Most of us know our astrological Sun sign e.g. Aquarius, Scorpio, etc. For those who don’t, it can easily be found from their date of birth. Sometimes, people are born on what is known as the ‘cusp’ between two signs. In such cases, in order to ascertain a person’s sign, it is necessary to the time of day that the sun moved into the new astrological sun sign, relative to their time of birth.
Those who are sceptical about astrology will often argue that, with so many people in the world, it simply cannot be feasible to divide them into 12 unique categories – the twelve signs of the zodiac. How, they will argue, can it be possible for one person born under the sign of Cancer, for example, to have similar experiences to everybody else born under that sun sign?
Well, as an astrologer, I actually tend to agree with that viewpoint. However, that is only because the sceptics are partially correct. Astrology is in my experience, a fascinating and revealing subject and science.
Let me be clear. During the course of their lifetimes, people born under the same sun sign may demonstrate similar behaviours and have comparable experiences. However, this does not mean that everybody who is born under one particular sun sign will be the same. Each individual is unique and, as with fingerprints, everyone also has a unique horoscope or birth chart.
When people ask me to do an astrological reading for them, they are often surprised when I ask them not only their date of birth, but also the time and place of their birth. This is so that I can calculate not only where the sun was placed at the time they were born, in order to ascertain their sun sign, but also where all the other planets were placed. It is only be doing this that I can produce their unique birth chart or horoscope.
The best way to describe someone’s horoscope or birth chart is to imagine that it were possible to take a cosmic photograph showing where all the planets in the solar system were placed at the particular moment of their birth. That cosmic photograph captures this unique moment in time. If we were to look again, five minutes later, we would be able to see that the faster moving planets would be in a slightly different place. So someone born in the same location five minutes later may have a very similar birth chart or horoscope, but there would already be slight differences.
Take a look at the example chart above, which is my own natal birth chart or horoscope. In western astrology, when an astrologer casts a horoscope, they produce a birth chart consisting of a 360-degree wheel. To simplify matters, this wheel is divided into 12 segments, each of 30 degrees. Both the time and place of birth are important, as the first thing an astrologer will do is calculate the position of the astrological sign on the horizon at the time of birth, along with its distance in degrees.
You will see from the example, on the left hand side of the chart, marked ‘Horizon’, a glyph that represents the sign of Cancer (shown as ). This shows that the astrological sign on the horizon (also known as the ascendant) is five degrees and 56 minutes of Cancer. Once the astrological sign and degree on the horizon have been calculated, the same degree is placed on the cusp of each of the other segments.
As we now know the sign on the horizon, and we know the order of the zodiac, we can then mark each of the other cusps with the appropriate zodiac sign.
The degrees to which each planet will be in each sign of the zodiac can be calculated based upon our knowledge of their respective orbits, and then recorded in the appropriate area of the birth chart.
We now effectively have a visual map showing where all the planets are placed at our moment of birth. It can be seen that some planets are close to each other, with some appearing to be in the same sign although they are in different segments of the chart. By looking at the three planets in the second and third segments (known as houses) of the chart, for example, it can be seen that all three are in the sign of Virgo, but that the moon is in the second segment, whilst the other two planets (Uranus & Pluto) appear in the third segment.
Now it is possible to interpret the horoscope by seeing which signs the planets are in as well as which segments (houses) of the chart. Each segment (or house) represents a different area of our lives. It can also clearly be seen if two planets are close together, and the distance in degrees between each of the planets in the chart. These relationships between the angles of the planets are known as the planetary aspects.
Over the course of the next few months, some of the above concepts will be expanded upon in more detail. However, it’s important to understand the concept that your horoscope is unique to you and consists of a blueprint laid out from the position of the planets in the cosmos at the time, place and date of your birth.
We may have much in common with other people born under the same sun sign as us, but the planets are all in a constant state of movement. Each planet, depending upon its size and position in our solar system, has a unique orbit, each moving at different speeds.
As they continue to move, it is possible to see the angles and relationship between where the planets are placed now, and where they were placed in your horoscope blueprint – each interaction bringing challenges and opportunities to our lives.
This allows an astrologer to give guidance on what unique planetary energies are in play in our lives, to help us understand that the universe is perfect and that through the lessons presented to us during our earthly existence, as the planets dance in their orbits, we experience all that our higher selves wished to learn.