Astrology can be considered the world’s oldest celestial science. Since the earliest times, watching the sky has been a part of man’s life. The seasonal changes were marked by the longest and shortest days (the solstices), and by the times when night and day were the same length (equinoxes), this became a simple calendar for hunting and planting. Besides these practical routine cycles, the position or state of the sun or moon was noted at the time of significant events. It was soon realized that certain phenomena in the skies coincided with certain events on earth. Eventually, these parallels were considered omens, and each tribe embellished them with their own myths to suit their view of the world. Gradually, the heavens became replete with fables which told about gods, demons, and heroes that formed a complex hierarchy of celestial beings who watched, judged, and manipulated the lives of men.
As civilizations evolved and the body of knowledge grew, the earliest astrologers kept meticulous calendars and more complete records of celestial movements. The most convenient way to study the stars was by connecting their groupings into recognizable patterns we now call the constellations. The sky was thus divided into twelve segments each one represented by its own constellation. It was also noted that the visible planets often appeared to wander through they sky against this backdrop of constellations. These planets eventually acquired personalities and mythologies of their own, and astrologers soon began to affix significance to the position of these planets against certain constellations in the sky. The night sky was a grand soap-opera, where gods and goddesses played out their dramas, and the consequences were manifested on earth through droughts, floods, and a host of natural occurrences.
Through the centuries, Astrology has dealt with the charting and interpretation of the cycles and movements of celestial objects. Through the use of computers, calculations that once took months for mathematicians to perform by hand can now be done in seconds, and the positions of planets can be computed to a hundredth of a degree. The interpretation part is another matter, relying vastly on centuries of richly embroidered legend and mythology.
Astrology deals with ten planets. Eight of these are the sister planets of the earth: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. The other two are the Sun and the Moon, neither of which is a planet. (A planet circles the Sun.) However, as seen from the earth, the Sun and Moon follow the same path as the planets. Astrologers, interested in the relationships between the positions of all ten objects, simply call them the Ten Planets, and that’s what we will call them.
The path followed by the ten planets is called the ecliptic. You can visualize the ecliptic by imagining yourself looking out from a glass-enclosed observation tower located at the center of a giant circular racetrack. The tower represents the earth. The racetrack represents the ecliptic.
As you look out from your tower, you see all ten planets moving around the track in the same direction, from the right to your left. Since the planets move at different speeds, they are all spread out around the track. Faster planets circle the track several times a year, overtaking and passing slower moving planets that take centuries to make one lap.
Astrologers are interested in where each planet can be found on the track, and where they are with respect to each other. They use the signs of the zodiac to describe planet positions, and Aspects to describe the relations between them.
The Significance of The Signs:
The planets represent the energies that drive your physical, emotional mental and intuitional systems. These energies manifest themselves differently depending on the positions of the planets in the signs of the zodiac. Different signs channel the energies into different behavior patterns, which are then recognized as personality traits. The traits associated with each sign are as follows:
Aries: Outgoing Taurus: Conservative
Gemini: Versatile Cancer: Emotional
Leo: Authoritative Virgo: Exacting
Libra: Helpful Scorpio: Determined
Sagittarius: Optimistic Capricorn: Cautious
Aquarius: Independent Pisces: Impressionable
When the ancients noticed the planets moving along the ecliptic path, they also noticed the background of fixed stars behind that path. It would be as though you noticed a background of billboards around a racetrack. You could tell the positions of the horses around the track just by identifying the billboards behind each horse. The ancients used the background of fixed stars the same way. They divided their racetrack (the ecliptic) into 12 equal sectors. Each sector was named after the fixed-star group seen in that sector (for example, Aries „the ram“). The ancients referred to these sectors as the „little zoo“, which in Greek is „zodiac“.
Every sign falls into a group of signs, either fire, earth, water, and air; depending on their orientation in the zodiac. These ancient astrologers had associated each Element with their temperaments, and each group of elements are at 120 degree angles to each other.
Fire Signs: Aries, Leo, Sagittarius.
Enthusiastic, courageous, passionate and impulsive.
Earth Signs: Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn.
Practical, materialistic, conservative, and inhibited.
Air Signs: Gemini, Libra, Aquarius.
Intellectual, adaptive, impractical, and superficial.
Water Signs: Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces.
Emotional, sensitive, placid, and susceptible.
These four groups of signs: fire, earth, air, and water, combine to form two major groups that represent two fundamental approaches to life; active and passive. The fire and air signs make up the active or masculine signs, while the earth and water signs make up the passive or feminine signs. It is unfortunate that the ancient astrologers called the active signs masculine and the passive signs feminine.
Another group of traits occurs among signs that are 90 degrees apart from each other. There are four signs in each group of Qualities, which are cardinal, fixed, or mutable. They suggest the basic kinds of activity a person will be engaged in–getting things started, keeping them going, or steering them in different directions.
Cardinal Signs: Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn.
Initiating, enterprising, ambitious, domineering.
Fixed Signs: Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, Aquarius.
Determined, conventional, organizing, dogmatic.
Mutable Signs: Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius.
Adaptable, imaginative, tutorial, critical.