Astrology 101

Basic Astrology

By Rev. Catweasel
Basic Astrology

Astrology is the study of stars and planets and how their relationships to one another can affect the human psyche. Frankly, we do not know how old astrology is. We can trace it back to the dawn of recorded history in Babylonia, five thousand years ago, but clearly it would have been understood and used long before that. In this article, we’re going to take a look at some of the basic elements of astrology to get a better understanding of how it relates to our personality. If you would like to get your own free chart to take a look at as we go through this, I recommend Star Mate.

There are four main sections to Astrology:

– The Planets
– The Zodiac Signs
– The Houses
– The Aspects

The Zodiac is a ring around the sky that is split into twelve sections, each of 30 degrees. The Planets move through the Zodiac, and on their journey create aspects to one another that generates an energetic effect that Astrology attempts to interpret.

All things in the universe affect all other things in the universe. This is what quantum mechanics tells us. The degree to which that affect is felt can depend in large part on the distance and size of the objects involved. Planets are pretty big. Some, like the moon, are pretty close and affect our tides. Others, like Pluto, are farther out and affect us in more subtle ways.

In modern Astrology, there are 10 planets that we are primarily concerned with. Some of them, like the Sun, are not really planets strictly speaking, but are referred to as such in Astrology. There are also other aspects that have varying degrees of importance, such as:

The Ascendant: The first impression we make on others, our bodily appearance and health. Ruled by the 1st House (Aries)
The Descendant: The type of partner we tend to seek. Ruled by the 7th House (Libra)
Midheaven: Aspirations and public standing. 10th House cusp (Capricorn)

North Node: Our Spiritual growth, kharma and fortune to be realized
South Node: Patterns of behavior or natural qualities.

Planets represent WHAT energy is expressed or understood.
Signs represent HOW that energy manifests (as Psychological drives or personality).
Houses represent WHERE that energy manifests – as situations, events –  what areas of life tend to be affected.

Each of the houses correspond to one of the zodiac signs. The houses are determined based on your time of birth, which is why this is important. Generally in a chart you will find that people have planets clumped together in groups, rather than spread out evenly through their chart. Many say that is because these are the areas of our lives where our lessons lie, or where we have chosen to most perceive Love, Joy and Gratitude.

Aspects represent how the planets align in relation to one another in real time, and in relation to your birth chart. There are aspects that are considered good or ‘soft’ and aspects that are considered bad or ‘hard’. But really there is no good or bad – just opportunities for Joy or growth.

Now all these different elements together create a lot of different possibilities… add to that the degree to which a planet is in a sign and the affect that can have, and you can see that astrology is incredibly complex and can take a long time to master.

However a basic understanding of the signs and planets can help you learn a lot about yourself and other people, so it’s these things we are going to focus on this evening, starting with the Planets.

Now we won’t have time to cover the outer planets and the asteroids – they tend to have a more generational effect anyway.

There are two important configurations that we should look at though, which will help give you a basic understanding of how this stuff all fits together.

The first is the relationship of the Sun, the Moon and Mercury.

The Sun is your ego, your life force… it’s where you primarily gain your power from. It is the quintessential you. It is the way you act in the world around you.

The Moon is like the inside of your home in many ways. It’s how you feel. I don’t mean “I feel happy” or “I feel sad” – I mean the process of feeling. What moves you… How you express your feelings, how you adapt to the changes that happen in your life.  The moon is important, because it is the place where you go when you are feeling down.

Mercury how you express ideas and how you reason. It’s how you communicate – Imagine it as your mailbox, your phone, Internet access – and your computer – all rolled into one.

So these four together represent the main essence of ‘you’ as a person. The Positions these planets occupy in the sky can tell you a lot about your essential nature.

The second important configuration is Venus and Mars, because they represent how you are in your relationships with other people. Particularly romantically and sexually.

Venus represents your values and ideals, and sexual and romantic attraction.

Mars represents your will, your sexuality – and your temper.

Venus represents what you seek to attract… Mars represents how you go after it….

