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The ascendant is the place where everything in your chart begins.

It will define the nature of the first impression you give to others, the planet that rules your chart, aspects of your personality will be coloured by it and how you approach, react and live in the world on the most fundamental level. Through it, you are able to know a lot about a person, almost instantly, even if you have never met or know them only a little….

And because The Ascendant is considered the starting point of your chart, you should see it as the face you show most often to the outside world. The characteristics of this sign will be much more apparent to others than perhaps the deeper, more essential part of you represented by the Sun or the Moon. For example: whether you like small talk at parties, how you introduce yourself to others, are you shy or confident at job interviews, are you charming or abrasive with new acquaintances?  All of this is coloured largely by your Rising sign. Sometimes the Rising sign can easily explain why you feel that people’s first impression of you has nothing at all to do with who you feel you really are, and depending on the relationships (or aspects) that your Ascendant makes to other points, planets and significators in the chart will determine how you are seen by the rest of the world and how you know yourself.

The Rising sign is a brilliant thing to know for horoscope forecasts you will find they suddenly become much more meaningful and accurate when you read this sign instead of your Sun sign.  Try it the next time you read a horoscope and I promise you will be surprised.

And…it will also decide for you which of the planets and its house rulerships has the most influence on you. Very handy stuff to know if you’d like to get a deeper understanding of why you are here on earth and what you’re most likely to do while you are here. The planet that rules your Rising sign will be ruling your chart too. This can show you a lot about what areas of your life will be most important to you. If Venus rules your chart (with a Taurus or Libra Ascendant) then beauty, harmony and balance will be key and depending on the sign and house that Venus is in, this will show you what part of your life must have beauty, harmony and balance the most! Or, if Pluto rules your chart (Scorpio Ascendant) then it will be all about power, regeneration and all things taboo.  To see more about the charateristics of your Rising sign, check out Cafe Astrology’s article.

Briefly, here are the planetary rulerships in Astrology (traditonal and modern) so you can see what planet rules your chart.

Aries – ruled by Mars, Taurus – ruled by Venus, Gemini – ruled by Mercury, Cancer – ruled by The Moon, Leo – ruled by The Sun, Virgo – ruled by Mercury, Libra – ruled by Venus, Scorpio – co-ruled by Pluto/Mars, Sagittarius – ruled by Jupiter, Capricorn – ruled by Saturn, Aquarius – ruled by Uranus, Pisces – co-ruled by Neptune/Jupiter.

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What can you say about Pluto that hasn’t been said before? The answer is not much. But there is much more to this planet than death, endings and all-out destruction which is often attributed to be caused by transits, progressions and aspects from this planet.

Thinking on Pluto and his influence is a bit like the debate of whether the cup is half-full or half-empty. For people who don’t enjoy change (i.e. the fixed signs) then I can see why the Pluto is the absolute worst, inspiring fear and agony in his wake. But for the more open-minded, flexible signs (i.e. everyone else) he is a necessary pain that periodically comes along to change your focus, switch direction and find things that are more meaningful in your life.  Pluto, as Lord of the Underworld, brings that which is hidden, in shadow or denied to light. Pluto cannot be doing with things being pushed under the carpet, he is adamant that everything must be faced at some point, nothing and no one is exempt.

Like a ruthless spring clean, Pluto comes along and asks you ‘Do you really need that?’ but even deeper than that he can show you things in your life that you didn’t even suspect were there. So, by making you cleaning out your closets, reveals an entire new section of your home that you never knew of and it contains long-lost parts of yourself that you had long forgotten or never even met.

Now, do not misunderstand me, nobody will ever really enjoy a Pluto visit because his method is to ask you a few times ‘Do you need that?’, ‘Don’t you need to change something?’, ‘Isn’t something missing?’ and if you’re unaware of what is to come, you do nothing still. But, sometimes weeks and months later, if you haven’t taken the time to look at what he means he will come along and burn your house down (metaphorically speaking). 

Then you can really see that you had no need of those things and, in fact, they have been holding you back from your true path all this time and its because you didn’t want your house burned down and it was your worst fear to lose everything that Pluto visits are almost transcendentally painful. It takes time before you can see clearly through the smoke to the phoenix rising from the ashes; stronger, faster, better. Your only choice is to rebuild what was destroyed and now because you have experienced his decimation first-hand, you build it differently with more support and a much, much stronger structure so it limits the amount that can be destroyed next time.

When Pluto is working positively, he removes the things that we couldn’t face leaving ourselves but after the shock has worn off we can appreciate that it had to happen. When working negatively or not very well integrated into the birth chart, he violently destroys something we thought was precious and forever without explanation or remorse. Its worse at these times because its only when things get taken out of hands and its all raging house fire infernos that can make us feel this is the end of us – that’s Pluto. Best to take a look at your own chart and see what areas of your life does he rule?

