The Astrological Alphabet

There are 12 Signs and 12 Houses in the horoscope, together with a number of Planets.  Various attempts have been made to correlate the Planets with the Signs and Houses.   It is important to note that Planets, Signs and Houses are not interchangeable.  Planets could be said to represent psychological drives, while the Signs show how these drives are expressed, and the Houses show which areas of life are highlighted.  The Aspects show how well the planets cooperate or interfere with each other.   The traditional rulerships are given in the table below, as I do not want to mislead any newcomers to Astrology.  If you are quite happy with these rulerships - please read no further!

Traditional Rulerships





Aries 1


Taurus 2


Gemini 3


Cancer 4


Leo 5


Virgo 6


Libra 7


Scorpio 8


Sagittarius 9


Capricorn 10


Aquarius 11


Pisces 12


I go on to explore a rather different way of looking at the 12 principles that make up the astrological alphabet.  One of the delights of Astrology is that no two Astrologers seem to agree on everything, so I offer my own version of the rulerships.  The approach is not at all rigorous, but is designed to stimulate reflection on the whole business of rulerships, and the possible correspondences between Planets, Signs and Houses.  Of course my perceptions may be influenced by some of my own planetary placements!

Outward Bound (1 - 4) The Superego


The Lighthouse - Jupiter Sagittarius First House Quintiles

(1)  The Lighthouse

Where are we likely to go today?  The answer is often governed by the First House, and particularly by the Ascendant.  This represents our initial approach to life, an approach which we experience as having been fostered and encouraged by early authority figures in our lives.  Any planet in the first house, especially if it is in conjunction with the Ascendant, will function strongly, since the same sense of inner permission to express that planet will be in evidence.

The light-house reminds us to look at our lives with 360 degree vision from time to time.  While the Ascendant represents an all-important gateway to life's experiences, we need to look at all the other facets of our personalities to make the most of our potential.  Jupiter is the natural ruler of the First House, in my experience, and Sagittarian Ascendants are often a blessing.   

(2)  The Guard Dog

Good old Saturn, ruler of the Second House.  The boundary between meum and tuum, possessions, (physical or metaphorical), and how well we defend them.  We all have a guard-dog within us - usually trained by our authority figures.  Sometimes we never give the animal a good home, and we even try to get other people to deal with him.  I suppose that's OK if you want to be restricted by other people's rules instead of forming your own.  We all have Saturn and Capricorn somewhere in our charts!

The Guard Dog - Saturn Capricorn Second House Sextiles

The Neighbourhood - Uranus Aquarius Third House Septiles

(3)  The Neighbourhood

We think we have started to understand the lessons of Jupiter and Saturn, but then we get to know the neighbourhood and the community - and the rules don't always hold!  We need Uranus, Third House ruler, to help us to put Saturn's rules into context as we explore the immediate world around us, talking to strangers at school and encountering new experiences.  We could all sometimes do with a wise old man with a map, a good grandfather figure to educate us along the way.  Uranus and planets in Aquarius or the 3rd House can help us to achieve this necessary overview. 

(4)  The Slipway

And what of Neptune, natural ruler of Pisces and the Fourth House, the planet that rules the Sea and our emotional roots?  Just as Uranus balances Saturn in our Conscience Structure, so Neptune balances Jupiter within the Freudian Ego-Ideal.  Why has everyone been so kind (or unkind) to me?  What must I give out (e-mote) in return?  Neptune is known as the planet of illusion, and it's easy to get sucked into  actions based on perceived obligations, rather than on reality-based projections.  This can lead to great imagination and creativity or, more negatively, to escapism and emotional insecurity.   

The Slipway - Neptune Pisces Fourth House Semisquares


The Other Side (5 - 8) The Id


The Game - Pluto Aries Fifth House Noviles

(5)  The Game

If the Superego giant planets can be difficult, the Id planets are quite spontaneous and they are beyond conscious control.  Do not resist Pluto, which gives a compulsive quality to any planet it aspects.  As ruler of Aries and the 5th House, Pluto is raw personal power, the unconscious Fire planet.  We all need Pluto to keep us going forward, even when we are tired and do not want to go any further.  Make a friend of Pluto, and you will find hidden depths of energy to help you to win the game.  Project your Pluto power onto others and you will be too scared to come onto the field, or you will be trodden down once you get there!

(6)  The Jungle

Planet Earth, ruler of Taurus and the Sixth House?  Why not?  Work and Health, the traditional attributes of the 6th are closely involved with the practicalities of daily living, and it is not long ago that the ability to work and the ability to stay healthy were strongly interlinked.  Despite state aid for the poor and the sick, this is still largely the case.  Life can be tough and unfair, and work can be stressful for health. If anyone does not believe that life at work resembles life in the Jungle, they are quite fortunate!  Perceptiveness and rapid responses are an advantage here.  Small animals come under the 6th - hence the obligatory cat - somewhat startled!

