The Outer Planets in Astrology: To Use or Not to Use?
The outer planets, Uranus, Neptune, and yes, Pluto, are often overplayed in modern astrological delineations. They are overplayed in the sense that they are often the first thing that a modern astrologer will look at in any chart delineation, and it is often the case that without the outer planets a modern astrologer will consider a chart unfit to be delineated, or at least staggeringly incomplete.
On the opposite end of the spectrum there are a growing number of Medieval and Indian astrologers who do not consider the outer planets to be relevant in a chart delineation at all, and do not even include them when they draw up and interpret charts in their personal and professional practice. Part of the rationale for this position, as it has been explained to me by certain proponents of this approach (usually acolytes of Robert Zoller or John Frawley), is that the astrological construct was created prior to the discovery of the outer planets, and any attempt at incorporating them only serves to wreak havoc on the internal consistency of the system and to confuse or muddle delineations.
My own opinion on this matter lies somewhere in between the two extremes. On the one hand, my early investigations into astrology were mainly focused on modern astrology for the first four years of my studies, and during this time I gained an appreciation for the important types of significations that the outer planets bring to a chart, and consequently their relevance in delineations.
On the other hand, over the past few years since I began studying more ‘traditional’ forms of astrology I have come to appreciate the internal consistency of the older systems of astrology and the fact that you can have a completely accurate and encompassing approach to prediction by just using the seven classical bodies alone. For example, I came to realize that the use of the traditional system of sign rulerships is not something that is regressive or outmoded, but it is actually a very elegant and consistent construct that can be used to explain the inner workings of a chart, and plus it just works better in practice.
So, where is the middle ground? For me personally the middle ground is simply to use the seven visible planets as sign rulers and to focus on the deeper implications of each of those placements in each chart, but at the same time to incorporate the outer planets by paying attention to their sign placements, house placements, and aspects with the inner planets. I find that using the traditional rulerships along with the outer planets also has a way of naturally balancing out the tendency to spend too much time focusing solely on the outers when delineating chart, since the traditional rulerships have a way of forcing you to pay more attention and give greater authority to the inner planets.
Certainly the outer planets are important in astrological delineations, and they can be incorporated into transits, synastry, natal analysis, electional astrology, and even horary in order to achieve a greater understanding of whatever it is that you are studying. But not at the expense of the visible planets and the rest of the chart, which can also provide a tremendous amount of information, even if it is sometimes more subtle.
So, that is my approach to the matter. What do you think about the subject? Should the outer planets be used, or should they be ignored? Should they be assigned rulership of signs based on the affinity that they are thought to have with certain signs, or should astrologers stick with the more geometrically elegant construct derived from the Thema Mundi? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.