The Basics of Astrology

The Common Zodiac Sign

Whether you’re the type of person who likes to read their weekly horoscope, or whether you scoff at the very idea of a pre-determined fate, anyone with even a slight interest in astrology (even if it’s only to mock the very idea of it) knows what their star sign is; and it is also likely that you will have a general idea of what your star sign is supposed to indicate about you.

However, very few people know that there is far more to astrology than just the one star sign – in fact, there are several. Have you ever ready your horoscope and thought ‘Oh, that sounds a little bit like me, but it’s not quite right’? Well, that’s because horoscopes only take into account the most well know star sign, also known as the Zodiac Sign or Sun sign.

Your commonly given Zodiac sign is determined by what Zodiac the sun is positioned in during the day of your birth. This sign is your ego, the most basic elements of the self that create your inner you. While this is the most crucial star sign, it can only give the most basic information on your individual personality and traits: after all, many people share the same birthday, but it’s not like they all share the exact same personality makeup, emotional spectrum and order of life events.

However, if you begin to combine all of the different elements of the astrological chart, you can start to build a clearer picture of yourself; and it’s likely you’ll find a lot of correlation between what your astrological chart says about you, and the life path that you have taken so far.

Interpreting your astrological chart is very complicated, and a clear and accurate reading would require an experienced astrologist to unravel how the the placement of each of the star sign components interact with one another.

For now though, if you’re interested in learning what some of the components mean individually then carry on reading to learn about some of the different aspects of the astrological chart, and what they can tell you about yourself.

What is the Zodiac?

Firstly, an important key to understanding astrology is gaining better knowledge of the Zodiac.

The zodiac wheel was created by the ancient babylonians. They began by first splitting our sky into four sections, one for each of the equinoxes and solstices (the markers for each of our four seasons).

They then split each of these four sectors of the sky into a further 3 sections, creating a full 360-degree zodiac circle with 12 equal sections of 30 degrees each. Therefore, the zodiac wheel is a visual representation of our view of the solar system, sliced into 12 equal sections (one for each zodiac sign).


While, scientifically speaking, we are all aware that it is the planets which revolve around the Sun, within the field of astrology you consider the view point from Earth. From this perspective, the Sun appears to travel around the Earth, passing through each of the 12 zodiac signs as it does so.

The Moon, and the rest of the planets also play an important role within the Zodiac wheel, as their astronomical position at your time of birth can indicate a lot about you.

The Positions of the Moon and Planets

The Moon Sign

Your moon sign, like your sun sign, should be one of three star signs (with the third being your rising sign) which you just know off of the top of your head. Together, these big three signs paint a much more in-depth picture of your personality, emotions and the way in which you present yourself to the world. Just as the moon influences the ever changing tide, it also influences the ebbs and flows of your mood, and your moon sign can tell a lot about your emotional tendencies; for example, some one with the moon in cancer (which is also the zodiac governed by the moon) is often incredibly sensitive and empathetic, with very keen intuition.

The Planetary Signs

Each of the zodiacs has a ruling planet, which governs some of the most prominent qualities in each persons Zodiac (for example, the moon for Cancer, Sun for Leo and Neptune for Pisces). However, we aren’t just affected by the ruling planet of our Zodiac, we are also influenced by the positions of all of the planets: and the ones in our birth chart determine a lot about us as individuals. It is important to remember that, just like anything in astrology, the planets do not cause you to think, feel or do anything, they only indicate the ways in which you are likely to behave.

Mercury and Pluto: The planet mercury governs thought processes and how we deal with information; as well as how we think, learn and communicate. For example, some one who has Mercury in Sagittarius is likely to be a great debater and enjoying learning new information. Pluto represents transformation, power, and abundance in terms of wealth. As a slow moving planet, whole generations will share the same Pluto sign, which is why this planet has such an influence over society on a larger scale. Pluto brings about regeneration and huge life upheavals, but it is always for the purpose of healing.

Venus and Mars: Venus is the planet of love, pleasure, and beauty, and influences the relationships and emotions that you attract in life whether they are emotional, physical/material, mental, or spiritual. Where as Venus is all about feminine energy, Mars is the masculine; it governs physical energy,  and is associated with your desires, aspirations and drive for life.

Uranus and Jupiter: Jupiter is the planet which brings the capacity for growth and abundance. It governs qualities such as abundance (in all areas of life), knowledge and higher learning, honesty and generosity. Jupiter signifies knowledge, higher leaning, breadth of vision, confidence, charity and good-will, frankness and honesty. Similarly, Uranus is also about growth, as it urges you to discover your true nature. Uranus brings forth intuition, insight and sudden change, breaking old patterns and making way for new ideas and opportunities.

