Today, horoscopes are a popular way to get some of the infinite wisdom from the stars. Using a horoscope, we may get insight into our everyday experiences and learn how planetary motions, such as Saturn’s retrograde, might inspire positive changes in our lives. But let’s back up for a second: How does one go about deducing the whereabouts and movements of the planets? For starters, what exactly is a zodiac sign, and how do the planets have an effect on the various signs?
These are the cornerstone questions for getting started with reading your birth chart, which shows where the planets were in the sky when you were born. You may learn a lot about yourself, your motives, and your ambitions by having your natal chart analysed. Let’s examine the origins of astrology and the skill of interpreting birth charts so that you may put this knowledge to use in your own life.
When asked what the stars have to do with astrology, many people often respond with a blank stare.
In the beginning, humans looked to the heavens. Our ancient forefathers saw amazing cyclical patterns and singular events like total solar eclipses and close flybys by comets over thousands of years. Constellations were given the name for groups of stars that glowed uniquely, while “planets” were given the name for stationary celestial objects. The moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, together known as the “classical planets,” were all found under the placid, velvety night sky.
The ancient Babylonians divided the sky into 12 sectors, naming them after the sky’s 12 greatest constellations, and so formed the zodiac, as reported by Space.com. The zodiac calendar did more than just keep track of the passage of time; it could also foretell the future, according to the Babylonians’ discovery that certain periods of planetary motion (known as transits) were correlated with good and bad fortune on Earth. The Romans embraced the zodiac at the turn of the first century, according to Swinburne University, and they gave the planets and stars more significance in their mythology. Forging its origins at the crossroads of careful observation and epic storytelling, astrology was created at that time.
For a very long time, astrology was the foundation of many other fields, including the hard sciences, the humanities, and even the magical arts. As above, so below” was an axiom of Hermeticism that expressed the idea that the vast, enigmatic cosmos is reflected in the little, everyday world of human experience. Since the invention of the telescope, we have learned the whereabouts of Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, the last pieces of the astronomical jigsaw. We still keep a close eye on the heavens as the ancient Babylonians did, but now it’s to determine love compatibility rather than the destiny of the crop.
Exactly what do the planetary symbols represent?
Although astrology is a wide, deep, and specialised field, its fundamentals are simple: To create a birth chart, an astrologer must first take a picture of the sky at the exact time of your birth (you can calculate yours here). When you first came into this world, it shows exactly where each planet was and in what constellation it was located. All the planets may be clustered in one constellation in one birth chart, while they may be dispersed widely in another. Since each of these planets serves a unique purpose in the cosmos, the space between them is crucial. Let’s check out all the major stars and planets.
A Solar Eclipse
Whether or not they are aware of it, when people ask you what your sign is, they are really inquiring about the location of the sun at the time of your birth. That which makes us human is like the sun. This brilliant heavenly body symbolises our individuality, character, and tastes. (Here you may find out more about what your sun sign reveals about you.) As a fire sign, Leo is ruled by the sun and is known for its boldness and flair for the dramatic. To “transit,” or travel across, a zodiac sign takes around a month.
Tides and weather patterns are controlled by the moon’s gravitational pull. According to astrology, the moon is a metaphor for our subconscious emotional life. In contrast to how the light reveals the world around us, the moon represents what is hidden from view. It stands for the inner sanctuary where we may be completely ourselves. In astrology, Cancer is ruled by this planet since it is a water sign, and water signs symbolise nurturing, safety, and protection. Taking just around two and a half days, the moon is the quickest moving celestial body in the sky.
Mercury, the innermost and second-smallest planet in the solar system, takes its name from the Roman god Mercury, who was considered a messenger of the gods. In astrology, it represents open lines of communication. The moon is a mirror for our feelings, whereas Earth is a mirror for our reason. Mercury’s keen mind and insatiable curiosity enable it to analyse, organise, and categorise, allowing us to better understand and express difficult concepts. As ruler of both Gemini and Virgo, Mercury influences both the output (the talkative twins) and the input (the analytical virgins), two of the signs’ defining characteristics. It takes Mercury 13 or 14 days to go through a zodiac sign, and it turns retrograde three or four times a year. The planet’s notorious retrograde phase is associated with disruptions in contact, postponed plans, and unwanted contact with an ex.
