All About Astrology
Astrology is the complex study that uses the planets and zodiac signs to forecast themes and upcoming events.
What Is Astrology?
Astrology is the study of astronomical positions of the celestial bodies and their correlation with the events on earth. Astrologers (and those who follow astrology) believe that by understanding the influence between the planets and the natural world, they can predict potential future events. Many cultures have practiced astrology for centuries and have created their own variations of the practice such as Chinese, Vedic, Tibetan, and Western.
What Is the Difference Between Your Sun, Moon, and Rising Signs?
Your sun, moon, and rising signs are considered “the big three” in astrology. They represent the three most important parts of your identity: your core self (sun), your inner-self (moon) and how others perceive you (rising). These three signs can fall in the same sign or be completely different—but the three of them together have a major influence on you.
Your sun sign is the sign most people are familiar with, as it’s derived from our birthdays. The sun remains in a sign for about 30 days, so the day you were born determines this sign. Because the sun represents identity, self, and life purpose, this sign suggests how you feel about yourself, your values, and the way you look at the world. Basically, your sun sign captures your essence and radiates out into the world.
Learn More About Your Zodiac Sign
Your moon sign is not as well-known as your sun sign, but it’s still very important to your overall personality as it represents what we need to feel secure, comfortable, and loved. It influences behavior in ways you might not be aware of because it typically rules your emotional responses to things. Unlike your sun sign, you need to know the date and location of your birth to get an accurate moon sign.
Your rising sign also known as your “ascendant” is the sign that was ascending on the eastern horizon the exact moment you were born. The rising sign is determined by the time, date, and location of your birth. It’s the reason why birth times are so incredibly important. Your ascendant represents your public identity. You can see its influence in your appearance, attitude, and overall persona. Because of that, it’s the first impression you make on others.
Can Astrology Predict the Future?
Here it is, the number one question in astrology: Can astrology predict what happens next? The answer is a complex one. In essence, astrology can be used to predict potential events. We say “potential” because free will is just as big of an influence on your personal life as the movement of the planets.
For example, let’s say your horoscope warns you that a breakup is on the horizon. So, you start working on your relationship, communicating more, and you never actually break up. In fact, your relationship is stronger than ever. What gives? Your horoscope wasn’t “wrong,” it simply allowed you to tap into what wasn’t working and change your fate. Astrology shines light on the things that need attention, but it’s up to us to actually follow through and make positive changes.
That leads to our next question: How is it that some horoscopes work out while others are completely off? The answer to that may be that you’re reading your horoscope wrong. If your sun sign is Scorpio, but your moon and rising signs are in Libra, then you should probably start reading the horoscope for Libra as well. It also depends on what horoscope your reading. If you’re reading a love horoscope, you may want to start reading your Venus sign’s horoscope—not your sun sign. Another example might be: If you’re reading for your career, you might want to take into account your Saturn sign’s horoscope.
It’s also important to remember that, like Tarot and palmistry, astrology predictions may play out differently than you expect. For example, your horoscope could say you’ll receive good news. You might assume it’s about a promotion, but it could be about a friend is coming to visit. Still good news, but not the type you expected.
What Are the Different Planets in Astrology?
How Does Astrology Work?
There are plenty of people out there who assume astrology is about making a bunch of predictions and hoping for the best. However, in actuality, astrology requires a lot of astronomy, calculating, and a surprising amount of math.
To understand how astrology works, we must first consider astrologers as interpreters of the planets. The cosmos have their own language—the language of cycles and patterns—and astrologers are there to interpret them. To do so, astrologers calculate the movement of planets, constellations, and asteroids. They study the astronomical map to locate particular points in the sky such as the rising or midheaven signs in a person’s birth chart.
This is why, when reading a birth chart, it’s important to know the exact time and location of your birth, so you can get accurate positions and aspects. Once an astrologer receives your signs and their positions in the sky, they will take note of which houses those planets fall under. Then, they’ll interpret how those planets speak to one another.
Only then can the astrologer answer the questions we all want to know. What does it mean for a Scorpio sun when Venus enters Gemini? How will a Saturn return affect a person’s life? What does it mean when Saturn conjuncts Pluto? By figuring out the meaning of these movements, we can start unlocking the answers that the universe is trying to tell us.
