An Introduction to Astrology
What is Astrology?
When people consider astrology they generally think of the signs of the zodiac and, in particular, the sign that corresponds
to their date of birth. But what does in mean to say that you are a Capricorn or a Leo? Your "birth sign," "sun
sign" or "star sign" is, in fact, the sign the sun was in at the time you were born, and astrologers believe
that this influences your fundamental nature and helps determine the type of person you are. (What it means to say the sun
is "in" a sign is discussed in Signs of the Zodiac.)
From the earth, the sun, moon and planets all appear to travel through a particular band of the sky called the zodiac, and
astrologers divide this into twelve equal parts, the signs with which most people are familiar. The sun is in each sign for
about a month at a time, roughly at the same times every year, and these dates are shown for each of the signs below.
Click on any of the signs to find out what astrology says about individuals born with the sun in that sign. If you're not
sure which sign you are then check your birthday against the dates given, bearing in mind that if you were born near one
of the change-over points then you are "on the cusp" and need to check with an astrologer to find your exact sign.
Interpreting the position of the sun alone is obviously a very crude measure, dividing the entire population of the earth into
just twelve categories, and this is one of the reasons why the kinds of horoscopes found in newspapers and magazines are not of
much serious use. If the time of birth is known then a personal horoscope can be produced that interprets the positions of
all the astrological planets and the aspects or angles between them.
A horoscope based on the time of birth produces a personal reading about the character, strengths, weaknesses and potentials
of a subject, but astrologers can refine this even further if the place of birth is known as well. In this case, the system
of houses can be used to determine the important rising sign of
the individual, and to apply the influences of the planets to specific areas of life.
Once a birth chart has been drawn up, ongoing predictions can be made for any given time by comparing the positions of the
planets and houses then to those at the time of birth. Similar chart comparisons can be made between the natal charts of
individuals to perform relationship or compatibility readings.
Does it Work?
Well, astrology is a fascinating subject, and it's an important part of the history of many
civilizations, and of science and philosophy. It is not merely a divinatory tool, but an effectual psychological one, and
the attributes and symbolism of the signs and planets are fairly central to western esotericism. So astrology certainly
"works" in this sense, in that it is useful. (Other cultures have their own, equally absorbing versions,
Chinese astrology being a prime example.)
But do the motions of the planets influence our characters and fates from the day we are born and every day thereafter?
Science says "nay," astrologers "yea," and the rest of us respond with a shrug of the shoulders. We
know little enough of the wide universe that the ancient adage "As Above, So Below" seems about right, though
not quite in the way the astrologers of old intended.