Posted by: Donna Cunningham | December 27, 2009

The Planet ahead of your Sun—and What It Says about You

©2009 by AstroCocktail–John & Susan Townley

 Donna says: I know John Townley and his work since forever.  He is consistently one of astrology’s finest, most innovative, and—more importantly—READABLE authors.  Yesterday I followed my own link and enjoyed a long visit to AstroCocktail. John’s article on the planet ahead of the Sun was so interesting I asked his permission to reprint it here…but then I kept more and more finding gems on their site.

 So I decided instead to make AstroCocktail  Skywriter’s Internet Find of the Week.  Rather than reprint the whole article—a good, long read in its own right—I’m only putting a snippet here to tantalize you (complete with a link to the full article, of course)  and then an overview of the goodies on the site.  Like Ed McMahon used to say, “Herrrrrre’s Johnnnnyyyyy!”

” There are a lot of important “first takes” in analyzing a chart that don’t require getting lost in a complex web of aspects, positions, and rulerships. These include preponderance of element, chart pattern types (Jones patterns), and planetary order. They tell you a lot without wading too far into the chart.

“Overall planetary order tells the tale of your life, because it gives you what principles get tweaked by diurnal motion every day, and by transit and progression from monthly through life-spanning cycles. It’s your ducks, in a row.

“The most heralded of these is the planet that rises directly before the Sun on the day you were born, the planet just preceding the Sun in Zodiacal position. Depending on your chart, that could be an actual conjunction to your Sun only a few degrees earlier or an entire sign or two or three away, as long as there is nothing else intervening.

“Why is that planet important? Because it is literally your opening act, right before your personality (Sun) is put up front and center by a transit or progression. It’s the experience other people go through directly before they run into you, and it’s also the situation you traverse each time before getting your inner self reinforced. Therefore it colors both your inner expectation and serves as a stage cue for eager fans anticipating your arrival. Some show biz stars always put on a comic ahead of them to warm up the audience. Others like a band with a complimentary (but, of course, not as enthralling) sound, while still others prefer something totally different so they themselves benefit by the contrast. Whatever it is, it sets the mood for your arrival, and you’re stuck with it….”

To find what planet rises directly before the Sun in your own chart and what that tells about you, go to:  The Planetary Order I: Rising Ahead Of The Sun.

BUT WAIT!  First, here’s a preview of some of the fascinating features of the site this link will take you to.

Astrology In The News  is one of the most interesting sections, a digest of news items from around the world.  Recent articles include Star In The East; Democrats Favor Astrology; Saturn’s Hexagon; and Astrological Profiling.

 Their Articles section is a superb collection of wise, witty takes on a large variety of astrological principles.  Here are some of their offerings:

And, of course,  today’s special: The Planetary Order I: Rising Ahead Of The Sun, as well as two follow-up pieces, The Planetary Order II: Your Ducks In A Row  and Planetary Order III: Islands In The Sky .

Are you STILL here? Hard to believe after all those temptations. Want to see more great sites?  Visit Skywriter’s Internet Find of the Week category.


  1. Nice feature!

  2. Uranus, the Guiding Planet in my chart, really integrates my Cancer sun and Aquarian ascendant. Usually, there’s a bit of a disconnect between those two signs, but having Uranus as the Guide and in conjunction with my Sun makes it rather comfy. Uranus is also sextile my Moon, so it gets even comfier. Comfortably weird?

    Thanks for this today, Donna. I had a great time cruising AstroCocktail and found tons of fantastic stuff.

  3. Donna, thank you for a my deep belly chuckle for the day:) I went to John’s site and apparently I’m extra special!ha! If I’m reading correctly, the planet preceeding my sun is Pluto “the rarest of all,” he says. And then he adds: “this is a bit like having the Grim Reaper introduce you.” I’m still laughing. Maybe I’m not even sure why, but I find it humorous. I know I come off serious, but this image of the Grim Reaper helps me to see even more candidly that I need to lighten up:) In between working on my taxes today [transiting Mars sitting in my 8th house], I look forward to taking breaks and reading more of your suggested links.

