The Astrologer
Astrology
Introduction to Astrology
Astrology is a tool that can help you make better life choices. An accurate interpretation of the heavens reveals truths about human nature.

Introduction to Astrology

Though people may talk about astrology in woo-woo terms, like magic or ghosts -- 'Do you believe in astrology?' -- it's not a belief system, and it's definitely not a supernatural phenomenon. It's an ancient and complex system based on careful observation of the heavens, one that you can use to better understand human nature and life here on earth. Read more

Astrology is a tool that can help you make better life choices. An accurate interpretation of the heavens reveals truths about human nature.

Though people may talk about astrology in woo-woo terms, like magic or ghosts -- 'Do you believe in astrology?' -- it's not a belief system, and it's definitely not a supernatural phenomenon. It's an ancient and complex system based on careful observation of the heavens, one that you can use to better understand human nature and life here on earth.

This part of our web site talks about what Astrology is, how is has been used throughout history and some famous people who have used it.

The signs and planets are also described as well as the elements such as Fire, Earth, Air and Water and the qualities such as Cardinal, Fixed and Mutable. These energies point to a persons disposition or temperament.

Aspects and orbs get a little bit more technical and describe the basic geometrics or mathematics of astrology. This is where astrologers can really get into the nuts and bolts of a chart to determine crucial information about one or more individuals, events or simply to answer questions.

Our cusp information puts to rest once and for all the confusion for 16% of the population on which sign were they born under. Get the real truth here right now...

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  What is Astrology
What is Astrology? Though people may talk about astrology in woo-woo terms, like magic or ghosts -- 'Do you believe in astrology?' -- it's not a belief system, and it's definitely not a supernatural phenomenon. It's an ancient and complex system based on careful observation of the heavens, one that you can use to better understand human nature and life here on earth. Read more

Though people may talk about astrology in woo-woo terms, like magic or ghosts -- 'Do you believe in astrology?' -- it's not a belief system, and it's definitely not a supernatural phenomenon. It's an ancient and complex system based on careful observation of the heavens, one that you can use to better understand human nature and life here on earth.

There are so many components to astrology that it can get pretty confusing. Sun signs, birth charts, planets and aspects... Lots of factors go into an accurate reading of astrological conditions and how they relate to you. But just for starters, at the exact moment that you were born, the planets were in particular positions in the sky. Together, they tell all about you, heart and soul.

But astrology is way more than just a personality portrait. It's also a guide for day-to-day living, and more. Where the planets lie in the twelve signs of the Zodiac tells astrologers the tone of each planet's particular energy, and how that will affect us. And the ways in which any two given planets interact with, or aspect, each other, also describe important influences for our lives.

Astrology doesn't just give you insights into the future; it reveals tendencies and truths about human nature, not to mention the world at large. And it gives you the tools you need to make better, more intelligent and informed decisions in your life. The more you learn, the better you'll be able to apply astrology's wisdom to your own life.

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Seasons
  • Spring Equinox

    The Spring Equinox occurs around March 21 each year, when the sun enters the Cardinal sign of Aries and the spring season officially begins in the Northern Hemisphere. The Sun rises due east and sets due west, no matter where on the planet you are. Days and nights are nearly equal.

    Holidays during this time, such as Easter and Beltane, usually relate to fertility and the hope for successful crops in the field. Spring has been associated with burgeoning sexuality. In song, spring suggests the maiden or lad as they step into adulthood. Life offers many opportunities that have yet to be explored. Everything is fresh, new and exciting. Hormones act up and libidinal urges start to simmer within.

    The Spring Equinox is also an in-between period that is a great for cleaning, hence the expression 'spring cleaning.' No longer stuck indoors due to frigid weather, the rising temperatures allow for more freedom out of the house. However, April showers usually prevent full enjoyment of the outdoors, so it is more useful to engage in activities now that will free up your time later when the weather warms up. Plant seeds around your home that will blossom in the coming months. The signs of life that are just starting to show can bring an optimistic mood. When the Sun finally makes a longer appearance, you'll see many more bodies out to play.

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  • Summer Solstice

    The Summer Solstice occurs around June 21 or so, when the Sun enters the Cardinal sign of Cancer. The Sun rises and sets at the greatest northern distance from the equator, and it achieves the greatest elevation in the sky at midday. Summer officially begins with the longest day of the year and the shortest night in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere, the reverse is true: This is the shortest day of the year and the longest night.

    Many traditional holidays were observed at this time, usually praying for success of the crops and also acknowledging the eventual decline of light and return of darkness. Although it's officially the beginning of summer, this day is also known as Midsummer, which refers to the middle of the growing season in much of Europe and North America.

    With the Summer Solstice come activities associated with the warmer weather. Passions generally heat up when the temperature climbs to higher figures. Activities are more extroverted, which is why there are so many barbecues, parties and outdoor concerts. Kids get their long-awaited break for fun and games. This is also a great time for physical workouts and sporting activities outdoors, just before the summer heat becomes unbearable.

    Opportunities to meet new people are more likely with increased social events. Hot new romances can occur as people shed their many layers of winter clothing. Cabin fever may be high as the reclusive period of the cold season officially closes. In song, summer can refer to the height of a person's physical prowess and power.

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  • Autumn Equinox

    The Autumn Equinox occurs around September 21 each year, when the Sun enters the Cardinal sign of Libra and the autumn season officially begins in the Northern Hemisphere.

    During the Autumn Equinox, the Sun rises due east and sets due west, no matter where on the planet you are. Days and nights are just about equal. Autumn marks the lengthening nights and darkening skies. Trees change colors as the leaves fall to the ground. The energy in the air has shifted from the extroverted, free-spirited nature of summer fun to a quieter, more reflexive foreshadowing of winter.

    In song, Autumn refers to the mature stage of life just past the prime, but before the retirement years. The lightheartedness of summer has passed, the harvest is almost in, school has begun. There is knowledge to be gained. The motivation to work is much greater at this time as folks instinctively prepare for the cold winter months ahead.

    This is a time to save resources. Stock up on foods for the long fallow period ahead. Preserve the foods you harvest, make jams and prepare lots of meals to freeze for unbearably cold days ahead that will keep you indoors. Bring your winter wear out of the back of the closet. As autumn progresses and the nights grow longer still, you may find yourself in a more reflective state. Holidays such as Halloween and the Day of the Dead remind us of the transitory nature of life. Crops die, waiting for the chance to be reborn in the next cycle.

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  • Autumn Solstice

    The Winter Solstice occurs on December 21 or so, when the Sun enters the Cardinal sign of Capricorn. The Sun rises and sets at the greatest southern distance from the equator. This day marks the official beginning of the winter season with the longest night of the year and the shortest day. In the Southern Hemisphere, the opposite is true: This time marks the longest day of the year and shortest night.

    The Winter Solstice correlates with many traditional world holidays, usually associated with 'festival of light' celebrations, which honor the dark of the year and express faith in the return of light and the upcoming growing season. Christmas, Hanukkah, Diwali, St. Lucia's Day and Loi Krathong are just a few examples of some holidays near the Winter Solstice.

    Winter is the time when creatures in cold climates prepare to hibernate and settle in for the season. The long nights lend to rest, introspection, meditation, home cooking, recovery, sleep and study. This may be why holidays near this solstice tend toward family activities and rituals. In song, winter refers to the mature years of adulthood, the time of retirement.

    Winter Solstice also signals the passage of a cycle. You may want to take this period to evaluate the major events of the previous 12 months. Did you accomplish what you hope to achieve during that time? Would you have done anything differently? As you ponder in retrospect on what has just passed, you can begin to look forward to what you might achieve in the upcoming year.

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  History of Astrology
Astrology is an ancient wisdom, a mathematical system and an art, not to mention a science that actually predates astronomy. Though ancient, its wisdom is every bit as applicable today as it was thousands of years ago. Read more

Astrology is an ancient wisdom, a mathematical system and an art, not to mention a science that actually predates astronomy. Though ancient, its wisdom is every bit as applicable today as it was thousands of years ago.

It all began when humans at the dawn of time started trying to understand the relationship between the Earth and the heavens, and the movement of the stars in the sky. Astrological interpretations of star omens first showed up on cuneiform tablets found in Mesopotamia. They contain information about Venus, as its movements in the sky corresponded with earthly affairs such as wars, crops and more.

Various forms of astrology have shown up in countless eras and media since those early days. Versions of astrology were developed concurrently in Africa, Asia, India and the Americas, where they're still used today. Shakespeare referenced astrology in his plays, penned in the fifteen and sixteen hundreds (such as Romeo and Juliet's 'star-crossed lovers'). The three wise men in the Bible were actually astrologers who followed the Star of Bethlehem to honor the birth of Jesus.

In the twentieth century, astrology shifted from what was once a fatalistic perspective of dire predictions to what it is today -- a much more humanistic tool to be used for personal growth. In the updated version of astrology, its wisdom encourages us to face down the challenges presented in our birth charts and within the courses of our lives.

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  The Signs
There are twelve signs in the Zodiac, one for each month of the year. Unfortunately, the signs and the calendar don't align perfectly. The Zodiac begins in mid-March, not on January first; and signs span from roughly the 20th or 21st of one month to the 19th or 20th of the next, not the 1st to the 31st. (Are you confused yet? No? Good!) Read more
There are twelve signs in the Zodiac, one for each month of the year. Unfortunately, the signs and the calendar don't align perfectly. The Zodiac begins in mid-March, not on January first; and signs span from roughly the 20th or 21st of one month to the 19th or 20th of the next, not the 1st to the 31st. (Are you confused yet? No? Good!) When someone asks you what your sign is, they're referring to your Sun Sign -- where the sun was in the Zodiac at the exact moment of your birth. But every other planet in your birth chart is also located in a particular sign, and is influenced by that sign's unique energy. This explains why everyone who's born under the influence of the same Sun Sign can still have such vastly different personalities; each of us is made up of a complex and unique combination of influences from the twelve signs, the twelve houses and all the planets, asteroids and points... Now, that's definitely getting complicated! But clearly, having lots of planets in a certain sign in your chart will only intensify that sign's influence in your life. Each sign of the Zodiac is associated with a particular symbol, usually an animal, like the Ram (Aries) or the Bull (Taurus); an element, such as Air (Gemini) or Water (Cancer); and a quality, such as Fixed (Leo) or Mutable (Virgo). Each of these variables helps us to understand more about the signs that influence us and the energy inherent in each.
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Signs
  • Aries

    Aries is symbolized by the Ram, which is highly appropriate -- this sign is headstrong and impulsive, and won't often back down from a challenge or confrontation. While confrontations can be exciting, they can also lead to a frustrating locking of horns with an imagined foe; and that, in a nutshell, explains a significant part of the Aries experience.

