Getting Started with Astrology

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Astrology is a symbolic language with ancient roots, as well as a way to track cycles of time.

Astrology is a word that comes from astro (stars) and logos (language). That's why it's often called the language of the stars.

Your birth chart is the position of the planets at the moment of your birth. The psychologist Carl Jung wrote, "Like vintage years of wine, we have the qualities of the year and of the season in which we are born." 

If you don't know your birth time, you can use 12 PM (Noon). Take note that this still gives you a sense of the planets in the Zodiac signs. However, it won't be able to place planets accurately in the Houses.

As Above, So Below

Every culture has star lore, and the earliest spiritual traditions spring from first-hand observations of the stars above. The Zodiac, or circle of animals, is a product of the human imagination. Many myths come from what different peoples see in the shapes of the constellations. 

For some, astrology is a just a language used to describe the energies that make up the universe. For others, it's the observation of the planets and the patterns of energy they create at any given moment.

The ancients were wise to the Seasons of the Sun -- the Solstices and Equinoxes. 

The other cosmic bodies were observed, with the same curiosity, and search for meaning. This knowledge of cycles and patterns has been used to ponder fate, predict events and even chose a marriage partner.

Horoscopes and Sun Sign Astrology

Most horoscopes are based on the Sun sign, which are the twelve signs of the Zodiac that most people are familiar with.

The Sun sign is the central Star and a great starting point. Go on and observe people you know to see how whether or not they have traits true to their Sun Sign.

Many astrologers come up with predictions based on your Sun sign and where other planets fall in your solar houses. The solar house is created with your Sun in the first house, and following the Zodiac around counter-clockwise around the wheel.

After the Sun sign, what's next in Astrology?

When you know the time you were born, you're able to cast an accurate chart with the rising sign in place on the wheel. 

When you're ready to go deeper, your Moon sign reveals your emotional nature, the intimate side that only a trusted few are able to see. For an introduction beyond the Sun sign, see this illustrated guide to the planets.

An astrologer reads the whole chart, but may have a particular focus, skils or training. In her book on psychic protection, the British occultist Dion Fortune writes that it's best to give an astrologer a sense of what you're looking for, in the interpretation.  

Dion Fortune: "A horoscope is to an occult therapist whan an X-ray photogaph is to a doctor."

Astrology and Relationships

Which Zodiac signs are a love match? Each of us is a complex blend of all our planets, so add dimension to your astro analysis by looking at the Moon and Rising signs. Venus reveals what kinds of friends and lovers you are attracted to, and what makes you attractive to others. Mars reveals what revs up your mojo, and how you pursue the object of your desire.

The Message of Mercury

Mercury usually follows the Sun closely, and may be in the same sign. This planet and its aspects to other planets in your birth chart shows your unique communication style. It describes the life of the mind, and what gets those wheels turning.

Understanding Astrology

Astrology doesn't make much sense when approached solely through the intellect. There's a lot of synthesis involved, and there's always more to learn. It's a field that's said to have shallow brooks and deep fjords, and my advice is to dip your pinkie toe in -- stick with Sun signs -- and keep going deeper, as your interest grows. Learning about the grouping of the signs by elements (fire, water, air and earth) and qualities (cardinal, fixed and mutable) is a good foundation for futher study.