The Jungle - The Planet Earth Taurus Sixth House Deciles

The Maze - Planet Zed Gemini Seventh House Undeciles

(7)  The Maze

The Seventh House - traditionally marriage and close partnerships.  Reasonable symbolism for Gemini, (the twins), but not for Mercury.  Planet Zed, a hypothetical planet beyond Pluto, is a more likely contender for ruler of Gemini and the 7th.  Indeed as Zed trundles slowly through the signs of the zodiac, the nature of partnerships changes, and this gives a clue to Zed's whereabouts in the sky, but I digress, (rather like Planet Zed, ruler of my Gemini ascendant).

Thinking is abstract enough in itself, and unconscious or Id-type thinking is difficult to describe.  I find the best way to understand it is to regard it as being similar to De Bono's Lateral Thinking.  Ideas do not follow a logical sequence, but take place in jumps - the gaps are filled in later.  So what has this got to do with partnerships?  Well, other people are very "other" indeed sometimes!  Venus and Uranus, the other Air planets, can only cope so far with evaluating this otherness.  Planet Zed, like the other Id planets works very quickly, and can provide an initial "OK" or "not OK" evaluation of other people.

(8)  The Church

The Moon comes and goes - literally, waxing and waning.  Feelings come and go too.  The Moon, Cancer and the Eighth House are all to do with things that come and go.  The ebb and flow of life.  Birth, marriage, death, probate.  Beginnings and Endings, the natural flow of things.  Filling and Emptying - the Tao of the 8th House.  If Neptune is feelings we have been conditioned to feel, (and to that extent illusory), the Moon brings feelings direct from the soul.  In every ending there is a beginning.  The Moon has short cycles, and long cycles.  They come and go.  One of the most beautiful cycles to observe is the march of the Lunar Nodes, but you have to be patient!  

The Church - The Moon Cancer Eighth House Inconjuncts


The Return (9-12) The Ego


The Journey - The Sun Leo Ninth House Conjunctions

(9)  The Journey

You are on your own now, free to go your own way, to steer towards your own chosen destination.  The Sun, Leo and the Ninth House all represent conscious self-expression and the direction of one's will.  Planets in aspect with the Sun, or in Leo or the 9th will help or hinder you on your quest.  The emphasis here is on becoming whoever you were supposed to become.  This process may indeed involve the long journeys, or higher education traditionally associated with the Ninth House.  Long sea voyages have partly been replaced by air travel, but either will do for me (Sun in 9th by Equal Houses,  Sun in 11th by Campanus Houses).

(10)  The Message

The Tenth House traditionally refers to career, public standing, and how one is seen by the world.  Most people give rulership of the 10th to Saturn and Capricorn, but I find that Mercury and Virgo fit more appropriately here.  Your conscious will may be invisible, but the way you organise your self and the running of your life are in the public domain, observable by your public behaviour and your method of open communication.  The details of the course you plot, as your track record, are thus freely available for all to see.  Your career is your conscious path towards your chosen destination.  The Tenth House does not show the destination, but it does suggest how you go about getting there.  People understandably identify with that which is directly observable, rather than that which is personal and invisible.  Thus the 10th house tends to show what you do, rather than who you want to become.  Planets near the Midheaven tend to manifest visibly, almost as strongly as planets on the Ascendant.

The Message - Mercury Virgo Tenth House Oppositions

The Search - Venus Libra Eleventh House Trines

(11)  The Search

Venus rules Libra and the Eleventh House, in my opinion, though most Astrologers put Venus and Libra with the Seventh.  Venus and Libra seem to fit better with the traditional values of the 11th.  We need clubs, societies, friends and acquaintances to help us to develop our conscious understanding of how the objective world ticks.  You won't get that from schooling or from partnerships.  Teachers teach what they are taught to teach, and partners are not always the best source of scientific information!  For detached objective friendly shared interest in how to obtain good maps for your journey - look to Venus and the 11th.  

(12)  The Return

What about Mars, Scorpio and the Twelfth House?  The 12th House is very often misunderstood, being traditionally associated with seclusion, escapism, institutions and self-undoing.  The 12th House is associated with action based on conscious feelings - a suitably projective evaluation of progress made, followed by a suitable response.  In a world that undervalues the expression of feelings, it is understandable if these people keep rather quiet, and act behind the scenes.  Mars, Scorpio and the 12th house have a reputation for secrecy and mystery.  It is perhaps useful to go along with this view, so that we can get away with doing what we like - quietly!      

The Discovery - Mars Scorpio Twelfth House Squares

Page Created 29th September 2000


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