Robert Aldo DiVirgilio
Astrology sees mankind as being not only influenced by hereditary factors and the environment, but also by the state of our solar system at the moment of birth. The planets are regarded as basic life-forces, the tools we live by as well as the basis of our very substance. These planetary forces take on different forms, depending on their zodiacal position and on the way they relate to one another.
The aspects formed between the planets describe these relationships, the positions of the planets in relation to the place of birth tell us of their expression in the spheres of life depicted by the astrological houses.
By interpreting the roles of these players (the planets) and their qualities (the elements, signs and houses) and creating a synthesis, astrology is able to present a complete and comprehensive picture of the person and his potential, based on the natal horoscope.
Each of the 12 astrological signs belongs to a certain element in one of its states. This gives us twelve quite different basic types. These varying qualities provide the "backdrop" to the planetary positions. As each horoscope has different planets in different signs, there can never be a "pure" Aries or a "pure" Gemini. Each horoscope is a highly individual, very complex and usually also very varied combination of parts.
In order to understand the signs, we must take into account the typical expressions of the elements, as well as the characteristics belonging to the planets associated with the signs.
- Cardinal fire; ruled by Mars
- Willpower, impulsive, initiative, courage, energy, activity
- Often rushes headlong into things
- Fixed earth; ruled by Venus
- Sensual, pleasure-seeker, steadfast, strives for security
- Sees red when provoked for a long time
- Mutable air; ruled by Mercury
- Mental type, witty, communicative, mobile, takes pleasure in learning. Rarely touches down
- Cardinal water; ruled by the Moon
- Emotional type, stubborn, seeks safety and closeness
- Very much a family person
- Fixed fire; ruled by the Sun
- Glamour, generosity, organizer, the center of attention
- Likes to take the lion's part
- Mutable earth; ruled by Mercury
- Precise, differentiates, does what is necessary, utilitarian
- A critical point of view
- Cardinal air; ruled by Venus
- A sense of beauty and proportion, tactful, seeks balance and harmony.
- Sometimes hovers between the scales
- Fixed water; ruled by Pluto
- Corrosive, passionate, piercing, extreme situations
- Frequently quarrels with the spirits he called
- Mutable fire; ruled by Jupiter
- Free spirit, carefree, love of movement, cheerful
- Wanderlust, often seems to be elsewhere
- Cardinal earth; ruled by Saturn
- Enduring, has a sense of purpose, proud, ambitious
- Can get stuck in craggy heights
- Fixed air; ruled by Uranus
- Communicative, humanitarian, progressive, fraternal
- Universal spirit with occasional astonishing obstinacy
- Mutable water; ruled by Neptune
- Sensitive, compassionate, helpful, sociable
- Very adaptable, hard to get a hold on
The Sun tells us of the actual core of a person, the inner self, of that which is of central concern. It also shows us the general vitality and the ability to assert oneself, it describes a general tone of being which colors everything else.
- Sign equivalent: Leo
- Diameter: 1'390'000 km.
- The Earth's orbit from Sun: 149'600'000km
- Period Earth - Sun: 365.25 Days
The Moon represents our feelings and emotions, the receptivity, imagination and basic feeling tone of a person. It also has an effect on the sense of rhythm, time and timing, it influences our adaptability to change, our mobility and versatility.
- Sign equivalent: Cancer
- Orbit from Earth: 384'000km
- Period: 27.32 Days
Mercury represents reason, reasonableness (common sense), that which is rational. It stands for the spoken and written word, putting in order, weighing and evaluating, the process of learning and skills.
- Sign equivalents: Gemini and Virgo
- Orbit from Sun: 57'910'000 km
- Period: 88 Days
Venus gives us a sense of beauty, the enjoyment of pleasure, aesthetic awareness, love of harmony, sociability, taking pleasure in relationships and eroticism.
- Sign equivalents: Libra and Taurus
- Orbit from Sun: 108'200'000 km
- Period: 225 Days
Mars represents the energy and drive of a person, their courage, determination, the freedom of spontaneous impulse. It also describes the readiness for action, the way one goes about doing things as well as simple aggression.
- Sign equivalent: Aries
- Orbit from Sun: 227'940'000 km
- Period: 1,9 Years
The search for individual meaning and purpose, optimism, hope and a sense of justice are represented by Jupiter. So also faith, a basic philosophy of life, the striving for spiritual growth and expansion.
- Sign equivalent: Sagittarius
- Orbit from Sun: 778'330'000 km
- Period: 11,9 Years
Saturn shows how we experience "reality", where we meet with resistance and discover our limitations. It represents the conscience and moral conviction, the laws and rules which we choose to obey. It also tells us about our powers of endurance and the ability to concentrate, it lends qualities like earnestness, caution and reserve.
- Sign equivalent: Capricorn
- Orbit from Sun: 1'429'400'000 km
- Period: 29,5 Years
Uranus stands for intuition, it transmits sudden inspiration and lightning insights. An openness for all that is new, unknown and unusual. A sort of wrong-headed contrariness is also associated with this planet. It is said to be characteristic of astrology as such.