    A Cardinal Fire Sign that's ruled by Mars, the planet of passion, it's no wonder that Aries is one of the strongest, most impulsive and courageous signs of the Zodiac. This sign is fearless when it comes to challenge and conquest -- and yes, that can apply to love as well as any other kind of adventure. Aries will pursue a relationship with the same single-minded energy that they'll apply to any other project, and they won't often let obstacles keep them from reaching their goal. That's why any interaction with this sign equals big excitement!

    But sometimes, that excitement can verge toward agitation. Aries is as hot-blooded as it is warmhearted, which can mean a fiery temper to match that strong drive. This sign gets mad fast when it doesn't get what it wants; the good news is, it will rarely hold a grudge. There's too much to do and see in life to waste time clinging to old, outmoded emotions! While another sign would still be stewing in its juices, Aries is already off jumping headfirst into the next adventure.

    Ariens make great race car drivers, CEOs and Karate instructors.

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  • Taurus

    Taurus is symbolized by the Bull, an association that is quite apt. This sign can be very stubborn, and tends to dig in its heels when faced with the need to step aside or -- shudder -- change course. But Taurus is also one of the strongest signs of the Zodiac, and can pull its own weight and then some when necessary.

    A Fixed Earth Sign, Taurus defines stability, which can get dull -- sometimes this sign becomes a stick in the mud. Thank goodness it's ruled by Venus, the love planet! Venus lends Taurus a healthy dose of sensuality and a pleasure-loving streak about a mile wide. That's why so many Taureans are built sturdily, with strong bones and muscles and some extra meat on their frames -- they love to eat rich, delicious foods almost as much as they love lying around, cuddling with their sweetie. They're charmers, in touch with all the sensual pleasures of life, which means they get a bit lazy from time to time. After all, why work hard when life is so deliciously enjoyable?

    But Taurus also has a strong back that's made for hard work, and an excellent grasp of resources. While this sign won't shy away from spending a nice chunk of cash on something that's really worth it -- a new, gorgeous outfit or a luxurious dinner at a five-star restaurant -- it also knows when the credit card is maxed out and it's time to pull back.

    Taureans make great restaurant critics, farmers and luxury boutique owners.

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  • Gemini

    Gemini is symbolized by the Twins, those playful, mischievous little beings that speak perfectly to the heart of a Gemini! The most playful, and devious, sign of the Zodiac, Gemini has the energy of two people, and all the diverse interests and urges that go with it.

    A Mutable Air Sign that's ruled by Mercury, the communication planet, Gemini is all about communication and the intellect. This sign's best friend is someone who will stay up late with them, discussing everything under the sun. Quick-witted and highly observant, Geminis don't miss much; they have an agile sense of humor and a real need for freedom -- intellectual, romantic and otherwise. That's right, Geminis like to play around a lot, including in their love life. There are just so many interesting people out there! And this sign gets bored fast. Plus, Geminis tend to intellectualize their feelings, so they're not much for sentimentalism and deep, gooey emotional bonding (ick!).

    Geminis can also be indecisive, precisely because they have so many divergent interests and urges that they may not know which one to follow first. As a result, they can be wishy-washy, changing their minds with zero notice. But what they lack in steadfastness, they make up in spades in excitement. This sign has the well-deserved reputation of the life of the party, and is also extra fun to have along on a road trip, a visit to the bookstore or the theater...well, anywhere, really!

    Geminis make great writers, journalists and photographers.

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  • Cancer

    Cancer is symbolized by the Crab, which makes a lot of sense when you take that sensitive, emotional nature into account. When things get tense, Cancer goes into self-protection mode, pulling into its shell until the trouble clears.

    A Cardinal Water Sign, emotional Cancer is ruled by the Moon, which explains that ultra-sensitive moodiness. But Cancer isn't all about protecting itself; not even close. This sign is the caretaker of the Zodiac, who will go to great lengths to keep its loved ones safe and supported. Cancers are nothing if not deeply connected with their families, and would do anything for their friends as well -- even if it doesn't always seem like it. Cancer can come across as a very introverted sign, but that doesn't mean they don't care. This sign can get so emotional that it doesn't know how to express itself, and there's that handy shell again, ready for Cancer to retreat to.

    For this reason, Cancers need to surround themselves with caring types who understand their moods, which can fluctuate as often as the moon (as in, every day!). And in return, this sign will offer its friends and family the gift of steadfast devotion and support. Cancer's interest in family goes deeper than the immediate present, by the way. This sign is a natural historian with its interest in ancestry, genealogy and lineage. They'll just as happily spend hours mapping their family tree as they will cooking up a feast for their loved ones.

    Cancers make great chefs, caretakers and historians.

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  • Leo

    Leo is symbolized by the Lion, and this sign personifies all the leadership, pride, warmth, courage and strength of the King of the Jungle. And it brings its own touch of drama to boot! This sign has a real taste for the exciting and dramatic, which makes for a stimulating friend indeed.

    A Fixed Fire Sign that is ruled by the brightly-shining Sun, Leo loves to be the center of attention, and like any good drama queen, can get pretty stubborn when it doesn't get its way. Ever wonder why so many actors are Leos? It's because their bigger-than-life personalities are made for the stage. They have a healthy sense of their own egos, and they adore being in the spotlight.

    But despite what can seem like egotism, Leos make wonderful, devoted friends. Loyalty is one of their strongest points, and as long as they feel they're getting the proper attention and respect from their loved ones, they'll return the favor with grand gestures of devotion. Grand gestures, in fact, are Leo's forte. This fiercely romantic sign will go to dramatic lengths to woo the object of its desires. Leo won't just stop with a dozen roses; it will deluge its lover with a roomful of fragrant blooms. And dinner and a movie? Amateurish! Leo loves luxury and finery, and will treat a date to the finest five-star restaurant, or better yet, a private rooftop feast catered by the best chef in the city.

    Leos make great movie stars, theater directors and managers.

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  • Virgo

    Virgo is symbolized by the Virgin -- but don't take that too literally. While this sign can be prim and fastidious, it also has a wild side. That reputation of virginity has much more to do with purity and perfectionism than sexuality, although Virgos can be a bit reserved or even prudish behind closed doors until they find the right person with whom they can relax and let their hair down.

    A Mutable Earth Sign, Virgo may seem to hold back -- this sign is more comfortable with following someone else's lead than with getting out there, front and center -- but despite that prim aloofness, Virgo carries its own brand of understated sensuality. And though this sign is very discriminating about everyone and everything, when it falls in love, it only wants to be of service to its mate. That's how this sign shows its devotion, and while it may take a long time for Virgo to reach the point of commitment in love, once that bond is forged, it's stronger than steel.

    Virgo is also devoted to its friends, and wants to help out in any way possible, including by offering advice...which can verge into criticism. Ruled by Mercury, the planet of communication, Virgo is all about getting its ideas across, even if they're coming across as nitpicking. This sign means well; what looks like criticism is actually Virgo's never-ending quest for perfection. It's a tall order for anyone, but if anyone can do it, Virgo can.

    Virgos make great accountants, research analysts and healthcare practitioners.

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  • Libra

    Libra is symbolized by the Scales, which are all about balance -- Libra's lifelong pursuit. This sign is happiest when everything around it is in equilibrium; when everyone is happy and getting along, and there are no major injustices making life seem less sweet.

    A Cardinal Air Sign that's ruled by Venus, the Love Planet, Libra is all about living the sweet life. Parties and romance are just two of this sign's favorite pastimes. Libras can't stand confrontations and seek out happy, beautiful people. Their motto might be, 'Why can't we all just get along?' For this reason, they make excellent partners in love and business, but they can also be somewhat wishy-washy. Libra would rather waffle around, not really giving a solid response to a question, than put its foot down on an issue and potentially alienate or upset someone. This sign is known to be indecisive, but really it's that Libran desire to please getting in the way of ever taking a firm stance.

    Similarly, Libras can be prone to telling little white lies, also in the name of sparing someone's feelings. This is the friend that will say, 'That dress looks great on you!' when secretly, they think it adds ten pounds to your frame. And this is the lover who won't speak up when their feelings are hurt, because they just want harmony at home. But whatever else one might say about a Libra, that search for harmony makes for a sweet, gentle and refined friend.

    Libras make great diplomats, artists and party planners.

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  • Scorpio

    Scorpio is symbolized by the Scorpion, which immediately calls to mind that poisonous tail that can lash out and sting when its victims least expect it. Scorpios can be like that, when highly upset or pushed into a corner. This is a complex, passionate sign that sometimes acts in passion rather than thinking things through properly first.

    A Fixed Water Sign, Scorpio is ruled by both Mars and Pluto, which is where all that passionate intensity comes from, mixed in with emotions that run miles deep like a fathomless ocean -- and, of course, the stubbornness to match. Whew -- what a combination! It's no wonder this sign is known to be incredibly intense. Scorpio has so many things going on under the surface, it's a wonder it can seem so put together. But that passion and intensity make for a highly compelling personality. Scorpio is one of the sexiest signs of the Zodiac, and its reputation is outshined only by its reality -- as a magnetic, brave sign that can become possessive and vengeful when given proper motivation.

    It's true -- Scorpios can make formidable enemies, and they're only slightly less intimidating as friends. They love to control their surroundings (including the people around them), and often take a behind-the-scenes approach to manipulation. But it all comes from a good place -- that drive to connect, to know as deeply as they want to be known.

    Scorpios make great psychologists, dramatic actors and surgeons.

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  • Sagittarius

    Sagittarius is symbolized by the Archer, that truth-seeker of the Zodiac who sends out arrow after arrow, aiming for the horizon. This is much the way that Sagittarius operates in life: striking out into the unknown with a far-reaching, idealistic vision of the possibilities inherent in the universe.

