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    The Zodiac | The Planets | About Astrology | Relationship Analysis | Signs

    How to read your Birth Chart   Part Five: The Planets and Aspects

    Your birth chart, or horoscope, is usually shown in the form of a wheel, symbolising the cycles periodically undergone by all living things on this planet. The symbols ("glyphs") displayed stand for the astrological signs, planets and other chart factors representing forces which may affect your life at any given time.

    Each of these astrological factors represents a coded set of drives in your sub-conscious. Drives may be activated and brought to your awareness by circumstances in your life, presenting you with a range of choices. Of course, your choices are to a considerable extent limited and determined by your character, which is itself revealed through an understanding of the symbols that make up the chart.

    The Planets and Aspects

    Each planet symbolises certain sides of your character; for example, Mars stands for action and passion, Jupiter stands for fortune and higher thought and so on. Planets are located symbolically in the chart: the signs and houses filter their energies through the planets, much as a coloured lens filters the image thrown by a stage-light, or received by a camera.

    Planets which are particularly expressive of certain signs are said to rule these signs; a planet whose energies are most powerfully channelled through a certain sign is said to be exalted in that sign. Planets can have a positive (day) or a negative (night) rulership, but only one exaltation. The symbolism is so carefully designed that a planet placed in the opposite sign to its exaltation is found to be weak in the expression of its natural powers and is said to be in fall; planets in the opposite signs to their rulership are also weakly placed and are said to be in detriment. For more on planetary values, click here.

    The Ruling Planet

    The planet which is most strongly placed in your birth-chart is called your Ruling Planet. This is usually the ruler of the ascendant, but could be the ruler of the sign in which the Sun (sun-ruler) or Moon (moon-ruler) is placed, depending on its strength by sign, aspect and elevation. Other powerfully placed planets must also be taken into consideration, for example Saturn in Capricorn conjunct the Mid-Heaven, strongly aspected, would be a candidate for rulership, especially should the other rulers mentioned be weak.


    The movement of the planets around the sphere of the zodiac enables them to interact with each other. Geometrical relationships formed in this way between planets are called aspects; these affect the energies of the planets concerned. Aspects are considered as applying when the faster planet is approaching the slower, or separating, when the faster planet is moving away from the exact, or partile aspect with the slower one. An applying aspect is usually considered more favourable than a separating aspect.

    Should a planet have difficult aspects, or be in an unsympathetic position in the zodiac, it is said to be afflicted; its negative characteristics may be exhibited on occasions in your character. Should it have favourable aspects, its effects may be more beneficial.

    Difficult aspects, being more conducive to personal development, often generate complex results that require considerable interpretation and self-analysis, whereas favourable aspects more often produce simple effects which are easy to understand. In any case, the chart must be viewed as a whole, for the positive and negative characteristics may cancel out, or appear in mitigated forms, according to circumstances depending upon other factors.

    Aspects designated as difficult are
    opposition glyph opposition (180)
    square glyph square (90)
    semisquare glyph semi-square (45)
    sesquisquare glyph sesqui-quadrate (135)
    inconjunct glyph quincunx or inconjunct (150)
    contra-parallel glyph contra-parallel (opposition by declination)
    Favourable aspects are
    trine glyph trine (120)
    sextile glyph sextile (60)
    semisextile glyph semi-sextile (30)
    parallel glyph parallel (conjunction by declination)
    whereas conjunction glyph conjunction (0) may be favourable, difficult, or both, depending to a great degree upon the nature of the planets involved. There are several other minor aspects, but these are not generally used by astrologers in the analysis of nativities, or birthcharts.

    People often worry because they have been told that there are "negative" planets or "adverse" aspects in their charts. In reality, there are no negative planets or adverse aspects, even though some events in life can be difficult, even painful and distressing. This is part of the growth process, which sometimes involves shedding old attachments. It may be painful to make the metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly, but the transformation is not one to be avoided due to fear.

    From a more profound standpoint, all things come to us for our ultimate benefit, generated by the karmic system, which is a purifying and energising process that builds our soul and develops our growth in consciousness. This interlocking system brings our consciousness and our bodies together with events and relationships that, when rightly interpreted, bring love, wisdom and understanding.

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