Now that you've learned about the Astrological Archetypes existing in nature, our psyche, and the whole human experience, we look to the birth chart to see how those archetypes show up for us as individuals and as a collective throughout time and space.
Your birth chart is a snapshot of the sky at the exact moment you exited the womb. The placement of the celestial objects, points, zodiac signs, and the geometric angles they make to each other serves as a map and guide of your soul's journey. To access a free birth chart, you can visit www.astro.com. Having an exact birth time is necessary while the general city or region is ok.
When studying the birth chart, it's typical to take a geocentric perspective, meaning that the birth chart is viewed as if Earth (You) were the center of the universe and all the planets are moving around us. Its also important to note that we perceive the birth chart from a bird's eye view - as if we were looking down on the birth chart - so the left side of the chart is considered the Eastern hemisphere, the lowest part of the chart is the Northern hemisphere, the Western hemisphere is the right half, and the Southern hemisphere is at the top of the chart.
When you look at the chart, you see a circle divided into 12 slices - usually unequal but that depends on the house system you use (topic for another article) - with the zodiac signs going around the outside of the circle and glyphs (symbols) for the celestial objects placed inside the circle. You may also see lines connecting 2 glyphs - these represent the aspects, which are the conversations being had by the represented planets. For simplicity purposes, we're going to break down the birth chart into 3 parts for this article: the celestial objects and points, houses, and zodiac signs.
Astrology takes into account a wide variety of planets, asteroids, stars, imaginary points in the sky and more. The main ones used are the sun, moon, Mercury, Mars, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, Chiron, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, and the lunar nodes. These objects represent things about ourselves and the collective, such as our personal belief systems (Jupiter) and values (Venus) and the beliefs and values of a collective or generation. How these "things" show up for us depends on the house and zodiac sign they fall into in our birth chart, as well the aspects (angles) to other planets/points in the chart.
The houses are shown by the 12 divisions made into the chart. Each of the 12 parts represents an area of life, your psyche, or human experience. The first line is considered the one on the Eastern horizon. The zodiac sign that this line falls on, is known as your Rising sign or your Ascendant and it encompasses the First House. The next line starts the 2nd house, and so on until you get to the last 12th house cusp. The line starting the 4th house is called the Imum Coeli (IC) or the Nadir, while the 7th house cusp is the Descendant (DC), and the 10th house cusp is the Midheaven or Medium Coeli (MC).
While there are housing systems that divide the houses into equal parts, many systems don't. Each astrologer has their own housing system preference according to the type of astrology they practice or the type of astrological chart being cast.
The zodiac signs also divide the circle into 12 parts, which don't necessarily align with the houses. There are 30 degrees in each zodiac sign and the signs make up the ecliptic path that the sun follows throughout the year. The planets and moon also stay in close proximity to the ecliptic path, while moving through each zodiac sign at different speeds. When houses and planets occupy a specific zodiac sign, that planet/house exhibits the style of that zodiac sign. For example, the house occupied by Capricorn often shows the part of life where you can have the most challenges, but also learn the greatest lessons and reap the biggest rewards.
Reading the chart requires you to weave together the different parts of the birth chart by blending together the archetypes of each house, planet, and zodiac sign. Further insight comes through the aspects that each planet/point is making to other planets/points. These aspects are conversations between archetypes that expand on the story of your soul. In Part 3 of Astro Virgins we'll dig deeper into aspects and how to understand them.
According to cultural historian Dr. Richard Tarnas, "The basic principles of astrology is that the planets have a fundamental, cosmically-based connection to specific archetypal forces or principles that influence human existence, and that the patterns formed by the planets in the heavens bear a meaningful correspondence to the patterns of human affairs on the Earth. In terms of individuals, the positions of the planets at the time and place of a person's birth are regarded as corresponding to the basic archetypal patterns of that person's life and character."
