So! You got a hold of [your own natal chart](https://www.astro.com/cgi/chart.cgi) and you're staring at it in all of its highly inscrutable resplendence. What does it *mean*? You probably searched the internet and found either extremely basic (and unfair) significations like "Taurus likes to eat" or "Scorpios are treacherous". Interpreting a natal chart is a complex and nuanced task which cannot be easily learned from one or two blog posts. And unfortunately, most of the first hits you'll find for online astrology searches tend to overreach, say too little, or are just plain wrong.
This guide exists to solve that problem for you. It is a condensation of the past six years of my astrological study, synthesizing multiple schools of astrological thought. It will teach you the basics of how to read your own chart and give you solid grounding to read charts for other people, too.
### Who I Am
I am Sadalsuud ([@sadalsvvd](https://twitter.com/sadalsvvd) on twitter). I am a programmer-skeptic turned programmer-astrologer. I've been working professionally in software for a decade and studying astrology for the past six. I initially started studying astrology reluctantly in order to learn more about the astrological correspondences in my equally secular, skeptical tarot practice.
I figured I would learn the planets' meanings and then never think about it again. No such luck: instead, I was staggered by just how much this [hokey-looking astrology book](https://www.amazon.com/Only-Astrology-Book-Youll-Ever/dp/1589796535) could tell about myself that simply shouldn't be possible. My curiosity (and furious incredulity) led me further down the rabbit hole in order to understand why it works *at all*, and now I spend my spare time building astrological software focused on making it easier to conduct studies with astrology as well as perform financial prediction.
Now, I can read natal charts at a glance and tell people many details about themselves I shouldn't be able to, such as core psychological stumbling blocks, the nature of their romantic lives, or what their home environment growing up was like. Occasionally I am wrong, because I am human, and always learning more about the intricacies of astrology, but my "hit rate" for natal chart reading is *far* above chance and has been for years. This has less to do with me and more with the fact that astrology works, and anyone can learn to do it.
Astrology has given me genuine insights that resolved years of internal conflict, made me more tolerant and understanding, increased my understanding of how people work, and built an awe in me for the deeply mysterious nature of reality. I could have gotten there quicker if I had what you have now: a synthesis of the broad landscape of astrological practice, written for people who know absolutely nothing about astrology but are curious enough to try it out.
### What You'll Learn
I believe that when learning astrology, a vivid demonstration of practice is more effective than pages of theory. Therefore, this is going to be a whirlwind guide to the *practice* of astrology. We're going to cover how to read these parts of your chart, in order:
- Planets, which describe the different parts of your experience
- Signs, which describe the flavor and tone of those experiences
- Houses, the area of life planets in their signs inhabit
- Aspects, a set of angles between the planets which describe the relationships between them
- An example chart reading
- A few fun extra tidbits
You'll be learning a blend of both traditional and modern astrology that I have found to be effective in quickly identifying cogent parts of the natal chart that relate to people's character and lived experience.
This guide will be concise and dense. You'll want to come back to each section as a reference. In the first section, I'll cover the raw information you need to piece together your chart. Feel free to skim past descriptions that don't apply to it. In the second section, I'll describe a systematic way to read a natal chart using all the information from the reference. Be patient with the process; the full picture that describes you does not become clear until you understand and synthesize all of the components. Once you do, however, it is unbelievably specific and precise.
## Part One: Meet Your Chart
If you haven't already, [go here and make a natal chart](https://www.astro.com/cgi/chart.cgi). This is a geocentric, 2D picture of the sky at the time of your birth. Let's learn how to read it! (Don't worry if the astronomical bits make your eyes glaze over; understanding how the shapes rotate isn't very important for the type of astrology we're doing.)
I'll use this example chart for the purposes of demonstration:
There are a number of terms for this diagram: horoscope (this is what a horoscope *actually* is), natal chart, birth chart, or nativity. We sometimes refer to the owner of the nativity as the "native".
The ring of 12 glyphs around the wheel is the zodiac, and each of the glyphs demarcates a sign of the zodiac. These signs represent 30° sections of the sky, not the literal stars, so there's no Ophiuchus here.[^1] Modern astrologers mostly work with planets, although some also work with stars. Here's a list of the signs with their glyphs, names, and mode/element combinations (we'll cover all that soon):
1. ♈ - Aries - Cardinal Fire
2. ♉ - Taurus - Fixed Earth
3. ♊ - Gemini - Mutable Air
4. ♋ - Cancer - Cardinal Water
5. ♌ - Leo - Fixed Fire
6. ♍ - Virgo - Mutable Earth
7. ♎ - Libra - Cardinal Air
8. ♏ - Scorpio - Fixed Water
9. ♐ - Sagittarius - Mutable Fire
10. ♑ - Capricorn - Cardinal Earth
11. ♒ - Aquarius - Fixed Air
12. ♓ - Pisces - Mutable Water
The "AC" symbol means **ascendant**, or **rising**, and it indicates the exact degree of the zodiac that was on the horizon at the time of your birth. In this chart, since the AC is in Pisces, that makes the ascendant, or **rising sign**, Pisces.
Since the ascendant marks the horizon, any planets below it were not visible at the time of your birth, and any planets above it were in the sky. Imagine if you were taking a picture of someone out in a field far away; that's the perspective of the natal chart. If the Sun (☉) is above the horizon/AC in your chart, you have a **day chart**, and if it's below, you have a **night chart**, which affects how to read some components of the chart. We'll come back to that later once we've got our grounding.
The black lines with numbers inside represent the **houses**, with the first house starting under the AC, moving counterclockwise, and ending with the twelfth house above the AC. The glyphs inscribed within the zodiac wheel and in one of the twelve houses are the various planets, luminaries (the Sun and Moon), asteroids, and important points in your natal chart. For shorthand, I refer to them all as "bodies", "planets", or "placements". The red, blue, green, and dotted lines you may see between the placements in your chart show **aspects**, which are sets of meaningful angular distances between placements.
Those are the basics. That's all you need to know to get into the meat and potatoes: interpretation.
### The Planets: The Gods
Let me be upfront: astrology's interpretive framework is most effective if we, for the sake of matching the extremely archetypal nature of astrological delineations, assume a polytheistic perspective. Every culture's theological history has their own gods they assign to the planets and stars. For the sake of our highly secular era, we moderns say that astrologers observed *correlations* between placements and constructed their myth frameworks around them, but that does not help us get inside their heads. To do so, we have to embrace the planets as gods, at least in concept.
Gods claim domain over certain activities and areas of our lives; they rule concepts like love, virtue, wisdom, war, time. They rule things: banks, athletes, clergypeople, movies, cows. They rule moods: austerity, exuberance, fury, lust, curiosity. Gods are all-encompassing entities within their archetypes, which helps us interpret natal charts with more depth and nuance. It enables us to broach the psychological, spiritual, mythical, and mundane all at once. If religiosity or heathenry makes you ick, don't worry--it doesn't get in the way all that much.
Throughout this guide you'll find "mundane" definitions attached to some sets of interpretations. People often find that parts of their lives match with the mundane meanings of planets and signs so they are included for curiosity's sake.
#### The Ascendant (AC)
Do you know your birth time? Is it *really* accurate, like birth certificate accurate? Parents are notorious for misremembering birth charts and sending astrologers and their clients into disarray. The ascendant defines the structure of your entire natal chart and it moves one degree roughly every 4 and a half minutes. That means being off by just an hour, depending on what you previously thought your birth time was, can change the shape of your entire chart. The most important thing is that your ascendant stays within the same sign, and the ascendant takes 2.25 hours[^2] to go through each sign.
If you don't know your birth time at all, don't fret--you can still interpret a lot, but there will be some key pieces missing. If you cannot retrieve your birth time and get desperately curious, you can hire an astrologer to perform a **rectification**, whereby they can determine your birth time from the timing of events throughout your life.
As for the ascendant itself, it is considered to be the energetic imprint upon your body at the exact moment you took your first breath outside of the womb. It represents a union of body, soul, and the immediate energetic dynamic of the moment represented by the planets. The sign of the ascendant tends to color our personality and expression, but often in a way that is so innate as to be unconscious. When I ask people if they relate to their ascendant's qualities, they often reply in a, "Oh huh, yeah, I guess I *do* do that", sort of way. I find that the ascendant often describes our autopilot, instinctive reactions to new situations, and how we unconsciously present ourselves to other people. It also plays a major role in the first impression and "vibe" others get from us.
Its expression is easily colored by any planets aspecting it, especially by conjunction (when planets are immediately next to each other). As you read the descriptions of the planets, note where they are in your chart and see what other planets they make connections to by the blue, red, and green lines (the dotted ones, if present, are minor and can be ignored).
#### Sun (☉), ruling Leo (♌)
The Sun is very misunderstood by popular astrology. "Sun sign" astrology is the type of daily "horoscope" "astrology" you'll find in the newspaper (or Yahoo's homepage), which is simply language using the [Barnum effect](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barnum_effect) against the overly credulous for profit.
The Sun is identity, mission, drive, innate vitality. It describes the fundamental nature of who you consider yourself to be and your purpose as an archetype. I like to describe it as if you wrote an autobiography about yourself, the themes of the Sun's sign would factor heavily into it.
The Sun's placement in your natal chart will show where your core egoic sense of self is rooted. It describes personal aspirations, desires, strengths, and weaknesses.
#### Moon (☽), ruling Cancer (♋)
The Moon is comfort and instinct. It's the nature of the mind. Its placement shows what we need to feel secure, and also how we feel insecure. It shows our instinctive emotional reaction to experiences which will also blend with the nature of the ascendant. The Moon also rules the body, and shows our relationship to food, family, and nurturing instincts and needs.
Note that the Moon moves on average 13.2° per day, or 1° every two hours, which means that if you don't know your birth time (or it is wrong), and your Moon is near the edge of a sign, your Moon may actually be in that other sign.
#### Mercury (☿), ruling Gemini (♊) and Virgo (♍)
Mercury is intellect and insight. This differs from the Moon's emotional nature of the mind--Mercury is how your intellect *functions*. Mercury describes how we think, learn, speak, and teach. Being a joker (literally, mercurial), Mercury also describes the nature of our sense of humor. It shows, fundamentally, how we engage with information.
#### Venus (♀), ruling Taurus (♉) and Libra (♎)
Venus is affection and value. Venus is the flavor of experience we require to build bonds of affection and love. It can describe how we woo and like to be wooed, even extending into the realm of **sextrology**, but alas, we don't have time to explore that sultry topic here. It also describes the types of things we value aesthetically such as leisure activities, taste in art, and fashion sense.
#### Mars (♂), ruling Aries (♈) and Scorpio (♏)
Mars is initiative, drive, aggression, impulse. It shows how we go about getting shit done, and collaborate with people. It shows the engine of the personality that drives you forward toward tasks, goals, projects, and foes to conquer. It shows where we are competitive and how we tend to deal with conflict. It shows how we get the things we want.
#### Jupiter (♃), ruling Sagittarius (♐) and Pisces (♓)
The planets before have had to do with the essential nature of you, your personality, and your direct experience. Modern psychological astrologers call these the "personal planets", because their placements are wrapped up in the egoic self. Jupiter is the first of the two "transpersonal" planets, which describe a relationship to the greater whole of the world around us.
Jupiter is empowerment, growth, expansiveness, exuberance, confidence, faith. It indicates sources of luck, good will, and wisdom in our lives. Its placement describes the nature of all of these things, and also shows the things we personally tend to have wisdom about, but also experience great confidence and reward in exploring.
#### Saturn (♄), ruling Capricorn (♑) and Aquarius (♒)
Saturn is the slowest of the seven traditional planets that were known to the ancients, and the last planet that is visible to the naked eye in our solar system. Saturn rules time, and all that it implies. Saturn is limitation, restriction, duty, responsibility, diligence, hard work, discipline. Saturn shows the things in our life that we feel called to structure, discipline, and regulate. Saturn also shows the way in which we accomplish that, and as ruler of material forms, Saturn also shows how and what we tend to construct and build.
#### Uranus (♅)
Now we are entering the realm of the *outer planets*. The outer planets are often called "generational" planets because they move so slowly. Uranus takes 84 years to make a full cycle. They are less like gods and more like aliens, adding a transcendent dynamic wherever they go. You can broadly interpret the meaning of the outer planets by house and aspect, but they are especially impactful if they closely aspect any of your inner planets. More on all of that later.
Uranus is associated with the myth of Prometheus who stole fire from Zeus to give to the humans. He was an intellectual trickster god, and is related to liberation, eccentricity, revolution, unpredictability, acceleration, and in my personal opinion, essential human life-improving utilities. Uranus' location in the natal chart shows where we experience unpredictable changes and unexpected events, and in aspect to other planets it accelerates them, quickening them with Uranus' genius. Incidentally, Uranus is also associated with astrology and astrologers, so if you find that Uranus is prominent in your chart, astrology may be for you.
