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A horoscope, or birth chart, is a personal map; it tracks, in the case of  your own natal chart, the planetary influences affecting your exact birthplace,  at the very moment you took your first breath. Drawn in a map as unique as your  fingerprints, these influences find expression in the course you take throughout  the whole of your life.


The symbols drawn in your horoscope express deep meanings in a sort of  cosmic shorthand. Astrologers use these symbols as a key to the understanding of  your character, personality and relationships. A horoscope can be drawn up for  the moment of birth of not just a person, but also a project, an event, a  business, even a country. Experience shows that all the events, people and  things on planet Earth can be mapped from beginning to end by the energies  symbolised in astrology. It's a beautiful thing! Understanding the astrological  interaction of the Sun, Moon and Ascendant is the ideal way to discover and  investigate the nature of relationships, and is also a very valuable way to  explore the compatibility between two people. This article is part of a series  that we have published on Astrology on the Web. The Sun Sign Your Sun Sign is  where the Sun was placed in the Zodiac at the time of your birth. Sun signs have  become the staple diet of popular astrology, because everyone knows their  birthday and the Sun's position can be easily worked out.


Here's how: we divide the year into twelve months of around thirty days each  and the Sun takes about thirty days to travel through each of the twelve  astrological signs. The astrological info on our website looks at the deep,  archetypal symbolism involved with each Sun sign, but each of us is a lot more  than just our Sun sign. Everyone's personality is a unique combination of  influences from the Sun, the Moon and all the planets of the Solar System at the  time and place of our birth. Only a detailed astrological analysis, as offered  from our skilled astrologers can give you the full details. However, your Sun  sign remains the fundamental core of your character, so visit our Star Guide and  you'll get plenty of fun and entertainment, plus useful information about you  and your relationships from our free online interpretations of the signs and  their relationships. The Ascendant Your Ascendant, or Rising Sign, is the sign  of the Zodiac which was rising over the eastern horizon at the time of your  birth.


This changes approximately every two hours. Even twins born as little as five  minutes apart could have different ascendants, which would make a real  difference in their horoscopes and therefore their personalities. Your Ascendant  represents your self-image and, to a considerable extent, how others see you. If  you find, for instance, that the gentle, caring man you've met doesn't seem to  fit the personality profile of the typical Aries... well, perhaps it's because  he has a Pisces Ascendant. The Moon Sign Your Moon Sign is the sign of the  Zodiac occupied by the Moon when you were born. The Moon sign indicates your  personality, reflecting the emotional development you underwent in your  formative years. It can be thought of as an imprint or legacy from your early  home environment and especially from the way your mother related to you when you  were a child. As an adult, you experience the Moon sign as a bundle of  deep-seated emotional needs that must be fulfilled. Under pressure, you may  exhibit the emotional needs and characteristics of that sign more than the  characteristics of your Sun sign. So if you are puzzled as to why that otherwise  self-effacing Virgo you're dating sometimes lashes you with a stinging tongue,  it could be because she has Moon in Scorpio. Or if you can't understand why your  otherwise home-loving Cancerian man is always planning a jaunt overseas, perhaps  his Moon is in Sagittarius. Finding out your would-be lover's Ascendant and Moon  signs will give you much greater understanding of how to handle them than you  could obtain by researching their Sun sign alone. To find your lover's Ascendant  and Moon signs, you need to know the time of day and place of his or her birth.  Then check out our Star Shop and birth chart services, for a deeper analysis of  the way you relate together by the stars.


Ultimately, there is no substitute for having a complete horoscope cast by a  professional astrologer. If you are contemplating a serious relationship with  someone, spare no effort to find out the exact location, date and time of their  birth and rush the details to us for a complete explanation, interpretation and  prognosis of your relationship. This could save you months of fruitless pursuit  and years of frustration--not to mention helping you avoid the agony of a broken  heart, countless hours of psychotherapy and the decimation of your bank account.  The signs, planets, and aspects combine to give an individual a filter through  which he will view his circumstances and react to them. The configuration of the  natal chart is the base from which we start our life and from which all further  growth will spring. The transits, eclipses, and progressions alter that base and  present challenges to our perception of the world and ourselves. The base never  changes, but because of the aforementioned events we CAN act differently than  our natal chart would at first suggest.


