Astrologers believe that the movements of the planets mirror events on our planet, and that we can therefore learn a great deal about ourselves and about our world by studying and tracking events in the heavens.

There are many different branches of astrology – from natal astrology, which seeks to understand an individual’s personality and life path – to Synastry or Relationship astrology, Predictive astrology, Locational astrology, or Horary astrology, which is the art of using astrology to answer highly specific questions. There's are many more different types of astrology such as; Classical, Hellenistic, Medieval, Renaissance, Electional, Mundane, Esoteric, Vedic, Sideral, Cosmobiology, Uranian, Chinese, Mayan, Jungian, Humanistic, Psychological and Evolutionary astrology. No matter what area of astrology an astrologer specializes in, however, the fundamental tool is the astrological chart, which is a map of the heavens at a given time and a given place.

There are hundreds of factors to be considered in any astrological chart, and the astrologer’s work becomes progressively more complex and intricate when looking at relationships between different people, or forecasting future trends. The art of the astrologer is one of synthesis – how to interpret this mass of data into a cohesive whole, which we can then use to provide guidance to the seeker.

By understanding the basic nature of planetary energies, and how those energies are expressed through different signs and in different houses or areas of life, the astrologer can pinpoint strengths and weaknesses, and can foresee how a person is likely to react to any particular situation. It’s important to understand that astrology is not fortune telling – because you always retain free will – but astrologers can and do advise about forthcoming opportunities or potential problems, and help guide clients as to how to make the most of the good energies while minimizing the not so good.

A chartwheel is the basis of an astrology reading. It's a circle divided into 12 divisions called houses. Each house represents different areas of life.

An astrological chart wheel is the tool which underpins all of astrology. Essentially, it is a map – if you were to stand at your place of birth, at your time of birth and be able to see into space, what you would see is the planets in the positions they are marked on in your natal chart wheel. You would also see, rising on the Eastern horizon, the sign marked as your Ascendant sign or Rising sign.

An astrological chart can be made for any time and any place, and they’re not only created for someone’s birth – although this “birth chart” or natal chart is the first chart an astrologer will want to calculate for a client. Charts can also be made for any event, such as a wedding or a business launch, and for answering questions which have occurred in that moment in that place.

Once the chart is calculated and drawn up, interpretation can begin. The astrologer will interpret the positions of the various planets across different signs and different astrological houses, and will also look at the angles and aspects between and among the planets. If analyzing a relationship, the astrologer will look at both charts individually, and then cross reference the two charts together, looking at the way the planetary positions in one interact with the positions in the other.

When looking ahead to future trends, the astrologer will take the birth chart and superimpose current or future planetary positions onto it, looking for links between the planets at the moment of birth and the planets at some point in the future.

The astrological chart wheel is fundamental to astrology, and learning to read one at a glance is an essential skill for any budding astrologer.

Astrology is part of the natural rhythms of our universe. Each year we have different seasons which are important points in astrology.

A season – Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter divide a calendar year according to the weather and daylight hours. A calendar year is measured by one rotation of the earth around the Sun and the 23 degree tilt of the earth.

The northern hemisphere receives more direct sunlight during May, June and July as it faces the Sun – due to the tilt of the earth. The summer solstice, also known as the longest day of the year, is the period which receives the most sunlight.

The southern hemisphere’s hottest months or summer time are December, January and February. The coldest months in the southern hemisphere are May, June, July and August. This is when the shortest day of the year occurs in this hemisphere which is on or around June 21st.

A hemisphere is the earth divided into two parts – the top half being the northern hemisphere and the bottom half being the southern hemisphere.

The Spring Equinox is the start of the Astrological New Year which means a new cycle begins.

spring150x150The Spring Equinox occurs around March 21 each year, when the sun enters the Cardinal sign of Aries and the spring season officially begins in the Northern Hemisphere. The Sun rises due east and sets due west, no matter where on the planet you are. Days and nights are nearly equal.