    • Hi, Trishia, yes, I spent a grand hour or so myself on the Townleys’ collection of goodies. Nice to have that sort of interval on a boring holiday weekend. Donna

  4. Another reader introduced by the Grim Reaper !

    One of my favorite articles by JT is this one:

    Both of my kids have planets at the 29th degree, and while that may seem like more of a curse than a blessing, their Personal Moon Void period is always very short. We’ve experimented with this and it does seem to work to their advantage.

    I have Uranus at 28 degrees, but in Cancer, with Cancer rising.. I am less successful working this.
    I almost always need to nap through a void.

    Excellent recommend Donna !

    • I hadn’t heard of this concept before, but John seems to have an endless supply of interesting facets of astrology, and a really long track record at that. Donna

  5. Are we saying the planet in the house “before” the Natal Sun’s house is a planet rising before my Sun?

    meaning any planets in a house pre 1st house is my planet ahead of Sun?

    If my chart us empty from 12th back to 9th, is THAT the planet ahead?

    Or do we with first house Sun have no other rising planet??

  6. Ej runyon, I think you have to look at the planet located just before your Sun.
    I have Jupiter at 27 Cap and Sun at 2 Aqua – so my “Guiding planet” would be Jupiter. It’s true – especially in appearance – I smile a lot, my hair must always be blonde – gives me the feeling of warmth. All this because the entrance must be GREAT, shiny, optimistic, larger than life in the hope that someone will stick around even after they discover that HARD-CORE saturnian-plutonian realm that is underneath the smile.
    However, I am not sure if the theory holds for a person whose Sun is in 9th house and the ‘Guiding planet” is Pluto all the way in the 7th house.

  7. A 1st house Cancer Sun, with the closest earlier planet being Pisces Moon in 9th is then, not my guiding planet?

    • I’m not entirely sure what you mean by guiding planet, EJ. If you’re saying that there is nothing in the zodiac in your chart between the Pisces Moon and your Cancer Sun, then it must be a special case, because Pisces doesn’t preceed Cancer in the Zodiac, the zodiac would start with Aries. I don’t think the house positions are a determining factor, but rather the order of the zodiac. Why don’t we write to John and ask him to reply? I’ll go do it now….I’m sure folks would enjoy having him say hello anyhow. Donna

      PS. Done, and hello, John if you’ve joined us.

  8. Thanks for all the attention to this subject, folks, and glad you enjoy the site, and thanks to Donna for mentioning it…a wide variety of stuff there, I hope. And, you can certainly have Pisces Moon rising ahead of a Cancer Sun, as long as there is nothing in between them. It’s a full trine of empty space (about six hours at moderate latitudes), so it’s a bit of a lingering stage introduction.

    The folks who get this effect the most are bundle charts with the Sun leading the pack, as it’s really like coming onto an empty stage where the audience has taken an intermission and you’re the opening of a new act.

    The last years of WWII and the early 1980s come to mind. Those are also periods of low population growth due to war or economy or both – fewer, more isolated children, solo acts abound. There may be a general connection there with the major social change periods that occur when everything moves inside the outer planets as I first noticed here: another of which we are entering right now, beginning with last year’s election day. These produce the bundle generatons.

    Well, that’s the take from this Grim Reaper rising ahead of the Sun, which tends to give you the belief that you’ll get through, anyway. (Of course, those that don’t, don’t live to tell about it, so we only hear such supportive testimony from the survivors, a fundamental of understanding history – just a little GR truth in humor for you…)…
    Winds, skies,

    • Thanks, John, for that clarification and also for the important context of world history. That about the bundle generations is especially enlightening. We ‘preciate it! Best regards, Donna

  9. Yep, John’s exactly right. Uh, duh. My daughter was born on 12/5/83 and has all of her planets from 10 Libra to 1 Capricorn and this girl is one FOCUSED individual.

