What is it that lets astrologers judge your personality right down to the core? Let us be honest, all you did give away was your date of birth, right? Questions like these compel one to ask: what is astrology? Being so accurate about everything is all about reading the movement and positions of the planets. It may look absurd, but astrology indeed is running the world we live in, and all others too.
When the question is asked: what is astrology? A simple example would suffice. For instance, someone born on the twelfth of September 1997 at 2:01 AM would have a different astrology-related personality as compared to a person born on the same date at 2:02 AM.
Understanding the influence of planets, houses, and elements on your birth chart can give you deeper insights into your inner self. Used in this way, astrology becomes an evolutionary tool for spiritual growth, healing and expansion of consciousness, which are key for making good choices.
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What is astrology?
Whether you believe in astrology or not, it is like an old friend we have a close connection to. This is a way of thinking, a frame of reference that human beings have passed down the centuries. Then, 300 years ago, during the “Century of Enlightenment” when logic took over from spiritual thinking, astrology was left behind as a “fringe belief”.
And yet there is more to astrology than simply predicting the future. When you consult an astrologer, it is not merely to dispel your anxiety about the future. It is also to learn more about yourself so that he might help you find your place in this world. It is also because, without really knowing why, we all feel connected to this symbolical way to look at the world. Whether we want it or not, astrology is part of our collective unconscious, this set of memories passed down from our ancestors, connecting us to the cosmos. Deep within, you know that it can help you find some answers to the most essential questions that linger in your mind.
Read more: Astrology types explained
Who started astrology?
In the beginning, astrology and astronomy were one and the same.
Astrology was born in the kingdom of Sumer in Chaldea, in southern Mesopotamia around 3,000 BCE. By observing the sky, it aims to understand how the universe came to be, where human beings came from, and what is their “mission” on Earth.
With a first mystery…Even if nothing can explain it through scientific means, one thing is certain: In several distant areas around the globe, with no contact with one another, the theories explaining how the universe came to be were the same!
How can it be?
Long before astrology became a speaking point, the Ancients believed that in the beginning the Sky and the Earth were one. Later, when the Earth and the Sky were split, the Sky left its mark on Earth. As such, the first Sumerian astrologers believed that if someone came to understand the Earth, he could understand the Sky, and vice versa.
This is where the Sumerians got the idea to connect celestial events to whatever was happening (or was meant to happen) on Earth. For them, the universe is one. Each part of the universe, humankind included, resonates with the greater whole.
All of it is bound to some Destiny, steered by an assembly of divine willpowers. But humankind is still responsible for their own destiny, because the gods have better things to do than telling us exactly what we should do with our lives. Their role is to set some limits within which human beings will evolve of their own free will. In other words, they can show a direction, but human beings need to decipher their messages and choose the right path for them on their own. They are a GPS guidance system, but we hold the steering wheel.
The problem is that the message from the gods is in code. They speak through symbols, and they are not always easy to understand for common people.
Among the Sumerians, those tasked with deciphering divine messages were the priests, but also the astrologers and astronomers. From their observation platforms (Ziggurats), they watched the stars using a gnomon (a sundial) or a clepsydra (a kind of water clock). Little by little, they would eventually single out 5 stars that were different. While all the others were unmoving, these 5 were mobile. They called them the 5 planets and identified them with their gods.
They would study them for centuries, writing down their characteristics (trajectories, distance relative to the Earth, color, brightness, size). These planets were associated with the Gods they had been worshipping for eons. But since each of their Gods symbolized a hidden part of the human soul, one thing leading to another they would connect human beings to the celestial bodies detected in the universe. Do you see why astrology has been classified as a belief system?
Whatever happens on Earth would subsequently depend on divine powers (the planets). In Babylon, Jupiter was Marduk, Venus was Ishtar, Saturn was Ninurta (Ninib), Mercury was Nabu (Nebo), and Mars was Nergal. The moon-god Sin ruled over fertilization and the life force, made plants grow, and was connected to the trees. The sun-god Shamash was a solar deity with power of light over darkness and evil.
This is how planets became gods, or their messengers, a tradition that was upheld through various civilizations, giving us the current names of the planets…
The largest and most impressive planet, was associated with the Roman king of the Gods, “Jupiter”.
It is so majestic that human beings also turned its moons into divinities: Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto.
The first star of the morning and first star of the evening, connecting sunrise (a male pole of energy) and moonrise (a female pole of energy), the one that everyone finds beautiful, was associated with the Goddess of beauty and love, Venus.
The most amazing thing is that in the four corners of the Earth, civilizations that had no connection with one another used the same symbols associated with the same planets… centuries before the advent of the Internet!
