“I shall not commit the fashionable stupidity of regarding everything I cannot explain as a fraud.” – Carl Jung (famous psychologist & astrologer)
Astrology is a weird thing. Can the positions of orbiting balls in outer space (made of rock, minerals, metals and gas) influence our personalities and the conditions of our lives? Yea, it’s a weird idea. Other weird ideas from history include: Suggesting to doctors that hand washing reduced the likelihood of infecting patients, or suggesting that the Sun was the centre of the Solar System rather than the Earth. These are now considered facts, but at the time these assertions were put forward, the advocates of these ideas were perceived as rebellious or crazy.
I won’t pretend to understand how astrology works, but time and time again I have witnessed it’s uncanny relevance to people’s lives and stunningly accurate correlations. Maybe some day in the future we will understand how and why it works, but in the meantime, it is an incredible tool to be utilized. I love reading astrological natal charts, and I also love empowering people to read their own charts. If you have already given this page a read, check out this list of helpful blog posts and resources I have compiled to help you get started with learning astrology, or read my beginners’ blog post on learning astrology.
Here are 5 important pointers for beginners:
1) Sun sign astrology has done astrology a huge disservice. Every astrologer groans when they hear someone say, “I don’t identify with my sun sign at all, and those newspaper horoscopes have no relevance for me. Astrology is bs.” The zodiac sign that your sun was in at the time of your birth is one small piece of the puzzle that is your astrological natal chart. If you are a “Leo Sun”, but your Sun is in the 12th House in opposition to Saturn… nope, you are not going to experience life as a typical “Leo” whatsoever. If your Sun is in Gemini, along with the planets Mercury and Venus (in the 3rd or 11th house), then yea, maybe you’ll read a description of a Sun in Gemini and be like, whoa, that’s totally me. Sun signs are important, but remember, they are only one puzzle piece.
Daily or weekly horoscope predictions (in newspapers, magazines, online) are so general that the chances of them resonating with your life are pretty slim. Plus, horoscopes are usually based based on your rising sign (also called your ascendant sign), rather than your sun sign. Some horoscopes are more accurate than others, depending on who is writing them. If you like reading horoscopes, find ones that are written by a skilled, professional astrologer (i.e. not a creative writer who is just making up stuff for money), and try reading the horoscope for your rising sign if you know it (the sign that was rising on the Eastern horizon at the time you were born). But honestly, your natal chart is so unique that transiting planets are going to impact you in drastically different ways than someone else who has the same sun or rising sign as you. If a daily horoscope prediction manages to hit the spot, it is likely just a fluke. If you like reading them, treat them like a fortune cookie.
2) You say you can’t stand Capricorns and you’ll never date a Scorpio again? Just an FYI, if you weren’t aware – you have Capricorn and Scorpio energy in your chart somewhere! Actually it is not uncommon for the sign energy that drives us crazy in other people, to be prominently featured in our own chart. Everyone’s astrological natal chart includes all 12 zodiac signs, all 9 planets (including Pluto), the sun and the moon, as well as a large number of asteroids and mathematical points in the sky. After all, we live in the same Solar System. What makes one astrological natal chart different from another person’s natal chart, is not the presence or absence of a planet or a sign, but the configuration and placement of all these many components, which each chart contains. Here’s an example of what a natal chart looks like:
3) Once upon a time, astronomy and astrology were one and the same. Astronomy is considered the oldest of the natural sciences and is currently defined as by Wikipedia, as “a natural science that studies celestial objects and phenomena. It applies mathematics, physics, and chemistry, in an effort to explain the origin of those objects and phenomena and their evolution.”
Whereas astrology, “in its broadest sense, is the search for human meaning in the sky; it seeks to understand general and specific human behavior through the influence of planets and other celestial objects” (Wikipedia).
Up until about the 17th century, before astrology was relegated to the back-pages of popular magazines and lumped together with other divination techniques, it was considered a scholarly pursuit. There was no distinction between astronomy and astrology.
Even though astronomy and astrology have gone their separate ways, astrology is still very much related to astronomy and it maintains its scientific roots. It’s true, we really don’t know how or why the position and the movement of the planets might be able to influence human behavior. Is it psychic magic? Confirmation bias? Meaningless entertainment?
