Assignation of outer planet rulerships

Tom, I have been trying to find the post where you discussed how Uranus came to be assigned to Aquarius. I am having trouble finding it but will keep looking.
Do you have any knowledge of how the modern rulerships of Neptune and Pluto were determined, or can you point me to a good source of reference? I?m curious as to who was capable of making and effecting such a decision. (Given that astrologers usually agree to disagree) :?
Any help will be appreciated
Thank you.

Hi Matthew,

My source was a website interview of Robert Hand by NYC astrologer Judi Vitale. I no longer have the website, but I think I simply plugged her name into a search engine and found it. Judi is a friend of mine, and she must have told me about the interview.

During the interview Hand made the following observations. This is from memory. A British astrologer, and I believe it was Sepharial (Walter Richard Old who renamed himself W. Gorn Old, 1864 - 1929) is the first astrologer known to have "assigned" Uranus to Aquarius and Neptune to Pisces. His reasoning went this way: If we look at the rulerships we notice that they follow the Chaldean order of the planets, e.g. Mercury rules Virgo, the next planet out is Venus and she rules Libra, the next sign. The next planet is Mars and he rules Scorpio, Jupiter rules Sagittarius, and Saturn rules Capricorn. Well, the next planet out is Uranus and therefore Uranus rules the next sign Aquarius and Neptune, the next planet rules Pisces. As far as astrological reasoning goes, this isn't horrible, but it does mess up the table of dignities, which had fallen out of favor by Sepharial's time.

Pluto really messes things up since we are now out of signs. According to Hand, a group of German astrologers put it to a vote whether or not Pluto ruled Scorpio. While very democratic, this does not lend itself to the way in which astrology views the cosmos. It was voted down! However, one disgruntled member, who was very influential, wrote a book that cited Pluto as Scorpio's ruler as fact, and it stuck! Hand does not name the group or this member to the best of my memory.

There are two serious problems with these rulerships. The first is they mess up the table of dignities and therefore the method of determining planetary strength, and the second is they don't seem to match modern astrology's own rules of planet=sign=house. Uranus is the planet of upheaval and revolution and it rules a fixed air sign. There is no affinity between the two. Neptune has given Pisces its "space cadet" reputation which is highly undeserved. Pisces is very much a Jupiter ruled sign.

Pluto and Scorpio are a better match than the other two, but by taking Scorpio away from Mars, we deny Mars its feminine or receptive qualities as expressed through Scorpio. The same is true of Jupiter and Pisces. The reverse is true for Saturn.

I hope this helps. I've long lost the interview in one of my many computer crashes. Maybe it is still out there.



Hi Matthew,

I found the website and article:

My memory failed only a little bit. Hand says it was Raphael (Robert Cross Smith 1795-1832) who first assigned Uranus to Aquarius. He could not have assigned Neptune to Pisces as Neptune would not be discovered for several years after Raphael's death. Either someone else did that, or Hand is mistaken.

Also the vote I mentioned was taken at an astrology conference in Germany. The proposition that Pluto ruled Scorpio was voted down unanimously, but apparently a dissenter took things into his own hands. Hand does name him.

Sorry about the errors.


In his book, The Manual of Astrology, published January 1st 1828, Raphael stated very clearly that Aquarius is governed by Saturn. He has an interesting passage on Uranus which is worth reproducing in full and I?ll try to do that later. He writes that because it was so recently discovered no one had witnessed more than its half-cycle. He states that from his own experience and that of others, it is noticeable in its ?evil? and ?unfortunate? effects. He describes its nature as extremely frigid, cold, dry and devoid of any cheering influence. He likens it to Saturn and Mercury and states that there is reason to believe it has a special affinity with the air signs, I suppose on the basis of its ?dry? nature; because Saturn and Mercury are the air triplicity rulers, and because Uranus was in Gemini during its discovery. He states ?we have is reason to think (from several thousand observations) that the sign Aquarius is one wherein he much delights?.

