|Malefic and Benefic Planets|
Mars and Saturn were traditionally called the lesser and greater malefics while Venus and Jupiter were considered benefic, the lesser and greater benefics. One can still find authors and textbooks using this terminology, but it it not only archaic sounding but woefully misleading and inaccurate.
The simplest way to put this would be to say that for a person suffering from obesity, diabetes, or cancer, Venus and Jupiter would not be good for the health whereas Saturn might be just what the doctor ordered!
Reconsidering the Ancient Assignations
While some concepts from the past are just as relevant today as they were historically, the idea of evil planets causing harm and good planets delivering fame and fortune is seriously dated and dubious. A more psychologically appropriate way to look at the planets would be to study the affinity each person has towards a planet and his or her skill using the energies symbolized by the planet.
For instance, if we consider that the Moon is a clue to historic tendencies, then we might also conclude that a person with an Aries Moon has more understanding of Mars than someone with a Pisces Moon, all other things equal, which, of course, they seldom are. Likewise, a person with a Pisces Moon might have more affinity for Jupiter and Neptune and be uncomfortable with Mars and Saturn.
In my article on the Monastic Moon, I explain this in a little more depth. I will just recapitulate a bit for those who haven't read that article or who forgot what it says. Imagine yourself entering a monastery, surrendering your will to God and forgoing wealth, comfort, natural instincts, and even the right to survive. In your initial training, you are told to listen but not speak. Your hair is cut and your head is covered. Your knees are bent in prayer and your head is reverently bowed. You eat modestly, often only what benefactors have left in your begging bowl. You sleep in a dank room and awaken early to perform chores and attend to orphans and sick people. You pray, you serve, and perhaps you sing or chant. You might learn to read and interpret scriptures; and you might travel and proselytize. You might also develop a rich inner life, full of imagination, vision, and wisdom.
You learn nothing much about your body except that it is to be obedient to your will. Life outside the gates of the monastery is a mystery. You have forfeited Venus: riches and sensuality. You have banished Mars: personal initiative and anger. In subscribing to rules, you have given up freedom, at least the freedom to "be different" and independent. Much of what is normal and natural for others is unknown, unexplored, and prohibited . . . and the planets that represent those undiscovered experiences cannot be expected to be as dependable in your horoscope as the planets that represent religion, philosophy, and meditation!
It's really this simple. There are few people who are so versatile and accomplished that they have a mastery over all experiences and by extension, all planets.
Now, if we take the Aries warrior, we will assume that the subconscious has very strong opinions about what is worth a fight and when it's best just to let matters be. It could also be prejudiced against anything that led to trouble, such as differences in viewpoints, wars, and force as a means for determining outcome. Someone who died for his beliefs in one lifetime after another may be more cautious when forming alliances, vowing allegiances, and choosing sides.
What generally happens is that the individual, being who he or she is, adheres to some of the traits of the sign, such as strong polarization, loyalty, and thrill when impassioned, but he or she may be reluctant to act on the feelings because they have precipitated so much difficulty in the past.
Based on such assessments, we conclude that the warrior either has a good or bad relationship to Mars and probably also to Saturn since those in authority issue the orders that lead to victory or defeat, glory or disgrace, advancement or death. Such people also tend to have very deep issues surrounding how to handle differences. We might say that the monk and nun were trained to understand weakness, right and wrong, and atonement. They were also taught not to force issues but rather to lead people through their difficulties into peace.
On the other hand, the warrior was trained to believe that the strong prevail and the weak do not inherit the earth. There could hardly be a greater disparity in beliefs than in this one area.
For this same reason, we can look at almost anyone's horoscope and gauge how he or she would handle a challenge, which "weapons" they view as assets and which as liabilities. We can see whether an individual believes in compromise, in forcing issues, or in waiting for the opportunity to present a better solution, for there are those who do not resolve problems using either compromise or force, they simply bide their time.
Getting to the crux of this article, it might be argued that a planet is malefic if its strategies tend to fail for the individual in question or if the individual is blind to the energetics of the planet. Ergo, Saturn is a malefic for people who lack discipline or the capacity to make effort. It is also a malefic for those who are impatient or unwilling to prove themselves and for people who expect to be acknowledged without having demonstrated any reason to be recognized. It works against those who do not follow the rules, and a good case could be made for it being hostile to those who want to make sweeping changes or who want to reform the status quo. Saturn rewards those who uphold the systems that are in place, those who work hard, and those who are ethical, discrete, and timely
My point is that Saturn is good or bad depending on how much affinity one has for Saturn and how well one appreciates Saturn and Saturn's modus operandi.
