I've covered the planets individually on a number of occasions, and how they affect us on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.
But in astrology, knowing the planets and their effects on your life is just as important as knowing your sign. They all affect us differently, and knowing the areas of life they govern is critical to understanding your horoscope in its entirety.
The planets are divided into two groups: inner and outer planets. Inner planets (the sun, moon, Mercury, Venus, and Mars) are also known as personal planets, as they govern more personal aspects of day-to-day life.
The outer planets move much more slowly, and as a result, they influence bigger trends in your life. In fact, some of these outer planets orbit the sun so slowly that they're said to shape the trends of entire generations.
Sun: The Ego
The sun shifts into a new sign every month, and as a personal planet, it represents the ego, the inner self, willpower, and lifeforce. The sun represents the broad strokes of the personality, the essence inside of us that spurs us to action. The sun is the ruler over the sign of Leo.
Moon: The Emotions
The moon moves into a new sign every two to three days, and represents the emotional nature of the sign it's in. The moon governs our subconscious, our emotional reactions to new circumstances, the part of ourselves that is purely emotional and instinctual, our relationships with our mothers, and our childhood wounds.
The moon is the ruler over the sign of Cancer.
Mercury: Intelligence And Communication
Mercury moves into a new sign every three to four weeks, and is the planet that rules our rational mind, our capacity to collect and sort out information and to pass it on to others. It has power over our written and spoken word and our curiosity.
Mercury also governs the nervous system, transportation, and the ability to analyze. It is the planet associated with the signs Gemini and Virgo.
Venus: Love And Beauty
Venus moves signs every four to five weeks, and is associated with the signs Taurus and Libra. It's known to be the planet of love, beauty, and money.
In relationships, Venus represents what we desire from our partners in order to feel loved. Venus also rules over the kinds of things we spend money on, what we consider beautiful, the arts, good food, and creature comforts.
Mars: Conflict And Aggression
Mars is about initiative, sexual drive, and passion. In relationships, Mars is the planet that governs our primal sexual instincts, what we bring to a relationship, and how we go after what we want.
Mars is the heated passion behind our actions, and shifts into a new sign every six to seven weeks, changing the way we take initiative. Mars is the ruler of Aries, and is the slowest moving of the personal planets.
Jupiter: Luck, Growth, And Wisdom
Jupiter is the planet that governs the sign of happy-go-lucky Sagittarius, and the planet represents many of the themes that this sign concerns itself with. Jupiter is the planet of expansion, foreign travel, and the search for meaning and truth. It represents philosophy, religion, metaphysics, and education.
Jupiter is the planet that pushes us to continue exploring, asking questions, and look for answers. It's also the planet that can lead us into overindulgence. Jupiter moves into a new sign every two to three years.
Saturn: Discipline And Challenges
Saturn is the ruler of Capricorn and is known as the great disciplinarian planet. It is the planet of rules, restriction, personal responsibility, respect for tradition, and the courage to face our fears.
Saturn is the laws, boundaries, and limits set by society. It shapes our sense of personal duty during times of hardship. It moves into a new sign every two to three years, taking its sweet time with each sign to teach its hard-fought lessons.
Uranus: Innovation And Change
Uranus is the planetary ruler of Aquarius, and governs invention, new ways of thinking, revolutionary ideas. Uranus's energy is usually described as sudden, shocking, and disruptive, much like the energy of the sign that it rules.
It represents our urge to stand out as true individuals, and it is the planet that will force changes on a dime when the old ways of thinking stop working for us. It takes a full seven years to move from one sign into another, defining the ideas of entire generations of people each time it moves into a new sign.
Neptune: Dreams And Healing
Neptune is the ruler of Pisces, and is the planet that governs the urge to dissolve the ego, to become one with others, and to enter into altered states of being. Neptune rules our dreams and ideals; it represents things that aren't quite as they appear, the illusive, and the unreal. It is the planet of receptivity, imagination, cloudiness, confusion, delusion, illusion, and unreality.
Neptune moves into a new sign every 10 to 12 years influences our urge for spiritual healing, but at its worst can lead us toward escapism through the use of mind-altering drugs.
Pluto: Death And Transformation
Pluto is the planetary ruler of Scorpio, and it governs death and rebirth. This powerful planet has dominion over drastic changes that bring true upheavals. It tears things down to build them back up.
Pluto will transform the areas of your life that need to undergo regeneration, whether you asked for it or not. Every time you experience dramatic crises or have to endure terrible suffering for the purpose of healing, it can be linked to Pluto's movement through your chart.
Being such an unpredictable planet, Pluto moves into a new sign every 12 to 15 years.