- Temperament: Hot and dry – choleric
- Color: Yellow, golden or scarlet
- Quality: Diurnal, masculine
- Names: Sol, Titan, Helios, Phoebus, Apollo, Paean
- Rulership: Leo
- Metal: Gold
- Keywords: Ego, authority
The Sun is the king of all planets, the most evident celestial body. In our day-to-day experience, its importance is clear: it is the source of light and heat for our planet. It is the relationship between the Earth and the Sun that causes day and night, the four seasons, and even the light of the Moon and the other planets. For all these reasons, the astrological properties of the Sun also tie into this special role, as we are going to see through this article.
The King of the Sky
The Sun is the ruler of the sky. Only the Moon comes close to its importance, but the Sun remains higher for the reasons stated above. For its power over everything on Earth, it becomes a clear signifier of all kinds of rulers: “kings, princes, emperors, dukes, marquises, earls, barons, lieutenants” are mentioned by the sixteenth-century astrologer William Lilly. We are talking here of every ruling figure, including more modern leaders like presidents or prime ministers. The central idea is that the star that rules the sky will have a symbolic relationship with people in a central ruling position. According to Lilly, this includes those who take charge of a situation, even if they usually are not considered important.
The astrologer and researcher Deborah Houlding points out that in the geocentric model developed by Aristotle and, later, by Ptolemy, the Sun occupies the center of the sky. That means that, even if astrology developed via a non-heliocentric model, the Sun still had a central position. In Aristotle’s model of the universe, the Earth is in the center, surrounded by the seven celestial spheres. The Moon is the closest to Earth, followed by Mercury, Venus, the Sun, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Of the seven planets, the Sun is in the intermediary position, leaving to one side the superior planets (Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn) and to the other the inferior ones (Venus, Mercury, and the Moon). The centrality of the Sun points to its ruling capacity, all the others only circling it.
The light the Sun emits dissolves all darkness. Thus, the Sun in astrology is related to truth and clarity, the capacity to dissolve confusion and ignorance. The Sun simply is. It can indicate in astrological charts the importance of the higher truth in the life of the native; in horary charts, it could help shed light on relevant secrets unknown to the querent.
The relationship with the truth is also why the Sun is a strong religious signifier: it symbolizes God and everything sacred. If Jupiter is the priest, then the Sun is God itself, the bringer of benefits and the manifestation of truth. In modern times, the search for truth can be indicated in a chart with a strong Sun, possibly indicating a religious path, but could also relate to other types of relationships with the truth, such as science.
In the system of 12 houses, certain houses are considered the joy of a given planet. That means that some planets prefer to be in certain houses that have some relation to their themes. The ninth house is the joy of the Sun because the symbol of truth is comfortable in the house of religion and higher education.
Counteracting darkness, the Sun would symbolize all things that could act similarly. This means that the truth is not only an intellectual concept but also relates to the sacred power to surpass evil and ignorance. This is the reason why the Sun rules all sources of light, all sacred things, and even protective remedies and herbs like St John’s Wort, said to be capable of acting as “a preservative against evil spirits, phantoms, spectres, storms, and thunder”.
Usually, a Benefic
Being in the center of the sky, the Sun is generally moderate. It is a hot and dry planet but more temperate than Mars, whose hotness symbolizes destruction. Also, the Sun is a great ruler and is related to truth and the sacred; this makes the relationship in a chart between any planet and the Sun potentially positive.
Some of the delineations of a strong Sun include the native being an honored person, achieving ruling positions but could also indicate the benefits that being near a powerful person can bring. The truth and people in command favor this person.
However, the Sun is hot, and being too close can burn, as Icarus learned the hard way. This is true for the planets, too. The condition of being too close to the Sun is a major debility, being called either “under the rays of the Sun” or “combustion”. The first is prejudicial for the manifestation of the themes of the planet, obfuscating them; the latter can mean great problems, destroying the power of the other planet by its complete obfuscation by the light of the Sun. This is clear in the sky: when a planet is too close to the Sun, it cannot be seen anymore.
There is one important exception, however. When a planet is precisely in the center of the Sun (within 17 minutes of its position, according to some medieval astrologers), it is cazimi, a term that means “in the heart of the Sun”. This is a very beneficial circumstance, bringing great power to a planet—it is said that it sits on the throne of the king.
An important concept in ancient astrology is sect, a division between two types of charts: diurnal and nocturnal. The Sun, important as it is, is the star that defines the sect. If it is above the horizon (the line ascendant-descendant), it is a diurnal chart. If it is below, it is a nocturnal chart.
