Ian Parkin is the author of this post.
A beginner's guide to astrology - introduction.
Astrology is a complex art and science which applies symbolic meaning to astronomical information as it existed over two thousand years ago when the practice of astrology was first documented in writing by ancient astronomers and astrologers.
Western astrologers use the ancient positions of the constellations, and Sidereal (aka Vedic or Hindu) astrologers use current astronomical positions. The two systems are very different but work equally well.
Astrologers begin by erecting a natal chart, or horoscope, based on the date, place, and moment you were born. Today, most charts are done on a computer which makes them very accurate. But they are only as accurate as the information you provide. Any reputable astrologer will advise everyone to obtain more accurate birth information or to have your chart rectified if you only know that you were born "around 5 p.m."
Astrologers interpret everything in your chart individually and then integrate it all for you into a picture of you and your life. Interpretations come in many forms: basic insight into your personality; examining specific trouble spots in your life; comparing and contrasting your chart with that of a loved one, friend, co-worker, etc.; looking at career options and financial indications; finding the best place to live; forecasting future opportunities; selecting the best time for a wedding, to start a business, etc.; emotional and spiritual growth; and, answering questions.
Most astrologers have a general practice which incorporates a variety of these services, and they may also have some areas in which they specialize in something such as relationships or careers.
The best way to use astrology is to learn to evaluate a problem on your own, to examine the choices you have to make in order to fix the problem, and then to consult your astrologer to see in which ways the possible solutions will work for you and when the best period is to make changes, take risks, be patient and wait, plan, etc. With all that information in hand, you will possess a powerful knowledge with which to solve your problems, change your life, and be the person you always wanted to be.
Astrology can be extremely accurate. But it is only as accurate as your birth time, which is used to calculate not only the celestial positions, but also your Ascendant (Rising Sign), to the exact degree and minute. That calculation then determines the degree on the Midheaven and all of the house cusps. The cusps then determine in which house your planets will fall. Without an accurate birth time, interpretations and forecasts are invariably incorrect. All of this information is then used in interpreting your personality, determining your career choices, comparing and contrasting your chart with those of other people you know, and forecasting events in your life.
Before you schedule a consultation or order charts and reports, you should obtain a copy of your birth certificate. If you do not have a birth certificate, if the time is not stated on yours, if you suspect your birth certificate is in error, or if you have only an estimation, you can have your chart rectified.
But what about your birth certificate? How accurate is it? What language is it in? It may not be as accurate as you think. It's not hard to get the date and the place correct, but birth times are an entirely different story. Since doctors and nurses are not usually astrologers, they give little attention for communication of the exact time you where born. For example, they may round off an 8:38 birth time to 8:40 or 8:35. A doctor may fill out the birth certificate later and use an estimated birth time that could be far earlier or later than the true time of birth, or then the time recorded on the delivery room records.
Depending on where and when you were born, your birth certificate may not even have a space for the moment of birth. Some people have no written birth certificates at all because they were born at home, or during periods when birth certificates were not considered necessary, or in countries where birth certificates are or were not issued. Some parts of the United States have other problems with birth certificate times. For example, during certain years in the state of Illinois, War Time, the precursor to our modern Daylight Savings Time, was in effect but was not observed by all hospitals, many of which continued to operate on Standard Time. That means that if you happen to have been born in Illinois during those times, your birth certificate could be off by an entire hour.
Without an exact birth time, astrology in general, and predictive astrology in particular, are rarely accurate. There may be some general information and interpretations that are correct, but the subtleties and events-oriented aspects will be wrong.
The Natal Chart is a map of your life. It’s like if you were able to take a photo at the time of your birth of the planets and of the universe stopped in time. Once developed this ‘photo’ is what the universe has to say about who you are and what you may become. The seeds of the future are always shown in the present, but can we read them? The study of astrology is about learning how to read the signs of the times and listening to what they have to say about us, now and in the future.
A Natal Chart is made from your month, day, year, time of birth (am/pm), city and state of birth. With this information your Natal Chart can determine your personality, the person you are and who you will become! The Sun, Moon and Rising form your personality, it's like a pyramid, Sun on top and Moon and Rising at each of its own end. There is a treasure chest of information in a Natal Chart!
The Ascendant is known as the rising sign. It is the starting point of the first house. Contrary to the standard horoscope analysis in the newspaper, where the personality of a person is based on the Sun Sign (the sign where the sun is), astrologers usually put emphasis on the relationship of the first House, or Ascendant, to project a personality profile.
On the birth chart, the Midheaven is the point where the sun is found midday. The sign where the Midheaven is found not only has a strong bearing on the subject's passionate expression of oneself in one's world, lifestyle, choice of career, attitude, but also in events that the subject has no direct control. The Midheaven represents ego, and the characteristics that are associated with the sign in which the Midheaven is found, are expressed in an external manner.
The wheel is a map of the space surrounding us at the time of our birth. The wheel is divided into 12 sections called Houses. Planets in the heavens are placed on the Chart Wheel in the houses that correspond to where they actually are in the sky at birth.
In the Chart Wheel, the planets are placed in their Zodiac sign positions. Aquarius, Pisces, Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, and Capricorn are known as the 12 signs of the zodiac as well as your astrological signs. And each is associated with one of four elements denoted by earth signs, fire signs, air signs, and water signs. The Zodiac stretches in a circle through all 360 degrees of the surrounding sky, and this circle is divided into sections of 30 degrees, which make up the 12 zodiac signs. Planet positions are measured within signs by degrees, minutes, and seconds of circular arc. Each degree contains 60 minutes of arc and each minute of arc contains 60 seconds of arc.
The wheel is divided into 12 sections called Houses. The houses are numbered from 1 to 12. The pie-like lines that divide one house from the next are called house cusps.
Keep in mind that our Earth makes a complete turn on its axis once in 24 hours. The Chart Wheel represents the space surrounding where we were born. It is as if we were standing outside with the sky above us (upper part of chart) and the Earth beneath our feet (lower hemisphere). As the Earth turns, it brings each of the 360 degrees of the zodiac to any part of the wheel once in 24 hours, a new degree of the zodiac every 4 minutes.
Progressions contain the primary timing for your development and growth and show how you evolve and grow. They are generally felt internally. You may make external changes based on them, but they are like the unfolding of your astrological DNA. The timing for all of these changes is very personal, based solely on your own chart. Because evolution is slow, these are slow changes.
Your progress chart is different from your birth chart in that it moves each planet by its amount of daily travel for each year of life after the person is born. Reading progressions show how you evolve and develop over time.
As all the best astrology books will say, the planets will not be in the same placements at the time of your birth again for another 25,000 years, there are no two personalities the same in the world. You are unique!
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