What is astrology?
Astrology (Astro – Star; ology – study)
is literally the study of the positions and
movements of planets (Mercury; Mars; etc)
and satellites (Sun; Moon; etc) in order to
gain extra insight into a person’s life.
There are several ways in which Astrology
applies to every day life: the most common
application is the reading of a Birth
Chart. A Birth Chart is a very specific,
tailor-made diagram or map; it is a visual
representation of the planets and their
relationships to each other at the exact
time of a person’s birth. Birth Charts can
be used to identify key weaknesses and key
strengths of a person’s character. They can
calculate potential problems, such as career
choices or choices in love, and can also
guide a person into correcting mistakes and
choosing the right path.
The other very familiar application of
Astrology is the more general Daily or
Weekly Horoscope, which predicts how
the day or week ahead will develop according
to the calculated movements of the planets.
A daily Horoscope will study the positions
of the planets of given day and predict
general trends and developments.
When was astrology developed?
Before we can answer this question we
need to select one of the three great
Astrological Traditions whose history we
wish to explore. Western Astrology, which is
our main focus, began in ancient Babylon and
was a natural extension of a religious
culture that was concerned with the changes
of the seasons and saw divinity in the
constellations and visible planets. This
astrological tradition eventually spread
from the middle-east to Europe where it was
interpreted through the filter of a
Greco-Roman understanding of the planets and
More ancient perhaps than Western
Astrology is the Vedic system developed in
India, although there is evidence of
significant interaction between Vedic
systems and the Greek development of Western
Astrology. Chinese astrology is
significantly different to both Western and
Vedic astrology: It has five rather than
four elements and allocates signs to
individuals based on their year rather than
their month of birth. Astrology is a living
tradition that continues to develop to this
day. Relatively recent innovations include
the addition of newly discovered planets
such as Pluto to the interpretation of
What is a horoscope?
The answer to this question is much more
complicated than you might think. However,
as this is only an introduction to the world
of astrology let’s keep things as simple as
possible. A horoscope is commonly understood
as meaning the interpretation produced by an
astrologer based on the information that
they find in your birth chart. The birth
chart itself is a diagram that represents
the position of all the planets in the
heavens at the time of your birth and it is
the relationship between these planets and
their position in the chart that tells the
astrologer how to correctly produce an
accurate horoscope. However, you may also
encounter books or web sites that refer to
the chart itself as the horoscope.
In addition, astrologers will produce
charts that are not records of the heavens
at someone’s birth but in order to answer
specific questions or to see the progress an
individual has made in their life. These
charts are also horoscope charts and the
report that the astrologer produces is also
called a horoscope or a horoscope
interpretation. Of course the most well
known horoscope is the one that you might
read online on a daily or weekly basis and
these regular predictions based on each sign
are what most people think of when they use
the term horoscope.
What is the zodiac?
There are some very complicated and very
involved definitions of the Zodiac. We are
all familiar with the twelve Zodiacal signs:
Aries; Taurus; Gemini; Cancer; Leo; Virgo;
Libra; Scorpio; Sagittarius; Capricorn;
Aquarius; Pisces. Each of these twelve signs
actually represents a constellation – that
is, a grouping of stars in a specific shape.
The Aries constellation denotes the shape
of a ram; the Taurus constellation denotes
the shape of a bull, and so on.
Roughly speaking, then, the Zodiac is a
term used to describe the movement of the
planets through those twelve constellations:
for example, when the planet Venus moves
into the realm of Aries, then romance and
love can become a lot more unpredictable,
but a lot more fun too!
The Zodiac (the movement of planets
through the constellations) is what forms
the basis of a daily or weekly Horoscope.
What are the signs of the zodiac?
Aries; Taurus; Gemini; Cancer; Leo;
Virgo; Libra; Scorpio; Sagittarius;
Capricorn; Aquarius; Pisces.
For modern Horoscopes, we generally
accept that the twelve signs relates
directly to the position of the Sun at the
time of birth. Another term for the Zodiacal
signs is the Sun Sign. For example,
those born around March the 21st to April
21st are known as Aries, because the sun
will be in the sign of Aries around that
However, to complicate things a little,
Sun Sign dates are not the same every year.
Take the date: 20th March. People born on
this date are presumed to be Aries, but if
you were born on this date in 1975, or in
the year 1983, you are actually a Pisces.
There’s also the matter of the exact time
when the Sun shifts from one sign to
another. For example, take the date: 20th
March 2007, when the sun moved from Pisces
into Aries at approximately 20:07 (EDT).
People born on this day could be either
Pisces or Aries, depending on the exact time
of birth. Those born before 20:07 will be
Pisces; those born after this time will be
This is known as being born on the Cusp;
i.e., being born at a point when the Sun is
about to shift into the next sign. People
born on the Cusp will generally have
attributes of both signs. A person born on
the 20th March 2007 will have the tendencies
of a Pisces and an Aries. Those born on the
Cusp between two signs should read the
Horoscopes of both signs.
The planets are crucial for any
astrological reading, be it a Birth Chart or
a Daily Horoscope. The planets don’t stay
still; they move, some quickly and others
very, very slowly, through the twelve
When a planet appears to be moving
backwards, it is said to be Retrograde.
When it starts moving forwards, it is said
to be Turning Direct.
Retrograde movements weaken the quicker
planets and can impact on the planetary
The key planets are:
The Sun – the sun is like a
person’s identifier. The position of the sun
determines your sign. This is like your
foundation, upon which everything else is
The Moon – the moon governs our
emotions. It moves through the Zodiac,
through the signs, very quickly. When there
is a new moon or a full moon or a lunar
eclipse we sense it, even if we don’t
realize it. The Moon can sometimes make us
very loving and sensitive, or rather moody
and overly sensitive.
Mercury – Mercury governs
communications. Mercury is quick-witted;
agile; it is, as the namesake suggests,
mercurial, like quick-silver. At its worst
Mercury can be a little deceitful and a
Venus – Venus is responsible for
love and beauty. This doesn’t just apply to
romance, although it’s certainly a major
part. Venus encourages inner pride, inner
beauty as well as external appearances and
it can also lean a little towards vanity
Mars – Mars is like the fighting
planet. It imbues us with drive. It pushes
us. It is our motivator, although sometimes
it can motivate us too much and make us a
little too determined to have it our way.
Jupiter – Jupiter is nearly always
associated with wisdom, but in relation to
other planets, Jupiter tends to affect luck
and generate enthusiasm. This is the planet
that can have us making grand plans at one
point and then kicking back and doing
absolutely nothing at another point.
Saturn – Saturn is like a stern
parent figure. It is a fun-sapping planet,
but sometimes we all need a little
discipline and Saturn is the planet to
provide just that. This planet advocates
caution and encourages us to think things
Uranus – Uranus is the quirky
planet. This can encourage individuality and
uniqueness. It’s like a charming and
eccentric relative who encourages you to be
yourself. This planet, though, can sometimes
be a little too willful and too rebellious.
Neptune – Neptune is like the
archetypical Poet of the planets. It is
gentle, creative, and artistic. It’s also a
very forgiving presence, seeing the good as
opposed to the bad. This planet can direct
us to put our needs on hold in order to
serve others, but sometimes it can overdo
Pluto – Pluto is quite rightly
likened to a volcano. Pluto is not subtle.
Where Pluto figures in your Horoscope, you
can be sure that the changes will be
dramatic and sometimes a little traumatic.
Often though, the changes it brings are
positive ones, in the longer term.