    A Mutable Fire Sign, Sagittarius is ruled by Jupiter, the planet of luck. And this sign does seem lucky -- Sags are always falling into great experiences and opportunities, seemingly without effort. But maybe that's because of that Mutable nature that allows them to go with the flow, switching course at a moment's notice. What better way to bring luck into your life than to keep your eyes open for opportunities? Sagittarius is famous, however, for not being able to see the trees for the forest. This sign's attention to detail isn't the greatest; they're too busy getting excited about the big picture to keep an eye on the little things.

    Sagittarius has a reputation as a lifelong student and teacher, a people-lover and an adventurer. In short, this sign wants to get out into the world and experience everything and everyone in it! Yes, it's true -- this sign loves people and experience so much that it can find it hard to settle down with just one person. Sagittarius can't stand routine; this sign thrives on spontaneity, so whoever claims the heart of a Sag will be someone who keeps them guessing.

    Sagittarians make great teachers, travel guides and extreme sports athletes.

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  • Capricorn

    Capricorn is symbolized by the Goat. Picture that little mountain goat, always climbing to the top of the mountain -- that's Capricorn, ever ascending to the heights of their career. Capricorns are hard workers who feel a lifelong, inner need to impress others with their accomplishments and that healthy bank balance.

    A Cardinal Earth Sign, Capricorns not only know how to get things going, they've got the perseverance necessary to get things done. They're not much for risk-taking, though; this sign only likes risks if they're the calculated type -- and sometimes calculated, recalculated and figured out a third time. Capricorns work hard, and they like to see returns for their efforts (read: cold, hard cash). That's right: Capricorns have an eye for the bottom line. Will it cost more money than it's worth? Then Capricorn won't do it. On the other hand, this sign will take a low-paying position as a stepping stone to something higher-paid and more prestigious.

    It's no wonder Capricorn is so conscientious and hardworking -- this sign is ruled by Saturn, the taskmaster planet that urges discipline in all endeavors. And while Capricorns can be something of a stick in the mud, insisting on adhering to the plan, the itinerary or the routine, they also make incredibly loyal and devoted friends. Capricorn is an honest sign that lives by two mottoes: deceit doesn't pay, and it takes twice as long to do it wrong than to get it right the first time.

    Capricorns make great stock analysts, loan officers and news anchors.

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  • Aquarius

    Aquarius is symbolized by the Water Bearer, the humanitarian of the Zodiac who brings water to the parched masses and loves to lend a helping hand. More than anything, though, Aquarius likes to feel different from everyone else around them. This sign will hang out with extremely conservative types as a foil to their liberal tendencies.

    Although its symbol is the Water Bearer, Aquarius is in fact an Air sign, not a water sign. Fixed Air Aquarius embodies both stability and the urge to roam freely. Guess that's part of being co-ruled by Uranus, the planet of rebellion, along with Saturn, the planet of discipline. Uranus's changeable, unpredictable nature paired with Saturn's focused energy; the steadfastness of Fixity paired with the free-flowing quality of Air... Which influence should Aquarius follow? This sign is definitely an interesting blend of characteristics: communicative yet guarded; always seeking out the new and unusual, and yet most comfortable with staying the course. What's the old yarn about Aquarius? 'They love humanity. It's people they can't stand.' What a strange mix of contradictions!

    Aquarius is the most freedom-seeking sign of the Zodiac, which can make this sign rather hard to pin down. To be romantically involved with an Aquarius means accepting that, as soon as you get to the party, that Aquarius lover will disappear into the crowd without a backward glance! But even though this sign can have trouble getting comfortable when it's one-on-one, Aquarius is one of the most devoted and loyal of all the signs.

    Aquarians make great philanthropists, inventors and scientists.

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  • Pisces

    Pisces is symbolized by the Fish, those two little creatures whose scales glint in the sun as they follow where the stream takes them. And just as that stream can symbolize the subconscious mind or the winding path of life itself, Pisces is like those fish, swimming along in the currents, taking what comes and throwing off rainbows as it goes.

    A Mutable Water Sign, fanciful Pisces knows exactly how to go with the flow. This sign is perfectly happy following someone else's lead, especially if it's the lead of a trusted loved one. Pisces is a highly romantic sign, one that tunes in on an intuitive, almost psychic level to its friends and lovers, intuiting their emotional needs and doing what it can to meet them. This is the sign that brings home stray puppies because it can't bear to see them left alone and hungry, which is a wonderful quality...but one that can get Pisces into trouble from time to time.

    Ruled by Neptune, the planet of illusion, this sign thrives on fantasy and imagination, and easily slips into savior fantasies. Pisces can be a champion of lost causes, because its inherent idealism blinds it to the fact that some people and situations just can't be saved. On the other hand, that love of fantasy can make for a very imaginative friend and lover (and some overwhelming lovemaking experiences!). And that desire to meet others' needs makes for an incredibly caring, sensitive soul.

    Pisceans make great poets, dream analysts and massage therapists.

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  The Planets
When you hear the word planets, you probably think of the Solar System -- as in, My Very Eager Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas. Ever heard that one? It's a mnemonic device used to memorize the order of the planets, from Mercury on out to Pluto. But in astrology, the planets in our birth chart include more than just those nine -- including celestial bodies that we don't normally think of as planets, such as the Sun and the Moon. Read more

When you hear the word planets, you probably think of the Solar System -- as in, My Very Eager Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas. Ever heard that one? It's a mnemonic device used to memorize the order of the planets, from Mercury on out to Pluto. But in astrology, the planets in our birth chart include more than just those nine -- including celestial bodies that we don't normally think of as planets, such as the Sun and the Moon.

The planets were in a certain, distinctive pattern in the sky at the exact moment that you were born, and a map of their configuration is called your natal chart, or birth chart. Each planet represents something in itself -- your personality (Sun), the way you think (Mercury), the way you love (Venus) and so on -- but together, the angles and connections among all of them also paint a highly specific and accurate portrait of who you are as an individual.

Some people like to claim that astrology doesn't work -- that it provides only generic information that could be applied to anyone. But take a look at a reading of your birth chart, and you'll find out just how specific the information gets! You'll be amazed by the picture of you that astrology paints, including in-depth analysis of your emotional life, your dreams and motivations and your subconscious drives.

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Planets
  • Sun

    Just as the sun is the center of the orbit of all the planets in the solar system, it's also the center of you -- your inner fire, the vital energy that will run through you your whole life. It represents your basic, core personality, separate from all the other influences that drive you. Your Sun tells a lot about you, not only your personality itself but your strengths and challenges in life and your purpose here on Earth. That's a lot of meaning and information for one planet to carry! That's why it burns so brightly, with such strength.

    You've probably heard the old cliche, 'Hey, baby, what's your sign?' That refers to your Sun Sign -- where the Sun was in the Zodiac at the moment you were born. Even if you think you're not that similar to a description of your Sun Sign, don't be fooled. Some people have complex charts with lots of strong and varied influences that give them multifaceted, even seemingly contradictory personalities. But in general, through the course of your life, you'll move closer to the true meaning and energy of your Sun Sign, because that is the core of you. It embodies who you are, who you're striving to be, the lessons you need to learn and the strengths you already possess to get where you're going in life.

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  • Moon

    Like the seasons and the tides, your emotions ebb and flow in cycles. Just as the Moon pulls the tides, it also pulls at your subconscious mind, rhythmically, subtly, mysteriously, but as predictably as the tide rolls in and back out again. The Moon governs all kinds of cycles; you've probably heard that women's menstrual cycles are connected to its monthly phases. Your feelings and your subconscious mind also lie within this planet's domain.

    Your emotional nature is influenced by where the Moon lies in your birth chart -- not only what sign of the Zodiac it's in, but how it aspects the other planets in your chart. It can tell you a lot about your emotional nature -- whether you process your feelings easily or bottle them up; whether you tend toward contentment, anger, sensitivity or what have you. Your attitudes toward love and intimacy are greatly influenced by the Moon's placement in your chart. A soft, sensitive and receptive planet, the Moon has to do with how you nurture and need to be nurtured; therefore, it is also related to things like food, family, protection and caretaking. On a daily basis, whether you're feeling upset, nervous, calm, contented or just blah, you can look to where the Moon is in the sky at that particular moment and learn a lot about your emotional state.

    The Moon rules the emotional sign of Cancer.

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  • Mercury

    There are all different kinds of communicators in the world: strong, silent types, who speak only when they feel it's absolutely necessary; chatty, witty types who could carry on a conversation with just about anyone -- even that strong, silent type; people who put their foot in their mouth on a regular basis, people who always seem to speak with the utmost grace and tact... The way you communicate has a lot to do with the planet Mercury, which is often called the planet of communication and also rules your thought processes, your logic (or lack thereof), your intellectual ideas and the way you get those ideas across to the world.

    You may have heard of Mercury Retrograde, which happens when Mercury seems to move backward in its path through the heavens. To understand the effects of a Mercury Retrograde period, think of it like this: Since this planet rules things that flow (communication, network connections and so on), when it goes Retrograde, it hinders that easy flow. Communication gets difficult, and misunderstandings often result; planes take off late or your letters get lost in the mail. Lots of people experience Mercury Retrograde periods as a difficult few weeks, because every effort they make to get something across seems to be thwarted or just stopped in its tracks. Good thing they last less than a month!

    Mercury rules the intellectual signs of Gemini and Virgo.

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  • Venus

    Ah, Venus -- the sweet, affectionate and romantic planet of love. Venus is all about pleasure, about bringing people together and uniting them in harmony; so this planet rules not just love and dating but also friendships, partnerships and any social gathering. It also rules finances -- the means by which you treat yourself and your friends to a wonderful dinner out or a spontaneous, romantic gift of flowers or chocolates.

    Where Venus lies in your chart influences how you approach any kind of partnership. Are you comfortable with intimacy, or just a little bit leery of getting too close and dependent? Do you live for love or are you just fine with being on your own? And when it comes to friendship and business, how do you work with other people -- do you avoid trouble by letting the other person lead, or do you tend to assert your vision regardless of what the other person wants? All of this is related to the workings of Venus.

