The Basics of Astrology:
Everything You Need to Know to Become Fluent in the Language of the Stars

BY RICHARD WEBSTER

The Basics of Astrology: A Guide to Understanding to the Starsphoto: mark tegethoff

The Origins and Brief History of Astrology

Thousands of years ago, people gazed up at the skies and were awed by the mystery of the planets and the stars. The movements of the stars and planets must have seemed like magic to them. Not surprisingly, these movements were observed and recorded.

Solon, the Greek historian, wrote that astronomical information was being recorded nine thousand years before he was born. If this is correct, people have been interested in astrology for at least eleven thousand years. It’s possible that astrology is the oldest form of divination in the world.

Astrology probably originated in Mesopotamia, but almost every ancient civilization, from Babylon to Egypt, and China to Greece, studied it. Early astrologers noted that most groups of stars, known as constellations, moved around the sky together. However, five of the larger and brighter stars traveled independently. They called them “wanderers.” Today we know them as planets. Astrologers thought these wanderers were gods and called them Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Uranus was discovered in 1781, followed by Neptune in 1846, and Pluto in 1930. They also noted the movements of the Sun and Moon, which factor significantly into understanding astrology basics.

Astrologers gradually came to realize that people who were born at a particular time of year, when the Sun, Moon, and planets were in the same part of the sky, had a great deal in common. Even though every person is unique, these people shared many of the same interests and feelings. This enabled astrologers to construct horoscope charts for individual people. A horoscope is a picture of the heavens at the date, time, and place where the person was born. If you could lie on your back and look up at the sky at the moment you were born, you’d see all the planets in the same positions as they are in your natal chart.

Preparing your chart used to be a lengthy process, but nowadays it can be done in seconds. If you Google “free horoscope chart,” you’ll find many sites that’ll prepare a chart for you. However, interpreting and understanding an astrology chart is an involved process that takes years to master.

The Four Elements

The twelve signs of the zodiac are divided into four groups, each containing three of the signs. The four groups are named after the four elements that were proposed by the ancient Greek philosopher Empedocles twenty-four hundred years ago.

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They were believed to be the building blocks of the universe: fire, earth, air, and water. In basic astrology terms, the elements express the indispensable nature of the different signs.

+ Fire (Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius) Fire is positive, assertive, energetic, enthusiastic, impulsive, inspirational, courageous, powerful, passionate, and initiating.

+ Earth (Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn) Earth is cautious, responsible, reliable, ambitious, practical, focused, disciplined, dependable, solid, and persevering.

+ Air (Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius) Air is lighthearted, joyful, curious, restless, independent, communicative, impractical, entertaining, intellectual, and trusting.

+ Water (Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces) Water is compassionate, forgiving, understanding, emotional, creative, intuitive and spiritual.

Understanding Astrology Sun Signs

The Sun is the energy and force behind the entire solar system. Without it, life as we know it could not exist. In your horoscope the Sun represents independence, willpower, strength, energy, leadership, motivation, creativity, and even your popularity. It indicates your individuality—what you are really like inside.

Even if people know nothing about astrology basics, most people know what their Sun sign is, and they usually know a few of the character traits that are assigned to it. The astrological predictions that appear in many newspapers and magazines are based on the Sun signs. These are by necessity generalizations, as there are only twelve Sun signs, and this means all of humanity is divided into twelve groups. Obviously, this isn’t the case, but it’s a good place to start looking at your horoscope chart when learning how to understand astrology.

In astrology, the sky is divided into twelve sections, each representing one of the signs of the zodiac. It looks like a circular cake cut into twelve equal slices. At the moment you were born, the Sun was in one of those twelve sections, and that determines what sign of the zodiac you belong to. The Sun spends thirty days in each section, which means it takes a whole year to visit each section and circle the zodiac. The dates change by a day or two from year to year. Consequently, if you were born near the beginning or end of a sign, it would pay to check the year you were born in to find what sign you were born in. Incidentally, when I was young, someone told me that people who were born “on the cusp,” which means at the start or end of a sign, pick up the positive aspects of each sign and miss out on the negatives. This isn’t totally true when you begin to understand astrology beyond the basics, but it’s amazing how many people who are born on the cusp have a positive outlook on life.