Psychologist Carl Jung also advocated that unconscious archetypes present within each individual are also present in the collective unconscious, which contains "the immense psychic inheritance of human evolution." Jung stated that this inheritance is "reborn in the structure of every individual." Jung discovered that archetypal symbols (such as the innocent child, the hero, and the rebel) are universal to the human experience, which is why we see these archetypes in fairy tales and myths across all cultures.
When you receive an Astrological Reading, knowing the basic archetypes for the astrological signs, planets, and houses helps you get the most out of your reading. It's also the first step in learning to decipher your own birth chart (#goals!) so you can learn to work with the potential energy brought on by each day's planetary transits. In learning to understand how the archetypes influence you personally, you can gain self awareness - and ultimately - self mastery.
Western astrology recognizes 12 houses and 12 zodiac signs, and mainly focuses on 10 planets/luminaries. The houses, zodiac signs, and planets represent different things, but many similarities exist between them. It's with these similarities in mind that I've presented the information to you below, in hopes that it will make learning this information easier. When people ask me what's the first step in learning astrology, my answer is always: "Learn the Archetypes - Intimately".
So let's dive in...
House 1 * Aries * Mars
House 1 is Ruled by Aries, and Aries is ruled by Mars. The First House is considered the House of Self. It will show your physical body, including your appearance, mannerisms, body shape, DNA, and your style. It's where you find your Rising Sign, or Ascendant, which shows how you project yourself to the outer world, thus the first impressions people get from you. The First House can show the role you played in your childhood home, including the impact that role left on you. Additionally, the First House is where you find the new beginnings in your life, and it shows your ability to take action toward new things. The planets and sign occupying your First House further refine this part of yourself and life.
Aries is considered the first zodiac sign since it aligns with the Spring Equinox. It's a Cardinal Fire sign, meaning it's projective and initiates energy. The style of Aries energy is pioneering, bold, active, competitive, combative, ambitious, forceful, and independent. Aries courageously takes charge and leads the way, but lacks true staying power. Conversely, Aries can come across as bossy, selfish, and pushy with a lack of respect for other peoples' wants and needs.
Mars is the warrior planet that represents your driving force. It's your courage, motivation, drive, aggression, achievement, action, assertiveness, strength, and sexual desire. Mars governs physical activity, including sports, war, and competitions. Mars is where you find your passionate impulses - or animal instincts - and the driving force and willpower behind them. Mars energy can also manifest as destruction and aggression, which is often necessary for transformation. A breaking down and clearing away of what's dead or futile is necessary for new things to surface, but can often come with strife.
House 2 * Taurus * Venus
House 2 is ruled by Taurus, which is ruled by Venus. This is considered the House of Values. It's where you gain insight into your possessions, material wealth, self worth, income, and skills/talents. How you earn money, your potential for earning money, and your attitude toward money and the material world are shown by this house's zodiac sign, planets, and aspects. Anything you hold valuable is shown in the Second House, whether tangible or intangible. This includes your own self esteem, abilities, comfort, and securities. This house is where you find the assets that you incur on your own and for yourself.
Taurus is a Fixed Earth sign that corresponds with peak spring season when the flowers are in full bloom. Taurus style is stable and receptive (receives energy as opposed to initiates), and it operates in a sensual, comfortable, dependable, calm, stubborn, and pragmatic way. Taurus energy enjoys the Earth's bounty of physical pleasures and material goods. While Aries loves the game, Taurus loves the rewards. Consequently, Taurus can come across as shallow, lazy, selfish, and slow to change. However, Taurus is also family-oriented and shows tenderness, loyalty, and groundedness.
Venus is ruled by Taurus and Libra. When associated with Taurus, Venus is concerned with pleasures of the senses (touch, taste, see, smell, hear). Venus represents what you love and desire and with the influence of Taurus, it's specifically about physical love and desire. It represents what gives you satisfaction in life while making you feel grounded and stable.