I don?t think this was based on the fact that the rulership scheme extended out to Saturn ruling Capricorn with Uranus slotted into Aquarius to continue that scheme as Hand suggests. But what we should note is that Raphael doesn?t claim that Uranus ruled Aquarius and the comments from Sepharial below show that this ?delights in? association wouldn?t have been offered as an endorsement of sign-rulership. What is especially worth considering is that Raphael?s suggestion that there was reason to believe ? based on observation ? that Uranus delights in Aquarius is ludicrous. Uranus didn?t even enter Aquarius until after the book was published. No one at that time could have good reason to think Uranus delights in Aquarius unless using some kind of philosophical speculation; observation couldn?t have supported it because no one had ever had a personal experience of its effects in that sign.

Uranus entered Aquarius one month after Raphael?s Manual was published in 1828; it left in February 1836. Later astrologers may have misconstrued Raphael?s words and believed that they were living in a ?Uranian? age because of the interest the new planet aroused, but I don?t see how its influence was particularly strong during those years. It had been in Gemini during the American revolution and is prominent in the chart for the signing of the declaration of independence. The French revolution commenced with the storming of the Bastille as Uranus was in Leo, breaking down the boundaries of royal power. It didn?t seem to leave much of an historical legacy during its passage through Aquarius.

So its rulership originated as a speculated comment taken out of context with no observable support. Then later astrologers distorted that further by suggesting that it carried the influence of Aquarius, being humane, sociable and kind (!?) ? see The Introduction to Temples for examples. We are finally starting to get rid of that sort of unfounded nonsense, thank goodness.

It?s very frustrating when these old manuals are reprinted, updated and revised by later authors under the name of the original. My copy of Sepharial?s ?Manual of Astrology? includes discussions on Pluto, discovered in 1930, although Walter Gorn Old, the original Sepharial, died on 23rd December 1929. Its content ? for what it?s worth bearing in mind confusion exists over who wrote it, is clear in showing that outer planet rulership was denied or questionable:

?The dominion of Uranus is indefinite, for he has no house of his own, though he is most successfully placed in the airy triplicity?.
Neptune has affinity with the water triplicity. It also has some affinity with the sign Sagittarius?.
Pluto is also a planet having no fixed rulership over any sign but as with Uranus and Neptune it has a spiritual affinity with Mars? It has an association with the signs Aries and Scorpio??

De Vore?s Encyclopedia of Astrology, written in 1947, also claims that many modern astrologers were breaking down the rulership scheme by claiming that Pluto was a co-ruler of either Aries or Scorpio. Pluto was in nationalistic Cancer when it was discovered in 1930, followed by a period of world history marked by the rise of fanatical Nazism. It didn?t enter Scorpio until November 1983 and like Uranus had a sign of dignity ascribed to it before anyone was capable of assessing its influence in that sign.

From the way I understand it, credible astrologers were being very careful how they approached this subject, perhaps a little speculative, but they weren?t the ones perpetuating the supposed rulerships. This seems to have been done by others who were acting in a much less critical and informed position. We might regard it as characteristic of Pluto that an astrologer stole its dignity from Mars by underhanded, renegade means. I?d really like to know more about this bounder if anyone can add further details. I?d especially like a reference for the first time that Pluto was unequivocally given rulership over Scorpio, excluding Mars from dignity in that sign.

Incidentally, I didn't know any of this before reading your post Tom. Your comments and that link to Hand's discussion has inspired me to do a bit of research.

Hi Deb,

It's nice to have the original sources to go back to. I know what you mean about revisions. Llewellyn George's A to Z Horoscope Maker has been in continuous publication since the early 1900s and it, too includes Pluto and other revisions. I refused to look at the latest edition since it probably has Chiron in it and I didn't want to know that.

Here is the relevant quote from Hand in this 1996 interview:
"At any rate, Raphael was the one who assigned Uranus to Aquarius. And the first thing that I understand about Raphael was that he was a terrible astrologer by any standards - traditional or modern. He was basically more interested in selling magical charms and amulets than in doing astrology really well."

"He was a merchant."

