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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at JMU chapter.

Wanting to understand more of your natal chart? Or maybe you just want more information about astrology? You’ve come to the right place! As a disclaimer, I don’t claim to be a professional astrologer (although I do wish to be one day), but I really do love the pseudoscience of astrology, and I’ve learned a lot over my research from the last few years. I love to help others learn how to understand their own charts, and hopefully help them enjoy astrology as much as I do!

Before we get started, if you don’t know your birth chart information, here are some resources to start! I like to use horoscopes.astro-seek.com and/or astro.cafeastrology.com for reading charts. And if you want to learn more about how to read your chart, read my previous article about it here!

So, you probably are already familiar with the 8 planets of the solar system that we learned about in elementary school – Sun, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. These are also all the planets that are also used in your birth chart, just with the addition of Pluto and Earth’s Moon.

Your Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn are considered your “personal” planets, as they are the ones that vary the most between person to person because they are moving quickly in the sky, therefore coming in and out of astrological placements pretty fast. However, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto are considered your “generational” planets as they take a very long time to move through astrological placements while they travel around the Sun, making people born in a certain handful of years, all sharing a collective sign. For example, Pluto takes around 248 years to complete a full orbit around the Sun, which means that each generation shares a common Pluto placement: Millennials were born in 1983-1995, all sharing a Pluto in Scorpio, Gen Z were born between 1996-2008, all sharing Pluto in Sagittarius, etc.

Disclaimer: I’ll be using these understandings of signs and planets through the lens of modern astrology!

As far as personal planets go, it’s only natural we start with the Sun, the center of the solar system. The Sun is one half of what we know to be the luminary planets (the other half being the Moon) and it rules the astrological sign of Leo! The role this planet plays in the chart is certainly a big one, which is why most people really only know this placement in their chart. Think of the Sun as your ego, your center, the core of what makes you, you. However, many don’t really feel connected to their sun sign given what they’ve probably seen on Instagram or other social media where there are too many inaccurate stereotypes being spread of what their Sun signs actually represent. I have a personal beef with “Sun sign Instagram” for this reason, as I think their descriptions of the zodiac are part of what make people so turned off by astrology in the first place. But just understand this: your ego is not the only thing that gives you individuality, which is why your Sun sign – while a very important placement – is only part of the bigger picture that is your birth chart.

The other half of the luminary planets – the Moon – rules Cancer. Cancer’s reputation as the Mother of the Zodiac is all thanks to the Moon’s energetic influence. Representing your private emotional side, your relationship with your mother, fertility/pregnancy, as well as how you express yourself when you’re alone and comfortable, that title for Cancer is very suitable. All water signs are generally considered the more emotional signs and because of that, they have a special connection with the Moon. Cancer, feels like they have a certain connection to it in particular, since sitting in the Moon is their natural condition, sometimes they are calmed just by looking at the water. This can be tied to the Moon’s role in controlling the tides of the ocean. Those drifting tides can also be thought of as the rising and falling of your moods and emotions, a steady fluctuation that is controlled by the Moon.

Mercury is the next planet, and it is also the smallest planet. Ruling Virgo and Gemini, it is known for its expertise in communication, thought, and logical thinking. People with heavy mercurial influence (i.e., having a lot of Virgo and/or Gemini placements and/or having a Gemini/Virgo rising) are usually very witty individuals who value intellect. Since Mercury is so small, think of it energetically as being very “light” on its feet, moving around all over the place with ease, in the same way that our thoughts also move very quickly.

Venus comes after Mercury, ruling Libra and Taurus. Representing love, relationships, what you attract and what attracts you, as well as what you look for in intimate partners (whatever that means for you, romantic or otherwise). People with a strong Venusian influence (i.e., having a lot of Libra and/or Taurus placements and/or a Libra/Taurus rising) are usually very beautiful people who value beauty in every aspect of their life – luxury is appreciated, and aesthetics are very important. With this emphasis on aesthetics and the material, money is also important to Venusians, so get that bag!