You'll notice that Uranus doesn't rule any signs. Because the outers were discovered after the traditional scheme of rulership was established, the rulership of the various planets is contentious. I do think that the outer planets have strong *affinities* with certain signs, but I find the traditional rulership scheme more useful. Feel free to play around with Uranus as a co-ruler of Aquarius, the most commonly chosen rulership.
#### Neptune (♆)
I always have trouble thinking of ways to describe Neptune at first, but that's very fitting. Neptune is the planet of the ethereal, sublime, nondual, mysterious, hidden, foggy, unclear, haunting, divine. Neptune's placement in the chart indicates where and how we experience sudden inexplicable losses but also where we feel near-spiritual draws to manifest visions impossible from planes unimaginable. Neptune carries a strong call toward the divine and sublimative experiences which can manifest as an interest in the occult, meditation, or alcohol, sex, drugs, and rock and roll.
Neptune is generally considered to have affinity with/co-rulership of Pisces.
#### Pluto (♇)
Pluto is a planet of incredible intensity and transformation. Pluto is associated with nuclear power, which is appropriate: it is a *crucible*, indicating heavy themes of creation through destruction, domination, control, obsession, and survival at any cost. It can show where we experience fixation or sometimes paranoia, but also serves as an incredibly powerful engine of change. It shows our most potent, destructive personal force and how they can be utilized or abused, as nuclear weapons or nuclear power.
Pluto is generally considered to have affinity with/co-rulership of Scorpio.
Chiron's themes are best conveyed by its myth. Chiron was a centaur who was deeply respected for his kindness, civility, and knowledge of hunting, medicine, and prophecy. He taught many Greek heroes, including Heracles (Hercules). He was accidentally wounded by one of Heracles' poisoned arrows in a fight against wild centaurs. Despite his great healing skills, he could not heal himself, and because he was immortal, could not be relieved of his pain through death. As a way to die, he offered to sacrifice his immortality for Prometheus' freedom from Zeus's punishment to have Prometheus shackled to a rock and have his liver torn at by eagles every day. Zeus agreed, and as Chiron was dying, Zeus recognized his noble nature and placed him into the sky as the constellation Centaurus.
Because of his myths, Chiron is associated with the core wounds we experience, often in childhood. These become wounds that never heal, but from which we gain deep wisdom and the ability to help others who are suffering in ways we suffer. Often, Chiron's placement by sign and house strongly suggest the nature of a core wound, but also the nature of the strength that can grow from it.
In terms of Chiron's position in the solar system, it is unusual. Its elliptical orbit connects the orbits of Uranus, the first outer planet, and Saturn, the last traditional planet. This, along with Chiron's transference by Zeus into the stars, suggests its themes of transcendence, but also bringing the transcendent down into our reality. Barbara Hand Clow calls Chiron the "rainbow bridge" between the inner and outer planets.
Being an asteroid only recently discovered in 1977, Chiron does not rule any sign, and its affinity is still debated among astrologers.
#### The Nodes (North ☊ / South ☋)
The Nodes are not actual physical stellar bodies, but rather the two points where the plane of the ecliptic (the plane that all bodies in our solar system more or less move along in circular revolutions) and the oblique orbit of the Moon meet as it travels around the earth. The point that the Moon moves upwards is the North Node, and the point that the Moon passes as it moves downwards is the South Node.
![[Pasted image 20211223031653.png]]
The Nodes are a complicated topic in astrology because their interpretation varies between various styles of astrology. This is an extraordinary simplification, but:
- evolutionary astrology (which focuses on the idea of reincarnation and using astrology to navigate our present lifetime) often decribes the Nodes as "karmic" points with the North Node being our destiny, and the South Node being the karmic debt we bring into this lifetime[^19]
- jyotish (sometimes called Vedic) astrology from India describes the North Node (or Rahu, the dragon's mouth), as a point of endless desire and fixation and hunger for new experience in the material, and the South (or Ketu, the dragon's tail), as a point of material dematerialization and loss to force spiritual development[^17]
- psychological astrology often describes the Nodes as representing the relationship between the solar and lunar impulses within the self and the lifelong struggle we experience learning about the themes of our Nodes' axis[^18]
When dealing with conflicting or subtly different interpretations, I like to blend them. The Nodes are a combination of not just the Sun and Moon but also the earth, since without the earth, there would be no lunar orbit and thus no Nodes. For me, this reflects why the nodes are sometimes described as "manifestation" points where we experience vast changes that seem to operate on the physical, spiritual, and emotional levels all at the same time. The nodal axis (the signs and houses that the Nodes straddle in your chart) describes the dynamics in our lives that we often have strong awareness of as major life lessons. The North Node represents where we often have fixations, fascinations, and can devote a great deal of energy pursuing, while the South Node represents those natural talents and fixations which in this life are so well-developed as to become crutches. We often find ourselves automatically embodying the shadow expressions of the South Node's house and sign, while pursuing the talents and skills of the North Node's house and sign. If the Nodes are in close aspect to any other placements in the chart, the themes and dynamics described by those planets and their connections to the Nodes will be especially impactful and present throughout life. (You'll learn about signs, houses, and aspects in the following sections.)
The Nodes are tricky to describe, but many people, when learning more about their own Node placements, often react very strongly to the themes they delineate. If you'd like to learn more about the Nodes, I highly recommend *Astrology for the Soul* by Jan Spiller.
#### Transits, Retrogrades, and Stations
Astrology doesn't stop at the fixed picture of your natal chart. It can also be used to forecast--and if you're good enough, specifically predict--your life experiences as the planets continue moving through the sky and make contact with the locations of where your natal placements were at the time of your birth. While a proper treatment of forecasting and prediction is far beyond the scope of this guide, I'll occasionally refer to transiting planets throughout, which means "when the moving planets in the sky make aspects to the placements in your natal chart".
Just like the planets are moving now, they were moving at the time of your birth. And because of our geocontric perspective, planets rhythmically appear to slow down until they come to a complete standstill called **stationing**, and then reverse direction, moving in reverse or apparent **retrograde**. This is due to the relative speed of the earth versus other planets. As we pass by a slower planet (or are passed by a faster planet), the other planet appears to stop moving and retrograde. This is best explained with a couple diagrams:
![[Apparent retrograde motion 1.png]]
![[_files/Apparent retrograde motion 2.gif]]
![[Apparent retrograde motion 2_still.png]]
You can identify retrograde planets in your chart by the little "r" next to them. Interpretively, the speed of a planet affects its expression, particularly when a planet is stationing or retrograde. Retrograde planets tend to function in a way that reflects their backwards status: they tend to blossom later in life, have a tendency to double back and "check their work", so to speak, or to express themselves with some hesitancy. Despite the bad rap that retrograde planets get, they also have unique perspective and abilities that arise from their tendency to look back, reconsider, contemplate, ponder, and redo things. People with many retrograde planets sometimes exhibit "retrograde characteristics" very literally, such as being very interested in the past, memory, history, frequently experiencing [l'esprit d'escalier](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L%27esprit_de_l%27escalier), or working in careers that involve retrograde activities such as editing, fact-checking, and verification work (especially Mercury retrograde).
Stationing planets, due to their stillness, are thought to cast an especially strong "gaze" upon whatever they look at, and thus have an outsized influence in the natal chart. When a planet is stationing before turning retrograde it's said to be **station\[ing\] retrograde**, and when it is stationing before turning direct, it's said to be **station\[ing\] direct**. A stationing planet can also be said to be in the transitory state between direct and retrograde motion, or vice versa, and reflects a "turning inward" or "turning outward" to respective direct or retrograde motions. This is a subtle distinction, but regardless, stationed planets in the natal chart are often express themselves very strongly.[^20]
### The Signs: A Modal, Elemental Approach
There are twelve signs with endless characteristics which can seem like a lot, but we'll start by breaking them down through two classifications: **modes** and **elements**[^3]. As we describe the modes and elements of the sign, keep in mind that we are not talking about literal people but the archetypal expression and behaviors of these signs. If it helps, you can imagine these descriptions of the modes, elements, and signs as describing someone with *all* of their placements in these modes, elements, or signs.
There are three "modes", or modalities, for each of the signs: cardinal, mutable, and fixed. They describe the general rhythmic nature of how this sign accomplishes tasks through time.
**The cardinal signs are Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn.** They are focused on initiating expressions of energy and initiative pointed in a specific direction. Cardinal signs like to come up with project ideas, champion initiatives, and seek out challenges. Their general energetic dynamic is full of bursts of inspiration and effort that seek to drive change into the world. "Strike while the iron is hot" is an apt phrase for cardinal signs.
**The fixed signs are Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius.** They are consistent, persistent, and slow to change. Fixed signs express a rigid insistence on the field of experience they have accustomed themselves to. Because of this, they can be quite stubborn and afraid of change, but when they finally do, these signs bring just as much consistent application of effort that they did to their old patterns. "Slow and steady wins the race" is an apt phrase for fixed signs.
**The mutable signs are Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces.** They are flexible, curious, and constantly changing. Mutable signs have vast interests in equal degrees, which lead them to acquire a wide array of shallow knowledge and skills in a variety of topics. Mutable signs get bored quickly and require constant stimulation. "A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one" is an apt phrase for mutable signs.
There are four elements, modeled after the traditional Greek elements: fire, earth, air, and water. The elements broadly describe the traits and tendencies of the signs in terms of their polarization toward purpose, material concerns, abstract ideas, and emotional depth.
**For the fire signs Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius**, purpose is most real. They are motivated by proving themselves, by success, by recognition and fame. They are filled with great energy, and often work until they burn out and crash. They seek out excitement and high degrees of stimulation. Moderation is difficult; everything is urgent and important. Self-individuation is key, although they tend not to want to spend time in self-contemplation because they perceive all of the action as being on the outside.
**For the earth signs Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn**, the material world is most real. They are motivated by securing resources whether for survival, business, or pleasure. They innately gravitate towards organizing time, space, or people. They are physically skilled in various arts such as construction, craftwork, or dance and martial arts. They are hard workers and have a deep appreciation for the relationship between sustained effort and success.
**For the air signs Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius**, ideas are most real. They are motivated by abstract ideals and interests, and love exchanging information. They spend their time discussing, sharing, calculating, analyzing, debating, and exchanging ideas. They are highly social although aloof; getting too close to the emotional side of things is uncomfortable for their detached natures.
**For the water signs Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces**, emotions are most real. They are motivated by passion, feeling, and connection. Memory, legacy, sentiment, family, and deep bonds are important. They are emotionally adept and often make for incredible artists and healers. Their shadow side can be the deep quagmire of subjective feeling and distorted vision, with those closest to them warping their lens on life.
#### The Signs
Now that we've covered the structure behind the signs, we can describe them using this framework and add in more of the nuance associated with each sign. As you read, identify which signs the placements in your chart fall under. Try to combine the nature of the planet with the nature of the sign, and consider if this synthesis matches your own experience of your personality and inner world. We'll go over examples of how to do this.
(Bonus: notice how the permutations of modality and elements create a loop: this is both beautifully symmetrical but also important to astrology's aspect system, which we will cover soon.)
##### Aries (♈) - Cardinal Fire, ruled by Mars (♂)
As a cardinal fire sign, Aries is concerned with tight bursts of extremely powerful, focused, purpose-driven, competitive energy. As the first sign of the zodiac, Aries echoes the themes of personal agency, existence, and identity. Aries is highly competitive and aggressive, and reflects the Mars' archetypal association with war and outright conflict and martial achievement. While there aren't many opportunities for the lamentations of our enemies in modern civilization, Aries energy expresses itself as extreme ferocity and desire to win in the world of sports, business, and play.
##### Taurus (♉) - Fixed Earth, ruled by Venus (♀)
As a fixed earth sign, Taurus is concerned with the slow accumulation and enjoyment of physical resources. Taurus likes to take its time, and as the more physical manifestation of Venus' aphroditic nature, has a love for beautiful sensual experiences. This includes fine food and drink, spending time with the aesthetic side of nature, and physically sensorious experiences such as massage or yoga. Taurus is generally very even-keeled and patient, though also possessive of the experiences and people in their lives and resistant to change.
##### Gemini (♊) - Mutable Air, ruled by Mercury (☿)
As a mutable air sign, Gemini is concerned with the wide-ranging connection of ideas and friendships. Gemini loves to talk, and echoes the highly social side of its ruler Mercury. This sign likes connecting ideas and meeting a wide variety of people. As part of its mutability and mythic association with twins, Gemini often has a "split brain" nature where it is simultaneously perceiving and thinking along two processes of thought at the same time, leading this sign to surprise itself when one of these processes becomes dominant. These factors, combined with an airy intellectual detachment that can find playing with ideas more interesting than actual problem-solving, leads to Gemini's bad reputation in popular astrology among non-Mercurial types.
