Since the invention of the telescope, Western astrology has incorporated Uranus, Neptune and Pluto into its methodology.
Indian and Chinese astrologies have tended to retain the ancient seven-planet system. Meanings have had to be assigned to them by modern astrologers, usually according to the major events which occurred in the world at the time of their discovery.
As these astrologers are usually western, the social and historical events they describe have an inevitable western emphasis.
Astrologers consider the 'extra-saturnian' planets to be 'impersonal' planets, meaning their effects are felt more generally across society. Their effects in individuals depend upon how strongly they feature in that individual's birth-chart.
For some modern Western astrologers, the planet Uranus () is the ruling planet of Aquarius. In Greek mythology Uranus was the personification of the heavens and the night sky.
The planet Uranus is very unusual among the planets in that it rotates on its side, so that it presents each of its poles to the sun in turn during its orbit, so that one hemisphere is bathed in light, while the other lies in total darkness. Its mysterious blue, green clouds are so dense that they have revealed nothing to modern astronomers .
These strange traits reflect its astrological significance as the breaker of convention. Uranus takes 84 years to orbit the sun, spending about 7 years in each sign of the zodiac. Uranus was discovered only in 1781 by Sir William Herschel.
Astrologically modern interpretations associate Uranus with the principles of genius, new and unconventional ideas, discoveries, electricity, inventions, and the beginnings of the industrial revolution.
It was also associated with the principles of the Enlightenment and radical politics, among other things. Around the period of discovery in 1781, the idea of democracy and the human rights was prevalent, with the breakaway of the American colonies from England and a few years later in 1789, the French revolution.
In art and literature, the discovery of Uranus coincided with the Romantic movement, which emphasised individuality and freedom of expression. In medicine Uranus is believed to be particularly associated the the sympathetic nervous system, mental disorders, breakdowns and hysteria, spasms and cramps. Uranus is considered by modern astrologers to be co-ruler of the 11th house with Saturn.
For some astrologers, Neptune () is the ruling planet of Pisces. In Roman mythology Neptune was the god of the sea, and the deep, ocean blue colour of the planet Neptune reflects this.
Neptune takes 165 years to orbit the sun, spending approximately 14 years (13.75) in each sign of the zodiac. Neptune was discovered in 1846.
Astrologically modern Western astrologers associate the planet Neptune with illusion, deception, religions, spirituality, the mass media, music, drugs, extreme sensitivity, psychic phenomena and altered mental states. Its appearance coincided with the discovery of anesthetics and hypnotism .
In political terms Neptune was linked to the rise of nationalist movements throughout Europe in countries like Germany, Italy, Hungary, Ireland and Serbia, seeking independence for their nations inspired by an idealised past of legend. It was also linked to the rise of socialism and the beginnings of the welfare state.
Neptune also coincided with the utopian ideals of Communism, when Marx and Engels first published 'The Communist Manifesto' in 1848. In art, the impressionist movement began a trend away from literal representation, to one based on the subtle, changing moods of light and colour.
In medicine Neptune seems particularly associated with the thalamus, the spinal canal, and severe or mysterious illnesses and neuroses. Neptune is considered by modern astrologers to be co-ruler of the 12th house with Jupiter.
Prior to the discovery of Neptune, Jupiter was considered the ruler of Pisces, and some modern astrologers consider Jupiter a co-ruler of Pisces. Some astrologers do not believe that Neptune rules any particular sign, even though they may use the planet in interpretation.
To some modern Western astrologers, Pluto () is the ruling planet of Scorpio. In Roman mythology Pluto was the god of the underworld and of wealth. Pluto and its moon Charon form a unique pairing in the solar system because Charon is so massive relative to Pluto.
This means that they revolve in a 'dumbbell' formation around a common point in space lying between them, permanently locked in a 'power struggle' for dominance . This is symbolic of the role Pluto has come to represent astrologically.
Pluto takes 248 years to orbit the sun, spending on average approximately 21 years (20.6) in each sign of the zodiac. However, Pluto's orbit is so eccentric that this can vary dramatically, from 25 years in Cancer (1913 - 1938) to a mere 12 years in Scorpio (1983 - 1995), when its orbit was actually closer to the sun than Neptune's.
In 2006 Pluto was reclassified by astronomers as a " dwarf planet " and therefore is no longer considered a planet in astronomy.
Astrologically Pluto is called "the great renewer", and is considered to represent the part of a person that destroys in order to renew.
A commonly used keyword for Pluto is "transformation". Many more traditional astrologers do not use Pluto as a ruling planet, but do use the planet for interpretation and predictive work, obliquely making reference to projections of influences from higher to lower dimensional spaces.
Pluto is also associated with extreme power and corruption; the discovery of Pluto in 1930 coincided with the rise of fascism and Stalinism in Europe, leading to the Second World War.
It also coincided with the Great Depression and the major proliferation of organized crime in the United States. Its entry into Cancer in 1913, the sign in which it was later discovered, coincided with the First World War.
It is also associated with nuclear armament, which had its genesis in the research of the 1930's and 40's. Later on, it gave rise to the polarised nuclear stand off of the Cold War, with the mass consumer societies of the United States and other democracies facing the totalitarian state socialism of the USSR.
The discovery of Pluto also occurred just after the birth of modern psycho-analysis, when Freud and Jung began to explore the depths of the unconscious.
In art, movements like Cubism and Surrealism began to deconstruct the 'normal' view of the world and reassemble it in new and sometimes disturbing ways.
In medicine Pluto seems to be associated with regenerative forces in the body involving cell formation and the reproductive system. Pluto is considered by modern astrologers to be co-ruler of the 8th house with Mars.
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