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Understanding your Zodiac Birth Chart

Okay so today’s blog is part two on astrology which is the study of the movements and relative positions of celestial bodies interpreted as having an influence on human affairs and the natural world. Astrology is an interpretive art of deciphering meanings from placements of planets.


A natal birth chart, also referred to as a birth chart or a natal chart, is a horoscope or astrological chart that is drawn from the exact time of a person’s birth, and it give a revealing glimpse into a person’s character by analyzing the position of the planets and the astrological houses during the time of birth along with the person’s astrological sign. In astrology, a natal chart is a circular map of the universe. It is calculated for the exact time and location of your birth for the purposes of gaining insight into the native's personality and potential.

The three main components of a natal birth chart are the signs, the planets, and the houses. The signs is the 12-fold cycle of the zodiac and describe a circular rhythm and is one of the more popular aspects of astrology. The planets refer to the sun and the moon and the other planetary bodies in the solar system. And the houses will show where an energy could be expressing itself or where a certain tone is received in the field of human experience. The planets show what is happening, the signs show how it’s happening, and the houses show where it’s happening.

The Signs

Most of us are familiar with the 12 zodiac signs: Aries, Leo, Sagittarius, Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn, Gemini, Libra, Aquarius, Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces. These signs are basically areas in the constellation where the planets pass through in a course of time. Where the planets are tell a lot about a person’s character. When a chart says that “Venus is in Leo,” it means that Venus was on that sign on the time of birth, and when it says “at 15 degrees of Leo,” Venus passed about halfway through that part of the sky associated with that particular zodiac sign. All planets will pass through all the signs.

The 12 signs have an influence on a person all the time, and the energies of the 12 signs are present at the time of birth in various ways.

The Planets

Each planet in the birth natal chart represents a function in a person’s personality. They are grouped into two categories: personal planets (Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, and Mars) and outer planets (Jupiter, Neptune, Saturn, Uranus, and Pluto).

Personal Planets

To get an idea of what each planet represents, here’s a general description. In the personal planets, the Sun represents a person’s basic identity, their purpose and will to exist.

The moon, reflecting the light of the Sun, is the container of life experiences. It is a person’s way of being or a way of relating to life that would feel natural comfortable. The moon does not represent emotions but is connected to it and the memories attached to these emotions.

Mercury relates to a person’s ability to perceive and relate with individuals and objects other than themselves, which is connected with communication, symbols, and language.

Venus is the part that gives feedback about what is comfortable or not, what that person enjoys; it is an indicator of what a person values and appreciates.

The most important thing to remember while interpreting any birth chart is: synthesis. The whole chart must be taken as a whole. A natal chart abounds with bits and pieces of information about an individual. Each separate bit must be synthesized into one whole picture of the person.

That means that you cannot take one piece of the chart (for example, Mercury in Sagittarius) and decide that it defines the entire person. If you do that, you will, undoubtedly, be in error. Of course, you will be tempted to stop at one or another of the planetary meanings, and think that it is the defining factor of a person. This is a big mistake. For example, say that two individuals both have Mercury in Sagittarius (denoting something of a "big mouth"). You may be tempted to assume that both of the individuals are "outspoken." But, say the first person has the Sun in Capricorn, while the second person has the Sun in Sagittarius. While they both have Mercury in Sagittarius, the first person (Sun in Capricorn) will have a much more reserved communication style than the second person (Sun in Sagittarius).

The point, again is that the entire chart must be blended together. It’s as if each of us is a mosaic, made up of tiny individual images. In the birth chart, each separate planet in a sign and house is like one tiny individual image, one tiny part of the whole mosaic. Now, two different completed mosaics, if you look close enough, may contain tiny pieces that are exactly the same, yet they are part of two completely different finished mosaics (this point is illustrated by the example of Mercury in Sagittarius above). Although the mosaics contain similar pieces, the final products look nothing alike.

In astrology, a cusp (from the Latin word for spear or point) is the imaginary line that separates a pair of consecutive signs in the zodiac or houses in the horoscope. Because the solar disc has a diameter of approximately half a degree, it is possible for the Sun to straddle the cusp as it moves across the sky.