Each section provides its own particular energy to the people who are born in it. Thousands of years ago, astrologers used the names of animals, people, and objects to describe this energy. This is why we have: Aries the Ram, Taurus the Bull, Gemini the Twins, Cancer the Crab, Leo the Lion, Virgo the Virgin, Libra the Scales, Scorpio the Scorpion, Sagittarius the Centaur, Capricorn the Goat, Aquarius the Water Carrier, and Pisces the Fish.

Aries

+ March 21–April 20
+ Element: Fire Ruling
+ Planet: Mars

People born under the sign of Aries are leaders and pioneers. They enjoy responsibility and are happiest when managing and organizing others. They are magnetic and outgoing and can inspire others to action with their dynamic leadership. They are courageous and prepared to take calculated risks, and they fight for what they believe in. They need to be busy to be happy. Arians are often happiest when working for themselves, but also rise to positions of leadership and responsibility when working for others. They are curious and have a keen interest in everything that’s going on. Because they’re quick-witted and like to get to the heart of any problem, they can get impatient with people who take time to come to a decision. They enjoy talking and look forward to social activities. They make warm and lively friends.

Taurus

+ April 21–May 21
+ Element: Earth
+ Ruling Planet: Venus

People born under the sign of Taurus are practical, patient, and determined. According to astrology basics for this sun sign, they’re naturally cautious and think matters through before acting. Because of this, they can appear stubborn and obstinate to others. They like to do things their own way. Taureans can be extremely generous, but they always keep something in reserve, as security is important to them. They are generally good at managing their financial affairs. They are persistent and possess enormous drive and determination. Taureans love beauty and work best in harmonious surroundings. Their homes invariably display good quality and tasteful objects, and whenever they buy something, it has to be of good quality. The main lesson Taureans need to learn is how to control obstinacy. Once they’ve made up their minds on something, it’s almost impossible to change it. This can make them inflexible and unforgiving, which is out of tune with the calm, harmonious approach they usually have.

Gemini

+ May 22–June 21
+ Element: Air Ruling
+ Planet: Mercury

People born under the sign of Gemini are ingenious, versatile, restless, and quick-thinking. They love meeting new people, and have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. They are good with words, and can talk at great length on almost anything. They enjoy occupations that use their voices in some way. They enjoy mental stimulation, but often waste time on idle chatter. They are easygoing and get on well with almost everyone. They’re versatile, highly creative, and often artistic. They need a great deal of variety in their lives. This endless search for variety often means they leave a trail of half-finished projects behind them. They possess a great deal of nervous energy and always seek quick results. They have the ability to see both sides of a problem.

Cancer

+ June 22–July 22
+ Element: Water
+ Ruling Planet: Moon

People born under the sign of Cancer are romantic, emotional, and imaginative. They are ruled largely by their feelings. They are highly sensitive and easily hurt, but are able to fight back when pushed into a corner. They have the ability to charm and captivate others and use this to devastating effect when they know what they want. Because they’re incredibly tenacious, they ultimately achieve their goals.

A core concept in understanding astrology is that each sign is ruled by a particular planet, and Cancerians are ruled by the Moon, which emphasizes the sensitive, emotional side of their natures. Consequently, they may sometimes appear unwilling to commit in case they get hurt. Cancerians love the security of home and family, and they make extremely good parents. They can be self-indulgent and spend money freely, yet they’re also extremely good at getting a bargain. They are usually highly intuitive, and have the potential to develop considerable psychic ability.

Leo

+ July 23–August 22
+ Element: Fire Ruling
+ Planet: Sun

People born under the sign of Leo are ambitious, determined people with open, friendly natures. They are born leaders and instinctively gravitate to positions where their leadership potential can be utilized. They’re open, honest, and enthusiastic about every aspect of their lives. Because they’re generally happy, they want everyone close to them to be happy too. They are confident and determined and always make their presence felt in everything they do. They invariably get where they want to go, though overconfidence can cause delays and problems along the way. Pride is very important to Leos, and they hate being ridiculed or demeaned. They are susceptible to flattery and need to learn how to control this. They are generous and enjoy making magnanimous gestures. They spread their warmth and enthusiasm everywhere they go. They can exaggerate or distort the truth at times, as they like to weave a good story.

