Essential Functions of the Bodymind
Psychologically, the planets represent certain essential functions of the mind and personality. Physiologically, the planets represent essential bodily functions, and have affinities with certain organs and organ systems.
Classical Greek or Hellenistic Astrology had only seven planets: the Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Together, these represent or symbolize all the basic, ordinary functions and drives of the body and mind.
Three of these planets are Yang or emissive in nature: the Sun, Mars and Jupiter.
Three of these planets are Yin or receptive in nature: the Moon, Venus and Saturn.
The seventh, or Mercury, is neutral or hermaphroditic, and can be either emissive or receptive, depending on its placement.
Starting in the 18th century, three more planets were discovered: Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. They also have their respective correspondences and significations in Medical Astrology.
In addition, there are also various important points in the natal horoscope that aren't really planets but function as such in astrology's symbolic language. The most important of these in Medical Astrology is the Ascendant or Rising Sign. Other important points include the angles and the lunar nodes.
Functional Classifications of the Planets
The planets can be classified into four different functional groupings, as follows:
The Luminaries: the Sun and Moon. These "planets" provide most of the light in the heavens. Similarly, they represent the main power sources of the bodymind that drive all its functions.
The Personal Planets: Mercury, Venus and Mars. These rapidly moving planets represent important factors that define basic characteristics of your personality: how you think (Mercury), how you love (Venus), and how you fight (Mars). In Medical Astrology, they flesh out and expand on the core functions of the Sun, Moon and Ascendant.
The Social / Developmental Planets: Jupiter and Saturn. These slower moving planets aren't so personal, and define how we relate to larger groups of people, and to society in general. Medically, they're important regulators of the overall metabolism and govern the slower growth and developmental processes of the organism.
The Outer Planets: Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. Whereas the seven classical planets are sufficient to represent all the basic, ordinary functions of the bodymind, the outer planets represent certain extraordinary functions or capabilities that could even be called paranormal.
The Ascendant or Rising Sign: Horoskopo
The most important planetary factor in Medical Astrology isn't really a planet but a point: the Ascendant, or Rising Sign. The ancient Greeks called it horoskopo, which means, "Marker of the Hour". It is the sign and degree of the zodiac that was rising on the eastern horizon at the moment and place of your birth.
The Ascendant is the cusp of the First House, which sets or connects the signs with the circle of houses. Therefore, the Ascendant represents your basic outlook and orientation on life, and your basic coping strategy for getting your needs met. As your personal interface with the outer world, the Ascendant also represents your social mask, persona or outer image.
Medically, the Ascendant represents the body or physical vehicle that you came into at birth - its constitutional nature and temperament, structure and appearance, and weak spots or vulnerabilities. It also represents the nature and circumstances of your birth, incarnation or physical embodiment.
Modern astrology gives the Ascendant an essential affinity or resonance with the sign Aries and its ruler Mars, since it's the cusp of the First House. And so, the Ascendant rules the body and its physical expression in general, and the head in particular.
Although there is a lot of validity in these correspondences, the ancient Greeks considered the Ascendant, which is inherently neutral in temperament, to have an affinity with hermaphroditic Mercury. The nature and temperament of the Ascendant is totally colored or conditioned by its sign and degree of the zodiac, as well as planets conjunct to it or aspecting it.
For example, Moon conjunct the Ascendant would impart a Phlegmatic nature and temperament, whereas Mars would exert a Choleric influence. Otherwise, the primary factor in determining the Ascendant's nature and temperament is its sign.
After the Sun and Moon, the most important planet in the natal horoscope is the ruler of the sign on the Ascendant, which is called the Ascendant Ruler or Chart Ruler. Its sign, house and aspects are important in determining the constitutional nature and temperament, strengths and weaknesses of the individual and his/her body, or physical vehicle.
Temperaments of the Planets
In Greek Medicine, everything in the universe, including the far-flung planets, has its own inherent nature and temperament. The temperaments of the planets are as follows:
The Hot, Dry Choleric planets are Mars and the Sun. Mars is the principal Choleric planet, pertaining more specifically to the Choleric humor and temperament and its various pathophysiological manifestations. The Sun represents the Ignis, or Fire principle of metabolism and the dynamic, energetic vital principles: the Innate Heat, Thymos and Vital Force.
