What exactly do planets represent in astrology?
In my opinion, it’s easiest to think of planets as a source of energy. Each planet gives us the ability to do something. This energy is yours to use in whatever way you decide. Sort of like a tool. You may use a hammer to eat soup, but it would probably be best for you if you were to use it to hang portraits instead. Alternatively, if you’ve always learned to use a hammer for smashing things, you might not know that a hammer can be used for building.
For example, The Sun describes a person’s ability to express and connect with their true self. The Sun is associated with a person’s identity over time. It involves being connected, remaining connected, or becoming connected with the things in life that truly vitalize us. This isn’t something that has already been decided for us. It is something that is “created”. I use quotes because obviously your Sun doesn’t only begin to exist later in life, though some astrological interpretations describe it in this way. It is always there! But you will spend a large portion of your life altering things, trying new things, and removing things in order to “create” the identity that most vitalizes you. The tool here is a natural drive to create the most vibrant, happy and authentic version of you that there is.
Traditional Meanings Can Feel Restrictive
Each planet has a traditional meaning. Jupiter, for example, is known as the giver of gifts and luck. Astrologers generally look to Jupiter to find those things in life that will come easily or will be impressive in some way (that is an extremely simplified explanation). Saturn, on the other hand, is known as the planet of restriction and difficulty.
My concern with these traditional meanings, is that it gives some planets credit for all of the great things in life, and others credit for the things we don’t like. Terms like benefic, which means beneficial, and malefic, which means capable of causing supernatural destruction (see what I mean) paint some planets as something to praise and others as something to overcome.
Which, to me, isn’t necessarily true. Anyone can see that throughout history and even now, societies don’t always have the best ideologies. An entire population; its laws, cultural expectations, and ways of life can be geared toward one way of thinking and repulsed by another. Take dictatorships, as an example. How would a planet like Uranus, whose energy relates to individuality, innovation, and revolution be viewed among a society where speaking out is discouraged, or even punishable by imprisonment or death?
Planetary interpretations are laced with both individual and cultural bias.
Why Question It?
Because of the inner conflict I felt with just accepting Saturn, my tropical birth chart ruler, as a planet of difficulty, insecurity, and struggle; I searched for a neutral meaning. Something that would explain Saturn in a way that gave me back my personal power. Not by just deciding on a whim that Saturn was just kicking my ass to get me into tip top shape for what was to come, but something more. Because that explanation, honestly, didn’t feel like enough.
So, I attempted to strip down each planet of its good qualities and bad qualities and see it as a neutral power source that gave me the capability to use its energy however I wanted. Like seeing a hammer as just a hammer. As neither a building or destroying force, but something that can be used for either or both. That is the basis for all of my astrological study.
Predetermination vs. Free Will
I don’t like to use astrology just for predictive means. Astrology as I understand it, is a map to be used to go wherever you like. It displays all of the tools at your disposal (planets), how to use them (signs), where you need them (houses), and when to use them (transits).
That’s what this is really all about. It’s to explore and understand the ways in which we’ve learned and been taught to express planetary energy and how those thoughts, actions and emotions are affecting our lives both positively and negatively.
Below is a summarized list of what I believe each planet’s use is. That is, the tool available for each of us to use during our time here, on Earth.
Sun - To Vitalize; To Create
To maintain a fixed identity and be capable of both shining a brilliant light onto the world and transmuting darkness into light by being yourself no matter the circumstance.
Moon - To Be Pleased; To Be Nurtured
To connect with yourself intimately in a way that makes you capable of, and comfortable with, being pleased. To accept satisfaction on a soulful level. So much that it is familiar and expected.
Mercury - To Move; To Harmonize
To facilitate movement; physically and mentally, in ways that allow you to harmonize with the world around you. To be capable of flexibility in mind and matter, aiding in the experience of being a living being.
Venus - To Attract; To Appreciate
To connect with your mentality in a way that facilitates agreed upon circumstance (between yourself and The Universe). To maintain a fixed connection with those things in life which you have experienced as enjoyable in order to attract and enjoy them again and again.
Earth - To Exist; To Grow
To become incarnate on this plane. To embody a presence that changes over time as you come to accept and embrace those things that vitalize you (The Sun). To be capable of a tangible existence that will impact the world that we live in, in one way or another.
Mars - To Energize; To Excite
To connect with your own light, in spite of any circumstance, in a way that gives you the energy to be capable of doing and being the person that you identity as. To accept your personal power on a spiritual level.
Jupiter - To Experience; To Move
To facilitate movement, spiritually, in a way that allows you to experience different facets of life. To be capable of flexibility in your identity; aiding in your ability to try new actions and rid yourself of old, unwanted aspects of your self.
Saturn - To Form; To Focus
To connect closely with your physicality in a way that helps you to use what is present to form what is desired. To accept both personal authority and responsibility for tangible aspects of your life.
Uranus - To Innovate; To Individuate
To maintain a connection with your mentality, or mindset. To establish yourself as an individual within a collection of individuals in a way that provides opportunities to offer unique perspective, benefit from the unique perspectives of others, and transmute disharmonious interactions into progressive understanding.
Neptune - To Imagine; To Empathize
To facilitate movement, emotionally. To be capable of flexible emotional experiences, aiding in your ability to imagine experiences (and feel true sentiment towards these experiences) that have not necessarily been apart of your reality.
Pluto - To Feel; To Trust
To maintain a connection with your emotional depth. To be capable of experiencing that depth, gracefully, and of transmuting unpleasant emotional energy into passion, honest, loving and peaceful intimacy with others. To incorporate trust and vulnerability within deep emotional transformations for yourself and others.