House 3 * Gemini * Mercury
House 3 is home to Gemini, and ruled by Mercury. It's the House of Communications and it shows your intellect or lower mind. How you communicate, think, analyze, solve problems, and process information are shown by the zodiac sign and planets inhabiting or aspecting this house. Additionally, this area of your birth chart is where you'll learn about your immediate environment - your neighborhood or local community. Siblings and early education (pre-college) are also represented in the Third House. And if you have questions about short distance travel and transportation - look to this house as well.
Gemini is a Mutable Air sign that takes the Earthy stability of Taurus and sets it free through versatility and adaptability. This is the time when spring transitions into summer and all of nature is abuzz. Gemini style is intellectual, curious, perceptive, and witty. It has a thirst for knowledge and interpersonal connection that creates social and mental acuity and flexibility. Gemini embodies duality (the Twins), so it can be contradictory and convoluted - not quite knowing what it wants. The shadow side of Gemini manifests as fickle, anxious, immature or noncommittal.
Mercury, like Venus, rules 2 signs: Gemini and Virgo. In your birth chart, Mercury represents your mental processes - thought patterns, intelligence, curiosity, communication abilities, etc. It's also those people/things associated with mental processes and communication - teachers, writers, singers, computers, transportation, etc. It's the quick-wit and brilliance, or lack thereof for those with a poorly placed Mercury. From the Gemini side, Mercury is more concerned with the macrocosm - it wants to learn about everything and anything, whether the information is practical or useful to you or not.
House 4 * Cancer * Moon
House 4 is home to Cancer and ruled by the Moon. Known as the Nadir or Imum Coeli (IC), it's the lowest point on the natal chart and commonly referred to as the House of Home. This represents your private life - the deepest, most personal part of you. It's where you retreat to find security and where you show your most vulnerable side. This is also where you can glean information about your family, roots, history, and traditions; and it describes the relationship you have with your most nurturing parent (often the mother, but not always). The planets and zodiac sign here indicate how you seek security and sanctuary and how your home life affects you. Childhood matters, your current home situation, old age, and your final resting place are all Fourth House matters.
When the sun crosses into Cancer, it marks the time of the Summer Solstice, making Cancer a Cardinal sign and ruled by the water element. Cancer's style is nostalgic and deeply emotional, and correlates with the nurturing mother figure. Like it's animal totem the crab, Cancer is hard on the outside, but soft on the inside due to a great need to provide stability and security in an ever-changing environment. This gives Cancer an intensely protective nature that constantly battles between showing vulnerability and putting up security walls. It's a dynamic style that can tend toward moodiness, paranoia, and withdrawal when expressed negatively, and yet be warm, affectionate and thoughtful when expressed positively.
The Moon represents your emotions and your instincts - it's how you react without stopping to process what's happening. It's irrational and impulsive and shows your subconscious mind or inner knowing. The moon also represents all things that provide you with comfort and safety - including your home and your mother. The moon's monthly waxing and waning cycles, along with its quick movement (it spends about 2 days in each zodiac sign every month) is symbolic of the natural ebb and flow of your feelings.
House 5 * Leo * Sun
House 5 is ruled by Leo and the Sun. It's the House of Creativity, and it encompasses a wide array of creative endeavors. Children, self-expression, pursuits of pleasure, romance, and your legacy are all found in the Fifth House. It's what you create in order to find what makes you happy. Sports, hobbies, entertainment, art - whatever makes you feel good is found in the 5th House. Gambling is also ruled by this house - whether it be financial, romantic, adventurous; it's any risk you take that could bring a result of possible pleasure. It's where your wild spirit lives, and it wants to shake you out of monotony.
Leo is a Fixed Fire sign that ushers in the peak of summer season when plants and trees start to bear fruit. Its style is creative, warm-hearted, passionate, proud, fun, and flirty. It's very expressive and needs to be careful not to be overly-expressive, creating so much drama that it overshadows other peoples' creative self-expression. Leo style is generous and kind, attracting many friends, but must take heed against being too demanding. Like it's animal archetype the Lion, Leo is prideful, however it can become egotistical when out-of-balance. Other shadow styles of Leo include controlling, pompous, needing approval, and high maintenance.