Now let’s look at the signs themselves, and how they interact with the planets and each other:


Aries – The Ram

Aries is the planet of self – it says “I AM”

It is aggressive, straightforward, impulsive, active and adventurous…

Those with the Sun in Aries tend to be outspoken, and lead with their head. You can usually spot an Aries… they will be the ones charging in where angels fear to tread…talking back to the traffic cop or giving a waitress a hard time if she is fresh and the food isn’t!

An Aries Moon can you make you emotionally quick to respond…. you may get excited about new relationships or new experiences, then get over them just as quickly.

Mercury in Aries will make you a fast talker – sometimes talking faster than your poor brain can handle, especially if you have the Sun in Pisces… It’s useful to remember that Mercury can only be within three signs in your chart – Your sun sign, and the signs immediately either side of it…

Venus in Aries is all about new new new…. New experiences, new anything… Since Venus represents what we seek to attract, Venus in Aries wishes to attract excitement, adventure and really wild things!

Mars in Aries may give rise to a hot temper. Aries is the home of Mars, and so it will shine more brightly there than in any other sign.

Taurus – The Bull

Taurus is the sign of possession – it says “I Have”

It can be possessive, stable, determined, practical, materialistic and sensual

Those with the Sun in Taurus can be extremely stubborn, and will refuse to accept a reality that they have not created. This can be a good thing, because Taureans are great at following through on projects. They also tend to have a love of beautiful things and may have a tendency to accumulate ‘stuff’, although this can sometimes translate into real estate purchases – Taureans make good land owners….

Those who have the Moon in Taurus are generally very romantic. Their affections are strong, deep, and unwavering. They are sentimental and warm. Since Taurus is a practical earth sign, the placement of the Moon in this sign suggests an ability to protect themselves and their own interests. They will rarely make a move without first determining that it is safe and that there’s something in it for them.

Mercury in Taurus – The thought processes here are cautious and deliberate. Everything word that comes out of a Mercury Taurus has meaning, and they always mean what they say!

Venus in Taurus – are affectionate, loyal and faithful; but like all taurus types there is a tendency to possess, and this can be hard to overcome.

Mars in Taurus – Once these people set a direction, they will get there regardless of how long it takes. They are firm believers in the old adage that ‘slow and steady wins the race’.

Gemini – The Twins

Gemini is the sign of Curiosity and Communication – it says “I Think”

Gemini is versatile, flexible, sociable, dualistic, curious and inquisitive.

Those with a Gemini Sun are extremely curious about the world around them. They are also extremely adaptable to changing circumstances. This can be a wonderful thing, but unfortunately because of their social nature they can often lose themselves in the needs of those around them. They have a unique ability to understand what others are thinking, and have a natural talent for mimicry. In this way they can maneuver themselves into many favorable positions. They can also lose sight of their own talents and ideas by being too willing and able to adopt the traits and immerse themselves in the personal situations of others. They tend to say what others want to hear instead of saying what they really think, or what they know to be the truth.

Moon in Gemini: Quick to start new activities, enthusiasm wanes after a short period of time.  Gemini Moons tend to scatter their emotional energy in different directions. Communication is very important to the emotional help of these people.

Mercury in Gemini – Because Gemini’s are so curious, they know a little about everything… Ask a Mercury in Gemini a question on any subject… if they don’t give the answer to you immediately, their curiosity will bug them until they figure it out!

Venus in Gemini – These people love their freedom, and have a hard time being married – it’s not their favorite pastime – there is so much in the world to do and see – and so many social relationships to explore!

Mars in Gemini – These people assert themselves with spontaneity and resourcefulness – energy is channeled into intellectual pursuits and they are great debaters, although not fond of criticism. They have a fun attitude to sex, and can be very experimental. They require mental stimulation and variety.

Cancer – The Crab

Cancer is the sign of hearth and home, nurturing and emotions. Cancer says “I Feel”

Cancer is Sensitive, nurturing, emotional and fertile! They also have the capacity to be moody and evasive, but are extremely sensitive to others.

Sun in Cancer is all about nurturing, and provide a safe loving environment. This is the first sign that by default puts others first. They enjoy feeding others, and family tends to be important to them. With the sign of the Crab as their astrological symbol, they tend to take an unusual, sideways approach to achieving their goals, yet they achieve them nonetheless, often in quite remarkable and (to other people) unexpected ways!