Virgo

+ August 23–September 23
+ Element: Earth Ruling
+ Planet: Mercury

According to astrology basics, people born under the sign of Virgo are modest, down-to-earth, and matter of fact. They have a shrewd outlook on life. They are intelligent, cautious, conforming people who invariably look respectable and tidy. They enjoy doing detailed and precise work, and this, coupled with good memories, makes them highly capable administrators. They can assess people quickly, though they usually keep their thoughts to themselves. They are naturally reserved, and this makes it hard to get close to them until they’re ready to let you in. They make good friends once this happens. They are their own worst critics, as they constantly aim for perfection and set high standards for themselves. They enjoy analyzing things and can sometimes pay excessive attention to tiny details. They are self-motivated but find it impossible to complete anything to the high standards they require. This can cause significant worry. They generally prefer working behind the scenes but enjoy the inner satisfaction of a job well done. They can be outspoken and critical, and this often comes into play when they feel that justice and fair play are absent.

Libra

+ September 24–October 22
+ Element: Air Ruling
+ Planet: Venus

People born under the sign of Libra are harmonious, well-balanced, and friendly. They have a tendency to be indecisive. They are good talkers but prefer to avoid arguments and confrontations. They’re honest and sincere and expect others to be the same. They feel their emotions deeply and are very involved in the lives of the people they care for. They love beauty and have good taste. Librans find it hard to make decisions. They like to think about the matter, agonize over it, and weigh it up carefully before making a decision. This can cause impatience in other people, especially when the indecision is over something that is unimportant. However, once the decision has been made, they’ll follow it through with great determination. Librans have a strong sense of justice and fair play. They often side with the underdog.

Scorpio

+ October 23–November 21
+ Element: Water Ruling
+ Planet: Mars

People born under the sign of Scorpio are forceful and determined. They have enormous powers of concentration, but don’t always reveal this side of themselves as they’re also secretive and never reveal their true nature to anyone. They’re intuitive, and this gives them great insight into how other people work and react. Scorpios are individualistic. They’re prepared to take risks, but they’re always carefully calculated first. They watch and wait for opportunities, using the element of surprise to their advantage. Scorpios usually know what it is that they want, and they possess incredible determination and tenacity, which helps them reach their goals.

Sagittarius

+ November 22–December 22
+ Element: Fire Ruling
+ Planet: Jupiter

People born under the sign of Sagittarius are friendly, open, and optimistic. They are naturally enthusiastic and have a great zest for life. They’re honest and loyal, but can be outspoken and tactless at times. Independence is important to them, and they need space and room around them in order to thrive. Because of this, they’re often interested in sports and other outdoor activities. Sagittarians need to learn to channel their energies, as they often try to do too many different things at the same time. This is especially the case when they’re young, and it can be frustrating to others who can see their potential. Sagittarians enjoy learning, and often do this on their own, as they feel hemmed in and restricted in classrooms. They possess considerable foresight and vision, and over a lifetime develop a strong philosophy of life.

Capricorn

+ December 23–January 20
+ Element: Earth Ruling
+ Planet: Saturn

People born under the sign of Capricorn are solid, practical, and hardworking. They have a serious approach to life and slowly but steadily reach their goals. They are cautious, logical, careful, and fair. They’re ambitious and set their sights on far off distant goals that they invariably achieve. They are practical, conservative people who like to work everything out carefully before acting. According to the basics of astrology, they are thrifty and careful with money. They enjoy saving money but are happy to use it for specific purposes. They find it hard to express their emotions but can be extremely romantic with the right partner. They enjoy family life and are good, responsible, and loving parents.

Aquarius

+ January 21–February 19
+ Element: Air
+ Ruling Planet: Uranus

People born under the sign of Aquarius are sympathetic, broad-minded, tolerant, unconventional, and completely lacking in prejudice. They’re inclined to be independent, intellectual, inventive, and altruistic. They possess strong humanitarian ideals and are happiest when they’re involved in helping others. Their humanitarianism extends to all humanity. Aquarians have a scientific frame of mind and are always progressive and frequently radical in their ideas. They’re constantly looking ahead, trying to turn their dreams into reality. They accept people for who they are and accept their needs and idiosyncrasies. They make excellent, long-lasting friendships. Aquarians seek the truth of life in everything they do. They learn using both logic and intuition. They live largely on a mental plane and enjoy coming up with original ideas.

