A colleague astrologer asked: which planet rules addiction? Here are some thoughts on the subject.
We can certainly associate a number of meaningful planets with the concept of addiction but there is only one which, in my view, describes the essence of addiction.
The Moon rules intoxicants. But one can be addicted to money, or sex, or gambling, which are not intoxicants. So while it certainly is the addiction of choice for many, the Moon is only one example of addiction.
The Moon is also craving, but addiction is not in place for the craving itself, it is the craving “for something”. That “something” is what addiction is essentially about.
Jupiter is excess, and certainly excess is in the nature of addiction. But what must be asked is: why the need for that excess in the first place? The answer to that question is what addiction is essentially about.
Mars is destructive, but that is a side effect of addiction. The core of addiction is not about self-destruction. As far as I can perceive, nobody becomes an addict out of the desire to destroy oneself (even though we may well succeed in doing so and it may appear so on the surface); it is rather the opposite: deep love of oneself is sought; the effort is just totally misguided. The proof is that unless that self-love is found the addiction cannot effectively leave; and when it is found it often does leave.
Another colleague astrologer mentioned that Saturn is entrapment and therefore Saturn rules addiction. Indeed addicts are quite often entrapped. But again the entrapment is due to something more fundamental. One is entrapped because one wants the lure that is on the hook which then pulls the cage door shut. So again, Saturn is a consequence of the essence of addiction. What is the lure?
So, all of these planets paint a shade of addiction but none touch its core.
What is the essence of an addiction then?
My understanding is that most, if not all, addictions are first and foremost based on a desire to move away from pain and/or obtain pleasure. We are unable to deal with the pain or discomfort life serves us so we take shelter in compulsive pleasure, as fleeting as it may be. From food to hoarding and gabling. From caffeine to cocaine and alcohol. From money to sex, fame and recognition. There is an emptiness that needs to be filled and many of us choose an addiction to fill it. (The basis of that void is the subject for another discussion, but I will mention it briefly: fear. Fear of want, fear of loss, fear of being judged/rejected, fear of inadequacy, fear of loss of control, fear of change, you name your favorite one. Fear which, in turn, is based on a mistaken sense of self.)
Addiction obviously has degrees and can take a multitude of forms. It can also have a biochemical imbalance component which makes the addiction less of a psychological issue (no fear necessarily involved) – coffee anyone? :-). But the essence of the action is always the same: we are unhappy (or just uncomfortable) and seek happiness, with the caveat that the means we choose to achieve the sought happiness may cause harm to ourselves via an excess of some kind of activity that will produce pleasure.
If we follow the Chaldean order around the chart we find Venus to be the natural ruler of house 12. For good reason, I believe: Venus describes the essence of addiction: pleasure.
It is also curious that Saturn, who joys in house 12, is exalted in a Venus’ sign, leading us to the natural antidote to the lesson offered by the lure of excessive Venus. A significant part of the solution to addiction is wisdom and restraint, earned in and with time — all naturally ruled by Saturn. The other part lies with Venus herself, but in her higher manifestation: Love. Love, not fear, after all, is our natural state, so our universe was built in a way that the astrological boogie man, “the greater malefic”, is not an absolute bad guy, and can do a great job in house 12.
So I would go for Venus as the natural ruler of addiction. However, I have yet to see this natural rulership being of practical use in an astrological interpretation except to paint a nuance to the situation. The accidental ruler is the one I go to, first of all, lord 12. And if we want to read or emphasize the limitations imposed by addiction, Saturn.