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Astrological Choices – Major Planets, Minor Planets, Comets and Asteroids
As with the other articles in this series we will explore a single astrological concept where the student or reader must make a choice from multiple possibilities. Such choices reflect the interest of the student or reader, the usefulness of the information, the reliability and quantity of the study material and the type of charting being contemplated. What ends up being selected as preferable by a single astrologer is not a commentary on the validity of other choices or techniques. It is simply personal preference. Rarely can an astrologer become expert in all categories of astrology. That prodigious task usually falls to the researcher or the teacher who do need a wider range of knowledge. I would doubt seriously if any one person could ever know all of astrology, Astrology is as vast as human experience and would be a pretty large order to fill. I have worked on this broader scope of knowledge for over 35 years and I confess I don’t know all of it and probably never will. Astrology is a humbling experience!
Previously we looked at tropical and sidereal astrology, geocentric and heliocentric methods, equal and unequal houses, types of charts chosen and whether we are currently in the Age of Pisces or the Age of Aquarius. These are all choices we must make, but none is either right or wrong, better or worse, for the study of astrology. In this article I want to look at which bodies you might choose to study or read. We will look at the personal points, such as the ascendant or midheaven, in a separate article.
The major astrological planets consist of our Sun, our Moon, and eight planets. The Sun, which is literally a star, is the body that is the central gravitational force that holds our entire solar system together and it is its governor. Our Moon is the closest celestial body to us and is not truly a planet though it is referred to as one for ease of reference as a collective. The Moon is a satellite of the Earth. Because of the size/distance differential, the Sun and Moon appear to be the same size and were considered by the ancients to be the celestial parents: dad and mom. The conjunction was the marriage or union that was thought to produce offspring: the planets.
Only five planets were in standard use by the ancients even through they were aware of the existence of other bodies. Those five planets were Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. In more recent history the discovery of Uranus, Neptune and Pluto brought us to a total of eight planets, or offspring, of the celestial parents.
The more recent re-discovery of the three outer planets changed the original system of rulership of planets over signs. The two systems of rulership will be a future subject of this series on astrological choices. I recommend at the moment that you study and use both the old and new rulership systems because the jury is still out on the two.
Standard astrological practice includes the use of the ten bodies that are collectively referred to as “the planets” although in reality one is a star and the other a satellite. Most recently the status of Pluto was changed by astronomers but the change itself was controversial. I continue to use Pluto as a planet in my practice and teachings, my choice.
There are many more bodies available to astrologers to study and to read. How far should you go in your studies and which bodies should move to the front of your line? I recommend you start with the ten major bodies just listed. You will have your hands full initially just understanding the ten main principles. Give yourself a chance. Don’t take on more until you instinctively know those ten energies thoroughly. Their study will become the core and the basis for everything else you will study and apply. Just remember that these ten do not constitute all your possibilities.
When you feel comfortable with those ten energies, the sky is truly the limit for your choices. As an example, let’s do a brief run-though of the possibilities, which number in the thousands and are growing by thousands per month, (can you say overwhelming?) and triage them into a more manageable proportion.
There is a mathematical formula called Bode’s Law that shows where planets should be located as you move outward from the Sun. There are two anomalies in the measurement and they are not believed to be the problem of the formula. These two anomalies are bodies that should or should not be located at two points in the overall measurement. There is a body (Neptune) where none should be according to Bode’s Law. The position of Pluto falls into the mathematical formula instead. Additionally, again according to Bode’s Law, a body should be located between Mars and Jupiter. The large field of debris and asteroids in the Asteroid Belt suggests it is likely there was a body once located there in our solar system’s distant past.
Not all asteroids are located in the Asteroid Belt. Asteroids come in all shapes and sizes and are found in several locations throughout our solar system. A large collection is located at the LaGrange Points of Jupiter. These are believed to be a collection of asteroids that have wandered into Jupiter’s sphere of influence by magnetic attraction, or by sheer happenstance. Most dramatically, there are many asteroids in the inner reaches of the solar system including a collection whose orbits take them close to the Earth called Earth Grazers. Our scientists are on continual watch of these bodies, which may have future impact on Earth because of their proximity to us.