Saturn and Neptune: Saturn is sometimes viewed as an incredibly serious and almost negative planet, because it is associated with the restrictions, boundaries and obstacles that we face in everyday life. However, it is these practicalities which keep us focused, on track, and give us the ability to learn important life lessons. Saturn influences ambition, and governs a person’s sense of responsibility, and capacity for endurance during hardships. Where as Saturn brings reality, Neptune is the gateway to other realms of reality: it is the planet of  imagination and illusion, often creating confusion and the chaos before creation, as well as spiritual healing.

The Houses and Their Significance

astrological chart

Like the Zodiac, the 12 Houses of astrology are sectioned into a circle-shaped chart, or wheel. However, this is not the same chart as the Zodiac- they are two entirely separate wheels. The Zodiac focuses on the suns rotation around the earth, meaning the transition around all 12 zodiacs takes one year. The Wheel of Houses, however, runs in accordance with the Earths 24 hour rotation about its own axis.

Therefore, not only are the planets evaluated depending on which zodiac they are in, but also by which House they are in during your birth chart. This is one of the main reasons why two people may share the same sun sign (e.g. Leo), but exhibit seemingly different traits  (as one might have a Leo sun in the 10th house, while another might have theirs in the 3rd).

Each of the 12 Houses of astrology represent a different aspect of human life, and therefore they tell you where and how the different energies of the planets will manifest in your life, rather than what the energy itself will be.

While each of the houses are representative of important aspects of life, the most significant are the 1st, 4th, 7th, and 10th houses; these are also known as the “angular houses” due to their cusps (the barriers between each house) coinciding with the 4 special angles: ascendant, I.C., descendant, and M.C.) You can read more about the angular houses below:

Rising Sign (1st house cusp)

The Rising sign is one of the big three star signs. In fact, it is often considered the most important, as it is believed that all of the other signs are filtered through this rising sign, and that it has an influence on how the other signs manifest in our lives (again, this is why two people who share the same sun sign do not automatically exhibit the same characteristics).

On a birth chart, the rising sign is the cusp of the first house. This is the sign which was rising over the earth at the very moment you took your first breath, which is why it is one of the most influential signs in the astrological chart. This is also why an accurate time of birth is needed to create your astrological chart: the rising sign shifts every few minutes, meaning that twins born within minutes of each other can be born with completely different rising signs.

While your sun sign represents your truest inner self, the rising sign represents our appearance in the world. It is the image we project, and how the actions we make in our lives leave an impression on the people and the environment around us.

Imum Coeli (4th house cusp)

The fourth cusp is indicative your personal background: where your roots began,  how you were raised, and your core beliefs. Therefore, this also highlights any hidden insecurities as well as childhood beliefs and fears, which is why this part of the chart is often hardest for astrologers to read. These are the deepest and most private parts of the self, and connecting with the planets in this section of your chary will allow you to begin to truly understand yourself.

Descendant Sign (7th house cusp)

While the ascendant sign is everything we hope to become, our descendant sign is often described as our  “shadow side”: reflecting everything that we are not, or do not wish to be. The zodiac or planets in this sign often indicate the qualities which we disassociate from, as well as the qualities and characteristics which we do not wish to acknowledge exist within ourselves.

However, many people are drawn to those who do hold these qualities (opposites attract after all), and this is often because they can teach us things about ourselves, allow us to evaluate our own hidden qualities, and provide balance to our lives.

Midheaven (10th house cusp)

The Midheaven is the polar opposite to the Imum Coeli.  Located at the very top of your astrological chart, and therefore as the highest point in your chart it embodies your highest, and most long term aspirations and goals. The midheaven cusp is indicative of where you intend to go in your life: what you want to achieve, how you want to be perceived and who you want to be as a person. In essence, it could be considered the driving force of your life purpose (a.k.a your destiny) and any planets in this section of your chart will greatly affect how your future plays out.

What does all this mean?

As stated in the beginning, Astrology is a very complex medium to understand. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t use the basics to learn more about yourself. All you need to know to access your own comprehensive birth chart is your time and date of birth, and the city that you were born in. To begin with, the best place to start would be by evaluating your Sun sign, Moon sign and Rising sign, as these three combine to create the most basic elements of the self.

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