    Money is also within this planet's realm. It will show if you're good with money -- cautious, conservative and only taking calculated, well-thought-out risks. It will also show if you tend to be more indulgent and less prudent, spending too much, believing that more is better and pleasure is priceless.

    Venus rules the affectionate signs of Taurus and Libra.

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  • Mars

    It's no wonder that Mars shows up red in the heavens -- red is the color of passion, and that's just what Mars rules. Your sex drive, your propensity for irritation, your urge to compete and succeed -- all fall within this powerful planet's realm. It affects your attitude toward everything from team sports to dating, from how you argue with a friend to how you go after a promotion at work. It's also about your willpower -- whether you can motivate yourself to do what needs to be done or whether you need an extra push from the outside.

    Your long-term ambitions are a big part of Mars's influence in your life, but it also affects you on a day-to-day basis. How do you put your energy to use? Some people like to conserve energy (translation: they can be a bit lazy!), while others are motivated to the nth degree, always up and running to the next thing, whether that's at home, at work or out with friends. Some people always act in accordance with the wishes of their family, while others operate from more personal interests. Leadership is also within Mars's realm. Do you like to take charge or do you prefer following someone else's lead? Even if you're uncomfortable with a leadership position, this planet will push you to put your best face forward as you take on life's many challenges.

    Mars rules the passionate signs of Aries and Scorpio.

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  • Jupiter

    Jupiter is referred to as the planet of luck because it brings opportunities and advantages into your life that can look like a stroke of luck to the untrained eye. But look more closely, and you'll find lessons much deeper than the workings of simple chance.

    Jupiter can bring you opportunities in certain areas, such as relationships, finances and so on. But this planet is also about learning, intellectual pursuits and spirituality -- in short, the expansion of the soul. Jupiter doesn't want you just to enjoy the spoils of your good luck; it wants you to look for the deeper meaning, to graduate to ever-higher levels of understanding the universe. It's wonderful if money, jobs or good health just seem to come your way with no special effort on your part, but Jupiter wants you to remember that not everyone has these same advantages. How are you going to use these special gifts to make the world a better place for everyone?

    Keeping a sense of humility or restraint is hard when something amazing falls into your lap. If you won the lottery, would you run out and start spending or would you find a way to invest your cash? Jupiter knows the answer! This planet also rules excessive behavior, so if you're the type to party now and pay later, you'll have a great time -- that is, until that credit card bill comes due.

    Jupiter rules the carefree signs of Sagittarius and Pisces.

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  • Saturn

    Saturn is thought of as the taskmaster planet because of its stern and sometimes guilt-inspiring influence in our lives. Whereas Venus and Jupiter make life easier and more fun, Saturn keeps you in check, reminding you that all play and no work would leave you both homeless and penniless!

    If you relate to the feeling that you're not working hard enough in life, that's probably Saturn's influence in your chart. This planet operates kind of like a parental figure, one that can be a little too severe at times. After all, there is certainly a time and place to be carefree; to forget your responsibilities and just enjoy yourself. But Saturn will look on disapprovingly until you return to your duties. Its influence can feel very restrictive, and you may feel rebellious in response to its limiting effects. But Saturn also serves an important purpose: keeping you on track in life, moving toward your karmic destiny.

    Saturn is all about karma. It's the planet with a conscience, the one that reminds you, even when you don't want to hear it, that everything you do has a cumulative effect on your soul. What kind of mark do you want to make on the world, and how do you want to be remembered? Saturn urges you to take these questions seriously, buckle down and get to work.

    Saturn rules the conscientious signs of Capricorn and Aquarius.

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  • Uranus

    The planet Uranus is often associated with rebellions and revolutions, earthquakes and volcanoes -- anything that erupts with sudden, unpredictable force and changes life as we know it. But Uranus's effects aren't all disruptive; just most of them! This planet also rules original thought, unique inventions and improvements on tradition. Without its influence in our lives, we might never know the development of science, for example, or humanitarianism. Whether it happens in a constructive or a destructive way, Uranus promotes progress.

    On a more personal basis, Uranus influences our senses of freedom and restriction. Depending on its placement in your chart, this planet can make you feel quite rebellious in the face of the various limitations of your life -- your duties regarding work or family; the expectations that your parents and other people place on you; or even just the humdrum predictability of your day-to-day existence. With its unstable and unpredictable energy, Uranus moves to upset the balance of your daily life; to shake up your routine, to fly in the face of others' expectations and so on.

    Uranus is the planet that encourages you to break out of your mold, to spread your wings and fly. It challenges the validity of the status quo and puts it to the test through dramatic, often upsetting occurrences. And like change itself, the influence of Uranus is essential, even if it can be traumatic in the moment!

    Uranus rules the freedom-seeking sign of Aquarius.

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  • Neptune

    Neptune is often called the planet of illusion, because it rules all things illusory -- the intangible, the ethereal, the abstract and elusive. Dreams and fantasy fall within this planet's realm, as do spirituality and idealism. It's easier to understand Neptune if you think of it in terms of that which can't be defined -- things that are changeable, that not only have no discernible boundaries, but that you literally can't put your finger on.

    This is the planet that can make your day pleasant with daydreams but that can simultaneously confuse your sense of reality. Have you ever fallen asleep and had a dream, only to find when you woke up that you just couldn't be certain whether what you imagined was real or not? That's the filmy curtain of Neptune, drifting slyly between reality and fantasy and blurring the lines between the two.

    Neptune makes life both more pleasant and more difficult. This is the planet that makes it easier to be taken in by a con man or a liar, someone who wants to capitalize on your vulnerability to artfully crafted stories that don't contain a lick of truth; but it's also the planet that increases your intuitive skills and your sense of spiritual connectedness to the universe. Neptune is responsible both for the overwhelming sensation of falling in love, and for the utter disillusionment of finding out that you've been misled.

    Neptune rules the dreamy sign of Pisces.

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  • Pluto

    Pluto has an energy that is as subtle and yet powerful as mind control, which is just one of the many things that falls within this planet's realm. Sometimes referred to as the planet of power, Pluto seeks to control and influence on a grand, if hidden, scale.

    In fact, Pluto is all about the hidden side of existence -- secrets, affairs, behind-the-scenes manipulations and so on. But more than that, it's about power, whether it's negative or positive. Powerful experiences such as sexuality, death, destruction and regeneration are within this planet's realm, as are powerful urges like will, control, obsession and, again, sex.

    In order to understand Pluto's influence in your life, think of a time when you were utterly overtaken by something or someone. Perhaps you fell in love and grew obsessed with the object of your desires, or maybe you were involved in a relationship with someone who tried to control your every move. Maybe you've had a memorably intense sexual experience, or an equally memorable period of self-destructiveness or addiction. All these experiences define Pluto's energy, one that has the simultaneous power to create and destroy, to make life both amazing and terrible; or, in short, intense. It can grip you in its jaws and rip down everything you've come to depend on, but it can also force you to learn the power of strength -- of standing on your own two feet, come what may.

    Pluto rules the intense sign of Scorpio.

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  • Asteroids

    Have you ever noticed how most of the planets in astrology seem to have masculine qualities? With the notable exception of the Moon and Venus, which are distinctly feminine, our planetary panoply is majorly male.

    All that changed on January 1, 1801, when the asteroid Ceres was discovered in between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. And that was just the beginning! Several more asteroids were discovered in short order, in what is now called the Asteroid Belt. As our instruments improved, we continued to find them. Currently, over 30,000 asteroids have been found and over 10,000 have names -- and we're still discovering more! Now, that's an awful lot of asteroids; too many to use in any sort of practical matter.

    Asteroids are small and rocky, and do not qualify as planets. However, the larger ones have distinct qualities associated with them, astrologically speaking. Astrologers use the four largest asteroids -- Ceres (pronounced SEER-eez), Juno, Vesta and Pallas Athena -- as feminine archetypes. In addition, many astrologers add Chiron (pronounced KY-ron) to the mix. This maverick asteroid was discovered in 1977 and correlates strongly with the healing principle.

    Many astrologers find that using the asteroids adds a whole new level of information and interpretation to their work with astrology.

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  Elements and Qualities
Astrologers divide the Zodiac Signs into groupings that link signs together by specific characteristics, and which make it easier to learn the signs. Read more

Astrologers divide the Zodiac Signs into groupings that link signs together by specific characteristics, and which make it easier to learn the signs.

The four elements associated with the signs of the Zodiac break down the signs into the basic groupings of Fire, Earth, Air and Water. The natural world fits into these four classifications, whose basic characteristics -- the heat of fire, the stability of earth, the changeability of air and the fluidity of water -- can be applied to human nature. People with a lot of Fire in their charts (meaning, several planets in the Fire Signs of Aries, Leo or Sagittarius) tend to be hotheaded and warmhearted, for example, while people with lots of Earth such as Taurus, Virgo or Capricorn are practical and usually down-to-earth. The Air Signs of Gemini, Libra or Aquarius are cerebral and expressive while the Water Signs of Cancer, Scorpio or Pisces are emotional, intuitive and sometimes hard to fathom.

Besides the four elements, there are three qualities that influence the signs -- Cardinal, Fixed and Mutable. These qualities speak to a person's general attitude and the way they tackle a project. The Cardinal Signs are Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn. These folks are self-starters who naturally gravitate toward leadership roles, as they have the drive and initiative needed to get a project off the ground. But they can lack follow-through, and that's where Fixed Signs of Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius come in. These people have the persistence and determination to see a project through to the end, but they can be rather stubborn and resistant to deviation from the plan. Mutable Signs Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces on the other hand, are happy to be flexible. Though they can be wishy-washy as a result, they're the adapters of the Zodiac, the people who can follow a Cardinal Sign's lead and throw in their weight behind a hardworking Fixed Sign.

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Elements
  • Fire

    Just as fire burns bright, crackling with heat and energy that are as essential to life as they are potentially destructive, so is the energy that burns within Aries, Leo and Sagittarius, the Fire Signs of the Zodiac. Each of these signs gains a vitality from their element that outshines the rest of the signs. For a Fire Sign, everything is immediate and intense -- these people want to act fast on their impulses, and they feed off of excitement and adventure. They tend to lead pretty interesting lives as a result! It's rare to find a Fire Sign that doesn't live on the edge at least some of the time. Backpacking through the mountains, racing Go-Karts, going salsa dancing at a packed nightclub -- as long as it's fast-paced, fun and adventurous, a Fire Sign will love it.

