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Understanding astrology, the study of the effects of the planets on our lives, can seem rather daunting at first. A glance through an astrology book can make one feel as if he or she has encountered a cryptic language with all the signs, symbols and charts. In a way this is exactly what has happened. Not only do these signs and symbols have meanings, but the meanings have meanings. On top of that there can be multiple interpretations of these deeper meanings depending on who you talk to or what book you read. Before delving headfirst into the task of deciphering symbols and their deeper meanings, I recommend learning the basic terms and associations which are the foundation of astrology.


BASIC TERMS IN ASTROLOGY

1. Signs of the Zodiac: There are twelve of these, and they represent the division of the earthbound sky into twelve equal parts. Only six signs can be seen from the earth at one time. Each sign is ruled by a planet.

2. Planets: For astrological purposes, this refers to the spheres which orbit the sun as well as the sun and moon themselves. These occupy different areas of the sky, placing them in one of the signs of the zodiac.

3. Natal Chart or Birth Chart: This is an astrological chart representing where each of the planets were located at the time of your birth.

4. Sun Sign: This refers to what sign the sun occupies in your natal chart.

5. Moon Sign: This refers to what sign moon occupies in your natal chart.

6. Ascendant, or Rising Sign: This refers to the sign on the Eastern Horizon at the time of your birth.

7. Houses: These are essentially signs which each represent the seat of a planet's greatest influence. Each sign rules one of the twelve houses.

8. Elements: The four substances once thought to comprise all physical matter: earth, air, fire, and water. Each sign has one of these elements associated with it. Signs that are 120 degrees away from one another have the same elements associated with them.

9. Qualities: Each sign has one of three qualities: cardinal, fixed, mutable.

10. Aspects: This describes the where the planets are in relation to one another as a matter of degrees of an angle. Conjunction = 0 degrees; Trine = 120 degrees; Square = 90 degrees; Sextile = 60 degrees; Opposition = 180 degrees.

11. Retrograde: This refers to the illusion that a planet is moving backwards compared to the earth's orbit.


BREAKDOWN OF THE SIGNS

Aries:

Rules the 1st House
Cardinal Quality
Fire Sign
Ruled by Mars


Taurus:

Rules the 2nd House
Fixed Quality
Earth Sign
Ruled by Venus


Gemini:

Rules the 3rd House
Mutable Quality
Air Sign
Ruled by Mercury


Cancer:

Rules the 4th House
Cardinal Quality
Water Sign
Ruled by the Moon


Leo

Rules the 5th House
Fixed Quality
Fire Sign
Ruled by the Sun


Virgo

Rules the 6th House
Mutable Quality
Earth Sign
Ruled by Mercury


Libra

Rules the 7th House
Cardinal Quality
Air Sign
Ruled by Venus


Scorpio

Rules the 8th House
Fixed Quality
Water Sign
Ruled by Pluto


Sagittarius

Rules the 9th Sign
Mutable Quality
Fire Sign
Ruled by Jupiter


Capricorn

Rules the 10th Sign
Cardinal Quality
Earth Sign
Ruled by Saturn


Aquarius

Rules the 11th Sign
Fixed Quality
Air Sign
Ruled by Uranus


Pisces

Rules the 12th Sign
Mutable Quality
Water Sign
Ruled by Neptune