About Natal ChartsAstrology is a fascinating subject. While almost everyone knows his or her astrological sign, they are not always familiar with the personal characteristics associated with it. Those who turn their interest into more understanding of the subject itself will gain some truly unique insights about themselves and others. I have rarely encountered a person totally immune from wanting to know more about astrology.
The following paragraphs answer some of the most frequent questions.
What is astrology?Astrology is the study of cycles. The sun, moon, and planets move in their own time and in their own space according to individual cycles. Similarly ordained, the earth and all life upon its surface carries forward in complicated, perhaps never-to-be-fully understood, patterns that make up the Grand Design of the cosmos. The Greeks believed this enthusiastically. Some of the greatest thinkers in the history of mankind did not at all think it unreasonable to study planetary cycles in order to gain a better understanding of how mankind in general and people as individuals, fit into the universal cosmos. The Greeks assembled the body of knowledge upon which modern astrology is based. They applied their advanced understanding of astronomy and mathematics to the descriptions handed down from the astrologers/astronomers (there was no distinction in those days) of ancient Egypt and Babylonia.
What is meant by one's astrological sign?When people refer to their astrological sign, they are merely stating which sign of the zodiac the sun was in when they were born.
Why is the sun's position so important in astrology?As stars go with respect to size and brilliance, our sun is not a very impressive specimen. However, in a universe incalculably cold and dark, it is fortunate for us that the earth unfailingly continues to circle around this little spot of warmth and light. Without it there would be no life. During the twelve months it takes to make one complete orbit around the sun, the earth receives life-giving solar rays from continually changing angles. This cyclical pattern produces the four seasons. Birth, growth, maturity, and death; the cycle of the seasons is ordained by the earth's relationship with the sun, and every individual life upon its surface is in imitation of this pattern.
The date when the sun leaves one sign and enters another varies by just a day or two from month to month, occurring sometime between the 20th and 23rd. The astrological sign of those born during the one day when the sun moves into the next sign is determined by the time they were born. For example, people whose birth occurred on April 20th might be Aries, while others born on the very same day will be Taurus if they came into the world after the sun entered the new sign. Those born on or around these dates are often said to be on the cusp. What this really means is that they are not sure if the sun had entered another sign on the day of their birth. The confusion can easily be remedied. Many calendars and almanacs list the date as well as the time when the sun enters a new sign each month.
Doesn't astrology recognize that we all share the same traits?Astrology reflects the principle that nothing in the universe is at once so simple or so complicated as man himself, from the simple human traits inherent in all humans at birth to the complexity of specific personality and behavior patterns of a single individual. Desirable and undesirable characteristics repeat themselves in the individuals of countless generations, appearing only slightly altered by the history of changing circumstances. Specific traits indicated as belonging to one astrological sign does not deny the fact that people born in any of the other eleven signs also possess these traits. What it means is that hundreds of years of recorded astrological observations have shown that certain traits are more prominent in the personality and temperament of those born in one sign than in another. That is the reason, for example, that moodiness becomes a trait associated with one sign or loquaciousness the hallmark of another.
On what are the astrological sign descriptions based?Some traits are shared by certain signs. This can seem confusing unless you understand how traits are classified. Astrology uses two general classifications to explain how the same characteristic can be shared by different signs. These two classifications also focus on the true nature of each sign as they are distinct from each other. One classification is known as Elements which divides the twelve signs into four groups: Fire signs, Earth signs, Air signs and Water signs. The other classification is known as Qualities, which divides the twelve signs into three groups: Cardinal signs, Fixed signs, and Mutable signs.
ElementsDefining characteristics in terms of Elements is based on whether a person's initial (elementary) reaction to everything in life is physical, pragmatic, intellectual, or emotional. An individual's first reaction to things is an instantaneous process. Describing it as though it occurs in slow motion makes it easier for us to understand how one individual's primary reactions may differ from another's, and how much the tendency of these responses influences the way we think and the things we do.
The first element is Fire, represented by the signs Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius. For these people, the first reaction to everything is a physical one. They are the ones most likely to "shoot first and ask questions later. " Before they assess the practicality of their actions, before considering the emotional consequences, and before intellectual perceptions have a chance to impose control Fire sign people need to do something. The moment their interest is aroused, they charge into battle unarmed. In their haste to do something important details may be forgotten or disregarded. They can be unmindful of how their careless actions may hurt or infringe on the rights of others. The positive side of their animated natures is that fire signs possess great courage. They are willing to take chances and do things others would not attempt. Their accomplishments can be legendary if they learn to channel their energy constructively into worthwhile endeavors and develop the patience to complete the projects they initiate. Fire sign people are the most physically active. Aries likes to be active simply as a release of energy. Leo wants to get around in order to enjoy the attention and sociable companionship of others. Sagittarius loves the freedom that comes from being physically independent.
