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Planetary Order I:

...rising ahead of the Sun

by John Townley

There are a lot of important “first takes” in analyzing a chart that don’t require getting lost in a complex web of aspects, positions, and rulerships. These include preponderance of element, chart pattern types (Jones patterns), and planetary order. They tell you a lot without wading too far into the chart.

Overall planetary order tells the tale of your life, because it gives you what principles get tweaked by diurnal motion every day, and by transit and progression from monthly through life-spanning cycles. It’s your ducks, in a row.

The most heralded of these is the planet that rises directly before the Sun on the day you were born, the planet just preceding the Sun in Zodiacal position. Depending on your chart, that could be an actual conjunction to your Sun only a few degrees earlier or an entire sign or two or three away, as long as there is nothing else intervening.

Why is that planet important? Because it is literally your opening act, right before your personality (Sun) is put up front and center by a transit or progression. It’s the experience other people go through directly before they run into you, and it’s also the situation you traverse each time before getting your inner self reinforced. Indeed, it is often the first major transit you get after birth, leaving a strong feeling of that planet on you at an impressionable age. Therefore it colors both your inner expectation and serves as a stage cue for eager fans anticipating your arrival. Some show biz stars always put on a comic ahead of them to warm up the audience. Others like a band with a complimentary (but, of course, not as enthralling) sound, while still others prefer something totally different so they themselves benefit by the contrast. Whatever it is, it sets the mood for your arrival, and you're stuck with it.

So what do you lead with? Who’s your opening act? Here’s a look, in general order of likelihood.

* Mercury and Venus. The most common planets rising ahead of the Sun are the two that hang around it so closely, Mercury and Venus. Most people lead with their heads (that’s the comic) or their charm (that’s another similar band). If you’ve got Mercury there, you don’t even need a warm-up, as a good, articulate introduction will do. You will, however, be expected to be organized, clear, and have your wits about you, which is what you will require of yourself to begin with. Venus is only slightly less common, and it indicates you lead with your charm, emphasizing your looks, desirability, and generally attractiveness that need not be put into words but are obvious from your presentation. A lovely fanfare, and then voila! there you are.

* Moon. Moon rising ahead of the Sun more often than not means an old Moon, almost certainly a waning one. Your feelings precede you and you tend to know what is going to happen even before you decide to take the stage and participate. There’s a certain world-weary wisdom here that comes from being on the inner journey home, carried along by a lifetime (or two, or three) of been-there, done-that. It indicates that feelings come first and most inform the personality, whatever the signs involved.

* Mars. Ahead-of-the-Sun Mars casts a particularly Arian, energetic expectation that brings you into every situation with things already underway before you arrived. The joint is jumping, and then there you are, so you’ll need to whip up the crowd into an ever-higher level of action to meet expectations. You must be a doer of deeds, with all the benefits and perils of having to be on the move from the get-go.

* Jupiter. You have a lot to live up to and have to be the latest and greatest, newest and hippest, sky’s-the-limit burgeoning possibilities sort of person. It’s rather like having transiting Jupiter on your Ascendant or Sun, except it doesn’t go away. It makes for positive, optimistic, future-oriented people, with lots of uplift, a glass ever half-full.

* Saturn. Life is a serious endeavor for this type, and responsibility for who you are is everything. It’s often the indicator in a perhaps otherwise-frivolous chart that you own yourself and will not fail. It adds gravitas, or the appearance of it, but it also means you have to build your presence, not just spring it on people. It’s the triumph of perseverance, not the teenage success that fizzles out in the twenties.

* Uranus. You enter onto a somewhat unsettled stage and your task is to make it look like a revolution, not an unfortunate accident. Intolerant of other visions, you must follow your own and illuminate it so that it’s clear to all, not just to yourself. Sometimes strident and abrasive, but always refreshing, you’re about revelation of the moment, which amazingly enough endures like a diamond when you cut it well, then provide yourself as its setting.

* Neptune. This gives a mixed blessing of the ability to paint any picture and have it believed, but only if you believe it yourself. Do you believe in magic? Absolutely, but the magic’s in the music and the music’s in you, so where does that leave you? That bright elusive butterfly flits past with you right after. Belief is proof, and you’re its living example. You must make that music.

* Pluto. The rarest of all, this is a bit like having the Grim Reaper introduce you. But it has a profound effect. It means by definition you know there is life after death, as you just arrived directly after it, so it indicates people with great faith in themselves and their ability to transcend all. In a lower order it can mean the end justifies the means, a real trampler, but at any more reasonable level it indicates the phoenix and the sureness of its rebirth, even in the direst of circumstances. part two, zero to thirty in a few minutes, or...a lifetime... 

Planetary Order II: Your Ducks in a Row
Planetary Order III: Islands in the Sky

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