Holidays during this time, such as Easter and Beltane, usually relate to fertility and the hope for successful crops in the field. Spring has been associated with burgeoning sexuality. In song, spring suggests the maiden or lad as they step into adulthood. Life offers many opportunities that have yet to be explored. Everything is fresh, new and exciting. Hormones act up and libidinal urges start to simmer within.

The Spring Equinox is also an in-between period that is a great for cleaning, hence the expression ‘spring cleaning.’ No longer stuck indoors due to frigid weather, the rising temperatures allow for more freedom out of the house. However, April showers usually prevent full enjoyment of the outdoors, so it is more useful to engage in activities now that will free up your time later when the weather warms up.

Plant seeds around your home that will blossom in the coming months. The signs of life that are just starting to show can bring an optimistic mood. When the Sun finally makes a longer appearance, you’ll see many more bodies out to play.

© Johntex

© Johntex

The Summer Solstice occurs around June 21 or so, when the Sun enters the Cardinal sign of Cancer. The Sun rises and sets at the greatest northern distance from the equator, and it achieves the greatest elevation in the sky at midday. Summer officially begins with the longest day of the year and the shortest night in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere, the reverse is true: This is the shortest day of the year and the longest night.

Many traditional holidays were observed at this time, usually praying for success of the crops and also acknowledging the eventual decline of light and return of darkness. Although it’s officially the beginning of summer, this day is also known as Midsummer, which refers to the middle of the growing season in much of Europe and North America.

With the Summer Solstice come activities associated with the warmer weather. Passions generally heat up when the temperature climbs to higher figures. Activities are more extroverted, which is why there are so many barbecues, parties and outdoor concerts. Kids get their long-awaited break for fun and games. This is also a great time for physical workouts and sporting activities outdoors, just before the summer heat becomes unbearable.

Opportunities to meet new people are more likely with increased social events. Hot new romances can occur as people shed their many layers of winter clothing. Cabin fever may be high as the reclusive period of the cold season officially closes. In song, summer can refer to the height of a person’s physical prowess and power.

© Martin Heiß

© Martin Heiß

The Autumn Equinox occurs around September 21 each year, when the Sun enters the Cardinal sign of Libra and the autumn season officially begins in the Northern Hemisphere.

During the Autumn Equinox, the Sun rises due east and sets due west, no matter where on the planet you are. Days and nights are just about equal. Autumn marks the lengthening nights and darkening skies. Trees change colors as the leaves fall to the ground. The energy in the air has shifted from the extroverted, free-spirited nature of summer fun to a quieter, more reflexive foreshadowing of winter.

In song, Autumn refers to the mature stage of life just past the prime, but before the retirement years. The lightheartedness of summer has passed, the harvest is almost in, school has begun. There is knowledge to be gained. The motivation to work is much greater at this time as folks instinctively prepare for the cold winter months ahead.

This is a time to save resources. Stock up on foods for the long fallow period ahead. Preserve the foods you harvest, make jams and prepare lots of meals to freeze for unbearably cold days ahead that will keep you indoors. Bring your winter wear out of the back of the closet. As autumn progresses and the nights grow longer still, you may find yourself in a more reflective state. Holidays such as Halloween and the Day of the Dead remind us of the transitory nature of life. Crops die, waiting for the chance to be reborn in the next cycle.

© Radosław Drożdżewski

© Radosław Drożdżewski

The Winter Solstice occurs on December 21 or so, when the Sun enters the Cardinal sign of Capricorn. The Sun rises and sets at the greatest southern distance from the equator. This day marks the official beginning of the winter season with the longest night of the year and the shortest day. In the Southern Hemisphere, the opposite is true: This time marks the longest day of the year and shortest night.

The Winter Solstice correlates with many traditional world holidays, usually associated with ‘festival of light’ celebrations, which honor the dark of the year and express faith in the return of light and the upcoming growing season. Christmas, Hanukkah, Diwali, St. Lucia’s Day and Loi Krathong are just a few examples of some holidays near the Winter Solstice.

Winter is the time when creatures in cold climates prepare to hibernate and settle in for the season. The long nights lend to rest, introspection, meditation, home cooking, recovery, sleep and study. This may be why holidays near this solstice tend toward family activities and rituals. In song, winter refers to the mature years of adulthood, the time of retirement.

Winter Solstice also signals the passage of a cycle. You may want to take this period to evaluate the major events of the previous 12 months. Did you accomplish what you hope to achieve during that time? Would you have done anything differently? As you ponder in retrospect on what has just passed, you can begin to look forward to what you might achieve in the upcoming year.

When you look at an astrological chart, you’ll notice that it’s divided into twelve “slices” – these slices are called houses, and each house concerns a particular area of life such as learning, relationships, career or finances.

A planet’s position in a sign shows how the planetary energy will be expressed in the person’s life, but the house position of the planet shows which area of life this planet is mostly concerned with.

There are many different methods of house division – the oldest and simplest is to simply divide the chart wheel into 12 equal slices beginning with the Ascendant or Rising sign. This is called the Equal House method and is one of the most popular; other methods also have much to recommend them however, and result in houses of different sizes. The choice of house division method is a personal choice for the astrologer, and many astrologers will use different methods for different kinds of charts.

Just as the signs of the zodiac are grouped into elements and qualities, the houses are grouped together into three types too. Houses 1, 4, 7 and 10 are known as the angular houses; these are the most significant houses in any chart, and they show where we begin things, take the initiative and take action. Houses 2, 5, 8 and 11 are succedent houses, and it’s in these houses that the individual will see the results of the actions they took in the angular houses. Finally, houses 3, 6, 9 and 12 are known as cadent houses, and these houses are where we look for support systems, communication and the skills needed to take action and move life forwards.

The houses are: 1st House, 2nd House, 3rd House, 4th House, 5th House, 6th Houses, 7th House, 8th House, 9th House, 10th House, 11th House, 12th House.

Moon Phases: the Moon is that bright, luminous orb we see in the night sky, counterpart to the fiery Sun in daytime. In astrology, the lunar light rules the unconscious realms of our minds, the stuff dreams are made of.

Our instinctual reactions can be affected by the Moon’s phases over the course of a month, or to be more specific, 29.5 Earth days, as the Moon grows from a small crescent to a large glowing globe and then decreases in size back to nothing.

The Moon, of course, doesn't really shrink or grow, but our view of the Moon from our vantage point here on earth changes due to the relative positions of the Sun, Earth and Moon. This is why we see lunar phases.

There are eight noticeable phases of the Moon:

Astrologers over time have correlated these eight phases of the Moon with certain activities that seem to be in harmony with that particular phase. For instance, it seems natural to begin something new when the Moon is first visible as a small crescent seen just after the setting sun.

As the Moon grows over the next two weeks, so grows your new project. Culmination occurs when the Moon is full, in all her round glory. As she shrinks again it is a time for pulling in, for introspection, for releasing and letting go, in preparation for the next cycle.

Welcome to the Age of Aquarius…wait, we’re already here!

Every time I’m asked a question about “The Age of Aquarius” I immediately think of the song “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” by The Fifth Dimension (you know, the song from Hair). My friend, Aquarius C was asking about “The Age of Aquarius” the other day and what relevance it has with her sign.

I explained that an Age lasts approximately 2,000 years and that the Ages travel backwards through the zodiac – so the Age we have moved out of is Pisces. An Age does not begin on an exact date but rather we start to have an overlap from the previous sign and then a buildup into the new sign. This is also known as “The Orb of Influence.”

The other contributor to determining an Age is something known as The Precession of the Equinoxes. This is a total of all the Ages through each sign which is over 25,000 years. This is a complex topic but to simplify let’s just also say it involves the earths rotation as well as the earth’s wobble – picture a spinning top.

Our current/last age was/is Pisces and if we look back over the last 2,000 years we find many of the world religions coming to the forefront. Spirituality or otherwise known as religion has been a major theme of our world history during this time. Many wars have been fought and countless lives lost over individual’s beliefs. The USA was “founded” as a place for religious freedom. OK, so, now you get my drift.

What should we expect from the next 2,000 years then? About ten years ago, on my previous web site, I discussed The Age of Aquarius but of course my words have now been edited. At that time, I mentioned same sex marriage which didn’t seem to be a consideration, nor did social networks exist such as Facebook, Twitter and the like where one can share their most intimate thoughts and actions or even what they had for breakfast on any given day.

Aquarius is about all people being created equal, we are one and we are all connected. I’ve always though Aquarius represented true democracy but with a twist…the ancient ruler of this sign is Saturn (and modern ruler is Uranus). I had been wondering how Pluto in Capricorn was going to fit with the start of our free flowing Aquarius Age.

I guess you can compare this to what seems to be a mish-mash of energy to a place where the people think they have all the say, voting power and the like but when it boils down to it big brother really is watching and making the money but letting us assume we have the control. I guess you could compare it to the social networks of today.

Of course, none of us can predict with great certainty what the world will be like and how it will change. All we can hope for is the positive traits of Aquarius such as philanthropy, invention and thinking outside the box to take effect which will benefit us all.

Astrological Generations: so what’s next? Pluto through the signs.

We’ve all heard of the Baby Boomer generation which include people born from 1946 through 1964 and Generation X which seem to be people born in the 60’s and 70’s. Astrology actually has a well defined generation guideline based on Pluto moving through each sign. Of course, Pluto being the outermost planet takes a long time to orbit the Sun. Its complete cycle around the Sun is 248 years and its time in each sign varies. It is in Scorpio for just 12 years while it takes about 31 years to travel through Taurus.

Pluto first moved into Leo in October 1937 and finally left in June 1958. This generation has a “me first” reputation. Everything that’s bigger must be better type of thing. A lot of these people came into their prime during the heady days of the 80’s with big hair, big shoulder pads and generally a Leo type of attitude.

So how are us poor Pluto in Virgo types going to support this crowd? Well, Virgo is the sign of health and service and we do like to analyze and offer solutions. But so many of us are sick and getting cancer at a young age and other horrendous inflictions that it makes me wonder if our job is to really heal ourselves and find alternatives and cures to our screwed up health system for our modern day illnesses that our ancestors never had to endure. Virgo’s also tend to worry and stress now days seems to be its own perpetual problem…

Pluto in Libra has re-defined our standards of beauty and demanded our acceptance of civil marriages and other cohabiting arrangements as the norm. We see body art as unique and individual rather than for drunken sailors or tribal art on tribal people. Marriage has also been re-branded whereas 2.5 kids living with their biological mom and dad are statistically a thing of the past. It’s OK to be all of the above or not and why do we even have to decide what we really are and our marital status anyway? Everything Libra stands for has been politely pushed onto us before we have even realized.

So now we come to Pluto in Scorpio… How different are this generation! Where have the rules of society gone? Why do they have such an entitlement attitude? Perhaps I’m being unfair but this is the generation who are turning our polite society on its head and why am I the only one noticing?

Remember AIDS first came to our attention during Pluto’s visit in Scorpio. How about Madonna changing our beliefs about female sexuality. We’ve yet to see how this group of defiants will change and shape our world and here’s hoping they put their strength and power to good use.

When we had Pluto in Sagittarius from November 1995 through to November 2008 it represented philosophy, religion and foreign cultures. I remember every weekday morning my alarm is set to the clock radio. I am awoken to NPR (National Public Radio) and without fail I hear the news about the terrible state of affairs in Iraq and what seem to be endless suicide bombings – all in the name of religion. Religious fanaticism was taken to the utmost extreme. Extreme’s we would never have fathomed before 2001. What on earth will this generation grown up to be, do, think, believe and teach us?

So what’s next for Pluto in Capricorn? Changes in government, big corporations and a break down of our material world. Here’s hoping Pluto in Capricorn will force us to review what’s important in life and it’s not going to be a big house and fancy car. Given the state of the current US economy I think the influence of this placement has already taken effect. It might be time to quit the rat race and re-evaluate long term goals as your 401k may cease to exist by the time you’re ready to use it.

What is an astrology report? Well, first let's take a look at astrology itself.

Astrology is a mathematical system. It's all about applying meaning to numbers, or more specifically, finding meaning in the movements of the planets around the sun, as viewed from our perspective here on earth. These planetary movements are easily captured and recorded with measurements, calculations, angles and so on.

