Master and Servant: Rulership Theory

With respect to the Saturn – Pluto conjunction Zack asks:

Do you feel the same dynamic is in effect for those with Saturn in Scorpio (ie, a Saturn ‘underwritten’ by Pluto)? The unconscious demanding of respect and resulting anxiety when that is not easily or immediately granted?
With Pluto in Scorpio as sole dispositor of my chart, life itself can feel like it’s run by unconscious anxiety. The only way out seems to be to continually let go, when Pluto wants to grip. Hardly a moment’s rest…

It’s worth getting to grips with rulerships. Astrology starts to make a lot more sense when you can begin to pick apart the avenues of causality that exist within our charts, and rulerships give you this exact perspective.

Except in the case of mutual reception, rulerships are a one way street. This means that in the example cited, with Saturn in Scorpio and (I’m guessing) Pluto in Libra or Scorpio – or indeed, Pluto anywhere except in Capricorn, the rulership means that Saturn is working for Pluto. Pluto in the chart is happy to get the help he needs to fulfil his duties and obligations. If Pluto is in Scorpio, then the buck stops there, but if Pluto resides in Libra, then Pluto is in turn working for the objectives and ambitions of the Venus placement.

Let’s say that you have Pluto in Libra in the 10th, and Saturn in Scorpio in the 11th. This would denote a situation whereby your friendships with older, more experienced and respected individuals would assist you in pursuing your career goals and enhance your reputation. You’d probably be quite anxious about getting ahead in your work, and maybe even manipulative about getting recognised for your focus and drive in your career. This career respect that you enjoy, would in turn likely serve as a means of enhancing your appeal to the opposite sex, making you a better marriage prospect and allowing you to enjoy the finer things in life (you see, because Pluto is in turn working for Venus).

In this way, a planet’s placement is explained by its ruler. If you have Mars in Libra in the 4th house then there will likely be considerable difficulties around fostering independence in the early years. Assertiveness doesn’t come easily. The approval of others is often a condition for independence. Getting one’s way is a struggle because you learned in the childhood home that compromise was required. Now let’s say that Venus is in Capricorn in the 7th house, we probably see that the parents’ marriage was difficult, money was likely not plentiful; the model for marriage is weighed down by Saturn’s concerns. Love and marriage are hard work, although – depending on aspects and other factors – not necessarily a lost cause, because we learn that in love at least, hard work pays dividends. By following these connections we can tease out the story and understand the life lessons.

To return to the original question though, Whilst the effect of rulership is far from the principle of conjunction, Saturn does still have Pluto’s concerns at heart. So if you like, Saturn is working to alleviate Pluto’s natural inclination to anxiety. Pluto’s anxiety – if in Libra – is going to be centred upon approval. Anyone with Pluto in Libra usually takes rejection pretty hard, especially in romantic scenarios. The same is true of course for anyone with a Venus – Pluto connection, but Pluto is not taking on the struggles of the planets he rules. In this scenario Pluto has anxiety about being liked, not respected. Of course the difference can be subtle! Since approval, lovableness and respect are such closely allied concepts.

There are interesting and curious subcategories. The mutual reception is just that, a mutual support of one another’s interests, like the best of marriages. There can also be a detrimental reception. Consider any of the classic detrimented receptions:

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

In these configurations there is a mutual insecurity. The Moon in Capricorn struggles to relax and takes criticism hard. She looks to support from Saturn in Cancer who has little stomach for hardship and just wants things to be easier. That’s not really the kind of support she needs. But this still improves the original placements somewhat, provided the native can overcome the difficulties inherent in the placements.

Even without reception, you can understand how Venus working for Mars’ interests is going to be tricky. Mars is running the show and Venus is like a delicate maiden running with the neighbourhood toughs. She’s going to be suffering before too long.

When you have a final dispositor, as in Zack’s case, then everything is working, ultimately, for that sole objective. It’s like a long line of employees, each working for their own manager, but ultimately, their smaller objectives only make sense in the context of the big boss sitting at the top of the building.

So if Pluto is a final dispositor then you really have a task to work on that Pluto, if for no other reason than the fact that until you do, your entire chart is working to manage Plutonic anxiety. If you can perform the spiritually neat trick of a Plutonic conversion, then all that energy gets refocused into easier, and ultimately beneficial channels.

But bear in mind, converting your Pluto (a kind of metaphorical uranium enriching programme) is made easier or harder depending on how big your Pluto is. It’s an easier road if your Pluto is in Virgo or Scorpio than in Leo or Libra. Like a lot.

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33 thoughts on “Master and Servant: Rulership Theory

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  1. Yes, when I laid out my chart this way for first time it made a lot more sense. Everything hooks up to saturn in 6th Aquarius, mutual reception with uranus, and saturn is most powerful planet. Not very fun, everything has to do with heavy goals, always feel weighed down by habits I do not have yet but plan to eventually. And its square to pluto as well so last post was especially nice read.

