Have you ever been asked, "What sign are you?"  For example, if you were born on Christmas Day, we find the Sun in the sign of Capricorn, so you call yourself a Capricorn.  If you were born on the first day of July, the Sun was in the sign of Cancer, so you call yourself a Cancer.   Many people know their Sun sign, while not really understanding the meaning of a zodiac sign.  To understand the meaning of a sign, first you must understand the meaning of the zodiac.  In the western astrological tradition, the zodiac denotes the imaginary path the Sun, Moon, and planets follow in the sky.  The Sun and Moon follow roughly the same path across the sky.  They always come up over the eastern horizon, arc across the sky, and set in the west.  The planets follow the same path as well.  That path makes an imaginary circle or band called the zodiac.  Astrologers use the zodiac as a very important circle because on any given day, at any given time, the Sun, the Moon, and the planets will be located somewhere on this path, somewhere on the zodiac. 

          Astrologers have noticed this path, the zodiac, has twelve distinct sections to it.  We call these sections the “signs” of the zodiac and name them, in order:  Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces.  Each of the twelve signs occupies thirty degrees of the zodiac, for a total of 360 degrees of the circle.  (See Illustration #1)  The signs act like the inches on a circular ruler, we use them to measure the location of the planets.




          When a person says “I am a Libra,” or "My sign is Taurus," they indicate the location of the Sun in the zodiac on their day of birth.  For example, between September 23rd and October 23rd, the Sun moves through the Libra section of the zodiac and people born during that time refer to themselves as Libras. 

Each year, the Sun follows a regular pattern, moving through each sign of the zodiac in about a month.  Of course, the Earth causes this apparent motion due to our revolution around the Sun once a year.  To us, it appears the Sun moves around the zodiac at approximately one degree a day.

Western Astrological Sun Sign Dates:  

Aries --

March 20 - April 20

Taurus --

April 20 - May 21

Gemini --

May 21 - June 22

Cancer --

June 22 - July 23

Leo --

July 23 - August 23

Virgo --

August 23 - Sept. 23

Libra --

Sept. 23 - October 23

Scorpio --

October 23 - November 22

Sagittarius -

November 22 - December 22

Capricorn -

December 22 - January 20

Aquarius --

January 20 - February 19

Pisces --

February 19 - March 20

           The date the Sun moves into each sign of the zodiac varies slightly from year to year, and different references sometimes give slightly different dates for these shifts.  Those born on these “cusp” dates need to check specifically to determine the actual solar position at their particular place and time of birth.  For example, if you were born in the early morning hours of March 20th, you would likely have the Sun in Pisces.  Someone born later in the evening of March 20th would have the Sun in Aries, due to the fact that the Sun moved from Pisces to Aries during the day.  Knowing your Sun sign constitutes just one part of understanding your astrological make-up.

          A year lasts 365 days because it takes the Sun that amount of time to make one revolution through all twelve signs of the zodiac.   No other planet has its movement tied to the calendar year.  The Moon and the planets move through the twelve signs also, however, they move at varying rates of speed compared to the Sun.  The Moon takes just one month to make a cycle around the zodiac, Mercury and Venus about a year, Mars twenty-two months, Jupiter twelve years, Saturn twenty-nine years, Uranus eighty-four years, and Neptune one hundred sixty-five years.  The current over-emphasis on “Sun Sign” astrology in various horoscopes in newspapers and magazines happened partly due to the fact that you can only know your Sun sign, unless you calculate your birth chart.  



    Your birth chart notes the precise location of the Sun, Moon, and planets in their zodiac signs at your moment of birth.  For example, my birth chart shows the Moon in the sign of Aries at my moment of birth.  To understand an Aries Moon, you must understand the nature of the Moon, and how it expresses its energy in the sign of Aries.  The signs and planets represent primal archetypal energies.  The lists below gives you the meanings attached to each sign of the zodiac and to each planet.  These correlations come from thousands of years of observation.


^ ARIES - The Ram – impulsive and heroic.  Wants to do things immediately.  Fiery, adventurous, and courageous.  Very strong-willed.  Very sexual.  Likes to lead, does not like to follow.  Enjoys physical activities. 

_ TAURUS - The Bull - sturdy, stable, and stubborn.  Enjoys continuity and a settled lifestyle.  Material possessions and security are important.  Slow to anger.  Kind-hearted.  Enjoys nature.  Likes to move slowly.    

