Significations of the Planets

© 2002 Curtis Manwaring

General Signifcation:

In order for us to hold an idea in our mind, we use symbols and language. It is no different for the cosmic consciousness. The planets are the first symbols to be sought out by the cosmic soul for any subject matter that requires verification. The planets have the power to signify or stand for a given issue. Venus, for instance, signifies marriage, love, beauty, finances, jewelery, and a myriad of other similar objects of the same essence. When the cosmic soul is interested in marriage, it looks to Venus. When the cosmic soul tried the case of your life in the cosmic courtroom and the subject matter of marriage came up on the docket, it looked at where Venus was in your chart. This is known as general signification because a planet stands for those things that are in accordance to it's own nature and personality. According to Schmidt, it would then be Venus that speaks or asks for those things it stands for on the natives behalf, then through the testimony of the other planets, each request is either affirmed or denied. [1]

Local Determination:

However, because any given planet was in the same place in the sky for everyone in the whole world at the moment you were born, the cosmic soul looks for an analogy to help it conceptualize more exactly your identity in relationship to that planet. [2] The cosmic soul achieves this by looking at the rising sign and setting forth each signs role in the natives life. This forms the basis for local (local as in locality) determination. In the case of local determination, the first thing the cosmic soul looks for is a location that represents an issue that it is interested in, then it calls out for the planet that has responsibility for this location and issue. I will be covering this issue in more depth when I discuss the astrological houses.

While reading about the characteristics of the planets it is important to keep in mind their power to signify the subject of an issue as well as an outcome. For instance, if Venus is speaking to the cosmic soul on the natives behalf for the issue of wealth, it is indicating the subject matter. The other planets then provide the outcome. If for instance, Saturn testifies in a negative way, then it would be denied. If Venus is allowed to testify to the outcome as well as the subject, then it is of course granted. I will get into the specifics of how to see this testimony taking place from an astrological perspective after discussing the rules of evidence.

Each signification listed below is based upon a general principle that underlies the basic nature of that planet. Visit my article Metaphysical Principles of the Planets for this information.

Planets Characteristics as General Significators:

Sun The Sun: This planet is very hot and dry by nature. Because of the heat and dryness, it has a tendency to purify and make distinct the issues in your life that it touches in the same way that a spotlight draws attention to an area of the stage. This is the most powerful planet in the solar system. Because of this, the Sun signifies powerful people such as senators, presidents, CEO's, your employer or boss, your father or men in general, and those who are easily noticed. It is an indicator of the health of your heart, spine and lower back. It indicates the main focus of your life if you were born in during the daylight hours. It gives signs for your spirit: whether you are prone to boastfulness, flamboyance or extravagant displays of melodrama or whether you are more reserved and shy.

It signifies the following objects you may have around you: trophies, diplomas, your car engine, the living room, fireplace, stove, lamps, candles, torches, flashlight, campfire, cigarette lighters, generators and any object that is gawdy or brilliant enough to draw your attention. In the larger environment it signifies playgrounds, theatres or ampitheatres, showrooms, the circus arena, the podium or soapbox, the commons, the city center (downtown), and city hall.

MoonThe Moon: The Moon is cool and wet in nature which means that it has a tendency to unify and blur distinctions. The Moon takes the place of the Sun at night, which means that if you were born during the night time hours, it represents the main focus of your life. It is an indicator of your mother, your relationship to women, and your emotional needs. In your body, it indicates your breast, stomach, gall bladder, lymphatic system, bodily fluids and digestive tract. It is also representative of the general health of your whole body which is why your diet plays such a significant role in health. Your emotional state in general is also indicated by the Moon. It also gives signs in general for fortune and the state of your luck, whether good or bad.

It signifies the following objects you may have around you: the gas tank in your car, milk bottles and any container, bread box, the kitchen area and dining room, cabinets, sinks, bathtub, plumbing system, bedroom, washing machine, laundry baskets, water heater, clotheslines, and your basement. In the larger environment it signifies large crowded places, the public, laundromats, grocery stores, beaches, oceans, lakes, rivers, caves and wild overgrown land areas, forests, gardens, green houses, and nature.

Mercury Hermes / Mercury: The elemental nature of Mercury depends upon its state in the heavens because it mimic's all of the other planets. It signifies the intellect, communication, transportation, education, language, logic and reason, authors and writers. It represents secretaries, teachers, librarians, counselors, accountants, mail, phone calls, email, your communication and potential misunderstandings, contractual agreements, and ledgers. In your body it signifies your hands, shoulders, larnyx, lungs, pancreas, tongue and your sense of smell. It also signifies your nervous system and brain (along with the Moon). Health problems usually involve nervous disorders such as epilepsy, schitzophrenia, hyperventilation, bronchitis, asthma, or anxiety disorders.