"Yes. And, his reasoning went like this- Mercury rules Virgo, Venus rules Libra, Mars rules Scorpio, Jupiter rules Sagittarius, Saturn rules Capricorn, therefore a new planet must rule Aquarius! (Laughter from Clark and me) Then, on the same sterling logic, Neptune was given to Pisces- which means that Pluto should have been given Aries. Something went wrong there, and it was decided to give it to Scorpio, which totally destroys the original logic, because Mars doesn't rule Scorpio, and you no longer have the Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus ordering! So not even in terms of the modern rulers does the rulership of Pluto in Scorpio hold. And a Congress of astrologers after WWII in Germany voted on a motion to the effect that Pluto was not the ruler of Scorpio, and it passed unanimously.

(laughing) "Then it must be so! It's democratically arrived at."

"The point is that it's not a unanimous decision that it is so. The reason that most people give it to Scorpio is because the first guy who wrote a book about it gave it to Scorpio - Brunhubner. As a matter of fact there is very little about Brunhubner's book that's changed or about his interpretation of Pluto that has changed significantly since, and the needs for the change are growing by the year. He got the "Hostess with the Mostest" award or something.

In her Book The Book of Rulerships Lee Lehman did a simple chart showing where the more important rulerships assigned to the outer planets came from. She used Al biruni as her basic traditional source and Rex Bills , Rulership Book I believe, as her contemporary source. Using this chart we see Uranus rulerships mostly came from the Sun and Mars, Neptune from Moon and Venus, and Pluto from Mars and Venus.

If asked to describe the energies of the outer planets, very few moderns would choose any of the above except, perhaps Mars and Pluto. I find the Venus and Pluto match interesting in light of the Howard Dean chart. His Venus acts with a great deal of power, and "power" is considered a Pluto word. "Never underestimate Venus" should be the lesson.

I also checked on everyone's favorite planet of Revolution, Uranus. During the English Revolution or Civil War Uranus was in Sagittarius, during the American Revolution Uranus was in Gemini, and during the French Revolution, Uranus was in Leo. I suppose since England and France beheaded their kings and the US only asked theirs to go away, one can argue monarchs are personally safer with Uranus in Gemini.

One more thing about Uranus is worth mentioning. Evangeline Adams predicted, more than ten years before it happened, that the US would be involved in a major war in early 1942. The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Close enough for me especially since Adams died in 1932. Her prediction was based on simplicity in itself. She noticed the USA was born in revolution with Uranus in Gemini, and everytime Uranus entered Gemini, the US found it self in a war. Uranus would enter Gemini in May of 1942. The Uranus - Mars connection mentioned by Lehman fits Adams observation perfectly.


One of the interesting things about how Raphael describes Uranus in that early period is that I don?t think many people today would disagree with him regarding its effects and general influence. Apart from that one dubious comment, which was probably rooted in clumsy writing, there?s not much in his text that I would take exception to.
And the first thing that I understand about Raphael was that he was a terrible astrologer by any standards - traditional or modern. He was basically more interested in selling magical charms and amulets than in doing astrology really well.
I winced when I first read that in the article. It strikes me as a very negative and unfair assessment and I wonder if it?s really based on a study of his writings. I?m hardly an ardent fan of Raphael but his Manual of Astrology is a decent text and worth recommending even to modern students. It has a nice collection of illustrated nativities and its principles, though a little more representative of the astrology of his day, never stray far from what you might expect to find in Lilly or other traditional tomes. It?s certainly an acceptable bridge between the traditional and modern views. I don?t see how anybody could read Raphael?s Manual of Astrology and come to the conclusion that he was ?a terrible astrologer by any standards?.

I?ve been trying to read up on what the early ?moderns? had to say about the rulerships. Mostly it seems that with Uranus and Neptune their was an attempt to align them with suitable triplicities ? Air for Uranus, water for Pisces, though it?s strange that Sepharial mentions a link with Sagittarius, almost as though there was a motivation to use it as a replacement for one of Jupiter?s dignities. But as you say, it wasn?t seen as Jupiterian in nature at all, but a sort of ?higher octave? of Venus or the Moon.

