We live in a sacred, many-layered, living universe- or rather it lives in us.C. S. Lewis
As an accompaniment to my memoir, The Play of Sun and Shadow, below is a brief introduction and overview of astrology for those of you not familiar with the basics.
Awareness is the Source; the non-conceptual, peaceful, timeless One that transcends and includes everything. Astrology is downstream from That. Astrology deals with time, psyche, and archetypes (universal principles, polarities, etc.). Unlike astronomy, astrology states that there is a meaningful correlation between celestial events and human experience. The Ancients simply said, “as above, so below.”
Astrology’s currency is freewill and fate; that is, it helps clarify what changes can be made and which cannot and aids in knowing the difference. This comes in handy especially in dealing with self and others and the inevitable complications caused by our complacency, contradictions, and/or obfuscations. Via the examination of the birth chart, astrology can help one accommodate these convolutions which may result in greater compassion and candor.
First are the planets and significant points which have a range of meanings:
Rising sign– self, character, physical looks/body, determines chart ruler
Moon-emotional/subjective mind, environment, body, mother. Rules: Cancer
Sun-direction, purpose, will, drive, career, father. Rules: Leo
Mercury-analytical mind, memory, financial, communication, diplomacy. Rules: Gemini and Virgo
Venus-aesthetic/affiliative function, social skills, receptivity, cooperation. Rules: Taurus and Libra
Mars-assertion, passion, anger, independence, ambition. Rules: Aries and Scorpio
Jupiter-expansion, excess, optimism, good luck, ethics, law. Rules: Sagittarius and Pisces
Saturn-responsibility, restriction, pessimism, bad luck, time/ageing. Rules: Capricorn and Aquarius
North Node/Rahu-exaggerate, extrovert, confront, external passion/transformation
South Node/Ketu-withdrawal, introvert, secretive, internal passion/transformation
Uranus-individuation, unexpected changes
And, there are the signs. The meaning of signs such as Aries or Taurus can be decoded from a matrix of archetypes: 4 elements (fire, earth, air, water), 3 modalities or modes (cardinal, fixed, mutable) and ruling planet. It’s an easy way of understanding the signs intuitively.
The next level of complexity are the houses, 1 through 12. Which house the planets reside in is determined by the time of birth (5:34 AM, etc.). It is important to have an accurate birth time (your mother’s or father’s recollection of what time you were usually born usually isn’t accurate). Most birth certificates are fairly accurate. The birth time determines the various planets’ location in the 12 different houses. Think of houses as areas of life. For instance, the 6th house has to do with work routines, health, illness, pets, etc. (notice the multivalent meanings). So, if one has a planet or two in the 6th house, one could expect that area of life to be pronounced.
The 1st house is the Ascendant or rising sign; it is especially significant (more so than your Sun sign). It can be any one of the twelve signs. The rising sign is our character or self and is frequently the most obvious aspect of our personality to others. It is part of the “primal triad” along with the Sun and the Moon; understanding these three is a solid beginning to understanding your astrological chart. By the way, there are 1728 possible combinations of the Sun, Moon, and rising sign.
Naturally, there are more levels of complexity. For instance, there is the determination of a planet’s expression via essential dignity and accidental dignity. Essential dignity (rulership, detriment, exaltation, fall, etc.) determines how comfortable a planet feels (for instance, my Mercury in Sagittarius is in detriment—not great at dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s). Accidental dignity is a complementary consideration and includes angles between planets which are called aspects. An aspect is the measurement of the angle in degrees between planets in the birth chart; there are 360 degrees in total circumference in a birth chart. The major aspects are Conjunction/0 degrees (fusion, unity), Opposition/180 degrees (separation, polarity), Trine/120 degrees (harmonious, creativity), Sextile/60 degrees (excitation, stimulus), and Square/90 degrees (disharmony, tension).
Next, you can superimpose current planetary positions on your birth chart and garner even more helpful insight. These are called transits and progressions; they are helpful for determining the timing of certain events, phases, and/or transformations which can result in greater discernment and impartiality about the drama of life. Probably the most widely known transit is Saturn Return. Saturn, the archetype of structure and time, manifests as “growing up” and “cleaning up.” When Saturn returns to its position when you were born, it is called Saturn Return which happens between ages of 27-31, 56-60, and 84-90 and is frequently a significant maturation milestone (along with aspects to other planets it makes on its journey around your birth chart).
If you’re inclined to study astrology, I encourage you to do so; it is awe inspiring. If you are dealing with some astrologically induced confusion, don’t sweat it. Bite off only as much as you can chew, masticate thoroughly, and allow time for digestion. If indigestion occurs go back to the basics; somehow that always sorts things out for me. Remember, you are already always enough as Awareness.