All of this said, I have to say that I have great respect for Pluto and having experience some of his more ruthless and soul-destroying transits I now appreciate that by forcing you to look closer and face facts he keeps things in perspective. Rebuilding yourself periodically only makes you realise that once you’ve lost everything some of the fear goes away and you can face anything! What does not kill you only makes you quicker to see the sniper in the tank next time….

Have any of you experienced Pluto recently? His move last year from Sagittarius into Capricorn has caused a lot of change around us and many may have found last year less than stellar as a result. If you do have something to share, please post a comment.

The first thing you need to know about Neptune is that she is sneaky. The queen of things that do not make sense, those not of the real world. She is more accustomed to the ‘other’ parts of our world. That sneaky sixth sense that will be the first thing to tell you that something in your environment is not quite right, that’s Neptune working for you.

Neptune, wherever it falls in the birth chart, is a very confusing and elusive thing to explain how this planet contributes to your personality. Often called the planet of confusion, illusion and delusion, Neptune cannot be easily pinned into one particular characteristic but I would say that people with strong Neptune influence in their birthcharts are likely to be referred to as ‘a bit vague’ or ‘dippy’ but it also gives these people fantastic sixth sense and many are very intuitive or even, a little psychic. Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter series is an excellent characterisation of a strongly Neptune person.

To better explain Neptune’s influence, it is like a cloying, grey fog has descended on that part of yourself. This mean that whatever it is your family, love, money, career you will never really see it clearly (or you will see parts but not the entire picture) and perhaps live in a fantasy land of self-delusion that everything is hunky-dory until for a random instant, the fog lifts and you see the ugly decaying truth of it all and it is heartbreaking. 

Neptune shows where you are most vulnerable to being deceived, by yourself and others. And by sign will likely show how you can best be fooled.  It shows where and how we will experience soul crushing disappointment when all is revealed and things are not how they seemed. Neptune likes us to put things on pedestal and they longer they sit there the more likely they are to fall from a very great height. Like the end of the Honeymoon period, or when the rose-tinted glasses shatter without warning, that’s Neptune doing her thing too.

In fact, Neptune is considered a magnified version of the love planet, Venus (in Astrology Neptune is called the Higher Octave of love and beauty, for those playing at home) and it is purely because Neptune is responsible for the unconditional, self-sacrificing, I-will-do-anything-martyr type of LOVE made popular by people like Mother Teresa, Gandhi and Audrey Hepburn. In the chart, Neptune will show the most selfless part of you and your life. Which does lead to trouble when you put a selflessness someone into a relationship where one partner is less honest and more likely to take everything and run. Many a broken heart is the cause of Neptune’s idolised LOVE going all the way wrong.

Keeping in mind all of the above, Neptune’s place in the chart is where you have to be more aware, a bit more realistic (almost cynical) than you will with other parts because if you aren’t you will find that when the fog lifts and you see things as they really are; you are likely to be disappointed.  

So best to find Neptune in your chart and think on how you idolise that part of yourself, your life or others? Once you are aware, you can easily be more prepared and not so easily fall under Neptune’s spell again.

I realised that before I write a series of articles on the meaning of each planet and what they can bring to your birth chart I thought I’d better do a quick run through of the different groups and how they operate.

The Luminaries – The Sun & The Moon

These two are the giant lights in your birth chart with the Sun shining a spotlight on whatever part in falls and by sign, how that spotlight is used. And the Moon is your sanctuary part of the chart and shows by house and by sign how we emote and refuel from interactions with the outside world.

The Personal Planets – Mercury, Venus & Mars

These three planets show how you think (Mercury), value (Venus) and act (Mars) with yourself and to others. All three of these planets motivations should be fairly well known and make up much of what you say you are to others. i.e. ‘I’m really shy’, ‘I like to think things over’, ‘It takes me two seconds to fall in love’.  

The Outer Planets – Chiron, Jupiter & Saturn

These two are the bridge between what we know about ourselves and the other, more unconscious drives and actions.

Saturn has a lot to do with how you use and view authority and structure. Its also where you will find the limitation in your chart. Saturn restricts and delays.

Jupiter is the total opposite – wherever it sits in the chart that is where good things happen, where things are always growing, expanding. Jupiter is much about how we learn, teach and give ourselves to others.

Chiron is the psychic wound. It is where we can be hurt the most. It shows the hang-up that you have and will try to cover up as much as possible. But it can also show our healing powers and how we can help others to help ourselves.   

The Transcendental Planets – Uranus, Neptune & Pluto

These three planets function the chart but we won’t really understand them or consciously acknowledge it. They rule those bits of ourselves that are unpredictable, confusing and largely out of our control.

Uranus is where we like things to be constantly changing. Depending on sign and house placements it will show how we rebel, how we react to changes and what is unconventional about us.  

Neptune is our ability to fool ourselves. It is all about confusion, illusion and delusion. It is one of the most difficult planets to really understand in the chart. Where Neptune falls is where we see only what we want to and can blithely ignore the real facts even if they right in front of us. But it is also about how and where we express selfless, unconditional love.

