One of the ongoing divisions in astrology has to do with traditional rulerships versus modern rulerships. The main point of contention has to do with how or if the outer planets should be integrated into the system of domicile rulerships. Modern astrologers say Uranus rules or co-rules Aquarius, Neptune rules or co-rules Pisces while Pluto rules or co-rules Scorpio. I’m firmly in the traditional rulership camp because once I understood how traditional rulerships are based on our own solar system and conditions of visibility as laid out in the Thema Mundi, it made sense to me that the outers should be treated differently. I use the outer planets, but not as domicile rulers. If I want to investigate the ruler of a house occupied by Aquarius, Pisces or Scorpio, I’m looking at Saturn, Jupiter and Mars respectively.
I say all that to say that I’m going to be making these arguments for modern rulerships as someone who is opposed to them, not as a proponent. Hopefully I’m not committing an ad hominem here – but it often seems that the arguments in favor of modern rulerships are coming from…an uninformed perspective. So while I don’t accept the outer planets as domicile rulers of signs, the grand irony is that there actually are some slightly better arguments out there in favor of modern rulerships, but you never hear anyone make them. Again, I don’t actually hold these arguments in high esteem myself, but I do find them more meritorious or convincing than variations of:
- “Works for me”
- “I am emo/goth and/or am attracted to dark brooding types from fiction and/or am aroused by spanking or more, so naturally Pluto rules Scorpio and the 8th house and sex and death and la petit mort and-,etc.”
- “You just blindly follow stuffy dogma from dusty ass old ass texts which undergird the fundamentals of my own practice even though I just blindly follow doofy dogma from decades-old texts and call it following my intuition or the collective unconscious.”
Well, for what it’s worth…
3. There Are Old Ass Texts That Technically Support Modern Rulerships
Well, okay. It’s one tiny fragment from one part of an old ass text. It’s from a passage by Gregory of Nicaea about the Persian sage Zoroaster, and the astrology of the ancient Persians, the Zoroastrians. So we’re talking about a second-hand source about stuff that was going on around maybe 5th/6th century BCE. It makes an explicit connection between different zones of the zodiac (signs/decans/bounds) and a bunch of gods. It lists off the gods associated with the rulers of the signs starting from Leo. Here is the relevant section once we get up to Pisces:
“And next, Poseidon is the co-inhabitant with Zeus; Pluto with Ares…”
–The Astrological Record of the Early Sages in Greek translated by Robert Schmidt
Poseidon is Neptune, Zeus is Jupiter and Ares is Mars. The order of the list makes it clear that Pisces and Aries are the signs being referred to. Interestingly, Robert Schmidt used Greek names for these gods except for Pluto, which should be Hades. In any case, it is a clear statement that Neptune should be the co-ruler of Pisces alongside Jupiter, and that Pluto should be the co-ruler of Aries alongside Mars.
Of course, they’re referring to gods, not the outer planets, but it’s a remarkable coincidence. Even Robert Schmidt noted:
“Modern astrologers may also find the invocation of Poseidon and Pluto as co-rulers with Zeus and Ares respectively a deep confirmation of the inner consistency of the symbolic reasoning tying together the planetary gods and the signs.”
It should be noted that even if a modern astrologer wanted to hang their hat on this as the justification for outer planetary rulerships, they’d have to concede that this is at the very least confusing for Pluto, which so many associate with Scorpio as the ruler but here co-rules Aries with Mars, Pluto’s modern “exaltation” sign. It also doesn’t list Ouranos (Uranus) as a ruler or co-ruler of Aquarius. According to the rest of the passage, no god other than Kronos (Saturn) is associated with Aquarius aside from potentially Rhea (Kronos’ wife in mythology) and Artemis (one of Kronos’ random granddaughters), neither of which have any kind of connection to themes of Uranus. Unless you wanted to rename Uranus to Rhea or Artemis, there’s no fit.