    Glad you’re back writing again Jeremy. Hope your doing well.

  2. I have Saturn conjunct Pluto in Libra.
    But my Venus is in Capricorn, sign of Saturn. So who is serving whom in this equation? Venus is also tightly square Pluto…

    1. So both Saturn and Pluto are serving the Venus agenda ” the objectives and ambitions” to quote the article. She may have aspects to other planets that further inform. She has a house placement as well where her activity is being expressed – she does her Venus thing in a Capricorn manner – I imagine she slowly but steadily achieves her ambition – most likely material, but possibly in relationship since Saturn is in Libra. In turn, this activity serves the Saturnian agenda of commitment to relationship etc and may relieve any insecurity Saturn has there. This is an example of two planets in mutual reception. Saturn in Libra/Venus in Capricorn. Since Saturn is exalted in Libra this looks like a good thing. Venus softens up that Saturn and brings in the love and beauty relieving his insecurity and Saturn helps her achieve material security – possibly by marriage or in partnership, and with someone older? Look to the house placement for more info. The conjunction of pluto to Saturn is a fused energy – Pluto empowers the Saturn – they have similar agendas but Pluto is more ruthless in achieving the aim, is the weightier planet. Here, IMO Pluto empowers Saturn and Venus, as Saturn and Venus in their loop are mutually beneficial and Pluto serves the Venus agenda. This may alleviate the Pluto anxiety. I say that Venus is helping them both especially if well aspected. Very important here to give Venus what she needs. Please feel free to comment on this interpretation!

    2. Lily – forgot about that square to Pluto in the previous post. Does this mean she also squares Saturn that is conjunct that same Pluto? This is stressful for you. I have a Pluto square Venus and Venus opposition to Saturn so I kind of get this one. Relationship insecurities and fear of rejection. Jeremy’s post talks about the Pluto square Venus (not fun). So – this is the challenge, and in this way Pluto must serve Venus but he is not happy about it. This is a most interesting dynamic – one for a pro to discern (I am not).

    3. JEllen has given some analysis here which you might find useful.

      For my part I’d say this is a tricky configuration because the natural tendency of the Saturn – Pluto conjunction is quite heavy and can be a little overbearing and insensitive (of course it can be much harder going than that in some cases, but we’ll give you the benefit of the doubt!) and this therefore describes the energy signature, if you like, that is working for Venus’ objectives. To dream up an analogy, it’s somewhat akin to having a Mafia boss and his henchman working for your dating agency and trying to encourage romance. The temptation here is to be too heavy and too forceful in relationship situations. Venus wants to compromise, but Saturn-Pluto is probably the least compromising combo you can get. So you see the pitfalls.

      Of course much depends on their placement and other factors because you might find that you project those qualities onto romantic partners (for example if Sa/Pl is in the 7th, exacerbating the Libra placement), and you thereby find yourself drawn to potential lovers with those difficult qualities.

      With Venus in Capricorn, there is early difficulty with love, and often this is because of the planet’s ruler. Here you have Venus in turn ruled by Saturn, who is conjunct Pluto, so the story is quite clear. Maybe there are romantic issues derived from difficult patterning from the father, or even the grandmother.

      The mutual reception of Venus and Saturn does help. You can bring a stability to romantic partnerships through cultivating coolness and respect, but the square to Pluto is not going to help. With Saturn configured there is usually a problem with feeling unloved and insecure in the relationship too. So yes, the reception helps, but this is a difficult road. After midlife the prospects for happiness are much better, good even.

  3. I’m trying to understand this, so does this dispositor situation work with planets being in each other’s house of rulership, for example one’s Sun in the 8th house which is ruled by Pluto and Pluto in one’s 5th house assigned rulership by the Sun? For example a natal Sun in 8th (in Sagittarius) and natal Pluto in 5th (in Leo) or would one’s Sun also need to be in Pluto’s assigned sign of Scorpio for the full ‘benefit’ of this dispositor situation?

    1. I don’t think so Joanna, although in the example you cite, Pluto in the 5th and Leo may add some extra juice to the Sun through planetary rulership. That’s because Pluto here is working on the Sun’s behalf from within the Sun’s house. That said, the 5th, 7th and 9th houses are the most difficult placements for Pluto. aside from highly angular placements.

  4. Any comment on the significance of the planet that starts the longest chain and the planet that ends the most? Also – is Chiron equal to the rest of the ancient personal planets? Chiron is the top dispositor in my chart – in Aquarius, Uranus runs second. Saturn in Sag is the end disposited planet for the most planets, Jupiter is in second place as an end planet before a loop begins mid chain. So, it seems like for the most part the buck stops with Saturn. Jupiter is the only planet that eventually gets full circle back to itself aside from a Venus in Taurus that stands alone.