 ` GEMINI - The Twins - curious, intellectual, and talkative.  Make good writers, communicators, and teachers.  Has duality in life.  Enjoys constant mental stimulation and doing many things at the same time.  Likes change and variety.  Enjoys learning about a wide variety of subjects.  Likes to travel.  Quick and witty. 

a CANCER - The Crab – strongly attached to mother, home, and family.  Nurturing and protective of others.  Likes to feel safe and secure.  Very sensitive, and can be shy.  Likes to help and give comfort to others.   Usually fond of children.  Strongly connected to their mother. 

b LEO - The Lion - loves to be the center of attention.  Loves to have fun and play.  Is very proud and loyal.  Very sexual.  Make good performers and artists.  Good leaders.  Has a strong ego.  Courageous, dignified, and generous.  Charismatic and charming.  Usually fond of children.  Strongly connected to their father. 

c VIRGO - The Virgin - analytical, discriminating, and physically sensitive.  Smart and have good common sense.  Likes to help others.  Tend to be perfectionists.  Often interested in health and diet.  Loves animals.  Gifted at organization.  Sees patterns within chaos.  Naturally timid, may have to build self-esteem.   

d LIBRA - The Scales - relationships are very important.  Very focused on their partners.  Often diplomatic and easy to be around.  Gifted artistically and creatively.  Good eye for color and design.  Sees both sides of every issue.  Interested in law and justice.  Peacekeepers.  Often very attractive physically. 

e SCORPIO - The Scorpion - intense, secretive, sexual and passionate.  Loves extremes.  Tends to be gifted psychically.  Likes to be in control of situations.  Make great healers and counselors.  Enjoys being in positions of power.  Has great insight.  Likes to maintain privacy. 

f SAGITTARIUS - The Archer – optimistic and generous.  Loves to travel.  Tends to be athletic, and enjoys the outdoors.  Make good team players.  Can be blunt.  Interested in spirituality and philosophy.  Often gregarious and extroverted.  Likes freedom.  Good in sales and executive positions.  Loves horses.

 g CAPRICORN - The Goat - ambitious, serious, and wise.  Tends to be achievement and goal oriented.  Very hard workers.  Often more mature than their age.  Likes to be in positions of authority.  Often interested in history and ancestors.  Does well in structured environments.  Tends to do well in the business world. 

h AQUARIUS - The Waterbearer - unique and individualistic.  Tends to be intellectual and fair-minded.  Often interested in the future and new ideas.  Understands technology.  Humanitarian and democratic.  Often more rational than emotional.  Enjoys solitude.  Likes to be independent.             

i PISCES - The Fish – spiritual and dreamy.  Focuses more on the spiritual world than the material world.  Tends to be empathetic and sympathetic.  Very willing to help others.  Very sensitive and intuitive. 


      Sun - your ego, shows your career/success, gives indications about important men in your life (father, husband), governs your physical vitality and health.

     Moon - your emotions and intuition, gives indications about important women in your life (mother, wife), governs your home and domestic surroundings, shows your subconscious and instinctual side, has to do with mass consciousness.

      Mercury - your intellect, how you communicate, governs teaching and writing, gives indications about siblings and relatives, shows how you may do in school, shows how you think and how your mind works.  

      Venus - your relationships, governs your love interests, shows information about friends, shows beauty, has to do with aptitude for and appreciation of the arts, shows your ability to be diplomatic.  

      Mars - your sexual energy, shows aggressiveness/assertiveness, warrior energy, shows propensity for hostility/anger, governs your drive and determination, associated with accidents and violence, lust and primal behavior.

 Jupiter - your wealth (both spiritual and material), governs opportunities, shows luck,     generosity/optimism, has to do with travel, philosophy, religion, publishing, and law.

      Saturn - your area of restriction, hardship, tests, discipline, shows relations with older people, deals with history/traditions/ancestors/authority figures, can give indications about one's father, governs real estate.

     Uranus - change, chaos, sudden unforeseen events, breaks up old patterns, associated with science and technology, humanitarianism, the future.

     Neptune - spirituality, love consciousness, good and bad karma, confusion, deception, dissolves things, indicates where you may suffer and sacrifice, deals with illusion, non-reality, addictions and alcoholism.  

    Pluto (while classified as a dwarf planet, it still has influence in the birth chart) - death, intense sexual energy, power and control issues, transformation, occultism, desires, extremes, intuitive or psychic abilities or experiences.

          To begin to understand someone's personality from their birth chart, we start by putting together the planet’s meaning with the sign it occupies.  For example, in analyzing my Aries Moon, we begin by noting the Moon indicates emotional disposition.  Aries has a fiery, immature, impulsive type of energy associated with it.  An Aries Moon tends to make a person “emotionally immediate.”  When I was young, my father always said whatever I felt showed immediately on my face -- I have not changed much, everyone can read me like a book.  Also, I have a hard time holding on to any emotion -- I can feel very angry at someone one day, and completely forget it the next.  These characteristics often occur in those with the Moon in Aries.

