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Some Bare Basics

Personal astrology derives from what is termed a natal (time of birth) chart.  It is based on the exact time of birth, the date, and location.  The exact time of birth is important, for example, in determining the Moon’s position (which is moving some ten degrees along the Zodiac every 24 hours), and more importantly, the Ascendant (which progresses a full 360 degrees in 24 hours).  The date of birth is obviously easier to acquire than the exact time of birth, and can be helpful to some degree.  The location is typically only required to the nearest degree of longitude and latitude, and is less critical -- except in the context of ensuring that one has the correct hour (i.e. standard, daylight savings, war savings times).

A sample natal chart is shown here -- in this case, December 22, 2012 A.D.. (The “natal” aspect of this future date then pertains to Mundane Astrology, effectively a chart for the whole of mankind and the world.)

A natal chart can be very attractive with all its weird symbols, lines connected one thing to another, and so forth.  But it does take some time and effort to fully understand.  Furthermore, as the  planets continue to move (transit), they will impact the natal chart, by making different aspects (angles or degrees) with the so-called natal planets (the location of the planets at the time of one’s birth). 

The natal chart is the fate aspect of our lives, in that it lays out the rough outlines of the script of one’s particular drama/comedy.  The free will enters when we choose how we will react to the situations and events proscribed by the natal chart.  There is, for example, the situation where a transiting planet (its current location) will aspect a natal planet (the location at the time of birth) three consecutive times.  This is because the transiting planet will appear to move backward in the heavens -- what is known in astronomy as retrograde motion -- during portions of the year, and with two direct aspects and an intervening retrograde aspect, there are three “hits”.  The free will arises when by addressing the issue  on the first or second hit, the third hit seems far more easy to deal with.  In the contrary case, the three hits seem to increase in intensity -- whatever it takes to get one’s attention!

Contrary to some observations, it is not the stars that rule our lives.  In astrology, the only possible rulers are the members of our solar system -- primarily the Sun, Moon and planets (but with a few asteroids, planetary orbit comets, and a couple of strange things thrown in for good measure).  All of these actors in our drama are referred to as “planets” even though the Sun and Moon are obviously not, and they all perform on a stage, or what is called a “house”.  The signs themselves (Scorpio, Aquarius, and the like) are the scenery which we surround ourselves with for the event (house) and actor (planet) to get together.

The Sun is the fundamental individual -- what people are at their most basic level.  It is not necessarily the sign that anyone might guess at a party, because it is often hidden and takes a little encouragement to show itself (some signs much more so than others).  The sun is today thought of in terms of the male gender (but this is recent).  It is just who you are.  [Which is strange in that it is singular and you... isn’t...  Hmmmm...]

The Moon, on the other hand, shows up a bit sooner.  This is the emotional “planet”, the one about mothering, nurturing, home, domesticity, family.  It’s very feminine.  It’s also why Mondays (ruled by the Moon... “moonday”) are such an unbelievably lousy day to begin the work week on.  (For more enlightenment, see the Days of the Week.)  Cancer is ruled by the Moon, and thus is the most emotional sign of the Zodiac.

The ascendant or rising sign is your facade, how others see you before they get to know you.  In Chinese Astrology, the year of the Dragon, Rat, Tiger, and so forth are basically equivalent.  But inasmuch as the Chinese have traditionally put such stock in appearances, for them the rising sign is quite possibly the most important sign (as opposed to the very individualistic Sun sign).  On the other hand, if anyone is guessing your “sign”, the chances are they will pick up on your rising sign.

The Sun, Moon, and Ascendant are the three most important “planets” in your chart.  In the case of conflict, they tend to rule.  But this doesn’t eliminate the other planets, and in specific situations, the other planets (especially the so-called personal planets) have a big impact.  (The “personals” are the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, and Mars.)

Mercury is about communications, thinking, analyzing, and so forth.  One of the more fascinating aspects of Mercury is when it goes retrograde (or because of its orbital motion relative to the Sun, appears to go backwards -- and the reason for Ptolemy’s epicycles in his description of the Earth-based center of the solar system).  When Mercury turns and goes retrograde, communications (personal, professional, and technology) begin to go awry and become garbled, contracts written are invariably based on a lack of information (and tend to be broken once Mercury has once again turned direct), and even telephone and other communications systems fail.  Internet foulups are often Mercury in retrograde!

