When most of us think of astrology, we think about our natal signs and not much else. Do we know what some of the major influences are, though, that define these Zodiac signs?
First and foremost is the Sun. It is the centre of all life and represents a person's personality and spirit. The Moon, on the other hand, gives us our Soul. The Moon is the ruling planet of the Zodiac sign Cancer. It is very much associated with the mother and with maternal instincts. In Chinese astrology, the Moon represents Yin, while the Sun represents Yang.
Mercury rules over Gemini and Virgo. It is the planet of the mind and of communication. In other words, it is the planet of the idea and the means to communicate the idea. The planet Venus rules over Taurus and Libra. Venus is associated with characteristics and principles of harmony and beauty. It is, of course, concerned with love. It is also concerned with the pleasure we derive from personal possessions.
Mars is the ruling planet for the dynamic Aries, and to some astrologers, Scorpio, although modern astrologers now determine that Pluto is the ruler of Scorpio. Mars is the planet that is concerned with the things we want, and how we go about getting those things. Jupiter is associated with pleasure and enjoyment. It is the ruler of Sagittarius and is also associated with principles of growth, religion and higher education.
Saturn is the ruling planet of Capricorn and is associated with principles such as reality and restrictions, boundaries and rules. Saturn was traditionally the ruler of Aquarius until the discovery of the planet Uranus. Neptune is the ruling planet of Pisces and is associated with deception, illusions, spirituality and psychic phenomena. The planet Pluto is the ruling planet of Scorpio and is associated with the concept of transformation.
The 12 signs of the Zodiac are separated into 4 elements: Fire, Earth, Air and Water. By examining the different planets in these signs astrologers draw an in-depth profile analysis of a subject.
Fire: Aries, Leo, Sagittarius. People with fire signs are explosive, volatile, and energetic. They are leaders, inventors and adventurers. Their weaknesses are the tendency of doing their work to their extremes and burning themselves out. The Fire attributes are best to be counterbalanced by Earth signs.
Earth: Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn. People with Earth signs are practical, cautious and reliable. If they are lacking (few Earth signs) they lack imagination and creativity.
Air: Gemini, Libra, Aquarius. Air signs are responsible for intellectual activity, thought and philosophy. People who possess many planets in the Air signs are good planners. Without Air signs, subjects may have difficulty in communication, and be weak in artistic inclination. The excess of planets in Air signs are best to be counterbalanced by planets in the Water signs.
Water: Cancer, Scorpio,Pisces. These are emotional signs. The planets in Water sign moderate the practicality of Earth, the ideas of Air, the careless energy of Fire.
In astrological interpretation, the element analysis is the most traditional. For example, many planets in the Fire sign of a chart is indicative of the subject being very lively and enthusiastic. Though this interpretation is simplistic and direct, astrologers must also consider the effect of the Qualities and Aspects of the subject's birth chart to draw a complete personality profile.
Astrology is defined as ‘the art or practice of determining the supposed influences of the planets and their motions on human affairs and human disposition’. From this practice a horoscope can be produced which is a diagram (or chart) of the relative positions of planets and signs of the Zodiac at a specific time, usually the time of birth.
Western Astrology originated around 500 BC, with a concept called the Zodiac. This consisted of an imaginary sphere surrounding the earth, which followed the path of the Sun through the constellations during the year. The Zodiac was split into twelve sections, each named after the specific constellation noted in that area.
Many ancient philosophies used a set of classical elements to explain the way nature behaved. Each sign was connected to one of the classical elements (fire, earth, air, or water) and was also related to a region of focus; social, personal or universal.
- Water signs are related to growth processes, identification and emotion. In tandem with the other elements, water feels that fire will make it boil, air will evaporate it, yet earth will shape and channel it.
- Fire signs are related to action, passion, and energy. In tandem with the other elements, fire feels that earth will smother it, water will drown it, and air will fan and enliven it.
- Air signs are related to thought, perspective and communication. In tandem with the other elements, air feels that water will obscure it, earth will suffocate it, and fire will inspire and uplift it.
- Earth signs are related to sensation, stability, and practicality. In tandem with the other elements, earth feels that air will dry it, fire will dry it, and water will refresh and nourish it.
Each sign is connected to one of three modalities; cardinal (sometimes referred to as movable), fixed, and mutable. There are four quadrants following the order of the zodiac signs, with three signs in each. Each quadrant describes a season, beginning with a cardinal sign, continuing to a fixed sign, and ending with a mutable sign.
- Mutable signs are related to adaptability, resourcefulness and holism. They are Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces.
- Fixed signs are related to determination, focus and individuality. They are Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius.
- Cardinal signs are related to creativity and initiation. They are Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn.
Finally, here is a quick summary of Zodiac Sign Characteristics:
- Aries (cardinal, fire, personal): defensive, energetic, head down, assertive, impulsive.
- Taurus (fixed, earth, personal): patient, indulgent, resourceful, thorough, devoted.
- Gemini (mutable, air, personal): quick, logical, inquisitive.
- Cancer (cardinal, water, personal): clinging, protective, sensitive.
- Leo (fixed, fire, social): theatrical, generous, proud.
- Virgo (mutable, earth, social): critically, practical, efficient.