As befits a planet named after one of the most alluring Roman deities, Venus is a symbol of love, prosperity, and aesthetic perfection. Venus, the goddess of love and beauty, finds her greatest joy in lavish pursuits like fine wine, long baths, and scented lotions. The planet’s sophisticated preferences disclose our appreciation for the arts and culture, while its romantic sensibility expose our romanticised view of romantic love. Venus rules the earth signs Taurus and Libra, and each sign exemplifies a distinct facet of Venus’s expression: the sensuous Taurus is all about the body, while the playful Libra is all about the mind. It turns retrograde every 18 months and takes around four to five weeks to transit a zodiac sign. It’s best to hold off on getting a tattoo or undergoing cosmetic surgery during Venus retrograde.
As the zodiac’s “Warrior Planet,” Mars has earned a reputation for fierceness. Taking its meaning from the Roman god of battle, Mars represents initiative, resolve, and aggressiveness. Its fiery nature usually rears its head when we’re in a mad dash to beat a deadline, make a flight, or get a coveted job. Mars lights our fire and gives us the kick in the pants we need to get moving. It’s a reflection of the ardour and desire we feel for one another in the physical realm. The fiery, enthusiastic sign of Aries is ruled by this planet. Transiting a zodiac sign takes Mars around six to seven weeks, and every two years, Mars slips into retrograde. When it’s in retrograde, we could find it hard to speak out for ourselves or lose interest in the bedroom.
Zeus in Greek mythology, Jupiter is the biggest planet in our solar system. Jupiter is the planet of good fortune and is also associated with philosophy, wealth, and enlightenment. This expansive planet rules over philosophy, spirituality, and education, all of which serve to enlarge our horizons and broaden our perspective. Sagittarius, the fiery archer, is ruled by this planet because of their love of excitement. Jupiter’s retrograde period lasts for around 120 days a year, and it takes the planet about 12–13 months to transit a zodiac sign. Its retrograde phase is generally a period of profound personal development.
Time, rules, and limits are all ideas that are connected with the ringed gas giant. On a good day, Saturn represents perseverance, success in one’s career, and steadfastness in the face of adversity. But on a bad day, it may be cold and heartless, teaching us lessons via adversity and cruel love. Saturn may have an unusual method of displaying its love for us, but the planet really does look out for our best interests. The only thing it asks is that we follow the guidelines. Saturn, who takes around two and a half years to transit each sign, rules Capricorn, the disciplined earth sign noted for its boundless ambition. Every year, for around 140 days, it moves backwards. It might be difficult to get things off the ground while Saturn is in retrograde.
According to the Science Museum, Uranus is unique in many ways: it was the first planet to be found using a telescope, it is the only planet to be named after a Greek god, and it is so severely tilted on its axis that it circles the sun almost sideways. In a way, it is only appropriate that Uranus represent innovation, technology, and revolt. This planet is constantly willing to enable ground-breaking, dynamic change, and it despises rules. Uranus’s influence is unpredictable at times (after all, the planet loves shock value). It rules Aquarius, the unconventional air sign known for its progressive outlook. Uranus has a retrograde period of around 150 days every year and takes about seven years to go through each zodiac sign. Even when the planet is in retrograde, we must get on with our lives.
The astrological importance of Neptune is matched by its brilliant azure hue. This planet, which takes its name from the Roman deity of the sea, is responsible for the mystical and immensity of the spiritual unknown. When a dense fog blankets an ocean, it’s hard to tell where the water ends and the sky begins. Neptune’s strength, likewise, lies in the borderland between fiction and fact. Neptunian energy is at its most innovative and psychically potent when it is flowing freely. The problem is that when you’re having a difficult day, it may become a kind of illusion and escape. When Neptune’s pull is strong, it’s fun to let your mind wander, but it’s also important to remember to set a course; you don’t want to drift aimlessly. The water sign of Pisces is ruled by Neptune, and it is this sign that is known for its extraordinary imagination and psychic abilities. The planet travels retrograde every year for around 150 days and takes about 14 years to go through each sign. It is not a good idea to attempt to get away with dishonest actions when Neptune is in retrograde.
