At its most basic level an astrological chart is a four dimensional representation of a series of interconnected cycles. These cycles can be readily seen in the regular, repeating patterns of nature, in the flow of cause and effect and in the longer-term patterns of our own lives. The planets do not cause these cycles but are themselves subject to them. Each planet (except the Moon) orbits the Sun, the source of all life. Each time a planet completes one revolution of this constant point the principle represented by it is expressed in its entirety.
To read your natal chart begin by familiarising yourself with the Planets, Signs and Houses. Then look at your chart to see in which sign and house the planets fall. This will tell you where in the cycle the planets were at the time of your birth and which area of life they will most influence. For example if Mercury is in Aries in the seventh house your communication (Mercury) is likely to be assertive and direct (Aries), especially when it comes to others who are close to you (7th House).
Bear in mind that you cannot read any aspect of your chart in isolation. It needs to be viewed as an interconnected system in which the elements interact. However it is important to learn the alphabet before beginning to read. If you first gain an understanding of the principles represented by the planets, signs and houses, you will then be able to deduce the likely manner of their expression in your life by studying the inter-relationships formed by their positions in the chart.
Humans are positioned on the planet Earth and therefore our cycles correspond with hers, differing between individuals only according to where on the Earth we are at any given moment and at what point in the cycle we happened to begin our existence. Keep in mind that humans have free will, can ignore nature’s cycles very easily and that our upbringing has a substantial part to play in who we become. The extent to which these early experiences influence a person’s life is shown in part by the position of the Moon in the chart, as she is representative of response and reaction.
The Sun is the most powerful of all horoscopic factors. As it is the source of all life it is representative of the creative force that springs from the essential self, or soul. It indicates our basic motivations in life, our modus operandi. The manner of its expression will be indicated by its sign and house placings, which are likely to be emphasised in the native’s life.
After the Sun, the strongest planet in the chart is the ruler of the sign on the Ascendant, which is referred to as the ‘ruling planet’. Its influence will be very strong and the characteristics of the sign in which it is positioned will be emphasized. The area of life ruled by the ruler’s house position will probably be of importance to the native.
Next in significance comes the Moon. Because the Moon revolves around the Earth rather than the Sun, it tends to lack its own energy, usually taking on the colour of the sign and house in which it is placed. It is also easily influenced by other planets in relationship to it. Thus the Moon rules emotional response and reaction. Its cycles are very noticeable in our lives, as it is in close connection with the Earth and because its cycles are completed so rapidly. This is why those with a strong Moon in their chart often feel as though they are on an emotional roller coaster!
The expression of each of these planets is further modified by the relationships formed between them. These include mutual reception and disposition, however the major relationships that you should understand are the aspects. Understanding the relationships between the planets will open your eyes to the interconnectedness of the elements in a chart and allow you to begin looking at the current influence in your life created by the planets as they transit your natal chart.
For more on how to read your birth chart check out 10 Tips for Learning Astrology by astrologer Chris Brennan.
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