The bodies most often categorized as planets in modern astrology are the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.
The clever reader will note that the Sun and Moon are by no means planets, and that Pluto has been recently demoted. “Planets” in astrology refers to the original meaning of the term, the Greek word for “wanderer.” The “wanderers” are the parts of our solar system which move perceptibly through the sky. This differentiates points such as the Sun, Moon, Mercury, etc from the great field of stars behind them, which appear to stay fixed in our night sky.
We might also substitute the term used in Vedic astrology for planet- “Graha.” “Graha” is a Sanskrit word most often translated as “grabber, or seizer.” The focus here is on what the planets do- they push and pull, repulse and attract.
Traditionally, the planets are divided into “benefic” and “malefic”- meaning those planets that do good and those that do bad, respectively. These are not moral judgments, like good and evil, but refer to those things which might cause us to call it a “good” or a “bad” day. The benefics, Venus and Jupiter, create lucky, fun, positive circumstances, while the malefics, Mars and Saturn, trigger conflict and present obstacles. Not evil. Just irritating.
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