Pluto, where it falls in the chart, shows what parts of our lives we will find in phoenix cycles of death and rebirth. Pluto brings transformation so depending  on the house in the chart you will find that part of yourself or your life will end and start again periodically. It is difficult not to see it as negative but actually most of what is killed off or destroyed was unnecessary and detrimental to your well being, even if you can’t appreciate it at the time. Pluto was made for the maxim ‘what does not kill us only makes us stronger’.

Uranus, wherever he falls in your natal chart, is a bit like that slightly mad, suspect Unkle who turns up unexpectedly for a holiday in your calm peacful family home. He will be exciting – sharing his crazy plans and far-out ideas and tell you wild stories of the adventures he’s had! What fun. He’s so charming, so exciting, so interesting.  

But…he will also stir things up so much that nobody staying with him will ever feel entirely safe or comfortable. He will insult, inspire, upset and innovative all of the things that you didn’t know were wrong around the house and in your relationships. He will want to change everthing around, even if it was all working ok.

Many Astrologers will tell you that Pluto is the planet with the most destructiveness and I agree, to a point, but Pluto moves soooo slowly that he is very easy to see and you can kind of plan for things to be destroyed and get ready to re-build even before he actually arrives. So that’s manageable.

But Uranus? He’s an entirely different kettle of fish. He also moves quite slowly but for some reason very little happens then suddenly BOOM! He will bring rapid, momumental changes. I think of Uranus coming across any part of your natal chart is a bit like starting work with a mad scientist. You will be asked to do crazy things, you will not know why you are doing these things and its only after you’ve quit or left (or gone on the lamb) that you will actually appreciate that the new skills and tricks you have had to learn to survive were for a reason!

Mad, bad and unpreditable – that’s Uranus – and don’t even get me started on his current lock horns opposite with the Lord of Karma, Saturn. 2009 – 2010 the years where these heavyweights play ‘Who’s really in charge here?’ is bound to change things in ways we can’t even see right now. But you can bet with Uranus in the mix it will be anything but predictable…

Astrology in Web 2.0

Today I stumbled across the coolest thing! I was bored, procrastinating the work from my other job and naturally that meant surfing around YouTube….

Whether you believe it or not, I think there is something behind a lot of the things that happen to us (although the jury is still out on whether they are good or just having a laugh at our expense). So trawling through the useless stuff on YouTube I found Barabara Goldsmith’s channel where she publishes monthly video forecasts for each sign and some other really useful topics, like money and financial promise in the natal chart. If you like to go see, here is her link: http://www.youtube.com/user/barbaragoldsmith (her website is: www.yourastrologysigns.com)

I found the forecast for 2009, an overview of the major planetary movements really interesting and even though I had already looked over them, it was nice to hear that I had come to the same conclusions as she had…sort of. 

Watch her clip about the changing environment for 2009 – 2010 and you’ll see how she’s explained the big changes ahead.

Your Moon Sign

There’s a web like a spider’s web
Made of silver light and shadows
Spun by the moon in my room last night
It’s a web made to catch a dream
Hold it tight ’til I awaken
As if to tell me my dream is all right

~ Traditional Folk Song

Just as the Sun falls in a certain sign in your chart so too will the moon. Generally the Moon Sign will be a big factor in how you relate to yourself, to others and your environment.  I think its important to know as much about your Moon sign as you do about your Sun because you will find that in times of trouble and upset, your Moon is likely to take control.

If, for example, you have the Sun in an Air sign but the Moon in Earth and someone says something offensive to you or you hear that someone said hurtful things behind your back then it will the Moon Sign that rules in your reactions.

One of the best things I ever read was that you can use your Moon to heal yourself. It sounds kooky, but it’s actually really simple. Depending on what’s happened and where you Moon is located in your chart you may find that going back to your Moon after tough times is the quickest way to feel better.

Fire Moons: Get active, go out and express yourself. Do something creative, something that makes you feel alive and a brighter spark in the world.

Earth Moons: Reconnect with nature and your place in it. Go for a long beach walk, a warm bubble bath, listen to some music, have some lovely food and wine. Use all of your senses in all that you do.

Air Moons: Communicate and socialise. Make plans to see friends and talk it all out. Write in a journal to yourself, without censoring anything. Start reading something that you realy like again – books, magazines, newspapers, blogs.

Water Moons: Wallow in your feelings. Sounds daft but if you let all the emotion swirl around and then release it through meditation or relaxing activities you’ll find it eases. Go swimming, the roar or the water will drown out those overwhelming feelings. Use your intuition to feel how to heal.  

It doesn’t matter what you do, just be kind to your Moon Sign and it will love you back tenfold.

For a deeper look at what your Moon sign is in your chart, take a look at this clip from Annabel Burton interview. I think it’s a good explanation of how the Moon drives your emotions in your natal chart.