While I set out to create a blog to teach astrology, I realize that I either failed to do so or didn’t create the expected blog. I don’t think I intended to create a blog that synthesized astrology into daily life and thought, but I guess that’s kind of what I’ve done. There are so many blogs, so many websites, and so many places to learn astrology piecemeal and separate from mundane reality that I don’t think I need to contribute to that. It’s actually pretty easy to find a place to learn little tidbits about astrology; the hard part is knowing what to do with all the parts so you can create a full picture of people, of events, of possibilities.
And I think I revealed more of myself the more I posted because the older I get, the more I realize that I actually have less to lose. To be American is precarious, and it’s a balancing act of hoping shit doesn’t hit the fan and trying to make sure that you get at least some genuine joy out of life. You can do everything right and something like a car accident or cancer could send you into bankruptcy because it essentially costs your life to save your own life. I’m told that that is the cost of the privilege of “freedom,” this unevolved idea that freedom is a gamble we make with our lives on a daily basis, hoping to land on a lucky one, not the freedom to be without worry that everything could fall apart at any moment.
And the more precarious it is to simply be alive, the more people seek not just answers, but agency, and that’s something that astrology naysayers will never understand:
The reason astrology is so popular now is because it’s a chisel that helps us chip away at the layers of rusted paternalism that keep us from moving toward a progressive future in which everyone is legitimate, everyone matters, and everyone — regardless of the results of the genetic and socioeconomic lottery — is valid, and not so much despite race, gender, class, etc., but regardless of it. And it’s just one tool in the box, but it’s there, and anyone can use it.
Astrology has no heaven or hell. No one gets killed in the name of astrology (unless you’re the zodiac killer, but that was more of a timing issue rather than a compatibility issue for him). You’re not required to distrust the medical profession or the scientific community in order to use astrology (in fact, most astrologers were doctors or astronomers in medieval Europe, and that is Western astrology’s heritage). You don’t have to believe in god or have faith in anything at all. You can go about your mundane life without doing any astrology — I don’t even bother looking at my transits on a daily basis. You can’t actually use an astrology chart alone to determine the quality of another human being. You can’t even tell if they’re gay or straight. In fact, of the charts I have of transgendered individuals, including my own older sister, I’m still not sure where I would find gender, though her astrological chart has a lot of emphasis in this life in embodying her authentic self. I’m probably going to do a prenatal epoch chart to figure out if there’s an indication that a soul chooses gender before incarnating, but it’s recently come to my attention some issues with the calculations of certain types prenatal epoch charts, so I need to figure out some of the issues with the math (thank you, Paul!).
But there need not be anything spiritual about astrology, and I hate to break it to you, because being an astrologer doesn’t actually make you wiser or more evolved, or more spiritual or whatever it is you hope to be. It’s not even really deterministic when you come right down to it, and there’s very little unshakeable destiny.
However, if you have a basic understanding of astrology, you can tell when horoscopes are pulled entirely out of someone’s ass. So you have that going for you.
You’re not an astrologer until you can read an astrology chart.
Knowing how to read an astrological chart is the foundation of astrology. In fact, if you can do that, I mean, really do that, you’re on your way to being a bona fide astrologer, and you can certainly call yourself one. Any astrology software can spit that out at you along with some canned interpretations of aspects as well. However, so far, only a human can do chart synthesis, and only a human can really interpret how transits, progressions, and arc will affect a person, and only a human can interpret charts like the solar return, the draconic and the pre-natal epoch and make it truly applicable to the individual.
To do any of that, you have to really know how to read an astrological chart.
Sure, you can regurgitate what you read from someone else’s work or from a computer report, and your original work will inevitably be similar to what any other bona fide astrological information will be because you’re working with the same archetypes. However, you can’t really build on that, especially when there is no program or meme or other thing to tell you what something means or how things work in relation to each other.
I think that most of the astrology instruction out there presumes that those who are interested can and do have a basic understanding of the astrology chart and are applying what they know to the representation of the heavens that is the chart. However, I don’t really see too many articles out there explaining an actual method for reading an astrology chart.
