-hearted flirtation, and an irresistible attraction to people who are smart and quick. Your affections are easily swayed, and you’re more than capable of carrying on a love affair entirely on the Internet. The challenge is to distinguish between what ought to be a fine romance (it sounds like a fabulous idea) and actual love.

bulletVenus in Cancer: A natural nester, you find your deepest pleasures in home and family. You’re kind, sympathetic, sentimental, loyal, devoted, popular, and a terrific cook (or you’d like to be anyway). You may appear to be the epitome of self-confidence. Yet you require more than a little psychological support. Your fear of rejection, however you try to disguise it, may cause you to hold on too long to both lovers and friends. You don’t mean to cling. It’s just that when you love someone, you want it to last forever.

bulletVenus in Leo: Warm, outgoing, loyal, and luxury-loving, you’re creative, self-dramatizing, and in love with love. You feel passionately and express yourself flamboyantly. Love is an essential part of your nature, and you tend to define yourself through it. You also love the arts. That doesn’t mean you’re about to run away with an unpublished poet — not unless said artiste has a trust fund. You’re happiest when the cash flows freely.

bulletVenus in Virgo: When you’re in love, you pay full attention, analyzing every interaction, rereading every e-mail, and listening to your voice mail repeatedly to make sure you’ve gotten every nuance. You’ll do anything for your lover . . . including pointing out his flaws. You can be critical and controlling and full of opinions about how other people ought to behave. Some people with this placement have flashy personalities (those with the Sun in Leo, for instance). Most people with Venus in Virgo are modest, inhibited, and a little shy between the sheets.

bulletVenus in Libra: You’re affectionate, gentle, warm, and willing to please. A true romantic, you idealize love and often have trouble adapting to the rough spots of a real relationship. When disappointment sets in, you take it hard for a while, and then you get moving. You’re highly attractive to other people, and there’s usually someone who’s circling around you. This position also brings a strong aesthetic sensibility.

bulletVenus in Scorpio: Thanks to Scorpio’s infamous sexiness, this placement sounds like a ticket to ecstasy. And sometimes it is. You get aroused in the presence of mystery, intensity, and even a subtle hint of darkness. Proud, passionate, and seductive, you’re prone to deep longing, both sexual and emotional, and your love life tends to be stormy. At your best, you’re deeply devoted and profoundly intimate. At your worst, you can be jealous and vengeful. You’re also capable of pulling back from social interaction and isolating yourself behind an invisible shield.

bulletVenus in Sagittarius: Demonstrative, ardent, direct, and excitable, you see love as an adventure — not as a way to nail down a secure future. You value your freedom, and your ideal lover is someone who helps you see more of the world and experience more of life — not someone who constricts your activities. You have noble ideals and are drawn to people who are highly committed. You’re also intrigued by people who come from backgrounds entirely different from your own. You don’t mind shocking the folks.

bulletVenus in Capricorn: You’re sensual in your sexual liaisons, constant in your affections, and cautious about revealing your emotions. You value stability, propriety, and rectitude. The messiness of emotional free-for-alls terrifies you, so you keep your feelings under wraps. Serious and sophisticated, you admire anything classic. In art, as in love, you understand the need for control. Sometimes you’re accused of privileging status over more exalted ideals. And what’s wrong with that? You’re a realist, and you know that in the real world, status matters.

bulletVenus in Aquarius: Open-minded, friendly, and idealistic, you’re drawn to mavericks and rebels, and you have a multitude of friends — which is exactly how you like it. You aren’t the most passionate person on the planet, and you tend to enjoy a stimulating intellectual companionship more than a romantic one. You also need a certain amount of solitude. Ideas and causes appeal to you. Passionate displays do not. Ultimately, you’re an independent sort, and your heart is difficult to capture.

bulletVenus in Pisces: You’re sentimental, artistic, devoted, and willing to do anything for your beloved. You idealize your lovers and truly seek union with them, but you have no idea what’s reasonable and what’s not. Other people find it easy to abuse you, in part because you shrug your shoulders helplessly and gratefully accept crumbs. Eventually, that makes you angry, which is why you may become emotionally abusive, often in a passive-aggressive way. You truly know how to love. That’s not the problem. The problem is that you’re sometimes too willing to sacrifice your own needs to those of others.