There are four asteroids that are in common usage and should be listed for your stage two studies: Ceres, Juno, Pallas and Vesta. Why would I choose these four rather than some of the newer more exciting discoveries? Astrologers have built a wealth of information and proof of the influence and probable rulerships of these four asteroids. There is more material, more serious research, more experience in reading and teaching so these are a good place to start your study on minor bodies. Many years ago I had marvelous results studying other asteroids, particularly Hidalgo for a specific application. That being said, most of the other asteroids have a much shorter discovery and identification and have less credible material available. Asteroids do work, but allow yourself time to learn gradually.
At the outer edges of what we refer to as our known solar system is an area called the Kuiper Belt. The Kuiper Belt is thought to be the inner part of another system called the Oort Cloud. This area is considered to hold the remnants from the formation of our solar system. Contained within these regions are very large asteroids, planetoids, dwarf planets and comets. The discovery of what is thought to be planets larger than Pluto very near Pluto was exciting. As mentioned, Pluto was recently declassified as a planet and reclassified as a dwarf planet by astronomers. I do continue to use Pluto as a planet. There is a wealth of knowledge, research and material using Pluto’s astrological influence that has been developed since its discovery in 1930.
That recent declassification of Pluto to dwarf planet status by astronomers, however, created a new category for a study of the other bodies inhabiting those nether regions of our solar system. At those vast distances it is difficult to determine if the bodies are asteroids, planetoids or comets. There is a wealth of new material being developed on them and they could eventually hold the same power and sway as Pluto so this would be another category for a later phase of your studies. This is a work in progress as I write this.
Comets are thought to be more ice and gas than rocky and are thought to originate in the Kuiper Belt and Oort Cloud. Comets seem to be kicked from the Kuiper Belt region into the inner part of the solar system where they orbit the Sun for a time before they get a little too close and become ice toast. There are long period comets and short period comets – those who orbit infrequently and those that orbit frequently. The most famous of the comets for centuries was Halley’s, which has a 75-76 year period orbit. Certain comets have been catalogued and read for thousands of years. The ancients, for example, saw the comets as harbingers of national or leadership trials and tribulations. Recently Chiron, which is a massive comet but was originally cast as a new planet, has become very well known. The study of the Centaurs (Chiron is the leader) will occupy a great deal of your time on the study of comets, but this is a relatively new area, Start with Chiron and if you choose your sources carefully, this would be a good addition to a later phase of your study.
There are other bodies or pseudo-bodies to study. As a novice astrologer I learned about Dark Moon Lilith and included her in everything I did. I studied her and practiced for two years before someone told me she was not considered a major planet. I have to tell you in the two years of my steady application, she sure acted like a major player. I continue to use her today because I got so much mileage out of her in my early studies and thereafter. Since that time Black Moon Lilith (an intersection point in space and not a body) and the asteroid Lilith have come to light. I have not done a deep study on either of them. Dark Moon Lilith is my choice at this time for me because I have personal knowledge of her workings.
The Trans-Neptunian planets are hypothetical planets placed at crucial intersection points noted by astrologers over several decades. I have not made a study of them, although they are on this year’s to-do list for me. Many well-known and knowledgeable astrologers trust them so choose your sources and your material wisely and put these on your advanced study list as you grow in your astrological knowledge and experience.
This is about as far as this brief article can take you in helping you triage what you can study and use on the subject of major and minor bodies. Celestial bodies are being discovered at about 3,000 per month the last time I checked. That is way too many bodies to keep up with so you must be selective. Start with what has stood the test of time; then move into those areas currently under serious study. Choose your bodies, your authors and your teachers and stay with what is credible. Study astronomy along with astrology because astronomy walks hand and hand with astrology. Select a category or a few specific bodies and take the time to develop your skill and knowledge at reading those before you move on to your next set of choices. All of it is available, but only some is valuable: pace yourself.
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