Pisces

+ February 20–March 20
+ Element: Water
+ Ruling Planet: Neptune

People born under the sign of Pisces are gentle, imaginative, thoughtful, philanthropic, and creative. Although they can be vague and indecisive at times, they are generally popular and make successes of their lives. They’re sensitive and easily hurt, and this can lead to disappointments and emotional crises. They need encouragement to perform well. Pisceans are intuitive, receptive, and sympathetic. This makes them good judges of character. However, it also means they get easily hurt, and they suffer in silence when rebuffed or dismissed. They are extremely compassionate and are always available with a shoulder to lean on. They are happiest in any occupation that involves helping others.

The Ascendant

The second most important part of understanding an astrology horoscope chart is called the ascendant, or rising sign. Because of the Earth’s rotation on its axis, the zodiac appears to revolve once every twenty-four hours. This means that one of the twelve signs was on the eastern horizon at the time you were born. This sign is called the ascendant. If you were born between 4:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m., for instance, the sign coming over the horizon would be the same as your Sun sign. If you were born between 6:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m., your ascendant would be the sign that immediately follows your Sun sign.

In basic astrology terms, your Sun sign describes your individuality, and your ascendant reveals your personality. It also has an effect on your physical appearance and how you present your individuality in everyday life. If your ascendant is a fire sign (Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius), you’ll appear enthusiastic, optimistic, and full of energy. If your ascendant is an earth sign (Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn), you’ll appear cautious, reserved, practical, and serious. If your ascendant is an air sign (Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius), you’ll appear sociable, friendly, and communicative. If your ascendant is a water sign (Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces), you’ll appear emotional, intuitive, and sensitive.

If you don’t know your time of birth, astrologers normally use 6:00 a.m. This places your Sun Sign in the first house. However, you should use your time of birth if you know what it is. Sometimes your friends might be able to help you decide on a possible ascendant by comparing you to the qualities provided by the four elements.

Your horoscope sign and ascendant provide valuable insights into you and your nature. They also explain why two people of the same sign can be completely different to each other. Someone born under the sign of Aries, with a Leo ascendant, will be outspoken and enjoy being the center of attention. Another Arian, with a Pisces ascendant, will be quieter and more sensitive.

The Ten Planets

Astrologers refer to the Sun and the Moon as planets when doing their calculations. Of course they know this isn’t actually the case, but because they have a strong influence on our lives, it’s convenient to consider them as planets when looking at a horoscope chart and for understanding astrology in general. The ten planets are: the Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. According to the basics of astrology, each of these relates to a different side of our personality.

The Sun

The Sun passes through every sign of the zodiac for approximately one month every year. It reveals what we want out of life. The Sun is the giver of life, radiating energy, inspiration, self-awareness, enthusiasm, and wisdom. However, the warm rays of the Sun can be used for both good and ill. When adversely affected, this creates pride, anger, conceit, and egotism. The Sun relates to the conscious mind.

The Moon

The Moon symbolizes fertility and relates to sensitivity, imagination, feelings, emotions, the subconscious, and intuition. It also relates to nurturing, domesticity, and home and family life. People who are ruled by the Moon are essentially emotional, sensitive, and changeable. In advanced and basic astrology, the Moon relates to the subconscious mind.

Mercury

Mercury governs the nervous system and intellect. It relates to self-expression and getting on with others. The keyword for Mercury is communication, which is why it’s related to rapid thought, adaptability, eloquence, quick perceptions, and the intellect. It’s also related to travel.

Venus

Venus is the goddess of love and sexuality. It represents gentility, sociability, beauty, and the arts. It controls the deeper and finer human emotions, such as appreciation, love, and devotion. Venus reveals what you enjoy and how you handle close relationships.

Mars

Mars, the god of war, symbolizes courage, force, bravery, assertiveness, and physical drive. It gives the qualities of boldness, frankness, endurance, and initiative. Mars reveals your energy and sexuality. People influenced by Mars are better at doing things, rather than planning them. When Mars is well situated in a chart it gives strength of character, leadership ability, and a strong desire to succeed. It also provides moral courage and the ability to carry ideas through to completion.

Jupiter

Ancient astrologers considered Jupiter as being second only to the Sun. It symbolizes wisdom, moderation, and generosity. Jupiter reveals how we enjoy ourselves. Good fortune and luck have always been associated with this planet. Jupiter is also related to wisdom, knowledge, higher learning, philosophy, ethics, understanding, and the intellect. Because it’s always looking ahead, Jupiter is also associated with ambition and career, when interpreting and understanding astrology.