The Sun is the ruler of the diurnal sect. Alongside it are Jupiter and Saturn. This means that the beneficence of Jupiter is increased in diurnal charts and the maleficence of Saturn is attenuated. They are a team, working together.
The Sun and the Seasons
The twelve constellations that would later become the twelve zodiacal signs only are different from the other constellations for one reason: the Sun travels through them. The path the Sun draws in our sky through the year is called the ecliptic; the zodiac is the belt that surrounds and includes the ecliptic.
Many defining characteristics of the signs are also related to the Sun since it is the relationship between it and Earth that causes the four seasons. As astrology was developed in the northern hemisphere, the start of spring was related to the passage of the Sun into Aries; hence, Aries is considered spring-like: full of energy, impulsive, related to new beginnings. This is also true for the other signs.
The Sun and the Zodiac
The house of the Sun in the zodiac is the sign of Leo. Here, we have the peak of the summer season, when heat is steady in the same way that the Sun is steadily emanating heat and light. Hence, it is a sign of glory, honor, and ruling characteristics, seeking truth and eminence.
Aries is its exaltation. After the spring equinox, the days start to grow and the nights diminish. The Sun is recovering its power after winter when it was in its weakest state. The energy symbolized by Aries pleases the Sun, and it feels welcomed and excited here. After all, it is a fiery sign and its ruler Mars is also a hot and dry planet. Besides that, the martial quality of Aries exalts the ruling desire of the Sun.
The exile of the Sun is the saturnine sign of Aquarius, where there are no kings and power is dissolved and shared. Aquarius is in the middle of the winter when the Sun is the least visible, and the days are short. Saturn is the enemy of the Sun, shadow against the light. It symbolizes themes such as lies and secrets; for this reason, it is clear why the Sun does not feel welcome in Aquarius.
The fall of the Sun is in Libra. This is also quite evident: after the autumn equinox, the Sun starts to weaken as the days grow shorter and shorter. Libra is also about diplomacy, hearing different sides of a conflict, trying to reconcile them. It does not have the blind desire to achieve higher positions, like the metaphor of a lion’s roar or the ram’s charge. Instead, its symbol is a scale and it is a humane sign that tries to facilitate dialogue.
The Sun in a Chart
The position of the Sun in a chart became in modernity what we call the sun sign: the sign whose characteristics explain the personality of a native. This was not considered true in most cases in ancient astrology since the Sun could signify other things and people in a chart than the native.
If the Sun is a relevant planet when we discuss the mind and behavior of a person, it could signify some of the themes that we talked about. That means an honored person, one who is in ruling positions or that aspires to be in them, who takes control of situations and feels self-important. If the Sun is well positioned, it indicates a good person, capable of greatly helping others through its prudence, good discernment, confidence, and power, one who is magnificent and inspiring. If the Sun is ill-positioned, it points to some negative traits: arrogance, the urge for power, the feeling of superiority over all others, or the absence of discernment.
Just to be clear: the good or bad positioning of the Sun is not only about the sign that it is in, but the relation of the Sun with other elements of a chart. If you have a Sun in Leo, it does not necessarily mean that you are a confident and powerful person. The same is true for Sun in Aquarius—the native is not necessarily going to be a bad or arrogant person.
As I said, however, the Sun could not be about your personality in a chart. It could be a signifier of another person. For example, if the Sun is in a good situation in a chart we could think of being friends with powerful people and all the benefits that come along with that friendship. Or maybe the proximity with the theme of truth and the sacred in the life of a person could bring other benefits. A badly situated Sun, however, could be indicative of a powerful person that is against you, or that the search for truth only leads to deception.
- ABU MA’SHAR. The Significations of the Sun.
- GUTTMAN, Ariel; JOHNSON, Ken. Mythic Astrology.
- DAVIS, Dylan Warren. St John’s Wort: a Solar Herb.
- HOULDING, Deborah. The Roaring Sun.
- Time, the Egyptians & the Calendar.
- LILLY, William. Christian Astrology.
- TOMPKINS, Sue. Aspects in Astrology. A comprehensive guide to interpretation.
- TOMPKINS, Sue. The Contemporary Astrologer’s Handbook. An in-depth guide to interpreting your horoscope.
- VALENS, Vettius. Anthologies.
Images on this page
- first-day-creation-god-maarten-de-vos: Line engraving by T. de Leu after Maarten de Vos. | Public Domain Mark 1.0
- el-sol-heni-sandoval: Heni Sandoval
- sun-seasons-zodiac: Coloured engraving by John Emslie, 1851, after himself. | Public Domain Mark 1.0
- sun-maarten-de-vos: Engraving by J. Sadeler after Maarten de Vos. | Public Domain Mark 1.0