astrology zodiac wheel

A Complete Guide to the Mystical World of Astrology

Humans have always been drawn to the skies. There’s always something fascinating and mysterious about it. What made it even more interesting is that heavenly objects would appear in the vast open space. The sun would be beaming all throughout the day, showing its strength and prowess, while at night the moon would play hide and seek. One day it would shine its dim light and another it would vanish completely. The stars in the night sky would be gleaming like jewellery. All these peculiarities would make the early humans increasingly curious.

Mankind’s connection to the skies increased when religions developed, and people had an increased faith in their own gods and goddesses. A common theme found in many cultures worldwide is that the sky is associated with the heavens. Believing that is where the gods resided, people would turn to the skies to resolve their problems. And they felt that studying the skies could allow them to communicate directly with their creators.

As humanity developed, they learned how to draw, write and read. With these new skills, they could now document their observations about the mysterious sky. They noticed the patterns of the stars and how the moon changed shape every night. From this data, they began noticing larger patterns that would help them predict the best time to plant crops, natural calamities like floods, and when to harvest their crops.

These were all early forms of astrology.

Astrology today seems to have re-emerged and it is growing more and more popular by the day. When we talk about astrology, we think of the 12 zodiac signs, horoscopes in the magazines or in newspapers, and of course, those relatable memes and social media posts about your zodiac sign’s personality traits. However, there is more to astrology than that.

Today’s post will act as a guide to everything you need to know about astrology.

What is Astrology?

zodiac wheel with the zodiac symbols
Zodiac Wheel with the symbols. Image Credit: Hello Giggles

Astrology is a discipline that studies and analyses the movement and positions of celestial objects like the stars, sun, moon, planets, etc. to see how they influence events on Earth and in a person’s life. This information is also used to predict the future, particularly regarding one’s career, wealth, relationships etc, and understand people’s personalities.

Astrology believes that the movement of these celestial objects can influence events in time. It also believes that all objects and beings have a natural frequency and energy. The bigger the object, the higher the energy emitted. The sun, the planets, etc. being massive objects, give off energies that haven’t yet been proven by science. It is due to these energies that these celestial objects can influence one’s fate. The stars and planets keep changing their positions in the sky, which continue to influence every individual, shaping their personalities throughout their lives.

Difference between Astronomy and Astrology

It is easy to confuse the two as the words seem quite similar to each other. The two concepts are, however, completely different.

Astronomy refers to the scientific study of celestial objects outside the Earth’s atmosphere, such as planets, stars, satellites, asteroids, etc. and the relationship between them using mathematics and scientific reasoning.

Astrology is an ancient discipline that studies the movement, position, and relationship between these celestial objects to determine how they influence events on Earth and its people. All to make predictions and avoid misfortune. While astronomy is a legitimate field of science, astrology is considered a pseudoscience based on superstition and fantasy instead of science. However, it does use scientific knowledge about celestial bodies to make predictions. And, it is also mistakenly thought to be based on science, so, it is, in reality, a pseudoscience, at least in the present day.

Astrology and astronomy share the same roots. Once upon a time, what we know as astrology today was considered to be the astronomy of that time. Astrology was, in fact, considered to be a branch of science up until the late 17th century. That is when Isaac Newton discovered gravity and scientifically proved that it was this gravity that was causing celestial objects to move and interact with each other. Since this discovery, astronomy has become a separate field of science.

Types of Astrology

There are around 80 branches, systems, and traditions or schools of astrology. These 80 types of astrological practices can be further branched out. They are collectively practised by various cultures and individuals across the world. Here are some of the most common types of astrology practised around the world.

Natal Astrology

Natal Astrology is the type of astrology that most of us are familiar with. It is the branch of astrology based on a person’s birth or natal chart. This chart visualizes the entire course of a person’s life. It can also show their greatest strengths, weaknesses, personality traits, their fate, etc. It also uses horoscopes to forecast a person’s future based on the position, movement, and relationship of the stars and planets at the time of a person’s birth.

Natal astrology focuses mainly on the sun sign, but there are nuances and complexities other than the sun sign that indicate a person’s personality and destiny. The natal chart is constructed based on the exact time, date, and location of birth. The chart will be discussed later in the post in further detail.

This post will focus mainly on the concepts of Natal Astrology.

Horary Astrology

This is an ancient branch of horoscopic astrology practised to search for answers to very specific queries. Horoscopic astrology simply refers to the type of astrology that uses horoscopes or charts to visualize the skies. Astrologers following this system draw out a chart based on the exact time and location that the question was asked. They then read and analyse the chart to provide a yes or no answer to the question.