Let’s take Venus for example, the evening star. It was associated with the goddess of beauty and love. Ishtar for the Assyrians, Nana for the Amorites, Astarte among the Phoenicians, Aphrodite for the Greek… and so on and so forth among the Hindu, or in Chinese folklore, etc.
Mercury, or Hermes for the Greek, was the messenger of the gods. He is a symbol of communication, just like Nabu the divine scribe, master of sciences and languages in Mesopotamia.
This similitude among various representations can be found for every planet, among all the civilizations that looked up at the Sky to find a hint of the divine, with only the slightest differences like the Moon being male in Mesopotamia (Sin) and female in ancient Greece (Selene or Artemis).
This is how the Mesopotamian gods and the mythological Greek gods could come together during the 4th century BCE, while Alexander the Great conquered Asia. They had the same essential meaning. It was the same story, the story of the human soul, and the same set of memories that C.G. Jung more recently called the collective unconscious.
From then on, humankind, connected to the universe with interdependent parts, was connected to the planets that it is made of. They find their place within the great “Wheel of Life” (Zôè diakos) or “Zodiac”.
What is the zodiac?
The zodiac is one of the oldest universal symbolical languages. Zodiac comes from the Greek Zôè (life) and diakos (the wheel). It can thus be translated as the “Wheel of Life”.
Little is known about the specific origins of the zodiac, but once again its symbolical representation (a wheel divided into 12 equal parts that all have a different name) can be found in every corner of the planet (Egypt, Judea, Persia, India, Tibet, China, North and South America, Scandinavian countries, Muslim countries)
Just like astrology, it seems that it came from Chaldea before it was exported to Egypt, and then Greece.
The zodiac in its current form was not made in a day.
Astrologer priests first noticed that the planets were moving through a fixed background of stars. In time, they divided them into easily recognizable groups of stars: constellations. This led to drawing a chart of the stars, a kind of background that enabled them to follow the movements of the Sun, Moon, and planets relative to the Earth.
The Moon was the most easily observed, due to its proximity to the Earth. This is why the first zodiacs were based on the Moon, divided into 28 sectors corresponding to the 28 steps of the Moon’s path around the Earth.
Soon enough, the zodiac became Sun-based, divided into 12 sectors, one for each step of the Sun’s path around the Earth.
Our calendar comes from the zodiac
Greeks used the divisions of the zodiac to set up their calendar in the 5th century BCE in order to set a standard to measure time.
- The year = the full 360° path of the Sun around the Earth
- The months = the 12 sections of the zodiac
- The days = the division of each section into 30° (because the Sun moves one degree every day)
- The week = the association of the 7 planets
The name of the days in Latin was connected to each of the various planets in the zodiac:
- Monday was dies Lunae, the day of the Moon
- Tuesday was dies Martis, the day of Mars
- Wednesday was dies Mercurii, the day of Mercury
- Thursday was Dies Jovis, the day of Jupiter (“Jove”)
- Friday was dies Veneris, the day of Venus
- Saturday was dies Saturni, the day of Saturn
- Sunday was dies Solis, the day of the Sun
For the ancient Greek, each movement of a part of the universe had an effect on everything else, the movement of the planets had an effect on human Destiny like living gods.
The elements, planets, and houses appeared in the zodiac in connection with this conception of the universe.
See more: Explore Astrology in 5 Easy Steps
The symbolism of the 12 signs of the zodiac
From strict astrology aspects, the first sign to come is Aries, to which people born within the period of March 21 to April 19 identify with. It is generally perceived that Aries are very energetic people, mainly due to the fact that their element is fire, and also because they start the zodiac calendar.
Next in line is Taurus. The sign is identifiable by a bull and is for people born from April 20 to May 20. With its element being earth (in detail analysis of the elements can be found here hyperlink) the people of Taurus generally seek a permanent solution to everything and tend to stick to it no matter what.
Gemini follows Taurus in the zodiac calendar as the people born from May 21 to June 20 related to it. With its element being air, Gemini is a sign that favors freedom, liberty and all things multidirectional just like air in nature. This gives its people a certain tendency to think openly about all decisions and not be selfish in that regard, but look out for everyone involved.
What follows Gemini is the sign of Cancer. Although a little dangerous by its name, its people are very emotional and sensitive. Starting from June 21 and ending on July 22, the slot in the calendar is reserved for Cancer. The people of Cancer are generally secretive and don’t really appreciate their habits and life becoming public.
Clearly identifiable by their sign of the lion, Leo are perhaps the most commonly found people on earth. These are the people born between July 23 and August 22. With their signature element being fire, they really tend to show off their mood by being the angry, energetic, and top-of-the-food-chain person in every situation.