##### Cancer (♋) - Cardinal Water, ruled by the Moon (☽)
As a cardinal water sign, Cancer is concerned with the emotional, familial world of the heart and hearth. It is fundamentally a nurturing sign, often prone to great capacity for empathy and work in healing and caring professions. Highly sensitive, the myth of the crab is appropriate: Cancer will often use its pincers to defend itself and lash out at those who try to attack them, but most especially those they care about. The shadow side of a natural emotional intelligence is a tendency to use emotional manipulation as a weapon. Cancer often has a reputation as being demure, quiet types, but this belies the wild side of Cancer signified by the changing, mysterious nature of the Moon. Cancer is just as capable of excessive demonstrations of impulsive, feral energy directed in emotional directions as any other cardinal sign.
##### Leo (♌) - Fixed Fire, ruled by the Sun (☉)
As a cardinal fire sign, Leo is concerned with personal creativity and selfhood. It is a sign of steady, radiant warmth as indicated by its ruler, the Sun. Leo is fundamentally concerned with giving life to things, just as the Sun enables life on earth to grow. Leo is a childlike sign, and loves to play (especially pretend) and is dispositionally cheerful, but can also be petulant or egotistical. This sign has an innate appreciation for the value of the self and the importance of reputation, but also how the self can be a vehicle for transformation through play-acting which eventually becomes reality.
##### Virgo (♍) - Mutable Earth, ruled by Mercury (☿)
As a mutable earth sign, Virgo is concerned with being helpful through the application of incisive discernment and dextrous proficiency. Virgo is the more practical, tactical expression of Mercury, where knowledge and information are bent toward the practical and material. Virgo sees exceptional detail in everything and understands the depth of nuance that pervades all things. The flipside of this can be excessive rumination, unhelpful nitpicking, and having trouble being in the moment. Also being of the archetype "The Virgin", Virgo tends toward the upright and "clean" in its presentation, although its incisive, analytical view usually sees too much to have any claim of actual innocence.
##### Libra (♎) - Cardinal Air, ruled by Venus (♀)
As a cardinal air sign, Libra is concerned with fairness, harmony, and beauty. Libra is the abstract, intellectual and aesthetic side of Venus, especially the loquacious and light socialization of small talk, manners, and delightful company. This sign desires equilibrium and harmony in all things, but especially its connections with others. Libra can be a powerful force for championing causes for the underprivileged and oppressed, often concerned with law, politics, and government. However, their fixation on *doing things* in social matters can lead them toward fickle gossip, aversion to deeper connection, and petty social deception. This sign's glyph representing a set of scales also reflects the Libran tendency to spend much time deliberating and weighing options before making a choice.
Now that we have reached the seventh sign and the first sign to oppose a sign we know, I can point out that Libra opposes Aries in the zodiac, highlighting the diametrically and *literally* opposition between their themes and goals.
##### Scorpio (♏) - Fixed Water, ruled by Mars (♂)
As a fixed water sign, Scorpio is concerned with deep, powerful emotional intensity. This sign intuitively understands the potency of penetrating mysteries to reveal what is hidden. Scorpio is a natural secret seeker and keeper, and often forms intense, almost obsessive bonds with others. This intensity allows Scorpio to go further than others will, reflecting the subtler aspects of Mars' martial practice in terms of the desire, curiosity, and incisive perspective required to find the secret weaknesses of the enemy. As one of Mars' signs, Scorpio can easily externalize their enemies and lower themselves to acts of subterfuge and silent destruction, or they can find and transmute the true enemy within themselves, enabling them to reach great heights. Scorpio is fundamentally a sign of power which can be devoted toward incredible constructive or destructive purposes.
Scorpio opposes Taurus.
##### Sagittarius (♐) - Mutable Fire, ruled by Jupiter (♃)
As a mutable fire sign, Sagittarius is concerned with striving, finding, and sharing what it considers to be the truth. Ideals and aspiration are essential to Sagittarius, as well as personal freedom, exploration, and optimism. Sagittarius is highly interested in matters of philosophy, law, and higher truths. It's also one of the most direct and blunt of the signs, valuing truth and its expression very highly, although sometimes in a manner that lacks nuance or hurts feelings. Sagittarius loves to express what it has found to be true, and is often a bit of a proselytizer. This sign also needs, with great urgency, to pursue its true passions and interests, or it suffers greatly.
Sagittarius opposes Gemini.
##### Capricorn (♑) - Cardinal Earth, ruled by Saturn (♄)
As a cardinal earth sign, Capricorn is concerned with personal achievement, authority, and traditionalism. Capricorn has a natural understanding of life's limitations and the hard work required to build and preserve structures. This sign is motivated toward personal responsibility, obligation, and duty, although this can come with pessimism, cynicism, or an overemphasis on decorum and formalisms. Capricorn is a consummate workaholic and overachiever, though they can be frozen by their fear of failure or burn out from overwork. Family values and their preservation is also a strong theme for Capricorn, as they have an innate connection to the value and power of longstanding structures.
Capricorn opposes Cancer.
##### Aquarius (♒) - Fixed Air, ruled by Saturn (♄)
As a fixed air sign, Aquarius is concerned with freedom, experimentation, and social welfare. It is a complex sign, also ruled by taciturn Saturn, which expresses its understanding of duty in loyalty to society at large. Aquarius loves people, but being a detached air sign, has difficulty with close individual connections. It's extremely open-minded and will hear anything out, except for the hills-to-die-on it has chosen where it refuses to budge. This sign can be brilliant but eccentric, even veering into extreme, rebellious behavior in its shadow expression.
Aquarius opposes Leo.
##### Pisces (♓) - Mutable Water, ruled by Jupiter (♃)
As a mutable water sign, Pisces is concerned with sensitivity, compassion, and vulnerability. Pisces lacks the psychic boundaries of other signs and merges itself with others almost unconsciously. Pisces can be a powerful healer through its sheer compassionate presence, but it can also entangle with others and lose its own identity in them. Pisces is frequently considered dreamy, but they are not spacey--rather, Pisces is often consuming vast amounts of information from their experience and environment which enables their powerful intuition.
Pisces opposes Virgo.
Now that we have a picture of the signs, you might have synthesized them with the nature of the planet and related it to your own experience. If it's still too abstract, no worries--we will do an example reading for our example chart, which should demonstrate the approach to reading your own chart.
### The Aspects: A Network of Energy
Aspects are specific degree angles between the planets. In your chart, they're represented by the blue, red, green, and dotted lines. The different aspects describe the type of essential nature of the interaction between the two planets. There are generally two types of aspects: easy/flowing/harmonic aspects and difficult/hard/dynamic aspects.
The types of aspects are often described as unilaterally good or bad, but the effects of any single aspect cannot be considered without looking at the aspects around the entire chart, which represents a network of energy between the planets. Too many "positive" and flowing aspects can make someone so internally flowing that they never reflect, come off as disconnected from reality or egotistical, and often get struck hard by life into adulthood unless they manage to utilize that inner harmony instead of coasting on it. Meanwhile, a ton of difficult aspects often create extraordinarily strong people who go on to do incredible things, although it often comes as the result of difficult experiences and hard inner work.
Regardless, there are no "good" and "bad" charts, as they do not describe the limits of human potential--they only describe its essential flavor. I use the terms "harmonic" and "dynamic" to describe their flexible and contextual nature.
Use this graphic to help you visualize what aspects your different placements are making to other placements. Each aspect on this diagram is 30° apart. So if you mentally overlay the conjunction point of this diagram on a planet in your chart, then a planet 30° away in either direction would be making the semisextile aspect, 60° away the sextile, 90° away the square, 120° the trine, 150° the quincunx or inconjunct, and 180° (directly across) the opposition.
Since each sign is also 30° wide, a shortcut is to just count the number of signs from the reference planet to another planet: 1 sign is a semisextile, 2 signs is a sextile, 3 signs is a square, 4 signs is a trine, 5 signs is an inconjunct, and 6 signs is an opposition. One scenario you need to watch out for using this shortcut is when a planet is very close to the end of a sign, while the other is very close to the beginning of a sign. For instance, in our example chart, the Moon is at 28° Aries while Pluto is at 4° Scorpio. Scorpio is technically 5 signs away which would be an inconjunct, but because the Moon is at the end of Aries, the two planets are roughly 174° apart which is much closer to an opposition than to an inconjunct.
This is a little confusing at first, but the more you practice identifying aspects, the faster you will get. It helps to imagine the aspect lines going from each planet in turn and where they land in each sign. For instance, imagine two lines from the Moon at 28° Aries going to 28° Aquarius and 28° Gemini; if there were planets there, the Moon would be making an exact sextile to them.
While I mentioned the semisextile for the example, we will leave it aside in practice, as its influence is often too benign and minor to be noticeable in comparison to other aspects. There are many other minor and more esoteric aspects but their expression is almost always more subtle in comparison to most of the primary 30°-based aspects here.
If you generated a chart from [astro.com](https://www.astro.com/), then at the bottom of your chart you can find a grid that shows the aspects between planets which can help you identify them on the chart.
![[Aspects in astro dot com.png]]
The top-left most one shows a square between the Sun and Moon, the next row's two cells show a conjunction between the Sun and Mercury and a square between the Moon and Mercury, and so forth.
I personally find this view a little hard to read. There is another view on astro.com's chart page: you can hit "Additional tables" to open up a PDF file which has a tabulated view of your chart, including the aspect grid below:
![[Additional tables view.png]]
Keep in mind that all aspects have an "orb", or allowable distance for the aspect to be in effect. For instance, a planet at 25° Cancer trine a planet at 20° Pisces would be considered to be within 5° of orb of trine. An aspect of 1° or less is considered "exact" or sometimes "partile", though the true exactitude of an aspect is 0°. I sometimes call this a "perfect" aspect (give or take 15'). The tighter an aspect, the more significant and pronounced the relationship between the planets forming it is.
There are no standard maximum orbs, and it varies widely with multiple systems. I use a 10° orb for conjunctions, oppositions, about 7° for everything else, but I spend most of my time discussing aspects 3° and under.
#### The Neutral Aspect, the Conjunction
The **neutral aspect** is the **conjunction (0°)** - the combination of two or more things, merging, fusion, union, reunion, cycles with endings that become beginnings. The ancient astrologers considered this configuration to be special, and did not consider it an aspect, but we refer to it as one for convenience's sake. The flavor of this aspect depends entirely on the planets that have become conjunct. When conjunct, planets blend their purposes and become intermingled. If you have close conjunctions, it can sometimes be difficult to tease out the separate functions and expressions of the planets involved because they are so unified.
#### Harmonic Aspects
The **harmonic aspects** are:
- The **trine (120°)** - the perfect slope, flowing, harmonious, easy. This aspect is natural talent, instinct, and intuition. It describes an effortless flow between the nature of the two planets it connects, one which can be so effortless as to be taken for granted early in life. Trines ease the function between two planets to the point that impressions and reactions associated with one planet immediately flow and activate the nature of the planet connected by trine.
- The **sextile (60°)** - amiable friends, natural sympathy, latent potential, waiting to be developed. The sextile is generally compatible energy, a mutual understanding. A friend that's there to cheer you on but doesn't do much to help. However, this fair weather dynamic can be developed into a powerful force if intentionally practiced and honed.
#### Dynamic Aspects
The **dynamic aspects** are:
- The **square (90°)** - conflict, competition, enemies, harsh sensations, arguments, impulses, fears, misunderstanding. The square is one of the most pronounced and difficult aspects, representing a deep antipathy between the two planets. These placements do not want to understand each other, but they must in order for the impasse to resolve. Squares are often points of internal tension and difficulty that require personal transformation over a lifetime.
- The **inconjunct (150°)** - tension, irritation, dis-ease, agitation, nervous energy. The inconjunct is an uncomfortable aspect between planets, suggesting a complete lack of familiarity between the two. There is often a constant energetic tension going between the two planets, stimulating and urging them both toward some aim. The inconjunct is a minor aspect, but I find that in very close aspect (3°) it has a pronounced and outsized presence in the natal chart.
- The **opposition (180°)** - literal opposition, rivals, apexes, peak moments, respect, presence, power struggles. The opposition represents the complete and total, well, opposite. The two planets are at a true impasse, and do not fight directly but instead tug on their human. Oppositions often manifest as internal dilemmas between two modes of being or areas of life that are important. Those with significant oppositions find themselves having to toggle back and forth between expressing each planet until they find a creative solution to satisfy both needs. Sometimes, one planet is stronger than the other and dominates the competition.
#### Aspects Parallel Elemental Relationships
It helps to note the relationship between aspects and the signs. Recall how each sign is opposed to another, forming 6 pairs. This diagram from [Chris Brennan](https://twitter.com/chrisbrennan7), an esteemed Hellenistic astrologer, shows the five traditional aspects (conjunction, sextile, square, trine, and opposition) from ancient astrological practice. We also considered the inconjunct (or "quincunx"), but left the semisextile aside for its relatively benign nature which makes it difficult to notice.
