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Astrology - The details

Astrology - The details

What is your sun sign?

Your own sun sign and planetary chart depends upon the date and time that you were born.
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Natal Chart Calculation

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What’s What in a Horoscope

The planets

The sun is a star. It stands at the centre of our solar system and the nine planets surrounding the sun are constantly orbiting it taking various amounts of time to do so. Mercury, Venus (and Earth) take roughly a year to complete an orbit but Pluto – now recategorized as a dwarf planet - takes two hundred and fifty-six!

When an astrologer like myself makes predictions we place greater importance on the movements of the outer planets (Uranus, Neptune and Pluto) and the non-personal planets (Jupiter and Saturn). Since these planets are such slow movers they have a more significant effect on world events and those that shape our individual lives.

The sun, of course, does not actually move at all. Here on planet Earth we see the sun rising and setting each day but in reality it is we who are moving. Thus the passage of the sun through the circle of the zodiac is merely an illusion.

The moon is not a planet. It is a satellite belonging to Earth.

But whether a star, a satellite, an asteroid or a bonafide planet, astrologers through the ages have watched the movements of the planetary bodies and gained meaning from them. And although astrology is still viewed as a spurious study by most scientists, its usage and popularity is as strong in the Twenty-first Century - if not stronger - than it was three thousand years ago.

The sun

When people ask what sign you are they want to know whether you are an Aries, a Virgo and so on. Indeed, for most people that is all astrology is about. But the sign the sun occupied on the day you were born is only a part of a much bigger picture. Your sun sign is akin to your nationality. And just as we are able to make sweeping generalizations about Italians for instance or Scandinavians, we are able to identify similar traits in everyone from a particular sun sign. However, whether we belong to a group, a nation or a sign each of us is unique.

The sun takes a year to go through all the signs of the zodiac. And the sun takes a year to go around each and every horoscope.

The moon

The moon in astrology represents all things female: mother, childhood and home. The sign the moon was in at the time of your birth reveals who you are deep down. Indeed, women are much more like their moon sign than anything else in their charts so, if you want to know what a woman is really all about, find her moon sign. In a man's chart, the moon is representative of his feelings and it indicates the type of woman he feels intrinsically at home with.

The moon takes approximately twenty-eight days to move through all the signs of the zodiac. Therefore, the moon circles your entire horoscope every twenty-eight days. The moon's cycle has a measurable effect on life on earth: not only does the moon affect the tides but also chimes with the menstrual cycle. Postoperative bleeding is heavier at full moon; more babies are born at full moon and there are more suicides at full moon.

Mercury

In keeping with its mythical counterpart, Greek Hermes, Mercury is the great communicator of the planets. Mercury in astrology represents the way we think and how we communicate our ideas, opinions and feelings. Travel is under the guardianship of Mercury. Therefore.someone with Mercury in a key position in a birth chart will have a yen for travel and he or she will gravitate toward careers in teaching, for instance, writing or indeed anything where an agile mind and restless spirit can be best used.

Mercury takes roughly a year to orbit the sun and therefore circle the horoscope. Every so often Mercury and the rest of the planets appear to go backwards. This is a phenomenon called retrograde motion, which is brought about by the relative speeds of the planets as they revolve around the sun. When Mercury goes retrograde communications tend to go completely awry!

Venus

Venus is not only the most beautiful planet to look at but in astrology it represents beauty, harmony and love. Venus in a woman’s chart describes how she expresses her femininity and the way she gives love and affection. In a man’s chart Venus reveals the kind of woman he is sexually attracted to and the way he gives love and affection.

Venus takes approximately a year to circle the horoscope. Each time Venus makes contact with a planet or sensitive point in your chart, you can guarantee that day will be beautiful. When someone else’s sun, moon or Jupiter for instance is in the same place as your Venus, you like them very much – you may even marry them!

Mars

In myth Mars was the god of war and in astrology this planet has a reputation for causing strife. We all have Mars in our charts and this planet gives us our drive, ambition and our sexuality. In a woman’s chart Mars reveals the kind of man she is attracted to and Mars in a man’s chart describes how he expresses his masculinity and his desires.

