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An Introduction to the Planets and Houses in Traditional Astrology

by Sue Ward

The following is a brief introduction to the rulerships of the planets, or rather, the things and matters with which they are associated, these are listed in the same order as in Christian Astrology, that is, from slowest to fastest (average speeds) and in their distance from the Earth. This order is important and should be noted, you will find that it recurs many times throughout your reading. The new planets will be dealt with separately.


Of the traditional scheme, Saturn is the farthest removed from the Sun and therefore the coldest, darkest planet. Remembered by us as Old Father Time and the Grim Reaper, he represents the aging process and finally death. So, as the Sun represents life, Saturn represents death. In the summer, in the Sun's full light, we wear fewer clothes and are more active. During the cold and dark of winter we are restricted in all our activities and are prone to illness. It is a miserable time and thus Saturn is associated with all things connected with winter. Where the Sun is vigorous, Saturn is weary, where the Sun brings the land alive, Saturn puts it into a state of hibernation.

Saturn is cold and dry, diurnal and masculine. It is known as the greater malefic because of its extreme coldness and dryness, Lilly depicts this planet as the author of loneliness and malevolence. It rules things like restriction, falls (whether physical or metaphorical), old men, hard work, austerity, delay, poverty, loss, heaviness. It is associated with construction and therefore, buildings and the land. It rules the father in a night time chart, that is, a chart set for a moment after the sun has set and before it has risen.


This planet has a warmer nature than Saturn but is not as hot as Mars, with the addition of moisture it is fertile and thus beneficial to the Earth, and is known as the greater benefic. From this planet all good things come, it can be pictured as the Santa Claus planet, avuncular, jolly, moderate and kind.

Its nature is temperately hot and moist, it is masculine and diurnal. Because of its moderation and temperance it rules things like justice and the law. It is associated with the Church and religion, with indulgence, generosity, wealth, honesty and morality. It is a planet of freedom, tolerance and plenty.


Known as the god of war, it is generally associated with armed aggression and, therefore, bloody slaughter. In Mars we find great physical energy and the symbolism of fighting, argument, hostility and hotheaded action. Its nature is hot and dry, it is a masculine and nocturnal planet and known as the lesser malefic. It represents soldiers and weapons, in fact any cutting implement and so associates with surgeons and blood. It is a planet of boldness, courage, competitiveness and connects with violence, anger and murder. Mars obviously associates with fire and heat and so things that are of fire and heat (not all, because the Sun also has certain rulerships in this regard).


The Giver of Life and the supreme lord of the heavens, we know him from history as the Sun God, the ultimate authority in all matters. His light bathes us in warmth and well-being and brings darkness to an end. If you are in any doubt about this symbolism then consider how you feel on a grey, winter's day when the nights are long, or when you have spent a sleepless night struggling with a problem - everything takes on a different appearance in the light of a sunny day.

A masculine and diurnal planet with a hot and dry nature, but more temperate than Mars. The power of the Sun is so great that we cannot look at it without protecting our eyes and if we expose ourselves to its beams for too long in the summer, we are burned. So the Giver of Life can also be damaging to life, which is plain to see in the desert. In the heavens also, any planet which comes near to the Sun is burned up (combust) and loses its identity to the power of the Sun, unless it is so close that it is as one with it (cazimi), then the planet partakes of the power and nature of the Sun.

The Sun has special significance for kings, but also any person in overall authority. So, in a question about your employer, the Sun would have relevance, as it would in a question about the nation's leader, whether royalty or not. It symbolises the person in authority over the questioner, whether the query is a personal one or not. From this it can be said to represent power. Glory is also associated with the Sun and so, success. It represents the father in a day time chart, that is, a chart calculated for a moment after sunrise and before sunset.


The goddess of love and beauty, you will, no doubt, be able to think of many things that might fall under the rulership of this peaceful planet. Where Mars uses physical force, Venus seduces and persuades. All things that are pleasant and leisurely are symbolised by Venus.

Venus is temperately cold and moist, feminine and nocturnal and known as the lesser benefic. Her domain is music, art, games, dancing, acting and all things that are used for adornment or ornamentation, such as, perfumes, cosmetics, jewellery and fine fabrics. As Lady Luck she has special significance for gamblers. A feminine planet, Venus generally represents women, especially young women and Venus symbolises the mother in a day time chart.


We recall Mercury as the messenger of the gods, renowned for his speed, there are several commercial concerns that have used his name (or that of the Greek equivalent, Hermes) for a product or business name. Travel companies and newspapers immediately spring to mind, in Britain a telephone company has emerged trading under the name of this planet. So, it isn't difficult to guess which matters fall under its rulership. Most students find this planet the least difficult to understand, which might be because its symbolism is still in evidence.

Mercury's nature is cold and dry, but not as much as Saturn. It is said to be a neutral planet, that is, one of no gender, but this is not strictly correct. Mercury used to be described as 'common', meaning that it has both sexes, it can be one or the other. It will partake of the gender of the planet it most closely associates with in any given chart. This also applies to deciding whether it is diurnal or nocturnal. Mercury associates with children before puberty and through this connects with tricks and jokes, youthfulness and lightheartedness.

It rules all forms of communication, for example telephone calls, letters, speech. This planet is mobile and intellectual, it rules the sciences and so, astrology and curiosity, the mind, manner of thought and travel. It is also associated with merchants, commerce and mental pursuits. Wheeling and dealing would fall under Mercury's rule as would lying and cheating.