The Cold, Wet Phlegmatic planets are the Moon and Neptune, with an assist from Venus, which is partially Phlegmatic. The Moon is the principal Phlegmatic planet; as the complement to the Sun, She rules the Water element, fluid metabolism, the Radical Moisture and the Phlegmatic humor. Neptune, which heightens sensitivity and receptivity and dissolves boundaries, is also Phlegmatic. Like the Moon, Venus is also Yin, being the other feminine planet.
The Warm, Moist Sanguine planets are Jupiter and Venus, which are also the benefics of classical astrology. These benefics represent joy and abundance, expansion and growth. The principal Sanguine planet is Jupiter, the Greater Benefic; Venus is mostly Sanguine, but also partially Phlegmatic.
The Cold, Dry Melancholic planets are Saturn and Mercury. Of these, Saturn is the principal Melancholic planet, and pertains mainly to the Melancholic humor, or black bile. Like the Earth element, Saturn is also heavy, dense and static. Mercury, while also being Cold and Dry, is also light and mobile; therefore, it pertains more to the lighter, subtler Nervous humor and temperament. Uranus is also predominantly Nervous/Melancholic, since it is associated with nervous and spasmodic afflictions.
And what about Pluto? I feel that Pluto, the modern ruler of Scorpio, is like the sign it rules, an extreme-natured planet, having a dual Choleric/Phlegmatic temperament. As the higher octave of Mars, Pluto's Choleric side involves intense passion, power and drive; its Phlegmatic side acts as a catalyst or purifier of instincts, the subconscious mind and the emotional nature. Together, the Fire and Water elements metabolize and transform each other.
The Planets: Basic Functions and Correspondences
The luminaries, the Sun and Moon, are the opposite yet complementary power sources that drive our physiology and metabolism. Providing most of the light in the heavens, they also rule the vision, whereby that light is seen.
Sun: Hot, Dry and Choleric. Fixed modality. The Innate Heat and Vital Force. The heart, circulation and Vital Faculty. Ignis, digestion, and pepsis. The Metabolic Heat. Catabolic metabolism. The thymos and vital immunity. The sumpathetic nervous system. Vision and the right eye. Associated with the development and progression of chronic disorders. The conscious will. The Soul, or Higher Self. Self identity. Joy, self-expression. The father, hero, solar savior. Apollo, the eternal youth. The eternal flame.
Moon: Cold, Wet and Phlegmatic. Cardinal modality, initiating change and manifestation. The Phlegmatic humor. Body fluids and fluid metabolism. The Radical Moisture and humoral immunity. The lymphatic system. Anabolic metabolism and the vegetative functions. The parasympathetic nervous system. The stomach, uterus, female breasts. The menstrual cycle. All cysts and sack-like organs that store, encapsulate or protect something until it's matured, ripened, and ready to be released. Gestation, childbirth, incarnation, embodiment. Nurturing, nursing, motherhood. Fertility, fecundity. Emotions, instincts, the subconscious mind. Regeneration through sleep and dreams. Vision and the left eye. Luna, Selene, the Goddess. Associated with the development and progression of acute disorders.
The personal planets flesh out and expand on the core functions of the Sun, Moon and Ascendant. Mars assists and expands on the solar functions. Venus assists and expands on the lunar functions. And Mercury, being neutral in polarity, interweaves and connects between the two, and resonates with the Ascendant.
Mercury: Cold, Dry and Melancholic. Light, subtle, mobile; the Nervous temperament. Mutable modality - flexible, adaptable, ambiguous, restless, changeable. The brain, mind, nervous system and Psychic Faculty. The faculty of Common Sense. The Mundane Mind - agility, dexterity, cleverness; basic skills and competencies. Communication and the Throat Center - hearing and speech. Pneuma and the respiratory function - Air. Arms and hands, digital dexterity. The throat and thyroid gland. Mental nature and temperament, according to sign, house, aspects. The intellect and intellective faculties in general. The Ideation faculty. Transportation and commerce. The clever con man or trickster. Balance and homeostasis.
Venus: Slightly Warm and Moist - Sanguine; partially Phlegmatic. The kidneys and genitourinary tract. The Generative Faculty, especially the female reproductive system. Mucous membranes of the respiratory, digestive and genitourinary tracts - exchange and contact. The throat and vagina - ingestion, acquisition, swallowing. Female sexual response. Saliva and mucous secretions - lubrication. The tongue and the sense of taste, especially sugar and the sweet taste. The skin, hair and all aesthetic parts of the body. The veinous blood and its circulation. Glucose, blood sugar. The thyroid gland. Adrenocortical hormones, cortisol. Anabolic growth hormones. Sexuality, sensuality, attraction, the pleasure principle. Love, romance, beauty, aesthetics.