The problem is that not everyone is taught how to read an astrological chart. We learn piecemeal, unless we send away for a long, expensive correspondence course, and even then, it can be difficult to approach a chart and create a narrative. I mostly learned from books, and I mostly learned the hard way how to take in an astrological chart in it’s entirety and not see it as simply the sum of parts.
To actually understand and synthesize an astrological chart, you have to go around the zodiac and determine how all of the parts work together and the relative importance of something considering all other factors. While it’s easy to get hung up on a particular aspect or placement in a chart, it doesn’t operate in isolation most of the time and no human just becomes a full-on archetype. Every chart is different, every person is different. Every chart is dynamic, ever person is dynamic.
The power of chart reading: a real understanding of astrology
To be able to read an astrology chart is to know that many of the things you hear about astrology are just flat out wrong. It’s not a simplistic, rigid categorization of all humanity based on 12 archetypes loosely correlated to 12 constellations. There is no fucking 13th sign. There is an explanation as to why a person with X sun sign is different from a person who was also born when the sun was in X sign or why a person with X sun sign doesn’t get along with person from Y sun sign even though all the astrology articles say they should. There is no inescapable fate. Astrology is not static, and it is not limited to what bodies we personally know about (the fact that Pluto is a dwarf planet doesn’t mean anything). There are always new insights and new ways of doing things. There is no clockmaker presiding over any of this, nor is there any magick to this, nor does it require any faith or psychic ability.
There need not actually be anything spiritual about astrology even; in fact, there was nothing spiritual about it in the West until sometime in the late 19th century when it was enveloped into the spiritual movements. It was never a practice of witches or psychics but rather scientists, mathematicians, and doctors. It isn’t necessarily mundane, but it very well can be because it basically was for centuries. It is syncretic, or it can be, but it doesn’t have to be.
And it changes as we change.
This is why this art doesn’t go away, no matter how much it’s conflated with witchcraft or the devil, or is dismissed by atheists and materialists and such:
You can literally just be a person and do this, which I hope my blog exemplifies, and what I think most practicing astrologers are like. We’re just people, and you may be quite surprised to find out how ordinary we actually are. I mean, as far as the practice of astrology. I’m staggeringly amazing in every other regard, though.
The initiation into actually practicing astrology, however, requires that you can actually do the work of the magi. You don’t have to be able to draw your own charts (but you can, and some like that stuff), but you have to be able to see the glyphs on the circle and understand how they work together.
And I’ve now been doing this for over 20 years, and I’m still learning new things, and I expect to continue to learn new things until I die.
But what’s wrong with apps and computer programs?
It’s not that there’s something wrong with the interpretations they give you so much as they lack the ability to synthesize information and put it in context.
For example, Saturn contacts can be dealbreakers for relationships…or they can be vitally important. This depends on the individuals involved, because people with a lot of Saturn emphasis in their lives (especially if it’s in the 7th house) will be drawn to relationships with that energy. Likewise, people who are strongly Uranian will want relationships that have emphasis on freedom and unconventionality that might otherwise be dealbreakers in conventional astrology.
And while there’s some apps I think are interesting, like The Pattern (which I am still trying to figure out), they can’t actually tell you how your experiences and your current circumstances will affect you.
PSA: Don’t ask for someone dude’s birth time right off the bat, guys.
I don’t do the things I used to do when I was a younger astrologer, like demand someone’s birth time so I can draw up their astrological chart. And I know of people who actually do this: they meet a guy online, they demand a birth time, they make a decision about the person without interacting with them, and then they wonder why the guy is upset with this and then think he’s got something to hide.
No, no, no. NO.
His reaction is justified because she’s engaging in dismissive behavior, because no one is merely the blueprint of their natal chart, and frankly, if you’re doing astrological charts of people you just met to determine your compatibility with them and tell them what you think they are, you probably aren’t at a skill level where you should be doing readings on the fly. It’s like the inverse of going out and people find out that you do astrology and then asking that you do readings for them on the fly.
I mean, I’m an astrologer, and I am not above cutting someone off for throwing up aspects in my astrological chart at me, whether they’re correct or not (but especially if they’re incorrect).
