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Astrology 101

Diagram of Zodiac Constellations

What’s your star sign?
    When most people hear this question they typically think of only one of the 12 zodiac signs, they are in order: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces. What most people don’t realize is that the sign you “are” (based on which month you were born in, for example people born between about august 23 and september 22 would likely think virgo), is one of many! In astrology this would be referred to as your sun sign. It is determined by what constellation appears to be behind the sun when you were born (as shown by the diagram to the left) and it represents the ego and someone’s sense of self. The moon also falls into a sign based on its position. This changes more frequently however, about every two days. Your moon sign determines how you express your emotions, and it plays into your personality. Some people think that your moon sign is what you were in your most recent life. Along with the sun and the moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto all fall into one of the 12 signs and each of these planets control aspects of someone’s personality!

    Sometimes other heavenly bodies (such as Lilith or Ceres) are included in one’s chart, as these can provide additional insight into someone’s personality. The way planets interact with one another influence an individual as well. Common aspects (or planetary interactions) are conjunction, sextile, square, trine, and oppositions. These aspects all have to do with the houses of astrology. Similarly to the zodiac wheel these houses are depicted by a circle split into 12 parts, but unlike the zodiac which is based off the earth’s year long trek around the sun, the houses are determined by the 24 hour day of earth. Any given individual has 12 houses, each ruled by one of the signs of the zodiac. The sign that rules each house is determined by where in the sky each constellation is. Every planet has a sign and also a house. For example, someone could have their Mercury in Libra in their 6th house.

    The First house (also called the ascendant or rising) is whatever constellation is on the eastern horizon. It represents first impressions, appearances, beginnings, and one’s attitude. It is sometimes thought that your rising sign is what you are meant to be in this lifetime. The other most notable house (in my opinion) is the 10th house or the Midheaven. The Midheaven represents your career path and what you aspire to be. It isn’t as relevant to people our age, but it plays more into adult life and one’s future. For brief definitions of the other houses, please refer to the image to the left.

    The place to start for your own astrological chart is what’s called a natal chart. This is a chart of the stars where and when you were born (to the minute). My favorite way to explore someone’s natal chart is the website This website (unfortunately) forces you to choose between man and woman when inputting your information, but other than that it provides a comprehensive astrological report for you. To get started all you need to know is the day you were born, the time you were born, and where you were born. Once you have your own natal chart good things to look up are: how your moon and sun sign work together (just google ____ sun and ___ moon), how your ascendant and sun sign work together (google _____ ascendant and _____sun). I would also highly recommend (if you have access to a phone) downloading an app like TimePassages (available on the app store and the google play store), which is free (but has additional reports you can buy). I like TimePassages in particular because you can track current transits (movements of the planets relating to the zodiac) and you can see how they affect you in the long and short term.