Signs, planets and houses (for complete beginners)

Before we dive into understanding what all these symbols mean, good news: the meaning of a planet is roughly the same as the meaning of a corresponding sign and the corresponding house. It’s going to be clearer with an example.

 If the planet is Mars, the corresponding sign is Aries. We say that Mars “rules” Aries, as if Mars was a sovereign and Aries a territory. So when we are learning Mars, we are learning Aries at the same time. 

 There will be nuances though, as Mars is the planet-energy, and Aries is, so to speak, the energy field of this planet. When someone says “I am Aries” … what it really means is that, in their birth chart, the Sun is in the energy field called Aries, the energy field of Mars. 

 Aries is the first sign of the zodiac. The House that is associated with Mars and Aries is the first house. The meaning of the First House will be very similar to what Mars and Aries are about. The difference is that a house is more connected with what happens in the outer world, whereas a sign is more psychological.  

 We can imagine the planet as energy, the sign as the energy field around the planet, and the house as the condensation of this energy field becoming facts and events in the material world. Now, please, don’t take this explanation too literally. Take it as a metaphor, or a simplified diagram. 

 When I am looking at a birth chart, I am looking at things that repeat themselves. For instance, if I find a chart where the Sun is conjunct to Mars (“conjunct” means they are less than 10 degrees apart in the chart) then I will understand that this Mars energy is very important. 

 So I will immediately have a look at the sign Aries and at the first house to see if more is happening in connection with  this energy. If I find planets or sensitive points like the AC or MC in Aries and in the First House, I will understand that this Mars-Aries energy is really huge in the make up of the personality and destiny of the person. From then on, I’ll wonder whether this energy is in a harmonious or disharmonious state, but we’ll talk about that later.

 For now, just remember that Signs, planets and houses have similar meanings. 

 Mars rules Aries and is the “natural ruler” of the first house. (Just notice the expression “natural ruler” and don’t worry! Just remember the association Mars-Aries-First House) 

 Venus rules Taurus and is the “natural ruler” of the second house.

 Venus also rules Libra and is also “natural ruler” of the seventh house. 

 Mercury rules Gemini and is the “natural ruler” of the third house. 
 Mercury also rules Virgo and is also the natural ruler of the sixth house. 

 The Moon rules Cancer and is the natural ruler of the 4th house. 
 The Sun rules Leo and is the natural ruler of the 5th house. 

 I’ve already told you about the sixth and seventh signs and houses. 

 Pluto rules Scorpio and is the natural ruler of the 8th house. 
 Jupiter rules Sagittarius and is the natural ruler of the 9th house. 

 Saturn rules Capricorn and is the natural ruler of the tenth house. 
 Uranus rules Aquarius and is the natural ruler of the eleventh house.

 Neptune rules Pisces and is the natural ruler of the twelfth house. 

 Don’t try to remember it all by heart, it’s going to sink in quicker than you think! 

 In traditional Astrology books, you’ll find separate explanations for the planets, the signs and the houses. Take advantage: these descriptions are but different facets of the same archetype. 
 Have a rest now! Speak more later… 

Jean-Marc Pierson Astrologer

Key words for signs-planets and houses

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To learn quickly, make it a game! 
You can play with these key words on your own, or with friends. 
Take a horoscope. Chose a placement. It can be a planet in a sign, a planet in a house, an aspect between two planets or a sign in a house. 

Look at the lists of key words below and combine them to find interpretations. 
NB: as in life, there will be positive and negative ways to combine energies.

If you need more explanations:
Each planet is associated with a sign and a house: you get the same key words, for instance for the Moon, the sign it rules which is Cancer, and the associated house which is the 4th. 

 Planets on principle represent the energy and are more likely to be expressed with verbs (for instance the Moon cares, nurtures, feels….) when the sign is a style or a mood and can be expressed with adjectives,  adverbs or complements: In Cancer for instance,  a  planet does what it does with sensitivity, in a caring manner, following their intuition…..  