The Sun reflects the core of who you are - your conscious mind, exuberance, and pride. It governs your self-esteem and your inner strength. It's where you find your purpose, and it represents what you're working toward in this lifetime. It's important to keep a balanced sun. You do this by maintaining an environment that allows you to give AND receive love, recognition, and praise. A weak sun can manifest as someone who is insecure, weak, pessimistic, and vulnerable. While a sun that burns to strong creates people who are demanding, conceited, and defiant.
House 6 * Virgo * Mercury
House 6 is ruled by Virgo, which is ruled by Mercury. It represents the part of life where mundane activities happen. It's often called the House of Service or the House of Health. The zodiac sign, planets, and planetary aspects here influence your physical health, your job (not necessarily your career), habits, diet, fitness, personal hygiene, and anything related to responsibility and service. The Sixth House is where you face your flaws and improve yourself through duty.
Virgo is a Mutable Earth sign that moves us from late summer to early fall. It wears the style of dependability and selflessness. It's careful and precise with high standards. Virgo energy can balance the mind, body and spirit through self-purification. It does this by being completely rational and not allowing the emotions to take the lead - or intervene at all, in some cases. Setting emotion aside allows us to logically assess our passions, desires, and impulses - those things that become clouded when emotions run too high. For this reason, Virgo style can come across as cold, hard, and skeptical, but really it's seeking purity and efficiency.
Mercury's placement in the birth chart represents your intelligence, perception, and focus. As the ruler of Virgo, Mercury takes your mental processes and grounds them in Virgo's Earthy element so you can weed out what's useful and important. When weak, Mercury can show up as a closed mind and premature judgement. A strong Mercury allows for an objective and versatile acumen.
House 7 * Libra * Venus
House 7 is ruled by Libra and Venus. Known as the House of Partnerships, this is also where you find your Descendant (DC). It's opposite the 1st House, making this the area that's all about others (as opposed to House 1 - the House of Self). And it's specific to significant others such as spouses, business partners, close enemies, and anyone you have a 1-on-1 relationship. You can glean information about how you relate to those closest to you and issues that may affect these relationships through the planets, zodiac sign, and aspects made to this house.
Libra is a Cardinal Air sign marking the beginning of Fall when the trees put on their spectacle of color and beauty. This zodiac sign's style is iconic for balance, justice, and harmony. Libran energy seeks equilibrium, elegance, diplomacy, and respect. It appreciates art, beauty, and all aesthetic matters. Libra looks for ways to find peace and objectivity while accommodating all sides. However, this can sometimes manifest as vanity, indecisiveness, inconsistency, and caring too much for others at the cost of the self.
In relation to Libran and 7th House virtues, Venus' placement in the birth chart shows love in a more abstract sense than physical Taurus. So it's your charm, magnetism, kindness, and intimate interaction with others.
House 8 * Scorpio * Pluto
House 8 is where the birth chart starts to ascend into the Southern or upper half of the chart (yes, I said right). While the bottom portion of the chart relates to the inner self and your personal environment, the upper portion relates more to social matters and your outer world. The 8th House rules over transformations, including sex, death, and renewal. It's areas of life that require loss/death in order to be redeemed. Shared resources are also 8th House territory: inheritances, investments, alimony, taxes, debt, joint assets, and shared spaces. And it's where occult matters, fetishes, and taboos reside.
Scorpio, a Fixed Water sign, marks the prime Fall season when the beautiful Libran autumn leaves turn brown and fall to their death to be transformed into soil for next year's growth. It's the most intense and focused sign, working in a style that's deeply passionate, secretive, analytical, and magnetic. Scorpio style is intuitive and can read the emotions of other people well. Call upon Scorpio to help you probe the shadow aspects of your core self. This sign is where the most mysterious side of you lives; it's where you're most introspective, cunning, and psychic. However, when staying too long in this sign of transformation, Scorpio energy manifests as brooding, violent, deceptive, and stubborn. Rather, you are meant to dig into the shadows in order to shine light on what you find there.