![[Traditional aspects diagram.png]]
(source: [Chris Brennan on Twitter](https://twitter.com/chrisbrennan7/status/1125937784072613888))
Recall our discussions of the modes and elements. Notice how sextiles from earth or water signs only reach other earth or water signs, suggesting mild sympathies of friends. The same is true for fire and air signs. This reflects the doctrine of astrological elemental compatibility; earth and water signs tend to get along well, fire and air signs tend to get along well, but the two groups often don't mix well, requiring adjustment and adaptation. This applies both within the personality and between people. If you have behaviors and emotional patterns within your personality that seem to be at odds even though you don't have planets that are making direct aspects, you may have conflicting elements in your chart. (Another way to think about this is in terms of sign-based squares/oppositions/inconjuncts--both doctrines describe the same phenomenon.)
Notice how trines from each element only reach the two signs of the same element, those of a deeply similar nature. Harsh squares are only formed between signs of the same mode (cardinal, mutable, or fixed) while reaching across element groups suggesting the competitive and unsympathetic nature of the aspect. Inconjuncts are made between signs that share neither mode nor element, suggesting their fundamentally alien, irritating, and discomforting nature.
Another layer of depth you can optionally add is the traditional Hellenistic **sign-based aspects**. Like modern practitioners, the Hellenistic astrologers considered the precise angles to be aspects, but also held that simply having a planet in any sign as many degrees away as the aspect's degrees represents that relationship. So if you had your Moon at 2° Aries but your Sun at 28° Leo, you would still have a *sign-based* trine between your Sun and Moon. This makes sense, as these planets' expressions will still be fundamentally compatible in signs of the same element.
As you look at the aspects between the different planets in your chart, consider your own experience. Take special note of:
- Clusters of planets - 3 or more within 10° is considered a "stellium", and the three planets act especially strongly together
- Multiple planets aspecting the same planet
- Very tight aspects
- Aspects between planets that are close to the ascendant/descendant or midheaven/imum coeli axis
Think about each planet in each sign and how your experience relates to its description. These descriptions are terse, so don't be afraid to let your imagination or intuition guide you; each sign and planet is a massive archetype with many perspectives and flavors on the same core themes. Then look at what aspects that planet makes. Consider the other planet's expression, and the nature of the aspect, and how that may present itself in your life or psychology.
For some people it can be as literal as a dynamic fixated on the opposition between work and love showing up in the natal chart as Saturn opposite Venus. For others, a Mars square Moon can make the emotions volatile, quick-tempered, and defensive, as Mars' combative and fiery nature casts a harsh square to the heart of emotion and safety instincts, the Moon. Meanwhile, a flowing trine between Mercury and Mars can suggest a sharp wit and the ability to handle (Mercury, hands, dexterity) knives (Mars, weapons, blades) uncannily well.
More than most aspects, squares and oppositions show us where we have complex inner dynamics and where difficult life experiences tend to appear for us. Squares are resolved by finding a mutual language for the planets involved to cooperate while oppositions are resolved by finding ways to appease both planets, either alternately or simultaneously. This can be difficult to handle in isolation, and often one of the planets involved in harsh aspects has a sextile or trine to another planet. I think of this as a "valve" for excess energy to vent out of, and often recommend that clients engage in activities represented by the "vent planet" when the tension produced by the harsh aspects involved grow unbearable.
### The Houses: The Realms of Experience
We are almost done with the blunt information consumption. This is the last part before synthesis: the houses. The houses are a mathematical method of dividing the celestial sphere into 12 parts which describe various areas of experience in our personal lives.
If you look on your natal chart, you will see the AC marks a thick black line, the horizon. The AC is also the beginning of the first house, stretching counterclockwise until the next cone with the house number inscribed into the middle. Thus, houses one through six are under the horizon, while houses seven through twelve are above the horizon.
The best way to understand what is actually happening is with a visualization:
source: [3D Astrology, Astrolog](https://www.astrolog.org/astrolog/ast3d.htm) (direct link: http://www.astrolog.org/astrolog/pic/placidus.gif)
Don't worry if this overwhelms you at first. It's not necessary to have an intuitive grasp of what the houses look like in 3D space (though it can help)--all you have to understand is that they divide the sky, and that their relative placements have meaning.
First, though, we must talk about what a "Placidus" is.
#### House Systems
Since the houses are a mathematical method of dividing the sky, this suggests there may be multiple methods--and there are. The default mode that [astro.com](https://www.astro.com/) generates a chart in is "Placidus", a house system named after 17th century astrologer Placidus de Titis[^6].
There are dozens of house systems, but Placidus is the most popular. This only means that it's popular--nothing more, nothing less. There are many others that are relatively unexplored or forgotten completely, which could give us new perspectives and techniques. One which has been brought back, all the way from the Hellenistic era, is whole sign houses (WSH). With whole sign houses you simply match each house to each sign, so whatever sign your ascendant is in, your first house begins at 0° of that sign.
Here is our example chart, but in WSH:
![[Example chart WSH.png]]
To turn on whole sign houses, first go to the [Extended Chart Selection](https://www.astro.com/cgi/genchart.cgi) page.
![[WSH explanation 1.png]]
You may need to create an account to access this; I highly recommend it, as astro.com is free for up to 100 charts, and then after that has a very inexpensive yearly fee.
Once at the Extended Chart Selection page, under **Options for zodiac and houses > House System**, select **whole signs**. Then just hit "Click here to show the chart".
![[WSH Explanation 2.png]]
Depending on where you were born, your Placidus houses may look *very* different from your whole sign houses. What to do?
One rationale and solution put forward is that whole sign houses come from times when class mobility and lots in life were much more fixed, and so astrology was designed more for the direct, mundane, and concrete results in life. Meanwhile, the more modern Placidus which accounts for our exact location on earth, is tied more intimately to ourselves and our perspectives. Placidus may reflect the highly subjective perception of one's own experience, despite the actual mundane experiences in life being associated with the whole sign house chart.
It's difficult to say--I personally have key placements that switch houses, and I have also had many times where I felt like I was experiencing the elements of those placements in both houses, both subjectively and in the real world. There are other areas of astrological practice where we can apply a fine discriminating eye to the efficacy of house systems, but the world of highly subjective natal subject isn't one of them.
I personally like whole sign house because it enables a number of powerful predictive techniques, but I swap between house systems every now and then as a matter of practice. To start, I recommend you read through the descriptions of the houses and reflect on how the planets might manifest in them between Placidus and whole sign house. Once you have a bit of a sense of which one resonates more, just pick that one and stick with it for a while. You can always come back to the other one (or any of the other dozens) later.
#### Origins and Functions
The houses are where the abstract, archetypal depth psychology language of planets, signs, and aspects meet concrete lived experience. Because the houses are defined by the sign the ascendant is in, the birth time is very important. However, because the meanings of the houses are so specific, they can enable one to make educated guesses about what time someone was born, which is a rectification technique. The point is, if you're not sure of your birth time, you may need to do some detective work to see which houses seem to logically pair with your signs.
Each house, similar to signs and planets, is a vast archetype enveloping a wide array of things and experiences. For instance, the first house rules both outlook on life as well as acne. The seventh house rules contracts, public enemies, marriage, and sunset.
The house meanings as defined in modern astrology generally combine multiple conceptual sources, including but likely not limited to:
- "mundane"/real world associations with the sign (9th house ruling churches)
- traditional astrology (3rd house ruling religious observance)
- affinity qualities from the sign whose number matches the house (5th house ruling "fun" as relates to Leo, the 5th sign)
- psychological astrology (Mars in the 3rd means you have a sharp tongue)
- depth astrology (12th house ruling the grieving process).
Each house is such a large idea that it helps to have core concepts behind each of them. For natal astrology, I personally find Dane Rudhyar's metaphor from [The Astrological Houses: The Spectrum of Individual Experience](https://www.amazon.com/Astrological-Houses-Spectrum-Individual-Experience/dp/0385038275) concept of the houses as symbolically describing the cycle of life from birth until death (and continuing again) to be extremely useful, and you will notice allusions to this idea throughout the descriptions of the houses.
The houses are not just grab-bags for archetypal concepts--each individual house has its own quality which affects the planets in the houses, and similar to the interweaving system of sign modes, elements, and aspects, the houses have their own analogous quality which becomes apparent as you elucidate the meanings of the houses. We'll do this after covering the individual houses.
The presence of planets within a house indicate what area of life that planet tends to operate most actively within. In *very* brief summary:[^7]
- The Sun's placement by house shows where the core sense of personal identity and mission is centered
- The Moon shows where we seek comfort, nourishment, and safety, but also how we provide it for others
- Mercury shows where our curiosity leads us, what we usually want to talk about, and what domains we frequently travel
- Venus shows where we find beauty, relationships, companionship, leisure, pleasure, and where the sensual and/or sexual impulses are deployed
- Mars shows where energy, motivation, aggression, initiative, and sometimes conflict is generated
- Jupiter shows where we experience success, blessings, joy, wisdom, and where we tend to "preach" our experiences
- Saturn shows where we experience limitation, responsibilities, and restrictions, but also discipline, focus, and pragmatic insight
- Chiron shows where we experience core wounds and become teachers
- The North Node shows where we experience significant learning and personal development
You can also identify the outer planets' roles by house, though their effects tend to be lessened unless they are making a close aspect to inner planets which connects their influences to the rest of the chart.
- Uranus shows where we experience sudden and unexpected changes, strokes of brilliance, rebellious impulses, and technological competence.
- Neptune shows where we experience fantasies, delusions, irrational fears, spiritual yearnings, and sometimes dreams coming true
- Pluto shows where we experience intensity, secrecy, paranoia, obsession, control, and a survival mentality
The planets may express themselves most actively in the houses they are placed in but their operations are not restricted to only that house. The aspects between the planets also connect the planets' themes. For instance, Mars in the fifth house opposing Saturn in the eleventh house can indicate that there is a direct conflict between one's desire to work on personal projects, or, perhaps, have recreational sex (Mars: energy, drive; 5th house: hobby projects, sex) and obligations to one's social group (Saturn: obligations, restrictions; 11th house: social groups, clubs).
If you have no planets in a house, that is called an "empty house". Having an empty house isn't a bad thing, and by definition everyone has at least one or two[^8]. It also does not mean that you won't have experiences related to that house. For instance, having an empty seventh house doesn't mean you'll be alone forever; it only means that relationships are not emphasized as a life theme in your chart. But throughout your life as the planets transit the various houses of your chart, they will bring their significations and concerns into those houses, as will other events such as retrogrades, eclipses, new and full moons, and conjunctions between planets.
There is another layer of richness to be found in the rulership system. Each planet rules the houses whose signs start at their cusps. That is, if your second house starts in the sign Gemini, then Mercury rules your second house. Mercury's sign, position, received aspects, and general nature will describe how the second house is experienced, but aspects that Mercury receives from transiting planets will trigger events related to the second house (as well as whichever house starts in Virgo). This means that houses are not only related to one another by aspects cast between planets in the houses they occupy, but also by aspects formed between planets ruling houses. For instance, in a whole sign chart with a Gemini rising, having Mercury conjunct Mars means that your 1st (Gemini) and 4th (Virgo) houses are related to your 11th (Aries) and 6th (Scorpio) through that conjunction.
If you are using whole sign houses, rulership is simple. Each house has one sign and one ruler. If you're working with Placidus, the houses begin at the Ascendant instead of 0° of the sign. This means that houses often have more than one sign within them, and if the house is large enough, it can "intercept" a sign, or completely enclose a sign between two other ones such that it does not touch either edge of the house. It's common to say that the house is "co-ruled" by two or more planets, in the proportion matching the proportions of the signs that they rule. Intercepted signs are rarer, and interpretively they are considered to be a "suppressed" energy in that house, and since the opposing house must also have an intercepting sign, the axis that is intercepted becomes a theme that must be explored and discovered over time through life.[^9]
As you read about the meanings of the houses, think about the ways in which each of your placements might describe your lived experience of that house's themes. Follow aspects to other planets in other houses and see if you can identify what relationship it describes in your life. Take note of houses that are particularly packed with placements. Take note of houses containing planets making especially exact aspects. Look at the house rulers and see what aspects they make to other planets, and ponder how the nature of the aspect between them could describe the dynamic between the themes associated with the houses they rule.
Finally, let's talk themes of the houses. I have given them single word summaries as a mimetic aid, but just like the planets and signs, the houses are vast archetypes with infinite forms of expression. As you read their descriptions, think about how these themes relates to the involvement of the planets and signs you've identified in your experience.
#### House Meanings
##### The First House: Identity
The first house begins with the ascendant, the first moment of direct union between your body, soul, and the world outside of the womb. It represents the themes of that first burst of awareness into existence: consciousness and awareness of self, preceding everything else. Fittingly, the first house's themes are self-determination, outlook on the world, personal style and fashion, as well as awareness of the self *as* an identity, all of which will be described by the sign and the ruler of the sign.
Because the first house begins at the ascendant which is a special point, the ruler of the ascendant is particularly important in describing one's overall vitality, health, and character.