Mars: Hot, Dry and Choleric. The Choleric or bilious humor and its pathologies: irritation, inflammation, ulceration, fevers, biliousness, stress, etc... The Choleric temperament. The head and cranium. The nose and the sense of smell. Iron, hemoglobin and the blood. The adrenal glands, especially the adrenal medulla and adrenaline. Stimulation, activation, the fight-or-flight response. Muscles and all active, heat generating tissues of the body; tone and physical conditioning. Digestive and gastric secretions; the Digestive Virtue. All weapons, knives and sharp, phallic objects; surgery. The penis, male reproductive system and male sexual response. Active, cellular immunity and the immune response. Courage, bravery, assertion, the aggressive drive. The survival instinct, competition. The physical body, its activity and expression. Negative Choleric emotions - anger, rage, irritability, impatience, envy, jealousy, criticalness.
The social/developmental planets, Jupiter and Saturn, are associated with the slower, more prolonged growth and developmental processes of the human organism. They're also important regulators and balancers of the overall metabolism of the organism.
Jupiter: Warm, Moist and Sanguine. Mutable modality. Has a Sanguine influence on metabolism, favoring excess and enrichment. Rules the liver and the blood, especially the arterial circulation. Expansion and growth. Rules the cycle of growth, the developmental changes of adolescence. Rules the pancreas and carbohydrate and macronutrient metabolism. Associated with overweight, obesity, expansion of adipose tissue. The Greater Benefic, ruling the Sanguine principles of generosity, expansiveness, surplus. Rules the sciatic nerve and the locomotor aparatus. Morals, ethics, faith, philosophy, worldview; the higher or Philosophical Mind. The faculty of Judgement.
Saturn: Cold, Dry and Melancholic. Rules the Melancholic humor and its functions: Retentive Virtue, calcium and mineral metabolism, structural repair, formation of bones, joints and structural connective tissue. Has a Melancholic influence on metabolism, favoring deficiency, aesthenia, wasting, hardness, stiffness, hypofunction. Rules the spleen - storage receptacle for black bile. Associated with stone formation, calcification, lithiasis, all Melancholic pathology. The ears and the sense of hearing. The skin as the personal boundary and limit of the organism. Rules the cycle of maturity and the aging process. The seven year growth and developmental stages of the organism are the cardinal phases or quarters of Saturn's maturation cycle. Saturnine emotions: depression, cynicism, caution, prudence, pragmatism, misanthropy. The faculty of Memory.
The Vital Core: Sun, Moon and Ascendant
The Vital Core of the natal horoscope consists of the Sun, Moon and Ascendant. Whatever relates to this Big Three by sign, house or aspect will be central to the horoscope and its interpretation; whatever doesn't will be peripheral or secondary.
The Sun and Moon represent the two energy or power sources of the bodymind. The Sun, or the emissive luminary, shows how the vital energies are spent, used, or emitted. The Moon, or receptive luminary, shows how the vital energies are regenerated, replenished and recuperated. Together, the Sun and Moon are like the driver, with the Sun being how the driver acts, and the Moon how the driver reacts.
The Ascendant is like the car, or the physical vehicle of flesh and bone being driven by the solar and lunar forces. The Ascendant shows the constitutional temperament of the body, its basic structure and appearance, and its inherent strengths and weaknesses, according to its sign and the planets conjunct or aspecting it.
The Vital Core or Big Three also set the basic time cycles and biorhythms of life. The physician must know and work with these natural cycles and rhythms:
The Ascendant is set by the circadian cycle, or the daily rotation of the Earth on its axis.
The Moon measures out the lunar months by Her cycle of waxing and waning phases.
The Sun, through His annual cycle of solstices and equinoxes, sets the seasons of the year.
The Outer Planets
The outer planets were unknown to the ancient Greeks. But since their discovery, they have become an important part of modern astrology.
The seven classical planets plus the Ascendant are sufficient to explain the ordinary, basic functions of the body and mind. The outer planets represent gifts, abilities and faculties that could be called extra-ordinary - the next step forward in our evolution.
The outer planets have been called higher octave planets. They take the functions of their lower octave counterparts to a higher level:
Uranus is the higher octave of Mercury. He represents the occult or spiritual mind, which knows things by direct perception in sudden flashes of insight. Uranus is also the planet of astrology and other occult or divinatory sciences.
