For centuries people have watched the heavens and noted how the movement of the stars and planets seem to correlate to certain types of human behavior. This extensive body of research has become known as the science of astrology. Astrologers use the position of the heavens at the time of one’s birth to predict (based on the centuries of data) your personality traits, strengths, weaknesses, preferences, and probable timing of major life events.
In many cultures, astrology plays an important part in decision making, and in modern days many people consult astrologers to determine the most advantageous times for starting new endeavors, pursuing inner growth, entering into relationships, and making transitions. Whether or not you believe the planets and stars influence your life, true astrologers have been known to be amazingly accurate — they have centuries worth of data to draw upon in determining the relationship between the planets and you!
This page is intended to be a reference for the beginning astrologer. It offers a basic description of the key astrology terms, an overview of how to interpret your chart and a description of the signs, planets, and houses. Enjoy!
Astrology 101 – The Basics
Understanding the Basics
The Basic Astrology Terms
Imagine that at the exact moment you were born, you could lay on your back and look up at the sky. From that view you could say the sky was like a giant 360 degree circle that expands into infinity. If you were to divide that giant circle into 12 pieces (like a pie) each piece would represent a 30 degree segment. Imagine that there is a big belt of sky around the earth divided into these 12 pieces. This belt is called the zodiac.”
Within each of these segments, early astrologers noted that there were visible constellations — groups of stars that represented something such as a Ram (aries) or a Bull (taurus). So each segment of the zodiac was named after the star constellation that lay within it. These constellations are called “the signs.” (It is humorous to note that the constellations have moved over the centuries and no longer inhabit the segments named after them! Nonetheless, the names of those segments of the sky remain the same).
Now imagine that you could see the planets in the sky. (And although we know better now, the Sun and Moon are considered planets because the early astrologers thought that the earth was the center of the universe!) Each of these planets would be visible in one of those segments of the sky.
For example, in the picture, the sun is in the segment of the zodiac inhabited by the constellation Aries. Astrologers would say to you, “Your sun sign is Aries”. And, the moon might be in the constellation Gemini, in which case the astrologers would say “your moon is in Gemini. And, if you look at the picture you’ll see that Saturn is in Pisces. In this way, each of the planets falls into one of the segments of the zodiac which are named after the constellations.
A few more terms are useful in understanding basic astrology. The sun and the planets appear to move in a giant circle around the earth. This circle path of the sun and planets is called “the ecliptic.” It passes through the zodiac but at an angle. It is not pictured above.
If you were to draw a line from the place you were born straight over the eastern horizon, it would run into the ecliptic (the path of the sun and planets) at a certain place. Depending on which sign of the zodiac this point falls in, this is your ascendant.
For example, in the picture above, suppose you drew a line from the “X” (where you were born) straight east. Suppose this line intercepted the circle of the planet’s path in the segment of sky called “Cancer”. Cancer would then be your ascendant. There are many other angles and points on this path that are used by astrologers in interpreting your chart. If you’re interested in these, check out the wonderful Astrology Books on the sidebar.
One more term you will hear astrologers use frequently is “houses.” The houses are twelve segments of yet another imaginary circle around the earth! The wheel of houses (numbered 1 through 12) is superimposed on the zodiac wheel. The first house is always the same as your ascendant sign and the rest of the houses are numbered in each of the subsequent signs, in order. In the example above, the first house is superimposed on Cancer. The second is superimposed on Leo. The third is with Virgo, and so forth. So now your planets have houses too!
In the example, you would say your Sun is in the tenth house and your moon is in the twelfth. One thing to note is that your personal planets will fall into different houses and your houses will be associated with different signs on your personal chart. (Traditionally, in astrology, each house is said to be “ruled” by the sign that would be there if house number 1 were in Aries.)
So to summarize these terms, the signs represent the segments of the zodiac. The zodiac is a belt of sky around the earth. The planets (including sun and moon) appear to revolve around the earth in another path called the ecliptic, which passes through each sign of the zodiac. If you draw a line from where you were born to the eastern horizon it will intersect the ecliptic at some point. This is your ascendant and it falls within one of the segments of the sky called the zodiac. Whatever sign is in that segment is your ascendant sign.
Now, imagine that you put numbers in each of the signs of the zodiac with number 1 falling in your ascendant, number 2 going into the next sign, number 3 in the next, and so on. Now you have the houses of the zodiac for your chart as well! Each of the planets will fall into one of the signs of the zodiac (segments of sky) and each of these segments now has a corresponding house (number) unique to your chart.
