BY Steven Southwell - Contributor

How Astrology Works

The natal horoscope is a map of the planets’ positions within the zodiac at the precise moment of your birth. It is believed that when you were born, the planetary energies, arising from their various locations within the zodiac, formed an imprint on your soul.

This is believed to have happened at the moment when the top of your head (the location of the crown chakra ) was initially exposed to the atmosphere. These energies (the various vibrations of the celestial bodies) combined to form your basic personality and physical makeup.

After you are born, as the planets continue to move, they periodically make certain critical angles to the planetary positions within your natal chart. This happens in two major ways: First, astrologers have determined that the planets’ positions for each day after your birth represent the themes for each succeeding year of your life. This is called the “progressed horoscope”.

It measures how your life progresses on a year by year basis. For example, if your were born on March 28, 1955, we would draw up a chart of the planetary positions on March 29th, 1955 to get the progressed horoscope for the year when you were one year old. The planetary positions on March 30, 1955 would represent your second year of life, the planetary positions on April 1, 1955 would represent your third year of life, etc.

When a progressed planet forms a critical angle (or “aspect”) to a planet in the natal chart, it is believed indicate a time when certain changes or events related to the aspect will occur within the person or within his or her environment. In addition to the progressed to natal aspects, astrologers also look at the progressed to progressed aspects. How do we predict the approximate time frame when this will occur? By looking at the next factor: “the transits”.

The transits are the planetary positions as the appear today. As a transiting planet forms an aspect to a planet in the natal or progressed chart, events are triggered off. These are usually most pronounced when a transiting planet is stimulating an active progressed to natal aspect.

In review, the natal chart is a map of the heavens at the precise moment of your birth. This reflects your basic, personality patterns, your strengths, and your weaknesses. As your life unfolds, we can look at the basic yearly themes by interpreting the progressed chart and its relation to the natal chart in the form of the aspects that are made.

Finally, we look at the transits which are where the planets are today, or on any given day of interest. Transiting aspects act as triggers which help astrologers predict when events are likely to unfold.

Does all of this mean that every facet of your life is molded and preset in a fateful way over which you have no control? The answer is a definate “No!” These influences form the ‘basic’ temperament of your personality and the ‘general’ trends you are likely to face as you complete your spiritual evolution.

How these traits form throughout your life is determined through factors such as the choices you make and the type of environment you are raised in. Your reaction to the planetary energies, through the use of your ‘free will’ determines the kind of changes that will result.

The goal of natal astrology is to help you get in tune with your basic temperaments, your inner strengths and your limitations as revealed in the natal chart. The goal of predictive astrology, the progressions and transits, is to identify the factors that are most active within the natal chart at any given time in your life.

This knowledge can then provide guidance, which can help you live a fuller, more productive life by providing an avenue through which you can reach a higher stage of development.

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How To Read the Natal Chart

In order to gain a stronger grasp on the information in this section, it is suggested that you have a printed out copy of a natal chart to look at. If you do not currently have a copy available, you can obtain a free natal chart which you will be able to print out from the astrodienst website.

Looking at your natal chart, you can see that it is in the shape of a wheel. The center of the wheel represents the earth. Since we look at the signs and planets in relation to the earth, most forms of astrology are done geocentrically (or earth centered).

Sure, we all know that the Sun is really the center of the Solar System, but most systems of astrology adhere to the geocentric method since we experience the planetary energies in relation to our position on earth.

Outside of the inner circle are the 12 houses, each corresponding to a department of life. For example: the first house represents your outward personality, the second house represents your material possessions, the third house represents your daily communications, etc.  Each house is separated by a line called a cusp.

On the cusp of each house appears a symbol, or glyph, which represents the sign of the zodiac that it falls in. The characteristics of this sign , along with the planet that rules the sign, it’s aspects, and any other planets that are located within will color the influence of this house.

Within the houses are the glyphs of the planets and their location; listed by the degrees and minutes of the sign where they appeared in the zodiac at the moment of your birth. This is known as the planet’s celestial longitude. Each of these planets represents a certain type of energy. For example: Venus represents the manner in which you attract others and your money making ability.