It signifies the following objects you may have around you: telephones, computers, television and radio, tape recorders, pens and pencils, books, bulletin boards, black boards, keys, file cabinet, paper clips, copy machines, printers and paper, faxes and fax machines. In the larger environment it signifies the postal service, phone company, cable and satelite television, the networks and the internet, street signs and traffic signals, streets and highways.

Venus Aphrodite / Venus: Venus is cool and moist in nature which means that it has a tendency to unify and blur distinctions. It shows your affections, likes and dislikes, and for men the types of relationships they have with women and their love life. For women, it shows how they get along with their female friends. It is also a general indicator of attractiveness to the opposite sex and how much charisma or persuasive ability your have. In your life, this planet signifies friends, artists, musicians and poets (along with Mercury), young women and girls, beauticians, and barflies. In your body it signifies the kidneys, the neck, tonsils, thyroid and throat. Health problems are often related to overindulgence: obesity, liver, kidney and thyroid problems.

It signifies the following objects you may have around you: designer clothes, cologne, perfume, paintings, rings, jewelery, flowers, teddy bears, dolls, figurines, pottery and ceramics, sugar, candy, chocolate and other junk food, deoderant, shaving cream, brushes, and potpourri. In the larger environment it signifies bars, discos, dance halls, performing arts centers, carousels, shopping malls, beauty and barber shops, massage parlors, gift shops, art museums, fashion shows, amusement parks and fairs, ice-cream shops, hotdog stands, and statues.

Mars Ares / Mars: Mars is very dry according to Hellenistic sources. It wasn't until much later, during the medieval era, that it was also considered hot in nature. The drying creates distinctions and separateness. In your birth chart, it shows where you are most likely to face adversity and trouble if you were born in the daytime. At night, it is an indicator of your ambitions and interests (also in the daytime). In general, it gives signs for the types of activities you get involved in. It is also an indicator of the types of things that raise your blood pressure and make you angry. In a womans chart, it shows the type of man she is attracted to and the quality of her romantic relationships. In a mans chart, it indicates how well he gets along with other men and how he handles competition. This planet signifies enemies, athletes, police and the military, spies, criminals, blue collar workers, blacksmiths and metal workers, hunters, surgeons and engineers. In your body it signifies the head, sex organs, anus, sweat glands, adrenal glands, and muscles. Health problems are usually related to accidents, fever, multiple sclerosis and rashes, acne or leprosy.

It signifies the following objects you may have around you: knives, guns, swords, toilets, razors, scissors, garbage cans, waist baskets, recycle bins, electrical outlets, and fire alarms, iron, steel and your garage. In the larger environment it signifies power plants and generators (along with the Sun), military barracks and boot camp training grounds, police stations, emergency rooms, ambulances, fire engines and fire department, high voltage lines, traffic intersections, and construction companies.

Jupiter Zeus / Jupiter: Jupiter is considered to be hot and wet. The wetness blurs distinctions creating unity, and the heat rarifies. In your birth chart, Jupiter gives signs for your attitude towards issues of faith and religion and your philosophy of life and whether or not you believe in God, justice, ethics and morality. It also shows your attitude towards foreigners and whether you are likely to enjoy travel or prefer to stay put. It indicates your ability to see beyond your intellectual and philosophical limitations and gain in wisdom. In your everyday life, Jupiter shows your relationship to clergy, philosophers, publishers, lawyers, commedians and other jovial individuals. In your body, it signifies weight gain and obesity, hips and thighs, the blood (because of its warm, wet nature), and liver. Health problems are usually related to overindulgence, such as obesity, cancer, liver problems and jaundice.

It signifies the following objects you may have around you: luggage (along with the Moon), passports, wine and liquor, the bible, jewelery of religious significance, an altar, telescopes and binoculars, glasses and contac lenses, and objects made of pewter and tin. In the larger environment it signifies churches, courtrooms, law firms, foreigners, rainbows, and bridges.

Saturn Kronos / Saturn: Saturn is considered to be cold and dry. The drying creates distinctions and separateness but the coldness concentrates things into confined spaces. In your birth chart, it shows where you are most likely to face adversity and trouble if you were born at night. In the daytime, it is an indicator of your ambitions and your success or failure over time (also at night). In general it shows what we are ignorant or neglectful of because it is the highest visible planet symbolizing what we cannot go beyond. It shows where we struggle with hardness, limitation and constricting circumstances. In everyday life, Saturn signifies the elderly, beggars, bartenders, CEO's and administrative personnel, undertakers, farmers, sailors and fishermen. In your body, it signifies your knees and ankles, your bones and cartilage, skin, fingernails and bowels. Health problems are usually related to the bones such as arthritis and rheumatism, retardation, and constipation (hardness of the bowels).