It is the task of the astrologer to determine not only how we are prone to  responding to the world, but also how we are likely to respond at this moment in  time. Take a normally mild-mannered man who lets negativity slide off his back,  for instance. He was raised by a good and loving family and more importantly  perceived it as such because he was not born with Mars badly aspecting his Sun,  Moon, or a planet ruling his 4th or 10th house. Let's say that at some point in  his adult life, transiting Mars, Jupiter, and Pluto all combine to create a  Grand Cross when they aspect his natal Moon. Suddenly, we have a totally  different creature on our hands. His emotional base is being challenged in a  most disturbing way. He becomes angry, perhaps feels the urge to lash out and  hit someone. People who meet him during this period will see him as  argumentative or touchy. They may think he's like that all the time. An  astrologer, on the other hand, could look at his chart, see that natally he's  not that sort at all. The astrologer would look to whatever the outside force is  and counsel the man by interpreting what is happening to him. He might be told,  for instance, that the upset to his usual nature is being caused by a close  friend, who he thought supported him but who was now undermining his sense of  emotional security. Natally, the man perceives the world as a secure place. By  transit, though, that security is being challenged. His growth will come from  meeting the challenge and coming to understand that just because you see life as  safe and secure, doesn't mean that it is always like that.


It also means that you don't have to go overboard in reacting to the changes.  The difficulty for the astrologer is in determining the degree to which a person  is apt to express various components of his personality. Every possible element  of behavior is present in all of us. Depending on our perception of the world  (due to the filter provided by our natal chart), those elements of behavior will  be expressed somewhere along the spectrum, from very little to extremely high.  The astrologer will weigh various elements in the chart to try to determine  which behaviors will be stronger and which will be weaker. Those unfamiliar with  the basic tenets of Astrology may enjoy arguing the fact that a horoscope's  interpretation could apply to anyone, and in some ways that is true. Because we  all have each and every type of human behavior lurking within us, it would be  easy to respond favorably to being told that "you have a good sense of humor" or  to grudgingly agree that "you have a temper." Ah, but it's the matter of degree  that counts! Let's look a Capricorn woman who has her Moon also in that sign and  squaring Saturn. Would she see herself as having a good sense of humor?  Probably. But would an Aquarius with the Moon in Sagittarius think so?  Definitely not. It's a matter of degree and perception. It's the astrologer's  delicate task to interpret that woman's chart and bring to light where her  perceptions lie. She needs to understand how her behavior is shaped by how she  views circumstances.


The astrologer could point out that the Moon square Saturn suggests an early  sense of being emotionally mal- nurished. Was the mother older than usual at the  moment of birth (upwards from 28 years of age) and past the playfulness and  spontaneity that a more youthful mother may have shown? Or was she burdened by  heavy responsibility that drew her attention away from her baby and prevented  her from developing a carefree and loving relationship? Or was she, likewise,  born with a Moon/Saturn aspect that inhibited the easy flow of emotional warmth?  What astrology then can do is help an individual understand how circumstances  and perceptions have combined to form his behavior patterns. The individual can  learn how it has become habitual for him to react to incoming stimuli in certain  ways. Despite what is logical or normal, He is going to initially react from his  astrological base. He is going to temper his reactions through the transits. He  is going to grow through his eclipses. He is going to alter his habits through  his progressions. Astrology is not a parlor game. It is a useful and viable tool  for helping you understand who you are, why you are, and how you fit into the  world. What is astrology? The study of how events on Earth are influenced by the  Sun, Moon, stars and planets. The word astrology comes from the Greek word  astrologia, which literally means star study.


When was astrology developed? The ancient Mesopotamians were the first to use  astrology more than 5000 years ago. What is the zodiac? An imaginary band of sky  that follows the Sun's annual path as seen from Earth. In astrology, the band is  divided into twelve equal parts, each containing a different astrological  constellation. The word zodiac comes from the Greek word zodiakos, which  literally means circle of animals. What are the signs of the zodiac? The unique  names and symbols used to represent each of the twelve astrological  constellations in the zodiac. The planets... Astrologers believe that the  positions of the planets in the sky affect nearly every aspect of a person's  life. When astrologers use the word "planets", generally they are referring to  the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and  Pluto, although obviously the Sun and Moon are not planets! What are the  planets? In astrology, the celestial bodies around the Earth are called planets.  Each planet is associated with a sign and a different energy in life. The stars  and planets have always inspired a sense of wonder. Many cultures look skyward  and see the face of the divine there. There's a cosmic dance on the grand scale,  and one on the intimate scale, going on for each of us. Astrology is the study  of patterns and relationships -- of planets in motion, our birth chart, synastry  with others, the make-up of elements -- and using that knowledge as a tool to  find meaning. Is Astrology a science?: It falls more in the category of  metaphysics, the study of that which is beyond the physical. It's similar to  other fields that are founded on ancient theories of energy patterns, like feng  shui, acupuncture and yoga.