##### The Second House: Possession
After awareness of self comes awareness of the self as a thing that *has stuff*. For a newborn, this is the body. Eventually, this becomes *my stuff*, my toys, my room, my money, my career, my reputation, my friendships, my connections, my power, my strength, my my my. The second house reflects the perspective of *ownership*, even for abstract concepts such as social connections, personal fortitude, reputation, or knowledge. This house shows our relationship to possessions, and also shows how we tend to acquire them, both in terms of the sorts of things acquired as well the ways we tend to go about acquiring them.
##### The Third House: Environment
Extending beyond the domain of me and mine is the immediate environment: the people around us and the space around us. This includes our friends, siblings, family, and our local neighborhood. This house has to do with all things within our orbit, such as the local coffee shop we visit, and the people we spend the most time with. Bridging the gap between ourselves and others in our immediate environment involves communication: conversations, writing, recurring small-scale publishing (such as your local newspaper). It also frequently requires short-distance travel, such as one's daily commute or the walk we take to the local library. Historically, the third is also associated with religious observance, worship, sacred places, temples, and priesthood, from a time when religious experience was deeply intertwined with local community.
##### The Fourth House: Foundations
After recognizing the beings around us we recognize what home means as a concept, as a family, as well as in its most literal sense of the places we grow up in. The ancient Hellenistic astrologers called the fourth the "subterraneous" or "underground" place, since it marks the lowest section of the chart.[^11] It is the foundation of our selves in all sense: the place we are born, the country we live in, the parents that raise us, the house we grow up in, and the sort of home we tend to replicate for ourselves as adults, although usually in more developed forms than what we experienced in childhood. The fourth house generally shows our deepest, most intimate roots related to our familial upbringing, experiences in youth, and most sentimental feelings. The nature of the sign in the fourth house often describes the flavor of experience of growing up, and planets often describe the influences most prominent in our youth. As the lowest part in the chart, the fourth house is also associated with topics that are secret or hidden. This especially includes family secrets, but also treasure, both literal and figurative such as buried gold or occult wisdom.
##### The Fifth House: Play
Once we have foundations, we can build upon them. The fifth house is fundamentally the house of creativity and rewards (the Hellenists even called it the place of Good Fortune). In modern psychological astrology the fifth shows where we *create* whether as artwork, side hustles, or children. This house relates to the times and spaces where we get to *play*, on our own terms and for our own needs, during those moments of respite away from the obligations of work, chores, family, and society. The noodling riffs on a guitar we do for fun, the side gig that we dream will become a career one day, and just lounging around are all fifth house themes. These and other fifth house activities can lead to great luck and bounty, and the fifth house is correlated with windfalls, rewards, success, and sudden fortune. However, games can also be lost, and another theme of this house is financial losses, especially in games of chance. Finally, this house also relates to the themes creativity and play in the carnal senses of both recreational sex and reproductive sex. Thus, the fifth also rules romance, love affairs, pregnancy, motherhood, and children.
##### The Sixth House: Materiality
After we have played games, opened chests and strewn toys everywhere, comes time for the necessary conclusion: cleaning it all up. The sixth house is the house of handling the aftermath of what vital forces have come before. Here is where we deal with the limits of the real world. Bedtime approaches. There are only so many hours in a day and only so much energy in your body. This implicates health and its maintenance, the structure of our daily routine, and also those we work with, especially our employees as extensions of how we utilize our personal resources. This house also covers activities of space: reorganizing, moving things, building things, tinkering, and working with the hands. This house generally shows the way in which we tend to structure these activities and handle the small repetitions of life. The sixth can also give hints about the nature of work and career by examining any planets within it and the ruler of the house. Traditionally, the sixth house also rules small domesticated pets like cats and dogs.
##### The Seventh House: Other
The seventh house is the first time we peek outside of confines of our own world and ego. This house is about meeting the Other, truly encountering and grappling with the existence of another being, and the implications of living in collaboration and exchange with them. The last six houses have dealt exclusively with our *own* experience--the seventh marks the beginning of what I call the "external" or "exterior" houses. Each of the six external houses opposes the previous six "internal" or "interior" houses, and they all deal with the same themes, but in above the horizon they deal with where we meet the experiences of the Other.
More specifically, the seventh house rules significant relationships with others. This is generally any sort of committed relationship, formal or not, including romantic partners, business partners, and truly close friends. The sign on the seventh house tends to show either the types of people we attract, or the role we play in our partners' lives. Because the descendant's sign is opposing the ascendant sign which is an integral part of our spirit, and that each opposing sign on an axis contains a fundamentally shared essence, the descendant can show us where we disown part of our own nature and instead project them onto our experience of those closest to us. In its healthiest function, the seventh house can show us how our own polarity can be reintegrated into our psyches and embodied healthy in full recognition of what is ours and what is theirs. This allows us to see each other as we truly are, and go even further together.
##### The Eighth House: Burden
Opposing the second house of possessions, the eighth house holds *other* people's possessions. While "Burdens" is a foreboding word for a house, it is fairly accurate to this house's significations: death, and taxes. Death because you inherit other's possessions, and taxes because in most countries, part of your income is actually another's possession: the state. More broadly, this is the house of other's stuff in general. It includes your partner's money and furniture, your family's emotional burdens, and your best friend's secrets. People with significant 8th house placements sometimes work in careers having to do with other people's stuff or inheritance, such as accounting, tax software, real estate, or funeral and mortuary services, to name a few. This house can also be related to themes of familial, ancestral, and epigenetic trauma that we have nonetheless taken on, or can show how we interact with others' deepest burdens.
##### The Ninth House: Kingdom
Opposing the third house of environment is the ninth house of governmental power, institutions of higher learning, and organized religions. It also rules foreign cultures, wisdom, and publishing. The ninth house is like the expansive, externalized, authority-driven version of the third house's themes. If your local community church is the third, then the entire Catholic Church is the ninth. If your local library is the third, national publishing companies are the ninth. If your local school is the third, colleges and academic journals are the ninth. The ninth shows our relationship to religion, faith, and authority. It also shows our orientation toward institutionalized education and the general cultural mores of society at large. Having to do with the wide arm of governmental power and law, the ninth house also extends to the national community and diplomacy with fellow countries. The ninth often signifies encounters with other cultures, and having many planets in the ninth or its ruler be very prominent can sometimes point to experiences involving foreign countries and people, even extending to marrying a foreign spouse and possibly living abroad.
##### The Tenth House: Work
If you are using Placidus, the tenth house begins at the midheaven. If you are using Whole Sign House, the Midheaven is a separate point which is usually, but not always, in the tenth house. The tenth house and the midheaven share general significations, but the midheaven functions as a locus point where those topics are especially important.
The tenth house is the very height of the chart, and opposes the fourth house of foundations. From the roots of a tree grow branches, and the tenth house represents the breadth of the branches of your life. The tenth house is the house of *accomplishment*, but more specifically what you bring into the world. I like to describe it as what we will bring to the world and how it will be seen by the world at large. Planets in the tenth house or close to the midheaven tend to become very noticeable parts of our character and color our reputation. Those planets and the midheaven's ruling planet can give hints about the nature of this achievement and how it is achieved. The midheaven is sometimes described as indicative of the qualities we aspire to embody. Overall, the tenth house and midheaven relate to the personal career. A good way of conceptualizing what "career" means in various contexts is to imagine how someone else would describe what you were doing or working on during a given time. The work done in the tenth house becomes the foundation for those that follow us. Traditionally, the tenth house also indicated our ability to attain and mingle with power.
##### The Eleventh House: Collective
The eleventh house opposes the fifth house of personal play and creativity, and it is about the collectives in our lives. This includes peers in school, attendees of the homeowner's association, people in a local scene, your Twitter followers, or even the concept of all of humanity itself. The eleventh house describes our relationship to groups of people identified by their common interests. It also describes the role we tend to play in the communities we find ourselves in, and planets there often describe the types of experiences that come to us via these communal settings. The eleventh is contrasted against the fifth as creative energy being spent in service of others, rather than upon self-oriented aspirations which might happen to include others. In its excess functionality, the emphasis on the collective can become so strong as to override self-interest, and in some cases even self-preservation. As the house following the tenth, it was traditionally also associated with hope and friendships with powerful people.
##### The Twelfth House: Release
If the sixth house represents the diligent maintenance and upkeep of material concerns to balance life's desires, the twelfth represents the breakdown and dissolution of that structure. The twelfth house describes experiences that don't fit into the structure of regular life: indescribable, ethereal, listless, wandering, lost. Metaphorically, the twelfth house is the stage of decay as all that has come before is; the final step before death becomes fertilizer, yielding yet more life. However, when thinking about this house it's important to resist the temptation to rush to the next house (the first again) by thinking of the beginnings that follow where we are--the end. This house is associated with the end of things and the liminal space they occupy. Unlike the sixth house, where we can use our talents at shaping and structuring the material world, the twelfth house often requires that we release and let go in order to ease, and sometimes heal during these finishing stages. More concretely, the twelfth house is associated with healing professions, psychic experiences, secrets, loss, wild animals, dreams, fantasies, and fears. The twelfth house is one of what the Hellenists called a "dark house", meaning that planets there have difficulty expressing themselves. When you have planets in dark houses, they can feel like parts of yourself that are harder to access, or more dormant. The ruling sign and planet often hints at the nature of how you can most easily access those twelfth house placements, which are most amenable to approaches that live within and explore the empty space of the twelfth house, rather than those that aim to structure and capture them.
#### Planets in Houses
Now that we've explored what the themes of the houses are, we can think about the planets' roles in them. We can describe them here in summary, but they mostly follow quite logically from the planets' fundamental meanings.
The house the Sun is in describes what the native ties their core sense of identity to. It shows the nature of the self-image and where creative energy is most effectively applied. The experiences of this house are often key to a vital sense of self.
The house the Moon is in describes what we need in order to feel secure. Experiences here are frequently tied up in our survival needs and primal fears, so when matters in these houses are in disarray we can feel frightened and regressive. This also shows us where we can spend extra time to nourish ourselves and feel more secure.
The house Mercury is in describes where our intelligence is deployed and what we think about most. Communication and talking out loud helps us understand the dynamics of this house's themes. Mercury's house position can also sometimes show us the sorts of places we literally travel frequently by their mundane meanings.
The house Venus is in describes where we most freely experience pleasure, affection, joy, and happiness. Venus' house can describe what we value aesthetically or monetarily. It can also show where we tend to meet romantic interests or close friends.
The house Mars is in describes where we act most Mars-like, defending territory, exerting energy, initiating projects, and handling conflicts. Mars' house often describes the sorts of spaces we are most likely to conflict with others, but also where we are most willing to fight for what we believe in.
The house Jupiter is in describes where we can kindle faith, optimism, joy, and wisdom, as well as the activities can give a sense of personal growth and hope. This house can be a lens for seeing one's own potential to grow.
The house Saturn is in describes where we experience themes of discipline, restriction, responsibility, duty, and limitation. This house often demands significant labor and work from us, but if we put that work in, it pays off handsomely.
The house Uranus is in describes where we receive sudden inspiration, tend to innovate, and have a rebellious or unusual streak. This is where we express our inherent genius and how we can use it to help others.
The house Neptune is in describes where we feel nebulous fears, have "delusional" fantasies, and experience the deepest yearnings of the soul to something beyond. We often experience a simultaneous aspiration and aversion with this house. We aspire to manifest the sublime reality Neptune's conveys, but at the same time avoid it due to the certain fear that the reality will never quite live up to the divine inspiration.
The house Pluto is in describes where we have obsessions, compulsions, and control dynamics. This house is where we have difficulty letting things go, but also where we generate and devote a massive amount of energy. We tend to keep the matters of this house a secret, and there can be an irrational fear that we will be destroyed if we are exposed.
The house Chiron is in describes where we experience the wounded healer dynamic. The concerns of the house often describe the fundamental nature of the wound we have suffered and cared for throughout life. At the same time, that experience in this house becomes a font of wisdom for us to help others.
##### The Nodes
The Nodes by house will pull our focus and attention to the two houses they occupy which will always oppose one another. The North Node points towards our personal fixations and urges for experience while the South Node points to our comfort zones, unconscious defaults, and defense mechanisms.
#### House Strength
One of the gifts Hellenistic astrology gives us is the doctrine of house strength. Ancient astrologers considered each of the houses to have its own character and purpose with their own inherent beneficence and maleficence, which influences how relatively well or poorly planets function within them.
The broadly "good" houses, in order (most good to least good)[^13]: 1, 10, 11, 5, 7, 4, 9, 3
The broadly "bad" houses, in order (least bad to most bad): 2, 8, 6, 12
If you reflect on the meanings of each of these houses in turn, you can see how the ancients decided this order based on their opinion of the relative blessings bestowed by the domain of each good house, and the burdens and undoings related to each bad house. However, in modern times, we also emphasize the dominance of free will and the fact that while planets may be overtly influenced by their house placement, these seemingly difficult placements can be honed into skills, experience, and deep wisdom resulting in huge reward.