Saturn

Saturn is the planet of restriction and restraint, and gives its name to the word saturnine. It reveals our sense of discipline, responsibility, focus, and strength of character. It gives tenacity, prudence, self-control, and concentration. When harnessed and directed, Saturn can be a positive energy that helps people achieve their aims.

Uranus

Uranus is the planet of transformation and regeneration. It pioneers new ideas and concepts and brings out people’s highest potential. It reveals originality, individuality, and creativity. It also provides a humanitarian outlook and an interest in metaphysical pursuits.

Neptune

Neptune rules our innermost feelings, psychic abilities, sensitivity, and imagination. Its positive traits are receptiveness, intuition, spiritual development, psychic perception, and compassion. It reveals spirituality and humanitarian ideals.

Pluto

Pluto, ruler of the underworld, represents the subconscious in basic astrology. It reveals your capacity for change, regeneration, growth, healing, and knowledge. As it takes Pluto two hundred and fifty years to circle the zodiac, Pluto’s influence has an effect on generations of people, and can influence world conditions.

Like the Sun, the planets visit all of the signs in turn, and the planet and sign combination can be interpreted as a means to understanding astrology. Here are some examples:

If Mercury was in Cancer, you could say, “thinking would be influenced by emotions.”

If Mars was in Capricorn, you might say, “plenty of ambition, with a strong desire to succeed.”

If Jupiter was in Taurus, you might say, “luck in money making ventures. Materialistic approach.”

If Saturn was in Gemini, you might say, “security gained through some form of communication.”

Aspects

The angles between the different planets in a horoscope are called aspects. They are another important concept for understanding basic astrology and can strengthen, weaken, and affect the readings for each planet. There are both favorable and unfavorable aspects. Often a planet can be in a favorable aspect to one or more planets and at the same time be in an unfavorable aspect to others. Interestingly, people use their aspects differently. One person might suffer greatly under the effects of a discordant aspect, while someone else with the exact same aspect will look for the positive energies inside the aspect and work with them.

Favorable Aspects

The favorable aspects emphasize the positive, beneficial energies of the planets. They indicate the areas of life where you can accomplish what you set out to do with little effort. Because of this, many people take them for granted and become lazy. It’s important to work just as hard in these areas as anywhere else to make the most of the blessings you’ve been given. The favorable aspects are:

+ Conjunction: This occurs when two planets are within 8 degrees of each other. The conjunctions usually indicate areas that will show good results.

+ Trine: This occurs when the planets are approximately 120 degrees apart, with a leeway of 8 degrees on either side. The trine is the most fortunate aspect, as the energies of the two planets harmonize easily. This aspect often shows you where your greatest strengths are.

+ Sextile: This occurs when the planets are approximately 60 degrees apart, with a leeway of 8 degrees on either side. This is an “easy” aspect that generally works in your favor without much input from you.

+ Semi-sextile: This occurs when the planets are approximately 30 degrees apart, again with a leeway of 8 degrees on either side. This is also an “easy” aspect. Despite this, you shouldn’t take it for granted in your understanding of astrology, as it indicates areas where you can shine.

Unfavorable Aspects

The unfavorable aspects emphasize the negative characteristics of the planets involved. The unfavorable aspects often motivate people to action, as they want to overcome the challenges and difficulties the particular aspect produces.

+ Opposition: This occurs when the two planets are approximately 180 degrees apart with a leeway of 8 degrees on either side. This is a difficult aspect, and it takes a great deal of effort to overcome any problems it creates.

+ Square: This occurs when the two planets are approximately 90 degrees apart, with a leeway of 8 degrees on either side. This aspect works against your best interests, and it takes a great deal of hard work to eliminate the negativity it creates.

The Houses

There are twelve houses in astrology. They represent the areas of life in which the planets and signs operate. As there are also twelve signs in astrology, it’s easy to think the twelve houses are part of the same wheel or chart. However, this isn’t the case. The signs are dictated by the apparent annual rotation of the Sun, while the houses represent the Earth’s twenty-four hour rotation around its axis.

The planets and signs exhibit their characteristics best in the areas of life dictated by the house they happen to be in. It’s common for a chart to have a number of houses with no planets in them. These houses are still interpreted in basic astrology, but are not as important in the person’s life as houses that contain one or more planets.

