The Basics of Astrology
Reference: This information is predominantly gained from CafeAstrology.com
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1. Your Natal Chart
First up, it’s useful to reference the information in this guide with your own birth chart. You can get your birth chart here. You will need to know your date of birth, time of birth and location of birth.
“As above, so below” is a popular, modern paraphrase from an ancient Hermetic text that many practicing astrologers and occultists live by. The sky above and the planetary connections can shed light on the types of energy we expect to manifest here on Earth.
Natal Chart Diagram
Astrology is the study of the planets and stars and conducting symbolic meaning from their associated meanings and placement in the sky.
Astrologers believe that the positions of the Sun, Moon, and planets at the time of a person’s birth have a direct influence on that person’s character. So where the planets were positioned at the time of your birth gives us interesting information about you and your life.
To grasp the basics of astrology, it’s important to understand the meaning of the planets, the zodiac signs, and the zodiac houses.
3. The Zodiac
The zodiac is a circle of 360 degrees, divided into 12 equal sectors of 30 degrees, each of these is comprised of a Zodiac sign.
The Zodiac Signs
Aries: The Ram, “I Am”, Fire, Cardinal, Self, Mars
Taurus: The Bull, “I Have”, Earth, Fixed, Money, Venus
Gemini: The Twins, “I Think”, Air, Mutable, Family, Mercury
Cancer: The Crab, “I Feel”, Water, Cardinal, Home, the Moon
Leo: The Lion, “I Will”, Fire, Fixed, Children, the Sun
Virgo: The Virgin, “I Serve”, Earth, Mutable, Work, Mercury
Libra: The Scales, “I Balance”, Air, Cardinal, Marriage, Venus
Scorpio: The Scorpion, “I Desire”, Water, Fixed, Rebirth, Mars/Pluto
Sagittarius: The Archer, “I See”, Fire, Mutable, Education, Jupiter
Capricorn: The Goat, “I Use”, Earth, Cardinal, Fame, Saturn
Aquarius: The Water Bearer, “I Know”, Air, Fixed, Friends, Saturn/Uranus
Pisces: The Fish, “I Believe”, Water, Mutable, Prison, Jupiter/Neptune
3. Ruling Planets
In astrology, each zodiac sign has a ruling planet that governs it and imbues it with certain personality traits.
The following shows the planets that rule each sign. Note that some planets rule two signs.
courage, self-expression, boldness
sensitivity, nurturing, fluctuating moods
communication skills, intellect, cleverness
beauty, charm, sensuality
Aries (minor rule over Scorpio)
drive, aggression, commpetitiveness
Sagittarius (minor rule over Pisces)
optimism, abundance, a big appetite for life
Capricorn (minor rule over Aquarius)
discipline, restraint, a hard work ethic
originality, innovation, shock value
compassion, creativity, psychic powers
intensity, depth, control and power
4. The Zodiac Elements
Astrology uses various ways to classify the zodiac signs. There are four elements in Western Astrology, and they are divided into groups of three signs each (four times three equals twelve signs): Fire, Earth, Air, and Water.
The elements are also known as the Triplicities, and they represent personality tendencies. The qualities represent modes of activity or expression.
The elements are building blocks of life or life-giving forces.
Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius are fire signs. Fire signs are spontaneous, reactive, and assertive.
With Fire, there is little in the way of reflection – fire is impulsive – and we have pride, passion, courage, creativity, and impulse. Fire is difficult to contain and is guided by spirit. Fire signs often take the lead and are idealists. These traits are associated with each of the Fire signs. Aries is an innovator, concerned more about the present and the future than the past, and is brave and enthusiastic. Aries initiates and spearheads. Leo, as a Fixed Fire sign, is passionate and loyal, making an excellent manager. Sagittarius is a Mutable Fire sign and is more adaptable and flexible than the other Fire signs, but also fiery and courageous. Sagittarius is often a spiritual leader.
Fire signs fall in the masculine or positively charged group of signs along with Air signs.
Taurus, Virgo, or Capricorn, are an Earth signs. The Earth signs are reliable, practical, and sensual.
Earth signs collect and build (most associated with Taurus), are practical and pragmatic (most associated with Virgo), and materialistic and cautious (most associated with Capricorn). Taurus builds, Virgo labors, and Capricorn manages. Earth signs are grounded in reality. They’re also sensual and very much attached to what they can physically see or touch. Earth signs are skilled at managing and using resources. Earth signs want to know what works and wants to see solid results for their efforts. Order helps Earth signs to feel in control and safe. They’re dependable.
