A Guide on the basics of “What is Astrology?”
You’ve probably read your horoscope online or in a magazine. These forecasts are based on your Sun sign which is determined by your month and day of birth.
It’s what people refer to when they ask, “What’s your sign?”
You may have read about your Sun sign and found it to describe you fairly accurately. But how can the Sun and other planets affect you when they are thousands of miles away? What is astrology and how does it work?
What is Astrology? A Definition
Astrology is the study of how events on the planet Earth relate to the position of the planets.
(Note: Astrologers include the Sun and the Moon under the term planets for simplicity. Even though the Sun and Moon are actually luminaries, it’s easier to group them with the planets because of the role they play in astrology. This will make more sense as you continue to learn astrology.)
Astrology has two basic concepts that form its foundation:
- Each planet plays a role in your personality and behaviors – how you communicate, how likely you are to stay in one place or travel a lot, your emotions, and so on.
- The position of each planet affects how the planet’s characteristics will develop.
How Astrology Began
Astrology was invented by the Ancient Babylonians about 4,000 years ago. They noticed that there was a relationship between events on the planet Earth and the alignment of the planets in the sky.
The Babylonians developed a form of astrology that is today called mundane astrology. It focuses on things like the economy and weather.
No connection was made between astrology and individuals until over 1,000 years later when the Babylonians created natal astrology. Natal astrology predicted what would happen in an individual’s life.
The Babylonian’s knowledge of astrology was passed onto the Ancient Egyptians and Indians.
In the second and third centuries CE, astrology grew to incorporate many of the concepts we know today, such as the Ascendant and Midheaven, planetary rulers, astrological houses, and aspects.
Astrology was seen as a science, and was a required subject for medical students.
While astrology has been enhanced over the years, the basics of astrology remain the same today as they did centuries ago.
What is Astrology Today?
When you’re reading your birth chart, you’re using natal astrology.
Natal astrology looks at the positions of the planets at the moment of your birth to determine how the different characteristics of each planet appear in your personality, your actions and behaviors, and your life overall.
It is concerned with the following elements:
- The Planets – where are they?
- The Zodiac Signs – where are they and what planets are in them?
- The Houses – what planets and zodiac signs are in them?
- The Aspects – basically, where are the planets?
Astrology divides the Heavens into 12 zodiac signs. As the planets orbit, they travel through the zodiac signs. The planets also fall into the houses. The aspects indicate the angles between the planets, or between a planet and a point.
Astrologers place all of these elements onto a chart called your natal or birth chart. You can think of it as a map of the night sky when you were born.
Astrologers use symbols on the natal chart instead of words. It makes the chart easier to read and more organized. (Here is a list of planetary symbols.)
Learn more about what astrology is with these astrology lessons:
- How to Tell the Story in Your Astrology Chart
- Planet Meanings and Symbols
- History Behind Zodiac Signs
- Ultimate Guide to Astrology Symbols and Glyphs
- About Zodiac Signs
- Zodiac Signs: Physical Characteristics & Descriptions
- Love Compatibilities for Zodiac Signs
- Retrograde: What is the meaning of retrograde planets?
- The 12 Astrology Houses