Transit vs. Aspect: What’s the Difference?
A transit occurs when a planet passes through one of the planets positioned in your natal chart. For example, let’s say that Mars is in Cancer in your natal chart and Mercury is currently moving through Cancer. Once Mercury aligns within 10 degrees of your natal Mars placement, Mercury would be transiting your natal Mars. While inner planets (the sun, moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars) tend to move more quickly, that also means their effects are shorter. Outer planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto) transit more slowly, so you’ll feel their effects longer.
Aspects, on the other hand, do not move. They are the natal or in-the-moment connections a planet makes with another planet. Your birth chart consists of aspects. Today’s planets—right now, in this moment—are making aspects. Those angles that planets make with one another give detailed explanations about who you are or what’s happening in your life right now.
Types of Aspects
There are four major aspects used the most often in astrology: A conjunction is when two planets are in the same sign, within a 10-degree orb. This is a harmonious aspect that creates an immediate connection and understanding. A square is when two planets sit 90 degrees apart in the birth chart. This brings a lot of tension and natural conflict. Power struggles, friction, and surprises can be seen here. Trines occur with planets showing up in the same element. Trines channel an energy that is in-sync. It makes a relationship that brings harmony and luck. An opposition is the farthest two planets can be from one another. Opposites attract! They can bring balance to each other or total disharmony. Compromise is key.
Then, there are three, still major, but less potent, aspects that astrologers consider as well. The semisexile is when two planets sit 30 degrees apart. (Think someone with a Leo sun and a Virgo moon.) This aspect causes friction. They don’t have much in common and have different temperaments. A semisquare occurs when two planets sit 45 degrees apart. This type of energy manifests similarly to the square, but in a less potent manner. This type of energy A sextile is a gentle aspect when two planets resides two signs apart. Very compatible and flows well together and brings good vibes. The quincunx is more complex, and occurs when planets sit 150 degrees apart. This is an awkward relationship. Nothing in common and needs time and patience to adjust.
What’s the History of Astrology?
Western astrology—one of the oldest and currently practiced astrology types—can be traced back to 2000 B.C. in Babylon, a city in ancient Mesopotamia. Originally, Babylonian astrologers used their astrological charts to predict the weather and seasonal changes—making it more like a calendar than anything else. They also interpreted celestial events as the gods communicating with the mortal world. Finally, around 700 B.C., Babylonian astrologers created the zodiac astrologers use today: with planets and houses.
When Alexander the Great conquered Babylon in 331 B.C., he brought astrology to the ancient Greeks—who then created the Hellenistic system that we now refer to as Western Astrology. It was the Greeks who named the 12 zodiac signs after characters in Greek mythology. The five known planets—Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn—were named after characters in Roman mythology during the rise of the Roman empire.
After the fall of the Roman empire, however, astrology disappeared for a little while. It made its comeback during the Middle Ages and was even taught at Cambridge University alongside astronomy. However, as the church gained power, astrology was declared heretic and the practice went into decline. That decline fell exponentially during “The Age of Enlightenment” from 1715 to 1789, as astrology fell into the category of “entertainment.”
Astrology started to make a comeback in the 1900s, when psychologist Carl Jung used the practice in his psychological analyses. Over the years, astrology has become more and more accepted. And today, the practice has become incredibly popular as more people are looking up to the night sky for answers.
Who Are the Most Famous Astrologers Throughout History?
Claudius Ptolemy: Ptolemy, an Egyptian polymath from the 2nd century, is the OG of astrology. He is famous for his astrology textbook, Tetrabiblos. It became very popular with astrology students and was the only astrological text continuously translated into different languages for over 1,800 years. The Tetrabiblos outlines the techniques of astrological practices, the core of which (planets, zodiac signs, houses, and aspects) are still used to this day.
Nostradamus: Michel de Nostredame (a.k.a. Nostradamus) was a French physician and astrologer—famous for his 1555 collection, The Prophecies. The theoretic collectioncontains hundreds of astrology-based predictions written in four-line poems. Some people believe that Nostradamus had predicted the French Revolution, both World Wars, the bombing of Hiroshima, and other major world events. However, the prophecies are open to interpretation and have been poorly translated over the years.
