Slow-Moving Signifiers: The Outer Planets in Astrology
The outer planets of our Solar System hold just as many secrets and messages as our closer neighbors. See what can these giants tell us about our lives.
Astrology is big. A quick look at the internet reveals just how ingrained it is into our modern ethos and thought. While much of it focuses on the sun and closest celestial bodies, it discerns patterns and meanings from Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. Astrologers believe that these distant outer planets may provide some wisdom of their own.
An Introduction to the Outer Planets
The outer planets exhibit a wide range of physical compositions and environments: gas giants, ice giants, and one icy chunk of rock. These celestial objects represent the vital energies of their mythological counterparts. Since they take a long time to orbit our sun, their effects are seen by astrologers as generational and more long term.
Jupiter: A Jovial and Generous King
With its 12-year orbit around our sun, Jupiter has the shortest transits of any outer planet. This massive traveler inhabits each zodiac sign for around a year, but Cafe Astrology explains that it can retrograde for up to four months at a stretch. This regal celestial body governs generosity, optimism, honor, good fortune, ethics, and as the Astro Codex reveals, higher education. Since its effects in a sign can span for up to a year, they’re thought to impact everyone born during that same time period in similar ways.
Saturn: Growth, Discipline, and Legacies
Saturn makes a complete orbit around our sun in 29.5 years, taking around two and a half years to travel through each zodiac sign. Astrostyle discusses this titan’s key energies: time, maturity, structure, karma, discipline, and prestige. If you’ve heard the phrase “Saturn return,” you likely got the impression that it can signify life-changing events. As the Cut’s Claire Comstock-Gay clarifies, Saturn comes back to its original position in our natal charts during our late 20s, our late 50s, and our mid-to-late 80s. These all coincide with major life transitions or turning points during which we may reassess our life goals and make significant new plans.
Uranus: Technology, Enlightenment, and Innovation
Uranus is a weird planet for many reasons. It’s not just the only one named for a Greek deity instead of a Roman god, but it’s also the only one that rotates on its side. Christened after the primordial sky father, it takes 84 years to orbit our sun and seven years to pass through a zodiac sign. Cafe Astrology mentions that Uranus represents invention, innovation, intuitiveness, and individuality. Astrostyle also nicknames Uranus the “mad scientist” for its association with eccentricity.
Neptune: What Lies Beneath the Surface
Discovered in 1846, Neptune got its name from the Roman god of the sea. This planet completes one orbit around the sun in 165 years, which means that it makes a 14-year trip through each zodiac sign. As a result, those energies impact large generational groups. The Astro Codex mentions that Neptune governs spirituality, dreams, illusions, artistic creation, and even addiction.
Pluto: Secrets, Transformation, and Rebirth
Reclassified as a dwarf planet in 2006, Pluto represents the Roman ruler of the Underworld. Astrostyle comments that it governs the secrets we keep within ourselves, including sensitive matters such as money, shame, and sexuality, yet it also speaks to how we share or hoard our resources. As a symbol of transformation, it signifies intense and sometimes painful changes that end in positive results. Pluto takes around 30 years to move through each sign and 248 years to orbit the sun.
Since astrology is gaining greater traction in popular culture, it’s no surprise that many people have more than a passing curiosity about their planets and signs. Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto all display extreme physical characteristics. Their astrological impacts are just as massive, affecting large cohorts of people as they complete their lengthy orbits.
Understanding Yourself: What Your Rising Sign Can Tell You
Astrologers believe that each part of our birth charts tells us about ourselves and our lives. Taking a closer look at your sign can reveal some surprises.
Peruse astrology websites or hang around some enthusiasts and you’re likely to encounter a lot of discussions about rising signs. Perhaps you’ve pulled up your birth chart to find out your rising sign or heard the term “chart ruler” tossed around. Yet what does this all mean? Answering that question involves some science, geography, and a peek into the human psyche.
What Is Your Rising Sign?
Your birth chart shows quite a bit of information. Mastering the Zodiac briefly explains what each detail means, focusing on four primary elements: the Sun, the Moon, the rising sign, and the chart ruler. Mastering the Zodiac and other astrology sources sometimes refer to the rising sign as the “ascendant,” but it’s more than just a fancier word for the same concept. As Astrostyle reveals, it’s the zodiac sign that’s ascending above the eastern horizon at the time each person is born.
As you may already know, some planets and points change position more slowly than others. Consider our Moon, which makes its trip around the Earth in only 27 days. With such a short orbital period, our speedy satellite stays in each zodiac sign for only 2.5 days. The ascendant changes signs even faster than that. Depending on a location’s latitude, each sign takes anywhere between 30 minutes and three hours to cross the horizon. The earth’s axial tilt of 23.5 degrees also causes these differences, with the ascendant jumping 180 degrees or disappearing completely in extreme northern and southern locations.
Because of how quickly the rising sign changes, finding it requires knowing a precise time and place of birth. Even twins born a minute apart can have different ascendants if a sign finishes crossing the horizon before the younger one is born. If you’re not sure about your ascendant, check your birth certificate to get an accurate time of birth. You can plug this data into any free birth chart generator to see your results.
What Your Ascendant Means
You may have heard that our ascendants represent the masks that we wear, the faces that we choose to show to the world. This is one basic interpretation, but Astrostyle adds that it’s the sign of first impressions. The way you dress, your interpersonal style, your demeanor, and even how you style your hair are connected to your rising sign. It adds another layer to how you can be perceived by others. Astrologers often say that it’s one possible reason you could be mistaken for a zodiac signifier other than the one under which you were born.
Mastering the Zodiac suggests additional meanings for you. While it may speak to how you present yourself to others, it can also reveal the qualities you’re developing as you age. If we look at both points of view, the ascendant represents both the personality you show to others as well as the personality shaped by your life experiences.
Your Rising Sign and Chart Ruler
The rising sign has another important function: determining the chart ruler. In astrology-speak, the chart ruler is simply the ruling planet of your rising sign. For instance, someone with an Aries ascendant has Mars as a chart ruler. This planet exerts its influence over the entire natal chart in areas such as personality, goals, desires, and strategies for learning, relating to others, and solving problems. In our Aries ascendant example, Mars will significantly impact whatever signs and houses it’s in. This individual may love competition, testing oneself, and pushing the limits.
Astrologers believe that each part of our birth charts tells us about ourselves and our lives. The rising sign represents the impression we make on others, but it also speaks to central life themes. Taking a deeper look at your ascendant can reveal some surprising details.