Granted, when I was just starting out, astrology hadn’t blown up yet, so most people didn’t know their birth times and when I asked for them, most people didn’t assume it was because I was trying to decide whether or not to have sex with them or determine what sort of person they were without bothering to engage with the actual person.
Can I give you some advice? Don’t do that. Don’t ask for someone’s birth time right away. It’s really no good for you to spend more time getting to know an astrological chart than a real person when it comes to actual relationships. If you’re good together, then it’s going to reflect that in the charts, and once you’re settled in place, then go ahead and do synastry and composite charts.
Also, I find that there is an inverse correlation between one’s actual ability to read an astrological chart and the proximity in which they seek out the birth information. Usually, when someone wants your birth time shortly after they’ve met, they’re not even going to analyze your astrological chart: they’re texting someone like me to do it for them, usually in the middle of the night, no less, or frantically popping all that information into apps in order to cobble together some idea of your compatibility, when it’s frankly just easier and more fun to get to know someone organically.
It’s also of more benefit to you as a new astrologer to do charts after you’ve gotten to know someone because you will learn the basics retrospectively, not prospectively, and you will spend about years learning the basics.
So you don’t need to ask for birth information from strangers anyway because the Internet has a plethora of readily available birth data for well known people whose lives and histories are already known.
Come on, Miriam. You really don’t ask for people’s birth times any more? And why are you going on this tangent?
I do. I do. But I don’t ask for them right away. I don’t need charts of all the people I know to teach myself astrology, but I was also much more hesitant when I was younger to put myself out in the world as an astrologer so I wouldn’t invite that kind of attention into my life — either the hostility or the interest. Astrology just wasn’t as prevalent or socially acceptable as it is now, and it actually wasn’t as conflated with a lot of other New Ageisms as it is now. Also, I’m not someone who even likes dating very much so I don’t avail myself of the strangers who might indulge me and text their mothers or ex-girlfriends in the middle of the night for their birth times.
And frankly, if the above makes you uncomfortable, then chances are the part of my astrology chart that screams that previous paragraph won’t be compatible with your chart, so you need not ask for my birth time to confirm.
I don’t ask people unless they’ve ask me to pull up chart for them. I have not asked any of my law school friends for their birth times unless they asked me to do a chart for them. I have not asked a single co-worker of mine for a birth date or birth location in the year and a half I’ve been at my current job. I asked after I’d been at my last job for quite a while and only after offering to do a vocational reading for a 2nd year law student.
I didn’t even ask for Rick’s birth time; he volunteered it before astrology even came up, noting that he was born on the same day as his mother, exactly one hour after her birth time, and I was like well, “don’t mind if I do…”
Also, I have an astrology blog and astrology practice, so I get to see lots of different charts, and if I want to see other charts, there’s plenty of them up on the Internet for free, but most importantly:
I’m more about diving deeper these days than trying out different pools.
I know how to read an astrology chart.
To read an astrological chart, start at the beginning.
An astrology chart can be daunting. It’s a circle with symbols and numbers on it. Sometimes it has lines showing aspects. And if you think that’s tough to read, try a Uranian chart, cause you kind of need a ruler for that. The chart actually says far less in and of itself than most people realize: archetypes are not set in stone, not every planet has been discovered, not every transit is fully understand, and not everyone has the ability to just sit and meditate on even a Sun sign and tell you about all the richness and complexities of one planetary placement. Most of the astrological reading is within the astrologer, not the chart, because the chart is a blueprint of the human, event, or circumstance.
A natal astrology chart is not a person. It’s a blueprint. If you’ve ever had to work with blueprints, you know that you can follow the specifics and create with the blueprint, but where you put the building, who you hire to be the structural engineer or architect or crew, what materials you use, who you put in the building once it’s built, what natural phenomena the building is exposed to, and when you build it all makes a difference as to what happens to the building above and beyond the blueprint. Yes, and that’s why we do transits, progressions, solar returns, harmonics, prenatal epoch charts and all the other types of charts. In fact, my cousin who introduced me to astrology when I was 10 insists that the first Saturn return chart tells you more about the adult a person is after that return than their natal chart does.
