Astrology 101

Some readers have asked for background information on various characteristics of astrology, such as trines, oppositions, squares and so on. This is an excellent suggestion, and one I will gladly fulfill in these columns, but only if, dear readers, you accept my apology for not doing so when I began writing these observations. So many people steeped in/practicing a profession, avocation or hobby tend to speak and write in jargon; almost a language peculiar only to that particular interest. I am also guilty of that bad habit, and will begin to immediately remedy such.

Let’s start out with the first essential definition: what is a Natal Chart?

A Natal Chart is essentially a road map of the planets on the day you were born, and ideally, calculated for the exact hour and minute and at the correct latitude and longitude of your birthplace. Now, if you have a copy of your birth certificate, you have that information, which makes your chart much more accurate as to your probable personality, characteristics, preferences, career, lovers and so forth.

Without knowing the exact time of birth, astrologers have several ways of coming quite close to figuring a reasonable hour for purposes of chart calculations. The majority of us were born either at or very near to dawn on the day our mothers brought us into this world. And the Sun always rises in the same sign as its current transit. Here’s an example: Sam was born under the sign of Taurus, on May 3, 1960. Family legend says he was ‘born before breakfast’ and his older brother teases Sam about how all he got was a glass of orange juice that day for breakfast, since Mum was busy having his baby brother. Using 4 to 6 am as a time spread for birth gives Sam a Taurus Ascendant. Most people are quite satisfied with a general overview like this, as it usually matches their temperament well.

Other astrologers will use noon of the day of birth for figuring the Ascendant and doing the calculations for all of the planets using that old standby, an ephemeris. (See the photo with this blog which shows a page of an ephemeris for a month in the future.)

The reason for all the fuss about having an exact time is that all of the planets change their position on an erratic schedule (at least to us humans). Planets can change signs every few days, or daily, hourly – and the outer planets take one or more years. The Moon changes the sign it’s transiting every two to three days, and it passes through all twelve signs every thirty days. You can really get into splitting hairs if you wish, by finding ‘Mars is in Aries at 7 minutes and 33 seconds’ for a chart, which is just a snapshot of where that planet was at that particular time – until  the astrologer notes that, oddly enough, Neptune is in Libra at 7 minutes and 33 seconds, or in exact opposition to Mars. What does this mean? Well, the first implication is that the person with that exact opposition will likely have a difficult love life, with Neptune considered a planet of dreamy, nebulous interactions and Mars of course the fiery, swashbuckling suitor. Will this person fall for people who mislead the Mars in Aries? Will the person with this Natal Chart be lied to, or emotionally abused by unscrupulous lovers? Or will the Natal Chart person refuse to be faithful to one person and flit from lover to lover?

You see how complicated astrology can get, and this is just considering a few aspects of the Natal Chart!

Methinks this is probably enough information for one blog, inasmuch as it’s ‘clear as mud’ right now, but do return in future weeks, dear readers, as we’ll meander through the basic building blocks of a Natal Chart with many interpretations and asides along the way. You may not wish to take up astrology as a vocation, or even a hobby, but I’ll endeavor to guide you in finding some interesting highlights of your own Natal Chart.

In the meantime, do get outside for a bit of star-gazing when you can. Remember that line from ‘Men in Black’ about the stars being so beautiful. They are, you know.   – MZ