Category: Astrology Basics Written by Robert Wilkinson Views: 902
Two of the primary building blocks in Astrology are the planets and the signs. When we begin to learn the craft, everyone encounters the concept of the Rulerships, Detriments, Exaltations, and Fall positions of the planets. These have come to us from antiquity. Even if you’re already familiar with the rulerships and exiles, please take a look at what follows, since it may expand your idea of the nature of the planets and why they express as they do.
Each of the 7 visible planets (known of the "Sacred Seven" throughout the ages) has two signs it is said to "rule" because its nature is of those two signs. The signs opposite those a planet rules are said to be that planet’s “Exile" or "Detriment." Though tradition describes these positions in terms of "good" and "bad," this doesn't tell the whole story.
I last gave you this several years ago. For readers who have recently come to this site, I figured it would be a good time to renew our familiarity with the concept of planetary rulerships and how they are related to certain signs. What follows is how I have come to view the signs planets “rule,” and the signs of their “exile.”
A Planet in the Sign it Rules Can Express for Good or Ill
In traditional astrology, it was always believed that a planet in the sign it “rules” is good, while a planet in the sign opposite the one it rules is “bad.” However, to quote the Gershwin brothers, “it ain’t necessarily so.”
Over the years I’ve found that a planet in the sign it "rules" may show a negative manifestation, while a planet in its sign of "exile" may show a favorable effect. It's all in our point of view, and how we choose to use the energies at our disposal, since astrology describes the dynamic art of living rather than a static set of determined responses.
The planets, or Inner Lights, may "rule" certain signs, but what is “rulership?” The term is usually associated with "lordship" or "boss," but my friend Carl Payne Tobey put it differently. He thought that since a ruler measures things, the planets are the measure of how the sign expresses itself. I also see rulership as the inherent "Law" of how that planetary energy expresses itself. It is the standard of self-expression. Any expression is ruled by the qualities of that expression, no more, no less.
The signs show the tone and color of how the Inner Lights shine through us. Each Planet is associated with two signs. Remember that the 12 signs are actually six polarities, each a dual awareness of opposite but united qualities of life and expression.
As all the “Sacred Seven” have a healthy or dysfunctional expression, the quality of expression is in the planet and not the sign, since the sign is merely the quality of that planetary expression. Just because a planet is in the sign it "rules" does not mean it is a uniformly or universally favorable thing.
For instance, I have a Mars in Aries. Though it rules Aries, meaning it's very naturally itself in that sign, during my life I've still had to learn not to be too impulsive, abrupt, impatient, or any of the other problems associated with Mars in Aries. (And yes, I have plenty of scars from my younger years when I should have slowed down rather than sped up!)
Jupiter may be in its home sign in Pisces, but it is still subject to ambivalence, feeling too much sorrow, or submerging when it ought to be out having an adventure! The Moon may be a natural in Cancer, but it must learn to be caring and nurturing rather than defensive and touchy. The sign a planet rules is its natural home, but that doesn't imply it has nothing to learn in the way of productive responses.
That’s because each of the planets has a healthy functional expression, as well as an unhealthy dysfunctional way of expression. This relates to the concept of the planetary dualities explained at length in my book Saturn: Spiritual Master, Spiritual Friend, where I explain that as we turn negative planetary responses to positive planetary responses, then we find that our planets are expressing in healthy ways, regardless of what sign they are in.
The Planetary Rulerships
As noted earlier, in traditional astrology each planet ruled two signs. The two signs a planet "rules" are two parts of the same planetary energy, even if they seem contradictory or don't seem to blend easily. There was also an amazing symmetry to how the ancients thought all these diverse energies related to each other. I'll start the sequence from a different point than the usual Aries, so you can see the mirroring effect.
Leo - Sun
Virgo - Mercury
Libra - Venus
Scorpio - Mars
Sagittarius - Jupiter
Capricorn - Saturn
Aquarius - Saturn
Pisces - Jupiter
Aries - Mars
Taurus - Venus
Gemini - Mercury
Cancer - Moon
You can see that the ancients set the Sun/Moon over Leo/Cancer at the beginning of the sequence of rulerships, then moved out in each direction in perfect dual sequencing, giving Mercury rulership of Gemini and Virgo, Venus rulership of Taurus and Libra, Mars rulership of Aries and Scorpio, Jupiter rulership of Sagittarius and Pisces, and Saturn rulership of Capricorn and Aquarius. This leaves out the invisible quartet of Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, and TransPluto, since they are not “under our control,” and symbolize Transpersonal Spiritual forces affecting us all. (Again, this is explained in greater depth in Saturn: Spiritual Master, Spiritual Friend.)