    Because they're so hot-blooded, Fire Signs can make some of the most passionate lovers of the Zodiac. The only trouble is, just as fire burns bright but can burn out fast, so can the desires of a Fire Sign. They'll set their sights on someone, but plenty of times they're more about the chase than the catch. A Fire Sign needs a lover who will keep them on their toes, and definitely someone who won't try to make them adhere to a strict routine. These signs gravitate toward fast-paced, high-energy, leadership-oriented professions like coaching sports, acting and being CEO of a major company.

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  • Earth

    Just as the Earth holds you steady, staying solid and dependable under your feet, Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn, the Earth Signs of the Zodiac, like to lay a solid foundation to build on. These signs are down-to-earth, practical, and pragmatic, often serving as the rock in their circle of family and friends. Like a traditional investment account, Earth Signs don't tend to fluctuate much, emotionally or otherwise. They know how to work hard and apply themselves, even to tasks that would make other people throw up their hands in frustration. Earth Signs, on the other hand, are big believers in 'slow and steady wins the race,' and they're willing to put their nose to the grindstone when properly motivated (read: well paid!).

    They tend to be concerned with value, both monetary and sentimental. Taurus, especially, can get very sentimentally attached to both people and possessions! Capricorn is a bit less sentimental, and more about the bottom line; this sign tends to be very good with money -- sometimes too good. It's hard to convince a Capricorn that splurging a little from time to time is actually a good idea. Virgo, also, can take some convincing to let its hair down and have a good time, regardless of the cost; guess it's that Earth Sign sensibility that makes these signs add everything up in their heads before they're ready to act. These signs gravitate toward professions that highlight the value of things, such as money market managers, research analysts and antique shop owners.

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  • Air

    Phrases like 'the winds of change' can tell you a lot about the element of Air, which is associated with the Zodiac signs of Gemini, Libra and Aquarius. Air lends these signs a lighthearted, mercurial quality -- especially Gemini, which is known to be lots of fun, rather indecisive and apt to change its mind at any second! Just as the air in our atmosphere can be sensed but not seen, so is the Air element of astrology related to intangibles like thought processes, communication and the intellect. After all, thoughts, like birds in the air, can take flight, suddenly dipping and swerving in brand-new, completely unexpected directions!

    People with a strong Air influence in their birth chart tend to think miles ahead of other people. They talk with their hands as well as their mouths, because they're in such a hurry to get their thoughts out into the open. They're often witty and charming and they make fun, unique dates -- but Gemini and Aquarius, especially, can be a bit lacking in the affection and sentimentality department. This is because these Air Signs intellectualize their feelings more than other signs. Besides, they're so quick-witted that they don't waste much time getting bogged down in feelings; they're already moving on to the next interesting subject! Airy people make very interesting, exciting friends, and they're often the life of the party. These people gravitate toward creative, mental professions like writing, teaching and computer geeks.

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  • Water

    Ever hear the saying, 'Still waters run deep'? That perfectly describes the emotional depths of Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces, the Water Signs of the Zodiac. These signs are born nurturers, sensitive to fluctuations in their environment as well as within their loved ones. And they want to respond to their loved ones' needs, but sometimes these signs can veer into oversensitivity, making it hard for them to reach out to other people. Cancer, especially, tends to retreat into its shell when the going gets tough; this sign has tremendous emotional depths but doesn't always know how to talk about its feelings. Scorpio, too, tends to rely on less than direct methods of communication; this sign is well-known for its tendency toward vengefulness and passive-aggression when it gets its feelings hurt.

    Sweet, gentle Pisces is the one that knows best how to transcend its own needs and feelings in order to reach out to someone else who may be hurting. This sign wants to help everyone -- people with broken hearts, birds with broken wings, children from broken homes... Needless to say, having a huge heart can sometimes make life difficult for a Water Sign, because there's only so much one person can do for others. But these signs are incredibly empathetic, not to mention romantic; for a Water Sign, the connection of their own soul with another is the most fulfilling experience of all. These signs gravitate toward fields that can draw from that nurturing, emotional sensitivity, such as daycare owner, home health worker or restauranteur.

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  • Cardinal

    Cardinal Signs are the self-starters of the Zodiac. This quality is associated with Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn, and all of these signs love to take the role of fearless leader in any situation, from the boardroom to the bedroom, from the soccer field to their home and family environment.

    These people don't just sit around and endlessly dream up new ideas; they actually put the push on and turn ideas into reality. They also work well with someone who can be the 'idea man,' but can then step back and let the Cardinal Sign take the reins and guide the team. And this quality is great at marshaling the troops; they can rouse up everyone around them and get people excited to take part in a new project. As long as everyone respects the Cardinal Sign's position as Head of Operations, things will run along smoothly!

    But it might be up to someone else to keep a project going once it's on its feet. Cardinal Signs tend to have a lot of energy for getting a project off the ground, but not a lot of the follow-through that's necessary to see things through to the end. For one thing, they're just too active -- there are too many things to do and not enough time to finish all of them! Unless they have plenty of stabilizing influences in their chart, the workspace of a Cardinal Sign can look like a hurricane blew through -- lots of projects, plans and materials, but not much of a system.

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  • Fixed

    Fixed Signs tend to resist change unless it's for a very, very -- read: provably -- good reason. This quality is associated with Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius, and all of these signs can get nervous or irritable when too much change happens too fast in their lives, or when they're around people who are overly whimsical or wishy-washy. Fixed Signs like to just choose a course of action and stick with it, already!

    And while that quality can come across as stubbornness or conservatism, it also comes along with some real strengths. Fixed Signs have the natural dedication and discipline needed to see a project through to the end. While other signs might start something new only to abandon it midstream, Fixed Signs will follow it through to the end, crossing all the Ts and dotting all the Is along the way.

    These signs don't like to deviate from the plan, which can be both a good thing and a bad one. They can inhibit spontaneity and creativity, but they can also underscore the importance of commitment, of perseverance and stability. Of course, they can be hard to deal with when perseverance isn't the highest priority. When out with friends, Fixed Signs might dig in their heels when everyone else wants to switch the plan around, and they're apt to get very annoyed if their date doesn't show up on the dot at the appointed time and place! On the other hand, friends of these dependable signs know they can be relied on when the going gets tough.

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  • Mutable

    Mutable Signs are the most flexible signs of the Zodiac. This quality is associated with Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces, and all of these signs possess an element of changeability -- even Virgo, an Earth Sign ordinarily associated with stability. But even Virgo won't get stuck in one mode of thinking; all four of these signs are intellectually flexible, willing to go where their own thoughts or others' teachings lead them.

    They're also willing to take on the role that someone else assigns to them -- at least, until they grow tired of it, and move on to something new and different. But in general, when operating in a team environment, a Mutable Sign is the one who will adapt to changes as they occur and won't put up too much of a fuss when the plan deviates from its original path.

    On the other hand, this ultra-adaptability can lend these signs a certain amount of inconsistency. They tend to be wishy-washy, which can irritate other signs (especially Fixed Signs, which rely on stability for comfort). Mutable Signs just don't place a high premium on stability. Instead, their interest lies in the flow of things -- of thoughts, creativity and life in general. And though stability is often associated with maturity and instability with the lack thereof, Mutable Signs may have tapped into one of the basic, universal truths. After all, what is life if not constantly changing conditions and an everlasting need to adapt? Mutable Signs are the most equipped of the Zodiac to roll with life's punches.

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  Aspects and Orbs
Aspects are an essential part of interpreting a birth chart because they describe the exact relationship between two planets -- a physical relationship that's specific down to the degree. An astrological chart is mapped out in a full circle of 360 degrees, and aspects occur when planets are zero degrees apart, thirty, sixty and so on. Soft aspects, such as sextiles and trines, bring positive, beneficial influences with them, while the hard aspects, such as conjunctions, squares, oppositions and quincunxes, are thought of as bringing intensity, drama and challenges. You might not notice the easy effects of a soft aspect, while the hard aspects can be either interesting or difficult to deal with -- or both. After all, without challenges and spikes of intensity, life would get pretty dull! Read more

Aspects are an essential part of interpreting a birth chart because they describe the exact relationship between two planets -- a physical relationship that's specific down to the degree. An astrological chart is mapped out in a full circle of 360 degrees, and aspects occur when planets are zero degrees apart, thirty, sixty and so on. Soft aspects, such as sextiles and trines, bring positive, beneficial influences with them, while the hard aspects, such as conjunctions, squares, oppositions and quincunxes, are thought of as bringing intensity, drama and challenges. You might not notice the easy effects of a soft aspect, while the hard aspects can be either interesting or difficult to deal with -- or both. After all, without challenges and spikes of intensity, life would get pretty dull!

The orb of an aspect determines how far apart an aspect can be, in terms of degrees, and still have an influence that will affect your life and personality. For example, for two planets to be in opposition, they must be one hundred eighty degrees apart on a Zodiac chart. But with an orb of ten degrees, one planet can be up to ten degrees closer or farther than the exact opposition, and still be considered to be effective aspect, with all of the opposition's attendant influences and meanings. The orbs for the different aspects vary; some, such as the sextile and the quincunx, must be within just five degrees to still be considered a true aspect.

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Aspects
  • Conjunction

    A conjunction between two planets in an astrological chart is when the planets sit so closely together -- within ten degrees of one another -- that they're almost on top of each other, intensifying each other's energy in a big way. Conjunctions are considered a hard aspect, because of that intensity; whether the interaction between the two planets is positive or negative, it's powerful!

    It depends on the two planets involved whether their relationship will be beneficial or challenging in your life. Beneficial conjunctions occur between the planets whose energy is normally positive or playful, such as the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus and Jupiter. But challenges can occur when you throw a planet into the mix whose energy is restrictive, like Saturn's; confusing, like Neptune's; or apt to boil over at any moment, like that of Mars, Uranus or Pluto.

