Intro to Astrology

A few months ago I was a total astrology skeptic.

Then I gave into my curiosity that exists for just about anything and started looking into it a little more.

I found Jess at BehatiLife (if you have any interest at all in astrology, tarot, or general witchiness you NEED to check her out) and I started watching her astrology forecasts.

Rather than watching her videos and then looking for what she was saying in my life, I was doing the opposite.

I was noticing certain things happening with my mood, motivation, interests, etc. Whenever something out of the ordinary happened, I would get curious and check her channel. Sure enough, more often than not, there was an astrological event that perfectly described what I was going through.

I started to believe there really is something to all this astrology stuff.

I took a mini deep dive. Got a few books, found more YouTube channels, blogs, and even some Facebook groups.

And I started learning.

And I fell in love with astrology.

Never in my life did I think that would happen!

I will always be a bit of a skeptic, that’s just my nature and it keeps me grounded. I definitely had to start my studies by suspending my disbelief to really let myself learn.

It was so worth it.

I’ve been studying for a little while and thought it’s about time I start to share with you!

This “intro” is a little more in depth than most I’ve seen but I really wanted to not only give an overview, but show you how to use the system as well!

So here we go, an intro to astrology!

intro to astrology

What is Astrology?

Astrology at its core is all about observation. It connects observations of the placements of celestial bodies to the qualities, emotions, events, habits, and behaviors we experience here on Earth.

It isn’t a matter of “All [insert sign] are [insert stereotypical sign quality]”

True astrology is more complicated than that. It’s more along the lines of “This planet is in this sign which falls in this house. And it’s also effected by this other planet near it. Oh, and that one across from it.”

And even with that, those descriptions come out of observations of what tends to be true, so they may not be accurate for everyone.

How can you use astrology?

There are so many uses for astrology.

Most people start with using it to learn more about themselves and the people around them. By looking at the positioning of the planets at the time you were born, you can see what kind of energy you were brought into the world in. This can tell you many things about yourself and how you relate to the world and other people. You can see how you view emotions, how you present yourself, what career might suit you best, and sometimes even your relationship with your parents. The chart that shows these placements is called a natal  chart.

You can also look at the potential for relationships of all kinds. By putting your chart together with a possible partner you can see what benefits or challenges the relationship might have. You can look at a chart for you and your boss or coworkers to see how to best work with them. You can even use this to gain a different perspective on how to best parent a child. This practice is called synastry.

Another popular, and the original, use of astrology is to find the best timing for events. You can look at everything from the best time to start a new business venture, to the best time to do a love spell. This is called electoral astrology.

You can even use astrology as a form of divination!

I’m sure there are more uses that I haven’t mentioned, but hopefully you get the idea.

Basic components

Alright, now we’re to the fun part. The basic pieces that make up astrology. I’m not going into too much detail here, each component will likely get its own post one day, but this should give you a basic understanding and jumping off point.

  • Natal Chart – Also called a birth chart, this is a chart that shows the placements of planets and other bodies at the time you were born. You need it if you want to use astrology to understand yourself and can get it from many different websites. I recommend astro.com
  • Planets – Hopefully we all know what physical planets are. In astrology they correlate to actions, functions, things that people do and experience. The planets are the Sun, the Moon (I know, those aren’t planets, but they are treated like planets in astrology), Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto.
  • Signs – This is what most people are familiar with because of the popularity of “sun sign astrology” (super vague astrology that only considers the sign the sun is in). I like to view the signs as the style actions (the planets) are done in. The twelve signs are Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces.
  • Houses – The houses are divisions within your natal chart. Houses are what part of your life the styled (sign) action (planet) happens. Don’t worry, I’ll give you an example of that in a minute. The houses are simply numbered 1-12, each with their own energies that align with the twelve signs.
  • Major angles – There are four major angles in a natal chart, the Ascendant, Descendant, Midheaven, and Undersky. These are treated similar to planets but are the horizon and meridian lines of your chart rather than physical bodies.
  • Planetary Aspects – This is a little more advanced, but still worth noting. When you look at a chart, you’ll notice planets that have relationships with each other. You could have planets right next to each other, directly opposite, or at quarter or third divisions in your chart. These planetary relationships can influence how the actions of those planets manifest in your life. Some of the main aspects are conjunct, square, trine, and sextile.
  • Asteroids – Asteroids add a little extra flair to your chart. They are interpreted like the planets but tend to have a more specific scope. For example, the planet Venus relates to love, how you relate to others, and what you find attractive; while the asteroid Juno relates specifically to committed and meaningful relationships.