First House

This is the house of the self. It’s responsible for the person’s appearance, physical body, vitality, and temperament. It includes likes, dislikes, thoughts, personal activities and interests, and anything else that appeals to the person. The ruler of the first house is Aries.

Second House

This is the house of money, possessions, resources, and feelings. It reveals the person’s ability to earn and to spend. This house is ruled by Taurus.

Third House

This is the house of communications, mental stimulation, short journeys, and relationships, especially brothers and sisters. The third house is ruled by Gemini, the Twins, which relates to the family relationships.

Fourth House

This house represents the home and early childhood. Consequently, it’s usually related to the person’s mother. It is also related to anything that’s private or concealed. This house is ruled by Cancer.

Fifth House

This house governs pleasure, love, creativity, and the element of chance. The fifth house is ruled by Leo.

Sixth House

This is the house of system and order, practical work, and service to others. It is also related to matters concerning health and hygiene. It’s ruled by Virgo.

Seventh House

The seventh house governs partnerships, such as marriage, close friendships, and business partnerships. As this house is involved in bringing people together, it’s also related to enemies, as not every contact can be a happy one. It’s ruled by Libra.

Eighth House

This is the house of death, legacies, possessions that are gained from someone else, strong feelings, and anything that’s hidden. It’s ruled by Scorpio.

Ninth House

The ninth house governs long journeys, higher education, prophecy, and philosophy. It’s ruled by Sagittarius.

Tenth House

The tenth house governs the person’s status, importance, and aspirations. It’s involved with practical matters, security, and the drive to succeed. It’s often related to the father. It is ruled by Capricorn.

Eleventh House

This is the house of humanitarianism, ideals, connections, and casual friendships with people who support a common cause or interest. In traditional understandings of astrology, this is the house of “hopes and wishes.” It’s ruled by Aquarius.

Twelfth House

The twelfth house relates to the occult, the psychic, and the person’s unconscious. It also relates to health problems, and the fact that not everything should be taken at face value. The twelfth house is ruled by Pisces.

Putting It Together

With this information, it’s possible to provide a detailed description of the person’s personality, including his or her strengths and weaknesses, emotions, parental influences, ability to find happiness and fulfilment, lifestyle and career, love and sex. In fact, using these astrology basics, it’s possible to look at a chart and receive information on any aspect of the person’s personality and makeup.

Here’s an example. Let’s assume the chart is for a young man who is thinking of starting his own business. His Sun sign is Taurus, so we know he’s prepared to work hard and expects to receive the rewards of his labor. His Sun is in the second house, a particularly harmonious combination, and one that would certainly help him in business. His Sun is conjunct Venus. This means he’ll be charming and able to get along with others. He’ll be positive and optimistic. Although he’ll be ambitious, this side of his character will be softened, making him less competitive and more relaxed.

His Sun is also trine Saturn in the ninth house. This means he’ll be responsible and ethical. He’ll overcome the difficulties in his life relatively easily and will always try to do what is right. He’s likely to travel extensively.

His Sun is in opposition to Uranus in the seventh house. This means he’ll look at everything from his own personal point of view. He’ll have original ideas, but is likely to need others to help him as he’s impractical. He’ll have a strong desire for independence, which encourages self-employment. Uranus in the seventh house could well indicate a business partnership.

In this example we’ve looked briefly at the Sun and three planets. Imagine the detail an advanced astrologer would find if he or she examined all the planets, all the aspects, and all the houses.

Into the Future

Astrology doesn’t claim to accurately predict the future. However, using a variety of methods, it reveals the influences and tendencies that will appear in the future.

A natal horoscope chart is constructed for someone at the moment of their birth. This chart can be progressed to any time in the future of that person. There are a variety of ways to do this.

Transits

Probably the easiest and most popular way of doing this is to examine the planetary transits. Transits describe the movements of the different planets as they move around the horoscope. You’ll need the person’s natal horoscope (the chart drawn up from their birth data) and a book called an ephemeris. This is a listing of the positions of all the planets on any given date. Ephemerides are also available online. You look at the ephemeris for the particular date you’re interested in and see what planets listed there are in aspect to any of the planets in the birth chart. Most astrologers work with a 1 or 2 degree leeway when doing this, rather than the 8 degrees often used for a natal chart.