Electional Astrology

Electional Astrology is astrology related to determining the most auspicious time to get things done. The astrologer here suggests the best time and date for an event to occur, based on the movements and positions of the celestial bodies. This type of astrology is followed particularly for occasions like proposals, engagements, weddings, or finalizing a business deal. It can also be something as basic as deciding on the right time to step out of the house for a job interview.

Medical Astrology

human body labelled with the zodiac sign
Parts of the body governed by the Zodiac Signs. Image Credit: Reddit

This is another commonly practised branch of astrology from ancient times. Here, the planets and stars are believed to be associated with the proper functioning of the human body and diseases. Each body part is governed by a zodiac sign and the organs and systems are ruled by the planets. For example, Leo governs the heart, spine, etc. Aries rules the brain, head, eyes, face, etc. Mars rules the circulatory system, Mercury is in charge of the nervous system, skin, thyroid, and so on and so forth. The relationship between the stars and the movement of planets is then studied to diagnose or predict health issues.

Zodiac Signs

Astrology can be complex but the basic principle of the disciple revolves around the 12 zodiac signs that we are all familiar with. Each one of these signs is associated with certain personality traits, animals, colour, and mythological stories, among other things.

As the Earth orbits the sun, the sun seems to be passing in front of constellations, otherwise defined as a group of stars positioned in a way that forms an imaginary shape. This sun isn’t really passing, it is simply an illusion created by the Earth’s own motion. The path that the sun seems to be taking during the year is called the ecliptic. The ecliptic plane passes right through the middle of twelve constellations, which forms the zodiac.

The zodiac signs are based on the shape of the 12 constellations along the ecliptic. These shapes have inspired the famous symbols for the zodiac signs. Along with symbols, the signs are also represented by glyphs. Glyphs are shorter and simpler symbols used to denote each sign.

Aries (March 21 – April 19)

Astrologica symbol of Aries
Image Credit: Vietnam Times

Aries is the first sign on the zodiac. It is represented by a symbol of a ram, and its glyph is a pair of ram horns. The ram is a symbol of ambition and boldness, while the horns symbolize Aries’ approach to leadership and taking initiative. Challenges keep them motivated and energetic, and they do well under pressure. Aries tend to be confident and positive, but they’re also known for their aggression, impulsiveness and recklessness.

Taurus (April 20 – May 20)

Astrological Sign of Taurus
Image Credit: Martha Stewart

Taurus is represented by a bull, and its glyph is the head of a bull with curved horns on top. The bull is a symbol of stubbornness, strength, determination, and bravery, among other qualities. Tauruses are calm, composed and hard-working people. Like all signs, they are also flawed. While their stubbornness can be a positive attribute, it may also be a flaw. Additionally, like the bull, they may also seem possessive. In this case, of things they own and of their relationship with people.

Gemini (May 21-June 20)

Astrological Symbol of Gemini
Image Credit: Project Nord

The symbol for Gemini is the celestial twins, Castor and Pollux, while the glyph shows the Roman numeral II. The symbols represent companionship and duality. Geminis are informative, social, communicative, clever, curious, versatile, and are open-minded. Some of their flaws include being double-faced, meaning they tend to have two sides to them. One side is their true self, which is hidden within. This is the side that many find difficult to accept. And the other side is the one that they show to people. Another flaw Gemini may have is being indecisive.

Cancer (June 21 – July 22)

cancer astrological sign
Image Credit: Labyrinthos

Cancer’s symbol is a crab and its glyph is represented by two sixes on their sides, facing opposite each other. Some interpret this symbol as the claws of a crab, while others believe the symbol represents a pair of breasts, as Canceranians tend to be nurturing and maternal. Some positive traits are that they are sensitive, kind, empathetic, emotional, and extremely loyal. Their flaws involve their constant changes in mood. Being sensitive, in addition to having mood swings, tends to make them unpredictable. Additionally, they may seem overly suspicious as they find it difficult to trust and feel safe. They protect themselves as a crab would.

Leo (July 23 – August 22)

leo astrological glyph
Image Credit: The Sun

Leo is represented by a lion. The glyph for Leo also represents a lion. The circle represents the head and the curved line represents the lion’s mane and tail. The circle also happens to symbolize the sun, while the curve is the sign of Leo’s influence and outreach. Like the lion, they are considered royalty among the zodiac signs. They are powerful, protective, optimistic, passionate, confident, generous, dramatic, and are natural leaders. They love compliments and they also love being in the spotlight. On the contrary, however, Leos can come off as arrogant, narcissistic, jealous and competitive.

