Strange Bedfellows: Secondary Rulers, An Introduction

All Planets


A number of you have had questions recently regarding secondary rulers–are they valid, do I use them, what do they mean in terms of interpreting a chart?  The answers are yes, absolutely and, ‘I’d better post a few articles on that.’

I have to admit that in my early days I was a firm believer in ‘out with the old, in with the new.’  Blame my Moon/Uranus conjunction.  Why would you use Mars, Jupiter or Saturn when you had such titans as Uranus, Neptune and Pluto to guide you?  Didn’t they come into this world with perfect timing, reflecting the state of the universe as it was?  Uranus heralded a time of rebellion and emphasis on radical equality.  Neptune brought us the height of the Romantic movement.  Pluto, the Great Depression (remember that the 8th house is the house of finance) and  the dark cloud of the Third Reich.

Our old friends the personal planets [or personal and social (Jupiter, Saturn), depending on your point of view] have been around so long they have no ‘events’ associated with their discovery.  They are observable by the naked eye.  We have intimate knowledge of them, their patterns, their behaviours as astral bodies.  It may seem as if the outer planets have been around forever, but the truth is that they are recent blips in the time line of history.  We can get excited about them.  They are still a bit of a mystery, still associated with something dark, dangerous and unfathomable. The late Howard Sassportas named them, “The Gods of Change” and we ignore them at our peril.   They seem bigger, larger, greater than life–and therein lies the problem.

We know that they are asking something important of us–but sometimes we’re hard pressed to know exactly what that is.  Even when we have an outer planet on an angle, and we feel its power instinctively and intimately, we may have little to no clue what it has in mind for us.  We can only cooperate, jump the big waves as they race to the shore and hope we don’t get drowned in the process.  It is often only later, much later, that we can make even remote sense of the period of crisis when they were active.

The outer planets ARE powerful and mysterious, and effect us in enormous and confusing ways.  They are life-changers.  They represent an unseen world beyond the definitions of the ego, a place where only the soul knows the direction and the answer.  And it’s because they give us a sense of the divine nature of the soul that they often cause us to go to extremes, trembling in our boots all the way.   We throw ourselves over the precipice, expecting nothing, only to wake up in a place where we no longer know ourselves and the rules as we knew them no longer apply.  And yet we wanted to get here; we knew this was a place we had to be.

It was my work with progressions that caused me to have new-found respect for the so-called ‘secondary rulers’ of the signs and houses.  I say so-called because there is nothing secondary about them.  In progressions, the outer planets move hardly at all.  In fact, many will tell you to ignore them, and focus on the movement of the inner planets. ( Ha–just wait until an outer planet aspect, like a quincunx between Saturn and Neptune, comes exact by progression.  They won’t know what hit them.)  But in my work with progressions, it started becoming very clear to me that both rulers were highly active.  When Scorpio becomes the rising sign by progression, the movement and condition of progressed Mars will tell you a lot more about the current situation than Pluto will.  It was the same for Pisces/Jupiter and Saturn/Aquarius.  It worked for all the angles and all the progressed aspects.

It was as if the older ruler was the more human face of the higher and more mysterious energies of the new rulers.  The old rulerships represented reality; they showed what was required in real-life terms.  Often, they instigated issues that were directly related to the dictates of the newer rulers.  If Pluto was conjunct an angle by progression, Mars had much to say about the matter, especially regarding the house that Scorpio ruled.  I have often called Mars Pluto’s henchman–Pluto calls the shots and Mars does the dirty work.  This is an especially potent partnership, because Mars is the lower expression of Pluto–as Venus is to Neptune and Mercury is to Uranus.  (Stay with me here, I’m shifting gears a little.)  But co-rulerships have also turned out to be vitally important in interpreting both natal charts and the movement of transits and progressions.  The condition of Jupiter will tell you as much about the house Pisces rules as Neptune does.  And Saturn is intimately tied to Aquarius.  Both provide a ‘real’ outlet for what can be very unreal energies.

This now elevates the position and influence of the last personal planets–Mars, Jupiter and Saturn will influence two houses in the chart.  Now think about it. Venus already rules two houses–Taurus and Libra.  And Mercury rules Gemini and Virgo.  There is a beautiful symmetry in it, isn’t there?  This leaves only the lights ruling one house–Cancer with the Moon and Leo with the Sun.  How appropriate.  How astrologically poetic.  The number 2 in Pythagorean numbers philosophy represents the duality of material reality.  The universe consists of Self and Other, me in here versus you out there, the inner and outer expression of things.  We need a mirror to confirm that we exist, and the number 2 is that mirror.  The inner planets represent the way we deal with the real world, how we think, how we love, how we fight, how we grow and how we create and make things manifest.  Our inner planets represent the way we work in the world.

In this series, we are going to explore the way Mars and Pluto, Jupiter and Neptune, and Saturn and Uranus work together.  Each pair representing two sides to a very magical coin.


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