The Planets

Every zodiac sign has a planetary ruler to which it is associated. This ruling planet acts as the "ambassador" for that sign. For instance, if you have Taurus rising, Venus will be a key planet to watch.

Aries - Mars Taurus - Venus Gemini - Mercury
Cancer - Moon Leo - Sun Virgo - Mercury
Libra - Venus Scorpio - Mars and Pluto Sagittarius - Jupiter
Capricorn - Saturn Aquarius - Uranus Pisces - Neptune

 

Planetary Cycles

Each planet has a unique cycle as it moves through the various constellations in the zodiac belt. Some planets move slower than others, in particular the outer planets (Jupiter through Pluto) move slow enough to identify significant patterns or return cycles. Additionally, each planet has certain characteristics and a distinct purpose in natal chart interpretation. And, although all planets travel through all signs of the zodiac, their energy is best expressed in specific signs, and not very well expressed in others.

Mars

Orbit: It takes Mars approximately 26 months to navigate the entire zodiac belt
Retrograde cycle: Every two years Mars has a retrograde cycle which lasts approximately 9 to 10 weeks..
Characteristics: Assertion, aggression, desires, drive, action, masculine
Mars' purpose: In your natal chart, Mars sign and placement suggests how you assert yourself, where you need to take action and how you are driven to accomplish your goals and desires. It is our power to act, explore and lead.
Mars in detriment: Mars does not function very well in the sign of Libra or Pisces. It's nature is contrary to the peace-loving, gentle and considerate approach taken by Libra or Pisces. These signs often sacrifice the self or give power over to others, whereas Mars energy is an initiator that acts on instinct and usually doesn't consider the waves it might cause or what other's think.

Venus

Orbit: It takes Venus approximately 584 days to navigate the entire zodiac belt
Retrograde cycle: Venus has a retrograde cycle approximately once every 12 months which lasts for approximately six weeks.
Characteristics: Venus is a social energy allowing us to connect with others as friends or through love, it's feminine and harmonious, pleasant and graceful.
Venus' purpose:  In our natal chart, Venus' sign and placement suggests how we connect with others through coordination, consideration and cooperation. Venus suggests where we seek peace, justice and harmony.
Venus in detriment: Venus doesn't show it's colors as well in the signs of Aries or Scorpio as these signs are much more competitive and enterprising, both being Mars ruled, rather than working in cooperation with others.

Mercury

Orbit: Mercury moves quickly, and stays close to the Sun. It takes approximately 12 months for it to cycle through all of the signs of the zodiac.
Retrograde cycle: Mercury has, on average, three retrograde cycles each year, each lasting for 3 weeks..
Characteristics: Mercury is a fast-moving energy that is difficult to channel and pin down, allowing us to interpret, filter and distribute information.
Mercury's purpose::  In our natal chart, Mercury's sign and placement is related to our conscious awareness, our learning traits, how we process ideas and information, and learn through listening and communicating.
Mercury in detriment:: Mercury is less precise in the signs of Sagittarius and Pisces. Both of these signs are focused on the big picture instead of the details.

Moon

Orbit: The moon changes sign every 2.5 days, it's full cycle through the zodiac belt takes 28.5 days.
Retrograde cycle: The moon does not have a retrograde cycle.
Characteristics: Sensitive, intuitive, emotional, nurturing, protective, defensive, indirect.
Moon's purpose:  In our natal chart, the Moon's sign and placement suggests our emotional quotient, our ability to empathize, and connect in our environment and our relationships on a sensory level.
Moon in detriment: Moon is less comfortable in the signs of Capricorn and Scorpio. Capricorn is non-emotional and Scorpio does not display it's deep feelings very well.

Sun

Orbit: Twelve months to complete the full cycle through the zodiac belt
Retrograde cycle: The Sun does not have a retrograde cycle.
Characteristics: Ego, vitality, generosity, need for recognition and attention
Sun's purpose:  The Sun in our natal chart suggests where we want to shine, what our inner purpose is, and how we express generosity and expect reward
Sun in detriment: The Sun is less expressive in the sign of Aquarius as this sign favors a cool, distant energy. The Sun in Libra often sacrifices personal attention and bestows attention on others.

