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lanets with orbits outside that of the Earth are known as the "superior", or "outer", planets; those within the Earth's orbit are called the "inferior", or "inner", planets. It is the view of astrologers that each of them has a distinctive influence on the Earth and the creatures living on it, and that it is possible to study this influence and use it. The planets affect humankind in different ways, depending on their relationship to each other and their position relative to the 12 zodiac divisions.

Mercury will still have its own particular influence when it is in Aries, for example, but this can be seen to be quite different from the influence it will have when it is in Cancer. This effect has been compared to a light shining through a stained glass window: the source of the light is the same, and it will still illuminate what it shines on — but its effect will differ according to the colour of the glass through which it passes.

An artist's impression of the planets in our solar system

The relatively modern division between astrologers and astronomers has meant that, while the former still take the view that the planets - in a mysterious way -illuminate, influence, and comment on life on Earth, the latter regard them merely as lumps of matter circling the Sun. This has recently been illustrated by the "demotion" of Pluto, in the sphere of astronomy, from a planet to a mere "dwarf". Happily astrologers can claim that, whatever one chooses to call Pluto, its effect remains as it has always been -the astronomical definition or classification is immaterial.

Other heavenly bodies are also used in astrology. Chiron, a comet discovered in 1977 moving in unstable orbit between Saturn and Uranus, is considered of great importance (seep239). Many astrologers also use some asteroids, notably Ceres (which is associated with mothering and compassion); Pallas (associated with surprise, a "maker of change"); Juno (inner personal power, pride, and glamour); and Vesta (dedication, service, and sacrifice).

"At the moment of birth there bursts from the seven planets a whole complex of rays that bear on each part of man."

Berosus, c.26obce

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