There is nothing static because people themselves are not static, and astrology is not in the heavens, but on Earth.
Everything, even down to the shape of your nose, is a complex interplay of planets, signs, and angles, though everything can generally be described based on a handful of particular things in the chart, everything having a starting point.
And the start is not actually the Sun. That’s not the beginning of the person on Earth.
For the human themselves, that starting point is the Ascendant.
Why not the Sun?
Slow down, guys. The Sun is important as well, but before you have a personality to impose on the world, you come into physical being. The ascendant is the body that interacts with the world and the thing the rest of the world interacts with.
The ascendant is the degree that was on the eastern horizon when an individual was born. This is degree was “rising,” in that it made it’s first appearance on the horizon before rising up over it. This is the moment in which the human comes into being; the human that will have the Sun in a certain sign at a certain degree.
So, the first thing you do is look at the Ascendant because that is our introduction to the world, our first impressions, the filter through which we work with the environment and other people. It’s also the way that others see us, treat us, react to us, and teach us how we should be.
Look at the ascendant and the first house by sign and degree. Is there an intercepted sign in there? That will tell you some more. Are there also any planets in the 1st house? Are they in the same sign as the Ascendant, or a different sign? These planets will tell you something about what the individual looks like and what part of their personality seems to come out most easily.
Then, you find the ruler of the Ascendant and look at what that planet is up to.
For example, consider someone with Virgo rising and Jupiter in the first house and Mercury in the 3rd house in Scorpio. The exacting, of-service nature of Virgo is colored by the intensity of Mercury in Scorpio, but that’s not all there is: this person’s expansiveness, generosity, and optimism and philosophy will be important to their identity with Jupiter there, too. This is the kind of person you would take seriously as a thinker. They may have use a sharp wit (Virgo rising) with an intense (Scorpio) delivery (Mercury) that they use to navigate the world (Ascendant), and people just look at them and expect them to be smart (Virgo rising), but they’re not afraid to show it (Jupiter) or expand on it (Jupiter, again), and may identify (rising) with their ability to analyze (Virgo) a lot (Jupiter), intensely and exhaustively (Scorpio).
An ascendant is usually salient, as in, it’s what a person expresses most of the time unless there’s a lot of detriment to the ruler, if there’s a lot of planets intercepted in the first house, or if the ascendant is at the very tail end of the sign such that it doesn’t have any of the raw expression of the sign.
Most people will have some sort of “ascendant” look. In fact, you may find that using astrofaces.com is a good way to help determine an unknown Moon or rising sign, but determining how a person can look from the possibilities of an astrological chart is a vast area of astrology I can no longer spend hours on end down that rabbit hole.
Then, go around the zodiac.
Look at the ascendant. Look at the ruler by sign and house. Then, look at the ruler of that ruler. In the above example, the ruler of Mercury is Pluto. Let’s say that Pluto is in Libra in the 2nd house. The ruler of Libra is Venus. Where is Venus? Venus is in Libra in the 2nd house too in this example, and she is the final dispositor because she’s in her home sign.
So, in this chart:
They may have use a sharp wit (Virgo rising) with an intense (Scorpio) delivery (Mercury) that they use to navigate the world (Ascendant), and people just look at them and expect them to be smart (Virgo rising), but they’re not afraid to show it (Jupiter) or expand on it (Jupiter, again), and may identify (rising) with their ability to analyze (Virgo) a lot (Jupiter), intensely and exhaustively (Scorpio).
That intensity has a very strong inclination toward intimacy (Libra) and fairness (Libra), such that this person would struggle to flatter and to accept flattery (Venus) and to accept a hierarchy that isn’t based on value (Libra), and has little patience for shallow relationships (Pluto in Libra), so this person uses their wit (Virgo) to parse out people they meet (Virgo rising) into worth it and not worth it (Pluto), but will always be polite about it and give someone the benefit of the doubt first, if only for a split second (Venus in Libra, final dispositor). This is because with Pluto and Venus in the 2nd house, this person places a lot of value on the investment (Pluto) in these relationship and what they offer the individual in terms of affection and pleasure (Venus in the 2nd house).
