Astrology has a long and sordid history - much like the Tarot, but older and probably more sordid. It however has been as metaphysical topic universally practiced by ancient civilizations and cultures across the globe in one form or fashion. Each culture developed its on methods of tracking the heavenly bodies in the night sky and developing systems to understand how those influence our lives.
Two "systems" are predominantly used today - Western and Eastern Astrology. Western Astrology, which is what is most widely known, has its roots all the way back in Babylon was popularized by print media during the Spiritualism movement in the early 1900s when news papers, almanacs, and magazines published the simple horoscopes that you can find in nearly every major news publication today. For most people those simple little weekly paragraphs offer an interesting insight or a few moments of entertainment and that is the extent of their experience with Astrology.
Acquiring your Birth Chart
For the purposes of this discussion we will be focused on the western astrological system. That is the standard Zodiac system most people are familiar with that you often find in the back of magazines and news papers. (Do people still read actually news papers?) So where do you begin?
I personally found a good place to begin by acquiring and studying my own natal or birth chart. So what exactly is your birth chat? Well it is a snapshot of all of the Zodiac houses, planets, and other heavenly bodies in the sky the moment you were born. The positions and relationships of all these things work together to provide you with your horoscope - which is all together much more complex and interesting that that little blurb in the back of that magazine in your bathroom.
To get a basic free birth chart of your own you can visit one of the following sites, they provide them for free without requiring an e-mail, any personal information, or spamming you with a billion annoying advertisements.
The information you will need have at hand for your birth chart is your birth date, time, and place. Now, we all know that some of that information may not be available to everyone for a myriad of reasons - that is OK. Just get it as close and accurate as humanly possible, e.g. if you do not know your birth time, but you know it was in the morning, set the time as close to when you think it was, say around 9 AM. The important thing is that the more accurate you can be about your date, time, and place, the more accurate your horoscope will be - but if you are missing a piece that's fine, just understand that your horoscope may be more generalized than specific.
Here is my birth chart for example:
Fundamentals of Reading a Chart
Now if you are like me your first thought was along the lines of - "holy shit what does all this mean!?"Well lets keep it simple and break it down part by part. Charts are basically broken into 3 circles. The outermost circle represents the zodiac signs, the middle the houses, and the inner most the aspects. For right now forget about the middle most circle with all the lines going every which way - we'll cover that later.
The outermost circle represents the zodiac signs each segment representing a zodiac sign and constellation - these are slices of space that point directly to the constellations associated with each zodiac sign AROUND earth at the time of your birth. These are evenly divided because the signs point to the constellations around the planet and those signs are fixed in space relative to the planet, but may rotate around on your chart based on where Earth is in its orbit around the sun at the time of your birth.
The next circle in which is divided typically into varying pie shaped slices and have a numeral in each slice are the houses - these represent a view of the heavens as seen from the perspective ON earth. This is why the houses on your chart may be different than the houses on another person who was born at a different location or time - the view is from the perspective of WHERE on earth you were born and where the houses were in correlation to the location of your birth. This section also includes the planetary symbols which indicates where each planet or astrological body was in heavens at the time of your birth in relation to both the house and the zodiac sign - more on this further down. It should be noted that this section can look different ant the wedges may rotate around or even be different sizes depending on what house system your chart is created using - for now do not worry about this, the differences between the systems are minor and rarely fundamentally change your horoscope.
Finally the inner most circle represents the aspects - or the relationships between each of the planetary bodies to one and other. Again this is a topic we will cover in later posts and videos - so disregard it for now.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Zodiac and planetary symbols here are their associations for your reference:
Once you have your birth chart, there are 3 signs on it that are considered to be the most revealing about you and your personality. These are your Sun, Moon, and Rising or Ascendant signs.
Identifying and Understanding your Sun, Moon, and Ascendant Signs
In order to find out what your sun and moon signs are just off your chart simply look for the Sun and Moon symbols respectively and see what zodiac sign they fall under - for example on my chart my sun falls under Aries - so my sun sign is Aries. To find your ascendant sign or rising sign look for the black arrow or the letters AC written on the outside of the cart - this points to your ascendant sign, on my chart this is Gemini. The two websites I provided also should list out your signs and give brief descriptions of them as well, so they should not be too difficult to find. Now that you have identified what your sun, moon, and ascendant signs are what do these mean exactly?
Your sun sign represents what sign the sun was in at the time of your birth. This sign is your dominant personality. It is the very essence of your Ego. The foundation of your "you-ness". This is typically the sign people are most familiar with from those horoscopes in the back of newspapers and magazines.
Your moon sign represents what sign the moon was in at the time of your birth. This sign is your subconscious personality. It is the foundation of your emotions and your darker inner self. Most often this is the side of yourself you don't often reveal to often everyone, or anyone at all for that matter. It is the "drunk you." I also find it interesting to know what phase the moon was in at the time of my birth, if you are curious you can calculate the lunar phase at your birth here: https://www.moonglow.com/pages/moon-calculator
Your ascendant sign represents what zodiac sign was rising over the horizon at the time of your birth - this sign is most affected by your place of birth as what is visible in the sky is dependent on where on the globe you are. Your ascendant sign is the mask you ware. It is the personality you filter every social interaction through.
Where to go from here?
Do some research - find out what your zodiac signs mean. Find the horoscopes that resonate with you and speak to your soul. When you look at horoscopes now look at all 3 of your signs to get a clearer picture of how the stars and planets are influencing your life. Read the descriptions included in your birth chart. Also remember as Abraham Lincoln once said "The best way to predict the future is to create it yourself." Never give up your own personal power or choice to a reading, reader, astrology chart or anything - you are always in control of your destiny. Most importantly have fun.
If you are interested in picking up a book to learn more about Astrology in general I would highly recommend The Stars Within You: A Modern Guide to Astrology by Juliana McCarthy. It is a wonderful beginners book written in a modern vernacular that is simple, clear, and concise.
As always, remember: Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about - so be kind. Always.