Stay tuned for future posts explaining each of the signs, planets, and houses!

Example natal chart

For my visual learners, let’s look at an example chart and find some of these components. This is the chart at the moment I’m writing this post. If someone was born on March 27, 2019 at 10:20 in Portland, Oregon, this is what their natal chart would look like!

today's chart

Let’s unpack this just a little bit.

Something you may recognize are the zodiac symbols around the outside of the circle. They go in order counter clockwise around the circle and their placement is determined by the time and location of the chart.

Inside of that are all those crazy little symbols that represent planets and asteroids. They are constantly moving through the signs at varying speeds. This is a snapshot of where they all were right at this moment.

The slices of the pie are the houses and they’re numbered in the middle of the circle. The sign in the first house is what was coming up on the horizon at the time of this chart. That determines what house each of the signs (and the planets that are in them) fall into.

Examples

Let’s look at Mercury. If you look at the handy little chart at the bottom you can see which symbol represents Mercury and what sign he’s in.

We can find Mercury in the middle of Pisces which is in the 5th house. So what does that mean? It means that someone born at this time will communicate (the action ruled by Mercury) in a dreamy, poetic way (the style of Pisces) and this will be especially present in how they express their creativity (the part of life represented in the 5th house).

We can also look at houses without planets. Let’s look at the 11th house.

It’s ruled by Virgo but there aren’t any planets. this doesn’t mean that a person born at this time doesn’t have any Virgo energy, it just isn’t as prevalent. Instead of looking at an action, you just look at the type of energy that is brought to that aspect of life. Virgo is very organized, straight forward, and practical. This approach is taken in the area of life represented by the 11th house which is socializing, group organizations, social causes, and friendships. A person with this in their chart is likely very methodical in their approach to being involved with other people, things are scheduled and well organized.

And those are just two examples! Imagine the insights you can gain by looking at an entire chart!

Other Components

So what about those other things I mentioned?

The angles are shown by the AC (ascendant) and MC (Midheaven) and the tick marks directly across from them (Descendant and Undersky respectively). As I said before, they are interpreted similarly to planets.

Also interpreted as planets are the asteroids. In this chart I included Chiron, Ceres, Pallas, Juno, and Vesta. You can find their symbols in the chart to see where they are.

One of the most confusing components (and one I’m still working on understanding) is the relationships between planets. You can see this in two places, those crazy lines in the bottom right of the wheel, and the stepped chart at the bottom of the image.

Actually make that three places. You can also look at the degrees shown in the left portion of the chart. Let’s reference all three.

Take a look at Mercury again. On the wheel you can notice there’s another planet symbol very close to it in the same sign and house. By going down to the left part of the chart you can see that the symbol represents Neptune. And if you look at their degrees (the first number in blue) you’ll see they are both at 16 degrees which means they’re conjunct! You can also see this by going to the part on the right, finding the column that corresponds to the Mercury symbol and going down to the row with the Neptune symbol. In that box is the symbol that shows planets are conjunct.

Hopefully by now you see that there is far more to astrology than what sign the sun is in!

Different Systems in astrology

Astrology is something that developed independently all over the world. Because of this there are different systems and approaches to its study. One of the most popular, and the one I use, is Tropical, otherwise referred to as Western astrology.

There are also different systems for how the houses are shown. In the example chart above the whole sign system is used. Other systems use the Ascendant line to determine where the first house starts, and some result in house sizes that are not the same.

Recommended resources

Here are some of the resources that I’ve used to increase my understanding of astrology 

  • astro.com – My personal favorite website to pull up your natal chart and look at current transits. They also have fantastic resources to learn more about astrology including and interactive chart!
  • BehatiLife – Jess is a wonderful intuitive astrologer. She keeps her followers updated on current astrological events and how their lives may be influenced.
  • Wayman Stewart – My second favorite YouTube astrologer. He is no longer active on YouTube but I absolutely love his interpretations of placements.
  • AstroDeeStars – Yet another incredible YouTuber. AstroDee focuses mainly on synastry.
  • Astrology for Yourself by Douglas Bloch and Demetra George – This book has been invaluable to me in my studies. It has a workbook format that takes you through understanding the basics of the components, then guides you through interpreting each placement in your own chart with worksheets and keywords. I cannot recommend this book enough!
  • The Complete Book of Astrology by Caitlin Johnstone – I haven’t gone through this one nearly as much but it seems to present the information just a little different with a bit more emphasis on planetary aspects and a little bit of synastry.

As always, let me know if you have any questions or topic requests!

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