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Rulers of the Horoscope
By Alan Oken
Nicolas Hays, Inc.Copyright © 2000 Alan Oken
All rights reserved.
Peeling the Onion
It is vitally important that the student come to experience the planets, signs, houses, and aspects of the horoscope as fields of energy. The entire scope of astrological literature is devoted to giving verbal definitions to the energy of life and its myriad interconnections and possibilities of manifestation. The present work is no exception. Any astrological author strives to define such factors with exactitude, precision, and perception. In this respect let us elaborate a bit upon the seven major modes of expression through which the astrological energies unfold their meanings in the natal chart. Once these primary factors are reviewed, summarized, and explored, we shall devote the rest of this book to an eighth factor, the primary subject of this work, the dispositors and hidden rulers of the chart. The reader will see from this discussion that the powers and values of dispositorship are like a needle whose thread weaves the entire chart into one integrated and comprehensive entity.
The planets reveal the "whats" of the horoscope—what energy is at work? All the planets reflect the light of the Sun, the principle of vitality in the natal chart. The Sun is to the horoscope what the King is to a game of chess. The Sun has little movement of its own (it is, after all, a fixed star), but without its presence, there is no energy at all, no chess game to be played, no horoscope to be lived. Thus, in traditional, personality-centered exoteric astrology, the Sun is the center around which the entirety of the chart unfolds. A weakened Sun, a solar force that is debilitated by other planetary powers (especially Saturn, Pluto, or Neptune), cannot energize in any consistent and positive way the condition of the other planets whose "light" is, after all, reflected solar light.
The planets however, are the most important features in the natal horoscope. They represent the primary differentiation of the radiation of the solar life force and therefore are the expressions of the prismatic effect of the Sun's rays manifesting through the solar system, giving color, form, conditions, and shades of meaning to the purpose of the nativity. Although the planets have their own natures and their particular effects upon one's life, they are held in place by the play of solar gravity upon their own orbital speeds. This physical phenomenon has a metaphysical counterpart. It reveals that the Sun, as symbol of the Creator, dominates its creations but is ever interacting with them and affected by them. The planets do have a life of their own, and express their own energy fields and destinies, but all of this is totally reliant upon the ability of the Sun to emanate the central point of life-giving light-substance. It is true that if there is a Mars/Sun aspect in the natal chart, for example, both bodies will affect each other. In this case, the Sun definitely further energizes Mars for good or ill according to the nature of that aspect (square, trine, sextile, etc.). Mars, however, returns the favor by adding a quality of assertiveness and aggression to the principle of solar vitality, which then radiates out and integrates with all of the other planets in the chart. In essence, all the members of the planetary family in the solar system will be touched by the energy of Mars through its direct contact with the Sun.
The signs reveal the "hows" of the horoscope—how are the energies of the planets manifesting? The signs definitely have their own energy, but it is an energy of form rather than of essence. It is an energy which shapes and molds rather than creates and projects. The planets impregnate the signs with the essence of their vitality and express their nature through the form-giving dynamics of the signs in which they are placed. Venus, for example, is always seeking partnership and complementation. In the sign Taurus, she will bring into one's life relationship issues that involve money, substance, and tests of true human values, i.e., the forms of Taurean expression. But when placed in the sign of Aquarius, for example, Venus' urge to merge tends to be much more idealistic and impersonal in her approach to others, and far less materialistic and personal than when in the sign of the Bull.
The Sun's sign always has to be considered when attempting to integrate the other planets and their respective zodiacal functions. If the Sun is in Pisces, the unfolding of one's creative vitality and the expression of one's destiny is focused through an energy field that seeks universality, lack of confinement, and sensual expression. The solar force situated in Capricorn, on the other hand, indicates an individual who yearns to create predictability, solidity, stature, and structure. If Jupiter were in Sagittarius in a Pisces or a Capricorn chart, its outgoing and expansive nature would remain the same, but its expression would work out quite differently. It is true that in the example just given, Jupiter in its own sign will remain constant in its urge for higher knowledge and an understanding of the underlying laws and principles of life. But the Sun in Pisces person would tend to use the energy of Jupiter in Sagittarius to further his own solar urges for spiritual, sensual, or ideological freedom, while the Sun in Capricorn individual would tend to utilize this planet/sign combination to widen her influence in the world and use her knowledge to anchor a more expanded base for her social position.