    1. Any planet that ends a chain of dispositors is significant, but to be a true final dispositor the planet must be in its own sign. In the article therefore, in Zack’s chart, Pluto can only be a final dispositor if in Scorpio.

      Often there are two or more planets which disposit the chart, or sometimes a mutual reception does so. In my chart two mutual receptions disposit the chart. A single final dispositor is always going to be highly significant in determining life focus. A final mutual reception dispositing the entire chart will be a little less focused, but still extremely important. And so forth.

      It’s difficult to make a case for Chiron being the final dispositor of a chart because rulership is tricky. Some make a case for Virgo, others for Sagittarius. I think to be on the safe side you need to stick to the established planets, Sun thru Pluto.

      1. Jem – thank you for clarifying and for this awesome article! Also appreciate your interpretation of Lily’s situation.

  5. Correction. I see now where all planets lead to the Jupiter with the exception of the stand alone Venus and the Neptune that serves her. I think the loop mid chain is what was confusing me. The Jupiter refers back to itself mid chain and repeats the end part of the chain in a loop. Any significance to these end planets then?

  6. Yes, see my response to your previous comment. In this situation, you have two dispositors (I’m guessing), Jupiter and Venus. The more energy is fed through to Jupiter, but Venus and Jupiter are both given strength through their respective channels. That’s good!

  7. I personally favor the “Totem Pole” analogy since we are dealing with hierarchy. Modern astrology tends to sideline this classical interpretive technique for whatever reason, but I think it’s one of the things that should fall under “foundational basics” and any serious student should take note. I’m also so glad you mentioned detrimental mutual receptions, as it’s been a bone of contention for me for a long time whenever I see other astrologers going on about how mutual reception is “always a good thing”. Not so! Road test that theory before preaching it far and wide, because my own observational experiences do beg to differ. Tom Callanan had that one right with his “like two drunks helping each other home ” analogy. Dual debility + mutual reception = the Edina and Patsy pairing, IMHO. 😀

    1. Yes the two drunks theory was a good one. I think he used it in the context of a detrimented mutual reception of exaltation, Sun in Libra and Saturn in Aries. That’s another interesting combination. Edina and Patsy is perfect! I think you’ve nailed it.

      1. Ha, thanks – I’ve been saying that for years! I’m not sure I would have made the correlation without hearing Tom’s initial observation, however – his words definitely planted the seed for that analogy. Debilitated mutual receptions do scream “Ab Fab!” to me, though – sure they both get along, but when they’re both essentially ….umm, I’m not sure there is a delicate way to say this….bungling screw-ups, how much practical good do we REALLY think they’re apt to do for the owner of that nativity?

      2. In a vedic astrology setting, exaltation through debilitation is how Sun in Li, Saturn in Ar is described. (neecha bhanga raja yoga) Because it is via a debilitation, a person will have a very strong will power, and proceed through life with a steely will and determination. More of a destiny that unfolds via setbacks, rather than a cushy ride..

  8. Jeremey, what a delight to read not one but two new articles written by you in the last few weeks. This is my first time commenting, but I’ve read most of the articles on the blog, the book, and listened to the podcasts several times. It is a joy to read your work and I look forward to living many of these concepts out in my own way. Though, as you you say, this is surely the work of not just a lifetime but many lifetimes. So cheers to you and thank you for continuing to share your gift.

    That said, I do have a question about rulership that perhaps you would comment on. Let’s suppose in someone’s nativity, Mars is a singleton in Aries and Pluto is a singleton in Scorpio. So while these planets are comfortable and powerful in their own signs, they seem cut off and exiled from the rest of the planets in terms of deposition. How do these estranged archetypal energies play out for the native in life? The configuration mentioned above is, in fact, my own, and I have indeed found these to be two of the most difficult energies to integrate into the rest of my personality. The image of two dangerous powers lurking outside a village, their fires burning hotly in the dark wilderness of the unconscious, seemed like a neat metaphor for Mars and Pluto not having any point of entry into the rest of chart via deposition. How reliable do you think deposition is in coming up with these types of astrological metaphors? And if this train of thought is worth pursuing, what might be ways in which the figurative villagers can begin to harness the terrific power of the God of War and the Lord of the Underworld for a meaningful solar purpose? It seems like they wouldn’t be up to much good if they didn’t have some sort of allegiance to the village’s greater good…although I question if this is even possible in Pluto’s case?…Conversely, I imagine the other planets, the villagers if you will, would be somehow unprotected without their allegiance.