Virgo (August 23 – September 22)

virgo astrological symbol
Image Credit: Numerology Forecast

Virgo is represented by a maiden carrying wheat. The maiden is a symbol of humanity and innocence. The Virgo glyph shows the M with the end curled into itself. The M represents virginity or modesty, while the curled end represents the ability to know what is immoral or righteous. Virgos have the tendency to be logical, realistic, consistent and disciplined. They are highly focused and are aware of their priorities. Virgos, however, are known to be judgemental as it is difficult for them to accept beliefs other than the ones that they’ve formed. Virgos are also known to be very critical, finding flaws in things that seem acceptable to most people.

Libra (September 23 – October 22)

libra astrological sign
Image Credit: Stylecaster

The symbol of Libra is a scale representing balance. The glyph is a symbol of an omega over a line. Others interpret it as the sun setting or rising over the horizon. Librans are calm and peaceful, seeking harmony and balance. They tend to be optimistic, charming, agreeable, and just. They can, however, come across as superficial as they highly appreciate beauty, making them critical of others’ appearances. This is due to the fact that their ruling planet is Venus. They can also be unreliable.

Scorpio (October 23 – November 21)

scorpio astrological sign
Image Credit: Lauboursay

As the name suggests, the symbol for Scorpio is a scorpion. Its glyph, on the other hand, is represented by an M with an extended tail with an arrowhead, facing upwards. The tail is a depiction of a scorpion’s stinger, showing that they are prepared to attack if threatened. The tail, being a phallic shape, is also believed to represent sex, especially as Scorpio governs the reproductive organs. Unlike the other water signs, Scorpio is associated with passion, strength, resourcefulness, bravery, determination, and intuitiveness. They form strong connections with others, they have very strong opinions about things. They may also come off as assertive, mysterious, and observant. Some flaws of Scorpios are being possessive, jealous, and dominating.

Sagittarius (November 22 – December 21)

sagittarius astrological sign
Image Credit: Martha Stewart

Sagittarius is symbolized by a centaur, a mythical creature whose upper part is that of a human and the lower half is a horse. The centaur is also an archer as it holds a bow and arrow, ready to shoot. The centaur represents their attempt to liberate themselves from an animal’s wild nature.

The archer is a symbol of aiming high and having a direction. It is also a symbol of their never-ending thirst for knowledge. The glyph shows the symbol of an arrow facing upward which represents setting a target so precisely that they never fail to hit the mark.  Sagittarians are known to be intelligent, patient, forgiving, wise, optimistic, wild, free, adventurous, extremely honest, open-minded, and enthusiastic. On the other hand, they can be impulsive and make a decision they may regret later on. They may also seem brutal for being completely honest about their opinions. Finally, while they may be patient, losing that patience results in a terrible temper.

Capricorn (December 22 – January 19)

Capricorn astrological sign
Image Credit: Listland

Capricorn is represented by a sea-goat, a mythical creature with the body of a goat and the tail of a fish. The Capricorn glyph is represented by an ‘n’ or ‘v’ with a loop at the bottom right, facing downwards. Another symbol of the sea-goat. The characteristics of the animals from two different terrains can be seen in Capricorns. The goat represents the ambitious side that successfully achieves its goals, while the fishtail represents its creative, productive and even sensitive side. Capricorns are ambitious and goal-oriented. They will put in whatever effort is required to achieve those goals. Like other earth signs, they are also very grounded, realistic, and consistent. They are independent, obedient, and quick to learn. As for the flaws, Capricorns can be pessimistic and stubborn.

Aquarius (January 20- February 18)

acquarius astrological sign
Image Credit: Horoscopes Love to Know

The symbol of Aquarius is the water bearer. It represents the overflowing of rivers at the beginning of spring, allowing growth. The water bearer is also a symbol of healing and cleansing, showing the humanitarian nature of Aquarius. Unlike what its name suggests, Aquarius is actually the last Air sign. The glyph is represented by two parallel zig-zig lines. These represent the flow of water to two planets, Uranus and Saturn. Meaning, that Aquarians have dual personalities. Saturn sets the limits and rules while Uranus represents opposing traits like independence and rebellion. Balance must be maintained between the dualities. The flowing water also represents the flow of energy and their search for knowledge.

Additionally, the jagged lines represent lightning and speed, like the speed at which their minds work. Aquarians are witty, have diverse perspectives, they’re liberal, kind, and ambitious. They wish to be unique, which is what motivates them to go further.  The negative traits of the Aquarians are that they are highly impatient. As they tend to think quickly, they sometimes make decisions without thinking about their consequences. They feel in charge of themselves, which they like to express by making impulsive decisions. They have extreme emotions. If they’re happy, they’re very happy. If they’re sad, they’ll be at their lowest and if they’re angry, they’ll be fuming.