    Conjunctions are all about beginnings -- the creation of something new by merging two different energies. If two 'friendly' planets come together, such as Venus and Jupiter, a happy combination of their two energies results. For example, the love planet, Venus, conjunct Jupiter, planet of luck, would create a real emphasis on pleasure, affection and expansiveness. But if two planets come together that have opposing energies, such as Mars and Saturn, the results can be positive...or they can turn troublesome. In this case, either Saturn will have a focusing effect on Mars's ebullient energy, or Mars will shove against Saturn's restrictive influence like an unruly teenager against overly strict parents!

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  • Sextile

    A sextile in an astrological chart occurs when two planets are sixty degrees, or two signs, apart. Sextiles are considered a soft aspect -- one whose effects are comfortable and beneficial. In fact, this aspect is such an easy one that you might not even notice its influence in your life; you might just think it's natural that you have such a smooth time in the particular area influenced by the two planets involved!

    Sextiles bring opportunities, and what can seem like good luck -- but they won't necessarily make gifts fall effortlessly into your lap. You still have to focus your own energy on the area affected by the sextile to get the most benefits from the aspect.

    For example, let's say that you have Mercury sextile Venus in your birth chart. The easy relationship between the planets of communication and love would result in a real facility with relationships, enabling you to talk with your lover in a sweet and open way and resolve arguments with ease -- or just avoid them in the first place. But while you might think you're just lucky in love, in actuality, you're using that innate talent in a specific way; your natural diplomacy becomes a gift you give to your lover, and a tool you use in creating a successful relationship.

    In general, sextiles encourage cooperation and make hard work feel easy. Even sextiles between the planets with more challenging energies make it easier to access those planets' good sides.

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  • Square

    A square occurs in an astrological chart when two planets are ninety degrees apart. If you think about it, it's no wonder that relationship causes the friction that it does -- two planets at right angles to each other, each of their energies trying to move in a completely different direction... Just as squares have sharp corners and box things in, squares in astrology can feel like being boxed into a corner.

    And what do you do when you're boxed in? Either you stay that way, feeling tense and upset, or you do whatever it takes to break away from the restrictive situation. A square is a hard aspect, one whose influence can be very difficult to bear but can also be ultimately positive, because a square forces change. It may take an entire lifetime, but a square in your birth chart highlights an area in your life that demands change.

    For example, if you had Moon square Mercury in your chart, it would represent a basic conflict within you between affairs of the heart and the intellect. Your heart would tell you one thing while your head was telling you another, and the two wouldn't know how to agree on anything. But this would present an opportunity for growth: hard work would teach you how to verbalize your feelings and how to stop swinging between the extremes of logic and emotion. With some real effort on your part, you would pass this test and start living your life more fully.

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  • Trine

    A trine between two planets in an astrological chart occurs when the planets are one hundred twenty degrees apart. Usually the two planets will be in the same element, giving them a solid common ground. A trine is a soft aspect, meaning its effects in your life are positive, even so easy as to seem effortless. Trines bring sweet benefits to your life: effortless accomplishments, opportunities that fall right into your lap.

    Since this aspect brings such good things your way with no special effort on your part, it can make you lazy as a result. After all, if you don't have to work for your gifts in life, you could easily start thinking you deserve all the wonderful things life has to offer, and that you shouldn't have to work for them or pay your dues in any way! That is the inherent lesson of a trine -- to stay humble even when you're living on easy street.

    For example, a trine between the Sun and Mars in your chart would result in a strong sense of yourself and your goals in life. Whatever you decided to pursue -- a love affair, a promotion at work, a winning game for your team -- would seem to fall into your lap with no special effort on your part. Competition would melt away, leaving you to enjoy your prize. Sounds like a charmed life, right? The trine does bring you those benefits, but urges you not to become complacent. Enjoy your gifts in life, but remember to use them to make the world a better place, not just your own life.

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  • Quincunx

    A quincunx occurs in an astrological chart when two planets are one hundred fifty degrees apart. Quincunxes are hard aspects, bringing a challenging influence to your life. But unlike squares and oppositions, which present challenges but also opportunities for growth, quincunxes can signify just the challenge, with little chance of growth or eventually finding common ground.

    This is because a lack of common ground is what defines a quincunx. This is a relationship between two planets that signifies little or no relationship at all; the different energies just don't know how to mix, much less understand each other. That's why quincunxes can take a while to manifest their difficult effects; because this aspect is all about misunderstandings and misread signals, it can mean that you think things are moving along just fine when really, there's a major obstacle in the way.

    No wonder it's so hard to learn from a quincunx! When there are quincunxes in a chart drawn between two people -- such as a couple in a romantic relationship -- it doesn't have to be a deal breaker for the relationship, although it can amount to one. But the couple can also decide that, if they can't learn to get along in that particular area, they can at least agree to disagree, or compromise. It's possible to work around a quincunx as long as you're willing to make sacrifices -- usually giving up the possibility of perfection, which is a far-fetched concept in the first place.

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  • Opposition

    An opposition occurs in an astrological chart when two planets are one hundred eighty degrees apart, or on exact opposite sides of the circle. It's probably obvious what this kind of relationship means: two energies that are as polarized as black and white, good and bad, love and hate... And like all those pairings, the two planets approach the same question from different perspectives. They have a lot in common, and a lot to learn from each other, if they can just let their guards down!

    That, in a nutshell, is the biggest challenge of an opposition. It's human nature to feel threatened by someone or something so different from you that it seems downright alien; but an opposition dares you to get over your fears and turn it into a positive learning experience. We've all heard the phrase, 'Opposites attract'; that's the kind of relationship that occurs between two planets that are opposed in a chart -- a love-hate relationship that can swing in either direction at any given time.

    Oppositions demand that you become adept at conflict resolution. How would you handle two close friends who mixed about as well as oil and water? In a best-case scenario, you would mediate a discussion between them to try to bring them closer together by finding common ground; and that's what an opposition in your chart asks you to do. Find a way to make seemingly opposed energies work together, focusing on their strengths instead of allowing either one to exploit the other's weaknesses, and you'll master the oppositions in your own chart and life.

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  • More on Orbs

    The various aspects, or angular relationships, among the planets and points in a birth chart each come with their own orb -- the number of degrees by which they can stray from the accepted angle of an aspect and still be considered to have a viable, strong relationship with each other that will influence your life and personality.

    For example, picture a 360-degree circle; this is the basic form of an astrological chart. A conjunction occurs when two planets are right next to each other in that chart, or nearly right on top of each other. Therefore, a conjunction is when two planets are zero degrees apart, or at the exact same point in that 360-degree circle. But a conjunction has an orb of 10, which means those two planets can be up to ten degrees away from one another and still be considered in conjunction with each other, with all the attendant meanings and impacts.

    Other aspects don't have such a wide orb. A quincunx, for example, which occurs when two planets are 150 degrees apart, has an orb of only five -- meaning, the two planets can only deviate up to five degrees in either direction from that 150-degree point to still be considered a quincunx. Any farther apart, and astrologers won't consider them to be in aspect to each other.

    The orbs for the other major aspects are as follows: oppositions, ten; squares and trines, eight; and sextiles, five.

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  Major Configurations
The relationships among the planets in an astrological chart -- meaning the angles between them, and how they interact -- are called aspects, and each aspect has a different meaning and influence. Some aspects are considered to be beneficial in their influence (soft aspects, like the sextile and trine), and some are considered more difficult (hard ones, like squares and oppositions). Sometimes, a series of planetary aspects group together in a chart to form one super-aspect -- what's known in astrology as a major planetary or aspect configuration, which carries its own powerful meaning and intensity. Read more

The relationships among the planets in an astrological chart -- meaning the angles between them, and how they interact -- are called aspects, and each aspect has a different meaning and influence. Some aspects are considered to be beneficial in their influence (soft aspects, like the sextile and trine), and some are considered more difficult (hard ones, like squares and oppositions). Sometimes, a series of planetary aspects group together in a chart to form one super-aspect -- what's known in astrology as a major planetary or aspect configuration, which carries its own powerful meaning and intensity.

These configurations, or patterns, include the Stellium, the Grand Trine, the Grand Sextile, the Grand Cross, the T-Square, the Kite, the Yod and the Mystic Rectangle. Some pretty funny names for some serious planetary influences! Just as an aspect itself is a focusing of a particular kind of energy, an aspect configuration is a further intensity of that energy, or a combination of various ones. The Grand Trine, for example, is a combination of the energies of three or more planets that all trine each other -- a triple-trine energy that increases the benefits of a normal trine, but also the need for motivation and goal-setting.

Use this section to learn more about the Grand Trine and other major planetary configurations, and to gain a deeper understanding of the way that aspects work in an astrological chart and in your life.

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Major Configurations
  • Stellium

    A Stellium occurs in an astrological chart when three or more planets group together within one sign or house. Think of it like this: When a planet stands alone in a particular house and sign in your chart, it carries its own significance -- sort of like a little voice, speaking up about its influence and role in your life. If a group of planets are clustered together in that same sign or house, the little voice gets a whole lot louder! That's exactly the way a Stellium works: Several planets unite as one powerful unit to exert an equally powerful influence in your life.

    So, is the influence of a Stellium positive or negative? That depends on the planets involved and the houses and signs they reside in, as well as the aspects they make to the other planets in your chart. Every Stellium is a concentration of energy, and you can imagine how that might either make things a lot better or present a real challenge, depending on the focus.

    For example, if all the planets involved were lighter in energy -- say, the Moon, Mercury, Venus and Neptune -- and grouped together in a sweet, romantic sign like Libra, the Stellium would have a very romantic influence on you; you'd be the type that lived for love and harmony. But if the Stellium involved heavier, more powerful planets and signs, such as the Sun, Mars, Uranus and Pluto in Scorpio, the effect of the Stellium as a whole would be more about extremes: intense desires, mood swings, obsession and destructiveness. Intensity, indeed!

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  • T-Square

    A T-Square occurs in an astrological chart when two planets oppose each other, and each squares a third planet. When drawn out on a chart wheel, it looks like a right-angle triangle. A T-Square is like a Grand Cross that's missing one planet. Like the Grand Cross, this configuration produces stress and obstacles, but the T-Square's configuration puts more of an emphasis on the planet that is squared by the other two.

