I hear you, hairsplitters: the Sun, the Moon, and Pluto aren’t technically planets, but they’re referred to that way in astrology.
In order to suss out what’s going on in your chart — or in your present reality — you have to understand the motion of the planets.
Each planet also corresponds to — or should we say rules — a sign. For instance, you’ve got the Moon, which rules emotional Cancer — and thus governs our emotions.
Planets also orbit the sun at different speeds, which affects how long you can expect to feel their impact. The inner planets (like the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, and Mars) move faster through the zodiac, which means their effects are more transitory. The outer planets (like Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, Uranus, and Pluto) take their time, which means they bring deeper (and more long-term) change.
Everything in our solar system revolves around the Sun, and that’s more or less how it goes down in astrology too. The Sun spends about a month in each sign, illuminating the themes, questions, and tensions therein. The Sun is ego, identity, and being. Whoever — or whatever — is born under that influence will bear the traits of that sign in an unmistakable way.
The most transient of the planets, the fickle Moon spends roughly two and a half days in each sign, governing emotions and moods. Think of the Sun as your outer life and the Moon as your inner life. The Moon pertains to your feels, your past, your inner homebody, your instincts, and your maternal imprinting. It’s the sensitive, reactive part of you that seeks comfort in the only way it knows how.
Messenger planet Mercury is most famous for when it’s fucking shit up, but when it’s not retrograde, it governs communication, travel, technology, transportation, and the little motions we make in our immediate environment to complete our errands. It’s movement; it’s electricity; it’s speaking your piece. Mercury is never far from the Sun, but its length of stay in one sign can sometimes be longer than its usual three weeks.
Venus is the hot French girl at the party. She’s effortlessly elegant and loves to be showered in gifts, but she knows how to dole out the compliments, so it’s impossible not to like her. Venus is one of the benefic planets, which means it generally brings favorable results to the table, often having to do with romance, gifts, money, beauty, art, fashion, social graces, and selfies with lots of likes. Like Mercury, it’s usually close on the Sun’s heels.
Mars is pure “go” energy, bolstering our efforts to persist and achieve. When it’s locked in a favorable alignment, it brings energy, assertiveness, courage, stamina, and drive (sex drive counts) to whatever it touches. When it’s at odds with other players on the scene, the bar brawler emerges, bringing aggression, temper tantrums, and sometimes violence into the fold. It usually stays in each sign for about a month and a half, though retrograde periods can extend its stay.
Jupiter is the greater benefic, which means it generally brings good vibes to the party, so long as you can handle your liquor. Jupiter is basically Santa Claus. It’s got a big belly laugh and a sack full of gifts — not all of which were necessarily on your list, but hey, it’s the thought that counts, right? Jupiter’s main M.O. is to expand whatever it touches — whether it be your paycheck, your prominence in your field of work, your overall sense of well-being, or maybe some not-so-fun things you’d rather keep small. Jupiter can lift your spirits, even if it just leads to you making a bunch of promises you can’t keep. It stays in each sign for about a year.
Hard-knock Saturn isn’t the devil (unless you’re talking about tarot), but he’s definitely a bit of a wet blanket. He’s that uncompromising teacher from your formative years who made you into a real grownup. Saturn’s role is to make sure we’re being responsible and putting in the work. It’s all about discipline, tenacity, rules, structure, the realest of the realities, and hearing what we need to hear. Saturn can help you level up, but it can also hold you back in certain areas when you’re unwilling to confront reality or you’re due for another lesson in patience. It stays in each sign for two and a half years.
Uranus is the mad scientist and revolutionary change agent, shocking the system and providing all manner of unexpected plot twists. Uranus brings surprises in our daily lives and disruption and innovation on a global scale, and it’s got a sweet spot for all things futuristic and technological. It can change the game in an instant, making sudden moves to wake us up and demolish the outmoded structures we’ve long outgrown. On a bad day, Uranus can make us rebellious without a cause, but on a good day, it’s a liberator for the ages. It stays in each sign for seven years.
Neptune is Saturn’s counterpart on the axis of the material and the intangible. Neptune is the space cadet that floats along in an ethereal dream. It’s all about spirituality, dreams, fantasies, compassion, intuition, the subconscious, and, sometimes less positively, illusions, deception, and addiction. Neptune has a way of sowing confusion and clouding our perception of reality, but it supplies us with inspiration and reminders of how connected we all really are. It stays in each sign for roughly 14 years.
Pluto has no time for small talk. It would practically be the grim reaper if it didn’t have your personal growth in mind, but we all have shadow sides, and that’s Pluto’s domain. Pluto is all about death, rebirth, and transformation from the depths on up. As the slowest-moving planet in the solar system, its effects are often generational and profound, catalyzing change and bringing a level of intensity to whatever it touches, assuming it’s not destroying it completely. As the ruler of the underworld (see also: Hades), Pluto is interested in everything that lies beneath the surface: taboos, obsessions, secrets, power trips, manipulation, and the ultimate transmutation of all that darkness into something beautiful and strong. It generally stays in each sign for anywhere ranging from 11 to 32 years.