"The truth is that stars are nothing more than giant, inanimate, orbs of rock and gas floating in the vacuum of space. They don't influence your life any more than the pile of rocks in your front garden dictate your life. The stars do not care about you, or your job, or your finances, or your personality, or anything else because they are just rocks."
All those who have a passion for astrology have heard statements like this one and have been asked, at least once "how come that you devote so much time and energy to astrology? I mean... it's weird superstition!".
That's the question I have often tried to investigate: I have often wondered why educated, sophisticated, rational people are so irresistibly attracted to something that is often considered by other people as an old, useless, ridiculous belief.
I was not interested in the practical reasons that astrologers know so well such as the possibility to have an insight into peoples’ psychology, or to have a different perspective on social trends or historical events or the chance to take advantage of a surprising forecasting tool. I wanted to understand the deep motivation that leads people to study astrology: what triggers their interest, what moves their souls, what drives their minds.
I possibly found an answer, when I have been asked about the planet ruling astrology. When I heard the question for the first time I thought: "It's clear, no debate: the ruler is Jupiter". Moreover I knew that Uranus is largely recognised as the modern ruler so I was quite surprised to see many different ideas coming out in a discussion we had at the summer school of the Faculty of Astrological Studies: Mercury, Saturn, Pluto but also Venus and the Sun. And, more surprisingly, while I was listening to other people's considerations I realized that, even though I was so sure about my answer, all of them were reasonable to some extent: I realized that something personal and deep stood behind those different views. I had an intuition:
"People fall in love with astrology because it strikes an important personal chord. Which one? This is revealed by the planet they consider the ruler of Astrology".
The idea I have developed is that each person who took a keen interest in astrology did it because he/she was looking for something or valued something very much and astrology provided it: this missing or very relevant element that the individual was looking for is strongly connected with the archetype expressed by the planet he or she selects: unconventionality in the case of Uranus, psychological depth in the case of Pluto, a life vision for Jupiter and so forth. Since then, I kept asking to my astrologer friends which planet they considered to rule astrology and I collected many different feed-backs: all the answers really matched the person's identity and the personal quest they were pursuing when they "met" astrology.
In this article, which is more for enjoyment than an actual research, I would like to expand on this concept basing the analysis not only on my personal experience with people I know but also using some famous and more "prestigious" testimonials ranging from Dane Rudhyar, to Ptolemy and Dante Alighieri.
The planet that is usually considered the ruler of astrology is Uranus. The reason why is quite clear: Uranus relates to the sky, to what is different and unusual (and actually in our society astrology isn’t widely accepted). Uranus has a connection with anything that openly break the rules and with ideas alternative to the mainstream and with theories that bring about new consciousness. Uranus is the planet of Awakening and astrology is for sure an awakening process.
Uranus may also symbolize a sudden intuition that brings new light on something that was not clear or comprehensible: anyone who approached astrology with an open mind probably remembers the striking revelation he had the first time he read or heard an interpretation of his natal chart and the astonishment he felt in finding out that something so "strange" and unusual was so true and accurate. This sudden revelation is very much Uranian.
Several astrologers acknowledge that oftentimes Uranus is the planet active when a person gets involved with astrology: this is certainly true in my case, but I don't believe this should be considered as an element supporting the idea that Uranus is the actual ruler: it simply shows that something enlightening is happening in that person's life.
In my very personal investigations I found out that generally people who see Uranus as the ruler of astrology started studying astrology in a period of their life when they were looking for something new that could be a ground-breaking experience and could bring something new and unconventional in their lives. These people often feel the need to affirm their "being different" or at least had this need when they started their astrological studies and are often interested in sharing with other people the benefits of what they understand: unconventionality and a interest in a collective progress are definitely Uranian traits. Many prominent astrologers backed-up the idea of Uranus ruling astrology. Among others Liz Green and I believe that her "full" 11th house - 4 planets in the equal system and all trine Uranus in the 7th house - may say something about her Uranian quest.
As I said, when I heard the question regarding which planet is the ruler of astrology my immediate response was "Jupiter". Actually, in my experience the most important value that astrology provides is the possibility to reach a higher level of knowledge, expanding one's boundaries to discover new and unknown territories, developing a vision of life that goes beyond the tiny details and events of everyday life and provides a wider framework: all these are features of the Jupiter archetype.
I always loved philosophy, which is ruled by Jupiter, and I feel that astrology is a sort of philosophy because it aims at giving an interpretation of the meaning of human experience in the world. On a more personal level, being an atheist I have always missed in my life that deep sense of meaning that religion can provide: when I "met" astrology that was exactly what I was looking for and probably it was exactly this possibility of an higher vision of life and a new frontier of personal development that fascinated me.
Considering my natal chart I may say that my Jupiter in Sagittarius placed in the 7th house with several hard aspects (squares to the Sun, Pluto, Mercury and Chiron and an opposition to the Moon) may have urged me to fill the gap by developing a keen interest on Jupiterian topics and this is the missing element in my life that makes me think that Jupiter could be the ruler of astrology.
I noticed that Jupiter is indicated as the ruler of astrology by those individuals who look for knowledge, vision of life, a higher sense of meaning, the possibility to expand personal boundaries and crossing cultural barriers: all these are keywords to understand Jupiter's archetype.
Mercury was the traditional ruler of astrology before the discovery of Uranus, and actually is still considered the ruler of astrology by some people I interviewed and some prominent astrologers. The first associations that come to mind are:
- astrology's relation to mathematics and geometry.
- astrology as a tool to analyse the "communication" process between different "pieces" of personality and the psychological "dialogue" between them. In other words, looking at planets in the chart as archetypes that symbolize different parts of our personality, the geometrical relations between them may be regarded as a special kind of "communication".