Jupiter

Orbit: It takes Jupiter one year to move through each sign of the zodiac, so it takes 12 years for it to complete a full cycle
Retrograde cycle: Jupiter's retrograde cycle occurs once every 12-13 months and lasts for approximately 4 months.
Characteristics: Big picture, beyond your own backyard, travel, publications, awareness of cultural, philosophical or religious differences among us
Jupiter's purpose:  In your natal chart, Jupiter's sign and placement indicates where we can grow and expand our horizons, as well as where we find avenues for growth
Jupiter in detriment: Jupiter isn't as comfortable in the signs of Gemini and Virgo, because they focus too much on a narrow area and things within their local realm

Saturn

Orbit: It takes Saturn 2.5 years to move through each sign of the zodiac, and 28.5 years to make a complete cycle through the zodiac belt.
Retrograde cycle: Saturn has a retrograde cycle once a year lasting for 4.5 months
Characteristics: Disciplined, controlled, wise through experience, principles and integrity
Saturn's purpose:  Saturn helps to inject caution and fear in our lives, and compels us to take responsibility, use method and logic, discipline and appropriate planning
Saturn in detriment: Saturn is less effective in the signs of Cancer and Aries as these are both instinctual signs who respond often without planning. Cancer is much too emotional for Saturn and Aries operates without brakes.

Uranus

Orbit: It takes Uranus 6-7 years to move through one sign of the zodiac, therefore it takes approximately 80-84 years for it to make a complete cycle.
Retrograde cycle: Uranus experiences a retrograde cycle once a year which lasts for approximately 5 months.
Characteristics: Sudden or unexpected change.
Uranus' purpose:  In the natal chart, Uranus shows where you can express your unique self and where you might find unexpected happenings. It will introduce you to new and different, compel you to think out of the box, and be enlightened.
Uranus in detriment: Uranus does not express it's characteristics best in the signs of Leo and Cancer as these signs need others whereas Uranus is an independent energy.

Neptune

Orbit: Neptune takes approx 14-15 years to complete one sign of the zodiac, therefore it takes 168-170 years for a complete cycle. Most people will only experience a Neptune opposition in their lifetime, which happens at approximately mid-80's.
Retrograde cycle: Neptune experiences a retrograde cycle once a year which lasts for approximately 5-6 months.
Characteristics: Neptune is our ability to connect to the spirit world, empathy and compassion for the down-trodden and appreciation of the sensory arts, imagination and dreams.
Neptune's purpose:  In the natal chart, Neptune shows where and how we may be too trusting, gullible and deceived. It shows where we need to dissolve old so new can be born. It can suggest areas of disillusionment, chaos or naivety.
Neptune in detriment: Neptune's dreamy nature is less comfortable in the sign of perfectionistic, organized, tangible Virgo and logic-oriented Capricorn.

Pluto

Orbit: Depending on the sign it's moving through, it takes Pluto 12-20 years to navigate through a sign. Because it's complete orbit is similar to Neptune's, the average person will not experience a complete cycle (Pluto return) unless they live well into their 90's.
Retrograde cycle: Pluto has a retrograde cycle each year which lasts for 5 months.
Characteristics: Pluto is associated with atomic energy, depth, destruction, death and rebirth like the phoenix rising from the ashes, and transformational change .
Pluto's purpose:  In the natal chart, Pluto suggests where we can change or evolve, it also shows where we might have power struggles with others who we perceive to be more powerful than ourselves, control issues, and where we should probe deeper.
Pluto in detriment: Due to it's nature, as it goes through each sign, it identifies the hidden elements, and what needs to be transformed or changed.

Jointly Ruled Planets

Venus:
Both Taurus and Libra are ruled by the planet Venus, yet each has their own expression based on the fact that Taurus is an Earth sign, whereas Libra is an Air sign. Taurus is a more earthy creativity, they like digging in the dirt, crafts they can make with their hands and they can be spenders or hoarders of money. While a Libra expresses it's social and creative qualities through ideas, conversation, aesthetics and harmonious relations.

Mercury:
Both Gemini and Virgo are ruled by the planet Mercury, yet each has their own expression based on the fact that they have different elements - Gemini is an Air sign, while Virgo is an earth sign. Gemini is more interested in assimilation of information, exchange of ideas and surface knowledge of many subjects. Virgo is makes practical application of information, they pay attention to detail, have fine organizational skills and are interested in facts rather than concepts.

Mars:
Both Aries and Scorpio are Mars ruled signs, yet they each express this energy differently based on the fact that Aries is a Fire sign and Scorpio is a water sign. Aries is very active and responds on an instinctual level. They are couragous and able to lead others, yet they have little staying power as new opportunities or ideas easily distract them. Scorpio is a fixed water sign and although they have strong ambition and executive ability, they also have tremendous staying power, inner strength and a will to win. Scorpio has Pluto as it's secondary ruler which also adds an element of destructiveness and hidden power.