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Understanding Astrology - The Basics

Archetypal map of the constellations

We’ve all come across astrology somewhere along the line, maybe it was an astrology column in a newspaper or magazine, or maybe we heard someone talking about their star sign at a party. Either way first impressions of astrology tend to be vague and fanciful, something harmless and entertaining but not to be taken seriously.

The thing is that those astrology columns in magazines have little to do with astrology, and in some cases the writers of the columns know nothing about it and simply make up something to say each month for each sign. No wonder astrology is misunderstood and overlooked.

So what is Astrology really?

The practise of astrology dates back to antiquity, and has been evolving ever since and today there are many different astrological approaches. The first thing to know is that when people talk about their star signs, and they say that they are a Libra or a Leo, they are really referring to their Sun Sign. It’s the sign that the Sun was in on the day of birth, and it's one small part of a whole birth chart, which includes the positions of all the celestial bodies i.e. the Sun, Moon and all the planets.

Nobody knows for sure how astrology works, but through observation and correlation, it is clear that it does; professor of philosophy, Richard Tarnas in his book Cosmos and Psyche, covers in detail how the major events of Western cultural history correlate consistently and meaningfully with the observed angular positions of the planets in the heavens. In a similar way the key development phases and turning points in an individual life can also be mapped.

Astrology can help us

  • Know ourselves better by drawing our attention to the way we orient to life

  • Identify character strengths and weaknesses

  • Understand past karmic patterns and future growth intentions

  • Prepare for upcoming growth cycles

  • Navigate life challenges by revealing causes and potential solutions

  • Uncover hidden potential

  • Understand relationship dynamics

To calculate a natal birth chart, the date of birth, place of birth and time of birth are used to create a unique picture of the heavens when a person is born. It’s always best to have the most accurate time of birth, but within an hour of the exact time is usually ok for chart interpretation.

A chart consists of a zodiacal wheel with the 12 star signs, the symbols of the celestial bodies i.e. planets, 12 houses and the aspects between the planets (shown in the middle of the chart as lots of coloured lines criss crossing).

A typical natal chart looks something like this

The star signs and the planets are given symbols (see below). The 12 star signs represent all possible life experience - think of white light split through a prism to generate the colours of the rainbow. Each sign represents a different aspect of life; some signs like Libra are social and represent the need to be in relationships, others like Taurus are practical and represent the need to survive and how we relate to resources. The signs therefore represent archetypal energy, the energy patterns that underly all experience. The celestial bodies also represent archetypal forces and when the two are brought together a very complex and individual blueprint can be seen.

Astrology is both an art and a science, and is based on natural timeless truths, and is a reliable tool for making sense of the world, your life and your relationships.


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