 The house represents an area of life, so the key words would rather relate to the question “where”: the fourth house is where you belong which can be home, your family, your village, your country, your room, your personal space, your secret garden. 
 However, this is not a absolute rule and must be applied with great flexibility. 
 Just pick key words, combine them and see what comes up. For instance…. Mars in Cancer…. Active at home, aggressive in imagination, assertive with sensitivity……What else? 
Your turn! 

Key words. 
Moon:  Taking root. childhood – mother – child – home – roots – belonging – country – emotions -imagination – memory – sensitivity – emotional needs – physical needs – care – food – fertility – instinct – psychic – – tradition – the past – secret garden – cycles
 Water – Cancer – 4th House

Sun: To express.  self – higher self – heart – love – romance- ego -pride -self expression – goals – will power – call – father- role model – creativity – authority – king – center of attention -generosity – performance – arts – high standards – luxury – children (as our creations) – education (because teaching is performing and it taking care of our children) 
Fire – Leo – 5th house

Mercury through Gemini:   To know –  mind – communication – talking – trade – adaptation – multiplicity – exchanges – information – messenger – common sense – – intelligence – thinking-  young man, brother – nervous system – lungs –  – speed – school – student – learning – rational mind – mobility – small journeys –  
Air – Gemini – 3rd house

Mercury through Virgo: To improve – practical sense – rational mind – science – professional life – skills – sense of organization – service – chores – critical thinking – work – health – medicine – routine – rhythm – rituals – intestines – details – small animals – 
Earth – Virgo – 6th house

Venus esp. through Libra:  To relate – love – lovers – harmony – balance – art – fashion -couple – relationships – Partnerships – justice – good taste – pleasing -flirting – charming – sympathy – diplomacy – feelings – the other – kindness – hips -kidneys – young women – sister – 
Air – Libra – Seventh house

Venus esp. through Taurus: To have – love – sensuality – attraction – enjoyment – values – money – self worth – pleasure of the senses – attachments – possessions – -throat – voice – nature, gardens, fairies.  

Mars:  To be -. being – ego -assertiveness – persona – energy – courage – fight -agression – action -leader – male desire – lover -knight.  go get it! Passion. Impulsivity sport – competion – initiative – starts – birth – individualism-accidents – muscles -blood -inflamations. 
Fire – Aries – First House

Jupiter. To expand – luck – growth -expansion – organisation – generosity – optimism, abundance – taking risks – Olympic games – social integration – laws – moral principles – knowledge – wisdom – authority – faith – great journeys – meeting strangers – big picture – meaning of life – teaching – coherence – unity – a mature man – doctor – bishop – lawyer – expert -liver – religion or spirituality – 
 prayer -god – Fire or Air (here there is an ambiguity as Jupiter is sometimes considered an Air planet and Sagittarius is a Fire sign. Never mind!) Sagittarius – 9th house

Saturn  To achieve – structure – boundaries – limits – fear – long term – resistance – old age – time – restrictions – inhibitions – ambition – efforts – discipline – authority – rigor – austerity – responsibility – social status – reputation –  career – reliability – summit of the mountain – hermit – old man – bones and skin – philosophy – moral principles – duty – stern authority – 
Earth – Capricorn – tenth house

 NB: Strangely enough, the tenth house also signifies “mother” However, if we think of it, our mother is, from the beginning of our life, not only the one who takes care and feeds us, but also the one who gives us structure and limits, punish at times and frustrates our whims…  
Uranus:   To transfigure – hyper mind – plans – future – visions – friends – groups – co operatives – revolutions -institutions –  sudden and unexpected change – insights – break through – break up – intuition – politics – citizenship – ideas – ideals – projects – avant garde – difference – individuality – awaken – eccentric gentlemen – scientist – genius – channelling
Air – Aquarius – 11th house

Neptune:  To transcend – no boundaries – sensitivity – inspiration – mysticism – compassion – empathy – psychic gifts – mediumship – return to unity – ocean – instability – channelling – charity – art – music – pictures – illusions – dreams – haze – absence – dissolution – addiction – depression – mental health – universality – mystery – hidden things – secrets – spirituality – great trials – 
 Water – Pisces – 12th house

Pluto: To renew- crisis – destruction and regeneration – death – rebirth – sex – instincts – power – tribal law – financial flows – inheritance – reptilian brain – intensity – flair – research – emotional intensity – resistance – minerals – psychic gifts – mediumship (talking with the dead) – detective – thriller – underground – forensic expert – psychoanalyst –

Astrological signs are not signs. They are symbols.