Throw Jupiter in the first house in the mix and you have someone who may be popular and know how to use that wit (Virgo) for a good time (Jupiter).
You may find that even though this person is a Virgo Rising, which is not typically considered to be objectively sexy or appealing, that they’re considered popular and attractive, and that they may have a certain nerdy sex appeal that’s hard to put your finger on some times (Pisces descendant).
Now, is that just a front, or does that also jive with who they want to be in the world?
Next, look at the Sun.
This is probably easier, because most people are familiar with Sun signs, and it’s easy to use a calendar to determine a sun sign (unless you were born near a cusp) than most other planetary positions.
The Sun is a clue as to who a person wants to be in the world, what their soul says to be. A Sun can be strengthened or weakened depending on numerous factors, including the sign, the house, aspects to the Sun and the ruler of the Sun, and all the other traditional dignities. In fact, that’s the same for all the Moon and the other planets.
Go around the zodiac for the Sun.
Let’s say this is the same person, and this person has the Sun in Scorpio in the 4th house. After all, Mercury isn’t more than a sign away from the Sun.
This Sun in Scorpio is just in the fourth house, the house of the tribe, of origins and final resting places, of the home, hearth, and family. It’s conjunct Mercury.
Now, go around the zodiac AGAIN:
Pluto is in Libra in the 2nd house. This individual’s soul and personality is intense, deep, shrewd, and focused on discovering what is pure and what is true. There’s a need to be powerful in this life, whether that’s self-mastery or control over others. Intimacy is vital to their well-being, but they’re selective about who they trust because they want to have all and be all, and you can’t do that with just anyone. This Sun is in the 4th house of the tribe, origins, and final resting places. This individual tends to seek solace in the ties that bind them psychologically to their “family,” which may be biological or chosen — for them, the blood of covenant is thicker than the water of the womb, especially in this life, and they may very well have a chosen family as an adult. They may be heavily protective of their tribe, and may be interested in covens, sex-orientation communities, investment groups, survivor’s groups, etc., and if they have children, are very certain to make sure they are shielded from harsh reality.
Pluto again, is in Libra in the 2nd, ruled by Venus in the 2nd, so this Sun’s expression is augmented by the need for practical value and for rewards to match efforts, and they find pleasure in material rewards. This person may be in business, perhaps even in sales for the thrill of the game (Scorpio) and the monetary gain (Pluto in the 2nd house), but moreover, this could also be a person who engages in grassroots efforts (4th house) for the immediate material benefit (2nd house) of their tribe (4th house) — this may actually be quite the environmentalist or the dark horse grassroots candidate who quietly begins a revolution.
With their sharp, silver tonight (Virgo rising, Mercury in Scorpio conjunct the Sun), they have a strong desire to be that persuasive, powerful speaker (Mercury and Sun in Scorpio) who values equality (Libra) in material wealth (Venus and Pluto in the 2nd house).
Now, look at the Moon and do it again!
When you see stupid astrology quizzes asking you “what sign are you really?” or “what sign do you feel you should be?” or some other useless dumb shit, you usually end up with an answer either 1) close to your Moon sign, or 2) the sign of your Sun/Moon midpoint, and that makes sense, because most of us don’t “feel” our Sun signs. We “think” our sun signs. We “feel” our Moon signs.
The Moon is instinct, emotion, and needs. It’s primal fear and primal need. It exists before there are words to describe it. It’s also how we deal with change and how we handle our emotions. The Moon is the imagination, the unconscious, the yin to the Sun’s yang. It comes out usually when we aren’t trying to make it come out.
The Moon will go through the zodiac about every 28 days and will be in a sign for about 2-3 days.
The Moon sign is very important, and no matter what a person does, their Moon needs an expression, be it love, be it a career — the instinct needs a place to come out or the person will never be happy.