I winced when I first read that in the article. It strikes me as a very negative and unfair assessment and I wonder if it?s really based on a study of his writings.
I'm going to stick up a little for Hand on this one, not because of what he said, but to put it into a little context. Judi Vitale and Rob Hand are friends and he probably did this little interview as a favor with little to no preparation. Earlier in the interview he sort of botches the famous story of John Varley and the day his house caught on fire. He's a Sagittarius and speaking off the cuff is common to that breed. However, he is well known and well respected, and perhaps should have been a little more careful. On the other hand maybe he believes it.

The real reason for my response is to agree that some of these 19th century books have value and that they are not well thought of by contemporary astrologers is a mistake. Noel Tyl has made condescending remarks about earlier astrologers and I'm sure we can find other references by contemporary astrologers that sound as though they believe their predecessors were little more than superstitious. Like you said Deb, it is best to read the books before one makes the criticisms.

I mentioned earlier the A to Z Horoscope Maker and Delineator by Llewellyn George. George is long dead but the book is in continuous publication. It's not a bad book at all. In fact I learned how to cast horoscopes by hand using it. The delineations are precise and the symbolism much more clear than many contemporary texts.

One of my favorite astrologers is A.J. Pearce aka Zadkiel. Some call him Zadkiel II but he was actually the third Zadkiel. The second died within months of assuming the role, and it was then given to Pearce. His text, is published by AFA: The Text Book of Astrology. Pearce was a contemporary and rival of Alan Leo and I wonder if we aren't the worse for having Leo dominate the field. Pearce was a kind of stern looking man who believed things like the more difficult the mathmatical procedure the more accurate the predictions. In other words, secondary progressions can't work, they're too simple. Primary directions must be better. It isn't too diffiuclt to see why Leo attracted more students. But Pearce was a fine astrologer, a tireless advocate for our art, and he left us with an excellent text, despite his disdain for horary.

The forgotten man in American Astrology is Luke Broughton, an Englishman who settled in Philadelphia and who later claimed that when he came to the US shores there were not 20 people who could cast a horoscope and now there were many thousands thanks to him. It may have been an exaggeration but it wasn't by much. As that old philosopher Dizzy Dean once said "It ain't braggin' if you can do it."

Broughton's text is a rare find although there is a facsimile published by John Ballantrae. The format of the text is familiar to anyone who has read A to Z or Grant Lewi's Heaven Knows What. They both borrowed from the format of Broughton's The Elements of Astrology. Broughton's text is clear, well organized, and a good read. It also contains several charts that might be difficult to find elsewhere.

I'm drifting, but my point is really to echo Deb's. Don't knock these guys unless you've studied their work. They are not superstitious, backwards, semi-competent practitioners. We can learn from all of them.


I agree with all that. I did realise Hand was being very 'off the cuff' but the trouble is he carries a lot of respect so his comments get picked up and carried forward as being authorative.

The copy of Raphael?s ?Horary Astrology? that I have states that Pisces is ruled by Jupiter, Scorpio is ruled by Mars, but Aquarius is ruled by Uranus (p.35). But my copy was published in 1931 so I?m not sure if it is faithful to the original published in 1883 or whether that?s been inserted. However, Simmonite?s ?Horary Astrology? published in 1896 states that Uranus rules Aquarius. He mentions Neptune but although it was discovered 50 years earlier it isn?t given any rulership. Wherever it is mentioned in the text, its interpretation is said to be exactly the same as Venus.

Thanks for these great responses. For what it?s worth I looked in Charles Carter?s ?Introduction to Political Astrology? (1957) ? he says on page 89 that Neptune is ?related? to Pisces but doesn?t mention Uranus or Pluto in connection with the signs. Nor does he say that Neptune ?rules? Pisces so I?m not sure what his stance was generally.