That's why astrology works so well with computers, whose programs are also based on numbers and formulas. In 'the old days' -- thousands of years ago, when astrology was first recorded -- those early astrologers had to painstakingly observe the heavens and catalog their observations for the next generation of astrologers to build upon.

Thank goodness for the computer age! Now we can simply use computers to make those calculations quickly and pull just the applicable pieces of information. Now, astrology is instant, based upon thousands of years of observations obtained through careful methodology.

Interpretations of planetary positions are based in part on ancient Greek and Roman mythology, but your astrological report is unique, describing you and you only. Even in the case of twin siblings, their birth charts differ from each other's in at least a few ways. And besides, no one amounts to just a simple interpretation of their birth chart; everyone's personality is complex. Your astrological report leaves plenty of room for variations based on your free will, personal growth and transformation over a lifetime.

Just like you and your birth chart, astrological reports by The Astrologer are unique. They're high-quality, written with the expertise of our multi-accredited astrologers and the rest of our team. Generated online in seconds, our reports provide you with instant insight at your fingertips. Whether you have a pressing question about your future or you just want some fun, now you can have it all -- in a fast, focused, all-about-you format that can be printed out or saved to your hard drive.

You can choose from several different types to find the report that's right for you and your needs. Your natal report is all about you -- your unique characteristics, strengths, weaknesses, potential and so on. Compatibility reports analyze the connections between two different people, to see how well and in what ways they get along. And a forecast is based on where the planets are today and how they're affecting you, uniquely.

Get an astrology report uniquely for you...

Check this month's Ephemeris.

The job of an astrologer is to interpret the meaning of the planets in the sky: which signs and houses they're traveling through at any given moment in time, how they're interacting with each other at that moment and how their movements are affecting us here on earth.

But in order to interpret the planets' meanings, astrologers have to know exactly where those planets lie in the heavens, down to the most accurate angle and degree!

How do these astrologers do it? Are they also scientists? Mathematicians? Magicians? Maybe, but probably not. They don't have to go outside at night with a telescope and a yardstick; instead, they use a tool called an ephemeris to find out where the planets lie in the heavens at any given moment.

An ephemeris is a chronological list of the movement of the planets around the Sun, and it works something like a calendar. But whereas the calendar on your wall tells you what date next Tuesday is and when to expect the next major holiday, an ephemeris tells you where the sun, the moon, Mercury, Venus and so on are located in the sky on any given date -- which Zodiacal sign they're in, and at which degree; whether they're moving in direct or retrograde motion; and more.

An astrologer can use an ephemeris to find out where the planets were on, say, a particular Sunday in January a hundred years ago, or where they'll be fifteen years from today's date. Using that mathematical information, the astrologer can then interpret what those planetary positions mean for us, living right here on earth.

What is Astrology? Although lots of people talk of astrology as if it's something of doubtful or supernatural origin, like magic or ghosts -- 'Do you believe in astrology?' or "What's your sign?" it's not a belief system, and it's definitely not a supernatural phenomenon. It's actually a very ancient and complex system based on careful observation of the heavens and related circumstances here on our planet.

To understand astrology, you must know that it doesn't work like a psychic, who predicts your future. Astrology is an invaluable guide that helps in making life choices. It points out tendencies and truths about human nature, not to mention the world at large. It gives you the tools you need to make better, more intelligent and informed decisions in your life.

For example, if you have a lot of planets in Aries in your birth chart, you'll know that you tend to be rather headstrong and impulsive, jumping into things without much forethought! With astrology's help, you can learn to slow down a bit and look before you leap.

Anyone can gain greater personal understanding from astrology, even without knowing exactly how it works. After all, why the movement of the stars is related to life on our planet may be an intriguing and mysterious question, but we know that it is, indeed, related -- astrology affects our lives just as the Moon pulls on the tides and just as the light of the Sun enables all life on our planet to grow.

As the Sun enriches our planet, astrology can enrich your life. The more you learn, the better you'll be able to apply its wisdom to your own life.