Planets on the 1st: An Experiential Astrological Technique

A few years ago I began using an astrological technique, “Planets on the 1st,” which Adam Gainsburg had introduced to me. At the time I was deeply involved with his Immersion Soulsign astrology program and his Open Heart work. I wanted to stay connected to my heart and body without going straight to my head, and I was passionate about astrology, which is generally a very cerebral study. Adam offered a bridge and it worked for me! I began having more direct and visceral experiences, rather than merely intellectualizing life and myself.

We know that the birth chart is a diagram of the psyche, a symbolic representation of the individual person. The planets represent facets of our psyche, and all of the planets are included in the richness of how we experience ourselves and the world.

The birth chart is structured around the angles, beginning with the Ascendant. We habitually experience life through the sign and any planets on the Ascendant. In this technique, we imagine placing any planet — and the sign it is in — on the Ascendant to see what life is like from that new perspective. Even if outer circumstances cannot change, our perspective can! That is the gift of this technique.

To begin: Pretend you are in a very large space with numerous rooms, doors, and windows. If you have always stood in the same corner, looking straight ahead, your experience has been limited. However, the other rooms, doors, and windows are always present. Choosing a planet on the 1st is simply re-orienting you in your own space; you are opening yourself to a broader field of experience. We can consciously choose an experience of ourselves from a different facet within our wholeness.

Another way to describe this process is to imagine yourself as a cast of characters in a movie or play. Choosing a planet on the 1st is choosing whose perspective will reveal the story. You are the whole cast, but choosing to see your life through natal Mars will be a very different filter than natal Saturn. (I have some suggestions in the link below about how to evoke the different planets.)

Choosing planets on the 1st strengthens and develops parts of us that have atrophied or weakened. When we choose a planet on the 1st, we aren’t just getting more information or intellectually learning about this function within us. We are literally having an experience of ourselves living life through the function represented by that planet. For example, choosing the Moon on the 1st may increase the need for feeling emotionally secure, safe, and nurtured. Choosing Mars on the 1st may invoke the strong desire for action and assertion; Mars needs something to fight for. This is experiential and may take practice. Each person is different, and literal experiences of the planets will manifest in variations. Sometimes the changes will be subtle, although in my case the shift was dramatic.

The first time I tried the technique was in celebration of my birthday in 2015. I chose Venus on the 1st and my life completely changed almost immediately. My natal Venus is 0° degrees Cancer in the 3rd house, on the cusp of the IC and ruling my Descendant. I have a natal Pluto-Venus square; finding value and confidence in my feminine qualities has been challenging. Receiving life, including love, sustenance, and pleasure, is something I often reject. For much of my life, my Venusian self has operated underground, in the dark, just as she does at the root of my natal chart. Choosing Venus on the 1st brought her into the light and instinctual action of the Ascendant. I gave my Venus new agency and she sprang forth in many ways.

Simultaneously with my decision to choose Venus on the 1st, I quit my job as a compliance director at the University of Washington, marking the end of my 22-year career in health care compliance. The next month, I met my partner, Darren. I was not looking for someone; in fact, I was excited to meet creative, passionate people and pursue my own interests. Two years later, Darren and I are true partners, something new for me, despite previous long-term commitments.

I am almost 43 and my year as Venus on the 1st was the first time since the age of 15 that I did not have a traditional job with steady income. Darren and I traveled and I relaxed my previously restricted diet to include ice cream, cookies, and other treats. I gained at least 15 pounds and my hormones kicked back on. I felt like a teenager and experienced a strong desire to create a family, including babies. I moved to New York City to live with Darren after never having left my family and my hometown in Seattle. I just wanted to love and be loved. Creating relationships with my body, Darren, and myself were my full-time pursuits.

Portuguese astrologer Nuno Michaels teaches that Libra is about “learning to love.” Venus rules Libra, of course, and in so many ways, my Venus on the 1st year was exactly that. Venus also represents receptivity, and I was more open to receive than ever, including my own previously invested money. I took an early withdrawal from my retirement to support my needs and desires during this time.

I can look back and neatly summarize what happened, but living it was also messy, disorienting, and often extremely uncomfortable. Along with the deliciousness of indulging my senses, I experienced more fully the ways my body did/did not feel good. Clothes that I never minded squeezing into now felt tight and restrictive. Sometimes I felt fat and sloth-like, not doing much more than eating, sleeping, and making love. My physical health sensitivities and symptoms seemed relentless. I was feeling more, for better or for worse.

Most of this time I cared more about the harmony and well-being of my partnership with Darren than being right. I don’t know if I ever truly chose a relationship first prior to this year. My past is filled with a bipolar blend of sacrifice, suffering, and selfishness. My Venus on the 1st adventure began to reveal my authentic versions of caring and kindness, and with whom I wanted to invest the time to really connect.

In choosing Venus on the 1st, I dramatically changed my life and impacted the lives of others around me. I became more human, more embodied, and more accessible. I am committed to being honest and present, which often requires slowing down. I am now more capable of staying with myself and my feelings (a Venusian function). I’m experiencing more strength in, and enjoyment of, my femininity. In many ways, I was drastically less active and ambitious with Venus on the 1st, but my life expanded in depth and richness. And, without question, my resources (Venus’s domain) are greater, including my inner stability, self-sufficiency, ability to truly nurture myself and others, and a new-found capacity and desire for partnership, support, and cooperation.

Try it! You might be intrigued to discover how life can open up in new ways when you set your intention to experience more and are open to the outcome. Like me, you might find the planetary archetypes living as strongly within you as they do without.

Author’s note:

Here is a link to a PDF with some thoughts about how the planets represent parts of our psyche. These questions are intended to evoke experiences. You can use them as suggestions when trying this technique for placing each of the planets on the 1st. (Pluto is not included because in Evolutionary Astrology we use Pluto to represent the Soul and its journey. I feel that is hard to categorize, and so am not comfortable using it — not yet, anyway!)

Bio: Tara Aal uses astrology, writing, photography, and art to explore and express love, truth, and beauty. Tara has been practicing and teaching astrology and tarot since 2011.  She completed Laura Nalbandian’s Evolutionary Astrology three-year program and is a certified Soulsign Astrologer through Adam Gainsburg’s Immersion program.

Tara is currently full-time Lead Writer for Sage Goddess in Torrance, CA. In her hometown of Seattle, Tara practiced astrology and tarot at Stargazers Bookstore and Higher Wellness Health Care Practice. She offers private sessions and continues writing and speaking, including lectures at NORWAC and UAC. She is a regular contributing author for Infinity Astrological Magazine.

Tara is passionate about supporting people in their choice to be more natural, authentic, and honest. Her commitment to feeling and embodiment is radically changing her life and use of astrology and tarot. With the compassion and understanding that comes from diverse, intense, and transformative personal relationship and career history, Tara is especially available for people making life changes. Contact her at TaraAal.com

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