5 Things to Know About Astrology, Written by an Amateur Astrologist

If you're like me and spend an ungodly amount of time on Twitter, you may have also noticed the ginormous uptick in the amount of accounts there are that dedicate themselves solely to astrology. In fact, it seems that young people (dang millennials!) are reaching for a horoscope app to give them insight about what their days, weeks, months, and lives ahead of them might hold more and more! I will admit unashamedly that I am most definitely one of those people – my best friend and I (both Cancer suns) looked up and read our horoscope every day during our junior year of high school religiously. In the two years since then, I’ve accidentally (and not-so-accidentally) dived even deeper into the astro-world, and I’ve learned quite a bit since then. Here are five simple things you should know about astrology in order to get the most out of your horoscope!


1. You have more than one sign.

Most of us know just one sign based on our date of birth. You might refer to it as your star sign, zodiac sign, or even as just your “sign.” The truth of the matter, though, is that the sign you already know is your sun sign! Your sun sign is based off of the position of the sun when you were born. For example, I was born on July 19, so I’m a Cancer! My sister, born on September 28, is a Libra. What you probably don’t know, is that in addition to your sun sign, you have around 11 other signs to interpret! Each one represents where each planet (minus Earth, plus the moon, Pluto, your ascendant/rising, and a few comets/asteroids/other things that are a bit too complicated for a beginner’s guide to astrology) was at your time of birth in relation to your location at birth. These placements make up your birth chart (also called your natal chart), and each one represents a different aspect of your personality. For example, your sun sign represents who you are at the core of your being (who you naturally are without trying), your moon sign represents your emotions, and your rising sign (the sign that was coming over the horizon as you were born) is the “mask” you put forth into the world (I see your rising as the kind of human you strive to be, the traits that aren’t necessarily natural to you but that you make an effort to embody anyway).


You are a complex human being, so obviously you can’t be defined by just one sign – familiarizing yourself with your chart is a great way to understand the intricacies of who you are as a person! (Hot take: most of the people who say astrology is fake and get angry about it probably only know their sun sign and don’t identify with it, but maybe if they looked up their chart they would realize the multifaceted nature of astrology.)


Here’s my chart (in the format of a natal wheel)!:

(Credit: www.astro.com)

2. You’re reading your horoscope wrong.


Whenever you see an astrology meme on a twitter or pull up the Cosmopolitan weekly horoscopes, your first instinct is to instantly scroll to read your sun sign, right? What you might not know is that you can get much more out of your horoscope by reading what’s written for your rising sign! The rising sign, also known as the ascendant, is the sign that was coming up over the horizon at your exact time of birth (so if you don’t know the hour and minute you were born, call your mom ASAP). While you can gain a lot of insight by reading your sun sign’s horoscope, your rising sign’s horoscope is going to give you the information you can combine with the information from your sun sign horoscope to give you a much less general idea of what’s going on in your life. Because your rising sign is so specific to you and your time and place of birth, it’s going to allow you to really zero in on what’s most important for you to focus on!


3. Astrology doesn’t stop at your birth chart.




Okay, so we know now that you have lots of different signs all corresponding to where each planet was in the sky at the time of your birth. But what you might not know is that astrology is very much a living, breathing practice because, as you should most definitely know, the planets of our solar system are always in motion! As each planet moves through the different signs (similar to how the sun moves through different signs – the traditional dates of the zodiac that you most likely know to categorize your sun sign), the ways they affect you will change with the signs. One example of this is the moon. Since the moon has such a short orbit, it moves through different signs extremely quickly. That’s why Cancers (the sign ruled by the moon) are known for being so moody! The moon is always changing and thus, us Cancers may tend to be a bit on the temperamental side. The action of the planets moving through your chart is called transiting, and it’s one of the best ways to understand how astrology might be affecting your everyday life.


Click here for an in-depth tutorial on how to read the transits affecting your own chart!

4. Compatibility is FAKE!



How many times have you had a crush on someone only to go home and look up their sign to discover that you supposedly have no compatibility? Rest assured, my friends: that’s totally bogus. For starters, any astrologer will tell you that there’s so many different ways to exhibit the traits said to be possessed by your sign, and sometimes the specific ways in which you exhibit your Leo or Libra nature may perfectly complement how someone else exhibits their Cancer or Gemini nature! When you evaluate yourself through a birth chart, you don’t just see signs – you can see how the different planets in your chart are positioned in opposition or in harmony and so many other things that affect the type of energy that you put out. Secondly, like I’ve said so many times in this article, you have more than one sign and as it so happens, there’s one sign completely dedicated to the ways in which you express and receive love: your Venus. And why stop there? The best way to determine compatibility is by comparing two complete charts – we’re all complex human beings, so why diminish ourselves to just one aspect of our personalities? And in the grand scheme of things, if two people who “aren’t compatible” want to be together and are willing to work together to forge a relationship, there’s absolutely nothing that can stop them no matter how “incompatible” they may be.


5. Mercury in retrograde is NOT always a bad thing!


Going back to the start of this article, how can we discuss the rise in popularity of astrology without discussing the hellstorm that is Twitter whenever Mercury goes into retrograde? It seems that so many people are so quick to blame their problems on Mercury without actually understanding what exactly it means that it’s in retrograde or what that does.

When Mercury (or any planet) is in retrograde, what that basically means is that because the Earth has a different orbit than every other planet, occasionally the planets will be arranged in such a way that it seems like Earth is passing them up, so to speak, or like the planets are going backwards in relation to Earth. Astrologically, this usually indicates a kind of reversal of whatever aspect of our lives that that planet rules. In the case of Mercury, which rules communication, retrograde can make it difficult to interact well with others. It can muddle your thoughts and is often used as a scapegoat for whenever things go wrong. However, Mercury in retrograde can be an incredibly useful tool. Mercury doesn’t go retrograde again until November 16 of this year, so when it does, be sure to take your time in making big decisions. Don’t rush into anything. Mercury in retrograde is a wonderful time to take a step back and check in with yourself. If you allow yourself to take advantage of Mercury being in retrograde, it can be an amazing time to really put effort into organizing your thoughts and making a game plan for what you want and need to do.


And that’s a wrap! Keep in mind that there’s so much to be learned about astrology. It’s not as hippy-dippy as many people seem to think it is. Astrology can be an extremely useful tool to use for self reflection and evaluation and a really awesome way for you to get to know yourself! With that in mind, here are some free resources for you to begin learning more about yourself!


Cafe Astrology is a great resource for beginners. Their chart calculator will provide detailed descriptions about each of your placements and their daily horoscopes are always a pleasure to read!

Astrodienst is a wonderful resource for the beginner astrologer who’s ready to get serious. It not only offers tons of different options for you to see and read your chart, but it also has an entire section filled with in-depth articles about everything astrological.

The Astro Codex is an online encyclopedia of astrology, and it’s filled to the brim with every piece of astrological information you could ask for.