- Sign equivalent: Aquarius
- Orbit from Sun: 2'870'990'000 km
- Period: 84 Years
This planet gives us the super-sensory, opens doors to mystical experience and the transcendental. On this level it is hard to discern where perception moves into deception, illusion and false appearances, and so Neptune is associated with all of these, with drugs and all kinds of pseudo-realities.
- Sign equivalent: Pisces
- Orbit from Sun: 4'504'300'000 km
- Period: 165 Years
Pluto describes how we deal with power, personal and non-personal, be it through suffering the power of others or exercising it ourselves. It describes how we meet the demonic and magical, our regenerative powers and our capacity for radical change and rebirth: the cycles of dying and becoming.
- Sign equivalent: Scorpio
- Orbit from Sun: 5'913'520'000 km
- Period: 248 Years
1st House (Ascendant)
The individual personality
Together with the Sun and Moon the ascendant is one of the most important single factors in a horoscope. The sign at the beginning of the first house tells us a lot about someone's personality, temperament and constitution. It typifies our immediate, instinctive reaction and shows how we present ourselves to the world. The planet ruling the ascendant sign is of particular importance for the interpretation.
Values and Possessions
The second house and its occupants tell us about the material circumstances, the acquisitive urge and how we deal with possessions and material means. This includes the relationship to our own body.
The third house and any planets occupying it tell us of our siblings, the manner in which we communicate on an everyday level and the relationships which determine our daily life.
Roots and Origins
This house describes our origins, the parental home and the circumstances influencing childhood and youth. It describes how we relate to "family", our attitude towards "hearth and home". The father image and the relationship to the real father are also to be found here.
Pleasure and Creativity
Sexuality and eroticism are at home here, along with play in general and all types of creative expression. This house also describes how we relate to children, pleasure and simple fun.
Work and Routine
The sixth house describes the circumstances surrounding us in our daily lives, including the work environment and daily routine. This includes our behavior towards subordinates. Bodily hygiene and care also belong here, as well as tendencies to certain acquired illnesses.
The descendant sign and planets occupying the seventh house tell us about how we select our partners and describes the partnerships and relationships we seek. Often we are involuntarily attracted to people whose horoscopes carry a strong emphasis of the sign in our seventh house.
Loss and Common Property
The eighth house shows how we relate to communal goods and how we deal with material loss. The taxes levied on us each year are a good example for this and show how closely related these areas are. Traditional astrology maintains that this house has an affinity to death and all things metaphysical. Death would then be the ultimate material loss. Amongst other things, the study of metaphysics can be a very differentiated way of dealing with this loss, which inevitably comes to us all.
Philosophies and Far Countries
The ninth house describes our spiritual leaning, life philosophy and our world view. In fact, these are often influenced by journeys to foreign countries. The attitudes cultivated and formed in this house can greatly influence matters of the 10th. (see below)
10th House (MC)
Occupation and Calling
This house is of particular importance, since it affects not only our choice of profession and our sense of calling - it also has a bearing on our general development, what we become. This continues throughout our lives. According to tradition, as well as more recent experience, this house describes the mother image and the relationship to the real mother.
Friends and Acquaintances
The eleventh house describes how we relate to friends, benefactors and teachers - people who wish us well or from whom we can learn. It also shows us in these roles. This house shows how we relate to the society in which we live.
Beyond the Personal
This house represents those spheres of life in which the individual no longer plays a part, where we step back for a greater whole or lose ourselves in one. Traditional astrology sees hospitals, prisons and psychiatric institutions in this house. It is also associated with monasteries and any other retreats.
The angular relationships between the planets in a horoscope, measured as angles within the ecliptic circle, are termed "aspects". Usually this includes angles to the ascendant and MC. Only certain angular relationships are regarded as aspects, and these are said to have intrinsic qualities - they are said to be "harmonic", "dynamic" or "neutral". These relationships influence how the planets work together. There is also a certain amount of "play", which means that an aspect is said to "work" or be operative within a few degrees either way of being exact. This margin of "play" is defined by the orbs. (see below)
Here are some of the major aspects:
- Conjunction - 0°
- The conjunction tends to be a harmonious aspect. Its quality depends greatly on the planets involved, as well as on how close the aspect is. For example, a conjunction between the Sun and Mercury is generally regarded as harmonious. If, however, the distance between them is less than a few degrees, Mercury is said to be "burnt" or "in combustion", with corresponding results. In general, the conjunction shows an immediate connection which usually works in one way or another.
- Opposition - 180°
- Although the opposition is generally regarded as "disharmonious" or dynamic, it often has quite a motivating and energizing effect. Here too, the quality of the aspect depends on the planets involved, and on what one makes of it. On the whole, an opposition between two planets creates tension between them, often with positive results.