The astrological houses show the "where's" of the chart—where are the energies of the planet/sign combinations manifesting with their greatest strengths or weaknesses? The houses are the most physical indicators in the chart. They reveal "place." No matter which of the many house systems the astrologer chooses to construct the chart, all secondary house techniques are based on two primary axes: the Midheaven/ Nadir (or IC) and the Ascendant/ Descendant. The former reveals the relationship of the individual when standing up and the latter when he or she is lying down. Thus, the Midheaven is connected to the point in the heavens (i.e., the degree of the zodiac) that is the highest point along the zodiac at the time of birth; while the Ascendant shows the degree of the zodiac that is on the eastern horizon at the place of birth. From those angles, the rest of the houses define the individual relative to his or her world not only in a more subjective, personal sense (through the affairs and psychological conditions described by the houses below the horizon), but also in a more objective, collective sense (through the circumstances and social encounters delineated by the houses above the horizon).
The nature and function of dispositorship and the hidden rulers of the chart make it essential that the astrologer keep the "natural" chart in mind when examining the natal chart. The natural horoscope always has Aries on the Ascendant and all the other signs are in the order of the "natural houses," that is, Taurus on the Second, Gemini on the Third, and so on through Pisces on the Twelfth House. There is always an interplay between the natural and the natal planetary rulers of the signs on the house cusps of the horoscope, and this interplay is a major factor in a more comprehensive understanding of the implications of the chart.
This point is more fully elaborated in Chapter 3. However, as an example, let us say that Capricorn is the sign on the cusp of the Fourth House in the natal chart at birth. This is the natural house of Cancer and its ruler, the Moon. Both of these symbols, Moon and Cancer, will always affect the nature of this house and the outcome of its effects on one's life. When examining the natal Fourth House, the astrologer has to take Saturn into consideration, as he is the ruler of Capricorn. But it is also equally important to study the position of the Moon (by sign, house, and aspect) and the relationship between Saturn (natal ruler) and the Moon (natural ruler) in order to obtain a deeper perception into the effects of the Fourth house in the natus. Planets will always be stronger (for good or ill) when they are in their natural and/or natal house or when the natural/natal planetary rulers are in major aspect with one another. Thus, in the example cited above, it is especially favorable if Capricorn is on the cusp of the Fourth House and the Moon is trine Saturn. But should Saturn square the Moon, look for a definite increase in the challenges associated with the Fourth House in terms of the nature, events, and people associated with this house.
The planetary aspects reveal the "ways" of the chart. They show the energetic pathways of the interconnecting links between the planets. The aspects themselves are energy fields, defined by their geometric nature. Thus, what are called the "easy aspects" (30°, 60°, 72°, and 120°), generally but not always, facilitate the combination of planetary forces. The so-called "hard aspects" (45°, 90°, 135°, 150°, and 180°) often put stumbling blocks along the path. The most intense aspect of all, the conjunction (+/- 0° to 8° between planets) is quite complex in nature. Called a "variable" aspect, it requires an intimate knowledge of planetary powers (and their various mutations through the signs) in order to determine if a particular conjunction will be "easy" or "hard." The effects of primary and secondary dispositorship upon the aspects is fundamental to their total understanding. As Chapters 3, 4, and 5 reveal, it is really impossible to perceive the full effects of these geometric relationships without an examination of the factors of planetary rulership.
The Qualities—Cardinal, Fixed, and Mutable
The three qualities define and express the motion, rhythm, and movement of the energy fields of the signs. The effect of a planet upon the natal chart is strongly conditioned by the quality of its placement. You cannot say that a planet is cardinal, fixed, or mutable, but some planets are able to express their true nature more easily in one of these fields than in the others (see the Summary at the end of this chapter). Other planets are comfortable in two of these modalities, and others in all three of the qualities. Jupiter is expansive and excessive by nature. He is much more "at home" in the mutable signs of exploration and movement than he is in a fixed sign wherein the natural perimeters of fixity serve to restrict and limit Jupiter's need for a life without boundaries.
It might be helpful to use the wheel as a metaphor for the essential meaning of the three qualities of sign energies.
The rim of the wheel represents the cardinal signs (Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn), as it is the outer ring which pushes a cart forward on the road of life.
The hub of the wheel represents the fixed signs (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius), as it holds the entire structure of the wheel together, giving it a central point of power.
The spokes of the wheel are represented by the mutable signs (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces), as they endow the wheel with space, radiation, and dimensionality of expression.
The Elements—Fire, Earth, Air, and Water
The elements define and reveal four additional major principles of manifestation. They speak about texture, focus, and the primary expression contained within the essential nature of the signs. In essence, fire will add vitality and creative impulse, earth will give stability and the urge for physical manifestation, air will endow communication and intelligence, while water contributes sensitivity and resourcefulness. Each of the elements conditions and modifies the natural energetic dynamics of the planets. The results can heighten a planet's potency or debilitate its effectiveness. The hidden ruler or dispositor of any planet in any element, however, may weaken an otherwise seemingly powerful influence or restore the planet's energy to a more harmonious level.