For Virgo, everything is fixed, not to be changed at all. Catering to all the people born from August 23 to September 22, Virgo identifies with the element of Earth, making it appreciate permanence and firmly laid laws. Virgos also like animals, books, and nature, further showing how the element earth is embedded in their zodiac natures.
From September 23 to October 22, is the time of Libra. Librans are generally perceived to be so pro-justice that they can never side with one party. This often leads them to be labeled as untrustworthy because of their friendliness towards every side. This has much to do with their element being air, which lets them be free thinkers and good with creativity.
Claiming the calendar space from October 23 to November 21, Scorpio is a sign that identifies with water. These people are usually stubborn and passionate about what they have set out to do, and also have a reputation of being very good and loyal friends.
Sagittarius occupies the calendar from November 22 to December 21. These people identify with the element of fire, and again, boast of great energy in their dealings. Apart from being idealistic and generous, a Sagittarius is also someone with a very good sense of humor.
Capricorns are born between December 22 and January 19. Belonging to the element earth, they tend to show a great deal of rock-solid strength in their demeanor. This enables them to achieve the targets they have set out for easily because they have abundant resources of steadfastness.
Next, up in the zodiac signs is Aquarius, starting from January 20 on the calendar and ending on February 18. These are also blessed to be one of the air people. Aquarius people tend to be independent, original, and humanitarian in their daily lives. Aquarians also have a running weakness of being uncompromising in matters close to their hearts.
Lastly, before the zodiac section ends, is a place for Pisces. This sign occupies the calendar between February 19 and March 20 and identifies with the element water. Pisces are very friendly people and can be credited with being a part of multiple groups. However, their individual personality is not fixed for any one particular group, which keeps them on roaming between spaces.
The Four Elements
After the zodiac, come the four elements, which have been very frequently used in relation with each sign. Each zodiac sign in astrology is directly linked with one of the four elements that form the basis of nature. These are earth, fire, water, and air. Let us delve into a little detail for each one to see how they react with certain signs and what properties and attributes they give to the people who relate to them.
Air is perhaps the only element that openly supports freedom, liberty, and individualism by breaking free of all systems to form one unique system for the self. At the first impression, air people may look weak or naive in front of the fire people who embody great energy or the earth people who have rock solid planning and implementation skills, however, the advantage that air people have with them is that of open-mindedness. This not only lets them think with fresher perspectives that nobody could ever imagine but also lets them understand the other person very easily. Air element helps one learn the deeper meaning of life by being open to all kinds of ideas where others might draw a line.
Since all of the zodiac signs draw themselves from the sun, it goes to show how important the sun, and subsequently fire is as one of the four elements that make up the earth. Clearly, as it can be seen, fire brings with it huge amounts of energy, and this is exactly what the people relating to fire are. The zodiac signs relating to fire clearly possess huge amounts of energy that let them go about their tasks with a fierce determination of finishing it.
However, as all elements depend on each other for survival, fire too needs air to be able to exist and function properly, showing how nothing is good independently in this world and needs a shoulder at some point in the cycle of life.
Water is an element that has its own unique, very different set of qualities that make the people identifying with it even more mysterious and difficult to approach, just like foreign life finding it hard to breathe inside water. The people belonging to the water element, however, show clear signs of adaptability and getting out of tough situations, just like water can take the shape of any container and can also flow out of any place, provided it finds the smallest of cracks.
As it is often called, mother earth perhaps forms the basis for the existence of all the elements. In astrology knowledge, the four elements have very high regard, and earth element takes precedence as it is the one that hosts all others in nature. In strictly astrological terms, the earth being the source of energy of all other elements translates to it being the ultimate manifestation of all of a man’s desires.
Moving on, just like a rock or a cliff that stands tall in the face of the sea, the people identifying with earth are the ones that have rock solid and resolute decisions. Nothing and nobody can force them to change what they have set out to do. This extreme resilience for the sake of the mission at hand makes these people great leaders, who do not take into account the external factors for the sanctity of the task they have undertaken to perform. To learn more in detail see the earth element explanation page.
The Houses and how to do astrology with them?
Astrology resources have a total of twelve astrology houses. These have a very simple function of bringing everything down to the level of the earth for each zodiac sign as if everything was relative. Out of several house systems that are used all over the world, the Placid us system is perhaps the most common one. The division of the houses is categorically done on the basis of space or time.
The basic theory goes to number them counter-clockwise from the cusp of the first house, which is defined by the eastern point at the moment specifically chosen. Space divisions require the plane to be divided into equal arcs of 30 degrees while time-based divisions depend on daytime and nighttime, dividing each into six equal parts.