Moon in Cancer: The moon is at home in Cancer, so a cancerian moon will shine brightly in your chart. Feelings run deep in this sign, and natives are typically very empathic, and may appear psychic to those who have less emotional intuition.

Mercury in Cancer – These people communicate with a feeling and thoughtful nature to the people they interact with. When a Mercury in Cancer speaks to you they always seek to make you feel better about yourself. Mercury in Cancers have a great memory, but a lot of it is tied into remembrance of how they ‘felt’ about a certain thing. Their feelings are a large part of their thought processes.

Venus in Cancer – Cancerian Venusians seek a stable, loving home environment, and like their partner be affectionate and devoted to them.

Mars in Cancer – Here, a lot of energy is channelled into establishing a secure home and a loving family. Lovemaking is sensitive, emotional and very much tied to affection.

Leo – The Lion

Leo is sign of Leadership, power and creativity. Leo says “I Will”

The Sun Rules Leo, so it shines brightly in this position. The world resolves around the sun. It is the largest object we encounter every day. Leo can be warm and inviting, but can also burn if you get too close… They love to be the center of attention. Like Taureans, they can be somewhat stubborn in their approaches and once they decide they are right, it can be hard to shift them off their position. Leo is the Lion – the King of the Jungle. This can give them an air of nobility, and their dignity is very important to them. Despite being a Fire sign, they are a lot slower to anger than Aries – but also slower to forgive an insult. Leos are incredibly creative, and as well as great artistic talent, they can come up with a surprising solutions to all kinds of problems.

Mercury in Leo: Those with Mercury in Leo tend to see the big picture – they are not detail oriented. They can have incredible grandiose ideas but require others to carry out the grunt work. Fortunately, Leos frequently find themselves in positions of power because of their charismatic personality. Mercurian Leos make wonderful story tellers… however in their thought processes they may have a hard time seperating their ego from their position.

Moon in Leo: Emotional security is gained through self-confidence and pride, and have a desire to be center-stage. Your youthful exuberance allows you to be more confident and creative.

Venus in Leo – Those with Venus in Leo are incredibly warm hearted and romantic. They will tend to marry for love regardless of social position or financial security. They tend to have great social popularity, but may at times be overly dramatic and clown around in order to get attention.

Mars in Leo – tends to have a full, rewarding and colourful sex-life. Martian Leos are romantic, yet somewhat egocentric – they will work hard to satisfy their partner, but expect the appropriate gratitude to be satisfied themselves.

Virgo – The Virgin

Virgo is about Service and analysis. It says “I analyze”

Virgo is discriminating, critical, methodical and analytical. It is the sign of Service and of detail work.

Those with the Sun in Virgo will always find a way to be of service and make themselves useful in the world. Virgo is the sign of the virgin, and by nature tend to be shy – they are careful about giving themselves up to world. They are very eager to help others improve their lot, but may sometimes push a little too hard in that regard. Virgos are not fond of the spotlight, but can be great salespeople when the attention is focused not on them, but the product, service or person they are championing.

Mercury in Virgo. Mercury rules Virgo, and so analysis and communication are very important here. They are great at paying attention to the details and are very concerned that things are done in an orderly fashion.

Moon in Virgo: You may prefer to analyze your emotions than actually feel them. You have a tendency to work behind the scenes, and helping others brings positive reinforcement to your own self-esteem. 

Venus in Virgo: Through critical analysis, those with Venus in Virgo will find a partner that is intellectually stimulating and socially acceptable. These people have very high standards in a mate and marriage may be postponed indefinitely in the search for the ‘ideal mate’

Mars in Virgo:  Precise and disciplined in their assertiveness, these individuals are exactly clear on what they want. They spend a lot of time putting their own house in order, particularly in areas of health and work matters generally. Passion and love are not high on your priority list, However, in the right place at the right time you can be quite sensuous.

Libra – The Scales

Libra is about Balance, relationships, partnerships. Libra says “I balance”

Libra seeks harmony, companionship, romance and balance. Libra negotiates.

