• What is astrology?  How does it work?  How can it help me?

    By Sharon Knight. M.A.  Q.H.P.  F.A.P.A.I.

    Astrology is the study and interpretation of the motions of the planets as viewed from earth against a belt of stars known as the zodiac.  Since time immemorial, astrology has been used to try to predict and explain events that occur on earth.

    Most people know of astrology through the sun or star sign columns in newspapers or magazines. The question is often raised as to how people born in a certain month are all affected by the same events.  The Sun is only a minor part of the story and media astrologers are constrained by both space and time as to what they can write in the press.

    It is not known how astrology arose or how it spread. Throughout recorded time it was generally accepted that the planets acted as indications of the thoughts and will of God(s) and it was up to mankind to decide on his course of action and whether by his actions he pleased or displeased his God(s).

    A system was postulated using the seven moving stars or planets as they shifted their position in relation to the earth and to one another against the fixed backdrop of the stars that made up the 12 constellations of the Tropical Zodiac.  The nature of the influence exerted by the planets depends on their geometric aspect to one another and to the earth.  The astronomer would draw a map of the heavens and assess the implications of the planetary aspects. With the requisite astronomical knowledge he could plot the course of the planets far in advance and thereby predict the likely effects the heavens would exert some time in the future.

    Whilst providing answers, astrology is not a “cure all”.  Everyone has free will according to their individual circumstances and it is down to the individual to make the most of what they have.  As Shakespeare said, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves.”

    The Mechanics of Astrology: There are twelve signs of the Zodiac. Each sign is ruled by one of seven traditional planets. In the chart, there are twelve segments or sections referred to as ‘Houses.’  Each “house”, rules an area of life, and is “coloured” by the zodiacal sign it contains and the planet that “rules” that sign. By combining the symbolism of the signs, the planets and the houses astrologers can assess and ‘interpret’ the chart.

    The Houses: The chart is divided into twelve segments or sections.  Each section is called a house and they are numbered anticlockwise from 1 –12.  An easy way to visualise the layout of a chart is the Sun rises in the East and reaches its highest point at the top of the chart which is South, the setting point is the West and midnight is in the North.  Each house is taken to represent different aspects of life.  There are various methods for arriving at the house positions.  All systems agree that the starting point of the First house is known as the Ascendant or Rising Sign.  Unless one is born at Dawn or within an hour or so, it is quite likely that this sign will be different to your ‘sun sign.’ The Rising sign or Ascendant, colours the way people view us.  It can be perceived as the front door to our home. Some have red doors, you can’t miss them, others have golden doors, they shine brightly, others may have muted colours, you may miss them and still others can be rainbow coloured.

    The Planets:  Up until the 1700’s, astrologers used the seven planets that could be seen traversing the sky with the naked eye.  From these seven planets we gained the names of the days of the week, Sunday was the day of the Sun, Monday, the day of the Moon, Tuesday was given to Mars, Wednesday to Mercury, Thursday belonged to Jupiter, Friday was Venus’s day and Saturday was Saturn’s day.

    With the discovery of the so-called ‘outer planets’ namely Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, astrologers ascribed ‘modern’ developments to their control. Uranus has dominion over Electricity and Uranium and everything connected with these elements. Neptune is associated with films, gas and things that are not quite what they seem using modern techniques. Pluto is associated with Plutonium and oil.  However, for ease of delineation, classical astrology uses the traditional seven naked eye planets, namely the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. These seven planets have traditional meanings, which are modified, according to the house of the chart in which they fall. Each planet will also signify people, places, directions, animals and herbs. For instance, if we look at a few of the meanings ascribed to the Sun; the Sun stands for the light of life.  It is the flame within. The symbol of the Sun also represents Kings, Emperors, and Noblemen. Of metals it is Gold, of herbs and flowers it signifies those of a yellow or gold colour. Of animals, the Lion. The planet Saturn on the other hand, represents old people, as well as those in authority, such as policemen or judges. In general Saturn represents old age and bones. Its metal is Lead and it is a fact that old people contain more lead in their bones than young or middle aged.  It has a dark colour and represents mountainous regions.

    As mentioned earlier, all the planets are coloured by the zodiacal sign and house of the chart in which they are placed and which they rule. For example, having your ninth house ruled by a planet in the first, links issues of the ninth (travel, education, religious, philosophical or spiritual ideas are ninth house matters), and the first (first house shows those issues which are most important for your happiness).  This would indicate that travel relating to educational or religious matters would be important to you.