It's also important to keep in mind as we discuss the rest of the house strength rules that this is only a sampling of some of the broadest Hellenistic house strength techniques--there are more which factor into the evaluation of planetary condition and can aid a planet in a weak house.
A key concept from Hellenistic astrology is that of *angularity*, or closeness to the "angles". The angles (sometimes called "stakes") are the ascendant, descendant, midheaven, and imum coeli, which in the idealized whole sign natal chart are all at 90° angles to one another. The angles are said to be powerfully important points, and placements that are near them will be particularly influential in one's life. This is especially true when upon the ascendant or midheaven.
This idea of angularity also extends to the entire houses themselves: the first, fourth, seventh, and tenth houses are all considered angular. The houses that follow the angular houses are called *succedent*, and the houses that follow the succedent houses are called *cadent*. These classifications, broadly, describe the function and prominence of the planets in the house and the manner in which these planets express themselves in life.
![[Angular Succedent Cadent.png]]
The general qualities of the house classifications are:
- Angular houses (1, 4, 7, 10) - passion, energy, force, beginning, starting
- Succedent houses (2, 5, 8, 11) - consolidation, forming, structuring, building, handling
- Cadent houses (3, 6, 9, 12) - connection, completion, contemplation, sharing, organizing, distributing
The easiest way to remember the angular/succedent/cadent classification is to remember the 4 points of the AC/MC/DC/IC (which the ancients would sometimes call "stakes") mark the beginnings of the angular houses if you are using Placidus, and that these are then followed in counter-clockwise order by the two succedent and cadent houses. Ancient astrologers sometimes refer to these houses as "falling away" from the initial burst of energy of the cardinal houses, so you can imagine the four stakes having the strongest burst on the 90° *angles* in the angular houses, then *successively*, the succedent houses, then finally *falling* (latin: _cadēns_) to the cadent houses.
##### Dark Houses
The fourth, eighth, and twelfth houses are sometimes called "dark houses" due to their association with topics that can bring misfortune and distraction such as money, possessions, taxes, inheritances, death, and loss. These houses are considered to obscure the planets within them, making their expression less effective and harder for the native to access. Psychologically, the dark houses generally tend to represent those things lurking beneath the surface of our psyches, and the planets within them are hidden from us due to their involvement in the themes of the house.
This can sometimes indicate suppression or projection of the functions of these planets in the personality, and that intentional work is needed to integrate their energy into the rest of the psyche. Planets in dark houses can be more easily accessed or exercised by expressing the energy of the planet ruling that house, or planets that make aspect to the planets in the dark houses. Enough work can eventually integrate these energies into the psyche, and these energies tied deeply into the subconscious become an asset rather than a burden.
##### Planetary Joys
The doctrine of planetary joys is a scheme that underlies many of the meanings of the houses, as well as foundational pieces of Hellenistic astrology itself.[^14] Many of the houses' meanings are derived from the joy system, but the details are beyond our scope. However, we can list them and think about how their planetary nature relates to the houses they are assigned:
- Sun in 9th
- Moon in 3rd
- Jupiter in 11th
- Venus in 5th
- Mars in 6th
- Saturn in 12th
- Mercury in 1st
When a planet is in a house of its joy, it is considered to summon the best of its qualities, functioning particularly strongly.
#### House Interrelationships
Just as the aspects that exist between signs do a good job of describing key dynamics between those signs, so does the idea of aspects between the houses. For instance, consider these relationships:
- Six sets of two houses that oppose each other, suggesting their inherent tension and competing demands:
- 1 (identity), 7 (other)
- 2 (possession), 8 (burden)
- 3 (environment), 9 (kingdom)
- 4 (foundation), 10 (work)
- 5 (play), 11 (collective)
- 6 (materiality), 12 (release)
- Four sets of three houses that trine each other, flowing harmoniously, logically leading into one another:
- 1 (identity), 5 (play), 9 (kingdom)
- 2 (possession), 6 (materiality), 10 (work)
- 3 (environment), 7 (other), 11 (collective)
- 4 (foundations), 8 (burdens), 12 (release)
- Three sets of four houses that square each other in turn, clashing dynamically and demanding integration:
- 1 (identity), 4 (foundation), 7 (other), 10 (work)
- 2 (possession), 5 (play), 8 (burden), 11 (collective)
- 3 (environment), 6 (materiality), 9 (kingdom), 12 (release)
- Two sets of six houses that sextile each other, suggesting how they can connect to one another with a little applied effort:
- 1 (identity), 3 (environment), 5 (play), 7 (other), 9 (kingdom), 11 (collective)
- 2 (possession), 4 (foundation), 6 (materiality), 8 (burden), 10 (work), 12 (release)
While we could go on about the houses--and we have gone on--it's time to close on one last note and move on to Part 2.
### On the Astrological Alphabet
You may learn online or from modern astrology books about the [astrological alphabet](https://www.astro.com/astrowiki/en/Astrological_Alphabet) which equates 12 letters and numbers with the signs, houses, and modern planets, like so:
1. A, Aries, Mars, First House
2. B, Taurus, Venus, Second House
3. C, Gemini, Mercury, Third House,
As a mimetic aid the Astrological Alphabet is great, but when you conflate signs with planets with houses, you end up with meanings for the houses that are not supported by historical astrological texts. For instance, a very recent development that derives specifically from conflating Scorpio's highly sexual nature with the house whose number matches the sign, the 8th, is that the 8th house has to do with sex.[^10]
It's important to note that the nature of signs is different from the nature of houses, and nuance is lost if you equate them directly. In the houses, signs don't express their personalities so much as their energetic *rhythms*. When I was first learning astrology I told someone that their 6th house being ruled by Aquarius suggests that they change their routines and health habits frequently or are constantly experimenting with it, due to Aquarius' modern association rebellion and change under eccentric Uranus, only to be told that I was wrong (rather bluntly, as they were a skeptic). He had a very *fixed* routine and health habits.
Aquarius is, after all, a *fixed sign* and energetically that is how it expresses itself in the nature of the house, which especially if we consider that taciturn and unrelenting Saturn is Aquarius' traditional ruler. Rather, Aquarius' house-nature is expressed by a combination of its myths, its mundane concerns, and the themes of the house itself. In combination with the 6th house, Aquarius there can suggest working amongst friends, in social groups, in a scientific or technologically sophisticated field, or that health is observed with modern technology like biometric tracking devices.
While Aquarius *does* express itself in a way that has been accurately perceived by thousands of modern astrologers, this is most typically in the context of a human personality expressing Aquarian energy in specific placements. When interpreting the houses, it is important to understand the sign's expression more along the lines of its archetypal nature. This may seem abstract at first, but the more you observe and learn about the signs, the more you will appreciate their layered expressions in different contexts.
## Part Two: An Example Reading
If you've read this far, congratulations. Take a breather and settle in, because now we'll be doing an example reading.
No natal reading can *really* be done in isolation without the owner of the chart present to give us information. Ultimately, natal astrology exists to help people explore their own inner worlds and lives and should be done with the input of a client. Because of this, I almost always do live readings, whether over a video call or occasionally through a direct message chat. However, since you're reading my words on a page, I can only try my best to convey the act of synthesizing the many parts of a chart when you're doing a reading.
We'll use the chart from Part 1 for example delineation, but with whole sign house as that's what I use the most personally:
![[WSH Example Chart.png]]
Example Chart, or EC, is actually a person, but I no longer remember who it is since I changed the chart name. That's preferable, as it keeps me from coloring the reading with my personal knowledge about this person. I will refer to EC's placements as if they are a client we are doing a reading for.
### An example reading
#### Sun, Moon, Rising and Chart Ruler
First, examine the Sun, Moon, and Rising (the "Big Three" or SMR[^16]). As you see what signs they are in and think about their meanings, consider each in turn.
The Sun is identity and vitality, so consider how that expresses itself by sign and house. Note any close aspects it takes, especially conjunctions. Look at what sign it's in, and think about the strength of the house as well as the house's themes. Briefly consider which if any planets are making those aspects. The nature of the planets making close aspect will involve themselves in the identity. Relate this to times you have felt proud of yourself, like you felt like you knew who you are, like you were on the right path, like you were in control of your destiny.
For instance, our example chart (EC) has their Sun in Leo, emphasizing a proud, playful, friendly, boastful, ambitious sense of self identity. However, being in the 6th house, the sense of self may be a little more muted, especially as it spends its time focused on sixth house themes of materiality, organization, restructuring, routine, and personal health habits; a Sun so involved in these activities does not have much time to focus on radiating selfhood, but will affirm itself through them. Pets may be particularly important to EC (6th house), especially cats (Leo, literally felines). Additionally, EC's Sun receives a very close square (07', that is, 0.12 of a degree) from Pluto in the 9th house, suggesting that themes of compulsion, obsessiveness, and desire for control figure strongly, giving the identity a Plutonian streak that wants to survive, and somehow a relationship to authority, institutional powers, or religion (9th house) has something to do with it. At the same time, the Sun receives a supporting trine from Saturn in the 10th house, which fortifies the personal vitality and sense of self. It is made sturdier, more responsible, and more patient. Since Saturn sends its trine to the Sun from the 10th house of career, self identity is also wrapped up into it. The Sun in this chart is very "active" and takes many other aspects, but we don't want to spend too much time dwelling on the other planets just yet.
Next, examine the Moon, similarly asking how its themes of emotional safety, comfort, nurturing, survival, and the overall temperament of the mind express themselves in its sign. Relate this to when you've reacted instinctively and emotionally, like when feeling moody, hungry, tired, cranky, caring, sympathetic, cozy--or even emotional extremes such as terror, rage, passion, joy.
EC's Moon is in the 2nd house in Aries which suggests that emotions are experienced very intensely, in a highly reactive and excitable way (Aries), and that having resources (2nd house) for survival and competition is important to feel safe. For bellicose Aries this can mean ownership of weapons, trophies, or even an athletic body. Being in the "bad" 2nd house may mean that EC's emotionality is somehow mishandled, which in the 2H I find manifests most often as increased insecurity and neediness until these resources are acquired. The Moon is actually involved in a T-square with Pluto and the Sun, which further intensifies the story of the Sun. The opposition to Pluto again suggests themes of obsession and control, and we can describe this as an internal dynamic of needing to control and transform one's own emotional nature, even if that means engaging in self-destructive habits and emotional patterns which leaks over into treatment of one's possessions since the Moon is in the 2nd house. However, the Moon's trine to Neptune in the 11th house suggests that aspiring to community oriented ideals is a fruitful endeavor for this person, especially when they are applied ambitiously and constructively (Capricorn).
Next, we look at the ascendant (AC).[^15] Because the ascendant is in Pisces, my first thought is that EC is likely to have a receptive, open affect and be very sensitive to the moods and feelings of others. The AC, being an incredibly sensitive point, will also be modulated by close aspects it receives, and it does receive a sextile from Neptune, a square from Saturn, a trine from Pluto, and a sextile from the Moon. The most major aspects, the square and trine, will tend to make EC's presentation more business-like and reserved (square Saturn) while simultaneously having an alluring intensity and magnetism (trine Pluto). The AC will also be modulated by the presence of any planets in the first house. In this case the traditional ruler of Pisces, Jupiter, is there, making Jupiter's significations of a jovial, optimistic attitude and spiritual orientation even more prominent in the personality and expression. Finally, the close sextiles from the Moon and Neptune will add hints of a dreamy intuition (Neptune) as well as making the emotions easy to read, especially when stimulated (Moon). There is a LOT going on with EC's ascendant!
Finally, we need to look at the EC's **chart ruler**, or the planet that rules the sign of the Ascendant. Since the AC is in Pisces and Jupiter is the traditional ruler of Pisces, the chart ruler is Pisces, who we've already spotted. The chart ruler generally describes the fundamental nature of the native and a polarization toward certain modes of expression described by the planets. If we recall our polytheistic metaphor, the chart ruler is like the native's "patron god", and we can use this as a broad categorizational tool for describing the modalities and favored experiences that people pursue:
- Sun (Leo rising) - Solar people
- Moon (Cancer rising) - Lunar people
- Mercury (Gemini or Virgo rising) - Mercurial people
- Venus (Taurus or Libra rising) - Venusian people
- Mars (Aries or Scorpio rising) - Martian people
- Jupiter (Sagittarius or Pisces rising) - Jovian people
- Saturn (Capricorn or Aquarius rising) - Saturnian people
Depending on the structure of the entire chart, it's possible that the chart ruler will not be as emphasized or another planet could be overwhelmingly emphasized, which can overtake the influence of the ruling planet in the native's subjective experience. However, the chart ruler will always be an important placement, especially by transit.
Whew! Let's now move on to Mercury, Venus, and Mars. We will get a little bit deeper into rulership schemes and the relationships between planets. Don't worry if it makes your head spin a little bit--take each concept one at a time and feel free to skim and double back later.
