There used to be a graceful, simple way to keep track of the ruling planets for all of the signs.
There was a simple elegance to the 12 signs and the five planets, Moon and Sun which ruled them.
See how they line up. Saturn and Saturn at the top, then Jupiter on each side, then Mars, then Venus, then Mercury and Sun and Moon at the bottom.
Then the outer planets had to come about and shake things up! Each of the three were discovered at times in which human consciousness had the ability to grok their respective archetypal influences.
The discovery of Uranus in 1781, Neptune in 1846 and Pluto in 1930 each played a significant part not only human development and understanding, but more importantly on the course of astrology as a whole.
Vedic astrology continues to use the original seven or classic planets, whereas western astrology has welcomed and made space for and relationship to these three outer planets.
The addition of these three planets made an effect on three signs in particular: Scorpio, Aquarius, Pisces. Each of these signs received a secondary or modern ruler.
Scorpio originally was ruled by Mars, but was also given Pluto, Aquarius was ruled by Saturn and received Uranus as a secondary ruler and dear Pisces which was originally ruled by Jupiter was able to include Neptune as its secondary ruler.
Some refer to these “new” planets as being the “modern” ruler and the original ruler as the traditional ruler.
So, what does this mean? Do we only use the classical or traditional rulers before the outer planets were discovered? Do we only look to the modern ruler to address which planet is the “true” ruler?
I have two planets in Scorpio, One in Aquarius and two in Pisces, so I have some experience with the energies of the signs on a personal level.
I have also had the good fortune to have many friends and clients with these signs playing central roles in their lives (of course, since I have them in my chart so prominently).
How I have learned to understand the planetary rulership and strength is by looking at it through a slightly different lens. Let’s look at these signs and their respective rulers a little more intimately.
Scorpio is the sign of death and rebirth, the place where something has to die off in order to be reborn for its highest good. Mars, the traditional ruler of Scorpio is good at cutting, puncturing, stabbing, thrusting, it creates a space by insertion.
Mars can harm, can kill, can show our desire and our drive, but it cannot make the transition to transformation, transfiguration and transmutation -but Pluto can. Mars works on the personal desire level and Pluto works on the larger Consciousness level.
Pluto, while being known as the destroyer, seeks to destroy that which blocks the path to awareness and consciousness –it is not a blind agent of destruction.
If you think of the Phoenix, the creature who obtains new life by arising from the ashes of its predecessor, you can understand what is at the heart of Scorpio and Pluto. Most people refer to Scorpio people as being intense.
How can a Scorpio not be intense when it has the warrior planets as its rulers? Mars declares war on something and Pluto obliterates it.
Here is where I believe the dual rulership works. When the Scorpio works with her/his own desire and can release this for his/her highest good, Pluto comes in to transform that desire nature from the personal to the impersonal.
Aquarius is the sign for the New Age when and where all humans will be working together in a more constructive team oriented manner rather than the greedy, personal and more selfish way in which humans have been.
Saturn, Aquarius’s traditional ruler, likes to make rules, structures, boundaries, limits, but it cannot make breakthroughs (Aquarius is a fixed sign which means it can fixate, something Saturn understands very well), it cannot evolve, it doesn’t like change –but Uranus can and does shake things up.
Here, I see that once Aquarius has a good solid ground, healthy boundaries and is responsible in its interactions with others, then the Uranian freedom can come in and guide the Aquarian for its highest expression.
The we have Pisces, the last sign of the Zodiac, the “Old Age” in which we have been stewing for some two thousand years. The traditional ruler, Jupiter is considered the big benefic, it likes to expand things, make whatever it touches bigger.
In some ways one can understand that getting big can eventually lead to include Spirit. If you expand and expand, at some point you have to be big enough to be Every Thing, whereas Neptune simply seeks to merge at all levels, to be in the flow -Neptune is the gateway to Spirit in a way which allows.
Neptune is like the waves coming to the shore and soaking all of the empty spaces in the sand -it fills, floods, washes over and through.
My sense with Pisces is that once it is able to understand the healthy ways of expansion, giving, “being good” for Self rather than for other, learning not to sacrifice itself in a big way, the Spiritual Heart which is Neptune can come forth and wash the old wounds and ways of being away for the highest connection to occur.
In each of these cases, work is required by the individual to reach higher levels of awareness. Through the work on the traditional planets, each of these signs is able to gain its highest perspective –something that a distant vantage point gives one and these “modern” transcendent planets give just that! Just think of the vantage point they give from such a distance.
When you are doing readings or talking with friends who have Scorpio, Aquarius and/or Pisces strongly in their chart, ask them for their experience with each of the planets that rule the sign(s). If you have them strongly emphasized in your chart, see what your experience is in relationship with the respective planets. I would love to hear from you if you care to share.
Wishing you a beautiful day on your Path,