Mars represents how you like to use your energy and how you assert yourself, the Moon represents your basic emotional response and ability to nurture, etc. This energy is affected by the influence of the sign it is in. This combined influence, effects the area of the person’s (or native’s) life represented by the house where it is located. For example, Mercury stands for communication. Pisces stands for Compassion.

If Mercury is in the sign of Pisces, we have someone who communicates compassionately. Furthermore, if Mercury is in the person’s sixth house (the house of ones work) we can say that this person communicates compassionately within the work environment. This could be a likely placement for a vocation such as a psychologist or counselor.

Other factors used in the interpretation of the natal chart include the aspects between the planets, the ascendant (the cusp of the first house) and the Midheaven (the cusp of the tenth house); the planets that rule the sign on each house; aspect configurations (special combinations of multiple aspects which have significance); the number of planets in each element, mode and polarity; the number of planets in the top/bottom half of the chart, and the number of planets in the left/right half of the chart.

By blending and interpreting this infinite combination of patterns, astrologers are able to decipher the astrological influences which reveal the uniqueness of each individual person.

The Elements

The four traditional elements of creation are fire, earth, air, and water. These are the forms of matter, as observed by the ancients thousands of years ago. In astrology, each element corresponds to a series of three signs of the zodiac. As a result, the elements are also known as the “triplicities”. Each family of signs shares the qualities unique to that element. Fire signs are energetic. Earth signs are practical. Air signs are intellectual. Water signs are emotional.

Each element and its associated signs is listed below:

Fire: Aries, Leo, Sagittarius
Earth: Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn
Air: Gemini, Libra, Aquarius
Water: Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces

The Fire Signs

Fire signs are exciteable, energetic, and outgoing. They like to be active and ‘on the go’. They can be creative, forceful and aggressive They like physical activities.

People who have a lot of fire in their natal chart tend to have boundless energy. Too much fire may make them restless, aggressive, easy to anger.

People who have little, or no fire in their natal chart are just the opposite. They may be lethargic and passive. Perhaps timid.

The Earth Signs

Earth signs are practical. They work hard in order to attain material goods. Their actions are usually planned out and deliberate, geared towards the accomplishment of a specific purpose.

People with a lot of earth emphasis in their natal chart tend to be dependable and reliable. They may be slow to form opinions, but once an opinion is made, they will stubbornly adhere to their beliefs. They are extremely hard-working and mundane in their affairs.

People with little or no earth in their natal charts may appear to be unrealistic, impractical or flighty. They normally do not have much machanical ability.

The Air Signs

Air signs are intellectual. They like to communicate and are geared towards logic. Unlike earth signs, they are more concerned with ideas than with material things. Air signs are flighty. They are not very sentimental or emotional. They maintain a high degree of dexterity and are capable of completing several tasks at the same time. They are always seeking to learn.

People with a lot of air in their natal chart tend to be inquisitive and high strung. They are very talkative and are quick witted. They like to communicate but may not show deep committment towards their relationships.

People with little or no air in their natal chart are more simple in their thinking patterns. They may not be very interested in anything related to education or of an intellectual pursuit.

The Water Signs

Water signs are emotional and sensitive. They are intuitive, psychic and contemplative. They tend to conform to their surroundings and have much depth to their character. They are capable of great passion and are attuned to the subtle influences of their surroundings.

People with a lot of water emphasis in their natal chart are extremely sensitive and may withdraw from their surroundings in order to protect themselves. They display much empathy and can be compassionate to those in need. At times they may be influenced by unrealistic or deceptive thoughts arising from within or from others.

People with little or no water in their natal chart lack emotion. They may be insensitive to the effects of their behavior on others. They may be out of touch with their inner feelings and have difficulty dealing with them.


The Modes

The modes express the way the native channels his or her behavior. There are three modes: cardinal, fixed, and mutable. Each mode consists of four signs of the zodiac. Therefore, the modes are also known as the quadruplicities.

The cardinal modality consists of the signs Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn.

The fixed modality consists of the signs Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius.

The mutable modality consists of the signs Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces.

The Cardinal Modality

Cardinal signs (Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn) are forceful and pushy. They seek to start things and forge ahead. They are active, restless and are ready to take advantage of new opportunites. The cardinal signs correspond to the beginning of the seasons. Aries brings in Spring, Cancer brings in Summer, Libra brings in Autumn, and Capricorn brings in Winter.