However, just because something is in an old text is not necessarily a good reason to accept it, but it does give some semblance of precedent for the association of these gods with these signs. This is all the more impressive that it comes from about 2000+ years before any outer planets were discovered or named and wasn’t exactly a well-known passage in the time the outer planets were discovered. However, there is another way that modern astrologers could more convincingly argue for Uranus to be a domicile ruler…
2. If Visibility is a Condition for Rulership, Uranus Technically Qualifies
One way that traditional astrologers argue that the rulership system should be exclusively reserved to the traditional 7 is that they are visible to the naked eye while the outers are not, for the most part. This is a useful interpretive distinction because it establishes why the outer planets are beyond the ordinary humdrum everyday life signified by the traditional 7. They’re beyond regular domicile rulers, because they’re beyond natural visibility, they’re transcendental. After all, Uranus itself was only discovered with the use of technology – a telescope. Neptune started off a mystery and it was only through math that its position was figured out, and verified with a telescope.
The only problem with this is that technically, technically, Uranus is visible to the naked eye, but only when its close to its opposition with the Sun (when the Earth is closest to Uranus) and even then, only if you knew where to look. The dimmest object human beings can see with the naked eye is a magnitude of about 6.5. The average magnitude of Uranus is about 5.38-6.03, so this is pretty close to the boundary of human vision. Even with a clear dark sky and good vision, it’s going to be hard, but not impossible. Neptune has a magnitude of 7.8, so it really is impossible to see without a telescope. Pluto? Forget about it.
The point is, natural visibility is not the absolute most cut-and-dry demarcation point to establish which planets should be included as domicile rulers. While it’s true as a rule of thumb and useful in making interpretive distinctions, this asterisk about Uranus’s visibility is a point in favor of including Uranus in the rulership system, if visibility is a condition for rulership. However, if this premise is accepted, then the modern rulership advocate would have to forfeit rulerships for Neptune and Pluto, so this argument would be more likely used to tear down visibility as a condition for rulership than for arguing in favor of modern rulerships.
Honestly, the best way to persuade someone is to appeal to the values or preferences of the person you’re attempting to persuade. If you’re going to argue for modern rulerships, you gotta go right to the source of traditional rulerships: the Thema Mundi.
1. The Thema Mundi Could Technically Support Modern Rulerships
The Thema Mundi is a teaching tool and source of many fundamental concepts in astrology like domicile rulership, aspects, exaltations, and offers many other insights into various areas of astrology. It’s simple. Cancer rises, and all planets occupy their own sign. The Moon is in Cancer, the Sun is in Leo, and then the planets in order of their distance from the Sun occupy each following sign. The signs symmetrical across the axis of luminaries provides the other sign a planet rules. Each planet beyond the luminaries gets a diurnal/masculine home and a nocturnal/feminine home. It’s balanced and symmetrical. However, if you did just keep adding planets to the sequence, then uncannily…
…Uranus would be in Aquarius, Neptune would be in Pisces and Pluto would be in Aries. This by itself is a far more convincing argument for Uranus and Neptune being associated with these signs because it’s founded on the conceptual framework that underlies the traditional rulerships, so it’s not arbitrary. Even the houses that Uranus and Neptune occupy in the Thema Mundi have some curious correlations with their astrological connotations as well. This is an argument for modern rulerships that is harder to easily ignore and yet…you never hear it. That’s probably because the cost of giving Uranus and Neptune firmer ground to stand on is rejecting Pluto’s rulership of Scorpio, and embracing its rulership of Aries instead. They just can’t give up that Pluto/Scorpio/8th aesthetic.
|“works for me”||X||X||X||X|
|“brooding vampires are hot because Pluto/Scorpio/8th = sex”||X||X||X||XXX|
|“You blindly follow old dumb things, but I blindly follow new dumb things”||X||X||X||X|
|Zoroastrian God/Sign Associations||X||✓||✓||X|
|Extended Thema Mundi||✓||✓||✓||X|
There are better arguments out there for establishing the outer planets as rulers. I can’t say they’re utterly convincing to me personally but these are better than what you typically hear. I’m still going to be using the traditional 7 planets as domicile rulers, and I’ll still be using the outer planets as transcendental modifiers/intensifiers, but I can’t deny that when I look at the Thema Mundi from now on, I’ll see this in my head: