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"An astrological chart describes inner substance. It's the stuff you're made of, the basic matter that forms the psyche. It is certainly what has been written, but it's unformed when you are born. It exists in potential. It hasn't been lived yet. And sooner or later it will seek to actualize itself." Dr. Liz Greene Ph.D., Astrologer and
"We are born at a given moment in a given place and like vintage years of wine we have the qualities of the year and of the season in which we are born. Astrology does not lay claim to anything else." Dr. C. G. Jung MD, the original Jungian Analyst
Just The Basics
This is a cut corners, crash course in astrology. Before we're finished, I want you to understand more about real, bona fide, astrology than 90% of the rest of the population does. (Although, you'll probably gain just enough understanding to make you dangerous.) You might want to bookmark this page, since there might be more here than you can comfortably digest at a single sitting.
Sun Sign Astrology?
Almost everyone knows what their "astrological Sun sign" is from reading the daily horoscopes in the newspaper. Sun Sign Astrology is just the tip of a huge iceberg. What most folks don't realize is that at the moment of a person's birth - in real, bona fide, astrology each of the planets in our solar system has a correlation with regard to the human personality depending on:
What Zodiac Sign the planet is in
How the different planets "aspect" or "connect" with each other
And what house the planet is in.
Geez! We've barely just gotten started - and we've already got four major concepts going here:
I - Planets - raw energy (these are the Verbs of Astrology)
II - Zodiac Signs - patterns of energy (these are the Adverbs of Astrology) you know - the twelve signs, Aries - Pisces
III - Aspects - these are different connections between the planets
IV - Houses - where the energy/patterns (planets/signs) take place
So astrologers attempt the difficult task of cohesively pulling together and synthesizing the ways that the planets, signs, aspects, and houses in a person's birth chart all work together to form a whole. We look for major repeated themes in the birth chart. And we look for a thousand other "things" that aren't part of a cut corners, crash course in astrology.
I - Planets (and Points)
For some unknown, unfathomable, mysterious reason - the Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto in our solar system have a mystical "correspondence" with the internal makeup of the human psyche.
Why this is so - I'm basically clueless.... I suppose most unknown, unfathomable mysteries are destined to remain unknown, unfathomable mysteries (and stubbornly refuse to be pinned down by our teeny, tiny human brains)...That's why they're called unfathomable.
Along with these 10 planets, there are several other "points" on the birth chart that are also muy importante (very important). However, in a Crash Course, we only have to include a special point called "the Ascendant." (Sometimes also called the Rising Sign.)
The Big Three
Of all the many planets and/or points in the birth chart - there are three planets and/or points that are the very most important to get a handle on. These three most important planets and/or points are the Moon, the Sun, and the Ascendant.
The Rest Of The Planets Are Important Modifiers
Mercury - communication, intelligence, thought, ideas
Venus - relating abilities, pleasure, enjoyment, values
Mars - assertiveness, getting what you want, survival
Jupiter - expansion, beneficent, jovial, opportunity, religious
Saturn - restriction, limitations, structure, learning hard lessons
(most important to individual personality as they form aspects to the other planets, the Ascendant, and the houses they fall in)
Uranus - independent, electricity, shock, inventive, detachment
Neptune - dependent, foggy, romantic, misty, mystical, magnetic, imagination
Pluto - intensity, hidden, invisible, transformation, eros, erotic
In a nutshell:
the Moon symbolizes - where we've already been (instincts)
the Sun symbolizes - where we're going in the future (heart and identity)
and the Ascendant symbolizes - how we're going to get there (outer behaviors).
The Three Most Important Points On A Birth Chart:
The Ascendant The Ascendant is also sometimes known as the "Rising Sign" - and to add to your confusion... the Ascendant is not a physical celestial body or planet.
The Ascendant (or Rising Sign) is the Zodiac sign which was rising on the horizon at the exact moment of your birth. The Ascendant represents the exact dawning of your life on planet Earth. It's the part of the Sky that came to meet and greet you at the exact moment of your birth.
The Ascendant aids us in answering the question: "who am I in this world?" The Ascendant acts as an "I am filter" through which we process all of our life experiences... The Ascendant acts as a protector and a mask (yet it's much more than simply a mask). The Ascendant reflects how we allow the world at large to "see" us.... it reflects our outward behaviors and personality that people first see when getting to know us.
On our own personal "hero's journey," the Ascendant takes on the very nature of "the quest." The outer behaviors of the Ascendant set the "stage" of our story. And the Ascendant is "the Guide" on our personal Quest! The fast moving point of the Ascendant cycles through all 12 of the Zodiac Signs within the course of a single day. And because the Ascendant is such a fast moving point on the chart - it's the main reason why astrologers need to know the exact time and place of your birth.
The Ascendant also determines the house placements in the birth chart. Some astrologers are big into the Ascendant determining physical characteristics - I'm not convinced. (An interesting aside note: in one of her books, Liz Greene mentions that the Midheaven is often more important in determining physical characteristics.... Don't worry.... If you stop off at the Castle before leaving this section, then you'll be introduced to the Midheaven)
The Moon - in the birth chart, the Moon reflects where we find our greatest source of emotional security and feel the safest. The Moon is the most important point during the "growing up" years. Paradoxically, the Moon symbolizes both our "inner mother" and our "inner child." As an adult, whenever we're scared or find ourselves "cornered in a tight spot" - the Moon contains our "bag of tricks," our inheritance, our instincts which we unconsciously fall back on to save ourselves in stressful times of trouble.
Remember all those stories where the young hero starting out on a quest is given something to protect him/her by their mother? The thing given is usually a magic ring, cloak, potion, etc.?
The item Mom (Moon) gives the young hero is very often something that once belonged to the hero's father. It's a part of the hero's inheritance. And when the hero gets caught in a really tight spot - the hero then gets out this gift which miraculously "saves the hero's bacon...."
The Sun - in the birth chart - reflects our sense of identity, self-expression, source of creativity, and how we shine best. The Sun normally gains in importance and strength as we grow older and develop a clearer sense of who we are as an individual. Fact is, though.... some folks never effectively express their Sun Sign energy (regardless of what the Daily Horoscope versions of astrology say). Some folks get stuck in only identifying with their Ascendant and/or Moon.
The Sun is the focal point of our Hero's Journey! In order to feel totally alive... the Sun is the "inner hero," that over the course of a life-time, we must learn how to consciously give energy and expression to.
The Ascendant is the Guide on our personal quest. (outer behaviors)
The Moon is the Inheritance (the bag of tricks containing a magic ring or potion) which saves the hero in those times of grave danger. (instincts)
And the Sun is the Hero of our quest. (heart and identity)
Remember... the Moon is where we're been, the Sun is where we're going, and the Ascendant is how we get there. (be sure to check out "The Castle" when you come to it. It'll help clarify all this.)
Ascendant, Sun, Moon... Most important?
I'm often asked, "okay.... okay.... , BUT, Dr Z, IF you had to narrow it down - which one is truly the most important of the three? The Ascendant, the Sun, or the Moon?"
I don't have to narrow it down!
The Sun, the Moon, and the Ascendant are all very, very important in their own particular way....
Here's something you might find interesting.... in Greek Mythology, the Titan god Hyperion (he above) and the Titan goddess Theia (the divine) conceived three children:
Helios -- the god of the Sun
Selene -- the goddess of the Moon
and Eos -- the goddess of the morning (dawn)
These three celestial children of the Titans were, however, considered to be subject to all the other gods and goddesses of the Greek Pantheon.
II - Zodiac Signs
as described by the Elements and Modes
Moving on, we come to the Signs of the Zodiac (which most folks are at least semi-familiar with)... Sure.... you most likely know the Zodiac Sign of your birth Sun - but where is the Ascendant, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto? Don't go into shock - but in your birth chart - each of the different planets (and points) mentioned in Section One are most normally located in several of the different Zodiac signs. The Zodiac Sign of a particular planet in your birth chart will modify how the raw energy of the planet is expressed in your life.
At the very heart and soul of the twelve Zodiac signs are what are called the Elements and Modes. A lot of folks, including myself, mistakenly ignore(d) the Elements and Modes when first starting out. However, ignoring the Elements and Modes is a huge mistake - because the Elements and Modes are responsible for determining the basic qualities and characteristics of the twelve Zodiac signs.
The twelve Zodiac signs are divided up into different cyclic combinations of the Elements and Modes.
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