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Vice and Virtue. Long ago, people used these words to describe the flaws and strengths, the good and bad qualities of those around them. But times change, and the words Vice and Virtue have largely fallen out of favor, which is probably a good thing. They still have a use, however, and we can use astrology to figure out what that use might be.

The fastest way to do that is by taking a look what used to be called The Seven Sins and the Seven Virtues. Here’s what it looks like:

Planet:                 Virtue                        Vice

Sun                        Faith                        Pride

Moon                    Hope                        Greed

Mercury                Prudence                Envy

Venus                   Charity                     Lust

Mars                     Courage                   Wrath

Jupiter                  Temperance           Gluttony

Saturn                   Justice                      Sloth

Before I start, it’s important to put aside the religious connotation of these terms. Most of us have indulged in a fair amount of vice during our lives, so there’s no reason to rain on anybody else’s parade. What’s useful here is to look at the planets as symbolizing potentials – both good and bad potentials. For instance, at its best, Mars will symbolize courage, fortitude, right action; at its worst, we will see anger, vengence, cruelty, and so on. In a chart, those qualities are expressed through the sign of Mars, as well as its position and its relationship to other planets. We all know people in whom anger is a chief characteristic; it has, almost in a literal sense, captured the person’s personality.

In a natal chart, we will see this in different ways. For instance, here’s Sylvia Plath’s chart:

Sylvia Plath

Mars (in hot Leo) squared to Mercury (in deep Scorpio): the mind and tongue will be sharp, cutting, there will be impatience, nervous tension.

Or go back to Donald Trump’s chart from last week.

Donald Trump

Mars (again in Leo) right on the Ascendant. He’ll force himself (Mars) into the world in a dramatic (Leo) style. Both Mars and Leo are hot and dry in their qualities. What is Trump best known for? Telling people that they’re fired!

Now here’s the interesting part. If there was no free will, we would be prisoners of our nature, but we are not. The chart indicates the potential but not the outcome. Energy and qualities – which is what the planets are – can be re-directed, reformed if you will, when you see them clearly within yourself. Because, while it can be very gratifying to occasionally indulge in our vices, it’s not a great long-term strategy. And that’s not because of some soppy religious idea of “it’s better to be virtuous”. It’s more that to indulge in the worst nature of our planets is to deny or block other opportunities, potentials and paths.