If like myself, you were born within a few days of the Sun's move from one zodiac sign to the next, this means you were born "on the cusp," and you'll feel the influence from both zodiac signs.

A Virgo is a Virgo is a Virgo, but a Virgo born on the Leo-Virgo cusp will be a Virgo with some added Leo energy, and a Virgo born on the Virgo-Libra cusp will be a Virgo with some added Libra energy. In my case I am a Capricorn with a lot of Aquarius influences as I was born late on January 20.

A key to the understanding of all astrology is within the reach of anyone who truly understands the meaning of the following definitions:


The elements are the energy substance of experience.


The signs are the primary energy patterns and indicate specific qualities of experience.


The planets regulate energy flow and represent the dimensions of experience.


The houses represent the fields of experience wherein specific energies will be most easily expressed and most directly encountered.


The aspects reveal the dynamism and intensity of experience as well as how the energies within the individual interact.

These five factors are a comprehensive cosmic psychology, and it is the art of combining them that results in the language of energy called astrology. These factors are combined in the following way: A particular dimension of experience (indicated by a certain planet) will invariably be colored by the quality of the sign wherein it is placed in the individual's chart. This combination results in a specific urge toward self-expression and a particular need for fulfillment being defined. The individual will confront that dimension of life most immediately in the field of experience indicated by the planet's house position. And, although the urge to express or to fulfill that dimension of experience will be present in anyone having a certain planet-sign combination, the specific aspects to that planet reveals how easily and harmoniously the person can express that urge or fulfill that need.

The "four elements" of astrological tradition refer to the vital forces (or energies) that make up the entire creation that is commonly perceived by human beings. The four elements in a birth chart reveal the ability to participate in certain realms of being and to tune in to specific fields of life experience. These elements have nothing to do with the elements of chemistry and in fact transcend them completely. Fire, Earth, Air and Water Signs

The four elements—Fire, Earth, Air, and Water—each represent a basic kind of energy and consciousness that operates within everyone. Each person is consciously more attuned to some types of energy than others. The element of any sign that is emphasized in a chart (by significant planetary placement in that sign) shows a specific type of consciousness and method of perception to which the individual is strongly attuned.

Fire Signs

"Fire Signs" express the warming, radiating, energizing life principle which can manifest as enthusiasm, faith, encouragement, and the drive to express self.

Earth Signs

"Earth Signs" reveal an attunement with the world of physical forms and a practical ability to utilize and improve the material world.

Air Signs

"Air Signs" are correlated with the mind's sensation, perception, and expression, especially related to personal interaction and to geometrical thought forms and abstract ideas.

Water Signs

"Water Signs" symbolize the cooling, healing principle of sensitivity, feeling response, and empathy with others.

Cardinal, Fixed and Mutable Signs

One way of understanding these various energy patterns is to analyze them in terms of their modalities. Each of the four elements manifests in three vibrational modalities: Cardinal, Fixed, and Mutable. Combining the four elements with the three modalities produces the twelve primary patterns of energy called the Signs of the Zodiac.

The Cardinal Signs

"Cardinal Signs" correlate with the principle of action and symbolize initiating movements of energy in a definite direction.

The Fixed Signs

"Fixed Signs" represent concentrated energy gathered inward toward a center or radiating outward from a center.

The Mutable Signs

"Mutable Signs" are correlated with flexibility and constant change and may be conceived as spiralic patterns of energy.