Alan Leo: Known as the father of modern astrology, Alan Leo (1860—1917), is credited for reviving the interest of astrology in the early 20th century. Leo (who, of course, is also a Leo) wrote books and magazines on the subject and started the practice of selling natal chart readings. He simplified the technical method of astrology, making it easier for new students to learn. Instead of trying to predict world events, he taught others to focus on reading for character analysis.
Demetra George: A traditional astrologer, Demetra George has been practicing since 1971 and has a background in mythology. Her book Asteroid Goddesses: The Mythology, Psychology, and Astrology of the Re-Emerging Feminine, published in 1986 and co-written with Douglas Bloch, stressed the importance of focusing on the asteroids Ceres, Pallas, Juno, and Vesta. Thanks to her work, those asteroids are now studied in astrology and are an important aspect of the natal chart.
Is Astrology a Science?
While most people consider astrology to be a pseudoscience, it does overlap with both astronomy and psychology. Astrologers use astronomy to track the movements of planets and asteroids (when a planet turns retrograde, when a transit occurs, studying the moon phases, and so on). They need to know where all the constellations are located, how long it takes for a planet to move through a sign, and particularly, where all the celestial bodies are in the sky right this moment. Astrologers also use a frequent amount of math to calculate the exact angles of the planets in order to determine aspects. It’s with this information that astrologers are able to analyze accordingly.
Astrologers are also practitioners of psychology. When Venus enters Cancer, what does that mean for someone whose sun is in Leo and their Venus is in Cancer? How does that affect their behaviors in relationships? And how do their childhood wounds affect how they will react to these new relationship changes? Astrologers are trained to see patterns and cycles—not only in the cosmos, but with people. Picking up someone’s pattern of behavior just from their charts, they can then give advice based on what they see in the sky.
What Different Types of Astrology Are There?
When you think of astrology, what comes to mind? Astrology (from the Greek words astron, meaning star and logos, meaning study) is actually a very general term used to describe the study and interpretation of celestial movements. It means different things to different people. The planets, sun, moon and stars have a huge impact on our daily lives, and all forms of astrology look at their movements, analyze them and explain how they’re relevant to our lives in one way or another.
What you might not know, though, is that there are a lot of different types of astrology—almost 80, to be exact! And what type of astrology each astrologer chooses to use is based on a range of reasons—from where they live to their religious beliefs and beyond. The end goal of them all, however, is to look at the way the celestial bodies are behaving, and use them to interpret and find meaning in our lives.
- Western Astrology
- Vedic Astrology
Western astrology is one of the oldest forms of astrology, dating back to Mesopotamia. During this time period, people first started to first notice and make the connection between earthly events and what was happening in the sky. The first Western zodiac was developed based on the concept of natal astrology around the 5th century BC. It is defined by the belief that one’s destiny is based on the position of the planets at the moment of their birth. Gradually the ancient practice moved from its origins in Mesopotamia to Egypt and the rest of the world, where further developments continued to occur. When it arrived in ancient Greece around the 6th century BC, it coincided with the entrance of the first Greek philosophers and became intertwined with the rise of Greek mythology.
Modern Western astrology is probably the most popular and widely used branch in Western countries today. It’s based on sun signs, which are calculated by using a person’s date, time, and place of birth. This information yields the exact position of the sun (and other planets) at that specific moment in time.
There are 12 sun signs and each zodiac sign represent one of 12 personality types and a corresponding set of talents and challenges. Each zodiac sign is represented by its own unique symbol, or glyph. The 12 zodiac signs each correspond to an astrological house (Aries, to the 1st House, Taurus to the 2nd House, etc.) and are each ruled by a planet.
In Western astrology the signs are divided into four elements: fire (Aries, Leo and Sagittarius), earth (Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn), air (Gemini, Libra and Aquarius) and water (Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces). They’re also organzed into three qualities: cardinal (Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn), fixed (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius) and mutable (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces).
Vedic astrology, also known as Hindu or Indian astrology, is similar to Western with a few important differences. While both systems use zodiac signs, planets and houses, in Vedic the rising sign replaces the sun sign. The rising sign reveals what planet was ascending on the Eastern horizon at the moment of birth.