In a different perspective, astrology may be considered as a language. It is quite literally the language of the Cosmos, and the role of astrologers is to interpret this language by giving this cosmic language equivalent to our own mundane concepts. Moreover astrology allows another Mercurial activity: by analysing planets and houses astrologers can "break into pieces" an individual personality, analysing all its components to have a better understanding of people.
I realized that Mercury is often selected as the ruler by those people who like to use astrology as a guide in a search for meaning based on intellectual research and on the analysis of the relations between elements of a system.
I believe Robert Hand may consider Mercury as the ruler of astrology since he wrote "Mercury is the ancient ruler of astrology before Uranus was discovered. And I would have to say that it still works!", and I like John Frawley's reason for preferring Mercury to Uranus: "We are thinkers not eccentrics" and actually I believe that in his public life Mercury played an important role both in his witty style of writing and in his choice of focusing on traditional astrology which he perceives as having a rigorously logical approach and a capacity to deliver precise and concrete delineations.
Neptune has several connections with astrology. Neptune operates using a highly symbolic language and planet archetypes are essentially symbols. Moreover through Neptune a kind of universal understanding can be achieved: this archetype relates to cosmic harmony and to a holistic vision of the universe where everything is connected. Neptune allow us to find a sense (even if not a structure, like Saturn does) in the apparently chaotic sequence of everyday life: just like astrology.
Dane Rudhyar supports the idea that Neptune is the ruler of astrology and among other reasons highlights that "a Neptunian system presents ideas which are capable of being given a variety of interpretations and modifications at various levels" : this is certainly true for astrology.
In his words: " Astrologers might like to be Uranian forces stirring humanity and revolutionizing science and society; but the likelihood of this being the case is very slim indeed. Rather, astrology is the practical application of the primordial philosophy of a humanity which had retained its sense of the universality of life and felt the tides and eddies of that one life ocean within the very rhythm of the tangible body and the immortal soul."
Regardless of whether this consideration is true or not what triggers my interest is that Neptune is considered the ruler of astrology by someone who expressed a very Neptunian approach to life: actually, he visioned himself as a "seed man" of new age cultural evolution, he focused his work on the relation between astrology and spirituality and he expressed his Neptunian inclination also through art: he loved music and attended the conservatory and he was also a painter who, not by chance, joined the transcendental painting group in California.
No surprise that Neptune has a prominent position in Rudhyar's 9th house aspecting almost all planets except for Mercury and Saturn. In my experience, Neptune is often selected as the ruler of astrology by those individuals who are on a spiritual quest, like to have an holistic approach to life but also those who try to "escape" reality.
Pluto has several strong connections to astrology:
- it rules what is hidden and to some extent astrology has a strong exoteric flavour and offers the chance to bring to light what is hidden in the unconscious
- it relates to psychological investigation and actually astrology can be considered the first form of psychology used by mankind
- Pluto is a controlling archetype and some people have the illusion that astrology will help them to have a better control of their lives and events
- moreover I see a link between astrological cycles and the Plutonian death-birth cycle.
Ptolemy in his Tetrabiblios includes Scorpio as the sign ruling astrology. Pluto, in my personal research, is the ruler often selected by those people who are interested in psychological investigation or those who were living a deep crisis in their life (a sort of life-death situation) when they started studying astrology.
I rarely heard someone identifying Saturn as the ruler of astrology: generally people who loved astrology because it suggests the idea that life is not as chaotic as it appears but is governed by a set of universal rules, and those people who like the sense of structure that the astrological system can provide. Actually, besides the idea that astrology casts a light on a universal order, there are a few other connections that link Saturn to astrology such as the concept of time and the Saturnine precision and self-discipline required in past time by astrologers who had to make calculations to draw natal charts.
Dante Alighieri associated Saturn with the liberal art of "astronomia" (astrology and astronomy) and actually I believe he had some very Saturnian traits: his Divina Commedia is a magnificent example of "structured poetry", with its rigorous articulation: three canticas, each consisting of 33 cantos with the hendecasyllabic lines composing tercets according to the rhyme scheme aba, bcb, cdc, ded.. The structure of the three realms (hell, purgatory and paradise) follows a common numerical pattern of 9 plus 1, for a total of 10. Moreover this poem content is very much focused on moral rules, duties and penalties for the sinners. It is probably not irrelevant that in his chart Saturn is placed in a very strong 12th house and is in major aspect to almost all other planets except for the Sun and Pluto.
The bottom line of my research among astrologers and astrology lovers is that probably trying to identify a planet ruling astrology is a wrong approach because this greatly depends on the meaning and the function we attribute to astrology.
I believe that astrology is not easy to define - is it a mathematical system? A philosophy? A description of the structure of the universe? A tool for psychological research? a "language"? A holistic vision of the world? A new revolutionary and ground-breaking approach to enlightenment? Asking which planet is its ruler is probably a bad question that can only lead to bad answers. An Italian writer, Italo Calvino, wrote the following sentence in his book "Invisible cities": “You take delight not in a city's seven or seventy wonders, but in the answer it gives to a question of yours.” I believe we could say the same for astrology and extend this idea to its planetary ruler: the ruler is the planet that rules the "value/quality" that we feel as being the most important attribute of astrology, but most of all the archetype that gives the right answer to a question of ours.
Sonia Giudici has been interested in astrology since she was 16 but she began proper astrological studies after having earned her master degree in Business and a NLP coaching diploma. She carried out individual studies for a few years and then attended the Eridano School in Italy studying for 3 years with the founder, the Italian astrologer Lidia Fassio. She is now attending the FAS. She is interested in psychological astrology and she has developed a special interest in the influence that Pluto and the Moon have on personality. She is currently conducting research on narcissistic personality disorders, also with the aim of delineating an astrological profile of pathological narcissists and pathological narcissism victims.