    With Uranus rising while conjunct her sun she is as unique as the earth is wide. I knew when she was born that her chart pattern would be tough – no oppositions – but that she would grow up to find her own philosophy and teach us all about it. She’s on her way…

    Me, with Mercury there, hmm..let me think about it…

  10. Where did the time go? I came for a peruse and two hours later I know why my hubbie and I come to the stage so differently. With his Cancer sun conjunct Uranus and My Scorpio Sun led by Mercury, we are zigzagging our cross-stitching entries all the time. He saying, “I am a revolution~” and me thinking about it over and over. Lots to consider here, geez.

    • LOL, it tickles me, Mokihana, that you’re mining Skywriter’s treasures so thoroughly. That’s a cool thing about a blog–the material stays available as long as the blog is on line…some sort of immortality, at last. Maybe that’s what immortality really means–virtual not physical.

      Folks, Mokihana and her hubbie have a terrific blog at

  11. Thanks for the co-op link, Donna. I’m so busy mining, no one’s minding the store … Uranus, Uranus is doing that~right, permission granted!

  12. My lead planet is mercury is in Sag. 5th house. I have very definate views on religion, my struggle to free myself of it is a theme of my life.
    Romance is also a theme, many younger boyfriends. The sign and house seems in my case anyway, to be just as important as the planet itself.

  13. The more time I spend in your site, the more interesting I find it. Thank-you for such insightful articles.

    Not surprisingly, as a Plutonian (score 54), my lead planet is…Pluto.

    • Oh, my, well any time a message is significant, you see it two or three ways in the chart. Donna

      • Or nine or ten in my case! 🙂

  14. Okay, I don’t quite get how this is calculated (I’m new at this). Is he saying that we should look at the first planet following the ascendant? I have Pluto in my first house, it’s the planet immediately counterclockwise on the chart from the ascendant.
    Or is he saying, what’s the first planet counterclockwise from the Sun in your chart? I don’t think that’s right.

    • Hi, Charles, forget about the Ascendant and about counter clockwise, it’s too confusing. It’s the planet just ahead of the Sun in zodiacal order. So if your Sun is 3 degrees of Cancer and the next earliest is Saturn at 20 Gemini, then Saturn is the planet that rises earlier than the Sun, if there are no planets inbetween. If your Sun is 15 Leo and your Mars is 4 Leo, then Mars is the planet that rises ahead of the Sun. If your Sun is leo Gemini and the Moon is at 6 Aries, with no planets falling in the space between them, then the Moon is the planet that rises ahead of the Sun. Hope that helps. Donna

      • OK, let me see if I have this right, thanks for your patient advice.

        I have Sun at 27 Taurus. I have moon at 26 Taurus. and I have Uranus at 8 leo. So the planet just ahead of the Sun is my Moon. Or to put it in my terms, on my chart, it’s the first planet clockwise from my Sun, you’re going from the Sun in backwards zodiacal order. I think I have that right. In any case, my Sun and Moon are conjunct within 1 degree so maybe they’re too close to apply this concept.

      • Yes, you’re right, it’s your Moon in Taurus, making you a lunar type according to John’s description. and no, I don’t think the closeness of the conjunction invalidates the system, probably even strengthens it. You and the marvelous icon, Katherine Hepburn share the same combination. Donna

      • Thanks again. John describes this configuration as usually being a waning moon, but I’ve been told I was born under a New Moon. But I suppose it doesn’t change his interpretation so much.

      • If the Sun is at 27 Taurus and the Moon at 26, it is the Dark of the Moon (John is correct–it’s one of the waning phases) also known as the Balsamic Moon in Dane Rhudyar’s lunation cycle. Look it up online, you’ll find it interesting. It’s the mark of a visionary type. The New Moon occurs when the Moon passes the Sun, so it wouldn’t be in the New Moon phase until the Moon was at 27 Taurus, still the same day, which is why you may have been told it was a New Moon.

      • Thanks for that, I always wondered about my Moon/Sun conjunction. I’m just studying lunation cycles now, I am checking out your suggestions, you’re right it is very interesting. Thanks again.

  15. Does this include the asteroid Chiron? If Chiron is ahead of the Sun is it your opening planet?

  16. I would say articles like this help people get to know themselves better, in a light hearted way. I have Venus before my Sun.