Earth signs, along with Water signs, fall in the feminine, yin, or receptive/negatively-charged group of signs.
The Air Signs are Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius. Air signs are intellectual, detached, and fair-minded.
Air signs are humanitarian, intellectual, social, and communicative. While Air signs share the same element of Air, they each have a different modality: Gemini is Mutable Air, Libra is Cardinal Air, and Aquarius is Fixed Air. Gemini is considered the most adaptable of the Air signs, and takes on a or mental approach to life, expertly sorting, repatterning, and distributing ideas. Libra s the more action-oriented of the Air signs, and is excellent at comparing, weighing, and valuing ideas and principles. Aquarius is the steadiest and most stubborn of these three signs, and is expert at intuitively grasping the universality of ideas and principles.
Air signs, along with Fire signs, fall in the masculine, yang, or positively-charged sign group. A strong Mercury or Uranus will add extra weight to predominant Air in a chart. A person with predominant Air may need encouragement to express their emotions more freely.
The Water Signs are Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces. Water signs are fluid, emotional, and intuitive.
Water signs rely more on their senses than logic. They’re nurturing, perceptive, psychic, and understanding. Cancer is emotional, focused on home and family, and expert at nurturing. Scorpio is expert at understanding deep desires, motivations, and intimate connections. Pisces understands on a spiritual, universal level, and is especially compassionate and impressionable.
Water signs, along with Earth signs, belong to the feminine, yin, or receptive/ negatively-charged group of signs. They are deep, often private, subjective, and led by their feelings or vibes on a situation more than anything else. They feel their way through a situation, filling in the blanks. Water signs seek the deeper meaning of things and can be more inclined to right-brain thinking. They’re healers.
5. The Zodiac Qualities
After the elements, Astrology uses another classification to define the different temperaments of the Signs. The Qualities describe a person’s attitude in life. These groupings are also commonly referred to as Modalities or Modes. Your Quality is a good indicator of how you deal with your environment.
Cancer, Aries, Libra and Capricorn share this modality. The Cardinal Signs are known as the initiators of the Zodiac. You are not likely to find a person in this group slacking off- they like to keep one step ahead of the crowd. They have a strong need to control what is happening around them.
Cancer controls emotions, home, and family; Aries look for leadership and control in many areas; Libra likes to control the social atmosphere and their partnerships; Capricorn uses and controls the material environment.
If you are a Leo, Taurus, Aquarius or Scorpio, you are a fixed sign. The fixed signs are not as interested in manipulating their environment as their Cardinal brothers and sisters- they are happy to concentrate on personal matters and will resist outside attempts at trying to change their lives. They tend to hang on to the past, which is their biggest weakness, but they are strong in their stability.
Taurus is the more mainstream of the bunch; Leo has a hard time adapting behavior to different circumstances; Aquarius can become stuck in a negative self-image; Scorpio has a tendency to get mired in emotional mud. However, all of the Fixed signs are able to stick things through.
The Mutable Signs are Virgo, Gemini, Sagittarius, and Pisces. This group is the most exposed to environmental influences. It’s easy for these people to let go, but they do tend to look for security to anchor their own instabilities on.
Virgo is very much dominated by his or her environment; Gemini tends to change ideas and directions often; Sagittarius goes through life with a continually adaptive view of things; from the outside, Pisces appear to adapt to their environment.
The qualities are sometimes explained as: Cardinal is the rim of a wheel, Fixed is the hub of a wheel, and Mutable is the spoke of a wheel.
6. The Zodiac Houses
If the signs of the zodiac show “how” planets express themselves.
Then the houses of the natal chart reveal “where” these energies play out in our lives.
The zodiac is better understood as a sequence of symbols representing twelve phases of the cycle of evolution. Meaning – our personal evolution through our lifetime.
A house in astrology is similar to a clock. The zodiac is divided into twelve individual segments, or houses, each one being ruled by a different sign. The zodiac begins with the first house which is also the Ascendant and is represented by the sign of Aries.
Each of the twelve houses of a chart rule certain areas of life, types of people and relationships, ideas, and life circumstances.
Meanings of each House:
The First House: Self-Image
The cusp of the first house is a special angle, the Ascendant (ASC; also known as the Rising Sign).
The first house is an angular house. Its natural sign ruler is Aries and its natural planetary ruler is Mars.
The image we project to others, the first impression we make, how we start things, our defense mechanisms, our relationship with our immediate environment, our general outlook on life, and our physical appearance.
