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Astrology Basics

 

What is a Horoscope?

Although we generally take 'a horoscope' to mean an astrologers prediction of our future. It actually means an astrological chart or diagram representing the positions of the Sun, Moon, planets, astrological aspects, and sensitive angles at the time of an event, such as the moment of a person's birth. The word 'horoscope' is derived from Greek words hora and scopos meaning "time" "observer"

Once it has been worked out, the horoscope provides the basis for divining many aspects of that event or related events or time periods.

Signs of the zodiac

The signs of the Zodiac

The sky is divided up into 12 areas - the 12 signs of the zodiac. Each of these signs covers an equal area of the sky and is aligned to the stars. (Over millennia the zodiac moves with respect to the stars as the earth's axis precesses - but it's best to ignore this whilst learning the basics). So when looking at the sky, the stars are fixed when compared with the zodiac, but the planets, as they orbit the sun, change position and "wander" about. Astrology tries to use the movements of the stars to understand our personalities and to some extent control our destinies. Each of the 12 signs is also associated with an element (earth, air, fire and water) and also a mode (cardinal, fixed and mutable). More about this later.

The Planets

Each of the planets (which for astrology includes the sun and the moon) control a different aspect. In general terms they can be listed as:

Planetary Symbols Astrology

Sun = Ego / Self
Moon = Emotion / Moods
Mercury = Communication / Thinking
Venus = Harmony / Affections
Mars = Confidence / Energy
Jupiter = Prosperity / Good Fortune
Saturn = Limitations / Practicality
Uranus = Individuality / Inventiveness
Neptune = Idealism / Compassion
Pluto = Transformation / Power

The Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus and Mars are the personal planets which affect our personalities and immediate relationships. The more distant planets affect how we interact with the world in a more general way.

When planets are in retrograde (e.g. they appear to be traveling backwards to their normal motion in the sky) their effect can be reversed to be directed inwards. When they again start to move forward again their effect can be enhanced.

Planets and Signs

Each planet is the ruler of a particular sign (or signs). Whilst in that sign the planets influence is enhanced. The rulerships for each of the planets are as below:

Sun Leo
Moon Cancer
Mercury Gemini and Virgo
Venus Libra and Taurus
Mars Aries (and* Scorpio)
Jupiter Sagittarius (and* Pisces)
Saturn Capricorn (and* Aquarius)
Uranus Aquarius
Neptune Pisces
Pluto Scorpio

* before the invention of telescopes, these signs were also assigned to these planets. Since telescopes the three outer planets have been discovered and assigned these signs.

This information is useful since if you know what influence a planet has, then you will know what influence that signs ruled by that planet have.

Elements

Signs are allocated a different element in turn. This means that every fourth sign has the same element as follows:

Fire Signs : Aries, Leo, Sagittarius
Earth Signs: Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn
Air Signs : Gemini, Libra, Aquarius
Water Signs : Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces

Fire signs represent a persons passion, energy, enthusiasm, inspiration.
Earth signs represent a persons practicality, stability, materialism, realism.
Air signs represent language, intellect, communication and social relationships.
Water signs represent emotion, mysticism, intuition.

Generally speaking, the more planets someone has in a particular sign at the time of their birth, the stronger that signs personality traits will be in them.

Modes

Rather like elements, each sign also has a mode allocated to it. Every 3rd sign has the same mode as follows:

Cardinal Signs: Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn
Fixed Signs: Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, Aquarius
Mutable Signs: Gemini. Virgo, Sagittarius, Pisces

Cardinal signs are energetic, dynamic and proactive.
Fixed signs are persistence, perseverant, stable.
Mutable signs are flexible, changeable, adaptable, suggestible.

Again, the more planets you have in a particular Mode, the more your personality has those traits.

Working out the planets influences?

It takes quite a lot of skill to determine one's personality traits accurately. However, a simple rule of thumb is to count at the time of birth how many planets fall in each sign and then work out how many are in each element and mode (perhaps counting the sun and moon as 2 due to their extra influence). The greater the score for each indicates how much of an influence each element and mode are on that person.

What are the Houses

Just when you thought you might have got some sort of a grip on astrology, in come the houses. Whereas signs indicate what personality traits one has, houses indicate where they will exhibited themselves.