The Basics of Interpretation
In order to understand how astrology affects you personally, you will need to get a natal chart. A natal chart is a wheel that shows the zodiac and the houses correspond to each sign. It shows your ascendant, and shows where the planets were relative to the zodiac signs (and houses) at the exact moment of your birth. Each of the signs, planets, and houses is described below.
In a nutshell, the planets represent the different forces that influence and motivate you throughout your life (self-expression, intuition, mental stimulation & communication, love & pleasure, physical energy, luck & generosity, expansion & growth, mystery/imagination, responsibility & stability, change/inspiration, and death/rebirth).
The signs show how we use these forces or motivations. For example, the sun is the planet of self-expression. So if it falls in the sign of Aries, you are likely to outwardly express yourself as a leader. If it falls in the sign of Cancer, you are likely to express yourself best intuitively and with family and a comfortable home. If it falls in Taurus, you’re going to want abundance! And taking this a step further, the sign in which your ascendant falls will represent who you really are, while the Sun sign represents your outward personality.
The houses represent the areas of life in which we are going to use these forces. So if we have a “Sun in Aries in the tenth house” we will express ourselves (the sun) via leadership (aries), especially in the area of achieving goals and status (tenth house represents career and ambitions). Suppose instead you had “Sun in Aries in the ninth house”. Then you might express yourself (sun) as an outgoing person (aries) who loves travel, learning, and higher education (ninth house).As you can see, interpreting charts can be a lifetime of study!
Interpreting Your Own Chart
Practice Interpreting Your Own Chart
If you want to practice interpreting your own charts, you can:
- Go to Astrodienst and follow the instructions to generate and print your own free chart. You can find it under the “Free Horoscopes” section and sign on as a guest. You will need to know your birth date, birth time (exact) and place of birth. If you do not know your exact birth time you can do a solar chart (based on birthday only) that will give you general clues to your character. The natal chart (based on exact time) will be much more accurate.
- Look at the chart. Each house is numbered and you can see which planets are in each pie-shaped house. Also, you can see which planets are in each Sign, usually by looking at a chart at the bottom of the page.
- Go to the books on the right, and if you like, choose one of the reference books to give you more in-depth information. One that I recommend for beginners is: “The Only Astrology Book You’ll Ever Need” by Joanna Martine Woolfolk because you can easily look up what each of the planets mean in each of the houses and signs. (You can order it by clicking on the link above).
Get a Professional Chart
If you want to practice interpreting your own charts, you can:
If you’d prefer to have a professional astrologer give you a reading, the best spot I’ve discovered on the net for this is Astrology.com They offer more in-depth profiles for very reasonable fees. Or if you’d like a professional Indian astrologer to read you, visit MyWebAstrologer.com for a free sample or more in-depth readings. My clients also highly recommend astrology Philip Comi who you can email here.
Understanding the Signs
Remember that each of the signs show how we use the forces of the planets that fall within that sign. For example, the sun is the planet of self-expression. So if it falls in the sign of Aries, you are likely to outwardly express yourself as a leader. If it falls in the sign of Cancer, you are likely to express yourself best intuitively and with family and a comfortable home. Check out the signs to see what areas of your life are influenced by the various planets.
On a chart, the signs are usually drawn around the edges of the wheel, and on the bottom they are summarized in a small chart next to the planets that fall within them.
The Ram • Mar 21 – Apr 19 • Self • Mars
Aries is the sign that teaches us to honor the self. Aries are typically optimistic leaders who either plow through the obstacles in their path or simply ignore them. Aries loves newness.Starting a project is always fun to an Aries but finishing is a different story! They are driven to succeed, enjoy material success, and are fiercely loyal once they commit to a relationship. They simply need to be appreciated and allowed free reign.
The Bull • Apr 20 – May 20 • Possessions • Venus
Taurus is synonymous with tenacity! Taurus people don’t give up easily. They are dependable, love beauty, emotional and financial security, and the finer things in life.They are opinionated sometimes and may take awhile to get started on their projects, but once they get moving they don’t stop until they’re done. Taurus people believe in pampering themselves and even though you might see a stubborn streak on the outside, inside they are the sign of the romantic dreamer.
The Twins • May 21 – Jun 20 • Communication • Mercury
Gemini is typically intelligent, adaptable and a good communicator. Gemini natives must balance the head and the heart and when they do, they teach us to do the same.