People with a strong cardinal emphasis in their natal chart are like a new born baby experiencing the beginning of life. They seek out new experiences. However, the cardinal signs do not have much staying power, they tend to get bored easily. As a result, they often leave things unfinished as they keep going on to start something new.

People who have a lack of cardinal influence in their natal chart tend to lack drive. They are happy just observing or just “being”.

The Fixed Modality

Fixed signs (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, Aquarius) are steadfast. They stick with a task until it is completed to their satisfaction. They are focused and have tremendous staying power. The fixed signs correspond to the middle of the seasons. Taurus represents the height if Spring, Leo represents the height of summer, Scorpio represents the height of Autumn, and Aquarius represents the height of Winter.

People with a strong fixed emphasis in their natal chart tend to be set in their ways. They are unlikely to change their opinion on things and show strong determination. With such strong and focused energy, they may be seen as being very powerful.

People with a lack of fixed emphasis in their natal chart tend to have a hard time maintaining stability and structure in their lives. They may lack focus and have difficulty finishing what they have started.

The Mutable Modality

Mutable signs (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, Pisces) are adaptable. They adapt to changing circumstances easily. The mutable signs correspond to the end of the seasons. They mark the end of things when we are preparing to move on to the next stage in our lives. Gemini marks the end of Spring, Virgo marks the end of Summer, Sagittarius marks the end of Autumn, and Pisces marks the end of Winter.

People with a strong mutable emphasis in their natal chart adapt easily to changing circumstances. Because of their adaptability, they may appear to be unstable and easily influenced by factors in their environment.

These people like variety and may work on multiple tasks. Unlike the cardinal signs, they usually finish what they start. However, they may put it aside for a while as they jump around from one activity to the next.

People with a lack of mutable influence in their natal chart know their goals. However, they may be uncooperative and insist that others conform to their way of thinking. They may be seen as controlling and coercive.

The Polarities

There are two major forms of energy: Positive energy and negative energy.

Positive energy, also known as masculine or yang, is extroverted and outgoing. It actively reaches out to create new relationships. It goes after what it wants. It is active. The fire signs (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius) and the air signs (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius) belong to the positive polarity.

Negative energy, also known as feminine or yin, is receptive. It does not go after its target. It attempts to attract the target to itself. Femine energy is passive. It wants to sit back and observe. It wants to attract. The earth signs (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn) and water signs (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces) belong to the negative polarity.

Some people think that positive signs are better than negative signs, as you would assume the names imply. People also think that masculine energy is stronger than feminine energy. This is not the case.

The terms ‘yin’ and ‘yang’ more effectively describe this process. Yang (positive, masculine) energy merely reaches out, and yin (negative, feminine) energy merely takes in. No one type is better or stronger than the other. They just have different styles which compliment each other.

Signs Of the Zodiac

The zodiac consists of the twelve constellations that fall on the ecliptic. The ecliptic is the path of the Sun’s ‘apparent’ motion around the Earth. These signs, which form a circle around the earth, consist of 30 degrees each, totaling 360 degrees. Over thousands of years, astrologers have noticed that people who were born when the Sun was traveling through a given sign of the zodiac would share similar traits.

For example, people born when the Sun is traveling through Aries tend to be energetic, courageous, and assertive. People born when the sun was traveling through Virgo tend to be modest, analytical, and critical.

The Zodiac begins with zero degrees of Aries, which is the point where the Sun is on the day of the spring equinox. Each sign of the zodiac is listed below in its proper order with a few keywords which describe it’s characteristics.

The symbols (or glyphs) for each sign of the zodiac as they are written in the horoscope appear in the side bar.

(Click The Links to learn more about the sign)

Aries: energetic, courageous, bold, takes the initiative.

Taurus: practical, patient, reliable, obstinate.

Gemini: intellectual, communicative, nervous, rational.

Cancer: nurturing, sentimental, persistent, moody, sensitive.

Leo: dramatic, creative, likes to be the center of attention, proud.

Virgo: efficient, practical, critical, modest, analytical.

Libra: social, charming, balanced, diplomatic, harmonious.

Scorpio: intense, deep, secretive, compulsive, mysterious.

Sagittarius: generous, opinionated, philosophical,optimistic.