    Squares and oppositions are both considered 'hard' aspects already -- they both create tension and friction. So if you put together the influences of two squares and an opposition that are shared among three planets, you can imagine the combined result -- highly fractious! But while a T-Square can make life difficult, it also is a great motivator for change. This configuration pushes its bearer to do something about the obstacles it presents; to blast through them, by force if necessary, in order to move to a higher, less challenged plane of existence. And once those challenges are vanquished, the bearer can handle anything that comes their way.

    If someone with a T-Square in their chart fails to make that critical breakthrough, they'll be beset by conflict their whole life, within the realms of the three planets involved in the T-Square. But the good thing about this configuration is its motivational push for change. It gives its bearer a drive unlike that of almost any other planetary configuration; it's a major celestial challenge that, if accepted, can lead to greatness.

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  • Grand Cross

    A Grand Cross occurs in an astrological chart when four or more planets form four square aspects and two oppositions among them. Picture a perfect square, with the diagonal lines drawn in across the center of the box; the corners of the square represent the four planets, the outer lines of the box represent the square aspects among the four planets, and the diagonal lines inside the box represent the two opposition aspects between the planets.

    Whew, what a mouthful! And so is the influence of a Grand Cross in an astrological chart. Squares and oppositions are considered 'hard' aspects -- producing conflict and tension -- so you can imagine what all these squares and oppositions among four or more planets might produce. Stress of major proportions! As if the four different planets are pulling on them, a person with a Grand Cross in their birth chart feels pulled in all different directions. They feel overcommitted, as if they can never get enough time to meet all their responsibilities, much less relax for a minute or two.

    But the effects of a Grand Cross aren't all negative. Anyone with this configuration in their chart possesses a huge amount of inner strength. Their challenges in life only add to their sense of determination and their will to achieve. And they have a choice to make in life: They can either run around in circles, defeating themselves again and again; or they can learn to focus their considerable energy and strength, find their center and really make life work for them.

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  • Grand Trine

    A Grand Trine occurs in an astrological chart when three or more planets lie an equal distance apart from one another, forming trines with each other and creating a perfect triangle on the chart wheel. This configuration is stronger when the three planets are in signs of the same element or when more than three planets are involved (such as if two planets are in conjunction with each other, and together form one point of the triangle). A Grand Trine's influence is weakened if the three planets reside in signs of different elements.

    As trines are 'soft' aspects, and beneficial to the bearer, a Grand Trine intensifies that helpful energy. Grand Trines are all about luck and opportunity, effortless little gifts that fall into your lap when you're least expecting it: talent that's come by completely naturally; self-sufficiency that enables you to do what you like in life. A Grand Trine in your chart signifies benefits that have come your way because you've earned them, and now they're yours to enjoy with no strings attached!

    Grand Trines are all about creativity and energy flowing harmoniously. The only thing to watch out for with this aspect is complacence. The stability of the triangle formed by the Grand Trine represents what can happen with all that good luck and easy opportunity: The bearer can become very self-satisfied, which can easily turn into stagnation. Someone with a Grand Trine in their chart must always stay motivated, and keep reaching out for the best that life has to offer.

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  • Yod

    A Yod occurs in an astrological chart when two planets sextile one another, and both form quincunxes with a third planet across the chart. The resulting shape, when drawn on a chart wheel, looks like an elongated triangle -- or a long finger, which is where the Yod got its name. The word 'yod' is related to the Hebrew word for 'hand,' and in astrology, the Yod is sometimes called the Finger of Fate or the Finger of God.

    A sextile is a 'soft,' or beneficial, aspect, but a quincunx is a 'hard' aspect, one that brings trials and karmic lessons. As you can imagine, a Yod produces a sense of conflict as the soft and hard aspects mix their very different influences together. A Yod also produces a sense of fatedness, of a karmic obligation that must be paid. In this configuration, the planets involved must learn to work together despite the challenging influence of the two quincunxes, but there is always a price to be paid.

    A Yod signifies a lesson to be learned, something that must be given up. Will it be an old, outmoded behavior or belief? Whatever it is, the process will be difficult but ultimately good for the soul. The planet that creates the long point of the Yod becomes the focal point of this configuration, and embodies the realm in which the greatest lessons must be learned. Yods signify the need for compromise in the realms of the planets involved, but also give the bearer all the tools they need to renew their soul.

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  • Mystic Rectangle

    A Mystic Rectangle occurs in an astrological chart when four or more planets are connected by oppositions, sextiles and trines. To get a better idea of this, picture a long box, or rectangle, with two long sides and two short ones, and with the diagonal lines drawn in across the center of the box. The four corners of the box represent the four planets involved in the Mystic Rectangle; the short sides of the box represent the sextiles; the long sides represent the trines; and the diagonal lines crossing each other in the middle are the oppositions. This results in six related aspects among four or more planets -- two oppositions, two sextiles and two trines.

    Sextiles and trines are 'soft,' or beneficial, aspects, and oppositions are 'hard' ones that can cause conflict. But since there are four soft aspects and only two hard ones in a Mystic Rectangle, the overall effect of this configuration is considered helpful -- with just enough of a challenge thrown in by those two oppositions to keep things interesting! Due to the layout of the planets in a Mystic Rectangle, they'll almost always lie in signs that complement each other. This will further affect the beneficial influence of the Mystic Rectangle as a whole.

    Someone with a Mystic Rectangle in their chart will feel the effects of four planets working together in a strongly balanced and integrated pattern. This configuration offers the bearer a chance at inner harmony -- if the challenge of those two oppositions can be faced and dealt with consciously.

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  • Kite

    A Kite occurs in an astrological chart when three planets lie in a Grand Trine pattern, and a fourth lies directly opposite one of the three planets in the trine. This makes six aspects in all -- three trines; one opposition; and the two sextiles created between the 'tail' of the kite and the remaining two corners (the other two points of the triangle). When drawn out on a chart wheel, the resulting pattern looks like a kite, and provides an actively beneficial influence for the bearer.

    With two sextiles and three trines -- all 'soft,' or beneficial, aspects -- working in tandem in such a balanced pattern, the overall effect can't help but be powerfully positive. Trines are all about the harmonious flow of creative energy, and Grand Trines bring positive opportunities; so a Kite enhances those effects and brings a focus on reaching out and grabbing hold of opportunities to express creativity in a concrete way.

    The concreteness comes from the opposition. Normally considered a 'hard' aspect -- one that creates stress or conflict -- the opposition can be more of a motivating factor than a source of stress when working in tandem with the five soft aspects of a Kite. Sometimes, the benefits of a Grand Trine are taken for granted, but the opposition within a Kite provides its usual challenge in a positive framework. In this configuration, the opposition gives a little shove, the motivation needed to make the most of that beneficial energy.

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  • Grand Sextile

    One of the rarest of all aspect configurations, a Grand Sextile occurs in an astrological chart when six planets are evenly spaced around the chart wheel, each one in sextile to the next. Drawn out, it looks like a hexagon (a six-sided shape), or a Star of David -- two perfect triangles superimposed over each other, one pointing in one direction and the other pointing in the opposite. Thus, the Grand Sextile contains within it two Grand Trines, not to mention a host of other significant aspect configurations (Mystic Rectangles, Kites and more).

    The six (or more) planets in a Grand Sextile together form six sextiles, six trines and three oppositions -- fifteen aspects total, all included in the same configuration. No wonder it's such a rare occurrence! Though the three oppositions within this pattern would normally mean a triple-dose of that hard aspect's usual tension, when working together with the other positive aspects (the sextiles and trines), the oppositions lose some of their sting. In fact, they become more of a source of structure, balance and motivation than of conflict.

    The Grand Sextile is so heavily weighted toward beneficial aspects that it has an incredibly creative, harmonious influence as a whole. Someone with a Grand Sextile in their birth chart would have all the gifts and strengths they needed to accomplish anything they set their mind to. Creative endeavors are best with a Grand Sextile, because this pattern's energy is inherently innovative.

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  Cusps
A cusp is that mysterious boundary between one Zodiac sign and the next, when the Sun, or any planet, changes signs and shifts energies from one to the other. If you were born on the cusp of two signs, you may feel like you embody characteristics of both, but the actual sign you were born under is your true, natural sign. Read more

A cusp is that mysterious boundary between one Zodiac sign and the next, when the Sun, or any planet, changes signs and shifts energies from one to the other. If you were born on the cusp of two signs, you may feel like you embody characteristics of both, but the actual sign you were born under is your true, natural sign.

Look at it this way: Humans love order. We can't control Mother Nature, but we sure can try! When it comes to time, we've devised all kinds of systems: calendars, clocks, Daylight Savings in the summer... We run on schedules, but the universe isn't so regimented. For example, we have Leap Years because our 365-day calendar doesn't reflect the actual, natural cycle of a year; we adjust for the slight variation with an extra day in February every four years. (Can you say 'random'?)

Because the Zodiac does not align perfectly with the calendar, there can be confusion about when the Sun changes signs. But really, there is no confusion. According to astrology's mathematical calculations, you're born under one sign or the other; not both. If you were born on a cusp, you may feel influenced by both signs, and for good reason. Planets that are close to the Sun, like Mercury and Venus, often lie either in the same sign as the Sun in your birth chart, or in the sign just before or after. Your Sun sign is still the core of your being, but you're also strongly influenced by the other planets' placement in your chart.

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  Astrology Whitepaper
Astrology has much to offer, whether or not one 'believes' in it. For it is not a belief system. It is a language of Archetypal symbols that encapsulate and convey the core aspects of reality in a succinct fashion. Astrology reduces the complexity of a seemingly chaotic universe, and it reframes the bewildering array of ever-changing phases of human experience into terms that anyone can easily grasp. In this way, Astrology helps people to see and understand the choices and options available to them in any given circumstance, empowering them to create and optimize their own personal order within - or despite - the apparent chaos of the whims of fate. Read more

What value does Astrology provide?