Pisces (February 19 – March 20)

Pisces astrological sign
Image Credit: Martha Stewart

The last symbol in the zodiac is Pisces. This water sign is represented by two fishes faced in opposite directions connected by a loop. Two fishes are a symbol of duality. Its glyph shows two opposite facing parentheses with a line cut across. This also represents two fishes swimming in opposite directions that are connected by a band. The band is a symbol of the cycle that moves from the end (Pisces) to the beginning (Aries). Pisces tend to be empathetic, kind, intuitive, emotional, much like some of the other water signs.  They’re also creative and generous.

On the contrary, they may be naïve and gullible. Pisces tends to go out of the way to make people happy due to their selfless nature. And they like to see the best in people, because of which, other signs can take advantage of and hurt them. Pisces also avoids confronting others. They’d rather escape or blame others so that they don’t have to deal with the situation.

These are, of course, some of the more general positive and negative traits of the signs. The list isn’t exhaustive. Qualities described in horoscopes tend to be generalized, like the description of the signs above. Besides, these traits can differ from person to person, as in astrology, the birth date isn’t the only factor considered while gaining insight into someone’s personality.

Division of the Zodiac Signs

triplicities and zodiac signs
Triplicities. Each sign belongs to one of the elements. Image Credit: The Astrology Dictionary

The zodiac signs can be categorized into triplicites or quadruplicites. Triplicites is the word to describe ‘group of three’. The zodiac signs are divided into four groups of three. Each sign in this group is 120° apart from each other.

The three signs in one group belong to one of the four basic elements, namely, fire, earth, air, and water. Each group represents some general qualities of their corresponding signs.

The fire signs are Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius. Fire deals with spirit and intuition, impulsivity, providing warmth, passion, inspiration, excitement, ambition and an overall fiery characteristic. They have high energy levels and are intense, which most people find difficult to deal with.

The earth signs are Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn. Earth signs have a practical approach to the situations in their lives. They are hardworking, achieving and they succeed in managing day-to-day affairs. They possess common sense and are efficient people.

The air signs include Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius. Air represents perception, observing patterns and analysing. They are charming, witty, curious, and have a good sense of humour.

And finally, the water signs are Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces. Water elements are in charge of the fluids in the body. They tend to be emotional, sensitive, intuitive, and easily manipulated by other people’s energies.

Quadruplicites

Quadruplicites indicated on the wheel
Wheel representing the Quadruplicites. Image Credit: Mollys Astrology

Quadruplicities are arranged in three groups of four. Cardinal, Fixed, and Mutable signs. Each sign in this group is 90° apart from the other. The signs grouped together represent similar modalities.

Cardinal Signs: Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn make up the cardinal signs. These represent the beginning of new seasons, meaning people with these signs are great at taking initiative.

Fixed Signs: This group is made up of Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius. These denote the mid-point of each season, representing consistency to maintain an event.

Mutable Signs: This group comprises Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces. They represent the end of a season, meaning they are capable of being flexible and can handle change.

Other Celestial Objects

Aside from the zodiac signs, each of these celestial objects such as the sun, moon and planets hold meaning in astrology. They usually refer to an aspect of humankind that makes us who we are. Here’s what they represent:

Sun: Confidence, a sense of self, purpose, motivation, individuality, consciousness

Moon: Determines the sense of awareness, emotions, instincts, moods

Mercury: Language, communication, thinking and collecting information because it is the messenger planet.

Venus: relationship, pleasure, money, art, beauty, as it is the planet of love and beauty

Mars: Represents action, aggression, courage, competition, passion

Jupiter: Luck, prosperity, enthusiasm, expansion, generosity

Saturn: Disciple, boundaries, rules, duty, law, structure

Uranus: Change, sudden events, rebellion, unpredictability, independence

Neptune: Vision, inspiration, fantasies, dreams, imaginations, illusions

Pluto: Death, rebirth, power, evolution.

Note: In astrology, Pluto is considered to be a full planet.

In addition to the planets, the north and south nodes denote mathematical points that oppose each other. The north node is one’s destiny and the south node represents one’s competencies based on one’s experiences from past lives. Plus, the Rising Sign refers to the zodiac sign that was rising on the eastern horizon at the time of birth. Through a birth chart, it communicates the image we portray to others and sheds light on the skills we possess and provides strategies to improve our lives.

Astrology Charts and Horoscopes

Horoscopes refer to astrological charts. This chart is a visualization of the skies, much like a map of the heavens. The chart is prepared based on the type of astrology practised and the purpose of mapping out the skies. For instance, Natal charts can help predicate a person’s fate and future, and provide information about their personality. A composite chart verifies the compatibility of two people forming a relationship. A horary chart is prepared when an important question is asked. One that the person wants the universe to answer.

