Updated: Jul 5
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.