Astrology has much to offer, whether or not one 'believes' in it. For it is not a belief system. It is a language of Archetypal symbols that encapsulate and convey the core aspects of reality in a succinct fashion. Astrology reduces the complexity of a seemingly chaotic universe, and it reframes the bewildering array of ever-changing phases of human experience into terms that anyone can easily grasp. In this way, Astrology helps people to see and understand the choices and options available to them in any given circumstance, empowering them to create and optimize their own personal order within - or despite - the apparent chaos of the whims of fate.

No wonder so many people find Astrology to be an invaluable tool for self-understanding and decision-making. In fact, Carl Jung considered Astrology to be a vast treasure house of psychological insights, and he wrote that Astrology was a source of inspiration for the school of Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis techniques which he pioneered. For example, in a letter to his then-mentor, Sigmund Freud, Jung wrote "I am looking into astrology, which seems indispensable for a proper understanding of mythology. There are strange and wondrous things in these lands of darkness.” The preceding quote is from “The Freud/Jung Letters (Abridged Edition)” 1979, which contains many other comments by Jung about his interest in Astrology.

People turn to Astrology to seek answers in matters that the materialist, deterministic Scientific Method is not equipped to address. Scientific analysis is not designed, nor is it intended, to study (let alone explain) non-quantifiable phenomena which are not reproducible in a laboratory, such as the personal meaning of one's own life. As the Dalai Lama has pointed out, "What science finds to be non-existent, {we} must necessarily accept; but what science merely does not find is a completely different matter. It is quite clear that there are many, many mysterious things."

Analogy: Whereas a clock tells what time it is, Astrology describes what kind of time it is.

A Brief History of Astrology

Astrology has been a part of the human experience for as long as the human race can remember. Indeed, some of the earliest examples of written language, in the form of cuneiform tablets, contain extensive records of Astrological observations. For example, the Venus Tablets of Ammizaduga, which are nearly four thousand years old, contain a twenty year long record of detailed observations of the planet Venus. Each observation correlates the position of Venus with concurrent conditions on the Earth, such as wars or successful harvests.

In Asia and India, in Europe and Africa and the Americas, various forms of Astrology emerged in ancient times and persist to this day, throughout a tremendous variety of cultures, on every inhabited continent. While these myriad forms of Astrology are shaped by different cultural and historical forces, they all share the basic premise that patterns in the celestial sphere somehow correspond with conditions here on Earth. This core principle of Astrology is summarized in the ancient dictum "As above, so below".

Astrological themes and references abound in great works of literature, such as Shakespeare (examples include "Beware the Ides of March!" from "Julius Caesar" and the "star-crossed" lovers in "Romeo and Juliet") as well as religious iconography and texts, such as the Bible or Buddhist scriptures and legends. For example, the Magi in the Bible (also known as the “Three Wise Men”) who followed the “Star of Bethlehem” to honor the birth of Jesus were, in fact, Astrologers. Upon the birth of Prince Siddhartha Gautama (who later became the Buddha), Astrologers predicted that he would become a universal monarch or else abandon house and home to become a fully enlightened being.

Even some famous scientists, such as Isaac Newton and Johannes Kepler, were devoted students of Astrology throughout their lives. Financial analysts and business leaders have long used Astrology to understand the vagaries of market conditions and business cycles. J.P. Morgan was known to say "Millionaires don't use Astrology, Billionaires do."

Astrologers in earlier ages were traditionally quite fatalistic and oriented towards precise predictions. Over the course of the twentieth century, however, a modernization of Astrology resulted in a more positive, humanistic approach, in which difficult conditions are redefined as challenging opportunities. “The stars impel, they do not compel” is a common expression used by Astrologers to convey this non-fatalistic approach. Astrologers today emphasize the importance of free will in determining how we respond to the changing seasons and cycles of our lives.

The Future of Astrology

Advances in computer and Internet technology have made Astrology widely available to people on an unprecedented scale. Prior to the development of personal computers, an Astrologer would spend many hours performing the detailed calculations required to construct and interpret a chart by hand. Thanks to the advent of Astrological software, these previously time-consuming, error-prone, and tedious calculations are now performed in mere split-seconds by computers.

With the growth of the Internet and recent advances in other communication technologies (such as mobile devices), the rich heritage of Astrological wisdom can now become easily accessible to anyone who has an interest in the subject. In the past, one would have had to pay large sums of money and travel great distances to get a reading from an Astrologer. Now, however, valuable Astrological advice can be available at your fingertips, at a fraction of the cost of a face-to-face Astrological consultation. The sky is the limit with regard to the many potentials of the marriage of technology with Astrology.

What is a "Birth Chart", and how does an Astrologer interpret it?

Astrology is a perennial source of fascination to millions of people from all walks of life, yet few are aware that there is much more to Astrology than just the Sun Sign horoscopes we see in the entertainment sections of newspapers and magazines, or on the Internet.

  • Most people know their Sun Sign
  • 70% of Americans read their horoscope at least occasionally
  • A 2001 Gallup Poll revealed that 28% of Americans stated a personal belief in "Astrology, or that the position of the stars and planets can affect people’s lives" - many other people indicated that they were undecided

If you ask the average person "What's your Sign?", they not only know you are asking about their Astrological Zodiac Sign, but they can even tell you what Sign they are (based on their birthday), as well as recite a few of the common attributes of their Zodiac symbol.

While the Zodiacal Sun Sign is a significant factor in a person's chart, there are many other modifying factors that the Astrologer examines in order to prepare a reading about a person's unique mix of personality traits and inclinations. At any given moment in time, the Sun, Moon, and Planets are arranged in an ever-changing, unrepeatable set of positions with respect to the Earth. The process of interpreting the complex array of relationships among these celestial objects requires a blend of both technical analysis and artistic synthesis - engaging both the left and the right sides of the brain.

A Birth Chart is simply a map of the unique combination of planetary positions at the time of birth, from the standpoint of the place of birth. The Birth Chart consists of four basic building blocks used in Astrological interpretation: Houses, Signs, Planets, and Aspects. We'll now explain how these building blocks work, by constructing a sample Birth Chart.

Houses

Figure 1

Figure 1 illustrates a circle that is subdivided into twelve sections, known as Houses. The Houses represent specific fields of experience, or areas of life. The Sun in Figure 1 is placed in the Tenth House, which indicates this person directs their primary ego energy into their career and public reputation. If this person had been born half a day earlier or later, the Sun would have been placed in the Fourth House (at the bottom of the wheel), in which case the ego would be oriented more towards the personal, private, domestic sphere, as opposed to the Tenth House public realm. Mercury, which represents how the mind works, is in the Ninth House. The Ninth House placement of Mercury indicates a mental proclivity for pursuing mind-broadening experiences, such as travel and higher education, as well as an intuitive, expansive, philosophical mental outlook.

Signs

Figure 2

In Figure 2, the twelve Zodiac Signs are superimposed on the circle of Houses, according to the precise degrees and minutes of the 360 degree Zodiac circle which were rising and culminating at the time and place of birth. Whereas the Houses indicate specific areas of life experience, the Signs color the styles in which these areas of life are expressed. This chart has the Sign of Aries rising in the First House. The First House represents the outer persona, the general physical appearance, and the impression one makes upon first meeting others. Aries rising lends a bold, pioneering, enthusiastic style to the personality. An Astrologer might caution this person against impulsive, headstrong behavior, while encouraging them to channel their expression of this dynamic energy into healthy outlets, such as sports or exercise.

Planets

Figure 3

Figure 3 shows the positions of the various Planets within the Houses, according to their position in the Zodiac Signs. The Planets represent archetypal impulses: the Sun is the conscious ego or will, whereas the Moon represents the emotional nature and unconscious behavior patterns. Mercury shows the mentality, how a person thinks and communicates. Venus is the Planet of love and affection, and its placement by House and Sign describes where and how a person's desire nature is likely to manifest, whereas Mars is the Planet of action, drive, and passion, and its House and Sign placements show where and how a person goes about getting what they want.

In Figure 3, Mars is in the Eighth House, in the Sign of Sagittarius. The realm of the Eighth House encompasses intense, transformational experiences related to gut-level survival instincts, such as sex, death, and financial investments. With Mars in this House, such experiences are bound to play a very active role in this person's life, as this is where the core drives and ambitions will manifest. The Sign of Sagittarius colors the style of any action the person pursues in these realms, so the person will bring a Sagittarian sense of adventure, optimism, and innate luck in these fields of experience.

There are many possible manifestations within the rubric of these particular House and Sign placements of Mars, and the Astrologer will tailor the interpretations according to different topics of interest. For example, in terms of professional development, the Sagittarian Mars in the Eighth House would mean that this person would likely be drawn to fields related to international finance. In terms of romantic compatibility analysis, the Eighth House Mars in Sagittarius would mean that this person is likely to treat sex as an adventure, and would not be quick to commit to any one person, with so many other partners and relationships to explore!

Aspects

Figure 4

Figure 4 displays the geometric relationships among the planets, which are called Aspects. These are determined by the degree of angular separation between any two points on the Zodiacal circle. The type of Aspect that exists between two Planets shows how those two energies interact. For example, 90 degree and 180 degree angles between planets indicate dissonance, friction, and dynamic tension, whereas the 60 degree and 120 degree angles represent a harmonious, smooth, supportive flow of energy exchange between two Planets.

To understand how Aspects affect the chart interpretation, let’s look at a sample Aspect in Figure 4. Mars is 90 degrees - one-quarter of a circle - apart from Uranus. The 90 degree angle is known as a “Square” Aspect in Astrological terminology. Being born with Mars Square Uranus means that this person’s primal passions are “at odds with”, or “revved up by” the volatile and disruptive yet innovative energy symbolized by the planet Uranus. Such a dynamic and conflicted relationship between Mars and Uranus, as expressed by the Square Aspect, indicates a pronounced risk-seeking drive, which could manifest as wild swings of fortune throughout this person’s life.

In the above sections on the basics of Astrological chart interpretation, we focused on how to interpret a Birth Chart. These same building blocks, the Houses, Signs, Planets, and Aspects, are used in many other applications of Astrology, including Compatibility Analysis and various types of Forecasting techniques. You can even use Astrology to find the best dates & times for different types of activities, whether you want to find the best day to get a haircut, or the best date for a wedding, or the most optimal time to go fly-fishing.

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