Venus is about love and romance.  Duh!  But it’s also about speculation (money, as well as romance), aesthetics, beauty, and intimate or one-on-one relationships.  Venus is one of the nicest planets, and it’s always nice to have it well placed in one’s astrological chart.

Mars, however, is a bit of a trouble maker.  The symbol for aggressiveness, assertiveness, conflict, war and sex (the latter two characteristics being almost inseparable), Mars is the one that spurs one on, gets their juices flowing, and rushes headlong into where angels and used car salespersons fear to go.

Jupiter is, simply put, the Santa Claus of the Zodiac.  It’s generosity, philanthropy, expansiveness (including weight, as well as finances!), planning, and most good things.  If also has the very curious aspect that when a person dies, the planet Jupiter is always high- lighted in some way in the dying person’s astrological chart.  The implication is that when a person dies, this is really good news for them (but not necessarily for those left behind).

Saturn is the karmic planet.  It’s about rules, boundaries, limitations, governmental and societal requirements, and is one of the really mean mothers when it comes to transiting through our lives.  In something called a “Saturn Return”, where transiting Saturn returns to the position of natal Saturn in a person’s natal chart, a life transition of major dimensions is happening.  The return happens roughly every 29 or 30 years, and in the first one is often about no longer being your parent’s child, and instead becoming your own person.  Many women really freak out about this time -- and not just because they’re turning 30.  But men and some women who are really busy in their lives and careers often miss the transition, and then incur a mid life crisis half way through Saturn’s’ next run.

The outer three planets are more generational in that their orbital periods are so long that they can spend a lot of time in one sign, and thus everyone born in a span of years will have the same sign for these planets.

Uranus is about revolution, electricity, sudden and abrupt changes, exotic locales, persons  and situations.  It’s 84 years cycle is within the realm of most human lifetimes, but can cause all manner of excitement (with the good or bad aspect dependent upon perspective).

Neptune is illusionary, visionary, fanciful, and rules Hollywood.  It also involves wisdom, but obviously not everyone on the planet -- particularly the Republicans and Democrats -- have adequately lived up to their Neptunian wisdom potentialities (even thought they may be really, really adept at living in any number of Illusions).

Pluto is about Death and Rebirth.  While a Saturn transit might impact one’s life, Saturn can be resisted (with a commensurate amount of pain), but Pluto is about inevitability.  Pluto takes no prisoners.  It changes things.  Typically for the best, but often not recognized as such.  Pluto is in essence about Hades -- but where this place of the dead in Greek myth is not hell, but is the place “from which all good things come.”  No kidding.

A “house” is just one of the twelve slices of the pie, or areas of one’s life in which events are unfolding.  The houses are shown in the pie charts in above example, as well as the examples included with Astrology According to the Goddess (with some relevant discussion on the changes in houses some four thousand years ago -- see Age of Pisces). 

Another somewhat informative (if perhaps a bit tongue in cheek) description of houses is given by Debbi Kempton-Smith in her book, Secrets from a Stargazer’s Notebook [Bantam Books, New York, 1982].  From her perspective, in the First House is the Ego Box, the Second: the Stuff [material possessions] Box, Third: Learning and Teaching, Fourth: Roots (home), Fifth: Fun (love), Sixth: Work and Duty, Seventh: Partner, Eighth: Deep Merging, Ninth: Mind Expansion, Tenth: Public Image, Eleventh: Idealism, and Twelfth: God.   (BTW, Debbi’s book is a great read!)

The best example of the effect of a house, is the transit of Jupiter through the first and second houses.  The first house has the key word, “I am”.  It is therefore about me, moi, myself, and I.  Jupiter’s expansiveness shows up in its transit by tending to allow multiple opportunities for me to expand, i.e. for my personal weight to increase.  (And it does this for typically about one year!)  But when Jupiter enters my second house, where the key is “I have”, my finances can take a turn for the better.  I.e. finances expand!  I’m rich!  (Or I simply feel rich, which is very nearly as good.)  But I’m not sharing.  Ooops.  It’s Jupiter!  And I’m feeling really, really generous.  For about a year.  

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Philosophical Astrology         Astrology          Death and Rebirth

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