Speaking generally, the aspects between the slower moving planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto) are more powerful than the faster moving planets for understanding astrology in this way. This is because the aspects created by faster moving planets exist for only a short period of time. No astrologer would look at the transits created by the Sun or Moon, for instance. The transit created by the Sun lasts for about two and a half days, and the Moon a mere four hours. The transits of the outer planets reveal the trends of a person’s life, while the transits of the inner planets usually indicate an event.

Planetary Returns

A planetary return occurs when a planet returns to the position it was in at the time of the person’s birth. They signify a new cycle of experience is about to start. The planets take varying degrees of time to return to where they were when someone was born:

Jupiter takes approximately twelve years. It’s a time to move forward as there’s considerable potential for achievement and success.

Saturn takes approximately twenty-nine years. It’s a time to reassess one’s life and to change direction, if need be.

Uranus takes eighty-four years. Many people never experience this. Consequently, the half-return at the age of forty-two is examined. It’s a stressful time, but it opens doors for new interests.

Solar Return

In this method a chart is erected when the Sun has returned to the same position it was in the natal chart. Understanding this astrology chart provides insights into the next twelve months. The ascendant of this progressed chart gives a strong clue as to how the person will handle him or herself in the next twelve months. The house the progressed Sun is in indicates the person’s focus for the next year.

A Day for a Year

People often ask astrologers about the trends of their lives. “I seem to be going through a rough patch.” “Back then everything seemed to just fall into place.” “How come I made money so easily last year, but this year it’s a struggle?” We all have ups and downs in our lives. In astrology there’s the concept of “one day for one year” when progressing and understanding an astrology chart. In other words, if you turned thirty-five today, your current astrology chart would show every planet moved forward thirty-five days from the position they were in when you were born. This is an ancient technique that is still used by many astrologers. There are other methods for determining future trends with astrology basics, but the “one day for one year” method is perfect for most needs. It’s a quick and easy way to forecast future trends, and it’s not surprising that many professional astrologers use it.

Horary Astrology

Horary astrology is a method to answer specific questions. A chart is erected for the date, time, and place where the question was asked. The chart is then interpreted to help answer the question.

William Lilly, the seventeenth century English astrologer, used horary astrology most of the time, as many of his clients were not sure when they were born. He wrote a detailed explanation of the technique in his book Christian Astrology.

Mundane Astrology

Mundane astrology isn’t interested in the future of a single person. It focuses on the future of nations, political parties, and world events. A chart is erected for the capital city of a country, or the date of birth of the people most involved, such as a president or prime minister.

Newspaper Astrology

Everyone is familiar with the Sun sign forecasts printed in newspapers and magazines around the world. For some years, I prepared daily horoscopes for a national radio station and was amazed at the amount of positive feedback I received, as I was using nothing but the ten planets and the twelve houses.

If you’re preparing a Sun sign forecast for an Arian, you’d place Aries in the first house, Taurus in the second, and so on. If the person happened to be a Virgo, you’d place Virgo in the first house, Libra in the second, and so on. As the planets travel through the twelve houses, they stimulate the houses they pass through, and this provides the Sun sign astrologers with the basic astrology information they need to prepare their forecasts.

Consequently, if Venus happened to be in the third house, it would enhance all forms of communication and fill it with love and affection. When Uranus is in the third house, it would behave completely differently. You could expect disruptions and other problems in your communications and dealings with others.

The signs the planets are in at any given moment are available online, enabling you to create your own Sun sign readings in much greater detail than you’d find in your daily paper.

This article is excerpted from the book: Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Divination: Your Definitive Source for Learning Predictive & Prophetic Techniques by Richard Webster.

About The Author

Richard Webster was born and raised in New Zealand. He has been interested in the psychic world since he was nine years old. As a teenager, he became involved in hypnotism and later became a professional stage hypnotist. After school, he worked in the publishing business and purchased a bookstore. Richard’s first book was published in 1972, fulfilling a childhood dream of becoming an author. Richard is now the author of over a hundred books and is still writing today. His best-selling books include Spirit Guides & Angel Guardians and Creative Visualization for Beginners. Richard is a past-life specialist and has also taught psychic development classes, which are based on many of his books. He regularly travels the world to give lectures, workshops and to continue his research. Visit his website: richardwebster.co.nz

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