Pluto is the modern ruler of Scorpio. Before Pluto's discovery, Mars ruled Scorpio. So today, Scorpio is ruled by both Pluto and Mars, but Pluto's more aligned with the Scorpio archetype, while Mars fits more with the Aries archetype. Pluto is known as the Lord of the Underworld because it rules what's below the surface - it's your Soul. It's the dark place you enter in order to transform into the Rising Phoenix. It's your revelations that come about due to destruction and creation. Pluto is where your power lies, but that power comes through loss and new beginnings. Pluto is a generational planet due to its slow-moving nature, so people born within a 10-20 year time span will all have Pluto in the same zodiac sign. Its placement shows where these generations of people seek to change society by destroying and reconstructing what no longer works from generations before.
House 9 * Sagittarius * Jupiter
House 9 is the House of Philosophy. It rules your belief systems, your higher mind, higher education, and long-distance travel. It's where you find your sense of adventure, your morals, and your personal truths, including religion. The planets, aspects, and zodiac sign occupying this house will tell about your spiritual beliefs and how you seek the meaning of life. Mundane activities that relate to this house include publishing, foreign countries, and overseas endeavors.
Sagittarius governs the transition from Fall to Winter with its Mutable Fire energy. It's style is fun-loving, bold, adventurous, inspiring, idealistic, optimistic, and impulsive. It seeks truth and wisdom, enjoys risk-taking, and has a good sense of humor about life. Sagittarian style is prone to wanderlust and expansion, which can result in restlessness and difficulty with commitment. Other shadow sides of Sagittarius include being condescending and impervious to criticism or alternative viewpoints.
Jupiter is a transpersonal planet, which means it affects your social environment. It rules the abstract, higher-thinking mind (as opposed to Mercury, which rules the lower-thinking mind). It's your ideology, spiritual awareness, and wisdom. Jupiter is known as the King of Gods and the Great Benefactor. It's your sense of optimism, luck, generosity, leisure, and good fortune. It has an expansive nature, encouraging you to seek wisdom and clarity. When in its shadow, Jupiter can manifest through laziness, weight gain, overindulgence, and contradiction.
House 10 * Capricorn * Saturn
House 10 is the upper-most part of the birth chart, representing the most public part of your life. It's known as the House of Social Status and it's ruled by Capricorn and Saturn. The planets and zodiac sign in your 10th House indicate how you can best serve the public with your individual talents and abilities and how to claim your social power. This is the house most indicative of your career. It also shows your personal achievements and the role authority plays in your life. It's opposite the 4th House where you find information about the more nurturing parent; so here in the 10th House is where your more authoritative parent shows up.
Capricorn is a Cardinal Earth sign that brings in the official start of winter - the harshest season of the year. It's your adulting style: your maturity, responsibility, strategy, work ethic, and sensibility. It works in a forward-moving style with great leadership skills and resourcefulness. Because Capricorn is so goal-oriented, it can manifest as cold, hard, pessimistic, and unforgiving when out-of-balance. The house with Capricorn on the cusp is likely the area of your life where you are most disciplined, self-sufficient, and ambitious, depending on planets and aspects.
Saturn is the other transpersonal planet, so its effects are more oriented toward your social environment. It's known as Father Time because it signifies boundaries and limitations of all kinds. Saturn is responsible for teaching you the greatest lessons in life - which are often the hardest ones to learn. But when you learn those lessons and apply them, Saturn brings you the biggest rewards. Where it's placed in your chart signifies where you'll encounter restrictions or delays, but also learn the greatest lessons and reap the greatest rewards if you learn from those lessons.
House 11 * Aquarius * Uranus
House 11 is ruled by Aquarius and Uranus, and it's known as the House of the Collective. It's associated with acquaintances, the collective consciousness, humanity, social issues, and social groups. It's your friends, but not your closest, best friends (those are more 7th house territory). It's also where you garner information about your hopes, goals, and visions. It shows how you liberate yourself on a personal level: it's a place of non-judgement where you can truly let your freak flag fly.