Horoscopes provide information on how the planets are positioned currently and how they will be positioned in the near future. This information will also communicate how these changes will affect the signs.

For this post, we shall focus on natal or birth charts.

birth chart drawn on a wheel
Example of a Birth Chart. Image Credit: Astrostyle

The birth chart is a snapshot of the sky at the exact time of a person’s birth. It is drawn based on the month, day, exact time, and exact location of birth. The requirement to provide specific information differentiates the birth charts from another person. For example, two people may have been born on the same date and year but as they were born in different locations, they will have different birth charts. A birth chart doesn’t just shows which celestial bodies passed through the zodiac signs, at the moment of birth, but it also contains information about houses, degrees, aspects, etc.

The birth chart, which is divided into 12 equal segments. These are the 12 houses. Unlike the Zodiac signs, which are based on the sun’s movement on the ecliptic, the houses are based on the Earth’s 24-hour rotation in its orbit. This means that the houses rotate every 24 hours, making it important to provide the details of the exact time of birth. Based on the time, date, place of the month, houses will constitute the different aspects of life, such as family, marriage, career, wealth, education, achievements, death, relationships, etc.

Degrees in Astrology

wheel indicating subdivisions or decans
10-degree divisions of all zodiac signs. Image Credit: Astrological Society

In astrology, degrees are used to assess the strength and influence of the planets on the natal chart. The degree denotes the exact location of each planet within every zodiac sign. It determines the way the planets interact with each other and what their relationship with each other is like. The relationship seemingly translates into one’s personality. Degrees help astrologers in determining which planet could possibly affect a person’s life.

The birth chart is drawn in the form of a circle where the zodiac is divided into 12 sections, each measuring 30° equally. These sections are known as the zodiac signs. These 30° segments are further split into three wedges, called decans. Each decan measures 10°. Those born within the first 10 days of the date of a zodiac sign will have their sun in the 1st decan. Those born in the following 10 days will have their sun in the 2nd decan. Finally, those born within the last 10 days of the zodiac sign dates will have their sun in the 3rd decan. Every decan will possess the qualities of the sign governing it. People born in the 1st decan tend to have the strongest qualities of the sign, meanwhile, those born in the 2nd or 3rd decans will possess traits that aren’t so strongly related to the sign.

Degrees 0-9: The 1st decan is related to the physical body. If there are too many planets in these degrees, the person is wise, logical, and materialistic.

Degrees 10-19: The 2nd decan relates to the mind. Those with more planets present within these degrees tend to be intelligent, logical, wise, and up-to-date with current events.

Degrees 20-29: The 3rd decan is related to one’s spiritual self. A person with many planets in these degrees will be a spiritual person. Though some may have the tendency to develop some bad habits.

The Role of Astrologers

An astrologer is a professional in the field of astrology. This is a person who can understand the position and movements of celestial objects, draw their observations out, read and analyse these charts to make predictions and get insight into one’s personality using that data.

To achieve accuracy, an astrologer makes informed predictions based on a carefully drawn chart. Preparing astrological charts or horoscopes requires calculating the position of the planets, how they interact with each other and the zodiac signs, which requires some mathematical skills. Upon sharing people’s predictions, astrologers are often asked for advice to improve their situation. To successfully perform these tasks, a reliable astrologer usually possesses some mathematical and customer service skills. There is a lot of scepticism regarding a discipline that has no scientific backing. As such, it is difficult to put faith in a pseudoscience like astrology. This is why practising astrology in a way that the astrologers themselves believe in, and in a manner that is structured, professional, and reliable, is important as it encourages clients to trust the process. Or at least take it seriously.

Importance of Astrology in the Present Day

astrologer at work reading a birth chart
Image Credit: Lightfield Studios

Knowing that someone has the ability to predict our future, it would be natural to visit them to know our fate. Upon gaining that knowledge, one may either try to prevent some misfortune in their destiny by taking the advice of the astrologer, or they may worry about it as much as possible. This is natural and this is what we would expect people to visit an astrologer for. People also consult astrologers to stay cautious, to see what the planets have to say about the decision one is in the process of making.

Not all, however, visit an astrologer at their worst time. They visit it at their best too, so that they can understand why things are as good as they are and how they can extend them. Many do not even visit it as a way to learn about their future. They simply use it as a tool to get to know themselves better. Many no longer find meaning in life, so they seek an astrologer to find out what their stars have to say about that. As for the younger generation, who is showing a growing interest in the discipline, it is used as a social tool to express their personalities to others.

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