- Libra (cardinal, air, social): lazy, co-operative, fair.
- Scorpio (fixed, water, social): anxious, passionate, sensitive.
- Sagittarius (mutable, fire, universal): careless, free, straightforward.
- Capricorn (cardinal, earth, universal): suspicious, prudent, cautious.
- Aquarius (fixed, air, universal): detached, democratic, unconventional.
- Pisces (mutable, water, universal): distracted, imaginative, sensitive.
Astrology can be extremely accurate. Yet, it is only as accurate as our birth time, which is used to calculate not only the planetary positions, also our Ascendant (Rising Sign), to the exact degree and minute. That calculation then determines the degree on the Midheaven and all of the house cusps. The cusps then determine in which house our planets will fall. Without an accurate birth time, interpretations and forecasts are invariably incorrect. All of this information is then used in interpreting our personality, determining our career choices, comparing and contrasting our chart with those of other people we know, and forecasting events in our life.
Before we schedule a consultation or order charts and reports, we should obtain a copy of our birth certificate. If we do not have a birth certificate, if the time is not stated on ours, if we suspect our birth certificate is in error, or if we have only an estimated birth time, we may want to have our chart rectified (see next section).
Yet what about our birth certificate? How accurate is it? It may not be as accurate as we think. It's not hard to get the date and the place correct, birth times are an entirely different story. Since doctors and nurses are not usually astrologers, they give little attention to the exact time of birth. For example, they may round off an 8:38 birth time to 8:40 or 8:35. A doctor may fill out the birth certificate later on and use an estimated birth time that could be far earlier or later than the true time of birth, or then the time recorded on the delivery room records.
Depending on where and when we were born, our birth certificate may not even have a space for the time of birth. Some people have no written birth certificates at all because they were born at home, or during times when birth certificates were not considered necessary, or in countries where birth certificates are or were not issued.
Without an exact birth time, astrology in general, and predictive astrology in particular, are rarely accurate. There may be some general information and interpretations that are correct, yet the subtleties and events-oriented aspects will be wrong.
Astrology is a type of divination based upon the idea that information about the future or about a person's personality to be discovered through examining the alignment of stars, planets, moons and comets. Astrology attempts to interpret the influence of these celestial bodies on human affairs.
The practice of astrology has been prevalent since ancient times. Some well-known ancient civilizations used this field extensively. Greek astronomer Ptolemy was the first ever person to write a book on Astrology. He codified the sun sign astrology that we know today. Ptolemy tried to predict the positions of celestial bodies relative to each other and the earth through knowledge of their orbital motions. During his time, astrology was a part of astronomy. Later, astronomy became an exact science and Astrology remained a part of Theology.
Apart from being centres of medicine, Baghdad and Damascus were also known as centres of astrology and astronomy. Arabs were pioneers in astronomy before even the advent of Islam. The Babylonians were the first to name the days of the week after the Sun, Moon, and planets. They were also the first to set out the twelve houses of the horoscope.
Egypt was one of the most important places in the development of astrology. It is thought that some of the astrological signs of the zodiac originated in Egypt.
Astrology was practiced even in the Vedic times in India. Astrology is one of the six disciplines of vedanga. The Hindus believe that human fortune or misfortune in life is due to karma, and karma is influenced by the movements of the planets. In Modern India too, astrology is extensively used to determine the future and improve life, to make decisions about marriage, starting a new business, or moving into a new house.
Chinese astrology emphasizes the four elements: air, water, fire, and earth. Even the zodiac signs used by Chinese Astrology are different from other forms of astrology. China was isolated from the western civilizations for a long time. That is why for hundreds of years Chinese astrology was unknown to the western world.
Astrology is a complex art and science which applies symbolic meaning to astronomical information as it existed over two thousand years ago when the practice of astrology was first documented in writing by ancient astronomers and astrologers.
Western astrologers use the ancient positions of the constellations and Sidereal (aka Vedic or Hindu) astrologers use current astronomical positions. The two systems are very different, yet work equally well.
Astrologers begin by erecting a natal chart, or horoscope, based on the date, time, and place we were born. Today, most charts are done on a computer which makes them very accurate. Yet, they are only as accurate as the information we provide. Any reputable astrologer will advise us to obtain more accurate birth information or to have our chart rectified if we only know that we were born "around 5 p.m."
Astrologers interpret everything in our chart individually and then integrate it all for us into a picture of us and our life. Interpretations come in many forms: basic insight into our personality; examining specific trouble spots in our life; comparing and contrasting our chart with that of a loved one, friend, co-worker, etc.; looking at career options and financial indications; finding the best place to live; forecasting future opportunities; selecting the best time for a wedding, to start a business, etc.; spiritual growth; and, answering questions.
Most astrologers have a general practice which incorporates a variety of these services, and they may also have some areas in which they specialize such as relationships or careers.
The best way to use astrology is to learn to evaluate a problem on our own, to examine the choices we have to make in order to fix the problem, and then to consult our astrologer to see in which ways the possible solutions will work for us and when the best time is to make changes, take risks, be patient and wait, plan, etc. With all that information in hand, we will possess a powerful knowledge with which to solve our problems, change our life, and be the person we always wanted to be.