Neptune is the higher octave of Venus. He rules divine love, charity and compassion, and the urge to unite with God, or a Higher Power. Neptune awakens cosmic consciousness, intuition and psychic sensitivity.
Pluto is the higher octave of Mars. Whereas Mars rules personal power and drive, Pluto rules transpersonal power, which transforms self and society. The gifts of Pluto include bioenergy awareness and healing, sexual energy awareness and healing, and spiritual transmutation.
The gifts of the outer planets aren't inborn and automatic. They must be cultivated and realized through spiritual effort and discipline. The higher octave planets are also extreme in nature; the successful realization of their gifts is wonderful and sublime, but their perversions and dysfunctions are just as hideous and awful.
The basic functions and correspondences of the outer planets in Medical Astrology are as follows:
Uranus: Nervous / Melancholic temperament. The spiritual or occult mind. Excitation and instability of the nervous and endocrine systems. Nervous and spasmodic afflictions. Neuraesthenia, insomnia. Attention deficit disorder, ADHD. High medical technology, advanced diagnostics and surgery. Shocking, rebellious, licentious, promiscuous, chaotic, unregulated, iconclastic behavior. Accidents, breakdowns, the unexpected. The bizzare or unusual. The drive towards spiritual freedom and individuation.
Neptune: Phlegmatic temperament, slightly Nervous. Divine love, charity, compassion; cosmic consciousness. Anaesthesia, intoxication, drug and alcohol abuse. Addictive behavior, codependency. The pineal gland, dreaming, sleep / wake cycles. Immune vulnerabilities, often due to lymphatic toxicity. Psychic sensitivity, vulnerability, possession; leaky aura syndrome. Hypersensitivity to foods and drugs. Molds, yeasts, fungi, heavy metals. Delusion, mental fogginess, confusion, poor boundaries. Savior / victim relationships. Developing intuition, inner peace and trust in a Higher Power.
Pluto: Choleric / Phlegmatic temperament. Transpersonal power, transformation. Bioenergetic awareness and healing. Sexual energy, kundalini awakening and healing. Sexuality, genetics, reproduction. Reproductive "accidents". Death, wills, legacies. Power plays, manipulation, terrorism, gangsterism. Emotional blackmail. The taboo, the dark side. Sexual manipulation and control, sex without love. Fated accidents; the mark or wound of fate. Terminal or life-threatening diseases: totally transform your life or die! Purification and catharsis. Radical or transformative surgery. Existential guilt; bereavement, abandonment. The drive towards transpersonal power, ultimate spiritual meaning and significance.
Outer Planet People
In the natal horoscopes of many, if not most, people, the outer planets are "asleep". They're only awakened and active in the horoscopes of outer planet people, or those who have these planets dignified or sensitively placed in their natal horoscopes.
To be an outer planet person, one or more of the outer planets must be:
- Conjunct the Ascendant or one of the other cardinal angles of the birthchart, or squaring them;
- Conjunct or aspecting the Sun or Moon, especially by hard aspect;
- Conjunct or aspecting one of the personal or classical planets, especially by hard aspect.
Outer planet people can't escape dealing with the outer planets in their lives, for better or worse. Many of them have special gifts and abilities that are latent, and must be developed.
The Outer Planets and Dysfunctional Families
The outer planets tend to be prominent in the natal horoscopes of those who come from dysfunctional families. The trials and hardships that these people face in their early family lives put special spiritual and evolutionary challenges to them, which are symbolized by the outer planets.
Uranus is prominent in the natal charts of people who were raised in an excessively open, permissive or chaotic family environment, where anything goes, and there were no reassuring guidelines or structure. This puts a special evolutionary challenge to them to find their own inherent guidelines, structure and ethical principles.
Neptune is prominent in the natal charts of those who were raised by alcoholic, codependent, addictive or otherwise out-of-control parents with a poor sense of dignity, self respect and personal boundaries. The challenge to the individual is to find their own intrinsic sense of dignity, self worth and self control.
Pluto isprominent in the natal charts of those whose early family environment was dominated by manipulation, power plays and emotional blackmail. Physical, mental, emotional or sexual abuse was also commonly present. The challenge to the individual is to break down the old walls of fear, shame, guilt and manipulation, and totally transform and rebuild their lives from a new foundation of spiritual power and courage.