What Is The 'Big 6' In Astrology?

You're likely familiar with each of the zodiac signs and the unique influence of your own sun sign –– but did you know that other planets in your birth chart play a major role in your astrological makeup as well? It's true. In fact, the planets in your birth chart each highlight a different part of your personality, dreams, morals, qualities, and characteristics. "Each one of the [planets] shows one dimension of a complex and sophisticated system of a human being. They are energies that we express into the world and compel us to certain actions or behaviors," astrologer Yana Yanovich tells hypebae. But if you still find yourself scratching your head as to what each planet represents, there's an easy little trick you can use to get started.

Using astrology apps such as TimePassages, CHANI, or Sanctuary can give you a glimpse at your other zodiac placements. And by looking at your 'Big 6' planets, you can discover which of the placements in your birth chart have the largest impact on how you leave your mark on the world. The 'Big 6' in astrology refers to the six major planets in a person's natal chart: the sun, the moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, and ascendant. As astrologer Amber Jay tells Well+Good, these "personal planets" orbit the earth more closely than the outer planets, changing signs more frequently, which is why astrologers agree these planets have a greater authority in deciding how your energy expresses itself.

Sun sign

No matter your level of astrological knowledge, there's a very good chance you're familiar with your sun sign. Your sun sign is based on your date of birth, and depending on which day of the month you were born, you might fall on the cusp between two different zodiac signs. Still, your sun sign will only ever fall in one zodiac sign. When you're first familiarizing yourself with your birth chart, you'll want to start with your sun sign to understand your true essence of self. Your sun sign will show you what motivates you in life, how your ego expresses itself, and how you embrace your confidence, per NYLON. The position of the sun in any astrological birth chart acts as a window into the motivations and desires of an individual.

While some astrologers try to downplay the importance of your sun sign or insist the sun is relatively unimportant compared to the rest of the birth chart –– that's simply not the case. For starters, your sun sign represents the core of what your heart wants and shows the person you desire to be in this lifetime. "The sun is the most powerful of all the stellar bodies. It colors the personality so strongly that an amazingly accurate picture can be given of the individual," astrologer Linda Goodman writes in "Sun Signs." Your sun sign is the life-giving energy of your planetary placements and will give an added energy and brightness to any planet that aspects it, especially other placements within your Big 6.

Moon sign

Emotional and intuitive, the moon in astrology operates on the opposite end of the sun –– though their connection is undeniable. While your sun sign provides insight into your heart and ego, your moon sign reveals the hidden side of your personality. In her book "Moon Signs: The Keys To Your Inner Life," astrologer Donna Cunningham explains that the moon shows all the ways in which you process your experiences and emotions, whether consciously or subconsciously. "The moon sign describes a very different part of the total human being from the sun sign. The moon represents more subliminal patterns, not necessarily the parts of yourself you show outwardly, but what you feel inwardly." If your sun sign shows you all the ways you boldly live your life, your moon sign shows where you tend to be more introspective.

Your moon sign is also a major player in how you express yourself in romantic relationships. Because this luminary governs all things associated with your inner world, feelings, and how you express them –– it can show you all the ways in which you open up to other people once you develop feelings for them, per Bumble. And it doesn't matter whether the connection you're making with another person is romantic or platonic; your moon sign shows what you need from another person in order to feel safe expressing yourself in relationships. In this way, the moon is key for establishing and reinforcing your boundaries as well.

Rising sign

The rising sign –– also known as the ascendant –– shows how you approach the world as an individual. It's often referred to as the 'mask' you wear when you meet other people. However, your rising sign is more than a mask you wear; it's the driving force of your life and helps guide your story forward. "The rising sign describes how you are naturally predisposed to make choices in life and how you wish to be seen in the world," astrologer Lisa Moore tells Livingly. Along with showing you how you relate to others around you and finding your place among your peers, the houses in astrology are based on the calculation of your ascendant sign.

