Monday, June 30, 2014

What is an Astrological Chart? Part 1

Many of you know the 12 astrological signs. But a lot of people have never seen one before, or look at one and get confused. So I'm going to break down some of the basics for you, slowly, so you can get a feel for it. I'm not talking about interpreting a chart, which takes a long time to learn. I mean just getting the very basic lay of the land so they won't seem like hieroglyphics.

An astrological chart is a snapshot in time for a person or an event showing planetary positions, and it's a circle. As circles have 360 degrees, if you divide it up into 12 parts--one for each sign--these divisions are called houses. More on the houses and how we decide where the houses begin and end in a later blog. For now, know that those lines from the center to the outer part of the circle are called houses, and the edge of the house is called a "cusp".

Anyway, there are 30 degrees of each sign (12 x 30 = 360). So when the sun enters a sign it's at 0 degrees. Last Saturday, at the Summer Solstice, the sun was at 0 degrees Cancer. The sun moves through 30 degrees of Cancer, and once it gets to 29 degrees Cancer, it will be about a day or so until the sun enters 0 degrees Leo. Then we start again and move through Leo. That's why if you look at the dates for when a sign begins, there is always some variation because it's the degree that determines when the sign changes, NOT our calendar. Make sense?

Check out the chart below, taken when the sun was at 0 degrees Cancer this year and plotted for Occoquan, VA:

Let's take it further. I just said there are 30 degrees of each sign, right? Well, if you do a quick and dirty calculation, the sun is in each sign for about...30 days. So doing the math, the sun moves about one degree a day. Of course, there are always slight variations. But if you are born on the first day of a sign, likely your sun was at 0-1 degrees of that sign. You can have your chart done professionally or consult a free online chart maker to find out exactly what degree the sun was at the moment of your birth, but it's easy to make a somewhat educated guess. You'll need the date, time, and place of your birth, but if you don't have your birth time then estimate as best you can. 

Sometimes it's a challenge to find out what sun sign someone is if they are born close to a cusp. If you look up the beginning date for Aries, for example, usually it's March 19-20. I know someone born on March 21, and in that particular year she was still a Pisces. The sun hadn't left Pisces yet; likely it was at 29 degrees Pisces, and was only a few short hours away from moving into a new astrological year in Aries.

Some people will tell you if they're close to a cusp that they consider themselves part one sign and part another. Bullshit, people! If you're not sure what sign you are, look it up. Your sun sign is not the be all and the end all of astrology, but it is important and it's a place to start. If you're on the cusp of Gemini and Cancer, you're not part of each sign. The sun was either in one of the later degrees of Gemini or one of the earliest degrees of Cancer; the sun can't be in two places at once.

These degree measurements are VERY important also because astrologers use them to determine the relationships between planets, called aspects, which we also won't talk about today. Just know that they are.

Luckily, planetary motion with the sun is easy to work with. 30 degrees = approximately 30 days. All the other heavenly bodies move at different speeds, some fast and some slow. And neither the sun nor moon goes retrograde (backwards) so that makes the motion much easier to predict.

Anyway, that's it for now. We'll do some more work on this in future blogs, but I hope this makes you understand a little more about an astrological chart and what it can show you.

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