Geminis are curious by nature and creative. They like to try different things and experience many different paths in life. They tend to get along with many types of people but they’re not too patient. Routine is not acceptable to a Gemini! They truly realize that life is the process, not the destination.
The Crab • Jun 21 – Jul 22 • Home • Moon
Cancer is the sign of the home and the nurturer. Cancer is typically emotional, loyal, and loving and they would like the same treatment in return. Like their symbol, the crab, they may seem to have a tough shell, but they’re really softies underneath this veneer.
Cancers are typically genuine individuals and generous with their energy. They can be possessive at times in relationship and insecure, but more often they are sensitive and sweet. Cancer is also a very psychic sign which can be helpful in business endeavors.
The Lion • Jul 23 – Aug 22 • Pleasure/Creativity • Pleasure
Leo likes to be the center of attention. That is usually not too difficult for them since Leos are affable, tend to be good looking, and full of life. Leos could care less how much something costs. If they want it, they get it and then they’ll worry about how to pay for it later.
Leos are openhearted, and forgive easily. They make great friends. Occasionally they can be oversensitive and pout or pull away when they don’t receive enough attention and like their symbol, the lion, they’d like their time to nap and enjoy just be-ing when they’re not in action.
The Virgin • Aug 23 – Sep 22 • Analysis • Mercury
Virgos are calm on the outside but have a restlessness underneath that drives them to action. They are perfectionists who pay very close attention to detail. They are typically organized and action-oriented and you can count on them to do a great job, if they don’t get sidetracked by unimportant detail.
Virgos are down to earth, and health conscious. They make loyal friends.
The Scales • Sep 23 – Oct 22 • Self • Venus
Libras are typically very genuine and charming. They love beauty and style both personally and in their home. They are focused on partnerships and like to have a steady mate in life. They tend to be somewhat empathic and understand others points of view.
Libra strives for harmony and balance and is a natural born diplomat. They can tend to be a bit indecisive at times because they try to take everyone’s needs into account, and they have wonderful intuition but don’t always trust it. A libra secretly likes attention. They’d do anything for you and all they want in return is a little acknowledgment.
The Scorpion • Oct 23 – Nov 21 • Desire • Pluto
Scorpios are known for their intensity of emotions. They are often philosophical and understand life’s secrets since they are the sign of birth, death, sex, and the hidden mysteries. They can be complex and their are generous with their affection but sometimes unpredictable.
They are loyal and can be a little jealous and possessive. They repay kindnesses quickly. They are passionate and will create success when they make up their mind to do so. This is undoubtedly a fiery sign!
The Archer • Nov 22 – Dec 21 • Philosophy • Jupiter
Sagittarius is usually optimistic in life. They are adventurous and like freedom. Sometimes they can seem quite restless and like a great deal of variety in everything including relationship, but this quality can be mitigated by the other signs in the chart.
Sagittarius people are deeply loyal friends who give with no strings attached. They have a good sense of humor, are good communicators, and can typically do several things at once. You’ll have a great deal of fun with a Sagittarius and you’ll never be bored.
The Goat • Dec 22 – Jan 19 • Practicality • Saturn
Capricorn are known to be steadfast. They are ambitious but they are willing to work patiently to reach their goals. They are down to earth, independent, and self-sufficient. They may have a dry sense of humor and be very conservative.
Capricorns like security and status. They may appear to be a little difficult to reach, emotionally, but underneath they run deep. They are loyal and willing to work in a relationship.
The Water Bearer • Jan 20 – Feb 18 • Selflessness • Uranus
Aquarius is a hard sign not to like! They are friendly, intelligent, and independent. They like to honor their own path but they rarely judge others. They can be surprisingly stubborn at times, but in general they’ll be very flexible.
Aquarians are people-oriented, but not overtly emotional. They are idealists who strives to balance their needs with the good of the whole. They are wonderfully honest, unselfish, and willing to listen compassionately, and Aquarius loves to play as hard as they work! Many say this is the sign of our future.
Two Fish • Feb 19 – Mar 20 • Mysticism • Neptune
Pisces natives often feel as if they are visitors to this world, but not of it. Pisces is the sign of the sensitive mystic. They are intuitive, very emotional, and can be easily influenced by others. They are often empathic and tend to feel responsible for others problems.
