Planetary Symbols and Properties
Ten heavenly bodies are used in astrology. Although we call them ‘the planets’ they are not all planets as they include the Sun and the Moon. Each one has certain characteristics and properties that exert an influence on the life of the native (the subject of the chart or reading). In this article, we will focus on the planetary symbols, their meaning and the influence of that particular planet.
Each of these heavenly bodies travels at different speeds through the zodiac, so we list their planetary symbols in order of the quickest to the slowest.
The Light of the Night – the Moon’s symbol of a crescent, is self-explanatory and instantly recognizable as one of the distinct phases of the Moon as it travels around the Earth and also appears to move through the zodiac.
The Moon reflects the individual’s inner landscape, their moods, and sub-conscious feelings. It also represents the cyclical nature of the planets and the influence of natural cycles on the human species, and indeed, on all species.
Mercury’s symbol looks like the one for Venus with a crescent balanced on the circle. The upward facing, cup-like nature of the crescent reminds us of the need to be filled with spirit, source energy or God.
Mercury’s influence on an individual level is in the realm of communication and logic. It mirrors the human need to understand and learn. Mercury helps us to express thoughts and ideas, and to increase these by sharing them with other people or organizations.
The planet Venus orbits the Sun inside the Earth’s orbit. Her symbol is the one used for the female gender, thus giving a clue as to her properties. It comprises of a circle, 0 – potentiality and a cross – human being. Thus, the symbol represents the infinite potential of the human spirit, in other words, everything and anything are possible.
Properties of Venus include emotions, exchange of energy and the need for individual to feel and express love. Venus also represents the human need for pleasure. The influence of Venus is positive in any natal chart.
The ‘Light of the Day’. The Sun is represented by a dot within a circle. The dot stands for the singularity; the beginning of everything, the creative source. The circle 0 is nothingness, the emptiness of space before any manifestation, literally ‘potentiality’.
The influence of the Sun in a natal chart is considered to be a positive one. It represents vitality and creative energy. The Sun represents the individual and their need to express themselves.
The symbol for Mars, adopted as the gender symbol for the male, is a circle (potentiality) and an arrow pointing at a 45-degree angle. This is said to represent a surge of outward energy.
The influence of Mars is active – desire, initiative, physical energy and motivation. It represents assertion, sexual desire and the need to meet those urges.
Jupiter’s symbol is fascinating – it is formed from a horizontal cross, from which rises a crescent moon. It looks like an amalgamation of the number 2 and the number 4. Jupiter is the planet of expansion and grace. It is thought that her many moons were gathered to her from the asteroid belt by her enormous gravitational pull.
Jupiter represents the human need for social cooperation, the understanding that as individuals we have far less influence than if we join forces. Humans usually, but not always, feel the need to belong to a particular social order or group. Jupiter’s influence also reflects our desire to improve and better ourselves.
Saturn’s symbol comprises the same elements as Jupiter’s – a cross and a crescent moon. This time, the cross is vertical, and the crescent springs in a right-handed direction from its base. It looks like a stylized number 5. Saturn works in conjunction with Jupiter’s realm of social cooperation by superimposing structure, order, law and the rules of a civilized society.
Saturn’s main influence is contraction and effort. In human beings, Saturn reflects the ego – the construct that we build to represent ourselves in the world. It represents the human need for safety and security, and, in many cases, the desire for the approval, praise and encouragement of others.
The symbol for Uranus is based on the letter H, after Herschel, the astronomer who discovered the planet. However, it also incorporates a circle and a third, central vertical stroke. It is, in fact, the symbol for Earth with two accompanying vertical lines, representing an individual with a sponsor on either side. Uranus is ‘transcendence’, the next step forward.
Uranus is considered to be too far away to have a direct effect on the experience of the individual. However, it represents the desire for freedom and individuality. It is also the herald of change and a call to action that effectively rids the individual of his or her ego.
Neptune’s symbol is reminiscent of the trident wielded by the Greek god, Neptune, who ruled the oceans. It comprises an inverted cross with an exaggerated crescent passing through the vertical stroke of the cross.
When Uranus has laid waste to the ego, Neptune comes along and clears up the mess, dissolving the broken pieces and effecting the healing of the consciousness by merging it with the whole. Think of how, eventually, every drop of water returns to the ocean.
Pluto’s symbol is a cross, atop which is balanced a deep crescent. Inside the crescent sits a small circle. The circle represents the combined planetary mind, or perhaps the collective consciousness.
Pluto’s distance means that the planet (it’s often disputed that Pluto is actually a planet, and instead is a distant asteroid caught in the Sun’s sphere of gravity) has little influence on the individual. Its power lies in its representation of the wholeness of the universe and the transformation of the human spirit into being one with this wholeness. The loss of ego is complete, and the merging of consciousness paves the way to rebirth. This transformation is not experienced by every individual but for those who do, the pain is part of the cleansing process.
Earth is not included in the ten planetary bodies. However, it is worth including her symbol, which is an inverted version of Venus’, indicating that the Earth is feminine and nurturing. A kindly and benevolent planet, where we have made our home in the universe.