The subject of rulerships (or dispositors) is an important one in astrology, as so much information can be derived from them. Rulerships are pervasively used in the horary and vedic branches of astrology, but can be widely applied elsewhere in the same manner to excellent effect.
The student of astrology cannot begin too early to consider rulerships around the chart, though a course in horary and/or vedic astrology will server to entrench the habit of moving the eye around the chart to consider rulerships and the unique interrelatedness of various planetary factors.
Rulerships refer to 1) the ruler(s) of a planet-in-a-sign, or the ruler(s) of a house, 2) as well as what that ruler signifies or is correlated to in life.
Let's IDENTIFY RULERS, then we will APPLY the information.
Every planet, node, asteroid, house cusp, even the part of fortune, and midpoint in a chart has a ruler. All of these FACTORS are placed in SIGNS, which have RULERS.
- Aries is ruled by Mars.
- Taurus is ruled by Venus.
- Gemini is ruled by Mercury.
- Cancer is ruled by the Moon.
- Leo is ruled by the Sun.
- Virgo is ruled by Mercury.
- Libra is ruled by Venus.
- Scorpio is ruled by Pluto and Mars (modern and ancient).
- Sagittarius is ruled by Jupiter.
- Capricorn is ruled by Saturn.
- Aquarius is ruled by Uranus and Saturn (modern and ancient).
- Pisces is ruled by Neptune and Jupiter (modern and ancient).
For example, the Sun in Aries is ruled by Mars, as Mars rules Aries. The Moon in Capricorn is ruled by Saturn, as Saturn rules Capricorn. An Aquarius Ascendant is dually ruled by Uranus and Saturn, its modern and ancient rulers respectively. A Virgo 8th house cusp is ruled by Mercury.
Further, each of those rulers is, in turn, placed in a house and sign, which may give us more information about the interrelationships within a chart.
As to what any given ruler signifies or is correlated with, see Rex Bills' THE RULERSHIP BOOK, and my Transformational Astrology Series.
We can follow rulerships around the chart in a CHAIN. Ultimately, all roads may lead to Rome in the sense of all chains no matter where you start can lead to a single ruler, which will be a planet in its home sign such as Sun in Leo, Moon in Cancer, Mercury in Gemini or Virgo, Venus in Taurus or Libra, Mars in Aries or Scorpio, Jupiter in Sagittarius, Saturn in Capricorn or Aquarius, Uranus in Aquarius, Neptune in Pisces, or Pluto in Scorpio. This single ruler to which all factors eventually return in a chain of dispositors is called the "final dispositor." If you see such a factor in a natal chart, it is what I call "a glory of the chart" in the sense that what the planet represents and where it's found tend to do exceptionally well and be shining examples and graces in a person's life. Other times, the dispositors will circle around 2 or 3 factors, going round and round in a circle, and these factors will be quite strong in the chart, and potentially highly successful.
If you come to a sign with DUAL rulership both modern and ancient, work with both and see where they lead you.
Some say that the final dispositor, if there is a single one, is the RULER OF THE CHART. Others such as myself hold that the ruler of the Ascendant is automatically the ruler of the chart. Others do a different evaluation to arrive at what they call the ruler of the chart. Still others might say that we don't really need the term at all. Nevertheless, students should be aware that there are several definitions or meanings-in-use for the phrase "ruler of the chart."
Let's look at some examples of following rulerships around a chart as far as they go:
Example 1: BILL CLINTON, Aug 19, 1946, 8:51 am, Hope AR 93W35, 33N40. Ascendant 5 Libra.
Clinton has several planets and asteroids, as well as his Ascendant in Libra. The ruler of Libra is Venus, which is in Libra. His Sagittarius factors are ruled by Jupiter which is in Libra, which in turn is ruled by Venus in Libra. Moon rules the MC, and Moon is in Taurus, which is ruled by Venus in Libra. His Vesta and 7th house cusp are ruled by Mars, which is in Libra, which in turn is ruled by Venus in Libra. So far everything is leading to Venus in Libra. However, his several Leo planets are ruled by Sun in Leo. Several Gemini factors are ruled by Mercury, which is in Leo, which is in turn ruled by Sun in Leo. Ceres asteroid is in Aquarius, ruled by both Uranus and Saturn. Uranus is in Gemini, which is ruled by Mercury in Leo, which is ruled in turn by Sun in Leo. Saturn is in Leo, ruled by Sun in Leo. The house cusps are ruled by all of the above, so we conclude that all astrological factors lead to 1) Sun in Leo in the 11th house (showmanship, popularity, highly social, group leadership) and 2) Venus in Libra in the 1st (good looks, charm, love and affection, diplomacy). These two planets are in their home signs and theoretically strongest there. I'd say they were equally strong in Clinton's chart.