For example, a person with the Moon in Virgo could be a very successful comedian because he has an instinct for irony and precision. His timing is impeccable, and he’s not afraid to piss people off because his focus is on crafting a joke so good you’ll laugh despite yourself. However, he will not be satisfied if his work is not helpful. While he may be naturally drawn to criticizing things and using his wit to do so, if it is not directly helpful, if it does not mend, heal, or fix something, he will find it increasingly less satisfying no matter how perfect his crafted and delivered. He may be able to fix that by using his ability to criticize to draw attention to what is bloated and phony, or to mock what is superficial and superfluous.
But our person doesn’t have the Moon in Virgo. That was just an example. Our person has the Moon in…Pisces in the 7th house, trine the Scorpio Sun and Mercury.
This Moon is sensitive and psychic (Pisces) but handles its vulnerability through hiding (Pisces) either by being evasive (Pisces) or burying itself in the mire of its own emotions (Pisces). It’s a very artistic Moon, very imaginative, more likely genuinely empathetic rather than a self-styled empath. It’s in the 7th house of partnerships and equality, so there’s that equality thing again. It’s primal with this guy.
This person is soft and gentle on the inside (Pisces) and has a need to lose itself in things (Pisces) that are equal and by agreement (7th house) while desiring to merge and become greater than it is an as individual (Scorpio) and use what it discovers to bring to mind (Mercury) these taboo things he finds under the surface (Scorpio) of the conscious mind (3rd house) that are of concrete value (Pluto in the 2nd house) to make life harmonious (2nd house Libra), and pleasant and pleasurable (Venus).
Who is this guy?
I don’t know. I just made him up, but if you are going through this exercise with me, you might be creating a composite human in your mind. You may be thinking of a character in a story, a person you know, or just creating a new person in your imagination. You may like this guy. You may not like this guy. However, you should be sympathetic because you know where he’s coming from, probably, and sympathy is key to a good chart reading.
Now, do the rest for the rest of the planets and the angles.
You have the basics down now. You know what this guy is mostly about, and you know probably what his strongest planets might be. Definitely look at his midheaven and 10th house to see if there’s planets there, because the world at large will associate those planetary energies with that guy even though he may not internalize those energies.
For example, this guy would have Gemini on the 10th house cusp, and say he’s got Mars conjunct the midheaven. He’s publicly known as a talker, a smart man, a quick-witted man, a sharer of information, but also one that is assertive, perhaps even aggressive, perhaps even sexy, intense, and very very ambitious. This guy may very well be successful if that Mars square ascendant aspect doesn’t mean that his ambition leads him to run roughshod over less competent people or to work himself to the point where he no longer has meaningful relationships or even really knows what he’s trying to get. The good news is that he has his Venus trine to his Mars, so he’ll probably find that the approval and desire of women for him are helpful to his bank account and that women, even platonically, are helpful in his ability to rise further in his career. There is a danger of being known for his sexual behavior, especially with Mars in Gemini, because he probably kisses and tells and talks about his sex life very casually.
Now what kind of guy do you think he is? Do you still like him? Maybe there’s things you don’t approve about him? Well okay then: now you’re starting to see the real person of whom this astrology chart is just the blueprint.
You can do this for specific chart readings.
When you start with the Midheaven and read around the zodiac like this, you come up with possible vocations for the individual. When you start with the descendant, you come up with how they are in relationships and what they want. But always, always, including the Sun, Moon, and Ascendant, because in all facets of life, these three will always be there at the forefront.
If you want to figure out, say, how a person can best make money, start with the 2nd house and go around the zodiac. If you want to figure out what vocation a person would be best suited for, start with the 10th house and go around the zodiac. Health? 6th house. Crushes? 5th house. Legal issues? 7th house. Weird sex kinks and obsessions? 8th house. Addictions and mental health issues? 12th house. If they’ll go to college or not? 9th house. And so on and so forth.
You can do this for any type of chart reading, including harmonics, mundane astrology, electional and horary charts, solar returns, transits, progressions, solar arcs, whatever chart you have. This is the basic method of taking in a chart and reading the narrative, but integral to not only using astrology, but understanding it.
Don’t want to do the reading yourself? You can always ask me.