You see Deb,

Now you have me rumaging through old texts instead of doing the paper work I stayed home to do. This is more fun though. The Text Book of Astrology by A. J. Pearce was written in the first years of the 20th century. I believe it originaly consisted of several separate publications then combined into one. I do not believe it was ever revised. On page 63 of the AFA reproduction (1970) Pearce states "Some modern authors have assigned Aquarius to Uranus, thus either robbing Saturn of his 'day house' or forcing upon him a partner. However until experience teaches us in what signs Uranus and Neptune are most powerful, I must decline to endorse so hasty an attempt to provide for one of the 'houseless wanderers." [emphasis in the original]

These words were written in roughly 60 years after the discovery of Neptune and over 100 years after the discovery of Uranus. Pearce calls their assignation to Aquarius and Pisces "hasty." Contrast this attitude with those who rush to assign everything under the Sun to Chiron.

Luke Broughton uses the traditional rulerships, but keeps his eye on Uranus and Neptune. The second edition of his book was published shortly after his death in 1899. Uranus was discovered before his birth and Neptune some 50 years prior to his publication of this work. Again he is cautious about assigning a rulership to the outer planets. Our contemporary cohorts by these standards are rushing things a bit.


Now you have me rumaging through old texts instead of doing the paper work I stayed home to do.
Tell me about it. And I?ve been blaming you ? if you don?t stop distracting me from the work I should be doing, Capricorn won?t have a personality this month. :lol:

Pearce?s (Zadkiel?s) book was written in 1890.
Luke Broughton?s book ? Elements of Astrology ? was written in 1899

So what we have so far concerning the rulership of Uranus, datewise, is:

1) A comment in Raphael?s Manual of Astrology, published 1828, where Uranus was mentioned as possibly having some sort of sympathetic link with Uranus, but not suggested as being in rulership there.

2) The next reference we have is dubious. Raphael wrote Horary Astrology in 1883, but this was a different ?Raphael?. The original ? Robert Cross Smith - died in 1832. The text I have states that Uranus rules Aquarius but doesn?t help much because it was produced in 1931 and could have been altered.

3) Luke Broughton?s Elements of Astrology, published 1899, keeps the old rulerships.

4) Pearce?s (Zadkiel?s) Text Book of Astrology published 1890, mentions other authors have assigned Aquarius to Uranus, but doesn?t endorse it himself.

5) Simmonite?s Horary Astrology published 1896, states that Uranus rules Aquarius.

It would be good to find out if the 1883 version of Horary Astrology did mention the rulership because that text may well be the first to have published a firm belief that Uranus ruled Aquarius. The trouble is there were so many Raphaels after Smith died, I?m not even sure who wrote it. Either way I don?t think Hand?s comment (or criticism) can be applied to the original Raphael. If ?Raphael? was the first to make the assignation, we ought to know which one of them it was. I?m surprised that this point ? which is actually quite important in terms of the history of astrology ? is so poorly understood.

Rob Hand made similarly disparaging comments about Raphael ("a hack") in a talk on Bonatti at the AA(UK) Conf, 6th Sept 02.

I wonder if this is due, in some measure, to Raphael (at least, one of the Raphaels) being in some ways a precursor of Alan Leo, of whom it was said:
His life work was to cleanse the Augean stables of astrology, and only those who worked in close touch with him know what an accumulation of filth there was in those stables, and what slime he waded through? (Annie L Barley, p.136 of Bessie Leo's biog of Alan L).
Leo's colleague FW Lacey recollected that
He was always desirous of writing books; he rarely read much, but was a deep thinker. (p.43 ibid)
... and that the only books he read properly in the years when his approach to astrology was forming, were Blavatsky's Secret Doctrine and Raphael's Guides (ibid).

So in a way there seems to be a direct line of descent from Raphael to Leo. It would be interesting to know which editions of the Raphael Guides Leo actually studied... though only in a historical foot-notey kind of way.

But if you take the fact that in the preface to the 1877 edition of the Guide (which would surely be about right time-wise for Leo), the author remarks that he has treated astrology
in such a way and form as the most illiterate person who can read and write can readily understand
and then factor in Leo's subsequent efforts to cleanse even this "Augean stable" you do have quite a picture of just how simplistic Leo's astrology ended up being.

Personally, I wouldn't want to blame either Raphael or Leo for their approach - I think simplicity has a place in astrology, and who is to say that we would have seen the burgeoning of traditional astrology in the last 20 years if it hadn't been for Raphael and Leo injecting life into the market for astrology.