The First House is also known as the house of self. It focuses on the human as an individual and primarily deals with physical strength, stamina, mental capabilities and the likes. Often overlooked, the first house is also responsible in astrology for the weaknesses of an individual.
The Second House talks of the needs of the individual that comes from the first house. Above all, it represents money and wealth, which, as many would agree, are the first of a person’s needs in the world today or even back in the times. This house is responsible for all the material needs that one has.
The Third House is the house of communications. More than any other sign, this house relates to Gemini. Like the first two houses speak of the body specifically, the third house deals with the mind in its entirety.
The Fourth House is that dealing with family, home, and all things that tie one down to a place. This house instills a sense of belonging in the individual, be it with his real home or a place he has come to accept as home.
The Fifth House caters to the human child that every person carries inside them. Apart from activities that have been a favorite since one’s childhood, the fifth house deals in general with any activities that bring pleasure in life.
The Sixth House of each zodiac sign is responsible for health. Although it is a very general term, since health can be of the body as well as of the mind, this house dives into the complexities of things like nutrition and satisfaction.
The Seventh House deals with matters that are external in one’s life and that are subsequently often a result of other actions. As this means directly seeing yourself or your actions embody the outside world, it is also seen as the house of marriage, with a motto that literally translates to the spouse.
The Eighth House is perhaps the most hated house by each zodiac sign, as it goes on to represent everything a person would try to avoid or run away from. These include one’s limitations in life, taboos that otherwise could be enjoyed, as well as fears that hold one back from achieving all one can in life.
The Ninth House has a motto that can be translated to journeys. This enables it to be the house of exploration, travel, as well as perspective and opinion. All the questions that the human race has asked till now and all philosophies have been a result of this house’s working, as it lets the human mind wander to places and ask questions never before asked.
The Tenth House is basically what everyone can’t stop talking about. When discussing their life with someone, people more often than not have nothing to tell except for their work routines, new successes or failures at work, or how the life at home is going. This is all the responsibility of the tenth house.
The Eleventh House relates to Aquarius on a personal level. In the common knowledge it is known as the house of friendship, however, at a deeper level, the eleventh house also lets one interfere with their inner self and try to befriend themselves, thus helping one come to terms with his own existence and giving them a path forward.
The Twelfth House is also known as the house of self-undoing. However weird this may sound, it has been tough for astrologists to find a definitive meaning for this house. At an easy level, this house is known to turn one’s life into a prison in any way imaginable. For easy understanding, it may be taken to be the house that launches hurdles in the path of its zodiac sign.
The Astrology Planets
The terms planets have a somewhat different meaning when being discussed in astrology. It means not only the regular planets that form a part of the earth’s solar system, but also all other celestial bodies involved, including the sun, and the moon, which act as two lights in one’s natal chart. Often neglected, asteroids and dwarf planets also need to be taken into account when drawing up natal charts as they too have a collective effect worth a lot.
Just as traditional astrology goes; the planets play the most important role, with each one ruling over two or three zodiac signs. In a strong belief that everything in this universe is related, there has to be someone or something that stays witness to everything that is happening. This task aptly falls to the planets, the celestial bodies, since they have been in existence longer than everything the earth and earthlings know of.
With the planets all being constantly in motion, it is an interesting notion that the birth of each person, the starting of each project and the timing of every action that takes place must have a unique position and alignment of all the planets in the universe. The measurement of these positions or locations tends to give astrologers a better idea as to how the outcome of a decision taken at a particular time would be or what personality traits a person born at a certain time in a certain year might have. This, in turn, is all reflected in the zodiac circle that is subsequently made.
Another concept that is important to grab before one embarks on their journey of astrology is that of planetary dignities. This is primarily related to the planet in itself instead of the effects it might have on an individual. In traditional language, it is called how a planet feels in a certain position. Dignity then goes on to specifically reveal how much of energy a planet might be harboring.
A prime example is that the feel of Venus may determine whether the day of a Taurus or Scorpio might go gloomy or happy, depending on how much energy the planet harbors, or in other words, how much dignity it has.
Apart from these basic concepts, astrologers rely on a number of planets to ensure that the predictions and assumptions they make are as accurate as possible. This involves mapping the planets down to the most accurate degree so that everything connects perfectly. The planets that are under surveillance include the moon, the sun, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. It is to be noted that the sun and moon are categorically planets in astrological terms only, as it considers any and all celestial bodies to be planets. In such a case, moon astrology becomes a subject in itself. In addition to that, astrologers also keep tabs on the dwarf planets Ceres, Chiron, and Lilith, as well as the uncharted space that covers the planetary and lunar nodes.
Exploring Astrology in 5 Easy Steps Infographics