Practical Magic: A Beginner's Guide to Crystals, Horoscopes, Psychics, and Spells - Nikki Van De Car 2017
ARIES, TAURUS, GEMINI, CANCER, LEO, VIRGO, LIBRA, SCORPIO, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces—we all know our signs, and we know that we can read different bits of information or advice on a monthly, weekly, or even daily basis relating to them. We’ve all heard the phrase “Mercury in retrograde,” and we know it’s probably a bad thing. Beyond that, we leave it to the professionals, because it all seems pretty overwhelming.
The truth is, it is overwhelming. There’s a reason why, for centuries, astrologers were so valued by rulers for the advice and information they could give. There is a lot to keep track of, but it’s not that complicated if you break it down. Astrology is simply using the movements of celestial bodies (like the planets and certain constellations) to make determinations about what is going on here on earth. It’s a practice that has been around for millennia and, up until the Enlightenment, was taken quite seriously all over the world, though practices differed from culture to culture.
Western astrology is centered around the date of birth and based on Ptolemy’s Tetrabiblos, which is considered the most authoritative text on astrology and itself based on Babylonian astrology. One thing to bear in mind is that cycles and changes in the heavens are merely reflective of cycles and changes on earth and in one’s life—they are not causative. They happen simultaneously, because that is how the universe works, but one doesn’t directly impact the other. We simply use the movements of the stars to interpret and understand what’s happening to us here on earth.
The zodiac refers to a belt of twelve constellations that the sun and the planets move through in the course of a year. Those twelve constellations each have a certain personality, which translates to the characteristics of your zodiac sign. Each sign is ruled by a particular celestial body—the sun, the moon, or one of the planets—though every celestial body travels through each sign at some point during the year. The signs are organized according to the seasons, rather than the calendar year, with spring coming first—so, in order, they are Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces.
The signs fall into the elemental categories of fire, water, earth, and air. Although each sign has its own personality traits, it will also have many traits in common with other signs of its element. Each sign will also be generally compatible with its fellow elemental signs.
Just to be confusing, there are also twelve Houses, which have nothing to do with the twelve signs. A House simply refers to an area of your life—like your family, your work, your identity, and so forth—and is determined by the earth’s rotation around its axis. The positions of each of the signs and the celestial bodies rotate through the Houses, so that at any given time, each House will be ruled by a different sign and celestial body.
So what do we do with all of this? What does an astrological chart do, anyway?
Most astrological charts reflect how the stars were aligned on the day you were born. A natal chart will give an indication of what your life will be like, a better understanding of who you are. But as it is only one day, albeit a very important day, it cannot give you the whole picture. Instead, doing a chart on a monthly, weekly, or even daily basis can provide a more specific and clear understanding of what is going on in your life right now and how to act accordingly.