Astrology Explained and How it Works

The word 'astrology' comes from the Latin 'astrologia' which is derived from the Greek words 'astron', constellation or star, and 'logia', the study of, so the literal translation of the word 'astrology' is 'the study of the stars'.

There are many traditions of astrology ranging from the Vedic, the oldest form of astrology, to the Chinese and Egyptian traditions. This article will focus on the Western astrology.

Astrological readings are based on your birth details; time, date and place of birth. Astrologers will use the positions of the planets when you were born to determine how they will affect different areas of your lives. For example, the sign mercury occupied when you were born will show how your mind works. Venus shows the way your heart works and the way you relate to others and the moon describes the way your emotions work.

There are 12 Astrological signs each representing different attributes of personality.

* Aries - Heady, energetic, experiential, assertive & independent

* Taurus - slow, relaxed, practical, loyal, persistent & talented

* Gemini - interesting, communicative, intelligent & witty

* Cancer - moody, sensitive, caring, affectionate & loving

* Leo - playful, proud, passionate, creative & fun

* Virgo - focused, discerning, skilful, flexible & present

* Libra - charming, peaceful, polite, artistic & diplomatic

* Scorpio - intense, feeling, passionate, involved & probing

* Sagittarius - enthusiastic, adventurous, joyful & experiential

* Capricorn - sincere, structured, disciplined, ambitious & cautious

* Aquarius - spontaneous, rebellious & changeable

* Pisces - trusting, sensitive, psychic, artistic & adaptable

Most people know what star sign they are. This is known as your 'sun sign' and is who we are and what we identify with. But knowing your sun sign is far from the whole picture. The other planets in your solar system also have a part to play.

The Zodiac sign coming over the horizon at birth is known in astrology as the Rising Sign or Ascendant. The ascendant governs the personality and qualities used to express ones self.

The Ascendant begins the first house of any chart. A chart is divided into 12 parts or houses. The way these houses are divided depends on what method we use. If we use the 'Equal House' system, each of the houses are equal in size. If we use the 'Placidus House' system, which takes into account that we are born on the surface of the planet rather than at the centre, the houses are not divided equally.

The 12 houses relate to different aspects of life:

The First House rules new beginnings and the ways in which we express ourselves.

The Second House governs our talents and abilities, personal finances and resources.

The Third House relates to communications and learning, and also siblings.

The Fourth House is to do with the home and family.

The Fifth House is the house of hobbies and pastimes.

The Sixth House relates to work, duty, service, health and healing.

The Seventh House signifies our connection with others.

The Eighth House represents joint finances.

The Ninth House is the House of higher education, travel and experiences that teach us about life.

The Tenth House is associated with responsibilities and commitment.

The Eleventh House is the house of friends and socialising.

The Twelfth House is associated with meditation and aloneness.

We will use the 'Equal House' system.

On a chart the houses are drawn in an anti clockwise direction. The first house begins at 9 o'clock which means the second house will be at 8 o'clock, the third house at seven o'clock and so on until we reach the twelfth house at 10 o'clock.

If, for example, we are born with a Rising Sign of Sagittarius it means that our first house, which rules new beginnings and the ways in which we express ourselves, will be effected by the energy of the sign in that house - in this case Sagittarius. The energy of Sagittarius is Positive, optimistic, knowledgeable and adventurous. This will make the way we express ourselves quite optimistic. With the first house being about new beginnings and Sagittarius being about adventure, we will not be afraid to make changes in our lives.

As the planets move through the different houses they also influence us:

The Sun is who we are and what we identify with. It is our creativity and individuality.

The Moon governs our feelings and emotional life. It also represents our family, particularly the Mother.

Mercury influences communication on all levels.

Venus rules relationships and partnerships.

Mars represents our sexuality and basic driving force. It is the planet of energy, energizing and activating us in ways relating to the qualities of the sign it occupies.

Jupiter relates to the qualities of honesty, optimism and joy. Among other things, it governs spirituality, religion, philosophy, journalism, higher education, travel and the law.

Chiron, Discovered towards the end of the 20th Century, relates to health and healing. Sometimes referred to as the wounded healer, it can expose our weaknesses in order that we may heal them.

Saturn is the planet of mastery; it governs discipline and commitment, parents, marriage, parenting and career.

Uranus represents our uniqueness, individuality and social contribution.

Neptune represents dreams and intuition, fears, fantasies and ideals.

Pluto represents power and destiny.

North Node is an indicator as to the types of roles we need to develop in life and the qualities we need to cultivate.

So a good example of how we are influenced by the planets would be to look at the moon. As the moon, which is all about feelings, passes through the first house we 'feel' like taking action or starting something new. As the moon moves through the second house we 'feel' our self-worth. As the moon moves through the third house we 'feel' like communicating and so it goes on through all the houses and their relative energies. As you can see, taking into consideration all the planets moving through all the 12 houses we have a good idea about what is going on for someone in any given moment.

But this is still not the whole picture. Planets also influence other planets, this is known as the 'aspects between planets'. There are many aspects which can be used but the most common are listed below. An aspect comes into being when there is an exact amount of degrees between planets. As a general rule the planet farthest from the Sun in the solar system has influence over the other. Where there is a challenge the outer planet will have a negative affect until the other planet gets its message and learns to use the positive qualities of that planet. These are our life lessons.

Conjunction - same degree - tolerance 10' - beneficial and challenging. They may support each other or get in each other's way.

Opposition - 180' apart - tolerance 10' - challenging. Planets may turn on each other or simply not want to know and head off in separate directions.

Trine - 120' apart - tolerance 10' - beneficial. These planets work extremely well together.

Square - 90' apart - tolerance 10' - challenging. The planets have trouble working together.

Sextile - 60' apart - tolerance 5' - beneficial. Planets can work together.

Inconjunction - 150' apart - tolerance 5' - needs working on. These planets need to adapt and change before they can work together.

As planets travel they form aspects to the planets in our birth charts, these are called transits. They prompt, stimulate or challenge those parts of us that the planet in our chart represents. In terms of their influence, the major planets are felt one month either side of the exact alignment. The exception is Jupiter which affects us about a week either side of the exact date.

There are many different readings that can be given:

We have a general reading that will look at how the planets have, and will, affect our lives from birth to old age and death.

We have transit readings that will look at the year ahead and tell us what influences the planets will have in different areas of our lives.

There is also a relationship reading that works with 2 charts, one for each person in the relationship. This is a great indication of how areas of confliction or friction may be overcome and positive influences made the most of.

We have the karmic reading that gives the view of Esoteric Astrology on the Soul's progression through different lifetimes. It looks at past life lessons and challenges; the roles we have had and how the things we have learnt can be used to benefit us in this life. The Karmic reading offers insight and inspiration that can help you to connect with your Soul purpose and live a fulfilling life.

And we have the progressed chart reading that looks at how you may have developed the qualities present in your birth chart since you were born to date. If we look at where the planets were 20 days after you were born then we can see how you may have developed at the age of 20 years.

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