Understanding Ruling Planets

Patricia Lantz C.Ht.
Astrological chart

A ruling planet is somewhat like an ambassador who represents the needs and interests of the planet it rules. Understanding the ruling planets and the concept of dispositors, which is virtually synonymous with the idea of rulership, is of paramount importance when interpreting a natal chart.

Planetary Rulers

Every astrological sign and house has a ruling planet. Mercury and Venus rule over two signs and houses. The ruling planet holds sway over the sign or house it rules. Some astrologers use only the modern rulers, others use only the traditional rulers, and some use both. Along with the planetary aspects, the planetary rulers tie specific planets and houses together.

  • The Sun rules Leo and the fifth house.
  • The Moon rules Cancer and the fourth house.
  • Mercury rules Gemini and Virgo and the third and sixth houses.
  • Venus rules Taurus and Libra and the second and seventh houses.
  • Mars rules Aries and the first house.
  • Jupiter rules Sagittarius and the ninth house.
  • Saturn rules Capricorn and the tenth house.
  • Uranus rules Aquarius and the eleventh house. Saturn is the traditional ruler of Aquarius.
  • Neptune rules Pisces and the twelfth house. Jupiter is the traditional ruler of Pisces.
  • Pluto rules Scorpio and the eighth house. Mars is the traditional ruler of Scorpio.
planet glyphs

Using Planetary Rulers

When a planet rules the sign another planet is in, it's said to disposit that planet. Dispositorship is a primary factor in how any planet in any sign expresses itself. Although each planet has its area of influence, how a planet works is influenced by the planet that rules the sign it occupies. This is why it's essential to know what sign a given planet rules.

Mars in Taurus Example

An individual with Mars in Taurus and Venus in Cancer would use their Mars very differently than an individual with Mars in Taurus and Venus in Aries.

  • If Mars is in Taurus and Venus in Cancer, physical sex is hopelessly intermingled with the heart's longing for the security and love of a committed relationship.
  • If Mars is in Taurus and Venus in Aries, the individual is not likely to settle into a predictable rut in their love life. They want new experiences and are not afraid to take chances.

Planets in Their Ruling Sign

The only planets which do not have a dispositor are those that are in their ruling signs. Planets in their home sign are always strengthened, its like a double dose of the same energy. A planet placed in the sign it rules is the charts sole dispositor and colors all an individual's endeavors and impulses.

Sole dispositors:

  • Sun in Leo
  • Moon in Cancer
  • Venus in Taurus or Libra
  • Mars in Aries
  • Jupiter in Sagittarius
  • Saturn in Capricorn
  • Uranus in Aquarius
  • Neptune in Pisces
  • Pluto in Scorpio
Zodiac signs

More Than One Planet in Its Ruling Sign

There is no sole dispositor if there is more than one planet in the sign it rules. As an example, a person with a Leo Sun and Mercury in Virgo would have no sole dispositor. Additionally, there can be no sole dispositor in charts that have no planets in the sign they rule.

Dispositor Chains

In working with a chart, you can follow the dispositor chain of command. The ruler of your rising sign rules your entire natal chart. Look for the planet that rules your rising sign. What sign does it occupy? In what sign is that planet located? What planet rules that sign? Follow the chain until you find a planet that's in the sign it rules. That planet is the chain's final dispositor and has command of that particular group of planets.

Capricorn Rising Example

If a person has Capricorn rising, the ruler of their Ascendant is Saturn.

  • Saturn is in Mars ruled Aries.
  • Mars is in Venus ruled Libra.
  • Venus is in Mercury ruled Virgo.
  • Mercury is in Gemini, a sign it rules.
  • Mercury in Gemini is the final dispositor of the chain.

An individual with Capricorn rising and Mercury in Gemini as the final dipositor would appear less serious and more youthful than the usual description of Capricorn rising.

Mutual Reception

Mutual reception is when two planets are in the signs ruled by the other. These two planets team up and support each other's inclinations. As an example: If Venus is in Capricorn, it's ruled by Saturn and if Saturn is in Libra, it's ruled by Venus. This exchange creates a mutual reception, which means Venus and Saturn are teamed up and support each other's lack of confidence in love. Or, more positively, they support each other in creating enduring relationships.

A Never-Ending Loop

There may be a trio or more of planets that disposit one another and have no final dispositor. This scenario creates a loop where the various planets and their interwoven influences will impact a life noticeably. As an example:

  • Moon in Aries is disposited by Mars in Sagittarius.
  • Mars is disposited by Jupiter in Virgo.
  • Jupiter is disposited by Mercury in Cancer.
  • Mercury is disposited by Moon in Aries, and on and on.

This endless loop that can feel like a dog chasing his tail, or a never-ending internal dialogue.

Finding Your Chart's Dispositors

A natal chart can have any or all of these at work. Perhaps one planet is the final dispositor for two or three others, two are in mutual reception, and three or four form a chain of dispositors between them. Finding your natal chart's dipositors on your own can be fun. However, if you're not up to the adventure, Astrodienst can find them for you.

  1. Select "Free Horoscopes" on the top menu.
  2. Enter your chart details.
  3. Click on "Pullen Astrology."
  4. From the drop-down menu, select "Sign/House Dipositer Graph."
  5. Click "show chart."
  6. The dispositors are the planets circled.

Other Uses for Ruling Planets

There are many uses for planetary rulers. The ruling planet of each house and their dispositors tie two or more houses together and add details about that particular area of life. Rulers are also used in prediction to delineate transits. They show cause, action, and effect, and how one event will reverberate into other areas of life. Be it in a delineating a natal chart or transits, ruling planets and their dispositors create a dialogue that weaves the story told in a natal chart together.

Understanding Ruling Planets