Mars takes roughly eighteen months to transit all the signs of the zodiac. When this planet reaches certain points in your own horoscope you will experience greater conflict and opposition; you will also be more determined and ambitious.

Jupiter

Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system and in astrology Jupiter’s gifts are great and good. Where Jupiter is placed in your chart reveals the area of life in which you find success, happiness and abundance. Indeed, people who have Jupiter rising at birth or directly overhead tend to gravitate to positions of power and notoriety; they become public figures and may well achieve a degree of fame. Jupiter bestows luck and urges us to expand our spirit, our knowledge and our perception. But you can have too much of a good thing and the down side to Jupiter is a tendency toward excess and megalomania.

Jupiter takes twelve years to orbit the sun. Therefore, it transits a different sign of the zodiac every twelve months.

Saturn

Saturn is not the easiest planetary archetype to deal with. This planet is synonymous with hard lessons, effort and responsibility. Wherever Saturn is placed in a birth chart reveals where we have the most to learn and where we will suffer our greatest frustration and heartache. There is a point to Saturn, of course, just as there is a point to difficult experiences – we become better people for them; we grow. People who have Saturn rising or directly overhead at birth tend to want to be in control; they gravitate to positions of authority, even if it takes them a lifetime of struggle to do so.

Saturn takes approximately twenty-nine years to orbit the sun and therefore a birth chart. Each time Saturn returns to its original position, a major stage in life has been reached and astrologers refer to this event as the ‘Saturn Return’.

At age twenty-nine we are ready to claim our life as our own; we are no longer experimenting and no longer reflecting other people’s expectations of us. This point in life is known as the astrological coming of age. We may marry, start a family, leave a relationship or job in the belief we need someone or something more suitable. Sometimes we give up our dreams because we believe they will not provide us with the means to survive. That sacrifice, along with other compromises or errors of judgment, can come back to be reexamined at the next Saturn return.

Twenty-nine years later (roughly fifty-eight years of age) we get a chance to review how successful we have been on our own terms. The second Saturn return tends to be much harder on us. Nonetheless, the opportunity to right the wrongs of the past is there and the opportunity to start afresh. Now, with retirement in view, our financial house must be in order and our health concerns addressed. This time of life can be hard work since we may be balancing the needs of our children who may be young adults against those of our parents who are increasingly hampered by old age. We begin our third chapter of life. We may rescue abandoned hopes and desires by picking up lost careers and interests and finding new partners.

At eighty-seven years of age we undergo the third Saturn return. The dawn of old age has passed and we fully embrace our senior years. At each Saturn return we are forced to become aware of our deficiencies and limitations, and in our ninth decade the impact of adjustments not made and lessons unlearned is ever greater. Our minds and bodies feel the weight of the years, yet our wisdom is deeper as is our appreciation of the things that truly matter in life. We must come to terms with the fact that we are not immortal, and if we failed to sort our affairs at the second Saturn return; this we must do now. As we approach the ebbing years of our life, we should aim to make amends for those things we regret and focus on the new beginnings we are about to make.

Saturn spends about two and half years in each sign of the zodiac. The period that Saturn transits your sun sign tends to be a testing one and a time when a sense of failure and disappointment is never far away.
However, Saturn helps us to make a mark in life and it certainly shows us who we are.

Uranus

Uranus is the great rebel of the zodiac. This planet was discovered in 1781 and coincided with the Industrial Revolution and indeed the rash of revolutions at that time. Uranus is synonymous with change and upheaval. This planet forces us to look to the new and to break free from situations that and people who are stifling our being and our potential. People with Uranus rising at birth or directly overhead, tend to be life’s innovators and/or misfits. They dance to a different drum. Sometimes these people are inventors, scientists and fantastic communicators and sometimes they are anarchists and trouble-makers.

Uranus takes eighty-four years to complete a circuit of the birth chart. The most important point tends to be half way – when we are somewhere between thirty-eight and forty-two years of age. This is astrological mid-life crisis time. Marriages break up; people change their careers or do something that makes others believe they have lost their minds. Uranus likes to upset the apple cart! And sometimes huge and unexpected changes are thrust upon us by events we do not like one little bit. But there is life after the Uranus opposition and a better life if we wholeheartedly embrace change.