  17. Now I’m confused. (Although I have to admit Daylight saving confuses me, so it doesn’t take much).
    I have Uranus at 1 virgo, the sun at 6 Virgo and Pluto at 8 and the Moon at 9 virgo – so when I read Johns article I thought Pluto was the Leader. For awhile there I was afraid to go into a room in case I’d step on the Grim Reapers cape. But is it Uranus instead? Am I stuck between the Grim Reaper and the Mad Hatter? Which one has the lead?
    Great blog, lots of cool stuff. I really enjoyed the article.

    • Hi, Natalie, it IS confusing. It’s Uranus, the planet that immediately precedes your Sun in zodiacal order. Pluto follows your Sun. Donna

  18. RATZ….Retrograde Mercury , a few degrees ahead of the Sun and squaring its own nodes. ! Does that mean I make my entry riding my horse backward? Ha Ha Ha
    Seriously I had communication problems with people since being an infant.
    12 lbs at a year old due to starvation and over work. My Aunt even thought I was a midget but I knew I wasn’t. Grew super slow but my brain was in full force even if my body wasn’t. Lots of communication snafus when I started talking and caught a lot of hell from grownups. Mercury is in with an aspect to moon and Pluto; similar to the triangle of a Yod but much tighter. I could always see through stuff but my youthful expression needed some serious polishing. There’s no name for the aspect so I call it the Ice Pick .
    People have always thought I am much younger then I am.
    When large groups want me to talk at the mike and I do not want to, I don’t or only say next to nothing. And other times when I want to talk I am blocked. Then at other times everything runs smooth as clockwork. I have often been pleasantly surprised by divergent requesting groups to give a speech. Mercury in the 11th. I’m always surprised they want me to talk for them or to them.
    Other times I will open someones eyes with my speech and their response opens my eyes in return.
    In Indian Culture we are always counciled to speak TRUTH. Then our words have power. When speakers take a Mike and the crowd keeps talking and making racket , you know that person does not speak with truth power. Most times my friends have said when I take the Mike there is silence. So that tells me I am on the right trail.
    Often times after some speeches I rethink what I shoulda Coulda but then reflect that the spirit moves me and its always right, even if I don’t understand it.
    Youth fall into my lap, all my life. mercury rules youth. I think of youth and future generations a lot and what I could do on their behalf ; because the world is so bewildering at this time of BIG TIME CHANGE.
    I love babies and pregnant women. They are VERY Sacred special and must be protected at all costs..

  19. I’m fascinated and confused! I know I was born under a New Moon because lunar calculators and my birth certificate say so. I was born in Thailand where they take this stuff seriously. My Sun was at 0’04” degrees when I was born and the Moon was in the same sign as my Sun sign, Capricorn, at 9’48” degrees. So in my mind, because I’m really bad at math and concepts that require good math skils, the Moon should’ve been ahead of the Sun? Mercury was also in Capricorn at 20’06” degrees. So were both the Moon and Mercury ahead or behind the Sun?! This will preoccupy my mind and I’ll probably have a hard time falling asleep until I understand this.

    • The Moon is definitely ahead of the Sun. It’s a New Moon then, where you see the barest sliver in the Sky. Donna

  20. Closest planet to the asc is uranus,17 40 ‘degrees but is rx. I feel it more internally, like I don’t fit…and don’t want to be a boring person. ( capricorn rising) Then 18 43’is moon and neptune rx. Is it naturally that my moon will be the most visible since it’s a luminary? And not so much uranus/neptune bcz they are rx?

    • No, Narina, Uranus would be the first thing people see, since it’s the closest. But then you have a tight Uranus-Moon-Neptune triple conjunction, so it’s a blend of all three. Go visit to learn more about your age group and the effects of that long Uranus-Neptune conjunction. I have a book out about stelliums and triple conjunctions, The Stellium Handbook. Donna

  21. Thank you very much! I’ve subscribed to a capricorn stellium group on facebook and read an excerpt of your wonderfully clear written- Book.
    I see I have a true stellium-since it’s also by house and by sign.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: