Understanding your horoscope in 10 steps

You’re new to this. You have come to the fascinating conclusion that astrology is not really reading your daily horoscope. Well here it is, one method of getting down to business with astrology and one's birth chart. For the sake of simplicity, let’s assume it is your own horoscope.


Horoscope in color

1. Find out your time of birth
Make sure it is the right time of birth. What does this mean? Hospital statistics are the best, your parents’ combined reassurance the second best, and something collected from that nostalgic piece of cloth knitted by your grandmother...well the third best. Time of birth doesn’t mean between 2 and 3, it means something like between 2.35 and 2.40. Astrology can in a sense be done without an accurate birth time, but not done very well.

2. Draw up your horocope
Unless you’re a big fan of calculations and tables, there’s not really any need to do it manually – use a computer program or a free service on the internet, such as http://astro-software.com/cgi-bin/astro/natal. This will give you the positions of all the planets and, given that you have a pretty exact time of birth, the so called ascendant and "houses". Print a list of all this, or better, print the graphic horocope wheel that you will see, with the planets all spread out over the circle, as well as a list with positions. (Such as: Moon in Scorpio, 21.20 degrees).

3. Planetary patterns, overview
Now, interpretation. What you see in front of you is You. Yes you, astrologically speaking, in the form of a wheel representing the planets orbiting around the sun (or around the earth, because that’s the perspective we use in astrology. Take a look at the structure, the patterning of the planets – how they are spread out. This gives the backbone, the ”frame” of opportunity, character and motivation. Are there planets grouped tightly together in a few places? These are usually known as stelliums and will indicate important concentrations of energy or characteristics. Late great astrologer Marc Edmund Jones deviced 7 general figures in the patterning of planets. I highly recommend his books, for example Guide to Horoscope Interpretation. You can also find info on planetary patterns with celebrity examples here: http://www.astrotheme.com/files/planetary-patterns.php

4. Elements and hemispheres
In astrology, we use the four elements of classic greek thought, fire, air, earth and water. These were and are believed to correspond to four basic psychological temperaments that are somewhat connected to the so called choleric, sanguine, melancholic and phlegmatic personality types. Anyway, what is highly important is to determine what or which are your own dominant elements. This is done by checking what signs most of your planets are placed in. Especially the Sun, (star sign) Moon (moon sign), Ascendant. Every sign belongs to an element, as the following shows:

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

The dominance of one or two elements in your horoscope will be highly important and determine the basic temperament and ”matter” of the personality, a deep and fundamental, instinctive perception and ”feel” of the world. You can read about it here, and get a comprehensive idea about the dominance of one or two elements: http://astrology-numerology.com/elements.

Or at this very site:
http://www.astroroom.com/elements.html
http://www.astroroom.com/element-combinations.html

The hemispheres are the upper, lower, left and right parts of your horoscope. A gathering or many planets in one or another will also give a big, general idea of how you go about your life and so on. Check here: http://cafeastrology.com/articles/hemisphereemphasis.html for a short summary, but beware, a single planet alone in one hemisphere is sometimes believed to make that whole hemisphere dominant.

5. Zodiac signs
Yes, the ”Star sign” is important. But its real name is the Sun sign. Of about equal importance is the Moon sign and ”Rising” sign, or Ascendant. Then follows the personal planets: Venus, Mercury, Mars. Jupiter and Saturn have less weight as private influences, but are still important. Uranus, Neptune and Pluto are generational planets and their sign placement matters less for the personality of a single individual. You should read carefully about the meaning of every sign placement in your horoscope (i.e. Mars in Taurus makes a person…etc) after seeing where the planets are placed. A fun and not very heavy website that appears to be new (to me at least) is
http://www.alwaysastrology.com/index.html
It focuses on planets in signs (Mars signs, Moon signs, etc). Otherwise there is always the comprehensive cafeastrology:
http://www.cafeastrology.com/natalastrology.html

6. Sun/Moon sign combination
This is of super importance, since it becomes the synthesis of the two most defining elements of your inner personality. There are a few good books on the subject of the 144 Sun/Moon combinations, but you could go to
http://astrology-numerology.com/sun-moon.html
and get yourself a very good approximation completely free.

7. Rising sign / Ascendant
The zodiac sign that rose to the eastern horizon at the moment of birth is typically known as the rising sign, (or, a little misleadingly, the ascendant). This is a pivotal point or part of the horoscope, since it indicates the external persona, the face to the world, the intuitive projection and expression of the personality. This may not represent the inner being, but in the world that we live in it determines a whole lot of how we function. The exact rising point of the ascendant is a very important and personal ”point of view”, that works sort of like a lens for the rest of your personality, guiding it through a certain stance or attitude to the world. And thereby forming a good deal of the self’s limits and potentials. Check out interpretation of your rising sign here:
http://www.astrologycom.com/asc.html

8. Aspects
The aspects are absolutely essential for any astrologer or student in understanding the dynamic patterns of thought, emotion and action in the life of a person. However, for the beginner, it may be a bit much to take in, especially without the knowledge of what aspects are the strongest and most important. Hence it only makes it to number 8, whereas it otherwise may have been much higher. If you feel motivated, check it out, but try to find out what aspects are the strongest. It is those that are most exact and involves at least one personal planet (Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars). As always, astrology-numerology.com can be counted on.
http://astrology-numerology.com/aspects.html

9. House postions
As a beginner I would probably leave this one out, since the houses introduce another substantial level of confusion. The houses are like the signs, yet different. There are twelve houses, just like signs, but the houses indicate not so much personality as form, or area of activity. If you have the Sun in Leo you are an expressively dramatic and proud person. But if your Leo Sun is in, say, the twelfth house, this creativity is somehow likely to take place in the hidden, or along less conventional paths, or subtly, suggestively. Well you get the point, interaction between signs and houses is complex. If you like, here is an in depth resource:
http://www.cafeastrology.com/natal/planetsinhouses.html

10. Perspective, summary
You can relax. For this doesn't concern you. Only an experienced astrology student can put things together and create a synthesized and unified image of a horoscope. Persons are highly complex and we all know it. But you will have to do with the pieces and parts until you know much more, or hire a good astrologer.

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