How many stories are written into the stars? Your mission today is to find a story that relates to you in the stars, then identify the stars, or planets on which it is based in the sky. To find your home in the stars! You may need to get yourself to a place where there is little light pollution, at a time when there is not a bright moon in the sky, in order to do this. I realise that the term ‘astrology’ might be enough to put anyone off, in the context of daily papers and monthly magazines dividing the populous into just 12 types. At a deeper level though, astrology, mythologies and stories of stars and planets in our sky is endless. In any culture, the stories we make for ourselves are fascinating.
When mankind first left the earth during the Apollo missions of the 1960’s, the astronauts described having peak experiences, looking back at the earth hanging like a beautiful jewel against the dark backdrop of space. This sense of awe they experienced, rather clumsily named ‘The Overview Effect’ took them from separated, isolated beings to people with a sense of unity; with the earth, with each other, with all beings. It provided a cognitive shift, a transcendental experience. If only it were contagious, we might not have so much of the earth abuse taking place so widely in the world today.
Once you start thinking about the enormity of space, the distance between planets and stars, the relative size of the earth compared to the sun, our sun compared to others, things can get pretty transcendental! The sun’s circumference is about 2,713,406 miles (4,366,813 km). It may be the biggest thing in this solar system, but the sun is just average size compared to other stars. Betelgeuse, a red giant, is about 700 times bigger than the sun and about 14,000 times brighter.
Pretty soon it becomes clear that in the face of the enormity of space and time, humans are pretty irrelevant. And from there and your realisation of the relative unimportance of everything you do, all you say, you can move away from ego into realisation. The contemplation of space is one of the most personal-perspective altering things you can do.
“Our night skies are alive with ancient stories of human culture as the Gods and Goddesses of myth and legend battle out their relationships. Hunters, dogs and horses, giants and warriors inhabit Orion for example, and that’s just in Western culture. Orion in the Winter months is most majestic of the constellations. It rises in the East and sails in brilliant splendour between the horizon and the zenith and sets almost due West. Its four bright starts form a quadrilateral, in the midst of which are three radiant stars slanting downwards in a straight line. If you are lucky you will see the Milky Way spread across the sky behind it.
Orion is mentioned in the oldest surviving works of Greek literature, which probably date back to the 7th or 8th century BC, but which are the products of an oral tradition with origins several centuries earlier. In Homer’s Iliad, Orion is described as a constellation, and the star Sirius is mentioned as his dog. In the Odyssey, Odysseus sees him hunting in the underworld with a bronze club, a great slayer of animals; he is also mentioned as a constellation, as the lover of the Goddess Dawn, as slain by Artemis, and as the most handsome of the earth-born.
Orion’s brightest star, at the top, left-hand corner of the quadrilateral, is Alpha Orionis, or Beltegeux (Giant’s Shoulder) which glows with red-ember light. Rigel, the star in the lower right-hand corner, glitters with a blue-white radiance and is more vivid than Beltegeux; it is Orion’s second star and was once less powerful than the Giant’s shoulder. Its name means ‘Giant’s Leg’.
In the top right-hand corner is the star Bellatrix (female warrior). The quadrilateral’s south east corner is formed by Kappa, a second magnitude star. The Great Nebula in Orion is famous and is situated in the Sword of Orion – represented by a line of three stars; it is a cloud bed of shining cosmic dust, illumined by the radiance of the stars which cluster in it, at rest deep in outer-space.
The Giant’s Shoulder forms a beautifully luminous equilateral triangle with Sirius in the Great Dog (Canis Procyon Major) and in the Little Dog (Canis Minor). This Great Triangle is one of the most vivid constellations of the heavens. Procyon is golden, while Sirius glitters with a snow-and-sea, blue-white radiance. Sirius, the Dog Star, is the most powerful in the star group of Canis Major, as beautiful and brilliant as our own rising sun when viewed through a telescope, try it and absorb the light vibrations of a unique, single star. The intensity of its light is due to the fact that it is a near star. And this is just one single constellation! The skies are full of so many stories about our ‘nature’.”
(The above from by Claire Nahmad’s book ‘Earth Magic’).
Wherever you look in the heavens, there’s a story. The zodiac contains twelve signs that each contain legends and mythologies – perhaps you have explored these already? We are all familiar with the ‘daily horoscope’ in papers, magazines or on the web, and at this level astrology is just entertainment.
When you start delving into your own chart on the basis of your unique time, date and place of birth, your progressions and transits it can reveal a lot about your own story, your own unique nature. Or at least give you something to disagree with, to kick against!
