Astrology For Dummies
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A full astrological chart with its web of planets, signs, houses, and aspects, is as complex and confounding as an actual human being—and just as hard to understand. To get a sense of your chart without drowning in detail, concentrate on these factors:

planets and astrological charts © Photosani /

The sun

The sun reflects your basic identity — your motivations, needs, will, and individuality. Its sign describes the way you express these aspects of yourself. Its house determines the arena in which you can most effectively be yourself.

The moon

The Moon describes your feelings, subconscious, instincts, habits, and memory. Its sign determines the way you experience emotions. Its house placement points to the area of life that is most essential to your well being.

The astrology rising sign or Ascendant

The Ascendant describes the surface level of your personality — the face you show the world.

The ruling planet

The planet that governs your Ascendant is the ruler of your chart, regardless of its location or of anything else in your horoscope. As the ruler, it contributes both to your sense of self and to the impression you give others. The following table shows you the rising signs and their ruling planets.
Ruling signs and rulerships
If Your Rising Sign Is . . . You Strike People as . . . And Your Ruling Planet Is . . .
Aries Impetuous, strong-willed Mars
Taurus Stable, sensuous Venus
Gemini Verbal, high-strung Mercury
Cancer Emotional, responsive Moon
Leo Confident, exuberant Sun
Virgo Methodical, discerning Mercury
Libra Charming, appealing Venus
Scorpio Controlled, reserved Pluto and/or Mars
Sagittarius Cosmopolitan, irrepressible Jupiter
Capricorn Respectable, proud Saturn
Aquarius Friendly, individualistic Uranus and/or Saturn
Pisces Idealistic, receptive Neptune and/or Jupiter
One of the most illuminating qualities of the ruling planet is its position by house. Take the actor Peter Dinklage, who played Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones. A Gemini and a dwarf, he has Pisces rising with Neptune, the co-ruler of Pisces, in Scorpio in the eighth house of sex. Plus, his Neptune is conjunct Mars, albeit widely. You can’t get any sexier than that.

Or glance at Rachel Maddow’s chart. An Aries, she has Cancer rising with the Moon, her ruler, conjunct Mercury in Pisces in the ninth house of publication (she is the author of a number-one New York Times bestseller), education (she has a doctorate from Oxford), and broadcast journalism. Whatever you may think of her political views, I think it’s fair to say that she has answered the calling of her chart.

Ruling Planet by Astrological House Position
If Your Ruling Planet Is in the . . . You Are . . .
First house Self-conscious, motivated, a personality, and a self-starter
Second house Security-mined; stubborn; someone for whom material values are primary
Third house Busy, restless, a communicator and a master of small talk
Fourth house A family member who appreciates the arts of domesticity
Fifth house What’s wrong with having fun? You are a romantic, an entertainer, a devoted parent, a creative soul
Sixth house Health-conscious, hardworking, someone who finds identity in vocation.
Seventh house A confidante and a companion. Partnership is central to your being.
Eighth house A sharp-eyed observer, a questioner, a magician.
Ninth house An explorer and a thinker, adventurous and opinionated.
Tenth house An achiever, a leader, a person of prominence
Eleventh house A friend, a joiner, a person with hopes and aspirations
Twelfth house A spiritual seeker and a hermit


A cluster of three or more planets in the same sign and preferably in the same house is known as a stellium. Such a grouping is automatically noteworthy. When it appears in the same sign as the Sun, as commonly happens, it reinforces the message of that sign. When it shows up elsewhere, it can rival the Sun in importance.

Either way, a stellium offers an intense concentration of passions and interests. It is always a focal point in a chart. If it includes four planets, and if one of those is Uranus, Neptune, or Pluto, it can take over the entire chart.

To see a stellium in action, consider the chart of the Nobel-Prize-winning Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. His chart shows six planets in Cancer, including the Sun, the Moon, and Neptune, the ruler of his Ascendant. Most of those planets are in his fifth house of romance, which was one of his frequent subjects – but far from his only subject. In addition to love sonnets, he wrote odes to, among other household objects, a spoon, a plate, a bar of soap, an artichoke, and a box of tea. He was the poet of domesticity.

Or ponder Mick Jagger’s chart. The world’s oldest, most indefatigable rock star has a stellium in Leo: the Sun, Jupiter, Pluto, Mercury (his ruling planet), North Node of the Moon, and — not conjunct any of the above but still in Leo — Chiron. So of course he’s still performing. He will always want to be on stage. That’s the nature of Leo.

An Elevated Planet

Finally, there may (or may not) be a planet in your chart that receives no other honors – it’s not your chart ruler, it’s not part of a Grand Cross – and yet it stands out for a simple reason: it’s a flag, a weather vane, a flashing beacon at the top of your chart. That’s all – and that’s enough. Just by virtue of being at the apex, it gains in importance.

About This Article

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About the book author:

Rae Orion has written books on photography, astronomy, and mythology as well as the mysteries of astrology. She is the author of both previous editions of Astrology For Dummies.

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