Pisces are self-sacrificing and compassionate but they have to beware of codependency. They have wonderful imaginations, like to work alone, and seem to have unlimited creativity when they are happy. A Pisces is always willing to help but you must treat him or her with kindness and sensitivity since they feel everything so deeply. Evolved Pisceans make wonderful spiritual instructors or healers because they understand the hidden dimensions in life.
Understanding the Planets
In astrology it is believed that each planet has an influence on a specific aspect of your life. How these planets were positioned in the heavens at the time of your birth seems to tell a lot about how you act in these areas of your life. As time moves onward, the position of the planets relative to your birth location still affects you. When an astrologer says “your moon is in Aries” what they mean in English, is that the location of the moon relative to your birthplace is passing in front of the constellation Aries. More will be explained below. Remember, astrology is an ancient art based on years of study and correlation.
At the time astrology was developed the earth was believed to be the center of the solar system! And so, the sun and moon were considered planets as well as the planets that are now acknowledged by modern science.
On your chart, the planets are drawn within the various houses and next to the signs in which they appear. They are also listed in a small chart at the bottom along with the sign in which they appear.
The Sun represents the power of life force, self-expression and vitality. When the sun falls in a position on your chart, that house’s and sign’s aspects will be strong in your life. They will be your outer expression. Thus we have the “sun signs” which represent how you express yourself in the world.
The Moon is the power of emotion and intuition. When it falls in a certain house you are likely to feel very strongly about the subject matter and also to be somewhat intuitive in that area of your life.
Mercury represents the force of intelligence, communication, and reason. It makes you think and stimulates the need for communication when it is found in a certain house. If it is found often in a person’s horoscope they will almost certainly be intelligent and a good communicator, great in bargaining, and they’ll have a quick-wit. Mercury also influences speaking, writing, and travel.
Venus, like the goddess it is named after, rules love and pleasure. It stimulates interest in friends, art, beauty, decoration, and happiness. The position of Venus in your chart shows how you relate to intimate relationships, whether or not you like to share or are possessive, what type of lovers you attract, etc.
Initiative, Physical Energy
Mars is the planet of raw energy and initiative. It influences your sexual and creative energy. It means you will have drive in the houses in which it falls in your charts and you will have to learn balance, not to be too impatient and rash in those areas. Mars represents the raw will power that we must learn to use in order to serve our heart and highest good.
Good Luck, Success, Generosity
Jupiter in a certain house is a sign to celebrate because you will have an easier time in that house. Jupiter brings out abundance and the best in all it touches. If you have Jupiter often in your horoscope you will tend to be cheerful and successful. Just be careful not to be lazy since things come so easily. Jupiter teaches us to accept ease and grace, but not to take it for granted.
Stability, Responsibility, Hard Work
When Saturn exists or moves into a house on your chart, you are likely to be in for some work in that area of your life. If you accept this responsibility you’ll be ok. If you fight it, well, that could be tough.
Saturn is not frightening, but rather teaches us new strengths we may not even have known we had. Also, Saturn forces you to learn how to overcome obstacles with grace and ease. Saturn rules fate and teaches us to surrender, go with the flow, and accept life’s teachings for what they are, rather than playing the victim.
Change, Surprise, Originality
If you have Uranus in an area of your chart you are not likely to follow the crowd in that area of your life. Uranus relates to your inner wisdom and power. Unlike Mars which represents the energy of willpower, Uranus represents the energy of the soul that desires to be expressed. The down side of Uranus can be recklessness or eccentricity. Uranus teaches us about change and how to honor our deepest self as it directs our lives.
Neptune is the force of imagination and the inner self. When this falls in your chart it will signify attention to ideals and goals in this area, and psychic ability as well. If you have a great deal of Neptune in your chart you will also likely receive information in dreams and be very good at interpreting them. Neptune’s influence is still being studied by astrologers.
Elimination of the Old
Pluto is the planet of power, the force of change , death and rebirth. In the tarot, it is the tower card that symbolizes destruction of the old, unworkable patterns in our psyche and birth of the truth. When Pluto is in certain areas of your chart you have to be careful to be honest with yourself…all that is not true for you in those areas will be taken away and what is true will come in its place…if you go with the flow! Some say Pluto represents our lowest lows (when it seems like the rug is jerked out from underneath you) and our highest highs (when we realize that if we surrender to a higher power, we can fly!).