Example 2: AL GORE, March 31, 1948, 12:53 pm EST, Washington DC, 77W02 38N54. Ascendant 4 Leo.
Several Leo planets and Ascendant are ruled by the Sun, which is in Aries. Sun in Aries in turn is ruled by Mars, which is in Leo. Already we are circling between the Sun and Mars, which are in "mutual reception" [planets in each others' signs]. Moon is in Capricorn, ruled by Saturn, which is in Leo, which is ruled by the Sun again. Chiron and the South Node are in Scorpio, ruled by Mars and/or Pluto, which are both in Leo, ruled by the Sun. Jupiter is in its home sign of Sagittarius, so rules itself right where it is. Two Pisces factors are ruled by Neptune and/or Jupiter. We just saw where Jupiter went. Neptune is in Libra, ruled by Venus in Taurus, which is in its home sign also. Uranus is ruled by Mercury in Pisces, etc., ending at Venus in Taurus. Other Taurus factors are ruled by Venus in Taurus. So we have Sun in Aries <--> Mars in Leo in mutual reception, and Jupiter in Sagittarius and Venus in Taurus in their home signs, a complex result showing much talent and opportunities for success.
Example 3: GEORGE W. BUSH, July 6, 1946, 7:26 am EDT, New Haven CT, 72W56, 41N18. Ascendant 7 Leo.
Several Leo planets and Ascendant are ruled by the Sun in Cancer, which is in turn ruled by Moon in Libra, which in turn is ruled by Venus in Leo again. Already we have a circle among Sun, Moon and Venus. Several Libra factors are ruled by Venus. Ruler of the Midheaven and Vesta is Mars in Virgo, which is ruled by Mercury in Leo, which is in turn ruled by the Sun in Cancer, etc. A couple of Sagittarius factors are ruled by Jupiter, which is in Libra, and in turn ruled by Venus in Leo. A couple of Gemini factors are ruled by Mercury, which is in Leo, which in turn is ruled by the Sun in Cancer, etc. Everything cycles down to Venus, Sun, and Moon. While all are strong in the chart, we might say that Venus is arguably the strongest, being the only one of the three that's angular, and it rules the 4th house cusp which is another angle of the chart. The Sun would be second-strongest, ruling the Ascendant, and therefore some, including myself, would say ruling the entire chart. The Moon would be last in the trio of dispositors. The foregoing rough hierarchy is controversial.
A Plea for Solar Charts
Solar charts (that place the Sun on the Ascendant with all other factors following from that) work as well or better than timed charts for many purposes, and are ideal to use as the natal chart for an individual whose birthtime is unknown (normally use a Noon birthtime to calculate the Moon, then put the Sun on the Ascendant, and the rest of the chart follows from that). Rulerships in a solar chart can be used just the same as in timed charts, with surprisingly fine results, such fine results in fact that I encourage looking at the solar charts of individuals whose birth time IS known, as a most valuable secondary view of the natal pattern. Note: solar charts are done with a Equal House system, putting the degree of the Sun on the Ascendant, and following the signs around the house cusps with the same degree.
Equal House System
Another valuable view is the Equal House system applied to a timed chart, as this may change some house rulerships. (If you're a student testing various house systems to see which you like best, try doing a timed chart using one or more house systems PLUS the equal house system. Always include the equal house system (at least mentally, if not in hardcopy) for comparison. Look not only at planets in the houses, but house rulerships around the chart and see how this information stacks up with what you know about that person's life. This will give you additional data upon which to base your judgment of the house systems.)
We can derive more information about the areas of a person's life as symbolized by the various planets and houses by looking at rulerships. Where is the ruler of some area of life you want to look at, as symbolized by a HOUSE, to be found in the chart? Where does that planet or house [cusp] "go out" of its natal house and connect with the rest of the chart? What does the kid do when he leaves home to go out into the big world, so to speak? Which house(s) does he visit? The rulers of the Ascendant, Midheaven, Sun and Moon are the three key factors to look at here, but all astrological factors follow the same principle.
Working this idea in reverse, we can derive more information about any area of life represented by a given planet by looking also at not only the house it's in, but which houses are *ruled by* that planet! What houses does a planet "come from"? What other areas of life "feed into" that planet where it resides? Where does that planet get its power, information, influence? Look at any planet in a sign and house, check which house(s) it rules, and observe the influence of that house on the planet where it resides.