The astrological signs are not signs actually, they are symbols.

A sign is a simple thing, like a traffic sign. It just means one thing.

A symbol is an image which has an impact on the human psyche and connects it to its own depths. It’s a metaphor for spiritual realities.

I keep coming back to this fundamental notion of “symbolic language”. A major cause of misunderstanding in astrology comes from not understanding what symbols are and how they work.

The way they work is by showing analogies. The law of analogy is an esoteric principle which means that there is a similarity between the symbol and what it means.

For instance, the Moon means woman. Woman and Moon have similar cycles, so they are symbolically connected. Now, in symbolic language, just because the Moon means woman…. doesn’t mean that she will mean woman in all cases, and never mean anything else. The Moon is also like our dreams, we see the Moon and dream at night.

The Moon is like the crowd, and the crowd is like the sea. Our emotions are like waves they come and go and in a crowd they propagate and amplify. So the Moon symbolises the crowds as well, the public.

Of course, the Moon symbolises fecundity and children, how could she symbolise woman without symbolising child? … (Well Venus does that, but not the emotional Moon)

So the Moon symbolises many things, which are all linked by analogy, and because the Moon is a symbol, we could understand all her meanings without opening a book if we were poets enough.

So how can we understand what the Moon and every symbol will mean in a particular chart? We need our intuition. In the context of a whole chart, we can get a feel of what each symbol may mean…


Once upon a time in the seventh house…

If you say “relationship” to an astrologer, they will look straight away at the “house of the other”.
Placements in the seventh often seem to describe more accurately your partner(s) than yourself. However, whatever happens in our seventh house is still happening in our own chart!
You must know the story of the ugly duckling. It’s a typically seventh house story. The poor little bird is a survivor. He doesn’t know he is a swan. He believes he is a duck, and an ugly one. However, when he sees swans, he feel fascinated by them.
When the swans see the ugly duckling, they see a swan. They approach him. They make him look at his reflection in the water… and…Surprise! He is a swan!
(This was the story I asked my grandmother to tell me again and again when I was two or three year old. I have Saturn followed by Jupiter in my seventh house.)
Others are mirrors. Is this mirror reliable? Sometimes yes and sometime no. Sorry to answer to this question like a Libra. Maybe. To some extent. We need a sense of nuances. We are not in straightforward grounds here…
The famous “law of attraction” says that “like attracts like”… However we don’t meet only white swans and pretty fairies in the seventh’ fields. Can we tell a woman who is a victim of domestic abuse or sexual violence that she is herself a tormentor who doesn’t know herself, like in the ugly duckling story but the other way round?
This would be a horrible thing to say! So, let’s accept that things may be a little bit more complicated…