The second element is Earth, represented by the signs Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn. These individuals are invariably of a practical nature and seldom do anything without a purpose. Before taking action that might be a waste of time, before allowing reason and logic to present all sides of an issue (some of which may not be of direct benefit to them), and before giving in to the sentimentality of emotions, Earth signs assess everything in terms of their personal goals. They expect some tangible reward or manifestation of gratefulness on the part of others in recognition of their efforts. At times it is hard to convince Earth sign personalities that everything cannot be measured in terms of its material worth. At other times, the practical nature of the Earth sign is a valuable asset. Their eye for value lets them see the worthiness of people as well as things that may not be so readily apparent to others. They are remarkable at discovering ways to conserve resources. They instinctively recognize and enjoy the material comforts of life and don't mind expending energy in that direction. Earth signs are not particularly motivated to do anything until they find it expedient to do so. Taurus will doggedly pursue anything that fills a basic need or desire. Virgo patiently tries to secure their own needs through service and responsibility to others, though they are not above using guilt as a weapon to get what they want. Capricorn will forego temporary needs and desires. They are in it for the long haul. No matter how long it takes to get there, their goals are met when they are put in charge and can do whatever they like.
The third element is Air, represented by the signs Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius. These individuals have an intellectual orientation to everything. Before taking action that might be unnecessary, before practicality distracts their attention, and before emotionalism can blur the facts, Air sign people focus their immediate attention on the available information in order to form a complete and unbiased judgement. They get sidetracked looking for some lesson to be learned. Attracted to all forms of education and communication, they are adept at making objective decisions and impartial judgments. Caught up in their intellectual approach however, they often fail to realize that no matter how rich the world of imagination, there is no substitute for experiencing the physical and emotional realities of life. In personal relationships, they have to remember that high-mindedness is no excuse for lack of sentiment or physical action. In practical matters, Air signs must learn that what works in theory may not work in reality. They are usually the quickest to acquire communicative skills. Gemini wants to find out what is going on. Libra does not like to be alone and therefore seeks the companionship of others. Aquarius, inherently intrigued by people and society, wants to be where others are gathered.
The fourth element is Water, represented by the signs Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces. Those born in a Water sign always lead with their hearts. Before taking action that might cause anxiety, before practicality imposes a limit on sentiment, and before intellectual reason offers irrefutable evidence that their feelings are unjustified, Water sign people react to everything on an emotional level. Feelings dominate their decisions. They can retard their own growth and development by giving in to feelings of self-pity or undue sentiment. On the other hand, when they allow intelligence to curb sentimentality and sharpen intuitive faculties, they can be unerring in their judgments. Emotionalism can raise them to singular heights of inspiration and achievement and also plunge them into the depths of degradation and despair. These personalities must learn to curb possessiveness and emotional dependency. Water signs are the most sensitive. The emotional environment in which they are raised plays a major role in determining their emotional and mental health as adults. They tend to be shy and in need of constant reassurance. Their willingness to do anything is largely a matter of how they are feeling at the time. Cancer wants emotional satisfaction through home and family. Scorpio seeks emotional satisfaction through manipulation and control, and Pisces seeks emotional satisfaction on whatever physical, spiritual, or creative level they can find.
QualitiesDefining characteristics in terms of Qualities is based on three basic attitudes toward life. Does a person want to get things done, as do the Cardinal sign personalities? Is a person too stubborn or fearful of changing the status quo, as are the Fixed sign personalities? Or, is a person likely to go along with the prevailing situation by adjusting to change, as are the Mutable sign personalities?
The Cardinal signs are Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn. People born in these signs are strong-willed and have a desire for accomplishment. They are the doers, the movers and shakers in the world. Also known as "executive" signs, Cardinal sign personalities like to be involved in major projects and to take charge of whatever needs to be done.
The Fixed signs are Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius. These personalities are cautious and tend to be extremely stubborn. Their opinions and habits are not readily altered. They do not appreciate unexpected, sudden, or imposed changes. The tenacity of these personalities is a valuable asset in research or other areas where patience and stamina are required. Their cautious nature prevents unnecessary waste of their time, talent, and resources.
The Mutable signs are Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces. These individuals have remarkable ability to adapt to all kinds of situations, making it easy for others to live and work with them. Their adaptability makes Mutable sign people survivors. However, their willingness to constantly adjust to the influence of other people's situations can seriously inhibit the growth and development of their own talents and personalities.
Putting the Elements and Qualities TogetherAdding the descriptive Elements and characteristic Qualities together is the method that gives a unique personal profile to each of the astrological signs.
Aries is the Cardinal-Fire sign. Aries people need to keep physically busy. They accomplish many things simply because of their restless energy. They need to learn how to make constructive use of their energetic efforts. The typical Aries urge is to take on more projects than can be done reasonably well. Though others may find it difficult to physically keep pace, they are attracted to the animation and spirit of Aries personalities.
Cancer is the Cardinal-Water sign. Cancerians get things done through the power of their emotional commitment. Not only do they aggressively work to accomplish the goals inspired by their own feelings, they also know how to appeal to the emotions of others. By making other people feel like family members, Cancerians effectively inspire others to help get projects accomplished. They have to learn how to reach an emotional balance since they tend to be overly sensitive and moody.
