Learning chart analysis can be difficult. There is so much information, and unless you know where to begin it might be overwhelming. The key is to begin thinking about the chart holistically. Instead of an arbitrary starting point, I’d rather focus on how astrologers think and delineate the meanings in the horoscope. In this first part of my series I offer advice for studying, emphasize which topics are primary, and give a short interpretation of an aspect from my natal chart as an example.
As a writer I want to offer you all some advice as you learn astrology: Get a notebook for astrology. Use it only for writing about astrology. Science shows that physically writing notes with a pen (or pencil) and paper programs the information into your brain better than typing.
In this notebook (you may want two notebooks) devote one half to notes about astrology in general. In the second half, write about your placements: planet, sign, house, aspects. If you do this you’ll not only learn astrology quicker, but you’ll also learn such beautiful insights about yourself.
Create a daily focus for yourself. Devote one day to reading, writing, and investigating each of your most significant placements. Begin with the planet and its significations. How does the planet function? What does the planet want? What does the planet like? What does the planet dislike?
Next, add the sign as the next layer. This is the costume the planet is wearing for the current production of your life. Answer these questions: Is the planet comfortable in this sign? How does the planet use the energy of this sign to get what they want? Does the energy of the sign help them or hinder them?
Now, consider the house placement. The house corresponds to one of twelve areas of life. The planet is the actor (or actress), the sign is the costume, and the house is the setting. Each planet functions differently depending on the house.
For example, someone with Mercury in the 1st house might be a great speaker (or they may never stop talking), but someone with Mercury in the 12th house could be shy, reserved, and secretive. Of course, it’s important to consider the sign and aspects being received or applied.
When you begin studying aspects, stick to the Ptolemaic aspects: conjunction, trine, sextile, square, and opposition. After you’ve studied each of these in depth you can move on to the other aspects: inconjunct (quincunx), semisextile, semisquare, sesisquare, septile, quintile, novile, decile, etc. Also, stick to tight orbs of influence at first.
Check out the short and fun analogies I created for the Ptolemaic aspects here!
Only include aspects within 0-6 degrees for the luminaries (sun and mood), 0-4 degrees for personal planets (include Jupiter and Saturn in this orb), and 0-2 degrees for outer planets. Later on you can decide whether or not you want to widen the orb you use.
Let’s consider a real chart placement. I’ll use my own chart as an example. My natal Mercury is in Aquarius in the 3rd house. Mercury is sextile Jupiter, Uranus, and Saturn and inconjunct (quincunx) my Midheaven (MC). Although I suggested that beginners stick with the Ptolemaic aspects, I’m going to highlight the quincunx in my chart since this aspect isn’t widely written about.
First of all, Mercury in an air sign will give the native more mental energy. Mercury is more comfortable in air signs. Mercury rules Gemini and Virgo. Look at the relationship between Aquarius and Gemini and Aquarius and Virgo. Aquarius is trine Gemini, so Mercury can function well in a mental capacity when in Aquarius. Mercury can think well and communicate well.
The traditional ruler of Aquarius is Saturn and the modern co-ruler is Uranus. Saturn gives structure to thoughts and ideas. Uranus demands change and progress. So, Mercury in Aquarius takes on the energy of Saturn, Uranus, and air: structure, progress, thought. The thought process of Mercury in Aquarius is more mature and well structured than Mercury in Gemini: it has a long term goal. Many believe Aquarius to be Mercury’s sign of exaltation, and I tend to agree.
Now we must consider Virgo. Aquarius is quincunx Virgo, so the energy is awkward. It needs some type of adjustment in order to function well. However, Virgo and Aquarius have some qualities in common. Virgo is the sign associated with service, details, and organization. Aquarius is concerned with the big, bright dreams of the future (idealistic visions of progress). Both Virgo and Aquarius want to serve: Virgo heals the body and Aquarius refreshes the weary soul with crisp spiritual water.
Each of these signs seeks to act, but each has a different modus operandi (MO). In order to bridge the gap between Virgo and Aquarius there must be some compromise (i.e. adjustment). Use the energy of Virgo to add practical organization to the expansive hopes and dreams of Aquarius. Mercury in Aquarius desires to communicate ideals and brilliant, change-inducing insights.
My natal Mercury is in the 3rd house quincunx the Midheaven. Now that we understand how the energies of Virgo and Aquarius relate to one another we can consider the house. Mercury is very much at home in the 3rd house, because in a natural chart (Aries rising) Gemini is on the 3rd house cusp. The 3rd house represents the conscious mind, communication, short journeys, and siblings. These qualities are certain to be important when considering any planet or object in the 3rd house.
Mercury rules my Virgo Midheaven, so the friction created by the inconjunct aspect should be less difficult to manage. Mercury is well placed in both Aquarius and the 3rd house, and Mercury is not receiving any hard aspects from other planets.
Here’s where things get sticky. With only the information I’ve noted so far, it’s only possible to come to one layer of meaning. In order to fully interpret this planetary placement one would need to look at the ruler (or rulers) of the 3rd house, any other aspects to or from Mercury, and the houses of any other planets involved.
However, for our purposes we can glean some insight about Mercury inconjunct the Midheaven. To put it plainly: I’m a perfectionist who loves to write and communicate, but I procrastinate or become anxious if I think that I can’t perform without 100% perfection. The Midheaven represents the career, and I spend a great deal of time communicating information (Mercury, 3rd house) to others as an act of service and healing (Virgo) in order to create a better world (Aquarius).
Having a focused, organized approach to studying astrology is key for beginners. There’s so much information that it can be overwhelming. Having a notebook can help you connect everything synergistically.
In part two I’ll go into great detail about chart analysis using my chart as a reference. Alongside the knowledge of delineations in interpreting charts, it’s important to have a well-developed process. My goal is to help establish this process in the most effective way. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or my Facebook page if you have any questions. 🌟