     A good friend of mine has the Moon in Sagittarius.  As well as being an indicator of emotions, the Moon will give information about your home and family.  Sagittarius has an association with travel, wealth, and largess.  This friend has lived on four different continents, and she always mothers people, bringing them into her home and giving them food, drink, and gifts.  These traits reflect the energy of Sagittarius as it combines with the Moon themes of home and nurturing. 

         The signs give twelve archetypal energies or ways of being.  The planets indicate parts of your psyche.  When you analyze the Sun, Moon, and all eight of the planets in their various signs, you get a fairly accurate picture of your personality.  You also begin to understand the complexity of the astrological portrait.  It becomes obvious your Sun sign constitutes only a very small part of your astrology chart.  In Lesson Three, we talk about other important factors in the birth chart, including the Rising Sign, astrological houses, and planetary aspects. 



    We call the sign of the zodiac cresting the eastern horizon at the moment of birth the "Rising Sign."  We also call it the “Ascendant” because the planets begin their ascent there.  As the Earth rotates once a day, we see the band of the zodiac, along with the Sun, Moon, and planets, revolve around us one time.  Each day, all twelve signs of the zodiac rise over the eastern horizon.  Since there are twenty-four hours in a day, and twelve signs of the zodiac, a new sign starts to rise approximately every two hours. 

    The Rising Sign is just as important as the Sun sign in determining your basic personality, and sometimes more so.  In fact, if someone asks your sign, you could give your Rising Sign, as it would give more of an indication about you as a person than your Sun sign, which you share with everyone born within a month of you.  

       The Rising Sign shows how you perceive the world.  Even people born on the same day will have different charts, due to the variance of the Rising Sign (and other factors).  A person born at noon with Scorpio Rising will have a much different personality than a person born two hours later with Sagittarius Rising.  Therefore, you must have an accurate birth time to calculate a birth chart.  Of course, sometimes a person will not have their birth time available.  Without a birth time, the chart can only provide part of the total picture.  Even so, this still yields great insights.  Individuals without an exact birth time can use a technique called chart rectification, wherein you “work backwards” to get your birth time by correlating significant life events and personality characteristics with possible birth times.  

        Along with the Rising Sign, another major factor in the chart involves astrological "houses."  The circle of the zodiac is naturally divided by four key points:  the eastern horizon, high noon, the western horizon, and midnight.  Astrologers further divide the circle until into twelve sections.  Each section is called a house.  Illustration 2 shows you the basic house structure of a birth chart.



The first house in any birth chart starts right below the eastern horizon, and the houses go around the wheel until the twelfth house, which is directly above the eastern horizon.  Every chart uses these twelve houses -- they form the basic physical framework of the birth chart.  The zodiac and the planets rotate around this framework once a day.  

For example, in Illustration #3 below, the first chart shows the location of the planets at 9 a.m. on a spring day.  Notice how the Sun, represented by an orange circle with a dot in the center, has risen over the eastern horizon and had made its way into the 11th house.  The second chart shows the location of the planets ten hours later, at 7 p.m.  The Sun by that time has moved into the 7th house, and will be setting soon as it moves over the 7th house cusp (the western horizon) and down into the 6th house.  Take a moment to identify the other planets and notice their movement into different houses.  Notice also how the zodiac rotates causing the Rising Sign to change throughout the day.  At 9:00 a.m., we find Leo Rising, noted on the chart by the symbol for Leo placed on the outer wheel at the point representing the sunrise.  By 7:00 p.m., the sign of Sagittarius rises (and we find Leo on the cusp of the 9th house). 


Chart 1:    9:00 a.m.                 

Chart 2:    7:00 p.m.

          When conceptualizing the twelve astrological houses, think of them as wedges of the sky.  Astrologers have found each of these areas of the sky has to do with a different area of a person’s life.   It is just as important what house a planet sits in as what sign it occupies.  A person born with a Cancer Sun in the eleventh house will act much differently than one with his Cancer Sun in the seventh house, meaning a person born at nine in the morning will have a different personality than one born at seven o’clock in the evening.  Similarly, a person with the Moon in the sixth house will act differently than a person with it in the second house.  The same holds true for the other planets.  

    As the planets rotate around the Earth once a day, they move through each of the twelve houses, roughly through one house every two hours.  The following list gives you the meanings of the Houses:


1st House -- resonates with Aries/Mars – The “house of self.”  The first house gives indications about your self-view, your sense of self-esteem, and your basic personality.  It also is associated with your physical body and vitality.