Since we are all living longer most of us will experience a Uranus return which takes place around our eighty-fourth year of life. Depending on our life circumstances, we can begin again. While at the second and third Saturn returns we embark on a new chapter of life with a solid blueprint, at the Uranus Return we do not sit down and make plans but rip up the old blue print and busk it! It’s not too late to run a marathon, is it? It is certainly time to attend to our bucket list. However, this is also a time when our bodies can let us down: we may break bones, lose our balance (in all senses) and succumb to health problems that interfere with our freedom and mobility. And in the same way that we embraced change at the Uranus Opposition we must do so again.

Uranus spends roughly seven years in a sign and when this planet touches a point in your horoscope, you tend to feel very unsettled. Events have a way of making you feel insecure: nothing seems to last and other people accuse you of not being the same person that you once were.

Neptune

Neptune is the most mysterious of the planets. This planet, like the sea god, Neptune, can be likened to the oceans in all their many moods – sometimes peaceful, sometimes mysterious and sometimes extremely stormy and dangerous. Neptune was discovered in 1846 and coincided with the great Romantic movements in literature and music and with Impressionism. Neptune gives us our desire for things of the spirit and the soul but while the elevated way to experience such states is through discipline and devotion all too often we take the easier but infinitely more destructive route through alcohol and drugs. People who have Neptune rising or directly overhead at birth are the world’s artists, mystics, healers and saviours. Yet they can also be some of life’s most lost souls.

Neptune takes roughly one hundred and sixty-eight years to orbit the sun so none of us will ever have a Neptune Return! When Neptune reaches a planet or point in our chart we become existentially dissatisfied with certain aspects of our life. We tend to lose our sense of direction; we may even lose our jobs, relationships and material assets. If Neptune touches our Venus or our moon we can fall deeply in love. We are never quite the same people after a Neptune transit. Hopefully because we have glimpsed the divine and not because we have lost everything!

Pluto

In 2006, the International Astronomical Union declared Pluto no longer fulfilled the criteria of a planet and was thus downgraded to a “dwarf”. However, whatever its status in astronomical terms, Pluto in astrology is a mighty force to be reckoned with.

In myth Pluto was the King of the Underworld. His vast realm was full of treasure yet it was also the domain of the dead. The planet Pluto was discovered in 1930 and coincided with the rise of Fascism, the development of atomic power and the birth of psycho-analysis. Pluto in astrology represents the process of death and rebirth. The placing of Pluto in our charts reveals where we will be put through our most transformational experiences. People with Pluto rising at birth or directly overhead have a strong sense of their own destiny; they usually make a profound impact on the world and certainly upon the people with whom they connect. Yet Pluto-dominated charts can also produce some of the most manipulative and cruel individuals. This is an extreme astrological archetype: just as atomic power can be used to help mankind it can also destroy it.

Pluto takes approximately twenty-one years to pass through each sign of the zodiac so a whole generation bears its signature relative to the sign it is in. For instance the Baby-Boomers came in with Pluto in Leo and this group is known as the Me-generation. Since Pluto is such a slow mover when it reaches a point in your own chart it can spend eighteen months or so focusing on it. During these times we are put through a Ring of Fire. We are usually stripped of some aspect of our existence and have to re-build our lives anew. We experience a death and a re-birth.

Common Astrological Terms

The ascendant or rising sign

Nothing in astrology is ever stagnant. As the earth continually revolves on its axis, so too do all the signs, reference points and planets. At the moment of birth, a sign will be rising over the horizon and this is known as your Ascendant, your rising sign. The Ascendant is effectively the beginning of your chart, the first house of the horoscope. Depending upon the latitude of your place of birth, some signs move more slowly over the horizon, taking some two hours to do so while others move so fast there can be three changes of sign in an hour.

As far as interpretation goes, the Ascendant represents the lens through which the rest of personality shines through - it is the gateway to all that we are, the Jungian persona.

Without the time of birth and therefore the establishment of the Ascendant, it is extremely difficult for an
astrologer to be accurate about character and destiny.

