Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Astrological Year, Part 1

Many of us can't keep the astrological year straight. It starts in March and so that throws off a lot of people right away. And the dates aren't the same every year, so that's a problem, too. So how do you keep track of what's going on?

Well, let's start at the beginning. Western astrology is based on the seasons. Generally speaking, people know when the seasons begin and end, so that's where we'll commence.

The astrological year begins when the sun arrives in Aries, at the vernal equinox, also known as the beginning of spring. When we arrive at the Summer Solstice, Cancer begins. At the Autumnal Equinox, Libra begins. And when the Winter Solstice comes, Capricorn begins. In other words, a new sign begins each season.

The dates the seasons begin can't be the same every year, though, because the sun moves about 1 degree a day through the sky. So we know approximately when a season will start, but we have to check out the exact moment when the sun moves into that particular sign. 

Astrologers of old used to use what's called an ephemeris, a chart filled with tables listing the various times that planets will move into their various signs.

Nowadays computers do the heavy lifting for us. With a few mouse clicks I can tell you that the next season, Fall, will begin when the sun enters Libra at 10:30pm on September 22, 2014 in Occoquan, VA. Winter begins when the sun enters Capricorn on December 21, 2014, at 6:04pm in Occoquan, VA.

[To be a certified astrologer with any reputable organization, however, you must be able to cast a chart by hand. It's a challenge I'd like to be able to take on someday!]

Note for Witches and Wiccans: When the sun moves into a cardinal sign at the beginning of each season, that's the day we celebrate a Sabbat. So this year Mabon is on September 22, and Yule is on December 21.

So you've already got four of the signs. Each of the signs I listed begins a season.

Now, let's talk about the elements: fire, earth, air and water. They are a concept many of you are familiar with. We've got four seasons, and to balance things out, each season begins with an astrological sign in a particular element. Aries = fire, Cancer = water, Libra = air, Capricorn = earth. These four signs are actually known as cardinal signs. We'll talk more about what that means in a future blog. Just know that they are important. But every season begins with a cardinal sign. 

Each element has a complementary element, one it works with better than the others. Earth and water complement each other, as do fire and air. These elements will NEVER be next to each other in the astrological year. In other words, if there's a fire sign, an air sign will never come before it or after it. The opposite is also true. Earth signs will never be preceded by or followed by water signs as well. It's to keep everything in balance. 

To take it a little further, you know that Aries is a fire sign and begins spring. So if you remember nothing else, you know that there won't be two fire signs in a row, nor can there be an air sign next. So by elimination you know that the next sign of spring has to be earth or water!

Thanks for tuning in! I hope to have another blog for you soon!

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