Freud wrote that people without moral standards never develop neurosis. They follow their impulses and they don’t end up in the therapist’s room. Such people don’t have a little red devil on a shoulder and a little white angel on the other, arguing about how you should behave. They have only the little red devil. No inner conflict, no neurosis.
In my view, the little red devil is not evil. He is just the voice of a less evolved version of us. If you put a piece of meat between two dogs, they are likely to fight. They are not evil, they are just dogs. They are lovely. They don’t have a little angelic dog on their shoulder telling them they should sacrifice themselves and let the other dog have the meat.
The seventh house is where our inner dogs (or whatever our spirit animals may be) sign a “social contract”. We understand that life can only be better if we refrain from behaving like in a “state of nature” and strive for fairness instead. The purpose is to keep the peace and get minimum suffering and maximum happiness for everyone.
So imagine the two dogs of my example. They have agreed that always fighting is not a good life. Now they argue instead. The smaller one thinks that a fair share of a piece of meat is half of it for each, whilst the bigger one claims that fairness consists of giving each a piece that’s proportionate to their size – or to their weight. What is fairer? Sharing in proportion of weight or size?
…From now on it will always be possible to split more hair. The archetype behind the seventh house is Libra.
Civilised beings go to court instead of fighting. The seventh house also means lawsuits and court cases. (woof! woof! that’s not fair your honour! I’m twice as big, I should get more meat!)
When we get married or decide to associate with a business partner we sign a contract. We want win-win situations. It all happens in the magnificent seventh house.
When we engage in relationships however, we don’t discuss all the terms and conditions in advance. Should we? The magic of love may not feel so good if we did.
What is fair? in a relationship, should the partners always tell where they are going and when they will be back to their “significant other”?
Should both partners do the same amount of house chores independently of how much money they contribute to paying the common bills?
If the relationship is a friendship, should the friends be willing to answer the phone or open their door at any time of the day or night if requested?
(Some friendships are one to one partnerships in their own right)
Psychological questions, emotional needs and desires are at stake. If written, the unspoken contracts that partners unconsciously agree on could go like:
“Make me feel safe and I will make you feel special”
“Boost my ego and I’ll boost yours”
“Bring some structure, I’ll provide emotional intelligence”
“I’ll make you laugh and you’ll help me cope with the sad bits”
“I will hit you. This will relieve your in-built guilt and my inner tensions” ….
All kinds of unspoken contracts can exist, but I have a feeling that we are already entering the eighth house… Real life is not as clearly
compartmentalised as in a birth chart. In the seventh house we engage in relationships, in the eighth we deal with the deep emotional stuff. In the ninth, we’ll try to understand the meaning of life…
At the beginning of this post, I mentioned the famous “Law of attraction”: “Like attracts like”. I’m taking issue with the universality of this principle. It seems to me that we can also attract (and feel attracted to) complementarity. If like attracted like and like only, we would all be gay wouldn’t we?
Reality must be more nuanced, as usual…
Let’s go back to having a little red demon on a shoulder and an angel on the other one. Imagine a woman who is very scared by the little demon. She gives maximum attention and power to the angel, she listens only to the voice who talks about tolerating, sharing, giving, self-sacrificing… She doesn’t realise that this angel is not a real angel. It’s just a voice dressed up as one. This voice on its own is not fair. The symbol of balance, the scales, must have two sides. The little red demon, spokesman for personal desires and needs is oppressed, suppressed and this is inner abuse. Self abuse.
in good seventh house logic, this inner abuse is likely to manifest as abuse coming from outside. In this way, yes, like attracts like….
Why is this woman so scared by her little demon who only wants her to survive, have some pleasure and be happy? Maybe that’s her karma. Maybe, let me insist: MAYBE, she let him talk too loudly in some past life, many thousand of years ago, the angel was the oppressed and suppressed one, and now, her karma is that the scales have tipped, she’s going too far the other way. She is abusing herself within and therefore attracts abuse from the outside world. Maybe.
But maybe, and let me insist again, MAYBE, it is because of a great generosity that she has accepted to share a part of someone’s suffering, not because of karma but because of a will to take some of the pain of another on her and work at healing it. If Christians believe that Jesus could take the sins of the world on him, why not believe that anyone can take a little bit of suffering from someone else on their own shoulders, just to help.
And maybe….. maybe something else.
All I want to say here is that we can’t judge because we can’t know. One way or another the seventh is a mirror, but this should not be taken in a too simplistic way.
Sometimes we need to know we are a swan. Sometimes we need to rectify something within ourselves, which can be similar, or opposite to what is presented to us by a partner.
in a mirror, your left side becomes your reflection’s right side and vice versa.
…When we look at someone, we see two people in them: one is us, the other is them. When we know who we are, we know who they are…

How to understand Black Moon Lilith

  First of all there is the Moon. The Moon rules over our most sensitive life. When the Moon shines, we are likely to be smuggling in a bed, cuddling or making love, sleeping, dreaming, enjoying the comfort of our home, eating our bread…. When the Sun shines, we are more likely to be outdoors, seen by others, properly dressed up….
The Moon is the closest of all planet energies. Her orbit wraps up our earthy life. She symbolises mother, so let’s feel vulnerable and emotional like children……

The Moon goes through phases and various cycles… She is sometimes closer to the earth, and sometimes further away, like a mother. Look at a one year old when their Mum goes into the next room leaving them there for a moment…. They call and cry, in despair. Some are more insecure than others, most are very sticky. But mother has to move away every now and then… and this is one of the great lessons we have to learn. She goes away, she comes back and again…..