Let us say that the Sun is in Pisces and the Moon is in Taurus in a natal chart; and we shall place Venus and Mercury in Pisces as well and give this individual a sweet Cancer Ascendant. But what is this looming force coming up red and vibrant? It is Mars in Aries, all bright and glorious, having one helluva great time for himself Mars loves his fiery cardinality, but what may be happy for a planet may not be happy for you. And what of our gentle Pisces/ Taurus/Cancer friend? Mars in this case would tend to be a very disruptive force in that otherwise kindly, nurturing, and receptive individual. Yes, I know that many astrology students would think that a naturally passive Pisces/Taurus/Cancer person needs Mars in Aries to give him a little spark and spunk. Although this may indeed be true, to that otherwise docile individual, Mars in Aries may be having a very pugnacious party at the expense of the rest of the chart. The element (fire, earth, air, and water) of planetary placement needs to be fully considered in order to determine the degree of a planet's strength or weakness by sign.
Gender—Male or Female
The gender of a sign reveals its polarity. The male are the fire and air signs (Aries, Gemini, Leo, Libra, Sagittarius, and Aquarius). When planets are placed in any of these six designations, the tendency is for them to be outgoing, assertive, and electrical in nature. When they are placed in the six earth and water female signs (Taurus, Cancer, Virgo, Scorpio, Capricorn, and Pisces), the planets tend to be receptive and magnetic in their expression. The Sun, for example, is most "at home" in the male signs, except in Aquarius, when its rays may become too diffused. Yet when an Aquarian learns how to direct his or her personal, individualized, creative will within a larger social context, the Sun will thrive in the Waterman's domain. The Moon can generally provide more of her nurturing, supportive qualities when in the female signs, except for Scorpio, which indicates the need to release and transform certain patterns of emotional self-expression that inhibit caring and the right use of personal resources. But once the more selfish and possessive dynamics of Scorpio have been truly transmuted, the Moon in this position becomes quite a potent vehicle for healing and restored abundance.
Summary of Planetary Strengths and Weaknesses
Sun: The nature of the Sun is strongest in the cardinal and fixed fire signs (Aries and Leo), weakest when in the water and the mutable signs. It is stronger in Capricorn than either Taurus or Virgo, stronger in Sagittarius than in Gemini. It is also not particularly potent in either Libra or Aquarius. The Sun shines brightest in the First, Fifth, Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh houses, and dimmest in the Third, Fourth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, and Twelfth houses. The Second House placement of the Sun is rather neutral, tending to be more positive than otherwise.
Moon: The Moon is strongest in the earth, female, fixed sign of Taurus and the water, female, cardinal sign of Cancer. She is also very potent in Pisces. She is weakest in all the male signs, especially in Aries, Gemini, Leo, Sagittarius, and Aquarius. She does not do well in Capricorn, and is really tested in Scorpio. The Moon can also be quite happy in Virgo and Libra, but only if the work area provides economic security and emotional satisfaction in the case of the former and when relationship dynamics are fulfilling in the case of the latter. The Moon is at her most potent when in the Second and Fourth houses, weakest in the First and Tenth, neutral to strong when placed in the Fifth, Seventh, Ninth, and Eleventh, and neutral to weak in the Third and Sixth.
Mercury: Mercury is strongest in his own signs, Gemini and Virgo, but does very well in Aquarius, Capricorn, and Aries. He is very adaptable, but tends to work better in the mutable and cardinal signs rather than in the fixed. He likes all the elements except for water. Mercury tends to be weakest in Pisces, Sagittarius, Taurus, Cancer, Scorpio, Libra, and Leo. Mercury likes being in the First, Third, Fifth, Sixth, Tenth, and Eleventh houses. He is least potent in the Twelfth, Fourth, Seventh, and Eighth (in that order), but can do quite well (depending on the sign) in the Second.
Venus: Venus is at her best when in Taurus and Libra and also shines brightly in Cancer and Pisces. She can be quite financially beneficial when well-aspected in Capricorn, and very artistically expressive in Leo. She is out of favor in Aries, Virgo, and Scorpio, and to a somewhat lesser extent in Gemini, Aquarius, and Sagittarius. Venus is content in all of the elements except fire and seems to work well in all three of the sign qualities. Venus is very at home in the Second, Fourth, Fifth, Seventh, and Tenth houses and to a somewhat lesser extent in the Twelfth (where she loses her sense of structure and boundaries—although for those on a more spiritual path in life, this is exactly what needs to happen!). In actuality, she can do well in any of the houses, but the latter are her favorites.
Excerpted from Rulers of the Horoscope by Alan Oken. Copyright © 2000 Alan Oken. Excerpted by permission of Nicolas Hays, Inc..
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