The Second House: Self-Worth and Money
The second house is a succedent house. Its natural sign ruler is Taurus and its natural planetary ruler is Venus.
Money and personal finances, sense of self-worth and basic values, personal possessions.
The Third House: Communication
The third house is a cadent house. Its natural sign ruler is Gemini and its natural planetary ruler is Mercury.
The lower mind, communication, interactions in our immediate environment, siblings and early environment, neighbors, thoughts, short trips, writing and speaking, how we formulate our thoughts, language skills, media and communications.
The Fourth House: Family, Home, Roots & Security
The cusp of the fourth house is a special angle called the Immum Coeli (IC) and is also called the Nadir.
The fourth house is an angular house. Its natural sign ruler is Cancer and its natural planetary ruler is the Moon.
Our psychological foundations and roots, family, home life, instinctive behavior, the mother or the more “maternal” parent/caregiver, ancestry, our connection with our past, our sense of security, domestic life, real estate.
The Fifth House: Self-Expression, Creativity, Pleasure, & Romance
The fifth house is a succedent house. Its natural sign ruler is Leo and its natural planetary ruler is the Sun.
Creative self-expression, pleasure and entertainment, all forms of “play”, speculation and gambling, pastimes, hobbies, attitude towards romance, romantic relationships, lovers as opposed to partners, attitude towards having fun, drama, adornments and costumes.
The Sixth House: Work & Health
The sixth house is a cadent house. Its natural sign ruler is Virgo and its natural planetary ruler is Mercury.
Work and job (as opposed to career), techniques and methods, daily life, order, self-improvement, health, nutrition, attitude towards food, service, attitude towards service and co-workers, helpfulness, pets, attitude towards routine and organization, how we refine and perfect ourselves, aptitudes.
The Seventh House: Partnership & Marriage
The cusp of the seventh house is a special angle called the Descendant (DSC).
The seventh house is an angular house. Its natural sign ruler is Libra and its natural planetary ruler is Venus.
Companionship, the alter ego, partnerships, one-to-one relationships, marriage, the first marriage, the “significant other”, business partnerships, competitors, our “shadow self”, lawyers, mediators, counselors, contracts.
The Eighth House: Transformation & Sexuality
The eighth house is a succedent house. Its natural sign ruler is Scorpio and its natural planetary ruler is Pluto.
Transformation and crisis, our attitude towards crisis and change, sexuality, sex, death and rebirth, personal growth and transformation, regeneration, our partner’s resources, addictions, psychology, others’ money, taxes, divorce/alimony, inheritance.
The Ninth House: Belief Systems & Higher Learning
The ninth house is a cadent house. Its natural sign ruler is Sagittarius and its natural planetary ruler is Jupiter.
Our personal belief system, our sense of adventure, exploration, religious beliefs and personal philosophy, higher education, long-distance travel, morals, foreign languages and cultures, personal truths, publishing, commerce.
The Tenth House: Career/Profession, Responsibility, Reputation, & Standing
The cusp of the tenth house is a special angle called the Midheaven (MC).
The tenth house is an angular house. Its natural sign ruler is Capricorn and its natural planetary ruler is Saturn.
Career and profession, contribution to society, position in society, social standing, reputation, material success and position, how we carve out an identity for ourselves, achievement, authority figures, paternal figures, the father or most “paternal” parent/caregiver, bosses, governments, attitude towards responsibility, attitude towards abiding by the law, desire for achievement.
The Eleventh House: Aspirations & Personal Goals, Groups
The eleventh house is a succedent house. Its natural sign ruler is Aquarius and its natural planetary ruler is Uranus.
Acquaintances and friends, groups, organizations, hopes, wishes, aspirations, personal goals, our sense of our true inner purpose, our sense of the group, humanity.
The Twelfth House: Soul Growth & Undoing, Privacy & Secrets
The twelfth house is a cadent house. Its natural sign ruler is Pisces and its natural planetary ruler is Neptune.
That which is hidden or below the surface, karma, self-undoing, soul growth, hidden strengths and hidden weaknesses, dreams, private affairs, lost items, hospitals and prisons, spiritual studies.
7. Aspects: The Relationships Between Planets in Your Chart
The Major Aspects in Astrology
Aspects are a connection or relationship between two or more planets. How the planets interact with each other; favourable, neutral, unfavourable. When looking at this connection it is necessary to also look at the signs involved to understand what the connection means.
The Conjunction: Planets and points that form a conjunction are energies that are united. They are blended; therefore, they act together. The closer they are to conjunction, the more subjective these combined energies are. They don’t stand alone, and they have a difficult time truly acknowledging each other as distinct or separate.
