Your BS-Free Astrological Guide To The Sun, Moon, & Planets

Photographed by Megan Madden.
Even if all the planetary retrogrades of this summer have you convinced otherwise, the planets really do have some good (and, yes, plenty of bad, too) to offer us earthlings.
Mercury isn't all about breaking our phones and letting our emails get hacked — it's also a powerful conduit for productive communication. Mars doesn't hang around just to make us cranky — it's actually the planet of energy and can help us get shit done. If you couldn't tell, we believe it's time to give the planets a little reputation rehab.
We spoke with astrologer and author Carolyne Faulkner about how all of these celestial bodies can positively and negatively affect our lives. You're still allowed to complain about the next retrograde if it makes you feel better, but you might think twice after learning about all the good the planets can do.
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Photo: Getty Images.
The Sun

Associations: ego, talents, success

How it can help you: When the sun is in your own sign, you can feel unstoppable. Or, as Faulkner puts it, "it gives us time to shine." The sun arrives to remind us of our innate talents, the skills that come easily to us — and how we can use those gifts to move farther down the right path.

How it can hurt you: Again, the sun rules our egos — don't let its influence urge you to outshine others who deserve their due just as much you do.
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The Moon

Associations: emotions, self-expression, needs

How it can help you: The moon tends to reveal truths to us that were there all along — we just need to shift our perspective slightly to notice them. Faulkner adds that, since the moon is so closely connected to our moods, its frequent movement from sign to sign can easily be seen in how we express ourselves.

How it can hurt you: Faulkner says that the moon can get us into trouble by making us too in touch with our feelings, leading us to overreact or respond defensively to others. She explains that it's a good idea to avoid getting involved in other people's problems or conflicts, especially during the full moon.
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Mercury

Associations: communication, intelligence, timing

How it can help you: The messenger planet can fast-track your attempts at communication, boost your mode of self-expression (depending on which sign it's in), and even heighten the sense of synchronicity between you and your friends: "You think about someone, then they call you," Faulkner explains.

How it can hurt you: Mercury can just as easily hit pause on your communications as it can fast-track them. It can throw off your concentration and make regular interactions feel extremely awkward.
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Venus

Associations: love, beauty, expectations

How it can help you: Fittingly, the planet of love can bring out the hopeless romantic and insightful aesthete in all of us. It encourages us to see the good in others and our surroundings, then asks us how we can show our appreciation for those things.

How it can hurt you: If Venus is retrograde, it can make that desire for beauty and harmony stop short, fueling our vanity and greed in the process. "When [Venus] goes wrong it can be a little superficial and more concerned with what people can provide for them," Faulkner says.
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Mars

Associations: energy, attraction, courage

How it can help you: Mars' energy is the astrological cure for any lethargy or lack of momentum we might feel in our lives. It boosts our bravery, highlights our sources of motivation, and even amps up our magnetism.

How it can hurt you: When Mars happens to be in a fiery, hot-headed sign (say, Aries), "people’s tempers fray easily," Faulkner explains. Without enough patience and self-awareness, we can let Mars get the better of us — and we'll know it when we stop caring about who we hurt to get what we want.
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Jupiter

Associations: wisdom, inspiration, influence

How it can help you: Faulkner explains that Jupiter functions like a spotlight for whatever sign it happens to be in. That sign's traits (good and bad) get lit up and, in turn, attract all kinds of attention. It's up to us to use our astrological know-how to determine which traits are worth emulating.

How it can hurt you: On the flip side, you can run into trouble if you lean too much into the negative side of the sign that's currently hosting Jupiter. Faulkner compares Jupiterian energy to the One Ring from Lord of the Rings — it's extremely powerful, but can prove corrupting. "Don’t put on the ring unless you can handle it," she says.
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Saturn

Associations: discipline, organization, tradition

How it can help you: Who couldn't use a little tough love every now and then? That's what Saturn promises us, Faulkner explains — it shows us how to "master the areas of life we’ve been avoiding." Even at its best, Saturn can prove challenging, but the results of its influence are worth it.

How it can hurt you: Like we said, Saturn is almost always difficult to deal with, but resisting its effects can make things much worse, especially when it returns to its natal placement in your birth chart. The temptation to bury your head in the sand will be real, Faulkner says, but doing so will keep you from making real progress in your life.
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Uranus

Associations: change, community, revolution

How it can help you: Uranus sets our sights on the future, reminding us that there's always another way we could attack our problems or express ourselves, if only we take the time to discover it. Simply put, "it wakes us up," Faulkner says.

How it can hurt you: In the same way that changes can be extremely positive and prompt personal development, they can also make our lives really frustrating. Similar to Saturn, you can save yourself some aggravation by getting out of Uranus' way and accepting the message it's trying to send you.
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Neptune

Associations: spirituality, imagination, optimism

How it can help you: This dreamy planet exists to illuminate our spiritual side and our inner fantasies. It can help you not only reflect on your faith but feel more secure in it overall. Plus, Faulkner says, a particularly strong Neptunian influence can remind you to "see every day as a blessing."

How it can hurt you: Neptune retrogrades are notorious for stirring up our anxieties and fears — that's what happens when we spend too much time plumbing the depths of our psyches, as we're wont to do during these retrogrades. As you might expect, that "causes us to do really silly things," Faulkner says.
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Pluto

Associations: transformation, power, inevitability

How it can help you: Don't let its size fool you — Pluto is a very authoritative planet, Faulkner says. It can just as easily reward you for your efforts as it can completely strip you of your ego. It all depends on the nature of your actions. With Pluto, "you reap what you sow," Faulkner says.

How it can hurt you: "If people misuse power," Faulkner says, "it’s not going to last." In other words, any corners you cut or commitments you let drop will likely come back around to bite you later — and it'll be all thanks to Pluto. It's just as much an agent of chaos as it is an authority figure.
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