The art of Astrology is based upon the idea that there is a correspondence between what is going on with the position of the planets and the character of the individual born at that same moment in time. The foundation for this thought is the basic idea that the universe and all of its constituent parts are not separate entities but are all intrinsically related to each other in a unified whole.
What happens in the very large, macrocosm or planets also happens at the same time in the very small, microcosm or human being.
It is not so much that the planets affect the individual as people generally believe Astrology says, although undoubtedly the Sun and Moon do. It is more that the planets position and the individuals nature are both a reflection and expression of the same universal force acting upon them.
When the system is therefore understood, what can be seen by the position of the planets will also tell us something of the nature of the individual born under this same moment.
A simple analogy to this is how we use clocks to tell the time. Once we can read the time on a clock we can know many things about what is likely to be happening in the world at that moment without having to actually witness it.
The full art of astrology involves a number of different essential components. It requires the time and place an event took place, which is most commonly the birth of a person. At the time of this event, Astrology then looks at the position of the Planets in the sky, the Signs, the Houses, and the Aspects (or Links) between the planets.
Each component is described in more detail below.
The first component used by Astrology is The Planets. There are ten commonly accepted planetary bodies in all, with some new ones still being debated by astrologers.
These are The Sun, The Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. The Earth is also a fundamental part of Astrology in that it is used to work out the rising sign and houses which we will discuss later.
In Astrological thought, the planets are not there by coincidence or through pure chance but are there according to the fundamental design and meaning of the universe. Each planetary body represents a particular energy in the world, indeed some would call this an Angelic force.
This is backed up by many years of observation, literature, Mythology and indeed words in common use in our language.
For example Mars was always known as the God of war and strength and battle. People would invoke this God to inspire them to victory. The red colour of the planet epitomized energy and sexuality and drive. We derive words like martial from it, which carries the association of war, discipline and a military order.
Mercury on the other hand in Roman mythology was known as the communicator and trickster because he could move so much faster than everyone else. He is often depicted with wings on his feet. Mercury was the messenger of the Gods. In our world Mercury is the quickest planet to orbit the Sun. The metal is used for telling the temperature since it is so quick and receptive to change.
This is also where we get the word mercurial meaning changeable from. It is also known by its other name Quicksilver which reinforces the idea of speed and change. Jupiter gave rise to words like Jovial. It is an enormous planet with many orbiting moons, much like a king or queen with its many subjects.
It was always deemed in mythology as an expansive, charismatic, positive, lucky force. Indeed many times the earth has been saved from meteors, by Jupiter drawing them in and absorbing them on to its surface.
We understand that all the planets represent different ideas, but how does this relate to us as individuals? The universe is a whole and not separate as we have said, so, as the planets epitomize these energy forces so does the individual also have those forces within his or her nature.
Some of us are larger than life and inspirational like Jupiter, others great communicators like Mercury and some great athletes and soldiers or even despots as epitomized by the Martian principle. Of course in reality we all possess each of these principles and the principles of all the other planets within ourselves, however they are found in varying degrees and as we will see next, in slightly different forms.
So if each of us have these same planetary forces within us so why are we all so different and why do we express these forces in different ways? According to Astrology it is to do with where in the Zodiac the planets are to be found at the time of our birth. This brings us to the second of the areas used in the Art of astrology - The Signs.
The Planets move along a set path along the night sky with the stars as a distant background, since the stars are much further away than the planets. These groups of stars along the path the planets travel are composed of twelve equally sized sets of stars known as signs of the zodiac.
The signs beginning from late March are Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces. They approximately although not exactly correspond with the named constellations in the sky.
The Zodiac is the backdrop or canvas on which the planets are to be seen. For example Mars could have lay in the constellation of Aries at the time of someones birth. Essentially this means that looking at Mars from the point of view of the earth, the backdrop of stars behind Mars would be those of the Aries part of the Zodiac.
Similarly each of the planets would have a backdrop of stars to them at the time of someones birth and each planet could lie in any one of the 12 Zodiacal signs.
Conventional astrology just deals with which constellation the Sun lies in at your time of birth. I.e Shes a Leo would mean the Sun at the time of her birth lay in front of the constellation of Leo. Although we wouldnt advise looking to see!
