The chart ruler is the planet that rules the sign of the Ascendant of a natal chart or composite chart, and it offers fascinating insights into one’s character, relationships, and life patterns.
In order to use the chart ruler, you must know your birth time or have your chart rectified (an astrologer derives your Ascendant by working with you to analyze your life events). First, I’ll describe how it works in charts generally, and then I’ll discuss some fascinating ways it affects the rhythm of your life.
The Ascendant and the Chart Ruler (Natal Charts)
The chart ruler is a very important facet of your Ascendant, which Stephen Arroyo calls the “Ascendant complex” because it is so multifaceted. Your Ascendant is far more than a sign that describes how people see you and how you see the world around you. Dane Rudyhar calls it your “first impulse as a unique being” (as is your first breath). That said, it is chiefly known as a sign, and all signs have planets that “rule” them. The Ascendant symbolizes the horizon, the separation of the earth above and the earth below, when you were born. It is the cusp (beginning) of your 1st house. The other eleven houses have cusps and rulers, too.
So the Ascendant represents how you express your uniqueness, but the chart ruler gives us much more specific information about how you do it. For example, if your Ascendant is Capricorn, Saturn is your chart ruler, and the house in which it sits will have a connection with your Ascendant. You will probably tend to express your individuality through that house. For example, if Saturn sits in your 6th house, you will probably express your uniqueness by serving others, being involved in healing or possibly repairing things, and you will take this very seriously (Saturn).
To continue the example, Saturn’s aspects to other planets and angles will affect how you express your individuality and are perceived by the world. If it is trine Mercury, in the 10th house, it is likely that your “social office” or career will “inherit” Saturn’s 6th house concerns. Your career may well involve communicating in some way about the subject of your 6th house activities.
For another example, say you have Aquarius rising, so your chart ruler is Uranus (although some astrologers restrict chart rulers to traditional rulers; in this case that would be Saturn). Going with Uranus in the 7th house, you will tend to express your uniqueness through your I–Thou relationships and partnerships. These will tend to be Uranian or to occur in Uranian situations. You may not marry at all and will probably have unconventional relationships. You may choose partners that fly in the face of convention. You express your uniqueness through your partnerships.
Your chart ruler’s other aspects enable us to discern even more specific information about how you can express your unique self while harmonizing with the universe. Environmental factors and your upbringing affect your relationship to your own desire to express your uniqueness. For example, imagine that the Aquarius Ascendant person was born into a very conventional family; in that case, his Aquarian nature was probably repressed, so he will have to go through a rediscovery process.
The Chart Ruler and Life Rhythms (Transits)
I recently had one of those ah-ha moments while contemplating my chart ruler’s entry into another house. Uranus disrupts established order by interjecting lightning bolt insight that changes one’s perspective. So the life affairs signified by the house it transits (passes through) will be disrupted because Uranus will introduce people or events that lead you to rethink that area of your life.
In the case of Uranus, it transits a house in seven years (on average, this also depends on the house system you use; in Placidus, for example, you’ll have some houses significantly larger than others if you were born far north or south of the equator).
Your chart ruler’s transits also affect how you express your individuality and uniqueness (Ascendant); if it is transiting your 5th house, you may suddenly feel that you have to write that book you’ve always thought about but never took seriously until now.
My ah-ha moment was that the chart ruler sets the pace and depth of your life rhythm; for example, if your chart ruler is Mercury, your rhythm will tend to be fast because Mercury transits a house very quickly, every three weeks or so, but it also retrogrades three times a year, so its retrograde process will be a key part of your life rhythm. On the other hand, if Saturn is your chart ruler, your life rhythm will be slower and more in depth because Saturn takes 2.5 years to transit a house. Saturn will be concerned with building and structuring the part of your life signified by the house it’s transiting. Mercury will lead you to learn, think about, and communicate about the sector of life signified by the house it’s transiting.
In addition, the return chart of your chart ruler is especially illuminating. All planets, except Neptune and Pluto, return to the place they occupied when you were born as long as you live long enough (Uranus’s return happens when you’re 84, Chiron when you’re 50, Saturn when you’re 28, 56, etc.). The return chart reveals the themes of the next return period (all planets through Saturn have multiple returns depending on how long you live; for example, Mercury and Venus return in less than one Earth year, Mars is slightly longer, Jupiter is every twelve years, and Saturn every 28-29 years).
So your chart ruler determines how long and deep your “life chapters” are, and it affects what they are about. Uranus’s chapters are seven years long, so you know your life will be punctuated by seven-year transformational cycles as Uranus transits each of your houses [see the Houses post for what area of life each signifies]. Seven years is a lot of time for Uranian illumination.
For contrast, imagine you have a Sagittarius Ascendant, so Jupiter is your chart ruler. Jupiter circles the zodiac in twelve years, so your chapters will be one year long on average. But Jupiter works by expanding your mind through your interactions with social systems (law, religion, philosophy..), and these interests will tend to focus through the house Jupiter is transiting.
Finally, consider a person with a Cancer Ascendant. Her chapters are ultra-short as Moon circles the Zodiac every month, so a house every 2-3 days!
How to Find Your Chart Ruler for Insights
- If you’ve not had your chart done, many sites have pages where you can enter your birth information and output your chart and houses. You’ll need your birth date, birth time, and birth place. I use Astrodienst.
- Look up the ruler of the sign of your Ascendant in a site like Astro Library‘s.
- Look at the chart you printed out to find where your chart ruler sits. Ponder the significance of the house in which your chart ruler sits. Check out the Houses post to dive into houses’ symbolism.
- Study the aspects your chart ruler makes to other planets and angles (Midheaven, Nadir, Ascendant, Descendant). Read the Aspects post to learn about their significance.
- Astrodienst has an online ephemeris, which tells you where planets are for 10,000 years, so you can trace your chart ruler’s transits of your houses in the past, present, and future.
The other fascinating thing about this is that every house has a ruler which affects how you approach the affairs of that house in much the same way. Hamaker-Zondag’s The House Connection is excellent for explaining how this works. From her, I learned how to do “house ruler chain analysis,” which reveals complex, specific behavior patterns.