It signifies the following objects you may have around you: shoes, your belt, your watch, clocks in general, old wooden objects like dressers and furniture, canes, umbrellas, locks, walls, chairs, lead, coal, graphite and foods of sour or bitter taste. In the larger environment it signifies prisons, funeral homes, cemetaries, sky scrapers, dungeons, gargoyles, coal mines and hallways.

Planets Invisible to the Human Eye:

The following planets had no place in ancient astrology because they were not discovered until recent times. For this reason they have been the source of controversy as to what they signify. Most modern astrologers have decided upon sign rulerships for the three main outer planets but are still perplexed about Chiron. There is even the issue amongst traditional astrologers if they can have rulership at all. Schmidt has brought up the fact that if the outer planets are transcendental, then for them to signify something in particular in the world is to degrade them from their transcendental nature. [3] He instead says that they distort or perturb the significations of the inner planets while signifying absolute qualities of human life.

There is also the theoretical issue of whether, and if so, how the aspects are supposed to work when the planet has so little visible light that it cannot be seen without a telescope. This is a problem because the word "aspect" in Greek means to look at or see. It doesn't make much sense to talk about the aspects in the sense of looking at invisible objects. If the cosmic soul doesn't see it, then it assumes it is not there.

However, in my many years as an astrologer, my experience tells me that the transits of the outer planets to natal planets prove very potent. To ignore them is in a way to ignore the broader picture of your life. For this reason, I consider this more of a theoretical problem of how such a fact might fit into Hellenistic logic, rather than a debate as to whether or not they are useful. One possible solution to the theoretical problem is to re-think what constitutes seeing or perception in the cosmic soul. It is possible, that since the discovery of these planets, the cosmic soul became aware of them because man became aware of them. There is of course the issue of magnitude of brightness and whether this matters or not in the cosmic soul.

For the time being, when I look at the outer planets, I ask myself how they are distorting the significations of the inner planets, not what they signify themselves. This is because, as Schmidt has said, giving an outer planet stewardship over a given area of your life is to degrade it from its transcendental status. However, it may be easier to think of the distortions as significations of the outer planets themselves, though this is not theoretically correct according to Schmidt.

There are two theories that have been floating around for many years about how the outer planets get their meanings. One is that the planets name as selected by the discoverers was somehow selected so that the myth behind the name becomes the basis for the meaning and of the planets. The other theory is that the issues of the time in which the planet made an appearance in human consciousness become attached to the planet that is discovered. In some sense, both of these theories may just be different sides of the same coin.

Chiron Chiron: This comet of relatively circular orbit was discovered in 1977. At the time, medical breakthroughs in genetic engineering were taking place, and alternative medicine such as accupuncture, chiropractic and herbal medicine were gaining acceptance in the west. Oddly enough the story of Chiron in greek mythology is one of a wounded healer who had the ability to heal all but himself. Chiron was half horse and half human. He was said to be the son of Saturn (Kronos) and nocturnal, livinging a cave and had a permanently wounded knee.

Chiron is interesting because it's orbit bridges the gap between Saturn and Uranus. This hints at Chiron's unconventional and maverick like nature. For a few years in it's 50 year orbit it is actually inside the orbit of Saturn. Being inside the orbit of Saturn represents being alive but being under the constraints of Saturn. Saturn is also the planet of limitations and agnoia (ignorance) so Chiron may represent overcoming limitations and slim odds and probably has something to do with the path of obtaining enlightenment. There is the story of Prometheus in the myth of Chiron about the sacrifice one has to make to obtain enlightenment (fire). In this myth, Chiron pays for Prometheus's mistake of stealing fire from Zeus by becoming mortal. Chiron wanted to die because he had a wound that would not heal and had sympathy for Prometheus. It may also be that euthanasia combined with compassion and right to death issues (like Dr. Kevorkian) may be represented by Chiron as these issues were just beginning to become important in 1977. Prior to this time, the medical establishment sought to preserve life at all costs.

Not only did Chiron pay for Prometheus's mistake, but he suffered the knee wound because he interceded in a fight at a wedding party and was shot there with a poison arrow. The themes of victimization and being scapegoated also seem to be related to Chiron.

Uranus Uranus: Uranus was discovered in 1781 at a time about midway between the American and French revolutions. The stifling power of Aristocracy was at an all time high in Europe and new ideas in philosophy were announced. Interestingly enough, Schmidt said that Kant's critique of pure reason was published within one month of the discovery date. [4] Ben Franklin did his severe weather kite experiment at this time. Not long after, the power of electricity was harnessed and many new inventions came with the industrial age. It was a time of organized production and innovative ideas. For these reasons, Uranus is said to stand for things like revolutions, insurrections, explosions, electricity, invention, technology, breakthroughs, surprises and the higher mind. Rob Hand has conjectured that Uranus's energy is essentially hot and dry. [5] Schmidt has said that Uranus represents the absolute idea and distorts the significations of human life by comparing the absolute ideal to the human reality. [6]