What do all the Zodiacal Signs mean? Just as the planets represent different forces, so the Zodiacal constellations are like a filter that colour and influence those energies represented by a planet so they are expressed in a certain way.
For example Aries is the first sign of the Zodiac. It is to do with the season of spring and rebirth after the long dormant winter. New life is to be seen everywhere, there is finally hope after the barren period. Aries is essentially about new beginnings about vibrant free flowing energy, indeed it is the first of the fire signs.
As the first sign of the Zodiac it is very much to do with innocence and childhood and a slight naivety. It is the beginning of an adventure. It expresses itself primarily through action.
If we look however at say Cancer this is a different sign altogether. This is a water sign to do with family, the past, the home and nurturing family and it expresses itself primarily through feelings and emotion..
Now if we take the planet Mars that we mentioned above when describing the planets. This represents the force of personal energy or will, the ability to hold ones position and strive for what one wants in life. If we find Mars in Aries at the time of a persons birth, the flow of energy would be expressed through action. It would be dynamic and uninhibited as you would see in an army commander or an athlete or a person with a temper.
If however we were to find Mars in Cancer the energy would be expressed in an emotional manner. It would be less obvious and more inhibited and the energy could manifest in an emotional outburst or emotional manipulation or it would possibly only surface if a friend or family member was threatened.
Each of the ten planets can lie in a different Zodiac sign. There are therefore a vast variety of different combinations. Given this fact and the link between the planetary positions and peoples characters one can see one of the main reasons why there would be so many different personalities inhabiting our planet.
As an aside, Astrology does not believe personalities are formed solely with the growing process, it believes the fundamental makeup of a person is already there at birth just waiting to be expressed.
In addition to this astrology has the idea of Houses. This is the third area used in the Art of Astrology. We mentioned previously how the planetary energies are filtered by the sign they are in. The house position however adds to this by saying in what areas of life these energies will predominantly express themselves.
The houses are numbered from one to twelve. The first house begins at the Ascendant which is the eastern horizon of the chart. The Ascendants position depends on the persons location at the time of their birth. As one moves around the chart the house numbers go up until one reaches the twelfth and final house.
The first house and the Ascendant or rising sign are very much about the individual, their outlook on the world and their way or self expression, the fourth house the lowest point of the chart is related to a persons roots and family, opposite the Ascendant is the Descendant which is the beginning of the seventh house and is to do with the individual meeting and relating with others.
The tenth house is to do with career and being out in the public eye. The twelfth house is to do with surrendering to the universality of all things. The journey around the houses is essentially a journey from self awakening of the individual, having their experiences in the world, to eventually contributing their experiences to the collective consciousness and the end of the individual self.
If we add the house area of a planet to the previous information we had, which was the planetary energies filtered by their sign, we now can say in which areas of life those energies will predominantly express themselves. It may be for example expressed in the area of the individuals personality or the family or the workplace or in relationships or many other arenas.
An example of the planet sign and house all working together is a person with say their Mars in Aries in the Seventh house. Uninhibited (Aries) energy (Mars) expressed via relationships (Seventh House). Sounds interesting!
The final area of astrology we shall mention are the aspects or connections between the planets. Certain planets are seen as connected with one another if the place they are found at is within a specified angle of another planet when the chart is drawn up as a circle.
There are various possible connections between the planets such as a conjunction (next to each other), a trine (120 degrees from each other), a square (90 degrees from each other) and an opposition (180 degrees from each other).
These are all symbolic numbers since the circle of 360 degrees is divided by one, two, three or four parts. The conjunction and Trine (the circle divisible by one and three) are considered easy and the Opposition and Square (the circle divisible by two and four) more difficult.
A conjunction of two planets would mean the two energies would express themselves in harmony and indivisible from each other. For example a person with Mars conjunct Mercury would have their personal energy inherently connected to their communicative abilities.
They may well have a quick and witty tongue. A square of the same two planets would mean the planetary energies are connected but in a more challenging manner which would involve some kind of tension, perhaps the individual would have a very sharp and critical tongue. This is something they would need to work on during their lives.
As you can see, taking all this information into account makes every birth chart unique, as we are of course ultimately unique as people, and adds to why the art of astrology is so challenging and fascinating. If you would like to study astrology further, you can learn astrology from David Klugmans step by step free online guide to your natal chart.