Like the signs, there are 12 houses which divide up the sky. However the alignment of the houses is defined by the position of the horizon on the time of your birth. This means in order to calculate the houses, one must know not only what date one was born but also what time (to within a few minutes) and at what location on earth.

If one were to the set the application above to the time of ones birth and then set the lat and long to the place of ones birth, then the lowest slider will then bring up a display of the horizon at that time and location. Using this horizon one can ascertain how the houses are defined.

The first house is located just under the western horizon, and the others follow consecutively in an anti-clockwise direction - e.g. the first 6 are in the black area (below the horizon), the last 6 are in the sky area (above the horizon). Once one knows where the houses lie, one can again see which sign lies in which house. Since there are 12 signs and 12 houses one can see that normally each house will overlay parts of 2 signs. The sign used is the sign which overlays the cusp of the house. The lines which separate each of the houses are called the cusps. The cusp of a house is the line preceding.

What do the houses mean?

House Sign Latin motto Translation Modern title of house Interpretation
1st Aries Vita Life House of Self Physical appearance, traits and characteristics. First impressions. General outlook into the world. Ego. Beginnings and initiatives.
2nd Taurus Wealth House of Value Material and immaterial things of certain value. Money. Belongings, property, acquisitions. Cultivation and growth. Substance. Self-Worth.
3rd Gemini Brothers House of Communications Higher education and childhood environment. Communication. Happiness. Intelligence. Achievements. Siblings. Neighborhood matters. Short, local travel and transportations.
4th Cancer Parent House of Home and Family Ancestry, heritage, roots. Early foundation and environment. Mother or mothers as figure. The caretaker of the household. Cyclic end of matters.
5th Leo Children House of Pleasure Recreational and leisure activities. Things which makes for enjoyment and entertainment. Games and gambling. Children. Love and sex. Creative self-expression.
6th Virgo Health House of Health Routine tasks and duties. Skills or training acquired. Jobs and Employments. Health and overall well-being. Service performed for others. Care-taking. Pets and small domestic animals.
7th Libra Spouse House of Partnerships Close, confidante-like relationships. Marriage and business partners. Agreements and treaties. Matters dealing with diplomatic relations of all kinds, including open (known) enemies. Attraction to qualities we admire from the other partner.
8th Scorpio Death House of Reincarnation Cycles of Deaths And Rebirth. Sexual relationships and deeply committed relationships of all kinds. Joint funds, finances. Other person's resource. Occult, psychic and taboo matters. Regeneration. Self-transformation.
9th Sagittarius Journeys House of Philosophy Foreign travel and foreign countries. Culture. Long distance travels and journeys. Religion. Law and ethics. Higher education. Knowledge. Experience through expansion.
10th Capricorn Regnum Kingdom House of Social Status Ambitions. Motivations. Career. Status in society. Government. Authority. Father or father figure. The breadwinner of the household. One's public appearance/impression at large(audience).
11th Aquarius Friendship House of Friendships Friends and acquaintances of like-minded attitudes. Groups, clubs and societies. Higher associations. Benefits and fortunes from career. One's hopes and wishes.
12th Pisces Prison House of Self-Undoing Mysticism. Places of seclusion such as hospitals, prisons and institutions, including self-imposed imprisonments. Things which are not apparent to self, yet clearly seen by others. Elusive, clandestine, secretive or unbeknownst matters. Retreat, reflection and self-sacrifice. Unconscious/subconscious. Unknown enemies.
Many modern astrologers assume that the houses relate to their corresponding signs, i.e. that the first house has a natural affinity with the first sign, Aries, and so on.

And there's more...
The houses can also be classified as Angular, Succedent and Cadent and are ruled by signs according to the astrological modality. And... well there are many many more aspects to astrology which seem almost designed to confuse and complicate.

As you can see, astrology is not a simple area of study. The above is just skimming the surface of a subject that could (and does) take up volumes and volumes of books. There are many systems of astrology and many variations between individual astrologers that use the same basic principles. Some astrologers also use astronomical objects which have never been seen by the unaided eye (such as chiron - an asteroid/comet cross discovered in 1977) and others objects that have never even been detected. Some prefer to align the zodiac to the night time sky as seen by astrologers hundreds or thousands of years ago - such as in the Hindu Astrology system.

All in all, with astrology today, one must pick and choose the astrologer and the style of astrology that suits one best.