Returning therefore to my early statement that the traditional benefics are not healthy in certain circumstances, it might be argued that Saturn's dietary restraint and discipline might be good for a person who needs to lose weight or lower blood sugar. Similarly, Saturn tends to restrain growth of tumors and to give people time to address their situations. Having a strong Saturn or Saturn transit is thus generally "good" for people with cancer. It might not be true that Saturn is "fun" -- this probably is rarely, if ever, the case, but Saturn is at least fair (exalted in Libra) and He delivers in Time.
For the most part, people have very good or very bad aspects to the planet(s) dispositing their Moons. If one has spent many lifetimes as a warrior, it would be difficult not to have a strong opinion about Mars, but, in most cases, the warrior would not be blind to Mars. A priestess, however, might be utterly oblivious to persons who are arrogant, assertive, dangerous, and motivated by their agendas. She can therefore be caught off guard by Mars whereas this would seldom happen for a warrior. She might also lack responses that help her to defend herself, her self esteem, and her commitments to her path.
For instance, if she has taken vows of chastity, she could be thrown by an argument that she was too young and naive to understand what she was doing when she threw away her potential to become a mother. She may argue that she is mother to all the homeless children in the world, but if the warrior says she will develop many illnesses of the reproductive system if she does not allow this part of her body to experience what God intended women to experience, she may be perturbed but run out of clever answers. Moreover, if, as so often happens these days, she is violated by someone, she will tend to look to God for explanations for why she deserved the ensuing sorrow; or she may ask to be shown her lessons and try to deal with abuse by becoming more pious rather than more protective. The warrior will, of course, continue to perceive her as weak and naive because she has not learned to correctly identify the traits that make him offensive to those with different aspirations in life.
A planet seems to be malefic when our responses to it are inadequate. Thus, for the beseiged nun, Mars is a malefic if her reflexes are too slow, if her passion is blurred by tears, or if the warrior is right and the suppression of her sexuality is causing internal problems or the renunciation of her anger is forcing her to pray harder to deal with the evils he brought into her life. It is not that nuns cannot express Mars; it is that most often, Mars is incapacitated to some degree by those who have elected the path of non-violence. In such cases, Mars generally expresses through a void, generally another person.
Sometimes, a very simple behavioral change will transform those around the pacifist. For instance, we all know the cases of the enabler awakening to the fact that he or she is contributing to a bad habit in another person. When this person decides to devote his or her energies to something more worthwhile, the energy is used and not only is the issue of enabling resolved, but the person who has been on the receiving end of this charity has to change or find another sucker.
There are other ways to utilize the energy fully. A peace loving person may not like competition so sports may not be an outlet for Mars, but gardening or attic cleaning may be enough to keep the wheels moving so that one is not a target.
On yet deeper levels, there are attributes of Mars that are lofty and easy to accept. One admires warmth and idealism, courage and loyalty, and decisiveness. Cultivating these traits makes for less random Mars energy and more focus, clarity, and directed expression.
Many people have said to me that Jupiter can never be a malefic, but I disagree. There are many Jupiter traits that are not particularly redeeming: self indulgence, procrastination, exaggeration, self-satisfaction, and unwarranted optimism. Some people spend their lives waiting for gold to rain from the sky or they are so gullible they would invest in oil exploration on the top of Mt. Everest. In most cases, however, an afflicted Jupiter is more or less harmless and likeable, even if not trustworthy.
How important an affliction depends a great deal on the expression it takes and the sensitivity to that planet on the part of the individual. For instance, a person with a strong Jupiter would be sensitive to misinformation because education and ideas are important to him, but if judgment is impaired, the person may need to pass ideas by someone whose feet are on the ground before acting on the information.
The horoscope contains a simply amazing number of clues to the individual and governing patterns as well as past life expressions of the planets. For example, a Jupiter contact to Mars may be more opinionated and quick to express those opinions than Jupiter to Uranus which is more keen on truth and less dominated by narrow versions thereof. Jupiter in the 12th may suffer for the views held whereas in the 10th, the person may become well known for his beliefs.
We can also deduce a lot from the horoscope. For instance, a person with a Gemini or Sagittarius Moon will suffer from lack of education whereas someone with Moon in Aries may want to get out in the world quickly and catch up with the books later. Of course, these possibilities depend on many factors so it is not always safe to generalize, but I think it is safe to say that the more important something is, the worse it feels if that something is not happening the way a person wants.
Copyright by Ingrid Naiman 2002
Copyright by Ingrid Naiman 2007 and 2014