Mars: Road Warrior

What a terrible reputation Mars has. Because it glows red in the sky (a result of the iron oxide in its rocky soil), the Babylonians associated it with death and destruction, Pacific Islanders thought of it as the home of a giant red pig, and New Jerseyites, listening to Orson Welles on the radio in 1938, ran screaming from their homes in fear of invading Martians. Yet people have always fantasized about living on the red planet.

To the ancient Romans, Mars was the god of war, and many festivals were held in his honor. Ares, the Greek equivalent, was not admired. Throughout Greek mythology, Ares is constantly put down by the other gods — except for Aphrodite (Venus), the goddess of love, who adores him.


Early astrologers saw Mars as the planet of violence and bad temper. As late as the 15th century, astrologers associated it with theft, murder, battle, lechery, dishonesty, and seething malice of all sorts. Astrologers continue to associate Mars with anger, accidents, and injury. They also see Mars as the planet of action and desire. It brings will, stamina, drive, strength, energy, and the courage to go after what you want. Mars makes things happen.

The fourth planet from the Sun, Mars takes almost two years — 687 days, to be exact — to spin through the zodiac. It spends about two months in a sign. (Once every year and a half, its pattern changes, and it lingers in one section of the sky, giving that particular sign an extra jolt of Martian energy). No matter what your Sun sign is, Mars can be in any of the 12 signs of the zodiac. To discover its position in your chart, turn to the Appendix.

The position of Mars in your chart indicates an area where you’re energetic and forceful. In biology, this figure represents the male, just as the symbol of Venus corresponds to the female.

The position of Mars by sign describes the way in which you take the initiative, assert yourself, and dive into a new endeavor or involvement. It represents your drive and your desires. After you have located your Mars in the Appendix, you can look it up in the list that follows:

bulletMars in Aries: As the ruler of Aries, Mars endows its natives with energy, sexual charisma to burn, and an occasionally explosive temper that you must learn to control. Fortunately, you don’t hold on to your anger. After you explode, it evaporates. Enthusiastic, assertive, and daring, you’re a natural leader who commands attention even without seeking it.

bulletMars in Taurus: You’re a hard-working, down-to-earth person with plenty of stamina. Determined and sensible, you can be distracted by the desires of the flesh. When you finally do commit yourself to something, whether it’s a relationship or a job, you’re in it for the long haul — and for the money. Born with a serious practical streak, you care about material possessions and status, often more than you’re willing to admit.

bulletMars in Gemini: With the planet of aggression in the sign of the twins, you’re high-spirited, argumentative, nervous, and irritable. Your energy waxes and wanes, sometimes with startling speed. And although you love to debate, you aren’t always able to distinguish between major principles and minor points. Still, you enjoy the back-and-forth. You have a lively, ingenious mind, and you’re loads of fun.

bulletMars in Cancer: You’re an inherently emotional person who needs to get a handle on your moods before you can successfully accomplish your goals. Without realizing it, you tend to sulk. You’re highly sensitive, but you may project signals so subtle that many people miss them. In a relationship, you can be possessive and tenacious when you ought to be angry and out the door. You stew. You bury your emotions and need to learn to be direct. You’re also responsive, protective, devoted, and imaginative, in bed and elsewhere.

bulletMars in Leo: Confident, impassioned, and tireless, you have presence and real follow-through. When committed to a cause or an activity, you’re virtually unstoppable. True, you can be egotistical and arrogant, and your need for an audience can be wearing. Nevertheless, your warmth, high spirits, and willingness to take the first step bring you many admirers. You create excitement.

bulletMars in Virgo: Control is an issue for you. You’re hardworking, calculating, and willing to look reality dead in the eye. Sensible and methodical, you can detach yourself emotionally when your success depends on it. That quality is advantageous in your career. In your personal life, it gives you the ability to turn your sex drive on and off, seemingly at will. (Several famous military men share this placement, including Alexander the Great, Napoleon Bonaparte, and General George Patton.)

bulletMars in Libra: At your best, you’re friendly, flirtatious, charming, and stylish. But you’re at a loss without a partner. In your love life, and even at work, you’re happier when you have a partner. Also, although you pride yourself on your logical mind, you tend to cover up your uncertainties and insecurities by defending your ill-considered statements with more passion than logic. At times people are forced to agree with you, just to end the discussion.

bulletMars in Scorpio: You’re courageous and cunning, determined and self-sufficient. Blessed with fierce willpower and unwavering desires, you’re highly sexed and intensely emotional. You may struggle with jealousy and the desire to seek revenge. Although adapting to changing circumstances isn’t easy, you have a reliable source of internal energy and a great deal of personal power, making this a beneficial placement overall.

bulletMars in Sagittarius: Independent and enthusiastic, you have strong convictions, a love of the outdoors, and a deep desire for adventure. But you can be slapdash and defiant, and your crusades, so eagerly launched, don’t always reach completion. Early 20th century astrologer Evangeline Adams, never one to pull her punches, claims that this placement makes people “scintillating rather than solid, dashing rather than enduring.” Be that as it may, you’re also fair, direct, and idealistic, and you can gather your energy quickly — especially when you’re off on an adventure.

bulletMars in Capricorn: Your desires, sexual and otherwise, are strong, your ambitions focused. When you feel recognized, your energy is reliable and steady. When you feel thwarted, your vitality fades. Efficient and systematic, you respect tradition and authority and often rise to the top. You understand hierarchies, and in many ways you’re a natural leader. But when you don’t get the obedience you demand or when things simply don’t go your way, you can be surprisingly cool. You usually hide your anger. On the rare occasions when it slips out, however, it’s nasty.

bulletMars in Aquarius: Whenever possible, you prefer the road less traveled. You’re enterprising and impatient, and you don’t mind taking a risk. Convention bores you, and you value the idea of progress. You’re independent, idealistic, and friendly. But emotionally, you can be on the chilly side, and you occasionally rebel just for the pleasure of making a statement.

bulletMars in Pisces: You fall deeply in love. You’re generous, moody, restless, and highly intuitive. But when the emotional din becomes more than you can tolerate, you shut down. When that happens, your willpower evaporates, you have trouble getting motivated, you drive friends insane with your passivity, and your physical energy disappears. One of the central challenges of your life is regulating your energy. It’s not easy to do when you’re a slave to your feelings.

Jupiter: More Is Better

Looking for luck? Your search is over. Auspicious Jupiter is the lord of luck, the guardian of good fortune, and the champion of getting an even break.


Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system by far. More massive than all the other planets combined, it could devour 1,330 Earths and still have room to burp. Its most famous feature, known as the Great Red Spot, is a 300-year-old cyclone that’s double the size of the Earth.

Not surprisingly, Jupiter was named for the king of the gods, who was known in Greece as Zeus and in Rome as Jove or Jupiter Optimus Maximus — the biggest and the best, even if he was also punitive and promiscuous. The Greeks depicted him as bearded, dignified, and powerful — Zeus the father figure, surveying the universe from his home on snowy Mount Olympus.


Astrologers associate Jupiter with opportunity, expansion, growth, abundance, learning, success, optimism, and good cheer. Whatever Jupiter touches, it expands. Of course, like every planet, it can express itself positively or negatively. At its best, it brings good luck, generosity, and the ability to seize an opportunity. When it’s tied to other planets through tension-producing aspects, such as squares and oppositions (discussed in Chapter 13), it expresses its shadow side by indulging in gluttony, laziness, and excess of all kinds.

Jupiter takes about 12 years to spin through the zodiac, spending about a year in each sign. To discover its position in your chart, turn to the Appendix.

Rejoice when you see this symbol in your chart, for it marks an area of opportunity. According to metaphysical tradition, the symbol is made up of two parts: the cross of matter and, rising above it, the curve of personality, indicating the expansive unfurling of the self. That’s one way to remember it. Or you can think of it as looking like a highly stylized number four.

Jupiter’s position by sign describes the way you try to broaden your horizons and experience more of the world. It also indicates areas where you’re likely to be lucky.

bulletJupiter in Aries: You have confidence, energy, and enthusiasm. You easily get fired up, even to the point of becoming manic, and you have many interests, although you don’t sustain them over the long run. It’s easy for you to get wound up in your own concerns, and you must guard against the tendency to be egocentric and to lose control of the details.

bulletJupiter in Taurus: You’re devoted and kind; a lover of nature, material objects, and sensuous pleasures. You can easily tumble into self- indulgence. So you’re great in bed — but you may also be plagued by excess weight. Fortunately, you balance your pleasure-seeking with practicality. When it comes to the bottom line, your judgment is sound.

