When I was chosen to write this column on Astrology, it was known that I was not an expert, but that my sharing my studies and fascination of Astrology could be helpful to those wanting to better understand how astrology can be a useful tool in their lives. So, where to begin?? One thing I know for sure is that you only have one Sun sign, and it may not be the sign you think.
When you look at your daily newspaper horoscope each morning over coffee, it appears the change from one sign to another occurs neatly at midnight. However, this is simply not the case. The Sun sign changes when the Sun moves into the next Zodiac zone. On December 21, 2013, the sun will move from Sagittarius into Capricorn at 12:11 pm Eastern Time. So babies that are born that day are not all Sagittarius. The morning babies will be Sagittarius and the evening babies will be Capricorn. So if you think you are on a cusp based on the generally accepted date division between signs, we can settle the debate with birth chart or looking up data in the American Ephemeris. In order to have an accurate birth chart calculated, the date, time and place of birth is needed. If time of day is not known, it can be calculated by a good astrologer. The time of day and place of birth is used not only in determining the placement of planets in the appropriate zodiac sign but most especially in determining the Ascendant or Rising sign which is the zodiac sign on the horizon at the time of birth. Besides the Sun sign, the Rising sign can be very important, since this sign represents how one presents themselves to the world. Astrologers often recommend that you read the Rising sign horoscope as well as your Sun sign.
Astrology is the study of the stars, skies or more appropriately the study of the heavens. Per Webster’s Dictionary 1986, astrology is the “divination of the supposed influences of the stars and planets on human affairs and terrestrial events by their positions and aspects”. Simply put, astrology is the study of the heavenly movement as it influences those on earth with earthly elements, qualities and polarities.
An astrological chart consists of four components: Planets, Signs, Houses and Aspects. Each component represents a different level of human experience. The “planets” include the Sun and Earth’s Moon, along with eight planets. The “signs” are named after twelve constellations representing a segment or zone of the Zodiac belt or “circle of animals” through which “planets” appear to move. Zodiac means the circle of “animals. The twelve “houses” are also associated with the twelve “signs” though simply named First house, Second House through the Twelfth house. “Aspects” are the angular relationships of planets within a chart along the Zodiac zones, resulting in trines, squares, oppositions, and so on.
The chart is a circular depiction, divided into twelve zodiac zones of 30 degrees each for a complete 360 degree view of the terrestrial positions from beyond the planets with planet Earth in the center. The chart looks like a pie cut into twelve pieces with the “birth” place, date and time on Earth representing the exact center, pictured from outer-space so that the twelve “signs” are presented in counterclockwise order, so that East is to the left and North is to the bottom. The First house is always shown at 9 o’clock on the clock dial and the Second house at 8 o’clock, continuing counterclockwise until the Twelfth house is between 10 and 9 o’clock. This pictorial image is a very helpful tool while trying to remember all the signs and house and their makeup.
Planets rule signs, and signs rule houses. These rulings influence the human experience. The overall “natural” wheel of life is shown through the progression of houses, planets and signs. Similar to a Medicine wheel or a Tarot card deck, the human journey from childhood to elder is revealed in the houses and signs that rule them around the Zodiac belt. The house is what area of life we are experiencing and the sign is how we approach that experience. However, before we can get into all that, we need to understand the building blocks of astrology.
The twelve signs each have one of four elements (Fire, Earth, Air or Water), one of three qualities (Cardinal, Fixed or Mutable) and one of two polarities (Feminine or Masculine). Western Astrology is also known as Tropical Zodiac. The Summer Solstice starts the first day of Cancer. The Fall Equinox starts the first day of Libra and Winter Solstice starts the first day of Capricorn. The Zodiac is divided into these four seasons with each season having three signs. The first sign in each season has a Cardinal quality of initiative and action, which is appropriate as each sign “initiates” the start of a new season. The second sign in each season has a Fixed quality of steadfast, consistent and loyal. Being the sign in the middle of the season, it neither starts nor changes. The third and last sign in each season has a Mutable quality of changeable and flexible as in ready to “change” to next season. Each of the four Cardinal signs are one of the four elements, as is each of the four Fixed signs and each of the four Mutable signs. Fire element is energetic and passionate. The Earth element is tangible, material and practical. The Air element is intellectual, communicative and interactive. The Water element is emotional, feeling and sensitive.
Every other sign is either a Feminine energy (draws to self, introvert, negative) or a Masculine energy (puts out, outgoing, positive) starting with masculine Aries.
Sign House Planet Element Quality Polarity Season
Aries 1st Mars Fire Cardinal Masculine Spring
Taurus 2nd Venus Earth Fixed Feminine Spring
Gemini 3rd Mercury Air Mutable Masculine Spring
Cancer 4th Moon Water Cardinal Feminine Summer
Leo 5th Sun Fire Fixed Masculine Summer
Virgo 6th Mercury Earth Mutable Feminine Summer
Libra 7th Venus Air Cardinal Masculine Autumn
Scorpio 8th Pluto Water Fixed Feminine Autumn
Sagittarius 9th Jupiter Fire Mutable Masculine Autumn
Capricorn 10th Saturn Earth Cardinal Feminine Winter
Aquarius 11th Uranus Air Fixed Masculine Winter
Pisces 12th Neptune Water Mutable Feminine Winter
Please note that all the signs with Air and Fire elements have a Masculine polarity and all the signs with Earth and Water elements have a Feminine polarity.
Planetary qualities are Personal, Social or Outer. The Personal planets are those closest to the sun. They include the Sun (self, shining, life force), Mercury (communication, how one thinks), Moon (emotions, nurture, “I need”), Venus (value, relationships, expression, “spirit into form”) and Mars (assertive, aggressive, control over physical, projection, sexuality, “form into spirit”). The Social planets are Jupiter (expression, expansive, teachings, optimistic) and Saturn (responsibility, boundary, rules, pessimistic). The Outer planets are those not visible from earth without assistance. They include Uranus (individual, independent, inventive, “receiving from both worlds”), Neptune (spirituality, escapism, inner connectedness, empathy) and Pluto (death and rebirth, transformation, possessive).
Some planets rule more than one sign and house and in fact, before discovery of Neptune, Uranus and Pluto, these visible planets were assumed to rule all the signs and the older signs are still considered to be dually ruled, which we will discuss further next month when we delve deeper into the heavens with planetary explanations and the planet and sign symbols or glyphs. Until next month, may the heavens be kind and your holidays be shiny and bright. – Cindy