#### Mercury, Venus, Mars
These three planets show how we think and express (Mercury), how we love and value (Venus), and how we assert and achieve (Mars). Depending on these planets' relationship to the Sun, Moon and Ascendant (especially if ruling the ascendant) as well as their prominence in the chart they can be more or less emphasized in the personality and as a part of the individual's core experience.
In EC's chart, Mercury is placed in the fifth house of Cancer. Mercury in Cancer tends to indicate that thoughts are intimately tied to the emotions. EC likely has good memory but personal feelings, emotions, and memories can interfere with intellectual objectivity. There may be an especially strong tendency to reflect on the past due to Cancer's concern with family, sentimentality, history, as well as the fact that Mercury is retrograde. Being in the 5th house it's likely that the mind is generative, creative, playful, and more extroverted than normal, and EC may have a particular love of intellectually-oriented (Mercury) games (5th house). The square that Mercury receives from the Moon in the second house indicates that emotionality is likely to interfere with EC's intellectual processes, especially when they are feeling stressed about needs and possessions related to survival. It can be difficult to express one's emotions clearly, because the relationship between between Moon (emotions) and Mercury (verbal/intellectual expression) is strained and discordant (square aspect).
There's an additional intricacy here: the Moon rules Cancer, and thus has a say in Mercury's ability to function. The Moon's condition thus becomes important for Mercury. Being in Aries, EC's emotional nature is likely to be bold, aggressive, and assertive, which will influnce Mercury's expression to be similar. This can grant EC a sharp wit and biting tongue. The fact that Mercury's ruler squares it can also be read something like, "Mercury in the Moon's home but the Moon is pissed about it", making Mercury's expression "stressed". The fact that Mercury also receives a sign opposition (sign-based aspect) adds more fuel to the fire, resulting in tension between EC's highly ambitious, persistent, disciplined approach (Capricorn) to problem solving (Mars) and their more emotional outward expression. Mars is especially powerful in Capricorn, due to its status of **exaltation** in that sign.[^21] Thus, Mars likely "overpowers" or "overstimulates" Mercury, giving it a more blunt, matter of fact, no-nonsense edge. This, in tandem with Mercury being under the Moon's rulership and harsh aspect, can indicate that EC frequently speaks much more forcefully than they mean to, does not shy away from argumentation, and knows how to wield emotions as a weapon. This is not someone I want to get into a serious argument with!
Venus is in Virgo in the 7th house. In Virgo, Venus is in its **fall**, which is the opposite of exaltation, where the planet cannot perform its functions as effectively.[^22] Venus in Virgo often makes the native very picky and particular (Virgo) about romantic partners, aesthetic experiences, and valuables (Venus), often rejecting romance due to its (sometimes impossibly) high standards. This reflects Venus' fall in Virgo, since a hyper-picky Venus does not get to experience much of its entire point--love, sensuality, pleasure, and the richness of life. EC's Venus story gets more complicated when we note that Jupiter opposes Venus while both Uranus and Chiron square her, which actually forms a "grand cross" aspect pattern, which is two pairs of oppositions perpendicular to each other, resulting in four squares. These are very intense configurations, as each planet is involved in *three* dynamic aspects at once with every other planet in the grand cross. Generally we can understand the grand cross as a incessant circulation of dynamic energy between each planet which requires each placement's expression to be reorganized and reformed. Due to the constant dynamic energy coursing through its poles, a grand cross is often both a significant struggle but also a massive source of generative energy for the native. If they succeed in figuring out how to allow the inner dynamics represented by a grand cross flow more smoothly, this configuration becomes a powerful engine that can propel the native to even greater heights.
In examining Venus we can look at each placement of the grand cross in turn. Uranus, being closest in aspect, will be experienced the most strongly, and Uranus is the planet of sudden changes, excitement, genius, technology that helps humanity advance, and revolutionary impulses. In square to Venus from the 10th house we can say it's likely that EC's love nature (Venus) is prone to a constant and pressing need (square) for excitement (Uranus), but also that EC's professional life (10H) can be disruptive to their love life--both in exhilirating, exciting ways and unexpected, undesired ways. Uranus also makes Venus very demanding in general, requiring constant stimulation and excitement that most potential partners would not be able to keep up with.
Meanwhile, Chiron is squaring Venus second most closely. Chiron has to do with one's core wounds, and in the 4th house of foundations, Chiron likely signifies a complex relationship with the family and early life, particularly around the topics of speaking, knowledge, and information due to its placement in Gemini. Chiron's themes tend to be experienced in an extremely individual way[^23] and attempting to delineate the specifics of EC's experience without their input and consent would likely be infringing as well as incorrect. What we can say is that it's very likely that these themes of core wounds, healing, and turning pain into sources of wisdom impact EC's love nature significantly, and are somehow related to the Uranian themes of sudden upheaval, concern for the collective (often over the individual and personal), and unreliability. It's also interesting to note that Chiron sacrificed his immortality *for* Prometheus, the figure most closely associated with Uranus, and in EC's chart they are in direct opposition, suggesting that their themes have come into conflict.
Finally, Jupiter, EC's chart ruler, opposes Venus. While no harsh aspect between the benefics (Venus and Jupiter) will ever be excessively negative in the way the malefics are frequently described, an opposition between Jupiter and Venus could be described as "an abundance challenge". Jupiter, being in his domicile in Pisces, is particularly strong, and likely to overpower Venus in her fall in Virgo. This may be experienced as a significant focus on EC's personal experience of self, as this is a core area for growth and sense of fulfillment that may be detrimental or excessive in the face of Venus' particular requirements in Virgo under pressure from both Uranus and Chiron.
You'll notice that as we delineate Venus, we are already beginning to delineate the other planets. This is unavoidable, especially when a placement is in tight aspect pattern with multtiple others, as placements impact and color one another by their relationships.
Mars is in Capricorn in the 11th house. Mars in Capricorn usually shows a very strong work ethic and the ability to persevere tough conditions, and there is often be a bent towards traditional approaches to accomplishing tasks and doing things "the right way". In the 11th house this effort is strongly concerned with social groups, clubs, organizations, and helping people en masse. Mars' placement here indicates that EC's efforts are likely put toward groups of people, and that the default way in which EC goes about accomplishing tasks (Mars) will often involve many people building something (Capricorn) together (11th house).
Mars makes wide harmonious aspects to both Venus and Capricorn, suggesting that the themes the opposition these two planets represents can be resolved through Mars-like activity. For EC, this means applying dedicated energy and effort towards accomplishing goals with or for other people could be a fruitful way to express both Jupiter's powerful draw toward personal experience, identity, and meaning, as well as satisfy Venus' criteria by finding potential friends and romantic partners while working on these group projects. Mars does not make aspect to the other outer planets in EC's grand cross, Uranus and Chiron, suggesting that Mars' exertion is somewhat irrelevant to the themes of these planets in EC's experience.
EC's Mars is also copresent (in the same sign) with Neptune, which augments both the expression of Mars but also 11th house activities in general for EC. This could mean that Mars-like activity is often inspired by some sort of ideal vision or vague intuitions. In grounded and concrete Capricorn, Neptune's influence is likely utilized toward bringing these visions into manifest reality. Neptune is related to music, film, and the arts in general, so one example interpretation could be an interest in social dancing which combines the vigorous and physical energy of Mars in Capricorn, the group nature of the 11th house, and the inspired and artistic elements of Neptune.
#### Jupiter and Saturn
Jupiter and Saturn, the last two planets the ancients considered, were considered to be the major indicators of passages of history. They conjoin every 20 years, and do so in signs of the same element for 200 years at a time, marking the nature of that era.[^25]. These planets relate to forces and themes that connect us to the larger society and era we live within. In a natal chart, Jupiter shows where and how we tend to experience blessings, luck, growth, and our relationship to institutions of higher learning, law, and foreign cultures. Saturn shows where and how we tend to experience limitations and restrictions that demand hard work and responsibility, as well as our relationship to authority figures beginning with our parents and evolving to governments, bureaucracy, and societal expectations.
In EC's chart, Jupiter is strongly placed in the first house, in its domicile in Pisces. This can indicate an overall sense of optimism about oneself, as the sense of personal identity is blessed by Jupiter's presence. Especially since EC's ascendant is also in Pisces, there's likely a tendency to an overall dreamy, intuitive sense of one's own possibility and luck and a particular draw toward sublimative, Piscean experiences such as art, religion, love, or perhaps even mind-altering substances and liquids.
However, Jupiter's participation in the powerful grand cross covered earlier is significant. These sources of joy can be opposed by an overly picky aesthetic taste (opposition to Venus in Virgo), occasionally disrupted in sudden and unexpected ways (square from Uranus), or tinged by experiences of old wounds and trauma (square from Chiron). However, as both benefics are involved in the grand cross, this is likely not experienced as harshly as if one or both of the malefics, Saturn and Mars, were involved in this configuration. Overall, EC likely experiences recognition and joy (Jupiter) through the expression of who they fundamentally are (1st house), especially when done sensitively and poetically (Pisces). Jupiter is also trine Mercury, suggesting that intellectual pursuits are particularly rewarding but also that they have the same (sometimes boastful) optimism that Jupiter provides.
Saturn is very close to the highest point in EC's chart, the Midheaven, and already quite prominent just for being in the 10th house. For all of the dreamy and joyous elements of a Pisces Jupiter in EC's personal identity, Saturn shows a strong propensity for work and EC may be seen (midheaven, visibility) as an authority in their field. Whichever house Saturn is in, the native often experiences a powerful sense of obligation, duty, pressure, or responsibility related to that house's themes. In the 10th house, Saturn often drives one to work extraordinarily hard, often toward great personal accomplishment. Saturn's close trine to the Sun reiterates this theme, suggesting a very strong work ethic and general sense of responsibility and duty, as well as the opportunity to receive recognition (the Sun and 10th house) through that hard work. In Sagittarius, Saturn becomes concerned with matters of truth, higher learning, government, international affairs, and philosophy, and Saturn is often an indicator of the career of the native, especially when in a career-oriented house such as the 2nd, 6th, or 10th.
#### Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto
Being relatively recent discoveries, the outer planets Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto exist outside of the traditions of ancient astrology. Thematically, Jupiter and Saturn connect the native to society, culture, and history at large, and I treat the "outers" as connecting the native to forces and energies beyond what is recognized as ordinarily human. I find that they often override one's personal choice, presenting themselves as unavoidable energies that must be incorporated into the personality, rather than elements that come directly from oneself.
Like Saturn, Uranus is also very prominent in EC's chart, being in the 10th house and so close to the midheaven. Because of this, Uranus' influence may be particularly noticeable to others and in EC's career: EC might be considered somehow revolutionary or eccentric in their approach to their work, career, and general reputation. We've discussed Uranus' influence on Venus and Jupiter, adding an element of disruption and discomfort (square) to both of these planets' functioning which demands novel and exciting (Uranus) modes of expressing these their themes. Uranus' close proximity to both of these placements also suggests that experiences ruled by Jupiter and Venus are prone to sudden changes in general throughout life. For Venus this can mean unexpected events in the realms of love and friendship, and for Jupiter it could mean sudden rewards and boons.
Neptune tends to bring transcendent experiences, inexplicable intuition, and creative inspiration as well as evasive tendencies, irrational fears, and unreasonable expectations which cannot live up to reality. Its house position shows where the native tends to experience these the most. In the 11th house, Neptune likely colors EC's experience of the collective, public sphere with idealism and visions of what could possibly be built (Capricorn) together. At the same time, Neptune sometimes brings experiences of dissolution, either from the native themself or in the experience related to the house's themes. For instance, EC may sometimes retreat or avoid those same groups they're invested in, or at times the group may seem to evade or disappear from them. In a more general way, Neptune can bring feelings of confusion or lack of clarity around the topics of the house and sign it sits within.
When Pluto is configured closely to personal planets it is often experienced very intensely. Pluto's darker themes are domination, control, obsession, paranoia, compulsion, secrecy, and sometimes violence. However, Pluto also has to do with deep transformation, accountability, ownership of self, and spiritual transcendence of its heaviest themes. In opposition to EC's Moon, Pluto can add a powerful need to hone, control, and transform the emotional self, and in the 2nd house, perhaps the body. In the 9th house, there may also be themes of control and power struggles related to academia, authority, or even occult and paranormal studies (Scorpio). Pluto also makes a very close square to EC's Sun, which can serve as an extremely powerful energy source as its intensity stimulates the Sun which represents one's vital energy. Along with this powerful energy can also come Pluto's negative aspects of paranoia, suspicion, hypervigilance, and the need to carefully control one's image, one of the Sun's concern (especially in Leo).
#### North Node, Midheaven, and Chiron
We'll touch briefly upon the North Node, Midheaven, and Chiron, as they are placements that are almost always important but highly contextual in a person's chart.