Aquarius, a Fixed Air sign, is when winter is in full swing and it's time to get inventive as to how to survive this cold, barren season. That's why it's considered the most eccentric zodiac sign. It's style is off-beat and individualistic. It's where you think outside-of-the-box, and where you're ahead of your time. Aquarius needs a lot of mental stimulation as it gets bored easily; it wants to access the parts of the brain that aren't used on a daily basis in order to be the most original. Aquarian style is also very concerned with the greater good of humanity, making it friendly, but also detached and aloof. A healthy Aquarius style is altruistic, affable, revolutionary, innovative, and unique; while an unhealthy Aquarian style is overly-opinionated, rebellious, close-minded, and judgmental.
Uranus is called the Great Awakener. Like Pluto, it's an outer planet that affects generations of people due to its slow movement. This planet of shock and awe stirs spontaneous, revolutionary change and freedom. Uranus is new thought patterns, chaos, originality, genius ideas, and energetic downloads. Uranus breaks old patterns and brings enlightenment and innovation. It can bring about extremism, which can be the rebel without a cause in an unhealthy state - or the revolutionary leader in a healthy state.
House 12 * Pisces * Neptune
Lastly, we've come to House 12, the House of Hidden Things. It's also known as the House of Endings, the House of Self-Undoing, and the House of the Unconscious. This house is often misunderstood due to its recondite nature. It rules the unseen aspects of yourself, such as imagination, intuition, dreams, and spirit. As cryptic as these unseen forces can be, this is where you turn when seeking rest and recovery. It's where you come to cope with your past decisions, and it's where your karma lies. In the mundane world, the 12th House also represents the institutions that take us out of society like prisons, hospitals, ashrams, and asylums.
The Mutable Water sign Pisces represents the change from winter to spring. It's the most emotional and spiritual zodiac sign. A balanced Piscean style is sensitive, selfless, gentle, intuitive, and artistic. Out-of-balance, Piscean energy tends to be self-sacrificing, gullible, fearful, and depressed. Because of it's mutability, Piscean energy can pull in many different directions. And without boundaries and decision-making abilities, it can tend toward escapism. It's what makes Pisces the jack-of-all-trades, but the master of none.
Neptune is the third outer planet, and the higher octave of Venus. Neptune takes you to higher levels of psychic awareness, creativity, and imagination. Neptune dissolves boundaries and inspires through dreams, fantasy, and illusion. It dissolves the sense of self into the unified whole, which is why it represents the Spirit. As the third generational planet, Neptune influences cultural aspects like fashion, film, art, and visionary attitudes. It's the emotion brought about from a society's culture. An unhealthy Neptune without strong boundaries creates addiction, attachment, delusion and abuse. But in its highest vibration, Neptune is compassion and love for all.
While there are many more astrological objects, points, angles, elements, etc. to cover in later articles, the information covered here is your fundamental starting point. And now that you understand the (very) basic meanings of the astrological archetypes, next up is learning the construct of the birth chart, which is your own unique soul map reflecting how these archetypes personally influence you and your life.
Have you ever wished life came with a map? I can't tell you how many times I've contemplated my own life purpose. And who hasn't sought the advice of a trusted confidant when contemplating job offers, relationships, where to live, (fill in the blank with your own dilemma)?
Sometimes it seems like we're all a bunch of lost souls drifting through life, taking shots in the dark.
Which is why you should start taking astrology seriously.
I'm not saying flip to the horoscope page in the back of the newspaper and heed every bit of ambiguous absurdity it offers. Indeed, those crappy, computer-generated, sun sign horoscopes are the bane of every astrologer. What I am telling you to do is get a copy of your birth chart and learn how you as an individual connect to this Natural World. Just like seasonal and daily cycles, natural rhythms live within us and your birth chart helps you become aware of those rhythms. Astrology is associated with the esoteric teaching that "As Above, So Below; So WithIn, So WithOut" because what's happening in the cosmos and in the natural world, is reflected in our physical/emotional/spiritual bodies.