Your rising sign is the only placement in your 'Big 6' that isn't represented by a planet or luminary body. It's a chart point that's calculated based on which zodiac sign was sitting on the Eastern horizon of the sky the moment when you were born. This placement switches signs every two hours, which is why it's so important to have an accurate time of birth when interpreting your birth chart. Still, despite its status as the outlier –– it might be one of the most influential placements in the birth chart. "It is virtually impossible for a person to act in the world or express themselves without bringing the ascendant into play. In many ways, it is the gate through which we most directly confront the outer world," writes astrologer Stephen Arroyo in his book "The Chart Interpretation Handbook."

Mercury sign

Communication is a make-or-break deal when it comes to relationships. And Mercury is the planet in your birth chart that rules over all things communication and the spoken word. It reflects how we perceive the world and shows how we learn and process information or important skills. In her book "Twelve Doors to the Soul: Astrology of the Inner Self," astrologer Janes A. Evans explains that Mercury holds a dual purpose in understanding the inner workings of the birth chart. On the one hand, Mercury rules over all things communication and personal expression, which includes how we communicate our thoughts and ideas to others. However, Mercury also heavily influences your conscious perception and your ability to appraise and understand both yourself and others.

Mercury is one of the quickest moving planets in astrology and along the zodiac wheel, never traveling more than 28 angular degrees from the sun, per NASA. This means your Mercury placement will always fall in the zodiac sign before your sun, the same sign as your sun sign, or the zodiac sign that comes after your sun sign, so many people will have Mercury in the same zodiac sign as their sun. The close connection that the sun and Mercury have with one another, along with the aspects these planets form with each other in your birth chart, will be the key to uncovering not only how you express yourself as an individual but also how other people receive that information.

Venus sign

Venus is one of the more popular and steamy planets in astrology. Your Venus sign will show you all the ways in which you attract love, romance, flirtation, and pleasure into your life. When it comes to dating and falling in love, Venus is the planet that governs it all. Much like Mercury, Venus is never opposite the sun in the night sky and keeps a relatively close orbit to it. Because your Venus sign can only ever be one or two zodiac signs away from the placement of your sun, the connection between your ego and your attraction is inseparable from one another. "The symbolism of Venus is particularly important to astrology as a study of human individuality that strives to get people in touch with their own true selves," writes Robert Hand in his book "Horoscope Symbols."

Of course, like many of the planets in astrology, there's more to Venus than meets the eye. In fact, according to astrologer Kathryn Hocking, Venus is one of the most misunderstood planets in the birth chart. While it can be an important indicator of the things you're attracted to in other people –– it also highlights all of the things you value, how you manifest abundance and opportunities, your desires in life, as well as how you attract and draw opportunities toward yourself. So along with showing how you express your romantic side, it's also a crucial placement for understanding your creativity and personal expression in life.

Mars sign

Last but not least is Mars –– the warrior planet that rules over your most primal and basic instincts. According to Alicia Yusuf, Mars is one of the malefic planets in astrology, which means it reflects the more assertive and darker parts of life and your personality, reflecting on things like impatience and dominance. "Mars is concerned with assertion. To assert oneself is to declare one's interests, to affirm, to be positive, to maintain one's position, one's individuality, in the face of pressure or resistance not to do so," writes Sue Tompkins in her book "Aspects in Astrology." In your birth chart, the position and aspect of your Mars placement show the areas of life where you find it easy to be motivated to succeed, as well as where you can become obsessive if you're not careful.

However, not everything associated with Mars is aggression and power plays for your own personal benefit. Mars can also show you the ways in which you stand up for yourself and others, as well as how you handle pressure from the world around you. It's also key for understanding your romantic connections. Along with showing how you fight for yourself and handle conflict, Mars can give you insight into how you like to express yourself sexually. When things get hot and heavy, Mars is absolutely involved. Think of Mars and Venus as the two sides of your romantic persona; if Venus shows you how you attract partners, Mars shows you how you express that attraction to them.