Those with the Sun in Libra seek balance between the individual and society. Between passion and the intellect. As another air sign, like Gemini, they have an intellectual orientation to their thought process. But since Libra is ruled by Venus, they get emotional, physical and psychological pleasure from beauty in all forms. Books, music, flowers, and perfume are typical delights. If you find an upset Libran, take a look around – frequently their environment can play a large part in their happiness.

Mercury in Libra. Those with Mercury in Libra tend to make great diplomats they have a natural desire for peace and harmony in communication and it is rare you will hear a mercurial Libran get into a shouting match – it simply isn’t their favorite communication choice. If they have some other planets winding them up, their diplomacy can turn to sarcasm and rapier wit…but generally the strive for fairness in exchanges. They make good accounts because of their need to for things to balance.

Moon in Libra: Fairness and harmony are very important to you, and you seek for your home environment to be beautiful and romantic.

Venus in Libra:  Since Venus is the ruling planet of Libra, this shines brightly in any natal chart. These people will have many opportunities for marriage. Meaningful social and romantic relationships are very important to them. They are affectionate and sociable, but need a meaningful intellectual connection for marriage.

Mars in Libra: Libra martians enter the world through social interaction and relationships. They tend to avoid conflict and seek to co-operate wherever possible. Love making is founded on the romantic ideal rather than base desires.

Scorpio – The Scorpion

Scorpio represents destruction and regeneration. It says “I create”

Scorpio is resourceful, secretive, passionate and intense, and prone to quite incredible transformations.

Those with the Sun in Scorpio have incredible reserves on energy and can keep going long after many other signs have faltered. Sometimes they keep going on sheer bloody-mindedness alone…Another water sign, their emotions are the strongest driving force in their behavior, however you may never know it because Scorpios tend to play their emotional cards pretty close to the chest, unless pushed. And pushing or bullying a Scorpio is about as healthy as dancing on a minefield.

Mercury in Scorpio. Very strong debaters, and excellent instinctual thinkers. They have a strong desire to come out on top. Intensly loyal, they will staunchly defend anyone they care about to their last breath – or usually their opponent’s last breath…

Moon in Scorpio: These people have a strong and secretive mystique about them which many find attractive. Full of passion on the inside, they seek to keep it hidden beneath a calm veneer on the outside.

Venus in Scorpio. Bunny Boilers…. This is Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction… They attract the opposite sex with ease, but anyone they get involved with had better be incredibly loyal or they may find themselves short of an appendage or two…

Mars in Scorpio.  Mars rules Scorpio as well as Aries, so this is a strong position. Incredibly energetic, resourceful and uncompromising, Martian Scorpions have a very powerful sex drive that demands to be satisfied. Lovemaking is very passionate and consuming.

Sagittarius – the Archer

Sagittarius represents mental exploration and travel – it says “I Perceive”

Sagittarius is freedom-loving, optimistic and fore-sighted. It aspires to greatness and loves to travel.

Those with the Sun in Sagittarius have an intense intellectual curiosity that rivals even Gemini. They are not fond of structure and routine, preferring instead to get out and explore the world around them…when they encounter situations or people that don’t interest them they will find a way to escape – either in their head or by actually leaving on some adventure. Those born under the Archer are usually very ‘sporty’ in appearance, and enjoy physical activities.

Mercury in Sagittarius. These people are free thinkers, and very optimistic in their thought processes. They are full of grand schemes and very forward thinking in their approach to things. They have so much information on so many subjects that talking with them is always interesting. However they may lead cluttered lives, full of half completed projects and ideas that they haven’t had time to complete because the next thing has grabbed their attention.

Moon in Sagittarius: These people feel complete when their inner self is allowed to search for adventure. They can be optimistic and idealistic with their emotions.

Venus in Sagittarius. They are emotionally warm, outgoing and idealistic in their romantic dealings. They tend not to rush into romantic entanglements, preferring instead to explore friendships first… Sex and Love have a time and place in their lives, but it is not the be all and end all for them.

Mars in Sagittarius. They can spend so much time wrapped up in sports, idealistic causes, travel, adventures and intellectual exercises, that sex can frequently take a back seat – but when it happens it is idealistic and full of joy.