bulletJupiter in Gemini: Nothing fires you up more than a curious idea — or a game show. You’re clever, multitalented, inquisitive, and easily engrossed, although you run the risk of losing your interest in a topic by talking it to death. You benefit from anything that involves writing — from keeping a journal to working in a bookstore to being a journalist.

bulletJupiter in Cancer: You’re openhearted, benevolent, intuitive, protective, and sympathetic — the ultimate Earth mother, even if you’re a man. Understanding and forgiving (sometimes pathetically so), you love the pleasures of home, property, and parenthood. Traditional astrology holds that Jupiter is exalted in this position, and experience shows that it tends to bring luck in real estate. One downside: You may struggle with your love of good food.

bulletJupiter in Leo: You’re magnanimous, compassionate, exuberant, and dramatic, with enormous vitality and a deep need for recognition, respect, and power. Though you can be overbearing, you’re openhearted and well liked. This position, considered a fortunate one, often brings success.

bulletJupiter in Virgo: You’re organized, practical, and happiest when your efforts produce concrete results. You have a fine intellect, a strong work ethic, and a tendency to put in too many hours in pursuit of perfection. Jupiter is expansive while Virgo is restrictive, so this placement gives rise to internal tension.

bulletJupiter in Libra: You’re likable, sympathetic, fair, and popular. Gifted with natural charm, you benefit from working with other people and have an innate attraction to the arts. You may wrestle with the classic Libran difficulty in making important decisions. Seeking balance is probably a wise idea for everyone, but it’s especially rewarding for you.

bulletJupiter in Scorpio: You have huge passions, a magnetic intensity that other people can sense, and a strongly sexual nature. Though you may be reserved, you’re also observant, and you have a sincere interest in investigating whatever’s under that rock. You’re ambitious and sometimes aggressive, with a great personal pride and a ferocious willpower that can help you achieve your dreams.

bulletJupiter in Sagittarius: Because Jupiter rules Sagittarius, this is considered an auspicious placement. Sagittarius brings out the best in Jupiter, making you genial, optimistic, generous, tolerant, and philosophical (so you don’t obsess over the small stuff). A skilled teacher, you’re drawn to foreign travel, higher education, and large, all-encompassing philosophies, religions, and belief systems. But be aware that this position also inflates your faith (or fanaticism), along with your tendency to lecture.

bulletJupiter in Capricorn: With the planet of expansion in cautious, constricting Capricorn, you’re ambitious, dutiful, honest, serious-minded, realistic, disciplined, and industrious, but you have a tough time relaxing. When you set a goal, your chances of achieving it are excellent. Along the way, you may have to combat pessimism, but you also find joy in accomplishment.

bulletJupiter in Aquarius: Open-minded, altruistic, and innovative, you have great originality and take an interest in everything that’s cutting edge. You’re naturally tolerant of people, even if you’re sometimes scornful of their ideas. But despite your humanitarian ideals, you don’t deal with disappointment well, and you can become egotistical and overbearing.

bulletJupiter in Pisces: Blessed with powerful intuitive and imaginative abilities, you absorb everything going on around you. A forgiving and empathetic person, you cherish the notion that you can make things better, even to the point of self-sacrifice. But when you feel overwhelmed, which happens more than you may want, you can turn into a hermit. Spiritual pursuits intrigue and sustain you.

Galileo and the moons of Jupiter

About one hundred years after the birth of Christ, the astronomer Ptolemy wrote a book confidently asserting what everyone already knew: That the Earth was the center of the universe, and that everything else — the Moon, the Sun, the stars, and the planets — revolved around it.

Over a millennium later, in 1453, Copernicus showed that the Earth orbited the Sun, not the other way around. His observations were not widely accepted. Martin Luther referred to him as an “upstart astrologer” (and in fact he was an astrologer, as were most astronomers). For the most part, people continued to put their faith in Ptolemy. Few doubted that the Earth was the center of the universe.

A century and a half later, Galileo trained his telescope upon distant Jupiter and saw that it was orbited by a population of moons. (He saw four; scientists have now identified 16.) His announcement was greeted with distress, particularly by the church, because if those four moons were orbiting around Jupiter, then by definition, not everything revolved around the Earth and the Ptolemaic system had to be wrong. Galileo ended up spending the rest of his life under house arrest for his role in promoting this new view of the heavens. His ideas triumphed. Thus Jupiter and its many moons opened up a new way to see the cosmos. In an astrological chart, Jupiter has a similar function. It opens things up; it expands the possibilities.

Saturn: Lord of the Rings

Before the invention of the telescope, Saturn was the most distant planet that anyone could see. It marked the end of the solar system. Naturally, it came to represent limits. Today, it remains the most distant planet that’s easily visible with the naked eye, so that meaning still applies. But its image has improved. Thanks to the telescope and the Voyager space missions, everyone knows what Saturn looks like. Even people who have never looked through a telescope have seen pictures of its dazzling ring structure. And they know that it’s the most beautiful planet in the solar system.


The second largest planet (after Jupiter), Saturn is a gas giant surrounded by a broad collar of icy rings and at least 18 named moons (and counting). It’s so large that 95 Earths could fit inside it. But its density is so low that, if there were an ocean large enough to hold the entire planet, Saturn would float.

In mythology, Saturn was originally an Italian corn god. The Romans identified him with the Greek god Kronos, who swallowed his own children and was in turn conquered by them. He’s known as Father Time, the symbol of the past and the old order.


In astrology, Saturn represents the system. Its influence is serious and somber. It brings structure, discipline, limitations, boundaries, responsibility, duty, perseverance, and fear. It tests people and forces them to confront reality. As a result, Saturn has a terrible reputation, one that has been nurtured by generations of astrologers, including the great Evangeline Adams. In Astrology for Everyone, she explains that Saturn “blights all that he gazes on. He is the curse of disappointment, not of anger. He freezes the water-springs; he is the dry-rot and the death of the ungodly. He looks upon the Sun, despairs; in cynic bitterness his draught is brewed, and he drinks it, wishing it were poison. His breath withers up love; his word is malediction . . . But in each one of us this principle exists; it is the most inescapable of all our fates.”

With publicity like that, it’s no wonder that followers of astrology came to fear Saturn. Yet its reputation isn’t entirely deserved because, although Saturn does bring difficulties, it also helps create order. Saturn’s influence enables you to conquer your fears and to combat your inertia. If it forces you to struggle with depression, disappointment, poverty, and other obstacles, it also compels you to seek solutions, to set goals, to establish schedules, to work harder than you ever thought you could, and to get organized. Saturn is, in short, the planet of accomplishment.

Saturn takes 291/2 years to travel through the zodiac. It spends about 21/2 years in each sign. To discover its position in your chart, turn to the Appendix.

The symbol of Saturn, wherever it may be in your chart, marks the spot of your greatest challenges. Metaphysical astrologers describe it as the cross of matter and circumstances rising out of the crescent of personality, suggesting that humans create their own limitations and must find ways to confront them. An easier way to remember the symbol is that it resembles a curvy lowercase “h” (for “hard” or perhaps “hellish”) with a slash mark across it like a French “7.”

Saturn’s placement by sign determines your sense of inadequacy, your fears and hesitations, the obstacles and liabilities that block your path, and the ways in which you try to overcome them.

bulletSaturn in Aries: You’re an independent thinker: You can’t stand to follow the leader, but you don’t like directing other people either. Though you’re entrepreneurial, determined, and disciplined, you can also be inconsiderate and domineering. Given a goal and a game plan, you do fabulously well. Without direction, you flounder. Nor can the goal be imposed on you by someone else. It must come from within.

bulletSaturn in Taurus: Images of the poorhouse dance in your head. You have an intense need for stability, and the thought of being without money terrifies you. So you learn to manage your resources effectively and may even become quite well-heeled. You’re industrious, prudent, and methodical. The downside? You’re stubborn, you lack spontaneity, and you run the risk of becoming a plodder. And although some people with this placement become obsessed with sex or other pleasures, you’re secretly ambivalent about such things, and you’re equally likely to deny yourself such material comforts.

bulletSaturn in Gemini: You’re smart, serious, and articulate despite your fear of being considered intellectually inferior or at a loss for words. You’re an excellent problem-solver, with an active mind and dozens of interests. Like any placement in the sign of the Twins, Saturn in Gemini can reveal itself in a number ways. When you’re hot, your ability to concentrate is inspiring — and intimidating. At other times, you run the risk of frittering away your energy and diluting your intentions with meaningless activity and chatter. You have a clear and lucid mind, but beware: You can convince yourself of anything.

