The Basics of Astrology: Everything You Need to Know to Become Fluent in the Language of the Stars

The Basics of Astrology: A Guide to Understanding to the Stars

The Origins and Brief History of Astrology

Thousands of years ago, people gazed up at the skies and were awed by the mystery of the planets and the stars. The movements of the stars and planets must have seemed like magic to them. Not surprisingly, these movements were observed and recorded.

Solon, the Greek historian, wrote that astronomical information was being recorded nine thousand years before he was born. If this is correct, people have been interested in astrology for at least eleven thousand years. It’s possible that astrology is the oldest form of divination in the world.

Astrology probably originated in Mesopotamia, but almost every ancient civilization, from Babylon to Egypt, and China to Greece, studied it. Early astrologers noted that most groups of stars, known as constellations, moved around the sky together. However, five of the larger and brighter stars traveled independently. They called them “wanderers.” Today we know them as planets. Astrologers thought these wanderers were gods and called them Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Uranus was discovered in 1781, followed by Neptune in 1846, and Pluto in 1930. They also noted the movements of the Sun and Moon, which factor significantly into understanding astrology basics.

Astrologers gradually came to realize that people who were born at a particular time of year, when the Sun, Moon, and planets were in the same part of the sky, had a great deal in common. Even though every person is unique, these people shared many of the same interests and feelings. This enabled astrologers to construct horoscope charts for individual people. A horoscope is a picture of the heavens at the date, time, and place where the person was born. If you could lie on your back and look up at the sky at the moment you were born, you’d see all the planets in the same positions as they are in your natal chart.

Preparing your chart used to be a lengthy process, but nowadays it can be done in seconds. If you Google “free horoscope chart,” you’ll find many sites that’ll prepare a chart for you. However, interpreting and understanding an astrology chart is an involved process that takes years to master.

The Four Elements

The twelve signs of the zodiac are divided into four groups, each containing three of the signs. The four groups are named after the four elements that were proposed by the ancient Greek philosopher Empedocles twenty-four hundred years ago.

They were believed to be the building blocks of the universe: fire, earth, air, and water. In basic astrology terms, the elements express the indispensable nature of the different signs.+ Fire (Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius) Fire is positive, assertive, energetic, enthusiastic, impulsive, inspirational, courageous, powerful, passionate, and initiating.

+ Earth (Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn) Earth is cautious, responsible, reliable, ambitious, practical, focused, disciplined, dependable, solid, and persevering.

+ Air (Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius) Air is lighthearted, joyful, curious, restless, independent, communicative, impractical, entertaining, intellectual, and trusting.

+ Water (Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces) Water is compassionate, forgiving, understanding, emotional, creative, intuitive and spiritual.

Understanding Astrology Sun Signs

The Sun is the energy and force behind the entire solar system. Without it, life as we know it could not exist. In your horoscope the Sun represents independence, willpower, strength, energy, leadership, motivation, creativity, and even your popularity. It indicates your individuality—what you are really like inside.

Even if people know nothing about astrology basics, most people know what their Sun sign is, and they usually know a few of the character traits that are assigned to it. The astrological predictions that appear in many newspapers and magazines are based on the Sun signs. These are by necessity generalizations, as there are only twelve Sun signs, and this means all of humanity is divided into twelve groups. Obviously, this isn’t the case, but it’s a good place to start looking at your horoscope chart when learning how to understand astrology.

In astrology, the sky is divided into twelve sections, each representing one of the signs of the zodiac. It looks like a circular cake cut into twelve equal slices. At the moment you were born, the Sun was in one of those twelve sections, and that determines what sign of the zodiac you belong to. The Sun spends thirty days in each section, which means it takes a whole year to visit each section and circle the zodiac. The dates change by a day or two from year to year. Consequently, if you were born near the beginning or end of a sign, it would pay to check the year you were born in to find what sign you were born in. Incidentally, when I was young, someone told me that people who were born “on the cusp,” which means at the start or end of a sign, pick up the positive aspects of each sign and miss out on the negatives. This isn’t totally true when you begin to understand astrology beyond the basics, but it’s amazing how many people who are born on the cusp have a positive outlook on life.

Each section provides its own particular energy to the people who are born in it. Thousands of years ago, astrologers used the names of animals, people, and objects to describe this energy. This is why we have: Aries the Ram, Taurus the Bull, Gemini the Twins, Cancer the Crab, Leo the Lion, Virgo the Virgin, Libra the Scales, Scorpio the Scorpion, Sagittarius the Centaur, Capricorn the Goat, Aquarius the Water Carrier, and Pisces the Fish.


+ March 21–April 20
+ Element: Fire Ruling
+ Planet: Mars

People born under the sign of Aries are leaders and pioneers. They enjoy responsibility and are happiest when managing and organizing others. They are magnetic and outgoing and can inspire others to action with their dynamic leadership. They are courageous and prepared to take calculated risks, and they fight for what they believe in. They need to be busy to be happy. Arians are often happiest when working for themselves, but also rise to positions of leadership and responsibility when working for others. They are curious and have a keen interest in everything that’s going on. Because they’re quick-witted and like to get to the heart of any problem, they can get impatient with people who take time to come to a decision. They enjoy talking and look forward to social activities. They make warm and lively friends.

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