Below is a brief introduction to the elements of an astrological natal chart. I urge you to investigate your own chart or book some time with an astrologer. You too are written in the stars! A typical birth chart is made up of the following elements.
An astrology primer.
1. Your astrological self: astrology is both a science and an art. Don’t be fooled by popular dumbed-down astrology in newspapers and magazines. Your own unique natal or birth chart pinpoints an exact and unique moment in the unfolding universe. True astrology can help you to understand life events in retrospect and even prepare you in readiness for opportunities. Knowing when to take action, and when not to is important in managing change.
The archetypes used in astrology relate to the planets, the stars, the places they fall into and the relationships between them. Astrology is an ancient practice older than religions and there are several personality models based on the position and movements of these heavenly bodies that have existed since the dawn of time. All of the ancient ones are worthy of study and Chinese or North American Indian astrology help to identify the ideas of basic archetypes that exist through all forms of psychology and pscho-analysis.
This mission gives you a whistle-stop tour of all the information you need to start understanding your own natal or birth chart. Of all the methods I have explored to increase my self-knowledge, astrology is by far the most profound.
Get a natal chart made if you do not already have one. For this you need an accurate date, time and place of your birth. Please go to www.astro.com where you can get a natal chart made for free. You can also download a computer-generated horoscope, which is made up from the elements described below.
In astrology your zodiac ‘personality map’ is combined from several sources. These are:
1. Your zodiac sign. These are the best-known signs, such as Virgo or Leo that are popularised so well in modern mass culture. The sign is shown by the position of the sun at your moment of birth. Your zodiac sign defines in some sense your essential energy and way of being. If you look at your chart you will see all 12 zodiac signs arranged around the outside. Each of these signs breaks down into three decanates of 10 degrees, each one with a different flavour of the sign.
2. Your rising sign. This is the zodiac sign that is rising from the horizon at the moment of your birth. It shows how your energy is transmuted into the world, and can influence how you see the world and other people view you, like a kind of filter. If your zodiac sign represents a building you might live in, then your rising sign is the front of that building – how you are ‘perceived’ by people that might not know you. Your chart will show your rising sign on the left, with the 1st house below it and the 12th house above it.
3. Your moon sign. This is the zodiac sign that your moon falls into at the moment of your birth. It describes your emotional being. You can identify its position on the chart when you can spot the moon symbol, which is quite obvious.
4. The other planets. Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto all fall in particular places at the moment of your birth. The positions of these planets in signs and houses suggest traits you may have. These can cancel each other out or modify energies and aggravate certain tensions when they work with or against each other.
5. The aspects between planets. These planets set up relationships with each other that describe archetypal tensions that may result in personality traits or in various ways of perceiving the world. The basic shape of a chart can differ between small clusters of activity with planetary groupings in a few signs, or an open chart with planets equally scattered around the signs and houses. As the planets move through the sky over time, they set up new relationships to each other called Transits.
6. The houses. A 360° representation of the sky, the zodiac map is divided into 12 houses. Some of these houses contain planets, and these also fall within zodiac signs. This provides information about the potential life activities of the person described in the natal chart. For example: Venus in Taurus in the 11th house. The qualities of Venus are expressed in a Taurean manner and are directed into the 11th house activities.
7. Other Elements. There are many other parts of a chart to discover. For instance the position of the planet Chiron, the ‘wounded healer’ can indicate a place of integration as Chiron, the largest piece of the asteroid belt is the ‘door’ between the slow moving outer planets and those nearest Earth. Other elements to explore include where the mid-heaven point occurs. This like the ‘Pars Fortunae’, or ‘Part of Fortune’ can indicate where your ‘fortune’ lies.
Over time the elements of a chart move and enter relationships with each other such as trines (120 degrees apart) or squares (90 degrees apart) and these can kick off harmonious or frictional transitions in the chart. You can also project your chart forward on a ‘day for a year’ basis to generate a kind of map that, when rendered 3 dimensionally, looks identical to a molecular model of DNA strands.
Astrology is a bottomless and fascinating subject. I am personally still finding new things in my own chart after many years studying it. In order to contain all of this information on a birth chart, astrologers use symbols. The zodiac signs, the planets, their relationships, aspects and transits are all defined by symbols. If this fascinating method of exploring your inner nature appeals to you, please follow up your studies with more detailed information. There are a wealth of books and resources on the subject of astrology and you will find much for free online.