2nd House -- resonates Taurus/Venus --  The “money house.”  This house gives indications about your material possessions and your financial matters.  It is associated with your ability to be stable, secure, and grounded. 

 3rd House  -- resonates with Gemini/Mercury – This house gives indications about your siblings, your neighborhood, your early education, your abilities as a writer/lecturer/communicator/teacher.  It also deals with short journeys you take.

4th House -- resonates with Cancer/Moon --  The “house of home and family.”  This house gives indications about your home, your family, and your relationship to your mother and to your children.  It deals with your subconscious and your emotions.  It also gives indications about your physical home and your real estate holdings.

 5th House  -- resonates with Leo/Sun – The “house of creativity.” This house deals with sex, pregnancy, and children.  The fifth house gives indications about love affairs and social life.   It indicates your ability to have fun, engage in creative pursuits, and to entertain and be entertained. 

 6th House  -- resonates with Virgo/Mercury -- This house deals with issues of health and diet.  It gives indications about your day-to-day workplace and your employees.  It gives indications about your animals.  Also tells about your willingness to be of service to other people.

 7th House  -- resonates with Libra/Venus -- The “house of partnership.”  This house gives indications about your committed partnerships -- your spouse and business partners.  Shows your legal matters.  Shows artistic abilities. 

 8th House -- resonates with Scorpio/Pluto -- This house deals with financial matters involving other people.  It shows matters of death and dying, and inheritances.  It gives information about sexual matters and your psychic abilities. 

9th House  -- resonates with Sagittarius/Jupiter – The “house of higher things.”  This house deals with higher education, philosophy, religion, metaphysics, publishing, and the law.  It also deals with long journeys and foreign travel.

 10th House  -- resonates with Capricorn/Saturn --  The “career house.”  This house gives indications about your career and your reputation.  It indicates your level of public recognition.  This house also gives indications about your relationship with your father.

 11th House -- resonates with Aquarius/Uranus -- The "house of choice, or things you get to choose."  This house gives indications about your friendships, the groups which you join, and your own goals and ideals.  It indicates your abilities in the areas of technology, science, mathematics, engineering, computer science, and research. 

 12th House -- resonates with Pisces/Neptune --  The “house of spirituality.”  This house indicates your innate spirituality and connection to the other realms of existence.  It shows long-term illness, self-sacrificing, and self-undoing.  It gives indications of your likelihood to be involved with institutions.  Gives indications about your karma and past lives.

          You start interpreting a birth chart by noting the planet’s sign, then add more information by analyzing the house each planet occupies.  For example, take the chart of Bruce Springsteen, the successful rock and roll artist who has the Sun , Moon , Mercury , and Neptune in the sign of Libra.




Born 9/23/49, 10:50 p.m., Long Branch, New Jersey

        Libra has an association with artistic ability, including the fields of music and dance.  Most people born with so many planets in Libra at birth have considerable artistic ability.  Looking further, we find three of those four Libra planets located in the fifth house, and Venus in the fifth house as well.  The fifth house has an association with creativity, entertainment and stage performance.  Springsteen's birth chart gives ample indication he would have talent as an artist and performer.  A child born in the same hospital, but a few hours earlier or later, would have the four planets in Libra, but different personality traits due to the change of house placement.  

        Along with the Rising Sign and house placement, we look at the geometrical relationship between the planets.  Did planets sit opposite one another?  Are they 120 degrees apart?  Astrologers call these geometrical relations "aspects."  The five main aspects are listed below:


Conjunction:  0 to 10 degrees apart (planets sit together).  Can be good or bad depending upon the planets and their location by sign and house.

Sextile:  60 degrees apart.  A good aspect, planetary energies can work well together.  There is an opportunity for good things to come from this aspect.

Square:  90 degrees apart.  A difficult aspect, planetary energies are “squared off” against each other.  Denotes discord, disharmony, and conflict.  

Trine: (from the word triangle):  120 degrees apart.  Most favorable aspect.  Planets are in harmony and will give benefits to the person.  

Opposition:  180 degrees apart.  Another difficult aspect, planets are “opposing” each other.  Often plays out through opponents in your life.

          How a planet aspects other planets will tell a great deal about how that planet expresses itself.  For example, when planets square one another their energies struggle with each other.  On the other hand, a trine relationship shows a harmonious flow between the planets involved.  The way planets align with one another adds a crucial layer of information to the birth chart.

*    *    *

            Your birth chart shows the physical alignment of the planets in signs, in houses, and in aspect to one another.  It reflects your unique qualities and life path as an individual.  If you want to learn about your own birth chart, email to inquire about an analysis of your birth chart. 

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