    After the positions of the planets have been plotted and placed in their signs and houses on the chart, the astrologer looks at the relationships between the planets according to their geometric aspects.

    Aspects: There are 3600 in a chart wheel. Depending how many degrees the planets are apart from one another,  gives their aspect. Planets that are 1800 apart are in opposition. They are pulling against one another. There is some stress and striving involved.  Planets that are 900 apart are said to be in square.  Once again this is an aspect indicating work and stress.  Planets with 1200 between them are known as in ‘trine.’  This is an easy aspect and indicates harmony, however, it can be too easy and golden opportunities could pass you by!  The other easy aspect is the sextile and this is when planets are 600 apart.  We all need a certain amount of stress in order to help us achieve our goals.  There is one other aspect and that is known as the conjunction. This is when two planets share the same degree of the natal wheel.  Every month, the Moon conjoins the Sun and so produces the New Moon. Approximately 14 days later, she opposes the Sun at 1800 and this aspect produces the Full Moon.  When two or more planets come together, they join forces and marry their strengths as one.

    Other factors are taken into account such as ‘Fixed Stars’ and positions of planets near to the Ecliptic. The Ecliptic is the line traced by the Sun as it moves across the heavens. When the Sun and Moon are within so many degrees of this path, they will ‘Eclipse’ one another.

    When all these parts are taken together and assessed, we come to the interpretation of the chart. These interpretations relate to the type of chart under investigation and because interpreting a chart is an ‘Art, readings will differ between astrologers.  The scientific basis of astrology lies only in the astronomical positions of the planets in relation to the Earth and to one another. Therefore, as in all things, commonsense should prevail over everything!

    There is one further consideration to be taken into account: –

    You may have come across various types of in depth personality analysis such as Myers Brigg, Tetra Mapping etc., Jung had his four archetypes but, the Astrological chart was the original personality indicator.

    In Classical astrology, the temperament of the individual was the main factor.  The astrological temperament indicates how one approaches life, one’s relationships and even the sort of illness one could be susceptible to. Classical Astrology, unlike Modern Astrology, does not approach an astrological chart from a psychological point of view. The style is more predictive and down to earth.  Astrology can be seen as the original  life coaching tool.

    Natal or sun sign astrology is just one branch of this ancient subject.  Each person is shaped by his or her ancestral heritage and this always has to be taken into account.  Fate is not preordained. We all have free will and it is up to each person how he or she can maximise the promise/potential described in their chart.

    Forecasting:  Methods of projecting the horoscope into the future may include:

    Following the current motion of the planets through the zodiac called transits, and relating them to factors in the natal chart. Or, using some mathematical formula to symbolically project the chart into the future called progressions or directions. Extra charts may be cast for the moment of the cyclical return of the sun or a planet to the same position as at birth, known as return charts.  Other charts may be cast for the moment of new and full moons or the moment of equinoxes and solstices or the conjunctions and other phases of planetary cycles.

    Astrology can be viewed as a tool for navigation.  It can help a person discover and appreciate their creative potential and use it for self-growth. It can also pinpoint times of likely change and help deal with them most effectively.

    Traditional Astrology. This branch of astrology covers all the many fields of astrology whether it is Mundane astrology (relating to world events), Medical astrology, Vocational astrology and so forth. Traditional astrology has its own set of rules and uses only the traditional seven planets in delination. When applied to natal astrology, it is much more succinct and assesses the temperament of the individual, as opposed to the character. By using the temperament structures (which have been in use since Galenic times), diets, interests and even tendencies to certain diseases can be assessed.  It is also useful when considering how an individual may relate and react to events in their life. This system of temperaments is apparently used by some Steiner institutions when working out the best educational program for each individual child.

    You can use astrology to answer certain questions. This is known as Horary astrology. (click on Horary and Electional). You can work out the most auspicious time on which to embark on a project – Electional astrology. You can look at the correspondences between two or more people, or entities, this is known as Synastry. There is also Astrometeorology (predicting the weather), not to mention Hindu Astrology or Chinese astrology.  There is a branch of astrology to cover most events in life and the world!

    Astrology cannot show whether the chart is for a male or female. Neither does it show if it is a chart for a moment of birth of a human being, an ape, a plant, or an idea! Astrology cannot promise what is not shown in the chart. Ultimately one’s life and fate rests in ones hands. It is up to each individual what they choose to make of their lives and the opportunities that present themselves. Astrology cannot solve problems. Only the individual can do this or, change their attitude to the problem, so that it becomes a means of growing, or developing acceptance of life itself.