Astrology at high levels is a mastery of its particular science and the  intuitive arts. As the earliest known ordering of existence, long before  recorded history, it's been called the "Mother of all Sciences." The Celestial  Clock: Astrology's premise is that the planetary movements influence the Moments  in Time. Since we're part of the story of the Universe, our moment of birth  recorded on the celestial clock is meaningful. The planets continue to move,  engaging with the fixed in time energies of our birth chart. Students today can  draw on the myths, symbolic associations and wisdom of past astrologers to come  up with their own intuitive language. There are the long cycles of outer planets  that show generational trends, and shorter ones, like the Sun's annual journey  through the Zodiac. Know Thyself Astrology is an incredible tool of  self-discovery, no matter how far you decide to take it. At first, the pieces of  the puzzle may not seem to fit. But if you stick with it, at a certain point it  "clicks" and the orchestrations of the cosmic dance make sense. If life seems  like a series of meaningless events, astrology can be a comforting sign that  perhaps things happen for a reason. It can shine light on inner contradictions  and natural strengths. As a map of the psyche, the birth chart is a guide to  self-understanding that never stops revealing new layers of insight.


Understanding Your Birth Chart: Astrology can be baffling at first, because  it involves a different kind of wisdom. There are three parts to any birth chart  (click here for your own chart)-- planet, sign and house. There's a blending  that happens in astrology that involves those three. As you learn more, your  understanding deepens. You get a sense of what life lessons the Aries Sun in the  10th House holds for you. After learning about the planets, signs and houses,  it's time to look at aspects. This is the relationship between the players in  your birth chart. Do they square each other? Or, are they in harmony with trines  and sextiles. Where the Heck Should I Start?: It's said that there's truth in  stereotypes, and that's where they come from in the first place. The essence of  each sign's energy has built up a reputation. Gemini is chatty, gossipy, a  bright wit. Scorpio is sultry, intense. Virgo is a purist, a neat-freak, and so  on. Hold those stereotypes loosely as you make your own observations.


The Sun sign is the essence of the basic nature in the broadest possible  strokes. The rest of the chart fills in the details. Hold the Sun sign in your  mind, as you go on to learn about the Moon. What kind of Cancer am I? The rest  of your chart tells the story. The Chemistry of Astrology: Astrology provides  cosmic clues as to why you're attracted to, repelled by or indifferent to those  you meet. It helps you take personality clashes less to heart, but also show  potential red flags to watch out for. Some connections are sparked by friction,  and astrology helps you take the long view, and see them as challenges that  cause you both to grow. Astrology and the Dating Game: Just a little bit of Sun  Sign wisdom fills you in on the dynamics of your potential romantic alliance. In  the delicate beginning, it can shine light on the behavior of the Sun signs when  romantic interest is piqued. What are other uses of astrology for understanding  relationships?: Astrology can give you a deeper understanding of all your  relationships -- with bosses, siblings, parents, children, friends and partners.  Comparing a couple's birth charts alerts them to areas where their natures could  come into conflict. Known as "synastry," this kind of analysis points out areas  to challenge and support each other to fulfill your individual  destinies.


Astrology shows where karma is being played out, with hard but necessary  lessons, and the potential for an alchemical miracle to take place over time.  Astrology is the art and science of the cycles of life. They begin at our first  breath, and continue until our last. We have many cycles that affect us, some  short, some long. Some cycles last so long that we never experience the whole of  them unless we become fully realized Beings, as in the case of Neptune and  Pluto, outermost two of the three invisible “Spiritual” planets. We would have  to live for 250 years to experience a complete cycle of Pluto in our chart.  However, there are other cycles that we all experience many times in our lives,  and through these we come to know key themes and lessons related to why  something happens when it does and how that impacts the way we are shaping our “destiny.” We are the ones in command of our responses to life’s  challenges.


