When I was learning astrology I was taught to describe the expression of a planet in the birth chart by looking at its zodiac sign and house position. The Zodiac sign describes how the planetary energy plays out, and the house position describes where the energy will most likely be manifested. For example if a person has Saturn in Pisces in the 6th house, one would first look at how Saturn’s energy will likely be channeled in Pisces. As we know the sign Pisces is not very comfortable with structure and hence Saturn has a hard time instilling its fast and hard rules here! However the lesson in here is about how one can deal with uncertainty with poise. Then one would look at the 6th house interpretation which is about serving others, daily schedule, work environment, health issues, etc. The final interpretation would be something like the need to find structure in a compassionate and adapting manner (describes the how) in one’s daily schedule, work environment…(describes the where) . It may manifest as a need to serve others with diligence in one’s work, someone who incorporates dance or yoga (something flowing) or artsy in the daily schedule, the need to be disciplined even in an uncertain or changing daily schedule.
However when I started using this method to characterize a planet’s role in the natal chart, I found something missing and that was the house rulership of the planet. So using the same example as above, if the Saturn in 6th in Pisces was ruled by 5th house Capricorn, let’s look at a different way of characterizing the planetary energy. First let’s find an appropriate general description for 5th house Capricorn, which can be “finding structure and using discipline/diligence in creative pursuits /self expression“. Then apply this description in the Pisces 6th house which happens to be the natal position of Saturn. The positive interpretation in this case would be the native has a primary need for disciplined creativity and self expression (5th house Capricorn) and would like to apply this energy in his/her work environment, daily schedule(6th house) in a service oriented, compassionate, flexible…. (Pisces) manner.
This method works out much better for me in understanding a birth chart. But that’s just me! Try it out with your chart and let me know if this works for you and share with the readers any other method that you use that works for you