Each of the 12 signs of the Zodiac has a planetary "ruler". Just like a kingdom has a king or an empire has an empress, the 12 Signs each has their own celestial body which rules them. What this means is that the issues and areas that are associated with a planetary body is linked to the Sign it rules.
Until 1930 and the advent of telescopes, astrologers could see only 5 planets in the sky in addition to the Sun and Moon. As a result, each planet ruled two Signs. For example, Mars used to rule both Aries and Scorpio. After the discovery of Pluto, it was decided that Aries would continue to be ruled by Mars, but Pluto would now rule Scorpio. However, Gemini and Virgo still share a ruler (Mercury), as does Taurus and Libra (Venus).
Here is the rulership associations of the 12 Signs:
Sun - Rules Leo
Moon - Rules Cancer
Mercury - Rules Gemini and Virgo
Venus - Rules Taurus and Libra
Mars - Rules Aries
Jupiter - Rules Sagittarius
Saturn - Rules Capricorn
Uranus - Rules Aquarius
Neptune - Rules Pisces
Pluto - Rules Scorpio
In an astrological chart, another thing to take into consideration is where a ruling planet resides. For example, my Mid-Heaven (MC) is Capricorn. The natural ruler for Capricorn is Saturn. So although the universal Mid-Heaven is located at the cusp of the 10th House (at the top of a chart), I need to consider where Saturn is located in my chart to fully understand how it impacts my Midheaven. (In my natal chart, Saturn is actually in 2nd House Taurus).
Here's another example: my Moon is in Aquarius. Aquarius is ruled by Uranus. This means I need to consider the position of Uranus in my chart, because it's placement affects the emotional impact I have on others. (The Moon is associated with our emotional life, among other things.)
Did you know that your entire chart also has a ruler? This is easy to discover: Locate the Sign that represents your first House. Whatever planet rules the Sign of your first house is the celestial body that rules your entire chart. Since I'm Aries Rising, and Mars rules Aries, this would mean that the ruler of my chart is Mars. So what I need to realize is that the placement of Mars will have a great influence on both my life and personality. (Mars is in Libra in my chart, so I need to consider Libran influences. The first House governs personality and ego.)
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