Libra is the Cardinal-Air sign. Librans accomplish things because they intellectually evaluate what needs to be done, and then they charm others into cooperating with them to achieve the goal. By unselfishly sharing the success of accomplishment with those who assisted, Librans continue to engender the cooperative efforts of others. They have to learn how to deal with confrontations. Fear of hurting others or avoidance of hostile situations can keep them from pursuing their goals.
Capricorn is the Cardinal-Earth sign. Capricorns are natural goal setters. They willingly handle many tasks if it helps them get what they want. Many things get accomplished simply because they happen to be part of Capricorn's overall efforts to reach higher goals. They need definitive guidelines. Rules and regulations provide structure they need for establishing the pattern of their own actions. They must learn however, that the end never justifies the means.
Taurus is the Fixed-Earth sign. Taureans stubbornly cling to their own ideas and habits, and may fail to take advantage of new ideas or situations simply because they cannot see their practical use. They have to understand that while tenacity and a stable temperament yield rewards in many endeavors, tolerance and flexibility are the best assets when it comes to personal relationships.
Leo is the Fixed-Fire sign. Leos stubbornly cling to their pride. They resent the indignity of altering their opinions or behavior in front of or at the request of others. Their stubborn nature makes it hard for them to accept that there is no virtue in giving what they want to give rather than what may really be wanted or needed, and no reward in misguided loyalty to those who are not worthy of it.
Scorpio is the Fixed-Water sign. Scorpios stubbornly cling to emotional attachments. They rarely forget or forgive emotional rejection. They have to learn that jealousy and possessiveness are self-defeating. Rechanneling negative feelings and experiences into constructive activities benefits others as well as themselves. No other sign has the emotional strength of Scorpio.
Aquarius is the Fixed-Air sign. Aquarians are born looking for ideologies to which they can stubbornly cling. They refuse to budge whenever an issue involves what they believe to be a "matter of principle." As in the case of the Aquarian Abraham Lincoln, society greatly benefits when these principles happen to be noble ones.
Gemini is the Mutable-Air sign. Using their communicative skills, Geminis adapt to any situation they encounter. However, they must learn to speak with candor instead of simply repeating what others want to hear. Clever-tongued Geminis develop the amazing ability to obscure the facts in their stimulating and imaginative chatter.
Virgo is the Mutable-Earth sign. Virgos adapt to different people and situations by finding ways to make themselves useful. To hide their vulnerability, they focus attention on what they're doing rather than who they are. To deflect attention away from themselves, Virgos will also focus on other people by praising their talents and virtues, or just as likely, by listing their faulty behavior or personal defects.
Sagittarius is the Mutable-Fire sign. Restless energy and the need for personal independence keeps Sagittarians moving in many directions. They become experts at adapting to whatever culture and clime happens to fit their current interest. Always ready to travel for business or pleasure, and sometimes because of an overwhelming urge to escape (either figuratively or literally), they are all too willing to bypass the confinements of responsibility and work.
Pisces is the Mutable-Water sign. Pisceans adapt emotionally to the influence of their environment. Often painfully shy, they are adept at imitating the mannerisms of other people as a way of hiding their own personality. Pisceans can too easily become victims of their considerable ability to identify with the personality and problems of other people, since it severely restricts the development of their own personality traits and talents.
Why don't some people seem to fit their astrological sign?There are two reasons why some people don't seem to fit the descriptive characteristics of their astrological sign. In the first instance, they may not really understand the entire astrological description of their sign and are basing their opinion only on a few generalities. A more thorough explanation often reveals that most individuals do demonstrate the inherent characteristics of their sun sign. In the second instance, astrological interpretation is based on knowing the complete horoscope of an individual which indicates where all the celestial bodies were positioned at the time of birth. It will reveal how strongly an individual exhibits the traits associated with his or her sun sign. After the sun's sign, the most important position is the sign in which the moon was located at birth. For example, let's say at the time of birth the sun was in Aries. The moon may also be in Aries at birth but it may just as easily be in any of the other eleven astrological signs. The astrological sign position of the moon has an important bearing on personality and temperament from an emotional point of view. It describes how a person will emotionally handle the characteristics and traits indicated by the position of the sun at birth. Many calendars and almanacs list the daily lunar positions.
What is the difference between astrological sign and horoscope?
As previously explained, a person's astrological sign is determined simply by the position of the sun at the time of birth. The horoscope, however, is literally a map of the heavens showing the exact position of the sun, moon, and planets. It is mathematically calculated using the exact date, hour, and location of an individual's birth. Many people are born on the same date but at a different hour. Many are born on the same date and in the same hour, but not in the same place. An individual's horoscope is calculated using all three of these variables. Every four-minute interval produces a slightly different chart, and even twins are rarely born within such a narrow space of time. The horoscope is indeed a unique chart, no two individuals have the same one. This is the reason why an astrologer can define an individual's nature and temperament in a most subtle and personal manner.
©Copyright 2002-2008, Barbara Lee