Aspects

These are the angles formed between the planets and points of the chart i.e. the Mid-heaven and the Ascendant. The aspects from one of the biggest building blocks in astrology. Whether interpreting a natal (birth) chart for an individual, a nation or an event, the aspects provide the 'meat' and 'potatoes', so to speak and the signs the sauce. While the easy aspects help sweeten the picture, the hard aspects are the business: they are dynamic and always hold sway over the easy angles.

Hard Aspects:

Conjunction

Planets side by side.

Square

Planets at right angles to each other – 90 degrees apart.

Opposition

Planets at opposite ends of the zodiac – 180 degrees apart.

Easy Aspects:

Sextile

Planets 60 degrees apart.

Trine

Planets 120 degrees apart.

The age of aquarius

There are twelve astrological ages, each lasting roughly 2,160 years. The Age of Pisces, which began approximately at the time of Christ, is in the process of giving way to the Age of Aquarius, although some astrologers maintain it came in during the nineteen-sixties with the advent of flower-power, free love and the brotherhood of man - quintessential properties of Aquarius.

Each great age charts the evolution of mankind and reflects the rise and fall of civilizations.

This slow cycle of the ages is caused by a phenomenon known as precession of the equinoxes. In simple terms, due to the wobble of the earth as it spins on its axis its position in relation to the background of the stars shifts year on year. The position of the pole star as viewed from the earth in ancient Egypt is not where it is now; and won’t be for another seventeen thousand years or so.

The cusp

The cusp means the beginning - i.e. the cusp of the second house (the beginning of the second house), the cusp of Taurus, etc., the beginning of that sign. Since astrology has become popularized a misnomer has arisen that a person born on the cusp of a sign - i.e. the beginning of Cancer or Leo etc - is a member of both signs and shares the qualities of both signs. This is not the case. The sun is at 29 degrees 59 minutes and 59 seconds of Pisces and a second later will be 0 degrees, 0 minutes and 1 second of Aries!
You are either one sign or another; you do not straddle two signs

Sometimes, a sun sign column will differ as to the dates the sun will be in a particular sign. This is because the arrival of the sun in each of the signs varies slightly from year to year therefore astrologers can only give an approximation.

The descendant

This is the opposite point to the Ascendant. It designates the seventh house of the horoscope and in interpretation, describes your relationships and the effect other people have on your life. Traditional astrology books describe this area as the house of partners and open enemies.

The elements

(the triplicities) - Fire, Earth, Air, Water

The elements are one of the key building blocks of astrology. Each sign belongs to one of the four elements: Fire, Earth, Air and Water.

In ancient astrology, the elements had a seasonal aspect to them: Air had the features of spring, Fire the summer, Earth autumn and Water winter. This categorization works well with food and astrology, since the produce of spring is plentiful at the time of Aries, Taurus and Gemini, the foods of summer are in ample supply in the season of Cancer, Leo and Virgo, autumn fare abundant throughout the signs of Libra, Scorpio and Sagittarius and winter produce is in rich supply at the time of Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces.

Clearly the seasons are reversed in the southern hemisphere, but astrology’s roots lie in the ancient civilizations of the northern hemisphere, and the correlations between life on earth and the celestial world were conceived by mystics and alchemists north of the Equator. And the seasonal dimension of the twelve zodiac signs is reflected in the traits of each sign, regardless on which side of the Equator you were born.

In terms of character Fire signs are passionate, impulsive, spontaneous, daring and extrovert; Earth signs are conservative, sensual, practical, reality-based and grounded; Air signs are objective, conceptual, theoretical and communicative; and Water signs are nurturing, sensitive, feeling, cautious and introverted.

The qualities

(the modalities) - Cardinal, Fixed and Mutable

The qualities, otherwise known as the modalities, represent another key building block of astrology. Here the zodiac is divided into three groups of four thus making each sign in a group of elements a different Modality.

In the Fire group ARIES is Cardinal, LEO is Fixed and SAGITTARIUS is mutable.

In the Earth group TAURUS is Fixed, VIRGO is Mutable and CAPRICORN is Cardinal.

In the Air group GEMINI is Mutable, LIBRA is Cardinal and AQUARIUS is Fixed.

In the Water group CANCER is Cardinal, SCORPIO is Fixed and PISCES is Mutable.