I always like to emphasize two things when discussing the scientific validity of astrology:
a) Astrology uses astronomically determined data about the position of the planets in order to create natal charts and make interpretations. When you look at a natal chart or a transit chart what you see is the literal and accurate positions of real planetary bodies. For example, I can look at an astrological transit chart and notice that the symbols for the crescent moon and the planet Venus are close together in the sign of Pisces. I can then walk out my front door at night and look up at the sky to see Venus shining brightly beside the crescent moon.
b) When it comes to the interpretation of an astrological chart, I try to clearly distinguish astrology from other divination techniques. Although a lot of astrologers mix astrology sessions with tarot readings and psychic conversations with spirits, that is not what I do. Some may disagree, but I believe astrology is different. It is not a science like astronomy is in the strict sense of the word since we cannot yet explain how it works, but I am not channeling something I can’t see. I know a professional astrologer who practices Tarot and other divination techniques, but she too, sees astrology as being a very different type of practice and keeps it separate.
Astrology provides a number of very systematic and technical techniques to help one “read” a chart. Astrology is essentially like another language. When I read someone’s chart I am translating the language of astrology (my analysis of the aspects, signs, planets, etc.) into your life. Astrology is not reserved for those with special spiritual or psychic skills. Sure, intuition helps, just like psychologists may use their intuition to understand their clients, but if you learn the language of astrology, you will know how to read astrology. It is as simple as that. It can be quite a complicated language, but with even just a basic grasp of astrology you can acquire a working proficiency of the language. With even more study and practice, you can achieve advanced, professional level language proficiency.
4) Many modern astrologers believe people are free agents who make independent choices. There are many different types of astrological charts. One would be your natal chart; the snapshot of the sky at the moment you took your first breath. This chart speaks to your personality traits, your skills and your challenges. Another chart would be a transit chart that identifies what the current solar system looks like and how these transits are interacting with your natal chart. When astrologers are trying to understand the present reality, and prepare for the future, the transit chart of the current sky would be something that they would analyze. However, I agree with Ray Merriman that “Astrology is a forecasting tool. It outlines the likely conditions ahead, not the inevitable outcome, as a prediction would. Astrologers understand that any outcome involves choice, and choice is an aspect of free will. Astrology is a ‘choice revealer, not a choice maker.‘”
An astrologer studying the current planetary positions can be compared to a meteorologist studying current weather patterns. The meteorologist provides a weather forecast so that people know what type of weather to prepare for. It is going to rain tomorrow? This highlights some choices: I could bring an umbrella with me, I could drive to my destination, I could wear rain gear, I could decide to walk and jump in puddles because that is what I feel like doing, etc. The point being, knowing what the weather is going to be tomorrow is empowering and helps me to make choices in order to best prepare. Reading the transiting planets, or the astrological weather forecast, is similar. Just because we can’t stop it from raining tomorrow, does not mean our fate is pre-determined.
EDIT (May 6th, 2017): I’m revisiting my beliefs about free-will and fate. I will write more on this soon, but if you are interested in exploring some thought-provoking discussions about free-will and fate in astrology, check out these podcasts.
5) Why learn astrology? Do you want to grow and develop into the best version of yourself? Would you agree that self-awareness and self-knowledge is key to personal growth and development? Astrology is an amazing tool for gaining self-knowledge.
I believe soul communicates through the body and the senses, emotions, art, stories and archetypes. Astrology is a powerful tool for working with archetypes in our lives. Astrology as an archetypal language is also a soul language. An astrological natal chart can be utilized as if it were a mirror, blueprint, a map of a human soul (you can read more about how astrology relates to archetypes and psychology on my website here).
Your natal chart can identify traits and behavior patterns that perhaps are holding you back. When we bring unconscious traits and behavioral patterns into our consciousness, we are then empowered to address them and to be freed from detrimental, cyclical behavioral patterns. Or alternatively, perhaps you are not fully utilizing and harnessing certain talents and strengths that are revealed in your natal chart, which could help you overcome your challenges and thrive. Astrology can help you recognize these latent energies (e.g. your hidden talents, strengths), and show you how to integrate these elements of your personality to become more fully who you are. Astrology can reveal your purpose in life.
Beyond the natal chart analysis of your personality, your strengths and challenges, astrology can also assist you with aligning your life with different astrological cycles that activate sensitive points in your natal chart. Using astrology to track the influence of transits through your natal chart will help you live a well-timed life and make good decisions. Astrology validates what you are experiencing. It can support you in accepting different cycles of life and being at peace with wherever you are at, while also providing directional signs to guide your next step forward. Sync your life up with the cosmos! Collaborate with cosmic cycles. It is truly an empowering journey.
Check out this list of helpful blog posts and resources I have compiled to get you started with learning how to read and interpret the language of astrology.