##### North Node
In my experience the North Node always has a significant story to tell in a natal chart, especially if it is closely aspecting a planet. In EC's chart it is conjunct the Moon in the 2nd house, suggesting that the dynamic the Moon represents for EC is a significant area of learning and development for EC. In Aries, the North Node emphasizes the need for the native to learn to fight for themselves, respecting their own needs and desires, and possibly even to learn to actively compete with or lead others. In the second house it also suggests the need to grabble with possessions in some say; combined with Aries this can be abstract possessions such as pride or courage, or physical trophies representing personal victories. Another interpretation could be the individual need to fight for one's own belongings; the south node as a counterbalance in Libra in the 8th house can suggest a tendency to overfocus on what other people have or need, or other people's problems.
The Midheaven is placed in the 10th house in Sagittarius. I tend to interpret the midheaven as the "style" of one's public recognition and accomplishments, so in Sagittarius it will tend to be bold, blunt, optimistic, direct, and honest--all Sagittarian themes. EC's capital-W Work may also involve mundane Sagittarian things such as philosophy, law, religion, international travel, diplomacy, etc. With the Midheaven almost exactly between Saturn and Uranus, EC's contributions likely also have to do with combining the traditional (Saturn) and the cutting edge (Uranus).[^26]
We have already touched on Chiron in some detail while discussing his role in the grand cross formation. The themes for Chiron in EC's life likely involve family, the past, knowledge, information, ideas, speech, or perhaps even siblings (Gemini). Opposing Uranus it is likely that the nature of Chiron's wound is sudden or unusual, and may also involve love (Venus) or spirituality (Jupiter).
#### In Summary
We covered a massive amount of information in a short space. With all of this in mind, we can now tell a story about EC. This is someone who is optimistic, determined, who has experienced difficulty resolving the tension between their inner world and refined tastes and possible heartaches, but manages it all with a sense of discipline and duty. They have much to learn in the realm of fighting for their own stake in things and possibly managing a fiery temper and the tendency to lash out emotionally. Nonetheless, they are devoted to helping others, and they likely keep their commitments and promises.
As you have likely noticed, no placement in the chart lives in a vacuum. Each placement is colored by its house, sign, and its relationships to other placements by aspect and rulership. This is why descriptions of placements you find online or in astrology references which describe placements by house or sign often fall flat: they cannot possibly capture the highly contextual expression of a planet in an actual chart. These sorts of descriptions can certainly be useful as a baseline when learning, but you need to use your discernment to tease apart the core essence of each placement and how they relate to the other placements influencing them.
## Closing Thoughts and Pointers
We have only done this reading for EC as an example in lieu of being able to go over your chart together. When it comes to reading your own chart, you have a bit of a challenge before you. Since all experiences are divided into various parts of the astrological system--signs, planets, aspects, houses, and more--we must make judgments as to what parts of our experience map onto what parts of our chart, at the same time we are learning about their various meanings. Astrology is also the first time many engage seriously with a system of self-knowledge, and confronting yourself can be disorienting in terms of figuring out what placements actually apply to you versus the natural tendency to want to see yourself (or NOT want to see yourself) in some placements. When I was first learning astrology, as I read more charts I began to realize just how vastly different other people were for me, and I developed a deep appreciation for how unique and deeply individual each person's experience can be. If you do this too, you will develop a refined sense of where the boundaries lie between archetypal significations, and will gain the ability to make increasingly precise interpretations of various placements. This is where your ability to hold the different components of your chart and reflect them against your own experience with honesty and discernment will shine through.
It's important to note that while astrological delineations as a broader collection of knowledge have been honed over time through repeated observation, every astrologer is an individual person who brings their own education, perspective, and experience to bear. When reading a chart "cold" like this, the best any astrologer can do is use the tools and wisdom at their disposal, but in a real reading setting the human being representetd by the chart is needed to add their own experience, or at least affirm or adjust interpretations. While it can be very impressive to pull accurate interpretations out of thin air, ultimately a chart reading is for helping someone understand themselves, not to show off (though occasionally people are hoping for exactly that!).
This means it's important to keep flexibility in mind when learning astrology. Astrology is a dynamic system that results from the interplay between past, present, and future; astrologer and native; self and world. We will forever be iterating to the true essence of a human hinted at by the stars. Be wary of anyone who claims to have the ultimate truth, use scare tactics, or otherwise tell you that they have it all figured out. Do not be overly credulous. Think critically about what you read. I also recommend you ignore anything or anyone that tells you that something will or will not happen in your life as if it were a sure thing: do not give your fate away. Not to a book, or any author, no matter how much you grow to like or respect them. Never let someone else act as your brain, not even this guide--I have my own biases and slants, too.
And finally, never forget the person. The chart is just a map. And if you do choose to read for someone, treat their chart with kindness and dignity, because you hold a map of their life in your hands.
### Approaches to Reading a Chart
In examining EC's chart we took a rather structured approach, working through the placements from the Sun and out. However, there are many ways to approach opening up a chart and find meaning and stories.
Here's a list of things you can try:
- Work through the Sun and out as we did
- Identify the chart ruler (planet ruling the sign of the ascendant)
- Examine the elemental composition of the chart to see compatibility between signs and general intrapersonal dynamics
- Look for hotspots in the chart--clusters of planets or heavily packed signs and houses
- Note the closest aspects
- Pick a planet and start from there, looking at its aspects, rulerships, function by house, and devise its story
- Identify interrelating themes among planets, houses, and signs
- Just gaze at the chart and see what arises in your intuition
You can start with one and go organically, or take a rigorous, structured line to reading through a chart. It's completely up to you, and I encourage you to experiment.
### Where to go next
If you've found reading your own chart to be an interesting experience and want to learn more, the best thing I can recommend is to pick up some good books and read more charts.
I can recommend the following books:
- *The Only Astrology Book You'll Ever Need* by Joanna Woolfolk - this is the first astrology book I ever read. While it overreaches in some places, it's an entertaining introduction with lots of colorful anecdotes and a great broad overview into the world of modern psychological astrology.
- *The Astrologer's Handbook* by Sakoian and Acker - more traditional and technical introduction to astrology along with an astrological dictionary, and their 3 related books on prediction, synastry, and patterns--better if you're looking for an astrology manual
- *Stephen Arroyo's Chart Interpretation Handbook* - useful reference guide at a high, process-oriented level which says plenty while avoiding being overly prescriptive
- *The Inner Sky* by Steven Forrest - I haven't personally read this one but if you're looking for an evolutionary/reincarnative astrology guide, Steven Forrest is excellent and this book comes highly recommended
- *Astrology, Psychology, and the Four Elements* by Stephen Arroyo - another Arroyo book at a somewhat higher level, this is a fantastic book for thinking about astrology in terms of the elements
- *Hellenistic Astrology* by Chris Brennan - an absolute tome of a book on the history and practice of ancient, Hellenistic astrology, but if you want to learn the roots of astrology you will find it here
- *Ancient Astrology Vol. I* by Demetra George - another take on the ancient astrology corpus, this book is more focused as a manual with less historical context than Brennan's book. Volume II is available now!
- [Seven Stars Astrology](https://sevenstarsastrology.com/) by Ant - technically a blog but practically a book (or an entire journal) in its depth and exploration of ancient astrology. Well worth your time once you have a grounding in the basics, but SSA does also have a beginner's guide series you can explore
That should be plenty to get you started!
If you're interested in looking at the natal charts of public figures, I can highly recommend [Astro-Databank](https://www.astro.com/astro-databank/Main_Page) and [Astro-Seek.com](https://www.astro-seek.com/). Astro-Databank has a massive collection of tagged and categorized natal charts of public figures, as well as a [search engine tool](https://www.astro.com/adb-search) for finding charts by specific criteria such as vocation, lifestyle, etc.
For a miscellany of astrology-related resources and content (amongst other weird things), you can check out my [Obsidian homepage](https://publish.obsidian.md/sadalsvvd), a website hosted out of my personal notes.
Lastly, if you'd like to support the work that went into this guide, [you can purchase a PDF version for $7](https://sadalsvvd.gumroad.com/l/astroguide).
### Thank You
That's everything. Well, everything that barely scratches the surface. We of course did not touch on the astrology of compatibility, family dynamics, finance, prediction, world events, and everything else that can be correlated and observed through the vast and powerful lens of astrology.
There are whole lifetimes of study that could be devoted to astrology, and I'm grateful I have had the opportunity to spend a solid chunk of mine on it. I'm also incredibly grateful to those who have supported me, tolerated me, and challenged me throughout my journey, including my personal friends and family, fellow astrologers, strangers who took a risk on purchasing readings from me, and my incredible Twitter friends and following, all of whom without I would not be where I am today.
I'd especially like to thank Alex Criddle for his ever patient support as I've nursed this writing into existence, and for giving me a reason to push it to its final form. And most especially, I'd like to thank you. If you read this guide, thank you so much for your time, interest, and investment. I promise that if you continue to approach astrology with an open mind, you will find that reality is far richer, and far more mysterious, than most would have you believe. It has indelibly changed my life for the better, and if you have the temperament for it, it may be able to do the same for you.
[^1]: The zodiacal constellations in the sky were originally associated with various star myths which were used to find omens in the motion of the stars, but as skygazers compiled their observations of the motions of the planets across the stars, they structured the sky into 12 divisions of 30°. These zodiac signs do take their names from the constellations because their qualities are associated with the myths belonging to their respective constellations, but they represent sections of sky, rather than the stars themselves.
[^2]: Due to the obliquity of the ecliptic against the earth, the different signs take shorter and longer times to rise, but it doesn't make a significant difference for now.
[^3]: There's another term for elements and modes: triplicities and quadruplicities. A triplicity is a group of 3, so there's 4 triplicities of the elements, and a quadruplicity is a group of 4, so there's 3 quadruplicities of the modes. I constantly forget which 4 and 3 goes where, so I use the terms elements and modes instead.
[^4]: By Tomruen - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=101823948
[^5]: This reflects a truth of astrological compatibility; earth and water signs tend to get along well, fire and air signs tend to get along well, but the two groups often don't mix well, requiring adjustment and adaptation. This applies both within the personality and between people.
[^6]: Technically, Placidus de Titis did not invent the system, which was widely acknowledged (including by Placidus) as created by Claudius Ptolemy, a highly influential second century astronomer who later explored astrology, mostly from a mathematical perspective.
[^7]: I would like to emphasize that this is an *incredibly* brief summary, and each planet has so many more significations that pair with each house in complex and fascinating ways.
[^8]: Technically, if you are working with asteroids or other stellar bodies, you may have no empty houses due to how many objects can populate the sky.
[^9]: See: https://mountaintimes.info/intercepted-signs/; and https://www.llewellyn.com/journal/article/2680 for decent information on intercepted signs. However, keep in mind that not all astrologers agree on how to interpret intercepted signs, and with whole sign houses there are no intercepted signs. Use your life experiences and judgment.
[^10]: For extremely informative, educational, and entertaining reads on the problems with the Astrological Alphabet, the rationale behind the meanings associated with the houses, and a thorough exploration of why the 8th house is not associated with sex, see Patrick Watson's excellent articles [Why Aries ≠ The 1st House](https://patrickwatsonastrology.com/why-aries-%E2%89%A0-the-1st-house/) and [RIP: The Little Death Of “La Petite Mort”® And Sex As An 8th House Topic](https://patrickwatsonastrology.com/rip-the-little-death-of-la-petite-mort-and-sex-as-an-8th-house-topic/).
[^11]: (In whole sign house you will have the separate Imum Coeli, or IC, which opposes the Midheaven, or MC, in one of the lower houses, typically the 4th. In Placidus, the IC will mark the *beginning* of the 4th house.)
[^13]: Order from Chris Brennan's *Hellenistic Astrology*.
[^14]: They are so foundational, in fact, that they present an entirely different pedagogy than the Astrological Alphabet by their associations. Advanced reading: see Chris Brennan's [The Planetary Joys and the Origins of the Significations of the Houses and Triplicities](https://www.hellenisticastrology.com/the-planetary-joys.pdf).
[^15]: For my own interpretation I like to look at the ascendant first, because its placement dictates the house placement and thus relative strength of both the Sun and Moon. However, I usually describe the Sun to clients first because that's their typically their first contact with astrology.
[^16]: Credit to Chris Brennan for coining "SMR".
[^20]: More on stationing planets: https://www.astro.com/astrology/in_stations_e.htm
[^21]: Every traditional planet is exalted in one sign.
[^22]: Every traditional planet is also fallen in one sign, which is the sign opposing the sign in which it has exaltation. Thus, Venus' sign of exaltation is Pisces.
[^23]: As *Anna Karenina* begins: "All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."
[^24]: From Demetra George's *Ancient Astrology (Volume 1)*.
[^25]: In late 2020, we marked a new epoch as Jupiter and Saturn made their first conjunction in the air sign Aquarius.
[^26]: This is a hint at another astrological technique called "midpoints", which are what they sound like: the middle point between two placements. Midpoints are beyond the scope of this guide, but they add another rich and fascinating layer of complexity to the natal chart.