To put it simply, we all came into this life with a soul purpose, and astrology can help us realize that purpose. because our birth charts hold valuable information about our unique strengths, challenges and the re-ocurring patterns in our lives. Understanding this information leads to greater self awareness. And the more self-awareness you have, the more empowered you become. You just need to learn the celestial instructions that have been known since ancient times.
Your birth chart is essentially a snapshot of the sky at the moment you left your mother's womb and entered into this physical existence. The planets were all in certain zodiac signs, and the location where you were born determines the houses those planets and signs fall into. These placements all influence you and your life path.
At first glance, your birth chart will likely leave you in a daze, with symbols and geometric shapes floating in your head. It's important to know, what you're looking at holds layers of information about your soul, and deciphering it is like peeling an infinite onion. A thorough study of the birth chart is truly a jump down a rabbit hole, but it is possible to stay a simple course. Indeed, your birth chart can be used as a map that helps you navigate specific areas of life and provides insight on your strengths and weaknesses and how you can best maneuver through specific areas of life.
The first thing to know about your chart and astrology in general is that you are more than your sun sign, so forget about associating yourself solely with this ONE zodiac sign where this ONE planet is placed. There are another 9 planets involved in the making of you (yes, I'm including the sun and moon as planets and yes, I know they aren't planets. That's just how astrologers keep things simple in a very complex study). So while the Sun represents (simply put) your conscious self, ego and the core of who you are, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto also have a say in the makeup of your unique self and life. (Simply put) the Moon represents your subconscious, emotions and instincts; Mercury is your intelligence and communication style; Venus shows what you desire; and Mars shows your energy and outward strength. Saturn and Jupiter have a less personal effect on your individualism and relate more to your outer environment and the social issues affecting you. The remaining 3 planets - Uranus, Pluto, and Neptune - are known as the outer planets or transpersonal planets, and they move at a much slower pace than the others, causing their effects to be expressed externally on whole generations of people. These outer planets also hold a lot of information about your soul evolution and past lives - as do the Lunar Nodes (North Node and South Node). But that's another lesson too complex for this simple introduction.
In general, the planets represent the WHAT in the story of you and your life (your will, your emotions, your intelligence, your pleasure). They are the players, and the style of energy they'll possess comes from the zodiac sign the planet inhabits. The zodiac signs are HOW the planets will manifest in you. For better or for worse, the zodiac sign colors how your vitality (Sun), emotions (Moon), intelligence (Mercury), etc manifest. For example, Pisces has a style that's artistic, dreamy, and intuitive, while Aries has a brash, courageous, and willful style. Someone with their Moon (emotions, instincts) in Aries will instinctively react and emotionally feel things differently than someone with a Moon in Pisces.
The third key component to your birth chart is the Houses. These are numbered 1-12 and may coincide with the zodiac sign placements, but don't confuse the two as they depict different things. While the zodiac signs represent the style of energy that is expressed, the Houses show the areas of life representing the quintessential human experience. The Houses show WHERE you can expect a zodiac sign's style to express most dominantly.
Learning to understand these 3 components (planets, signs, houses) and weave together their meanings is the first step in reading your natal chart. A lot of core information can be deduced from weaving this web. However, a more complete picture comes when you learn about aspects - the dynamic relationship between planet placements that determines whether a planet's energy will manifest easily or with difficulty. Learning about the aspects lets you in on where life may flow harmoniously and where you may struggle and learn hard lessons in order to evolve physically, mentally and spiritually. After mastering the aspects, you can get into progressions and transits, and learn to prepare for planetary aspects.
But for now, start by downloading your free birth chart (try Astro.com). Also visit my page titled Archetypes for a brief overview of what each planet, sign, and house represents.
And stay tuned for more articles that will teach you how to read your own cosmic map and lead a more purposeful life.
Disclaimer: While it is my goal to help you learn to read your own chart (astrology should be taught in school!), I do offer various types of birth chart readings. Please see my Services page to find out more.