  9. Thanks for your encouraging remarks. It keeps me motivated!
    When you say that Mars and Pluto are singletons, do you mean in the sense that they are Ptolemaically unaspected? (i.e. not aspected by conjucntion, opposition, trine, square or sextile?)

    If so, then you have issues integrating these archetypes for sure. They can either be entirely absent from the self-expression or they might dominate, leaving little room for other archetypes to play out. Sometimes these modes can alternate, creating a very uneven life path.

    If they are tied into the larger figure then there should be no issue. They are both strong in their own signs, and should be of great benefit where authenticity and integrity are valued and promoted.

    So it’s not so much a case of these planets not joining in because they don’t disposit another planet, rather they are able to fully pursue their own agendas (fitting for Pluto and Mars of course) without distraction. Other planets do not have this luxury as they are not free to make their own position secure.

    1. Jeremy – thank you for your remarks. I don’t believe I employed the term ‘singleton’ correctly, but you did answer my question anyway. I was referring to the fact that Mars in Aries and Pluto in Scorpio are the only planets in their own respective signs and no other planets are in those two signs. It sounds like this isn’t such a bad thing. Although living out Mars and Pluto energies positively and with integrity, as you would say, doesn’t sound easy either way you flip the coin. Especially in cases like my own where Pluto squares Venus in Leo and Mars is the recipient of a tight T-Square from Neptune and Chiron…Oh the joys of living! 🙂

  10. Would a case of detrimented reception be any easier with Venus in Scorpio together with Mars in Libra and Venus in Aries with Mars in Taurus since they do not form the opposition aspect?

      1. Thanks for the link, I loved the post. I have one more question: how about mutual reception by exaltation? Do you consider its effect when you are interpreting a chart?

  11. I have Saturn in Scorpio 0 degrees – 12th house and Pluto in Leo 24 deg, 10th house.. 23/10/53. Asc 3 deg Scorp.

  12. Greetings! I just finished reading Orcus. I got interested because I have quite recently started learning astrology, found my way to this blog somehow and was impressed by your style of writing and the thought behind it. Concerning the book, I was really delighted how the story unfolded towards the end. You are an excellent teacher and I appreciate the spiritual stance you have found. I realized that I still got work to do and challenges to beat in integrity. Keep up the good work Sir.

  13. Hi,
    As Pluto in Virgo generation – it’ s still the same plutonian show never mind where it stands.
    I’m rising Gemini, Sun Sag exact at 8th H cusp squaring Pluto in Virgo 6th H.
    Jupiter – my Sag Sun’ ruler is in Virgo.
    Mercury – my charts ruler also is thereby ruled by the Pluto.
    My 6thH Venus is Scorpio at the midpoint of pluto sun square (orb 1 degree) this makes Pluto’s semisquare to venus and –
    so that the story wouldn’t get too easy – 135′ one & half square to my natal Mars, that’s squaring my Venus.
    Besides Kheiron is opposing the Pkuto..and yes, its makes grand gross ..
    Pluto is always The Pluto. Never mind the signs. Aspects makes the way.

  14. Hi,
    As Pluto in Virgo generation – it’ s still the same plutonian show never mind where it stands.
    I’m rising Gemini, Sun Sag exact at 8th H cusp squaring Pluto in Virgo 6th H.
    Jupiter – my Sag Sun’ ruler is in Virgo.
    Mercury – my charts ruler also is thereby ruled by the Pluto.
    My 6thH Venus is Scorpio at the midpoint of pluto sun square (orb 1 degree) this makes Pluto’s semisquare to venus and –
    so that the story wouldn’t get too easy – 135′ one & half square to my natal Mars, that’s squaring my Venus.
    Besides Kheiron is opposing the Pkuto..and yes, its makes grand gross ..
    Pluto is always The Pluto. Never mind the signs. Aspects makes the way.

  15. Thanks for this, Jeremy. What an interesting time for me and those born in my generation. I have Pluto in Scorpio on the 1st/2nd house cusp (opposite Taurus Sun/Mercury conjunction in the 7th). Capricorn Saturday is in the 4th (opposite Leo moon in the 10th), where a north node in Aquarius also resides. I have started my first Saturn return, and it feels like transiting Pluto has been rubbing on a very deep and dark old wound.

  16. I have Pluto at 0 deg Libra/Scorpio in the 7th House. It’s supposed to be the sole dispositor of my chart. I also have Saturn and Mars in Scorpio (8th House) I also have Venus at 29 deg Aries/Taurus 1st House.
    What does it all meeeeean???

  17. My son has Pluto in Capricorn 10th house (conjunct Mars), in mutual reception with Saturn in Scorpio 8th house (where he has a stellium). Would this mean a powerful career for him? I myself have Pluto in Scorpio 5th house as the sole dispositor of my chart, so I guess it was written in the stars that I would have a Plutonic child!

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