In terms of character Cardinal signs are self-motivated and ambitious; Fixed signs are resistant to change and require to be in control; Mutable signs are ambiguous and diffusive.

In the same way that the elements in ancient astrology were related to the seasons the three modalities reflect different parts of each season - the beginning (Cardinal) the middle (Fixed) and the end (Mutable). The burst of energy that inspires the first shoots in Aries blossoms in Taurus and disperses in Gemini providing a conduit to the next season, summer. And so on.

The houses

In the same way that there are twelve signs of the zodiac, the horoscope is divided into twelve segments known as the houses. The first house begins at the Ascendant and the rest of the houses follow on counter-clockwise. Each house represents a different area of life.

1st House: The persona. The physical body.

2nd House: Self-worth. Finances.

3rd House: Travel and communications.

4th House: The roots of life in every sense of the phrase.

5th House: Creative endeavours. The heart centre of the chart.

6th House: Work. Systems. Health. Service.

7th House: Relationships.

8th House: Emotional, sexual and financial exchange.

9th House: Far horizons. Distant objectives.Higher thoughts.

10th House: Career. Role in life.

11th House: Team work. Friendship.Shared creative endeavours. 12th House: The spiritual centre. The unconscious. The seat of the psyche.

The mid-heaven (mc)

This is the highest point of your horoscope and the start of the tenth house. In interpretation, the Midheavenrepresents, goals and life-direction. If the Ascendant is who we are then the Mid-Heaven is who we want to be.

The opposite point to the Mid-heaven is the IC - ImumCoeli (from the Latin “bottom of the sky”). In keeping with its position at the base of the chart, the IC represents the roots of life, the foundations of the future, home, family, the end and the beginning. If the Mid-heaven is where we are going in life, the IC is where we have come from.

The Signs Of The Zodiac

Aries

(Element: fire. Quality: Cardinal. Ruling planet: Mars.)
Assertive, headstrong, ambitious, self-motivated - a very macho sign.

Taurus

(Element: earth. Quality: Fixed. Ruling planet: Venus.)
Practical, sensuous, dogmatic, resistant to change. Seeing is believing to Taurus.

Gemini

(Element: air. Quality: Mutable. Ruling planet, Mercury.)
Adaptable, mercurial, mind over emotion.Dislikes commitment. The zodiac's Great Communicator.

Cancer

(Element: water. Quality: Cardinal. Ruling planet: the moon.)
Sensitive, imaginative, artistic, manipulative. Self-protective and defensive - believes the sideways snipe is the best form of defence.

Leo

(Element: fire. Quality: Fixed. Ruling planet: the sun.)
Passionate, regal, dominating, proud.The drama queen of the zodiac.

Virgo

(Element: earth. Quality: Mutable. Ruling planet: Mercury.)
Painstaking, anal-retentive, discriminating, analytical. Never takes no for an answer (never takes, yes either!).

Libra

(Element: air. Quality: Cardinal. Ruling planet: Venus.)
Fair-minded, indecisive, narcissistic, beauty-loving, stylistically correct.The diplomat of the zodiac.

Scorpio

(Element: water. Quality: Fixed. Ruling planet: Pluto.)
Deep, suspicious, enigmatic, loyal to the death, passionate, self-destructive. Not a sign to be underestimated. Ever.

Sagittarius

(Element: Fire. Quality: Fixed. Ruling planet: Jupiter)
Fun, successful, inconsiderate, hedonistic, immoderate.The globe-trotter and freedom-merchant of the zodiac.

Capricorn

(Element: Earth. Quality: Cardinal. Ruling planet: Saturn.)
Practical, strategic, power-loving, reliable, domineering. Not a 100-meter sprinter, more the marathonrunner of the zodiac.

Aquarius

(Element: Air. Quality: Fixed. Ruling planet: Uranus.)
Far-seeing, altruistic, iconoclastic, intractable - always right. A brilliant advocate, especially when proving black is white.

Pisces

(Element: water. Quality: Mutable. Ruling planet: Neptune.)
Mystical, compassionate, dreamy, sensuous, neurotic. The zodiac's Great Escapist.

Life in the day of…Arizona Morning

Life in the day of…Lunchtime in England

Life in the day of…Evening in Stockholm