This is our true “response-ability.” If we know what is happening and why at  any moment in time and experience, we have the ability to adjust our responses  consciously within the many cycles that work across the personal, interpersonal,  and the transpersonal dimensions. This helps us fulfill old karmic patterns  while offering opportunities for us to transmute our energy in positive ways,  generating detachment, dispassion, discrimination, and bodhichitta, or goodwill.  In the personal, interpersonal, and transpersonal dimensions we have many cycles  going on simultaneously on four levels, those being the physical, emotional,  mental, and spiritual, or archetypal realms.


Thus we have personal physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual cycles going  along with interpersonal physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual cycles  going, as well as transpersonal physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual  cycles of activity, with all 12 “bandwidths” functioning simultaneously. We can  also call the transpersonal realm the realm of truth, of archetypes, the quest  for the higher or greater self, or the realm of higher service we do for our  world. So you can see that our life lessons and transformational experiences  work out through different cycles operating on each of these 12 bandwidths, or  frequency zones, throughout our lives. Most people think that astrology concerns  only such things as “I was born at such and such a time, and that gives me the  times to get married, buy a house, get divorced” and so forth.


It is mostly regarded as a predictive tool. While that is true, it is also  true that there are much larger cycles of change going on that affect all of us  regardless of whether our Sun is in Taurus or we have a Sagittarius Rising a  Moon in Gemini, Jupiter in the fifth house or Saturn in the ninth. This is the  Transpersonal level of existence, the cycles of things beyond our immediate  control or creation that sweep across large populations of people, regardless of  their individual cycles of activity. Character Is Destiny Regardless of the  larger patterns at work across generations and continents, we always have the  ability to control our responses to circumstances. If “character is destiny,” in  the sense that as we make our character we make our destiny, then obviously we  are in charge of our own fate, regardless of external passing circumstances. As  one who is dedicated to understanding “the intersections between fate and free  will,” I found a long time ago that there are only two things that are “destined” in this world: One is to be born when you were, where you were, to  the people you were born to. The other is in the timing on certain choices. Not  what choice you will make, but when you will have to make a choice.


Even not to choose becomes a choice here. Everything else in life is a  product of free will, our own or someone else’s, which challenges us to act,  react, or deal with what is being acted upon us. In astrology, all cycles have a  beginning and an end, followed by new cycles. Between beginning and end in  anything, there are times of harmony and times of friction, times of flow and  times of blockage. Many astrologers believe that the harmonious aspects mean  good things, and frictional aspects mean bad things. While this can seem to be  true, I take the approach that a harmonious aspect, whether at work in your  birth chart or in the heavens above, is a challenge for us to come to correct  understanding. A frictional aspect, on the other hand, is a challenge for us to  act correctly. There is no thing in astrology that compels you to be defeated,  to be a victim of circumstance, or anybody else. Here finding the right point of  view can help us to a greater comprehension. Many times in life, we don’t “win” even if we do our best. In those cases, I have found that we are cultivating a  quality of our character as revealed in the birth chart. When we go through  difficult circumstances, regardless of the apparent cause, we’re chewing up old  karma, fulfilling an old tendency or potentiality, and being given a chance to  cultivate a strength, a skill, an understanding or a way of acting that can  serve us in the future so we don’t have to go through that friction any more. In  group astrology, or collective astrology, sometimes I have found that frictional  aspects going on in the sky can indicate pandemonium on Earth. In those  situations, sometimes the best thing we can do is not lose our cool even if  everybody else is losing theirs. Just don’t make it worse, and you’ll look  pretty good by the time the psychic “storm” passes and the whole thing is over  and others have either created a mess, deconstructed their reality, or done  something to destabilize their lives.


The forces symbolized by astrological planets are always in flux. There is no  absolute time of good or absolute time of difficulty. I have found that often we  are actually doing quite well in some aspects of our life and challenged in  other aspects of our life. Each person has a unique situation. Just because  everybody else is having a difficult time doesn’t mean you will. And just  because everybody else seems to be “doing well” is no reason for you to beat up  on yourself if you feel that you’re not doing well. A lot of this has to do with  the difference between perception and experience. We often perceive something  completely different from what we’re actually going through. We just as often  don’t know our true realization until after we’ve already gone through the  experience. In predictive astrology you may see when something’s coming down in  the cosmic moment, but it may take an hour or a day or a week to realize what  that transit was about. That’s why you may hear an astrologer say “Such and such  is going to come down on such and such a day” and it seems not to be happening.  Well, it may very well be coming down on that day but we may not be perceiving  it as it happens. It may take us some time to figure out what it was that  happened, and that’s why reflective meditations can help us see things from  different perspectives.

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