Astrology is the study of how planetary movements symbolically represent and reflect events on earth and issues in our own personalities. The astrologer’s motto is “As above, so below” – astrology is based on an understanding of synchronicity between what happens in the heavens above us and what happens in our daily lives. This underpins all astrological work, whether it’s a chart interpretation or a prediction.
How Does Astrology Work?
Astrology is best understood as a symbolic language which can help us gain insight into our personality traits and into the energies which surround us on a daily basis.
What is Astrology Used For?
Astrology can be used in many different ways: as a psychological tool to aid self-understanding, for example, or as a timing device to help plan when to start a new business, invest or get married. An understanding of astrology can draw out the nuances in relationships between people and it can also answer questions about major life decisions and choices. From financial astrology to relationship astrology known as synastry, horary astrology, electional astrology, weather astrology, mundane astrology, political astrology and predictive astrology – there’s so much more to astrology than Sun signs!
Can Astrology Predict the Future?
No. Predictive astrology can tell you what kind of energies you will be surrounded by at a given point in the future, and it can guide you as to how you might best maximize that potential or minimize any problems. However, you always retain free will and most modern western or tropical zodiac astrologers do not believe in fate or pre-determined destiny. Because the future is not set in stone, it’s impossible to make an accurate prediction. Think of astrology as a kind of weather forecast. We’ll tell you if you’re likely to be facing a downpour – but whether you choose to hunker down and stay at home, go out but hide under your umbrella or dance barefoot in the rain: these are choices that only you can make.
What is a Birth Chart?
Most people know their Sun sign, and many enjoy reading their horoscopes online or in the newspaper every day. But did you know that every sign and every planet is represented somewhere in your birth chart? That's what makes astrology such a complex but insightful tool when it comes to understanding the energies around you at any given time.
A birth chart, also called a natal chart, is a circular map of the position of all of the heavenly bodies at the time and place of your birth. Imagine a circle, around which are written all of the signs of the zodiac. Now imagine that circle divided into 12 segments or slices. Some of the slices (we call them houses) are larger than others, some cover more than one sign, some cover only a part of one astrological sign - each chart is unique. Onto that sliced up circle, we then plot the individual position of each planet - the Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. We also add other important bodies and points such as the Nodes, Chiron and the asteroids – Ceres, Juno, Vesta and Pallas Athena. We then draw lines between the various planets and points to show their angular relationship to each other. The result is your birth chart - and what a wonderful thing it is!
What Do Planets Do in Astrology?
At a very basic level, astrology can be broken down into planets, signs and houses. Each planet has an energy all of its own - the Sun, for instance, is warm and creative, but can be overbearing and bossy. The Moon is sensitive, emotional, instinctive and moody. Mercury’s astrological energy is intelligent and clever but can be fickle; Venus is all about love and harmony but is fond of spending too much and taking the easy way out. Mars is warrior energy, fierce, passionate and protective, but with an aggressive streak. Jupiter is everyone's favorite, the bringer of luck and good fortune, until it all gets out of hand.
Saturn is very grown up energy, speaking of responsibilities, patience and order. Uranus counters with rebellious chaos and innovative, inventive energy, while Neptune exudes dreaminess, illusions, magic and psychic energy. Astrological Pluto rounds out the planetary list with regenerative, transformative, dramatic energy which brings change, always change.
What About the Zodiac Signs?
Each of the planets was in a zodiac sign when you were born. Their basic planetary energy is therefore expressed in the manner of their home sign. Aries, for instance, expresses energy quickly, impulsively and with ambition, while Taurus expresses it calmly, methodically and with a good deal of caution. Jupiter's influence will be felt very differently if it is in Aries in your birth chart as opposed to in Taurus, and these are key differences which will be repeated through the placement of all of the planets in all of the signs - an individual may have multiple planets in one sign, and there are some signs which have no planets at all in them. In this way, most of the zodiac is represented in everyone’s individual chart.
Most people know where their Sun was when they were born, which is what we commonly call your Sun sign, star sign or zodiac sign. Determining the position of the other planets at the time of your birth, however, is a more complex matter.
What Are Astrological Houses?
Now that we know how each planet is expressing its basic energy, an astrologer will look at which house, or slice, it occupies. Each astrological house is concerned with a different area of life. The first house, for instance, is to do with personal image and the sense of self, while the second is concerned with security, materialism and values. The third house rules communication, intellect and our local neighborhood, while the fourth is all about roots, family and the past. We look to the fifth house for information about pleasure and children, and to the sixth for health, daily routines and organization.
The seventh house is the house of partnership, especially romantic partnership, while the eighth gets all deep and meaningful and focuses on our resourcefulness and our attitude towards sex, death and rebirth. The ninth house is to do with travel, education and philosophy, while the tenth is the house associated with career, status and ambition. The eleventh house rules our attitude towards society at large, and our social contacts and friendships, while the twelfth house is the house of secrets, spirituality and the subconscious.
Interpreting a Birth Chart
Once you have the complete birth chart and understand that a planet in a sign in a house equals energy expressed in a certain way in a particular area of life, then you can start to make basic interpretations.
For instance, Saturn in Cancer in the fifth house might belong to someone with a passion for genealogy but not a great deal of time to enjoy themselves. Mercury in Gemini in the twelfth house might belong to someone who has made a lifelong study of the occult and who never stops questioning their path.
The relationships or angles between each planet and chart point are also important. We call these aspects, and the aspects one planet makes to another subtly modifies the expression of that planet’s energy in a number of ways.
This is a very simplified overview, but you get the idea. What does your own birth chart reveal about you? Why not learn to unlock its mysteries? Eventually, chart interpretations become almost instinctive to a good astrologer, but for beginners the sheer volume of information to be synthesized and evaluated can be overwhelming.
Astrology can be challenging to learn, but even a basic understanding of this complex art can enrich your life and offer you new levels of understanding.