Capricorn: serious, conservative, cautious, ambitious, responsible.

Aquarius: humanitarian, unconventional, detached, rebellious.

Pisces: emotional, compassionate, idealistic, spiritual, impressionable.

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Planets in Astrology

The planets form the primary energies in astrology. The astrological planets consist of the nine traditional planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, plus the Sun and Moon.

In astrology, the Sun and Moon are considered planets. They are treated this way because their astrological behavior is same as the behavior of a traditional planet. One theory of astrology is that the planets represent the main forces of energy.

This energy is modified by the sign it is traveling through at the time. This influence then is manifested in the area of the native’s life represented by the house where the planet and sign are located. Each of the major planets used in astrology are listed below with a description of the energies they represent. Each planet’s symbol (glyph) as written in the horoscope is listed on the sidebar.

(Click The Links to learn more about the planet)

Sun: ego, vitality, ability to use authority, men (in a woman’s chart), the father, will power.

Moon: emotions, automatic response, ability to nurture, mother, women (in a man’s chart), the public, the unconscious mind.

Mercury: communication, intellect, speaking, hearing, writing, short journeys, perceptions, the conscious mind.

Venus: relationships, harmony, attractiveness, diplomacy, possessions, love, beauty, art, femininity.

Mars: energy, action, conquest, assertiveness, cuts, heat, wars, sex drive, danger, anger, masculinity.

Jupiter: expansiveness, generosity, wisdom, philosophy, religion, humor, extravagance.

Saturn: structure, form, limitations, fear, obstacles, time, old age, serious, loss, contracts, self-discipline, restraint.

Uranus: sudden change, originality, electricity, revolutionary, humanitarian, individuality, intuition, detached.

Neptune: spirituality, deception, illusion, drugs, dreams, idealism, confusion..

Pluto: transformation, degeneration, coercion, hidden forces, the sex act, extremes, elimination, reform.


Houses In Astrology

The natal chart is broken into twelve compartments (or houses) which are areas of space, each corresponding to the twelve signs of the zodiac. As stated earlier, the zodiac consists of a series of twelve constellations, which appear to surround the earth along the ecliptic.

As the earth rotates on its axis, the signs of the zodiac appear to move around the earth at a rate of approximately 1 degree every four minutes. If you look at the eastern horizon at sunrise on the first day of spring, you would see the constellation of Aries. Two hours later, if you could see the stars in the daylight, you would see that Taurus would be on the horizon.

This would continue, with a new sign rising on the eastern horizon every two hours, until sunrise of the following day when Aries would again be on the eastern horizon. Every 30 days or so, as the Sun’s position in the zodiac advances, at a rate of approximately 1 degree per day, a new sign would be rising on the eastern horizon at sunrise.

As a result of these motions; the rotation of the earth on its axis every 24 hours, and the apparent orbit of the Sun at approximately 1 degree per day, different signs will appear on the house cusps for different people depending on two factors: the time of the day the native was born, and the day of the year that the native was born.

Each house in the horoscope pertains to certain areas of the native’s life. Some houses represent only one or two areas, other houses represent several areas. A description of each house and the affairs it rules is listed below:

(Click The Links to learn more about the house)

1st House: your outward personality, your physical characteristics. The first house is also known as the ascendant.

2nd House: money, material possessions, your values and self-esteem.

3rd House: daily communications, short journeys, siblings, lower learning.

4th House: home, early childhood upbringing, the nurturing parent (usually the mother), old age. The fourth house is also known as the Nadir, I.C. or Imum Coeli.

5th House: pleasures, romance, creativity, drama, children.

6th House: work, service, health.

7th House: marriage, partnerships, close friends, open enemies. The seventh house is also known as the descendant.

8th House: your partner’s belongings, shared resources, wills, legacies, death, sex, support given to or received from others.

9th House: higher learning, philosophy, religion, law, long journeys.

10th House: career, public image, status, bosses, the authoritative parent (usually the father). The tenth house is also known as the Midheaven, M.C., or Medium Coeli

11th House: friends, hopes, wishes.

12th House: the hidden (unconscious) mind, secret enemies, self-undoing, institutions, hospitals, prisons, asylums.