If we want to learn the whole nature of any planet, we must examine both signs it rules to get a sense of its essential nature. For instance, Venus is both the Earth of Taurus and the Air of Libra. It is the cardinality (movability) of Libra and the fixity of Taurus. Mercury is also the Earth of Virgo and the Air of Gemini, but as both those signs are mutable (distributive) in nature, Mercury is much more distributive than Venus despite the Air/Earth blend.
Mars is both the Fire of Aries and the Water of Scorpio, Thus it shares the cardinal and fixed qualities with Venus, but it involves two entirely different elements. Jupiter is both the Fire of Sag and the Water of Pisces, and thus is elementally like Mars, but because both signs Jupiter rules are mutable, it shares that quality with Mercury. Any thorough examination of the signs will help us refine our understanding of how each fits into the whole picture.
There are many other factors too numerous to go into here, but for example, the three decans (10 degree segments) of a sign give us more information about how that sign works. The elements all have a triple expression. The three earth signs are Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn. That means the modern decan system shows that Taurus has a Taurus (Venus) segment, a Virgo (Mercury) segment, and a Capricorn (Saturn) segment.
However, because Venus also rules Libra, and Libra also has a triple expression (Libra, Aquarius, and Gemini), it indicates Venus also has these three types of energy in it. So Venus, ruling Taurus and Libra, also has a liberal dose of Mercury and Saturn in its nature, since the signs it rules also incorporate these planetary energies. To note, Mercury and Saturn also have these same sign sub-qualities.
Planetary “Detriments” and “Exile”
The "Exile," or "Detriment" of the planets, are the signs opposite those the planet rules. Though seemingly negative, I have found that any planet can show a positive expression regardless of its sign position. Just because a planet is as far away from its "home" as possible, in a sign whose energies contradict its essential nature, does not mean it is unfamiliar or disharmonious in that sign. Any planet can show its productive, positive light in any sign. That said, here are the "detriment" signs of the planets, or the signs opposite its natural home.
Aquarius - Sun
Pisces - Mercury
Aries - Venus
Taurus - Mars
Gemini - Jupiter
Cancer - Saturn
Leo - Saturn
Virgo - Jupiter
Libra - Mars
Scorpio - Venus
Sagittarius - Mercury
Capricorn - Moon
You can see how some of these signs might be difficult for the planets involved, but again, there is always a positive way to express these positions. For example, Jupiter in Gemini would make a great teacher, one whose curiosity knew no bounds, always on the lookout for new information, new interpretations, new views, one who could make an adventure out of even a short journey or reading a good book. It certainly makes for one of the best reading specialists I've ever known.
The Sun in Aquarius may be far from home, but it definitely can illuminate the greatest good for the greatest number! Some of the greatest visionaries in history had the Sun in Aquarius. Mars in Libra may be in “exile” or “detriment” in theory, but it could also make for a great mediator, counselor, and someone who can weigh and evaluate many different ways to get things done before implementing a well-rounded, well-reasoned plan of action.
So with what I've offered you in mind, take a new look at the planets in the signs, and let your imagination play with the possibilities. In another article we cover the Exaltation and Fall of the planets here!
© Copyright 2020 Robert Wilkinson - https://www.aquariuspapers.com
About the author:
Robert wilkinson An internationally-known astrologer, author, public speaker, metaphysician, and futurist, with over 25 years experience as a counselor and educator. He has presented hundreds of public talks on all aspects of Astrology, the Eastern Wisdom tradition, the Western Wisdom tradition and promoted many mass gatherings and cultural events. Some of his specific areas of interest and expertise include personality profiles, degree patterns, integrative astrology, various aspect harmonics, among others.
Reprinted on crystalwind.ca. with persmission from Robert Wilkinson.
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