So you want to learn astrology– a symbolic language that describes the subjective human experience with seemingly miraculous depth and accuracy. Woot woot!! I’m so glad you’re here– and I’m here to help you.
Have you ever learned a foreign language? Learning the planets, signs, and houses in astrology is a lot like learning a new language– a language of symbols rather than words.
As with any language, you can’t start with Shakespeare. First, you must learn the words, then the pattern that strings them together. Gradually, with practice, you’ll read and speak more “fluently” in this new language.
Here are a few tips from somebody who started out just like you and ended up going pro!
The best way to learn astrology is to study your own birth chart, and the birth charts of the people in your life. Many charts, especially those of the people closest to you, may not make a lot of sense to you at first, and that’s okay. They will make more sense in time. Just keep reading charts, learning, and observing.
Eventually, you’ll move on to in-depth topics, like aspects, transits, progressions and composite charts. You’ll start comparing your chart to other people’s and learning the energetics of relationships. Still, don’t stop reviewing the basics: planets, signs, and houses. Every one of these symbols has multiple layers of meaning. The more you know, the better chart reader you will be.
If you want to get good at reading charts, you have to practice. It’s like riding a bike– the more you do it, the more natural it becomes.
I like to use 3” x 5” or 4” x 6” note cards, lined on one side, and blank on the other. On the unlined side, draw the glyph for the planet or sign, or the number of the house. On the lined side, write down keywords for that planet, sign, or house. You can start with the keywords in this course, and add to them as you learn more about the symbols and their meanings.
You can use the cards to quiz yourself on the meanings and other basic information about each of the planets and signs. You can also put them together to help you interpret a chart. For example, with Moon in Taurus, you would get out your Moon card and your Taurus card, and put them together to get an idea what Moon in Taurus means.
Most astrology enthusiasts love to gab about their craft. Find someone to “talk shop” with. Attend a lecture at your local NCGR or other astrological organization (there are lots). If you’re not lucky enough to have an astrology group in your area, join one of the many communities online where people gather and discuss astrology at all levels.
Regardless of your level of expertise, you can also study and learn from the planetary patterns swirling around us today and every day. Keep an eye on the astrological calendar. This is a wonderful way to learn, since you’ll be doing so much more than memorize keywords for the planetary energy— you experience it first hand!
When I work with clients, I don’t often tell them what they don’t already know about themselves. All I do is reframe it for them. Reading the birth chart helps me put their experience into a “cosmic” perspective that almost always resonates deeply.
When you’re starting out, don’t read to know; read to observe. “Ooh, when Mars meets Saturn, it feels like this.” “Aha, this happened, and Neptune was transiting my Venus.” “Wow, a lot of my friends have Leo rising.” “My last 3 boyfriends have had Moon in the 7th house.” (Looking to partner with mama!) If you read to know, you run a good risk of freaking yourself out. “What is going to happen?” is not a question the chart can answer. “What’s unfolding in my life right now?” is.
Every symbol, sign placement, house placement, aspect and whizzbang in astrology represents an archetypal pattern that has many possible manifestations.
Newcomers to chart interpretation tend to look up their symbols and placements in books and online. And that’s a great thing to do! But you might come across a negative sounding interpretation, and think, yikes, I must be a terrible person. (I know I did.)
But I learned to think of it this way— difficult things in your chart represent challenges or inner conflicts that take some effort to work out.
The bad news is, yes, you may exhibit some of these negative characteristics. The good news is, being aware of your patterns and honest with yourself is the first and most important step towards mastering the challenges represented in your chart (or at least coping with them).
A good interpretation of your chart can light the way for you to turn your stumbling blocks into stepping stones.
Astrology is a fascinating, complex, serious and incredibly rewarding study. It usually takes at least a few years and a whole lot of practice to get good at reading charts, so the first thing to remember is to be patient with yourself. I have been studying since 1996, and there is still so much to learn.
As you study astrology, learn new techniques and perspectives, and work with the astrological calendar, the years will continue to pass. One day you’ll realize, you’re getting pretty good at this. You’ll arrive at your own unique perspective on astrology based on your life experience and worldly expertise.