Astrology is a vast subject, but the doorway in is pretty straightforward. Once you cross the threshold, it can be like walking through the wardrobe from our world into Narnia, which makes astrology a rather amazing spiritual tool if you are willing to plumb its depths, either on your own or with the guidance of a professional astrologer. Come explore this subject with me. I want to show you how beautifully complex the subject is and how useful it can be in many different ways in your life journey.
The Five Keys to Astrology
Astrology is a challenging subject to master because there is quite a bit you have to memorize and flat out know before you can even begin trying to interpret information about your own chart. Your chart, when you get one “cast” online or with a professional or using an astrology software, is a two-dimensional representation of the layout of the solar system when you took your first breath. It is cast as a circle made up of twelve segments (pie pieces astrologers call Houses) and populated with glyphs that represent astronomical bodies in the sky and calculated points we use for chart analysis and interpretation. These Houses and points are associated with Signs of the Zodiac and the points relate to one another through specific angular aspects from the point of view at the center of the chart.
The doorway that opens you to the world of astrology is based three pieces of information that you provide an astrologer or put into an astrology program: your date of birth (mm/dd/yyyy), your place of birth (city/state or city/country), and your time of birth. The time of birth is crucial because it determines which Sign of the Zodiac will rule the first House, determining the energetic influence for twelve different areas of your life (for example, the 3rd House or pie piece rules communication and our understanding of the world through our day-to-day interactions with the people around us). Thus, four of the Keys are data-driven:
- The Points in the sky or ones that are calculated (like the Sun and Venus, both bodies in our solar system, or the Part of Fortune, which is a calculated with a formula using the position of the Sun, the Moon, and the Ascendant).
- The Houses, 1 through 12.
- The Signs, Aries through Pisces (12)
- Aspects, the relationship of one point to another point by a certain angle that has a certain meaning.
The 5th and most important key is free will!
When I work with new clients, I explain these keys and I tell them that it is important for them to understand that the chart is NOT the person. It is essentially an energetic vehicle your soul decided to drive around in during this lifetime. And the easiest way for me to illustrate my point is to talk about twins or even triplets; they all have the same chart but they do not have the same driver! One of those souls may love the chart they selected and want to work with it while the other soul may be unhappy with its choice and strive against the chart.
Entering Astrology Through Memorization of Essential Data
There really is no getting around the fact that, whether you use flash cards or some creative technique, you will have to know the meaning of the Points, the twelve Houses, the twelve Signs, and the major Aspects (the four most common), if you want to get to the depth and power of astrology. And if you do not want to make this deep dive, then you want to find a professional who has done this work. Now, if you look at my biography at the bottom of my article, you will see that I have a Ph.D. It is in English from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and it took me 21 years to earn, starting in grade school (12 years) and concluding with an undergraduate degree (3 years), a Masters (2 years), and Ph.D. (4 years). That same level of effort is what is needed to learn this subject, and you keep on learning.
I share this thought because it is important to know that something like the daily horoscope, while well known, is like trying to understand the most sophisticated car by only looking at the engine block, and not even the complete engine, just the block. Your Sun, in your chart, is not just in a Sign, but also in a House, at a certain degree, and usually with a number of Aspects from other points. My Sun is in Aries at 23 degrees in my 6th House merged with my North Node (a conjunction Aspect) and opposed by my Moon in Libra at 21 degrees in my 12th House.
Key #1 – The Points
Depending on the astrologer, the astrology program, or the online service, a chart may consist of anywhere from 10 to 30 points. In the charts I cast for my clients, I use 29 points (11 masculine, 11 feminine, the four angles, the two Nodes of the Moon, and the Part of Fortune). I refer to the points as points because calling them planets is misleading. The Sun is a star, the Moon a satellite to Earth, and Pluto has recently been downgraded to a planetoid. Each point represents a marker for human energy. The Sun is your Life Force or Life Path; the Moon represents your Soul Path, Mercury how you communicate, Venus how you relate, and so on. The discovery of asteroids adds even more nuance, with Ceres representing how we prefer to be nurtured and Juno how we prefer to commit to others or act dutifully.
Key #2 – The Houses
There are twelve Houses and they represent the areas of our lives starting with Identity, then Needs and Resources, Communication, Family, Creativity, Skills/Day-to-Day Work, Partnerships, Intimate Relationships, Mastery of Knowledge, Career/Prosperity, Community, and Spirituality. Each House is ruled by a sign or co-sign depending on the House System the astrologer or program used to cast the chart (there are over 10 different systems, the most common is one called Placidus). Points reside in Houses and indicate a focus; so, if your Venus is in the 2nd House of Needs and Resources you will relate strongly with people based on your possessions, gifts given and received, how your home is made a home, and through shared values.
Key #3 – The Signs
There are twelve signs of the Zodiac, each representing one of four elements and each behaving in certain ways. Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius are the fire signs; Libra, Aquarius, and Gemini are air; Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces are water, and Capricorn, Taurus, and Virgo are earth. Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn are cardinal signs; they initiate energy. Leo, Scorpio, Aquarius, and Taurus are fixed signs; they organize energy. Sagittarius, Pisces, Gemini, and Virgo are mutable signs; they adapt energy. My Mercury is in Aries, the cardinal fire sign, which makes me a rather direct communicator who often drives conversations; I am not afraid to speak up.
Key # 4 – Aspects
On the day I was born, it was a full moon. From the location of my birth (Lynchburg, VA), at 9:39 pm, if I were to look in the direction of the Moon and then rotate myself 180 degrees, I would be facing the Sun. In astrology, we call this aspect an opposition and it tries to perform the function of balancing energies. My Sun in Aries tries to balance with my Moon in Libra. When points are very close together, the aspect is a conjunction, and these energies try to merge. When they are 90 degrees apart, the energies are square; they conflict and try to help the person grow. If the points are 120 degrees apart, the energies are in a trine and they flow together. These are the four strongest aspects. Two often used aspects include the sextile at 60 degrees apart and creating complimenting energy and the inconjunct (or quincunx) at 150 degrees apart, which causes energy to constantly adjust.
Key #5 – Free Will
The last and most important key is free will. Astrology is not deterministic though many people wish it was or try to present it as if it is. My birth chart does not tell me I will be a fireman or hairdresser, but if I choose one of those professions my chart can help understand how I can best enjoy my life or my role in those professions. There may be some energies that are strong in my chart and I really do not like them and will choose to resist them; others may be weak and I want more from them and will look for ways to increase that energy, perhaps through relationships or by increased effort.
Knowing your chart is not the end, but rather the start of a lifelong study of yourself in the effort to maximize your incarnated experience allowing you to get the most out of this lifetime.