In effect, conjunctions can be a blind spot. When the Sun is in close conjunction to Neptune, for example, others may note the distinction, but it can be hard for the native to distinguish between their sense of individuality and their spiritual, evasive, or roundabout nature. The native may just assume, naturally, that others are much the same way.
The Sextile: The sextile is often read quite like a trine, although there is a distinction between the two aspects. Sextiles, like trines, point to some talent and ease. However, sextiles have a little more “oomph” to them. While trines come so naturally to people that they might have to be reminded of their own talents or tendencies, sextiles are a little more overt to the native. These are the talents that people appreciate in themselves. They may be more inclined to notice and work on these talents.
Sextiles are communicative and relationship-friendly aspects. They point to energies that are capable of being directed. Sextiles reveal the potential for intelligent use of the energies.
The Square: This aspect creates tension between the planets and points involved. Tension is necessary in order to stimulate action, but too much tension translates to stress. The planets involved in a square are acting at cross purposes. With squares, we may overdo and run into countless obstacles before we “get it right”. However, squares force us out of complacency and get the ball rolling. Squares are often more difficult when we are young, as these aspects force us to grow and learn our lessons.
The Trine: Planets in trine support each other. Trines, by nature, are accepting. They allow us to accept others, ourselves, and situations. The talents that trines offer a native are so natural that they are almost unconscious. Often enough, natives don’t truly appreciate the talents these trines offer them, and they may not try to develop them.
However, these talents are second nature and completely natural. So, for example, if a man has Venus trine Neptune, he may be poetic, romantic, or artistic, and he may easily accept his romantic partner for who he/she is. Another man with Venus square Neptune may have similar qualities and may possess a strong desire to accept his partner blindly, but doing so is not as natural as the first man. He has to work on it and might come up against difficult situations in which he feels duped or abused by his partners as a result of that acceptance.
The Opposition: “It takes two” is the expression, and the opposition is created by dividing the circle by 2. Therein lies the key to the meaning of this aspect: relationship. People with oppositions seek out others as if to mirror their own internal struggles. They learn about themselves through interactions with others. Very often, oppositions cause us to swing from one side to the other and we feel torn.
Oppositions represent a state of divided loyalties. Inner discontent, uncertainty, and insecurity can be a result. While a square is urgent and courageous, an opposition is unsure and wavering. When we use our oppositions correctly, we are more willing to consider the other side and we can be adept negotiators.
Difference between sextiles and trines: Both aspects show us planet “buddies” who get along. But the trine buddies may take each other for granted even though they derive pleasure from each other, while the sextile buddies remain separate somehow, and when they cooperate with each other they fully appreciate their “friendship.”
The expression of the trine is very natural and automatic, while the energies created with the sextile are things that can be drawn upon if need be. With trines, the energies tend to flow naturally into constructive channels, and with sextiles, a conscious effort is required to push the energies into constructive channels.
Difference between oppositions and squares: Squares create the kind of tension that demands action. Oppositions also create tension, but natives generally seek out others in relationships in order to work out that tension! Note that planets in opposition generally occur with compatible sign elements, while squares generally occur between
signs that are considered incompatible by element.
Under and Over Aspected
When you look at these relationships between your planets – more dynamics can come into play! Particulary when you have a lot of aspects or one/no aspects.
Predominant aspects in a chart (over-aspected):
Conjunctions – focused people, derive their motivation from within; with not enough oppositions, hard to see the other side, easy to lose perspective.
Sextiles – communicative, creative, expressive.
Squares – crisis-oriented people, action-oriented, motivated, willing to tackle obstacles, don’t blindly accept things, energetic, strength of character and will.
Trines – unchallenged, talented, accepting, comfortable, complacent.
Oppositions – contradictory, seek balance in their lives usually through relationships, insightful, they look for meaning in life, inclined to project qualities onto others, unfocused, greater capacity for objectivity, seek growth through relationships.
Not Many Aspects?
Lack of aspects in a chart (under-aspected):
Conjunctions – scattered, don’t look within for answers, flexible.
Sextiles – inclined to avoid creative pursuits, are less self-expressive and communicative.
Squares – lack motivation, take the easy way out, avoid confrontations, unchallenged, habitual people.
Trines – not as balanced people, conflict-oriented, driven.
Oppositions – subjective, don’t need partners to mirror themselves, self-contented, not as concerned about growing through relationships or broadening their own perspective, self-reliant.