You probably know that the Gates in your design are activated by the planets.   We all look at our charts and say  …  I have Gate 42 ….  or Gate 3 ..   We can understand a lot about ourselves by knowing which gates are ‘switched on’ in our design.

Let’s look at the difference a planet can make in understanding how the energy of a gate might operate.

venus-and-mars-geraldine-arataGate 42 is about Increase.

Venus in Gate 42 opens to a willingness to receive more, to become more abundant.  She connects with her innate ability to attract beneficial relationships, she is the wanton goddess of sensuality and draws to her everything she needs to increase love, beauty and connection.

Mars in Gate 42 will have us taking passionate action to bring increase into our lives.  He will respond to every opportunity to act to bring more of what he desires into his life.  Where Venus seeks to do this through relationship and connection, Mars is more of a loner, seeking his own gratification.  Venus attracts, Mars takes action.

If you have Venus in Gate 42, the Gate of Increase, in your design and you are taking action to create Increase, then Venus is not happy and it’s probably not happening for you.  (And you might also feel drab and unattractive because Venus is your GODDESS!).  If you have Mars in Gate 42 and you are lolling about waiting for your Increase to turn up on your doorstep like a lovesick suitor, well that’s not going to be working out too well either!

This isn’t the same as your Strategy, it’s about the distinct flavour the planets bring to every gate in your design!  When you recognise how to use subtle energies, everything changes!

The planets have their own language, and each one is different.   Learning the language of the planets and how they relate to each other in your own personal design unlocks many keys to deeper layers of who you are and why you do what you do.

What a difference a planet makes!

Nelson Mandela and Muammar Gadaffi both have the Gate of Influence in their charts.  One was a leader beloved around for the world for his passionate work to end apartheid in South Africe. The other was generally considered a despot and tyrant, responsible for millions of deaths.

What makes them so different?  Let’s look at their planets and find out.

Nelson Mandela



The much beloved ‘father’ of  South Africa, Nelson Mandela, has Gate 31 in his design.  This is an energy of mutual influence, a place where we open our heart to each other and seek new solutions that allow us to move forward.  When people with this gate are called out to lead they are able to articulate wonderful solutions.  This channel is part of a circuit that can ‘feel’ the future at a visceral level.


In Nelson Mandela’s design his Gate 31 is activated by Neptune.  Which means that Mandela had a capacity to bring new life to how we relate to each other, how we can open our hearts to each other.  He brought a level of visionary refinement to the concept of what it means to be a political leader.

His leadership had a spiritual or ‘sacred’ flavour to it.  Neptune is idealistic, especially in politics and many saw his vision as utopian.

If Mandela did not have an activation in the adjoining Gate 7 it’s likely we would never have heard his name.  He would have been just another dreamer.  But there in Gate 7 – the gate known as The Army –  we find Mercury, the planet of communication and the voice of the gods.  Mercury and Neptune together bring a profound capacity to tune into the zeitgeist and the ability to communicate ideals (Neptune) for the future (Understanding Circuit).   The Pluto and Jupiter activations in Gate 15 (Humility) gate Mandela the political smarts he needed to work with the powerful forces at play in South Africa during the reign of apartheid.


Muammar Gadaffi


Here’s another leader with the Gate of Influence – Gate 31 – in his design.  But in Gadaffi’s design we find the gate activated by Pluto rather than Neptune.  Pluto is a whole different kettle of fish.  Pluto is about how we relate to power.

Gadaffi Human Design chartColonel Gadaffi ruled Libya from 1969 to 2011.  He originally seized power through a coup and ruled by decree.  Throughout this era, and particularly towards it’s end, Gadaffi was obsessed with apocalyptic ideas of an Arab resurgence where Islam would take a position of powerful authority over the world.  He is described in wikipedia as a dictator and autocrat whose authoritarian administration oversaw multiple human rights abuses.

Gadaffi has no planetary activation in Gate 7 – The Army.  This is a gate where we find a true capacity for democratic leadership.  Because his Pluto activation is not connected directly to the Ji Centre, Gadaffi would have relied on his strongly defined Throat activations to support his need for power.

We find the Sun, Saturn and Design Jupiter all in the Throat Centre.  When Saturn and Pluto come together we can get a militarist view of power that has difficulty with a compassionate and humane view of life.  This can play out as a compulsive fear of being overpowered.  Design Jupiter conjunct the Sun encourages a messianic view of the self, likely handed down from the father.  It can be very proud, with a need to puff itself up like a peacock.

Of course, these planetary combinations are not always going to turn out badly.  If you have Saturn and Pluto connecting in your design I’m not expecting you to become a brutal dictator anytime soon!  It’s positive attributes are a sense of responsibility and the capacity to carry authority well.  It can be a profoundly protective energy. However, in Gadaffi’s case we do find a more negative expression.  Jupiter and the Sun has a visionary quality that allows the person with this combination in their design to be a bright light in the lives of others.