Sometimes we feel a terrible anguish, a terrible fear and need of her as she moves away. Psychologists know we hate our mother when she does that to us, intensely. We wish her death. Then we feel scared and guilty of our destructive tendencies – we need her so much, that bitch who is not there! We love hate need fear crave… This is Black Moon Lilith.

The feeling can be like cutting with razor blades in our most sensitive parts. We can lose consciousness, reject what we most want, become cynical or guilty, ashamed and hateful, longing and craving…. Of course we will wrapped her with psychological defence mechanisms. She has gifts for us though. She gives a great initiation. We won’t stay Moon’s prisoners forever.

If the Moon’s trajectory was a circle, there would be only one centre, the earth. But her orbit is an ellipse. There are two focal points. One is the Earth, the place where we have incarnated. The other is Black Moon Lilith. She is a void, like an Earth that is not there, the place of all that’s missing to the flesh…

Take black moon’s Lilith placement in your chart, and associate this kind of feelings with the meaning of the sign she is in….   …Some bell ringing?

 Jean-Marc Pierson (click on my name!) 

If you have never looked at a chart before…

Hello there! I’m really happy to explain, I love explaining things! If you are a beginner in the study of astrology, I am writing for you.
I expect you to know the symbols of the signs and planets, if you don’t, you can find them here

On this same website, you can get your own birthchart done for free. You need your date and precise time of birth (more or less five or ten minutes, exact if possible) and your place of birth. Go here

And now, let me explain.
A birth chart is like a big clock with two dials and ten hands.

The first dial is made up of the twelve signs.
Inside the circle formed of the twelve signs, you can see the symbols of the planets. For instance, in my own chart, the Sun (The circle with a very small circle at its center) is placed in Scorpio (The kind of M ending up with an arrow) The small numbers near the planets indicate the exact degree of the sign where they sit. My Sun is at 12 degrees Scorpio.
The second dial is made up of twelve houses. On the birth chart, you can see lines dividing the wheel into 12 sections, numbered from 1 to 12 (the numbers are near the center of the wheel) On my own chart, the Sun sits in the 5th house.

You can also see blue and red lines joining the planets. These are called aspects. The aspects are also indicated in the biggest of the two tables below the chart. Don’t be impressed by the quantity of symbols, you will learn slowly, one or two symbols at a time, as I explain the meanings, and before you know it, you’ll speak the jargon like a pro!
Here is an article where you can find the list of aspects with their symbols.

Let’s come back to the chart. The last thing you need to know are the four angles of the chart. They are very important points. The first one is called Ascendant, or Rising Sign. It is the cusp (or beginning) or the first house, on the left hand side. You can see the letters AC written in bold characters.
Just opposite the AC is the Descendant, marked DC
Towards the top of the chart, spot the letters MC – It’s the Midheaven, or Medium Coeli and opposite the MC is the IC (Imum Coeli). These four points are very powerful, any planet found near them will have a dominant influence on your personality.

So take some time to get familiar with your own birth chart, find in which signs are your Ascendant and Midheaven, in which sign and houses are your planets, don’t bother about anything that I haven’t explained yet, take a rest, congratulate yourself, dance a dance of victory for learning so much already, and I’ll tell you about meanings as soon as you’re ready, in the next chapter.

Jean-Marc Pierson Astrologer 
(I offer readings and online teaching of astrology) 

Why are Scorpios the way they are

Hello there!

Scorpios are said to be dark, secretive, very intuitive or even psychic, tormented, intense and they are in the Guinness Book of Records for being the champions of resentment. I am not going to tell you more about “how” Scorpios are, there are enough good videos or textbooks out there. I am going to talk about Scorpios by telling you why we are the way we are…..

