Student: Are planetary goals and target states one and the same thing?
Glenn: Actually, there’s an important difference. A planetary target state refers to an affect (feeling) that is attained when the person satisfies the motivating need of that planet. Since the motivation of a planet is always symbolized by the sign(s) that planet rules, target states are the same regardless of what sign the planet happens to occupy. A planetary goal, on the other hand, refers to a specific outcome connected to the sign and house the planet tenants.
For example, regardless of Saturn’s sign and house position, the target state still pertains to the sign-need symbolized by Capricorn—the need for order, structure, success, and the like. If Saturn is functional, then the person will satisfy these Capricorn needs as they arise. However, Saturn’s sign and house position will show how and where Saturn fulfills its Capricorn-need. To the degree the Capricorn-need is fulfilled, the native feels ‘together’, ‘on top of it’, ‘in control’, ‘organized’, ‘successful’, and so on, at which point that need will recede into the background to be replaced by the next dominant need.
As indicated with Saturn, there are a variety of ways to describe fulfillment of a drive, but the emotional experience of fulfillment is essentially the same for everyone. With Capricorn-Saturn, for example, we all know how it feels to succeed at something. In other words, either we attain the target state or we don’t. What varies is 1) how easily we can fulfill it—our skills vis-à-vis that planet; 2) the degree to which it dominates our awareness—the frequency and intensity of the drive; and 3) its overall importance in our psychic economy—to what extent we value that planetary domain. These three factors vary from person to person depending upon a host of astrological and extra-astrological reasons, not the least of which is the planet’s sign, house, and aspects.
Unlike a target state, a planetary goal always refers to the sign and house that is tenanted. While goals are flexible and can entail a multiplicity of strategies and outcomes, they are always a vehicle for fulfilling the target state. Saturn in Libra in the 8th may succeed in building a program for resolving financial disputes between corporate entities; yet, this achievement also provides the means for attaining the Capricorn-Saturn target state of success. Again, the goal itself is described by the sign and house the planet occupies, whereas the motivation behind the goal, as well as the target state, is described by the sign the planet rules.
Grammatically speaking, the occupied sign is a complement to the planetary verb. A complement always completes the meaning of the verb by answering the question, “What?” If Jupiter believes (has faith), then what does Jupiter believe (have faith) in? The occupied sign and house answers the question because it is the object of Jupiter’s faith. Jupiter has to believe in something. It has a goal, in effect, to satisfy its Sagittarian need for faith by believing in a particular doctrine or set of values. If Jupiter is in Capricorn, the object of Jupiter’s faith might be the system, or tradition, or simply order, control, discipline, or any other abstract value of Capricorn. If it’s in the 11th house, the native might join with others of like mind to promote a conservative religious movement that emphasizes self-control and a strict moral code.
Again, if Jupiter achieves its goal, then it also fulfills its target state. How readily a planet can achieve its goal and fulfill its target state is a measure of that planet’s functionality. Imagine, for instance, that Jupiter in Capricorn in the 11th is square Saturn in Libra in the 8th. The conservative religious movement that the native has joined turns out to have serious fiscal problems and begins to compromise its principles in order to attract rich supporters. These donors want an even stricter church that exerts absolute control over its members, especially with regards marriage, divorce, and other social issues.
Seeing this, the native is plagued with doubt as to the integrity of his church. His faith has been crushed by the oppressive control of its leaders and their materialistic values. So he leaves the church and soon becomes disillusioned with religion altogether. In effect, his Jupiter is dysfunctional, for it is inundated with a surfeit of Capricorn-Saturn energies that he has yet to integrate in a balanced, functional way. This is just one scenario among many that might result from the configuration in question, but it serves to illustrate how the functionality of a planet is a measure of how readily it attains its target state.