Active and Passive Signs

The elements have traditionally been divided into two groups. Fire and Air being considered active and self-expressive, and Water and Earth considered passive, receptive, and self-containing. This differentiation is of great importance in a holistic approach to birth charts. These terms refer to the mode of operation of these energies and to the individual's method of self-expression rather than to a generalized quality that can be haphazardly and rigidly applied to all people in a certain category. For example, the Water and Earth signs are more self-contained than the Fire and Air signs in that they live more within themselves and don't allow themselves to project their essential energy outwardly without a good deal of caution and forethought. However, this enables them to build a solid foundation for action. The Fire and Air signs are more self-expressive since they are always "getting it out," pouring forth their energies and life-substance unreservedly (at times ignoring limits completely): the Fire signs by direct action and the Air signs by social interaction and verbal expression. This classification of elements, and the fact that the signs of the same element (e.g., Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius—all Fire) and of the elements in the same group (e.g., Taurus & Pisces = Earth & Water) are considered to be generally "compatible," is of the greatest importance not only in the interpretation of individual charts but also in the art of chart comparison. Each sign of a specific element is a different mode of expression of the same elemental energy and represents a different level of development and pattern of energy.

The signs are the primary energy patterns and indicate specific qualities of experience. The Zodiac is a circle of space in the sky, containing the orbits of the planets. It may be imaged as a belt of space in the heavens about 15 degrees wide in which the planets travel. It is also Sun's apparent path called the ecliptic. The zodiacal circle is divided into twelve parts; each part contains 30 degrees of space, making total of 360 degrees in the circle. The twelve divisions are known as the signs of the Zodiac.

Each zodiacal sign possesses a certain specific influence and quality of its own. The revolution of the earth around the Sun, in one year, causes the Sun to appear to travel through the Zodiac at the rate of one sign per month, or approximately through one degree per day and its influence (according to sign and degree) determines not only the seasons but also the general nature and character of beings at that time. The various planets as they travel through the Zodiac also exert an influence according to their separate natures and in correspondence with the quality of each aspect which they may form, blended with the nature of the signs in which they located. The luminaries (Sun and Moon) are classified as planets for convenience.

Fire Signs Aries - Leo - Sagittarius

Air Signs are correlated with the mind's sensation, perception, and expression, especially related to personal interaction and to geometrical thought forms and abstract ideas.

Earth Signs Taurus - Virgo - Capricorn

Earth Signs reveal an attunement with the world of physical forms and a practical ability to utilize and improve the material world.

Air Signs Gemini - Libra - Aquarius

Air Signs are correlated with the mind's sensation, perception, and expression, especially related to personal interaction and to geometrical thought forms and abstract ideas.

Water Signs Cancer - Scorpio - Pisces

Water Signs symbolize the cooling, healing principle of sensitivity, feeling response, and empathy with others.

The dynamic interactions between the various energies of life are represented on an individual level by the "aspects" in a natal chart—that is, the angles between planets and between the Ascendant or Midheaven and the planets. Aspects have been spoken of as ('lines of force'' between the various energy centers (planets) in the energy field mapped by the chart. In the birth chart, which reveals this energy field with remarkable precision, the aspects are measured within the 360° circle.

I will concentrate on the most commonly used aspects—the ones occurring every 30° all of which we consider "major aspects" that are reliable and illuminating. Aspects can be categorized in two groups:

Dynamic or Challenging Aspects

This refers to the square (90°), opposition (180°), quincunx (150 °) and sometimes, depending upon the harmony of the planets and signs involved, the conjunction (0°) and the semi-sextile (30°).

Harmonious or Flowing Aspects

This refers to the trine (120°), sextile (60°), and some of the conjunctions (0°) (depending of the planets involved) and semi-sextiles (30°) (depending on the harmony of the planets and the elements of the signs involved).

The Major Aspects

Conjunction (0°)

Any conjunction in an individual chart should be regarded as important, since it indicates an intense merging and interaction of two life energies. The most powerful of all conjunctions are those involving one of the "personal planets" (Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, and Mars) or the Ascendant. Such conjunctions always characterize particularly strong modes of energy flow and personal expression (by planet and sign) and dominant emphases in the person's life (by house). The keynote of the conjunction is action and self-projection.

Semi-sextile (30°)

This is traditionally considered a minor aspect, but at times it can be more noticeable even than the conjunction, depending upon the planets involved and the other aspects to the two planets. Planets in semi-sextile are constantly interacting and building on the energy of each other. They do not usually generate the stress of a square and are in fact usually gentler in effect than the quincunx, but they are persistent and almost always in evidence if the aspect is quite close.