- Square - 90°
- The square is regarded as a disharmonious aspect, the planets involved seem to be "blocked". The problems that arise from the square keep on turning up, like a bad penny. The difficulty lies in trying to reconcile two forces that are trying to move in completely different directions. Usually this takes the form of desires and needs which are mutually exclusive.
- Trine - 120°
- The trine is a harmonious aspect, the planets involved work together in a complementary fashion, enriching one another. Trines show where our natural talents lie, whether we actually make use of them or not is up to us.
- Sextile - 60°
- The sextile tends to have a harmonious effect, depending of course on the planets involved.
Other Heavenly Bodies
Besides the ten "classical" planets whose importance is recognized by all astrologers, there are several other heavenly bodies which are not all regarded as equally important by all astrologers. Chiron has been widely acknowledged. Some astrologers observe the greater asteroids, Ceres, Pallas, Juno and Vesta and include them in their interpretations. In addition to this, certain schools of astrology work with a series of so-called hypothetical planets, which cannot be related to any of the known celestial bodies.
If we look at our solar system "from above", all of the planets revolve around the sun in the same direction (anti-clockwise). However, since astrology views the planets as they are seen from the earth, some of the planets seem to be moving backwards at times. This would seem to be the case, when an outer, slow-moving planet such as Saturn is overtaken by the earth. When the planets are in retrograde motion, in other words, apparently moving backwards, the astrological position is marked with an R.
Whether this is of significance or not still gives rise to discussion. However, it can help us decide whether a particular aspect is still operative or not. The motion of the planets can also help us make decisions on other astrological matters.
Other Parts and Points
Astrologers use a colorful collection of "points". These derive from points within the horoscope and are of symbolic significance, such as the "part of fortune" or the "Age Point". At present there is very little agreement amongst astrologers on the importance of these points, or on how meaningful they actually are.
The Moon's nodes are exceptions: these points are based on astronomical data and consequently find more acceptance in astrological circles. The moon’s nodes, which are always exactly opposed, are those points where the paths of the moon and the earth cross. Most astrologers see these points as being of karmic significance: The ascending or northern node is said to represent the spiritual development called for in this life, while the descending or southern node represents experience gathered during previous lives.
Another point of view regards the northern node as a point of meeting, signifying important personal ties or connections, while the south node indicates separation. The well-known German astrologer Thomas Ring taught that the northern node shows where subconscious contents can become accessible, whereas the southern node shows where conscious awareness can sink back into the depths of the unconscious.
Tradition sees the entire universe as consisting of the elements fire, air, water and earth. When we apply this system to personalities, the elements represent certain basic traits and give a certain "temperament". This varies according to the emphasis of the elements in the horoscope. Any placement of planets or personal points in a sign constitutes an emphasis.
The four elements can be regarded as four basic principles of life. These can be applied to all sorts of things through the principles of similarity and analogy. C.G. Jung has opened the door to a modern understanding of these categories by developing a system of types, in which the elements correspond to four basic functions of the psyche. The emphasis or non-emphasis of the elements in the individual horoscope reveals fundamental aspects of the personality.
- People with a strong emphasis of the fire element are spontaneous and impulsive, they apply their energies wholeheartedly. Their emotional response is quick and they have a lively imagination.
- Fire Signs: Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius
- Airy people are quick and animated. They apply their energies in very diverse ways. They tend to intellectualize their feelings and expectations.
- Air signs: Libra, Aquarius, Gemini
- People with a strongly emphasized water element are feeling types and are very sensitive. Their imaginative and emotional lives are deep and rich.
- Water signs: Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces
- Earthy people react quietly and slowly. They apply themselves with endurance. Emotionally they are deeply rooted and slow to change.
- Earth signs: Capricorn, Taurus, Virgo
Elementary states or Qualities
Each of the four elements occurs in three states or qualities, respectively named the cardinal, fixed and mutable or common states. We can consider the physical properties of water as an analogy: Here too, chemical elements can occur in various states. Water, for example, is liquid in its usual, real state. Seen astrologically this would be the cardinal state. When frozen it takes on a solid form, astrologically this would correspond with the fixed state. When heated, it becomes vaporous steam - comparable to the mutable state in astrology. In the individual horoscope, the placement of planets in cardinal, fixed or mutable signs also reveals basic traits of the personality.
- People with an emphasis on cardinal signs have an urge to take the lead and to shape things. They are initiators and act according to their aims and goals.
- Cardinal signs: Aries, Libra, Cancer, Capricorn
- People with an emphasis on the fixed signs have a desire to build on what is already there and to organize it more efficiently. They tend to preserve a "status quo" and act in response to given circumstances.
- Fixed signs: Leo, Aquarius, Scorpio, Taurus
- People with an emphasis on the mutable or common signs tend to seek change and renewal. They can easily replace one thing with another and align their actions with unfolding processes.
- Mutable signs: Sagittarius, Gemini, Pisces, Virgo