The fastest of all the planets and the second luminary, which of us hasn't been fascinated by the Moon. We are aware of its rapidly changing appearance and its effect on tidal motion, of them all this is the body with which we are most conversant. The Moon depends for its light on the Sun and when the Sun has set, we rely on this reflected light, at least we did before artificial light was in general use. When the Moon is new it cannot be seen, there is no light in the sky. The view of 'light equals life' was prominent in ancient times, so the period of the New Moon was treated with caution and fear by the ancient peoples; an eclipse was a time of dread. The symbolism is still valid, borne out by the great media interest shown when there is an important eclipse due. There aren't many who would willingly choose complete darkness. When walking at night with no street lighting, no passing traffic and no nearby town to illuminate your surroundings, you too would be grateful for moonlight and if there was none, you would probably think twice about venturing out.

The Moon's nature is cold and moist, it is feminine and nocturnal. Its rulership covers such things as change and fluctuation, inconstancy, menstruation, queens, sailors, harbours, the common people, the electorate, beaches, pools and mirrors, because they reflect. It shows the action in a horary chart through its greater speed and its role as intermediary between the planets and the Earth. It is connected with liquids and rules the mother in a night time chart.

Lunar Nodes

The North Node is said to be benefic and have the nature of Jupiter and Venus and the South Node is said to be malefic and have the nature of Saturn and Mars.

The New Planets

Little is known about the trans-Saturnians, at least, little that can be shown to be consistent. Therefore, they are to be used with caution and, in most instances, secondary to the seven traditional planets. At the beginning of this century, some tried to include them into the traditional scheme, it is our opinion that they have not done this with any success and these planets should be treated separately. It might be worth thinking again about what astrology is: a geocentrically based system, it is about how the heavens appear to us on Earth, not how they are in astronomical reality. Therefore, since these planets can't be seen with the naked eye, thus have no 'rays', would they have been accepted into the scheme had the ancients known about them? However, it would be wrong to discount them entirely, although in most cases they seem to have little relevance.

Most modern books on horary astrology carry their supposed signification. I recommend caution when using these planets and in any case, as I have already mentioned, you will find that there are very few charts where the new planets do more than add information or description to the main significators.

The Houses

It is very important to note that each house extends from 5 degrees before its cusp, to 25 degrees beyond (that is, up to 5 degrees before the cusp of the next house). It is a rule which is sometimes disputed because little is known about how it was derived, but all writers from at least Ptolemy on state this as the rule.

The following list is intended as a guide to house correspondences, in order that you begin to understand their fundamental quality.

1st house

The querent in any question.

The body. To a certain extent, the physical description of the querent.

Anyone with whom the querent identifies or represents in the matter, for example, in a question such as, Will my local team win the competition? The 1st house would represent the team.

It is an angular house.

2nd house

The querent's resources, that is their money and their moveable possessions.

From this house information is obtained relating to the potential wealth or poverty of the querent.

It is a succeedent house.

3rd house

The querent's brothers and sisters, neighbours, relatives.

Communications of all sorts, including rumours.

Short distance travel, this is defined as a journey which can be completed within one or two days at most. Overseas journeys are a matter for the 9th house, regardless of how long the trip takes.

It is a cadent house.

4th house

The end of all things, often termed 'the end of the matter', and also the grave.

The source of all things, therefore the father of the querent.

The land, mining, agriculture and other resources of the earth.

Immoveable possessions, such as houses and buildings.

It is an angular house.

5th house

The querent's children and pregnancy.

Pleasure, sport, hobbies, all activities done for pleasure.

Agents and ambassadors.

Gambling and speculation.

As the 2nd house from the 4th, it rules the moveable possessions of the father.

It is a succeedent house.

6th house

The querent's illnesses, employees, tenants.

It is often said that this is the house of service, however, it has more to do with servitude.

It represents small animals, up to the size of a goat.

It is a cadent house.

7th house

The opposite house to the ascendant, it rules the partner (business or marriage) and contracts.

Open enemies and thus the thief.

In its opposition to the ascendant, the querent's body, it poses a threat to the querent and so is connected with war and death.

Contests and therefore the opponent, including legal battles.

8th house


The partner's money or moveable possessions (the 2nd house from the 7th).


Unexpected inheritance.

Money that might be owed to you.

It is a succeedent house.

9th house

Long distance travel.

Foreign countries and all foreign matters.

Deeper learning and thus advanced education.

It was anciently the House of the Sun God and so rules religion, clergymen and the church.

Dreams and visions of all kinds (not including 'day dreams', more to do with the 11th house).

See 10th house representations below, regarding lawyers. It is a cadent house.

10th house

The querent's occupation, whether professional or not.

Success, honour, status, achievement.

Any person in authority over the querent.

The king or queen belong to this house or any national leader.

As the opposite house to the 4th, it rules the mother.

Lilly gives lawyers to this house, but on pages 403 to 404 and page 630 of Christian Astrology
he attributes them to the 9th, this latter is usually followed.

It is an angular house.

11th house

A resource of the 10th (2nd from the 10th), it shows the resources of the person in command.

Ambition, hopes and wishes, assistance, comfort and relief.

Trust, praise and friends.

It is a succeedent house.

12th house

Secret enemies, witches, slaves, captives, prisons.

Places of retreat like monasteries, and hospitals.

It signifies large animals, over the size of a goat.

It is a cadent house.

Back to Sue Ward's Index

22 February 1996
1995 Sue Ward

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