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by Pam Frank The symbolic language of astrology reveals the intimate connection between the outer space of the universe and the inner space of you. The natal (birth) chart reflects this mirroring and provides a personal map that can help you navigate the terrain of your life, revealing your unique patterning and attesting to the relevancy of each moment as part of the cyclical unfoldment of your wholeness. 

Today western astrology regards the natal chart , a snapshot of the universe at the moment of your first breath, as a map of the psyche: How your brain is wired for experience in this lifetime consciously, subconsciously and unconsciously. There are three main components to the natal chart: planets, signs and houses.  Planets represent character traits, signs indicate needs or urges, and houses reflect environments of life. These three parts are joined in two basic ways: by the astrological alphabet and by aspect. 

The astrological alphabet , as developed by Zipporah Dobyns, Ph.D., links the seemingly disparate components of planets, signs and houses into 12 similar vibrations as follows (in brief):

Letter 1: 1st house, Mars (Mars Glyph), Aries (Aries Glyph)
physicality, action, desire

Letter 2: 2nd house, Venus (Venus Glyph), Taurus (Taurus Glyph)
senses, values, security

Letter 3: 3rd house, Mercury (Mercury Glyph), Gemini (Gemini Glyph)
communication, sociability, variety

Letter 4: 4th house, Moon (Moon Glyph), Cancer (Cancer Glyph)
needs, home, feelings

Letter 5: 5th house, Sun (Sun Glyph), Leo (Leo Glyph)
creativity, enthusiasm, limelight

Letter 6: 6th house, Mercury (Mercury Glyph, again), Virgo (Virgo Glyph)
analysis, skills, details

Letter 7: 7th house, Venus (Venus Glyph, again), Libra (Libra Glyph)
romance, diplomacy, balance

Letter 8: 8th house, Pluto (Pluto Glyph), Scorpio (Scorpio Glyph)
power, intensity, depth

Letter 9: 9th house, Jupiter (Jupiter Glyph), Sagittarius (Sag Glyph)
truth, growth, expansiveness

Letter 10: 10th house, Saturn (Sag Glyph), Capricorn (Sag Glyph)
responsibility, authority, diligence

Letter 11: 11th house, Uranus (Uranus Glyph), Aquarius (Aquarius Glyph)
higher mind, collective, detachment

Letter 12: 12th house, Neptune (Neptune Glyph), Pisces (Pisces Glyph)
unity, service, surrender

An aspect is an angular relationship between two planets that are each in a sign and a house. The primary aspects are:

Conjunction (Conjunction Image) at 0 degrees

Sextile (Sextile Glyph) at 60 degrees

Square (Square Glyph) at 90 degrees

Trine (Trine Glyph) at 120 degrees

Opposition (Opposition Glyph) at 180 degrees

The type of aspect between planets describes how those character traits within your makeup relate to one another: by conjunction, a strong blending; by sextile, an opportunity for useful compatibility; by square, an internal call to find compromise and grow in awareness; by trine, a natural harmony; and by opposition, an external call to find compromise and grow in awareness. 

A sample natal chart with planets, signs, houses and aspects looks like this:



Digging a little deeper, the astrological tool kit goes on to further categorize signs and houses by element and modality. (NOTE: The elements are also called the triplicities—there are three signs/houses associated with each element. The modalities are also called the quadruplicities—there are four signs/houses associated with each modality.)

The elements are fire, earth, air and water. Each element delineates a basic orientation to life. Fire is the creative drive that looks to be inspired, earth deals with the practical domain, air involves the intellectual and social dimensions, and water denotes the feeling or emotional realm. They describe the following signs and houses:

Fire: 1st house/Aries, 5th house/Leo, 9th house/Sagittarius

Earth: 2nd house/Taurus, 6th house/Virgo, 10th house/Capricorn

Air: 3rd house/Gemini, 7th house/Libra, 11th house/Aquarius

Water: 4th house/Cancer, 8th house/Scorpio, 12 th house/Pisces

The modalities refer to styles of meeting the world. They are called cardinal, fixed and mutable. Cardinal takes action and makes adjustments as it goes; fixed acts, but does little adjusting; and mutable adjusts a lot, but takes little action. They describe the following signs and houses:

Cardinal: 1st house/Aries, 4th house/Cancer, 7th house/Libra,
10th house/Capricorn

Fixed: 2nd house/Taurus, 5th house/Leo, 8th house/Scorpio,
11th house/Aquarius

Mutable: 3rd house/Gemini, 6th house/Virgo, 9th house/Sagittarius,
12th house/Pisces

Going beyond solely understanding the natal chart, when it comes to the predictive end of astrology, two basic tools are used: transits and progressions. Transits refer to the movement of the planets in the sky at a given time frame, e.g. 1998. Progressions, specifically secondary progressions (let's not get into the "secondary" part here), indicate the position of the natal planets at a given moment, e.g. your 28th year of life, when moved according to the idea of one day in the life equals one year in the life. In other words, the 28th day after birth and the 28th year after birth are directly correlated. Transits reflect the unfoldment of universal time-space in that the planets in the sky are in the same place for us all, while progressions represent the unfoldment of personal time-space in that the position of the natal planets by progression is uniquely and solely relevant to you. Transits and progressions reflect your moment in so far as they make aspects (as described above) to the stationary positions of the planets in your natal chart. Those aspects indicate which part of your chart is being stimulated, and how. Noteworthy transits to your natal chart are indicated by the movement of the middle planets (Jupiter and Saturn) and the outer planets (Uranus, Neptune and Pluto). Important progressions to your natal chart are represented by the movement of the inner planets (Mercury, Venus and Mars) and the all-important sun and moon. 

Stimulated to learn more? If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, please go to Contact Pam to reach me in order to find out about my astrology classes and private tutorials.

If you are not local, please contact the National Council for Geocosmic Research for worldwide information on astrology in your area through their local chapters. While we're at it, if you have a more professional interest in astrology, please check out the International Society for Astrological Research and the Association for Astrological Networking as well.

Or please go to your local bookstore, preferably "new age," and scan the astrology section for a wide variety of wonderful astrology books to learn from. Two key resource books for me have been The Astrologer's Handbook by Frances Sakoian and Louis Acker, and Planets in Transit by Robert Hand. The former addresses the interpretation of all the parts that comprise the natal chart, and the latter provides interpretations of each transit combination in predictive work. Hand's book Horoscope Symbols is also a must-read for anyone looking for a comprehensive understanding of western astrology. Books by renowned authors Stephen Arroyo and Steven Forrest are likewise great places to dig in deeper. Check out Astrologyetal for access to astrology books on the Internet, and more. Enjoy!

Email Pam Frank            Visit Pam's website, Planet Astrology


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