Although the scientific definition of a planet does not include this frigid celestial body, by astrological criteria, Pluto is still quite significant. It’s a powerful emblem of metamorphosis, annihilation, and rebirth. Pluto’s strength comes from the shadows, as befits a planet named after Pluto, the Roman deity of the underworld (Hades in Greek mythology). This enticing world sneaks into intricate systems without raising suspicion, gradually altering them from inside. Pluto teaches us that letting go of the past is essential to making room for new beginnings. It’s linked to Scorpio, a sign of the water element known for its secretive and enigmatic nature. On average, Pluto spends 185 days in retrograde motion each year, and it takes between 14 and 30 years for the planet to transit a sign. Pluto in retrograde encourages us to let go of what isn’t working in our lives so that we may grow and improve.
When attempting to decipher a birth chart, how do we use planetary influences?
Getting familiar with the zodiac and how the planets fit within it is a crucial first step on the road to astronomy. The locations of the planets in natal charts are unique to each person because of the rapid motion of the planets with brief orbits around the zodiac at the time of their birth. The sun, moon, Mercury, Venus, and Mars make up what are collectively called the inner planets, and they have a profound effect on each of our individual personalities and the way we interact with the world.
The outer planets are those that are beyond the asteroid belt. These planets change signs considerably less often, anything from once per year to once every thirty. To put it another way, the outer planets shape generational experiences and broader life themes.
What roles the outer planets play in a person’s life are established by the houses they inhabit in a horoscope. The “houses” that make up a birth chart’s division into twelve parts. Houses stand for several facets of one’s existence: Houses 1–6 cover the more concrete, day-to-day stuff like money, housing, and routines; Houses 7–12 deal with the more ethereal ideas like philosophy, legacy, and telepathy. Planetary placements indicate our energy reserves and the sources of our greatest strengths and shortcomings.
Look at your own birth chart and think about the planets and the signs and houses they represent. How does a planet’s zodiac sign affect its function, and what sphere of life does it have the most effect on? From here, you may use this method to your own unique reading of a birth chart: Interpretation = Planet + Sign + House
If, for instance, the moon in your natal chart is in sensitive Cancer in the seventh house (the house of committed partnerships), your emotional well-being is likely to be strongly influenced by your personal connections with other people. If you were born with Mars in Virgo, the sign of practicality, in the eleventh house (the house of humanitarianism), you can feel driven to serve others in very tangible ways.
Your rising sign, also called your ascendant, establishes the specific order of the planets inside the houses. This is the constellation in the zodiac that was visible in the morning sky when you were born. A person’s planetary chart ruler, the planet most closely related with their natal chart, is determined by their rising sign (to calculate yours, identify your rising sign and then which planet governs that zodiac sign). The world we encounter is also defined by this ascending sign: You may think of your sun sign as the author and your rising sign as the orator when describing how you will give an address. It’s the “mask worn in public,” as astrologers put it. Your manner of dress may tell people a lot about how you interact with the environment.
Studying the planets, signs, and houses may reveal the profound depths of astrological knowledge, whether your aim is to become a professional astrologer or only to make sense of your birth chart. You may improve your understanding of the astrological placements in your birth chart by spending a lot of time with it and thinking about how they relate to your life. Don’t be timid in weaving tales and offering insightful commentary. After all, it was via such an endeavour that the solar system was first discovered.
Cosmic warrior, astrology is based on the unshakeable conviction that the human psyche is a microcosm of the cosmos itself, in that it is richly varied and filled with mysteries. In the end, stargazing is the ultimate medium of astrology. Never let curiosity put out the light that comes from inside you.