Learning about the qualities of each planet in your design can bring a profound deepening of your understanding of your self.




stars&planetsInner and Outer Planets

Not all planets are equal in your design.  There are broadly three kinds of planets.

The inner planets – Sun, Moon, Mercury Venus and Mars – are personal influences.  They move quickly through the gates and so even if two people were born a few days apart they are likely to have different activations for the inner planets.  We experience these energies as very personal influences in our day to day lives.   They also tell us something about our basic nature.  For example, Mercury tells us how we like to communicate and what we like to talk about.

Then we get to Jupiter and Saturn.  They are all about how we relate to society.  Jupiter is the place where we find our life story, how we fit in, what gifts and opportunities life brings us and how we receive them.  Jupiter is the great “meaning maker” in our design.  He answers the question – where do I fit in the larger context of my society?  Saturn is a bridge between our soul and our capacity to be present in a concrete way in our life.  He is the builder, our anchor to the earth plane.  Saturn’s position in our design tells us what we want to build in this life, and how we want to do it.  Without Saturn’s influence we can only build castles in the air.

Beyond these two social planets we find the outer planets – Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.  These three move very slowly through our designs and are what’s known as ‘generational influences’.  It takes Uranus 84 years to move through every gate in the design, so it spends over a year in each gate.  Neptune takes 164 years to make it’s way around the gates, and Pluto takes 248 years.  This is a slow process and one we share with millions of other people.  For example, everyone born between July 1958 and September 1960 has Pluto in Gate 59 (except for about one month around December 1959, where Pluto was in Gate 40 before it retrograded back into Gate 59 again).

We feel the influence of the outer planets more when they connect with personal planets. So, like Mandela with his Neptune making a channel with his Mercury, the energy of the personal planet is enhanced by it’s connection with the broader flavour of slower moving Neptune.   Connections with outer planets bring a feeling of being part of a larger collective expression.  Gadaffi’s Pluto has no direct connections with inner planets, but with the Sun in the same Centre – the Throat Centre – Pluto brought a sense that the power of being leader of his country (Pluto) belonged to him personally (Sun).

Here’s some books I recommend to help you learn more about the planets.  You don’t need to know anything about astrology, they both take a very non-technical aproach.



Steven Forrest’s much loved classic astrology book  Inner Sky  gives you the function and key questions for each planet.

It’s down to earth, warm and intelligent.







Carolyn Casey is an astrological shaman with a tricksters sense for the illusive nature of each planet.  She is astute and poetic, drawing forth the magic that each planet brings to your life.






Here’s a few keywords.


The integration of full self expression.  The key for manifesting personal power and talent.


What you need to feel grounded, to provide yourself with a solid foundation for manifestation. What you might easily avoid so you don’t have to ground your talent in the world.


What you need for emotional security.  Where you retreat in order to feel safe.

North Node

What you are here to move towards in this life, no matter how uncomfortable it may feel for you.

South Node

Where you may retreat into your comfort zone, even when you believe you are moving forward. These are the things you do well, the places you know, because you’ve mastered them in a past life.


What you love to communicate about, your intellectual approach to life.  Where you can have a tendency to hide behind verbal intellectualising.


Personal self worth, the ability to create a life of love, beauty and harmony.  Capacity for social ability.  Not sharing fully in social situations through a fear of disharmony.  The receiving sexual principle.  How we attract what we desire into our lives.


What you feel passionate about.  Personal assertion and healthy boundaries.  The initiating sexual principle.  Where we can have a tendency to push or aggressively withdraw.


The place where you experience an expansive sense of good fortune and faith in yourself and life that helps you overcome fear and limitation.  Where you can have a tendency to rely a bit too much on your own luck.  The way in which you build your sense of personal meaning.


How you can fulfill your need for public achievement, status and success.  Where you may struggle to balance responsibility and irresponsibility.  May show a block in your natural energy flow due to fear of loss of control.


Opening to your intuitive perceptions of life.  A tendency to demand the right to be erratic and unpredictable.  Gradually becoming your own person by connecting with like minded others rather than being stuck in rebellion and alienating people who don’t agree with you anyway.


Where you need to undergo a process of removing illusion and revealing the truth.  Opening to a larger picture of reality while staying grounded.  A need for a more refined experience.  Tendency to addiction or sacrifice.


Where you are willing to die in order to transform and be reborn.  Covert power struggles.  An ability to see beneath the surface.  Aligning personal will with divine will.


Img: Venus and Mars by Geraldine Arata ~

Kim Gould is founder of and Creator of EmergentHuman.Design.

She enjoys keeping her world-wide community on the emergent edge of consciousness, since 2003 on the blog.