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The Basics

The language of astrology presents a very specific model. This model can describe a person, a place, or an event. An astrological chart - a horoscope - is a crude map of the solar system for a specific moment in time, as viewed from a particular place on earth. Each astrological chart is unique.


 The Horoscope  |  The Signs  |  The Houses  |  The Planets  |
 Other Points  |  The Aspects 


An astrological horoscope is a circle, divided into twelve segments. These segments represent the twelve houses of astrology. The houses describe twelve different areas of experience or activity that are common to all human beings. The houses are the same in any natal chart, although they are experienced differently by each individual.

The lines that divide the houses are called the house cusps. A symbol representing a sign of the zodiac appears on each cusp, determined by the time and place of birth. The sign upon the cusp describes how this particular individual experiences the activity of that house.

The planets of astrology represent component parts of the personality. The sign a planet is in describes how that particular part of the personality expresses itself. The house a planet falls in gives extra emphasis to the activities and experiences described by that house. The mathematical relationships that the planets form to one another as they move through their orbits are called the aspects. The aspects describe the pushes and pulls within the personality. They describe the gifts, talents and abilities we are born with and can develop - as well as the conflicts and challenges we will meet through the experiences of our life.

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The signs of the zodiac describe qualities, preferences and inclinations. The zodiac is represented by a wheel; this wheel symbolically traces a process of growth from the individual to the collective. Each sign of the zodiac grows out of the previous one.

The twelve signs of the zodiac fall into four categories: Fire, Earth, Air and Water. The fire signs are energetic and vibrant; the earth signs are practical and motivated by material concerns; air signs are driven by the mind and the intellect; water signs are dominated by the emotions.

    Aries - Birth, instinctive self-expression. The desire to experience and to be. Spontaneous, energetic, interested in new things. A Fire sign.
    Taurus - The instinctive energy of Aries is grounded in physical reality. Practical and materially oriented. Interested in how things work. An Earth sign.
    Gemini - The development of the intellect. Curious, changeable and drawn to variety. Finds repetition boring. An Air sign.
    Cancer - The process of the integration of the individual. Sensitive, home loving, needs to be close to family and roots. Nurturing. A Water sign.
    Leo - The newly integrated individual. Generous, dramatic, creatively expressive and self-involved. A Fire sign.
    Virgo - The perfection of the individual. Critical, analytical and responsible. The mind applied to practical concerns. An Earth sign.
    Libra - The desire to be in relationship. A lover of harmony and symmetry. The desire to be all things to all people. An Air sign.
    Scorpio - The results of relationship; the urge to merge. Powerful, intense, intuitive; sexually-motivated. A Water sign.
    Sagittarius - Ideas about how collectives ought to operate. Interested in religion, philosophy, political science. Loves travel; wants to see the big picture. A Fire sign.
    Capricorn - The process of integration of the collective. Bureaucracy and government. Practical, with a respect for authority and a desire for accomplishment. An Earth sign.
    Aquarius - The newly integrated collective. The inventor, idealist, team-member. The individual who wants to contribute to the collective. An Air sign.
    Pisces - The perfection of the collective. The reformer, the servant to the collective, the spiritual leader. A Water sign.

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The houses of astrology represent twelve different areas of experience or activity common to all human beings. Each house is associated with a sign and a planet.

    First House - Instinctive self-expression. Associated with the sign Aries and the planet Mars.
    Second House - Resources - money, possessions, gifts and talents. Our body as a structure housing our personality. Taurus and Venus.
    Third House - Verbal self-expression and communication, short-term travel, our siblings and immediate family, our early school years. Gemini and Mercury.
    Fourth House - Our home and family; our roots. Our parents as they represent our sense of where we came from. Cancer and the Moon.
    Fifth House - Creative self-expression. Children, recreation, play. The way we creatively present ourselves to others. Leo and the Sun.
    Sixth House - Work, duty and responsibility. The health and well being of our body. Virgo and Mercury.
    Seventh House - Our personal relationships - marriage, friendships, work-relationships. Libra and Venus.
    Eighth House - The results of relationship - sexual expression, business contracts. Ritual, dreams, the occult. Scorpio and Pluto.
    Ninth House - Long-term travel and higher education. Philosophy, religion, political science. Sagittarius and Jupiter.
    Tenth House - Our status in society; our career or profession. Our parents as they affect our relationship to the larger collective. Capricorn and Saturn.
    Eleventh House - Our involvement with the collective. Groups, clubs, teams and our vision of the future. Aquarius and Uranus.
    Twelfth House - Our sense of responsibility to the collective. Service and sacrifice for the greater good. Pisces and Neptune.

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The planets of ancient astrology - Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and the two "luminaries" - the Sun and the Moon - are called the personal or the individual planets. These are the planets that can be seen by the unaided eye. They describe our personality expression on an emotional and social level.

The outer planets - Uranus, Neptune and Pluto - are called the generational or evolutionary planets. These planets of modern astrology operate on two levels -collectively and personally - and reflect the complexity of modern life. Everyone around the same age has Uranus, Neptune and Pluto in the same signs. These planets describe the generational backdrop that we are born into. On a personal level, these planets describe how we as individuals are formed by, and throughout our lives respond to, the global forces of change.