Another major difference between the two systems is how the zodiac itself is determined. In Western astrology the Zodiac is based on the seasons, whereas in Vedic astrology the zodiac is based on the actual constellations in the sky (called the Sidereal Zodiac). While the two were in alignment at one point thousands of yeas ago, they are currently almost one whole sign out of alignment today. Western astrology is based on the seasons, equinoxes, and solstices, where as Vedic astrology refers back to the actual sky in real time. Two differing methods, but neither is considered “wrong.”
Another way Vedic astrology differs from Western astrology is its limited use of the outer planets (Uranus, Neptune and Pluto). Since they aren’t visible to the naked eye, they aren’t used as prevalently. The planets in Vedic astrology are each directly related to energizing factors that are connected to yoga, Ayurveda (the Hindu practice of total body balance) and other metaphysical Indian disciplines.
In addition to the 12 zodiac signs, the Vedic zodiac is divided into 27 Nakshatras (distant stars/constellations that are each 13.2 degrees). This is incredibly different than Western astrology. These Nakshatras mark the transit of the moon around the earth each day and have several attributes. The main attribute being the Janma (birth star), which indicates where the moon was placed at the time of one’s birth.
What Different Branches of Astrology Are There?
- Horary Astrology
- Medical Astrology
Horary astrology is a form of ancient astrology that aims at answering a question by casting a chart for the exact time at which the question is asked. It is then interpreted by an astrologer. While the answer might be a simple yes or no, Horary astrology is generally more detailed and complex. It can provide insights like the motives of the person asking the question (known as the querent), the motives of other people involved in the situation, and the various options available to remedy the situation.
This school of astrology uses its own specific system (the house system is called Regiomontanus). The houses and planetary aspects are the main focus. The person asking the question is represented by the ascendant (the ruler of the sign of the first house) in the reading. In Horary astrology the planetary rulers of the houses in question are top priority. The planetary aspects to the house cusps are also more important than in other branches.
For example, a Horary chart is read by first assigning the thing that’s being asked about (the quesited) to a certain house in the chart. Someone asking about their career would be assigned to the 10th house, since this house rules careers, ambition and and success. The house cusp of the 10th house will be in a certain zodiac sign, for this example let’s say Taurus. Since Taurus is ruled by the planet Venus, Venus is considered the significator of the (subject in question). And Venus’ place in the horoscope (and its aspects, etc.) will give clues about the question being asked.
It’s important to note that Horary astrology is used for serious inquiries only (not for entertainment purposes). While it’s helpful in figuring out broad situations and general answers, it shouldn’t be relied on for smaller-scale inquiries.
Traditional Medical astrology is a branch of practice that aims to help diagnose ailments, illnesses and diseases by using the elements, signs, houses and planets, in many cases in a preventative capacity. The hope/purpose of predictive Medical astrology is that it can be used to diagnose a disease before the symptoms present themselves, therefore leading to a positive final outcome. Because Medical astrology is a complex system that requires a great deal of time and thought in order to treat someone effectively, however, it’s one of the more difficult astrological methods to use accurately.
When used properly, however, Medical astrology can be extremely helpful in the diagnosis, treatment and prognosis of health issues. By using the four elements (fire = yellow choler which is hot/dry, air = blood which is hot/moist, earth = black choler which is cold/dry and water = phlegm which is cold/moist) as building blocks to pinpoint imbalances in the body, Medical astrology aims to find those imbalances (for example too much fire indicates that our body is too hot and too dry, too much earth means we’re too cold and too dry, and so on) and offer suggestions on how to restore harmony and equilibrium.
A horary chart is one method that can be used in Medical astrology, which is cast based on when someone’s symptoms first appeared. A Medical astrologer can use elemental imbalances in conjunction with connecting the signs/houses with the body part they represent to configure aspecting planets and what they represent in that specific chart. The results can be very helpful when trying to pinpoint certain medical conditions resulting from those specific symptoms.
A medical astrologer can also use a person’s birth chart to determine which types of imbalances they might suffer in their lifetime. The four elements of Medical astrology can be used in conjunction with the planetary placements in a birth chart to get a more accurate outlook regarding potential/chronic problems with specific body parts, severity/duration of illnesses, probable outcome, and remedies/suggestions to cure various medical issues/problems.