Signs of science

What do Scorpio, Aquarius, and Pisces have in common? With the invention of the telescope, we on Earth learned of the outer planets Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto — and these were the three signs whose rulerships changed as a result.

Before anyone knew about planets beyond Saturn, these three signs had different rulers: Scorpio by Mars, Aquarius by Saturn, and Pisces by Jupiter. Personally, I still use these traditional rulers when considering things like chart rulership, as do many other astrologers.

However, I don’t completely ignore the outer planets. I love the explanation, which I’ve heard in more than one place now, of Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto being “higher octaves” of Mercury, Venus, and Mars, respectively. I’d like to take this in a slightly different direction though, and consider the outer planets to be more like Mercury, Venus, and Mars plus science.

Why science? Because human invention (i.e. the telescope) is the only reason we became aware of their existence.

Some planetary themes

Continuing along the Mercurial theme of Uranus, what is communication when science gets added in? The first thing I think of here is the internet, and electricity. Electrified air is lightning, and Uranian influence often comes in the form of a bolt from the blue. In a natal chart, Uranus placement often takes the form of personal ingenuity; not just where you’re clever, but where you see opportunities or connections that no one else does.

What about Venus? What exactly is the scientific side of attraction and desire? This one’s easy: drugs, long associated with Neptune (and poor Pisces, who I’d argue is usually just trying to bring people together). I’d also add photography and film, both being technology-assisted art and especially Neptunian in nature. I’m also going to go out on a limb and connect Neptune with magnets: a weird force that few understand, magnetism creates all manner of natural wonders like the northern lights, and expands meaningfully on the idea of attraction down to the molecular level.

That leaves Pluto, and this one confused me a bit, mostly because I’m still working out how to interpret Mars, its base energy. Mars is related to personal force and power. A “technological” advancement of that might be government; that would definitely fit the classic “death and taxes” definition of Pluto in some books.

But then I asked my Sagittarian husband what he thought “power plus science” might mean, and his first jump was to the police and military, specifically their use of lethal force. It’s a specific extension of the government idea, one that opens up a lot of interesting questions: Who, in a given age, has the power to end life? Who holds that level of agency? Aren’t weapons themselves a type of technology, too?

The signs of science

So now back to those signs I mentioned earlier. Pisces, the drug thing kind of makes sense. It’s coming from a desire to bring things together into a state of oneness, of cohesion. That, I think, is Jupiter’s influence at work. But Pisces has different tools at their disposal than boisterous Sagittarius, the other Jupiter-ruled planet, not to mention a cooler spin on the idea of a party. Pisces is motivated by love, for one thing, and that’s the Venus sneaking in; also because of this Pisces is highly tuned in to beauty and, regardless of how attractive a Pisces actually is, they almost all have a charm that they can deploy at will. But since we’re talking outer-planet Venus, a.k.a. Neptune, there’s a certain lack of grounding to these beautiful ideas. Mere mortals can’t attain it, but we can fake it, or simulate it briefly with the help of beautiful tools that frame (or induce) the experience.

Aquarius is in many ways the classic science sign, the sign most associated with experimentation. I think the urge to push against known boundaries is clearly connected to Saturn’s influence, Saturn being the literal outer boundary of the universe at one time and a general stand-in for authority: not the type that grants you agency, but the kind that tells you to stop in your tracks. Aquarius is thought to be more open-minded than Capricorn, the other Saturn-ruled sign, but I wouldn’t mistake this for being more flexible; Aquarius is a fixed sign and as stubborn as any of them once it gets an idea in its head. Instead, I think it’s more that Aquarius respects the desire to get all the data, a drive for working with information that connects right back to Mercury’s influence. With that outer-planet zap in effect, though, we’re not talking about common knowledge found in the newspaper; we’re talking about experimentation that’s never been done before, so that unknowns become knowns. They don’t intend to challenge authority, but of course they often fall into this role as a result of their tendency to question assumptions that they didn’t test out themselves. Oh and forget about censorship; Aquarius is possibly the least possessive sign to begin with (again, ungrounded!) and they’ll be happy to release their findings to the public as soon as possible. (Partially out of pride; they do love being right, and often are.)

Finally, we have Scorpio, a fearsome side of martial energy. The other sign Mars rules is Aries, the classic warrior type whose force and brute assertion is its trademark. But Scorpio doesn’t fight with this style; it’s associated with deep intelligence, and is far more likely to cause something to implode from within than it is to confront something head-on. When Scorpio takes on a challenge, it’s transformative and often a trigger for deep psychological change. (Perhaps psychology itself is somewhat Plutonic in nature? What with probing the depths and all.) Scorpio is also resourceful, and often does research before acting — a principled approach that any scientist could respect. Some say Libra is “the judge” and Scorpio “the executioner”; funny thing, because Judgement in tarot actually is Pluto’s card, and Scorpio isn’t doing anything on Libra’s (or anyone’s) command. When they execute, it’s because they really believe in what they’re doing. They believe not just in vigilante justice but in systems that work on a grand scale.

Outer planet energy rarely plays out on just a personal level; look no further than the Saturn–Pluto conjunction we had earlier this month for evidence of that. But when one of these signs with outer-planet energy gets involved in a transit or even in your personal chart, it’s worth being aware of their potential.