bulletSaturn in Cancer: Not an easy placement, Saturn in Cancer generally brings a difficult childhood with at least one parent who’s cold or withholding. As a result, you may be insecure and inhibited, with a yearning for emotional control and understanding. Your attempt to win the love you lacked as a child can become the quest of a lifetime. Some people with this placement become clingy or cover up their fear of vulnerability by acting overly confident or indifferent. (The disguise, by the way, fools no one.) Most attempt to create in adulthood what they lacked in childhood by becoming tolerant, protective, loving parents.

bulletSaturn in Leo: Determined and dignified, you long to be creative but are afraid of expressing yourself. You want to be recognized — yet you’re terrified of being mediocre. That’s the Catch-22 you must overcome. Self-doubt wears you down and gets you nowhere. The challenge of this position is to acknowledge, not bury, your need for recognition and to find a way to achieve it. Similarly, your creative urges need dramatic expression and positive acceptance. Overcome a tendency to arrogance, the scourge of Leo. Dare to be dramatic. You’ll be much happier.

bulletSaturn in Virgo: You’re analytical, worried, industrious, and drawn to solitude. (In a previous life, according to one of my first astrology teachers, you may have been a medieval monk.) Because you fear losing control, you do your best to nail down every detail. Ritual relaxes you, and you rely on a string of routines you have established in your everyday life. Though you prefer things to be orderly and predictable, those routines can also limit, confine, and ultimately overwhelm you. Take as your motto this quotation from Henry David Thoreau (from Where I lived, and What I Lived For): “Our life is frittered away by detail . . . Simplify, simplify.”

bulletSaturn in Libra: This favorable position makes you rational, reliable, discreet, and serious. You fear being alone, which makes you all the more anxious when you try to connect with other people. Your relationships thoroughly reflect you — yet you may not like what you see. You may feel that they somehow fail to measure up. Fortunately, you’re always willing to negotiate. Although you may think you desire a passionate entanglement, you’re ultimately far happier when you make the sensible choice. You tend to marry someone older, and you may marry late.

bulletSaturn in Scorpio: You’re resourceful and powerful, with strong convictions and a great sense of purpose. Dependency issues can be tough for you, and you may struggle to define yourself as an individual while maintaining a relationship. You have compelling sexual needs, yet sex is also complicated for you. Although you’re prone to jealousy and resentment, you find the courage to deal with your problems and conquer your fears, including fear of death. Mysteries fascinate you, and none more than the mystery of your own psyche.

bulletSaturn in Sagittarius: “Don’t fence me in” is your refrain. You seek adventure, travel, and broad horizons. But unless you find a structured way to achieve your goals, circumstances may conspire to keep you from achieving them. Education is important for you, and the philosophical or moral precepts that you live by shape your life. Even though you may fantasize about being independent and footloose, what you actually need is to find meaning in your daily activities, to expand your philosophical viewpoint, and to travel widely — literally or figuratively — with purpose.

bulletSaturn in Capricorn: You’re capable, ambitious, and pragmatic, with natural authority and obvious competence. Because you crave recognition and are secretly afraid that you won’t get it, you doggedly pursue your goals and you make sure to follow the rules — even if you have to give up your more original ideas along the way. You don’t like restrictions, but you know how to deal with them and can work within a structure. You can even overcome your tendency to depression. Saturn rules Capricorn, so this is considered an excellent placement.

bulletSaturn in Aquarius: You have a clear and original mind, an unusual sense of organization and structure, and the ability to influence others. Liberal-minded and unselfish (in part because you don’t want people to think ill of you), you conceive of yourself as a member of society, a small part of a larger whole. And you’re a person of principle. It’s essential for your happiness and self-respect that you live in accordance with your ideals, which are generally of the noblest sort. Material success isn’t a motivating force in your life — your values matter more.

bulletSaturn in Pisces: You’re sympathetic and intuitive. Your sensitivity makes you appealing to others, and your creativity brings you satisfaction. You may also suffer from more than your share of neuroses, anxieties, and baseless apprehensions. Though you understand how other human beings operate, you may be at a loss when it comes to solving your own problems (especially if substance abuse happens to be one of them). You’re afraid of chaos and isolation, and you struggle to stave off those terrors. Establishing routines is helpful. Becoming addicted is your undoing.

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