Sextile (60°)

The sextile seems to be an aspect of openness to the new: new people, new ideas, new attitudes; and it symbolizes the potential for making new connections with either people or ideas that can ultimately lead to new learning. This aspect usually involves signs of harmonious elements, and thus compatible energies. The sextile shows an area of life where one can cultivate not only a new level of understanding but also a greater degree of objectivity which can lead to a feeling of great freedom. It indicates an automatic, natural attunement and sometimes a definite skill.

Square (90°)

The square usually involves planets in inharmonious elements and thus calls forth significant effort in order to integrate such divergent energies. Any close square involving one of the personal planets represents a major life challenge. A square aspect shows where energy must be released, usually through action of a definite sort, in order that a new structure may be built. Many astrologers have written that the square aspect has the nature of Saturn: it represents what you have to deal with. Another Saturnian feature related to the square is .fear, for we are often afraid of dealing with whatever is symbolized by the squares in our charts. Fearing challenge restricts the energy available to deal effectively with whatever problem is at hand...

Trine (120°)

A trine aspect represents an easy flow of energy into established channels of expression. One does not need to build a new structure or to make marked adjustments in one's life in order to utilize this energy creatively. The planets involved in the trine reveal dimensions of life and specific energies which are naturally integrated and which flow together harmoniously. (Note that trines are commonly between signs of the same element, which is the basis for the harmony of energies.) Such an aspect often shows a way of being, however, rather than a way of doing; one often takes for granted the abilities and talents shown by the trine and thus sometimes does not feel challenged to make the effort required to use the energy constructively.

Quincunx (or Inconjuct - 150°)

This aspect indicates a strong flow of energy between those dimensions of life symbolized by the planets involved, but the individual may feel that the experience of those energies is too compulsive or consistently annoying. It is difficult to remain aware of both energies simultaneously, and one usually has to make a conscious, concerted effort to do so. Note that the quincunx aspect usually involves signs that are not only of inharmonious elements but also of different modalities. (E.g., a quincunx between planets in Gemini and Capricorn involves mutable Air and cardinal Earth—quite a dissimilarity but potentially a combination of deep understanding and practical skill.) It is important to be aware of both energies, because it often seems that the expression of are not well integrated. Dealing with this aspect effectively requires discrimination in subtly adjusting one's approach to those areas of life rather than trying to force a solution.

Opposition (180°)

The opposition, particularly since it usually involves planets in harmonious elements, indicates a degree of over-stimulation in the person's energy field which often manifests as a feeling of being caught in the middle of completely opposite tendencies. This is usually felt most directly as a constant challenge in the area of personal relationships. There is often a marked lack of objectivity since the individual tends to engage in “projection'' of different sides of his or her nature onto others; and thus there is some difficulty in distinguishing what is yours and what is somebody else's. Having an opposition in one's chart is similar to being stretched between two contrasting, sometimes contradictory tendencies. Opposite signs are similar in many ways and in fact complementary, but there is no denying that they are also totally opposed in many ways.

The planets regulate energy flow and represent the dimensions of experience. In Astrology ten of the heavenly bodies are used because of their size, proximity and influence on the earth, and its human, animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms. In the proper order of their speed through the Zodiac they are: the Moon, Mercury, Venus, the Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.

The benefic planets are Jupiter and Venus; is known as "the greater fortune" and Venus is "the lesser fortune." The influence of the Sun and Moon is considered good also. Mercury, Neptune and Pluto are neutral planets—their influence is good when they are well aspected with other planets, but malefic when adversely aspected.

In astrology, an aspect is an angle the planets make to each other in the horoscope, and also to the ascendant, midheaven, descendant, lower midheaven, and other points of astrological interest. When you see words like "malefic", "adverse", "bad", "unfavorable", etc., bear in mind that such terms are used only for want of terminology that more fittingly describes planetary vibrations. All signs and all planets are good but our human reactions may be bad, according to our stage of development. No planets are evil in nature, but our manifested responses may be judged as good or adverse.

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