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Aspects in Astrology

Another factor that influences the interpretation of an astrological chart is the aspects. Aspects are formed when two or more planets form one of several critical angles. When this happens, their energies flow back and forth between each other, creating an effect in the native’s personality or environment.

As the faster moving planet moves closer to the slower moving planet it is about to form an aspect with, it approaches a critical point where the influence of the aspect will gradually begin to take effect.

As the faster planet contunues to move closer, the influence of the aspect grows stronger and stronger until it peaks. This happens when the exact degree is reached which makes the aspect “perfect”. After this, the aspect’s influence weakens as the planet continues to travel until it leaves the critical zone.

This critical zone is called the “orb” of the aspect. Astrologer’s opinions on orbs vary. Generally an orb of 8 degrees is used for major aspects and an orb of 2 degrees is used for minor aspects. An approaching aspect tends to be stronger than a seperating aspect.

There are two major groupings of aspects: soft aspects, which indicate a compatible, or harmonious flow of energy; and hard aspects, which indicate a difficult flow of energy.

Although, traditionally, people would consider a soft aspect good and a hard aspect bad, this is no longer considered the case. Both kinds of aspects have positive and negative characteristics. A predominance of soft aspects may indicate a lot of natural talent and a harmonious nature, however, they can also indicate a person who is prone towards laziness, who may lack motivation and accomplish little in life.

They may be so comfortable with themselves and their environment that they don’t want to move. A predominance of hard aspects, on the other hand, may cause the native to experience tension and distress, but if this energy is handled effectively, it will provide the person with drive and motivation needed to get things done.

Many people who are very successful in life have a significant amount of hard aspects in their natal chart.

Also, because we have free will, there is nothing in a person’s chart that cannot be overcome through the application of willpower. As a matter of fact, facing the challenges presented in one’s natal chart and learning how to channel the energies in a constructive and productive way is how we grow and evolve.

The natal chart does not dictate a fatalistic lifestyle, it provides us with an in depth knowledge of our strengths and weaknesses so that we can work with them, thereby turning our weaknesses into strengths as our life progresses.

The following page has a list of the aspects and some keywords describing how each aspect works. The major aspects are listed first, followed by the minor aspects.

Major Aspects:

These are the strongest type of aspects, which will normally have a more significant influence than the minor aspects listed below:

    1. Conjunction (0 degrees): “Prominence.” Combines the energies of the planets that are involved.

Can be a hard or soft aspect depending on the combination of planets and the aspects made to the conjunction by other planets in the chart.

    1. Sextile (60 degrees): “Opportunity.” Provides a chance for a potential benefit relating to the energies of the planets involved. However, the native needs to consciously apply them in order to gain benefit. A soft aspect.


    1. Square (90 degrees): “Obstacle, Problem.” Creates a strong tension between the planets that are involved. A challenge that needs to be overcome. A hard aspect.


    1. Trine (120 degrees): “Ease.” The trining planets share their energies naturally, with harmony. The trine is said to be the most harmonious of aspects. A soft aspect.


    1. Opposition (180 degrees): Creates a sense of conflict. You find yourself at one end or the other. Like a tug-of-war. The opposition is resolved by learning how to balance the energies of the opposing planets. A hard aspect.


Minor aspects:

These aspects normally create an influence, but not as strong as the major aspects unless they are exact.

    1. Semisextile (30 degrees): Provides opportunity for ‘growth’. Like the sextile, the native needs to consciously apply these powers in order to gain benefit. Traditionally, a soft aspect.


    1. Semi-square (45 degrees): Causes ‘friction’ between the energies of the planets involved. A minor irritation. A hard aspect.


    1. Quintile(72 degrees): Denotes ‘talent’. A soft aspect.


    1. Sesquisquare or Sesquiquadrate (135 degrees): Creates a sense of ‘agitation’ between the energies of the planets involved. A hard aspect.


    1. Quincunx or Inconjunct (150 degrees): Creates an urge to make ‘adjustments’. The native feels an urge to compromise in order to satisfy the urges related to each planet. This creates a feeling of “ought” or “should”. The inconjunct (or quincunx) has recently caught more attention and is starting to be considered a major aspect by many astrologers.


This is jsut the begining of learning about astrology, as the weeks and month go by we will be emailing you more information to take you from novice to professional in no time in the mean time

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