Understanding the Astrology Houses
The houses in astrology represent different areas of life in which we are influenced by our personality and subconscious motivations. In your birth chart, having a planet in a certain house, means that planet’s subconscious motivations will affect you in the area of life dictated by the house.
On your chart, the houses are the numbers near the center of the wheel. By looking at the wheel you can determine which planets fall within each house.
For Example: Suppose at the time of your birth, the planet Venus is in the fourth house which is ruled by Cancer. Venus represents the motivation of Love. Cancer and the fourth house are about family upbringing and home. So, you will likely have experienced love in your family life and upbringing and you will love your home as well.
If “your Venus was in the first house which is ruled by Aries thing would be different! Venus is still about love, but Aries and the first house are about self and how you appear to the world. With this configuration you’ll love being outgoing and social and you’ll probably care about being good looking as well.
Second House – Money & Material Possessions
Third House – Communication
Fourth House – Home
Fifth House – Creativity
Sixth House – Service & Health
Seventh House – Partnership & Relationships
Eighth House – Birth, Death, Transformation, Sex & Inheritance
Ninth House – Higher Education, Travel, Challenge
Tenth House – Ambitions, Career
Eleventh House – Social Life, Hopes & Dreams, Friends
Twelfth House – Seclusion, Self-undoing
First House (Ascendant)
The Self • Aries
The First House is very important in astrology because it defines how you see yourself in the world, and how others perceive you. It rules your personality, your behavior, and your appearance. Your ascendant dictates these things most strongly. The nearby planets have a heavy influence. The first house is ruled by Aries.
Money & Material Possessions • Taurus
The planets in the Second House show you relate to financial security, money, and material possessions, as well as how you feel about these things. It may also show how you interact with people as well if you allow your relationships to be influenced by financial concerns. The second house is ruled by Taurus.
Communication • Gemini
The planets in the Third House show how you relate to siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, and neighbors, how you perceive early schooling, your mental outlook, how you relate to daily travel (i.e., to and from work), and your communication skills. The third house is also concerned with overall environment (i.e., whether or not you are happier in certain places and circumstances). The third house is ruled by Gemini.
Home • Cancer
The planets in the Fourth House deal with domestic life: the family background, how you relate to your parents, your current domestic life, and how you will spend your old age. It is also a mystical house that represents also the parts of you that are kept deep inside: your deepest truths, rather than your persona. The fourth house is ruled by Cancer.
Creativity • Leo
The planets in the Fifth House determine how you express yourself creatively and how you seek pleasure. This includes your relationship to sex, children, entertainment, recreation, artistic talents, games, and other ways you experience joy. It is the house that defines how you show up in new relationships, risk-taking, and luck. The fifth house is ruled by Leo.
Service & Health • Virgo
The planets in the Sixth House determine how you react to the people you work with – both those whom you serve, and those who serve you. They also can tell you a great deal about your health and possible health issues. The Sixth house is ruled by Virgo.
Partnership & Relationships • Libra
The planets in the Seventh House determine how you will relate to partners, both in work and intimate relationships. The Seventh House is ruled by Libra.
Birth, Death, Transformation, Sex & Inheritance • Scorpio
The planets in the Eighth House determine how you will relate to the deeper mystical issues in life: death, birth, change and transformation. It deals also with inheritance as well as how you deal with the deep psychological influences from your family. Some say this is the house that talks about the underlying nature or your sexual urges as well. The eighth house is ruled by Scorpio.
Higher Education, Travel, Challenge • Sagittarius
The planets in the Ninth House deal with how you will expand your mind beyond the basic schooling. What types of questions will you seek to answer? Will you want to travel and expand your communication skills beyond the basics? Your deepest dreams and ideas are uncovered here as well. The ninth house is ruled by Sagittarius.
Ambitions, Career • Capricorn
The planets in the Tenth House determine how you handle yourself in public, how you relate to reaching goals, having responsibility, authority, power, and status. The tenth house is ruled by Capricorn.
Social Life, Hopes & Dreams , Friends • Aquarius
The planets in the Eleventh House determine how you will relate to friends and in social environments and how you will interact with others relative to humanitarian or social concerns. The eleventh house is ruled by Aquarius.
Seclusion, Self-undoing • Pisces
The planets in the Twelfth House determine how and when we go within to look at our limitations. It shows us our weak points and the areas where work may be needed in our lives. It is the house of rewards and punishments and shows the consequence of beliefs and actions. The twelfth house is ruled by Pisces.
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