Capricorn – the Goat

Capricorn represents career and public standing – it says “I Use”

Capricorn is Ambitious, conscientious, prudent, efficient, reliable and patient.

Those with the sun in Capricorn seek to control by virtue of authority. They are great at anything that involves the law, rules and regs etc. They may on occasion, not follow their own rules, since they use their rules to bind others, not themselves…Capricorns are great at getting things done. They are driven to succeed, like the goat climbing up the mountainside, they accept the peril and difficulty of the journey with ease.

Mercury in Capricorn : These people appreciate structure and order. They frequently speak in a slow and methodical manner, and often have the air of authority about them. They have a tendency at time to be somewhat judgemental of others, and can be very skeptical of what they hear.

Moon in Capricorn:  Moon Goats find emotional security through hard work and dedication. Sometimes their is a tendency to take everything too seriously, however these people are great achievers if allowed to control their environment.

Venus in Capricorn: They have a somewhat reserved approach to love, finding financial security and social standing more important than love & marriage. Once they choose a partner however, they are loyal, dependable and devoted.

Mars in Capricorn: Like Sagittarius, much of their energy is channelled into other pursuits rather than love and sex. The Martian Goat can be appear somewhat materialistic at times, yet this comes from self-control, discipline and a desire for order and security.

Aquarius – The Water Bearer

Aquarius represents Friends, hopes and dreams – it says “I know”

Aquarius is altruistic, intellectual, rebellious, independent and unconventional

Sun in Aquarius loves to organize. Projects, parties and people. They are highly socially oriented, loyal and their sense of fairness and objectivety means they attract many friends in their life. They enjoy friends and relationships more than material acquisition, and love challenges. They can be quite unconventional in their relationships. They are highly intellectual, fast thinkers, and can be somewhat impatient.

Mercury in Aquarius: These people love breaking the rules… they love conversation and intellectual debates are their bread and butter. They may sometimes come across as intellectually superior, which can make people a little intimidated, but they can also make delightful company, since they usually have something interesting to say.

Moon in Aquarius: The moon is our emotion, and Aquarius loves people, so healthy social interaction keeps these Lunar aquarians happy and healthy. Their trademark is friendship and they desire to solve the great problems of the human equation.

Venus in Aquarius:  Aquarius is unconventional and independent. So in the planet of the heart, romantic interests are likely to also be unconventional. The independent streak means these people are like to want to try several different relationships before succumbing – if ever – to marriage.

Mars in Aquarius: Aquarian martians assert themselves in unconventional manners. Freedom of self to think and act in their own way outweighs all other considerations. These people have an experimental attitude to sex and enjoy it immensely.

Pisces – The Fishes

Pisces represents secrets and sorrows and fears.

Pisces is Sensitive, intuitive, emotional and imaginative. it says “I believe”

Sun in Pisces: Pisceans readily adapt to change. Like the fish, they are comfortable in a fluid environment. They are compassionate and humane, and have no hesitation in breaking unbreakable rules in the interests of compassion. Incredibly sensitive by nature, they react out of emotions first, before acting, before thinking. They have an idealized image of what humanity should be, and have difficulty dealing with those who do not live up to that image.

Mercury in Pisces: These people communicate gently, and have a soft touch that is pleasant and warming. They may be almost poetic in their speech, but sometimes may be withdrawn and almost moody. Emotions guide their communications and their thought processes.

Moon in Pisces:  Highly creative, but also may be overly sensitive – the planet of emotion in an emotional sign. They have a tendency to take everything personally, but also an uncanny ability to know what others think and feel before they do.

Venus in Pisces: Romantic, gentle and compassionate, sensitive and idealistic. Emotion in the sign of romance, these people will always marry for love!

Mars in Pisces: These people assert themselves in an emotional, caring, compassionate manner. Well suited to spiritual endeavors, these people always do well in company, but need frequent periods of quiet and solitude to recharge.


These then, are some of the basic aspects of Astrology. If you are interested in learning more, buy a good astrology book (anything by Linda Goodman or The Only Astrology Book you’ll ever need  by Joanna martine Woolfolk), invest in a decent astrology program ( Star Mate is available for Android and iPhone ) or find an astrology group in your area to compare notes with!


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