Each planet is associated with one or more of the signs and houses.

THE LUMINARIES - The Sun and The Moon

    The Sun - The ego, the identity, the sense of self. Our preferences and inclinations - what we "want" - at a conscious level. Associated with Leo and the Fifth House.
    The Moon - Our needs at an instinctive level. Our emotional nature. The quality of energy that comes out of us when our "buttons are pushed." The personal unconscious. Associated with Cancer and the Fourth House.

THE SOCIAL PLANETS - Mercury, Venus and Mars

    Mercury - Our ability to communicate, remember, to express ourselves. Our mind as reporter and commentator. Our intellectual capacities and analytical qualities. Associated with Gemini and the Third House, and Virgo and the Sixth House.
    Venus - The female pole of sexuality. Our values; our ability to be happy. Those qualities and experiences in our life that bring us reward. Taurus and the Second House; Libra and the Seventh House.
    Mars - The male pole of sexuality. Venus and Mars work as a team. Mars describes the quality of energy we send out into the world to get whatever it is that we value - that which Venus has decided will make us happy. Mars is also how we protect ourselves from that which Venus has decided will make us unhappy. Creative drive, determination, ambition - and how we protect and defend ourselves; how we get angry. Aries and the First House.

THE POLARITY OF GROWTH - Jupiter and Saturn

    Jupiter - Jupiter represents growth through expansion - through good luck, the beneficence of others, and through being in the right place at the right time. The opportunities of abundance and prosperity. Sagittarius and the Ninth House.
    Saturn - Growth through hard work and discipline, through focusing and respect for authority. The lessons of age and experience. The rewards reaped over time. Capricorn and the Tenth House.

THE GENERATIONAL PLANETS - Uranus, Neptune and Pluto

    Uranus - Sudden, unpredictable change. Unexpected windfalls, insight and understanding, accidents and catastrophe. Outbreaks of anger and unrest. Flashes of inspiration. Aquarius and the Eleventh House.
    Neptune - Slow, gradual yet irrevocable change. Gradual transformation of the basic structure. Floods, storms, catastrophes involving water. A desire for enlightenment through spiritual and creative self-expression. Pisces and the Twelfth House.
    Pluto - Explosive, destructive change that builds up over time. Complete and total transformation. Volcanoes, earthquakes, explosions - and mass movements into new social structures. Scorpio and the Eighth House.

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There are a number of other points on a natal chart. Some are objects within the solar system while others are points mathematically calculated from the chart. Listed below are the points I most commonly use. Other astrologers use different points.

    The Ascendant - The First House cusp. Our instinctive attitude toward life and the world. The veil through which we see life. Our overall physical appearance.
    The Descendant - The Seventh House cusp. Our instinctive attitude toward others. How we relate to others. The nature of our relationships.
    The Midhaven - The Tenth House cusp. Our attitude toward our status in the world. Career and profession.
    The I.C. - The Fourth House cusp. Our attitude toward our home and family. Roots - both our physical home as well as our deepest sense of self.
    The South Node - The south magnetic pole of the Moon. A pattern of expression easily fallen into and associated with the concept of karma. The "Path of Least Resistance."
    The North Node - The north magnetic pole of the Moon. A pattern of expression that needs to be developed by the individual in order to grow. The "Path of Fulfillment."
    Chiron - A comet caught in solar orbit between Saturn and Uranus. Our ability to transform our scars into assets. The "Wounded Healer."
    The Asteroids - I use only the four largest of the asteroids; there are many more. These asteroids describe four aspects of the feminine.

      Ceres - The way we nurture.
      Pallas Athene - The way we express ourselves creatively.
      Juno - How we are in marriage or partnership.
      Vesta - Our spiritual or devotional expression.
    The Part of Fortune - A point on the chart representing a balance between the Sun, the Moon and the Ascendant. When we consciously direct ourselves to this part of the chart, everything else falls into place.

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The aspects are the mathematical relationships the planets form to one another as they move through their orbits. The aspects on a birth chart describe the gifts, talents and potential abilities of the individual, as well as the challenges and inner conflicts they will encounter on their road through life. Listed below are the major aspects; there are minor aspects as well.

    Conjunction - a 0 degree relationship of the involved planets. A blending of planetary energies. Can be expressed as a gift or talent, or as a personal challenge depending on the planets involved.
    Sextile - a 60 degree relationship. A harmonious relationship between the involved planets. A talent or gift; ease of expression.
    Square - a 90 degree relationship. The planets involved are in conflict. An inner challenge.
    Trine - a 120 degree relationship. A harmonious relationship. An opportunity to develop an innate talent or gift. Sometimes more difficult to manifest than the sextile.
    Opposition - a 180 degree relationship. A seesaw relationship between the planets involved. The challenge is to maintain balance between two opposing forces.

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Astrology Insights © Ruby Lehman, 2000