Some astrologers have said that the outer planets are higher octaves of the inner planets, but there are a number of schemes relating to this issue. One sect says that Uranus is the higher octave of Mercury. This is probably because communication as represented by Mercury often takes electronic form these days. Also if the mind and thought patterns are represented by Mercury, then mental breakthroughs are represented by Uranus. However, another sect says that Uranus is like the higher octave of Mars. The reasoning here is that Uranus represents disruptions, violent lightening storms, and wars as represented by Mars. The scientific symbol for Uranus looks very much like Mars but with a dot in the center of the circle. Incidentally, the dot in the center of the circle is reminescient of the Sun which brings me to the third sect that says that Uranus is the "transcendental Sun" [7] The idea here is that if Uranus represents enlightenment and breakthroughs in understanding, then it is somehow a transcendent form of the Sun, the realm of Nous which is the realm of the pure ideas (called eidetic forms) or the absolute idea.

The fact that the outer planets can be schematized in these ways hints that they are transcendent and are somehow beyond normal everyday 1:1 signification or representation.

Neptune Neptune: Neptune was discovered in 1846. During that time romanticism, idealism, impressionistic art and existentialism was born. Compassion for the masses came to be in the form of communism through the birth of Karl Marx. The west also became infatuated with eastern mysticism. Impressionistic art has images that are not sharply defined but are blurry with some objects becoming merged with others. There was also great uncertainty as to whether Neptune existed in the early 1840's which is why it took nearly 4 years for the discovery to be confirmed. For this reason, Neptune is considered to be a planet of illusions and dreams. The nature of Neptune is said to be cold and wet. [8]

As is the case with Uranus, Neptune is said to be the higher octave of 3 different planets. One sect says that it is the higher octave of Venus. This is probably because Venus is the planet of beauty and overindulgence whereas Neptune is the planet of compassion and self undoing. Another sect says that it is the higher octave of Jupiter. This is probably because Jupiter is said to represent dreams and visions, whereas Neptune represents ideals and illusions. Schmidt calls Neptune the "transcendental Moon" stating that Neptune represents the absolute existent; which generates illusion when compared to the existent of human life. [9]

Pluto Pluto: Pluto was discovered in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh at the Lowell Observatory. The name was selected because the letters "PL" were the initials of Percival Lowell, but Pluto is also the name of the god of the underworld. At that time there was great interest in understanding the hidden forces at work within the atom which led to the development of the atomic bomb. There was considerable evil beginning to develop in the world through organized crime, Hitler and other underworld forces and the great depression began to take hold in the USA. On a philosophical level, Schmidt says that Heidegger was grappeling with the nature of beingness itself. [10] On a world wide level, the whole of civilization was contemplating "to be or not to be" on the level of nuclear anhiliation. Sigmund Freud also started the field of Psychoanalysis. For these reasons, Pluto is associated with nuclear power, death and regeneration (or generation and corruption), power and its abuses, totalitarianism and depth psychology of the unconscious. As is the case with Mercury, Pluto's elemental attributions are indeterminate, neither hot nor cold nor wet nor dry.

As is the case with Uranus and Neptune, Pluto is said to be the higher octave of 3 different planets. One school says that it is the higher octave of Mars because both have great destructive power, Mars as the god of war, and Pluto as the atom bomb. Another says that it is the higher octave of Saturn because Pluto is the god of the underworld, the place we visit immediately after death, while Saturn is represented by the grim reaper. Schmidt says that Pluto is the "transcendental Mercury", representing alogos rather than logos (which is Mercury) because it distorts by trying to relate the absolute idea to the absolute existent. [11] This is especially interesting because transcendence itself is a Mercurial matter. For Mercury to be transcendent beyond it's normal transcendent state could be seen as an impossibility, so Pluto, by relating absolute idea and absolute existent creates enigmas, paradoxes and contradictions.


1. From lectures by Robert Schmidt in Cumberland, MD in December 2000.
2. I am extrapolating here based upon what Schmidt says about the lots being an analogy that the cosmic soul uses to see the planet's role in relation to the native.
3. See note 1.
4. Ibid. Schmidt says that this is the ultimate saturnine book. This makes sense because ratio/reason as represented by Mercury cannot break through the sphere of agnoia as represented by Saturn. One must find some kind of intuitive leap to grasp the objects of philosophy.
5. From Robert Hand's lectures at the 3rd PHASE Conclave in Ithaca, NY 1996.
6. See note 1.
7. See note 1. Schmidt coined the phrase "transcendental Sun".
8. See note 4.
9. See note 1. Schmidt coined the phrase "transcendental Moon".
10. From lectures by Robert Schmidt in Cumberland, MD in December 2000.
11. See note 1. Schmidt coined the phrase "transcendental Mercury".

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