But before I start, I want to mention that there are always exceptions to what is written in the textbooks. Every now and then, we come across someone who says: I am not like my sign at all!

The first reason is that what we call our sign is actually our Sun sign, and there are other influences: the Moon, the Rising sign and often one or several other dominant planets. Your Sun sign is like the colour of your shirt. If there is only one colour, it’s simple, there will be no confusion, but if you’re wearing a multicoloured shirt, your Sun sign, as important as it may be, will be only one colour amongst many…

Another reason why not everyone fits the typical standard description of their Sun sign, in my opinion, is that these descriptions are only the most usual ways to express certain energies. A sign is not a mold. Being Scorpio may give a tendency to be resentful for instance, but it’s not an absolute obligation, it’s possible to forgive, even for a Scorpio. Further than that, I believe there is a certain amount of freedom and creativity in the way we express the planetary energies. There mus be more than just a vertical axis of lower versus higher expression of a sign…

So why are Scorpio the way they are?

First of all, Scorpio is a Water sign. People with their Sun sign in element Water are more specifically attuned to the world of feelings and emotions. People who have no Water in their charts have feelings and emotions, we are all humans, but they won’t have them at main focus of consciousness. Air sign pay more attention to thoughts and social interactions, Earth signs will be more practically oriented and focus on what needs doing and how to do it, and on their sensations. Fire signs focus more on their self expression. The feelings of Fire signs can be strong however they are more likely to be feelings that start within themselves with the purpose to be projected from inside out, whereas Water signs focus primarily on how the external world impress them – they take it from outside in…

When Water signs are creative, it’s the result of having been somehow fecundated by something coming from the world, then carrying this impression within themselves for some time until giving birth. Water is a feminine element, say Yin if you prefer. Fire is naturally on the other side of this polarity, they go about fecundating, like the Sun, which gives warmth and light from inside out.

If someone was pure Fire – which is of course impossible let’s just imagine – this person would be blind and deaf. Nothing would reach to them. They could only receive attention. They would only project their own energy.

So Water is the most sensitive element and Scorpio is not only a Water sign, but also a Fixed sign, along with Taurus, Leo and Aquarius. Fixed signs specialised in standing their ground and not moving no matter what.

Taurus is the most fixed of the fixed signs, because Taurus is Earth and Earth is the most fixed of the four elements. Scorpio is Taurus polar opposite. Equal in strength, Scorpio holds its sensitive Water inside and whatever the world makes it feel, it will feel it. The other Water elements protect themselves more if they can.

Cancer is Cardinal, Cardinal signs are signs of beginnings, Water is life, therefore Cancer is the sign of the beginning of life. Cancer feels called to give birth literally, to have babies, or to build a house to shelter a family. Cancer will seek security and protection for the vulnerability of children, mothers and also their own vulnerability whatever their gender.

Pisces is mutable Water, mutable signs specialise in change and adaptation. Pisces way to adjust its feeling nature can be escapism or surrender. Pisces knows suffering in a more passive way…

Scorpio does not want to surrender and renounce to its ego. Not yet! Scorpio, like Taurus, wants to live in this world! Its ego will die, be born again, die again and again…

Scorpio, as a modality of consciousness, means feeling to the full whatever life gives to feel to mortal beings and maintain consciousness.

Scorpio is on the way to rediscover that the centre of identity is the immortal soul – but at the beginning of the process, its sense of identity, like Taurus, is fully identified with the body, with its instincts and desires. Taurus turns towards life and Scorpio towards death.

With its feeling nature, Scorpio faces the fact that no civilised manners can protect us from the savagery of our inner demons.

Scorpios knows that we are able of the worst: of genocides, of torture and all crimes.

Scorpio feels the instinct of survival – survival of the individual, like a wild animal, predator or prey, and survival of the species. The way to immortality is sexuality.

Scorpio feels that when their Water nature is fecundated with pain, it can give birth to twins. The first one is an evil monster. Let this one be still born. The other one is a mutant.