Mars is probably one of my favorite signs (and also my chart ruler, so maybe I’m biased) and rules the zodiac signs of Aries. Mars is the planet of passion, determination, power, and confidence. With Aries being the leader of the zodiac, it doesn’t take much to understand why, with Mars as its ruler. Martian individuals (i.e., those with a lot of Aries placements and/or have an Aries rising) are seen by others as strong, self-assured, natural leaders, and known to work hard for what they want. Being assertive and taking control of your desires is the key here, but make sure to not steamroll over other opportunities and people in the heat of your pursuit. Sometimes passion can very quickly turn into anger and become destructive. Remember, moderation is important.

Jupiter is next in the solar line-up, ruling Sagittarius. Known for being the biggest planet in our solar system, it’s only natural it would represent expansion or growth. Creativity, abundance, and optimism are its other areas of expertise. Individuals with a strong Jupiterian influence (i.e., having a lot of Sagittarius placements and/or have a Sagittarius rising) in their chart are natural leaders with a creative streak. They are innately generous people and luck seems to follow them wherever they go as Jupiter also rules good fortune.

If the Moon is considered the mother of the Planets, then Saturn is the Father. Since it rules Capricorn, this makes Capricorns the dad of the Zodiac. Saturn values tradition, structure, discipline, and responsibility. It also says a lot about the relationship you have with your father! Those with substantial Saturnian influence (i.e., those with a lot of Capricorn placements and/or have a Capricorn rising) are very concerned with doing the right thing and living by their strong ethics. They are hardworking and disciplined individuals who know the value of applying themselves. They can become very critical of themselves though if they don’t perform to their own high standards or feel like they’re fulfilling their responsibilities the way they want.

Moving into the generational planets of the birth chart, Uranus is the first one up. Ruling Aquarius, this planet represents eccentricity, reformation, rebellion, and a tendency to do what is unexpected of them. Aquarians are known for priding themselves on being “not like other girls” and so this direct energetic signature from Uranus is quite obvious. Uranians (i.e., those with a lot of Aquarius placements and/or have an Aquarius rising) are very much opposite to those with heavy Sun influence – they don’t care for being liked. In fact, if you don’t like them, or accuse them of living outside what is considered the status quo, they will know they’re doing something right.

Neptune is next, ruling Pisces. The planet of imagination, mysticism, dreams, and intuition. The water sign, Pisces, uses these in their pursuit of escapism, whatever form that may take. For healthy Neptunians (i.e., those with a lot of Pisces placements and/or have a Pisces rising), this can manifest in a creative outlet like writing or in a pursuit of knowledge with education. For unhealthy Neptunians, addiction is the form that it can take. Regardless, this desire for escapism and imagination can be all consuming for those with heavy Neptune influence. With this intense (sometimes burdensome) sense of intuition, spirituality plays a role in their connection to themselves and those around them, as well.

Pluto is last, but certainly not least – the dwarf planet has a special place in all our hearts. It rules Scorpio, with an emphasis on transformation, death, rebirth, and power. Those with a heavy Plutonian influence (i.e., having a lot of Scorpio placements and/or have a Scorpio rising) in their chart are usually accused of being intense and obsessive. But since it rules both death and rebirth, a lot of their traits are contradictions that exist within themselves. Plutonians desire intimacy with the self and other people so acutely, but are often the most likely to deny it to themselves. They seek power and control, but in the same vein, feel powerless and out of control most of the time. Their personalities and mindsets are very complex, and are very confusing to others – and often to themselves, as well. However, these individuals have a strong desire to continue to improve themselves and find who they really are which is great for making a better-self, but can too easily become self-destructive if it goes too far. Moderation is key when it comes to transformation.

I hope that these descriptions were helpful in understanding more about the planets in astrology. I really enjoy learning about astrology and helping other people learn about it too. Now, go, my pupils, and read those birth charts!

Alexa is a Communications major and a Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies minor.