Astrology in today’s society plays a rather awkward balancing act. Even though astrology is officially rejected by the scientific community, almost everyone is at least aware of their astrological sign. Horoscopes are often found in newspapers and read over the radio, but more as a form of entertainment than anything else.
Overall, the general public has a limited (and flawed) view of what astrology is about. Primarily, this is due to the fact that society as a whole has yet to accept the spiritual concepts of karma and reincarnation. As a result, astrology loses a lot of its potential benefit. In this article, we are going to focus on the birth chart. With that in mind, let’s clear up a couple of misconceptions about this astrological tool:
1) First of all, a person’s sun sign at birth (zodiac sign) does not simply tell you what their personality is. Instead, it indicates a dominant quality found at the soul-level of the individual which can potentially be expressed in the current lifetime. Initially, an individual may not even be aware of possessing such a quality.
Additionally, people who do express their sun sign quality often express the unbalanced (i.e. negative) version of the trait. Many memes about zodiac signs make fun of people who are expressing negative aspects of these qualities. Therefore, one of the main challenges of life is to recognize this quality that wishes to be expressed, and then learn to express it in a balanced manner.
2) Another misconception is that a person’s birth chart causes their personality, but this is not actually the case. Instead, each birth is coordinated (with the help of spiritual guides) to take place at a date and time that closely aligns with a soul’s karma and pre-planned life lessons. Mainstream astrology typically ignores these karmic lessons, so let’s take a look at the lessons for each zodiac sign, and the quality that these lessons are built around:
Aries (21 Mar – 19 Apr)
- Quality: An abundance of energy.
- Previous life (not necessarily the last previous life): The individual expressed courage by coming to the aid of another while ignoring self-interests.
- Life lesson: To learn to use the high level of energy in a constructive way instead of a destructive way (such as aggression or violence).
Taurus (20 Apr – 20 May)
- Quality: A deep understanding of the meaning of love.
- Previous life: The individual experienced a relationship characterized by self-sacrificing love that was cherished by the other, but usually without the love being fully returned.
- Life lesson: To love unconditionally without blocking the flow of love or attaching conditions on it. Additionally, to avoid directing love toward one’s own physical body.
Gemini (21 May – 20 Jun)
- Quality: A deep level of intellectual energy.
- Previous life: Developed mental abilities through perseverance and effort, and used these talents in the service of others.
- Life lesson: To manifest the intellectual energy in a healthy way without it becoming dissipated and scattered. Additionally, to refrain from using the energy against others in the form of verbal attacks or attempts to control others.
Cancer (21 Jun – 22 Jul)
- Quality: A high quality of nurturing energy.
- Previous life: The individual lived a life devoted to caring and nurturing others in the family unit, even if this was not always motivated by affection alone.
- Life lesson: To express the nurturing qualities without having an unhealthy (co-dependent) attachment to the other, and without making the other feel guilty.
Leo (23 Jul – 22 Aug)
- Quality: Leadership qualities and initiative.
- Previous life: The individual showed the trait of leadership or guidance to those who would have otherwise perished.
- Life lesson: To express leadership without expressing self-importance and pride.
Virgo (23 Aug – 22 Sep)
- Quality: In the case of Virgo, the quality varies. However, the Virgo includes a high capability for assessment and judgement in order to discern their progress in developing the quality.
- Previous life: The individual is at the early stage of development for the corresponding quality. (This does not mean that the individual is overall less developed spiritually, but instead simply means that the person is in the early stages of developing a certain quality.)
- Life lesson: To comprehend the corresponding quality at the mental level in order to later incorporate the lesson at the heart level. Additionally, the Virgo should refrain from criticizing others and demanding that they live up to the high standards set by the Virgo for themselves.
Libra (23- Sep – 22 Oct)
- Quality: A deep understanding in regards to committed relationships.
- Previous life: The individual dedicated one’s life to making a serious relationship work despite extreme tests and obstacles.
- Life lesson: To understand that relationships are not about finding “the one” and living happily ever after, but are instead about compromise, tolerance of faults, forgiveness, and respect of differences. Additionally, to refrain from being emotionally cold and restrained, which is a tendency of this sign in its search for finding the “perfect match”.
Scorpio (23 Oct – Nov)
- Quality: A deep understanding of redemption via sacrifice.
- Previous life: The individual committed suicide to atone for an act which the individual later regarded as making him or her unfit to live. (As a reminder: this was not in the last life per se, but a previous life.)
- Life lesson: To use one’s life as a demonstration of the possibility of “rising from the ashes” in order to soar to new heights. Such individuals must refrain from the tendencies of “winning at all costs” and a lack of patience with fairness and honor.
Sagittarius (22 Nov – 21 Dec)
- Quality: An extremely keen sense of honor and integrity.
- Previous life: The individual lived a life of honor and uprightness in such a consistent manner that it helped others in their own spiritual progress.
- Life lesson: To live in truth without expressing the truth in ways that are hurtful to others. I.e., an individual must learn to think about the effect of one’s words on others before speaking in order to avoid causing others awkwardness, embarrassment, and pain.
Capricorn (22 Dec – 19 Jan)
- Qualities: Creative energy, dedication.
- Previous life: The individual achieved personal success (in the world’s eyes) in such a way as to permanently benefit others in a material way.
- Life lesson: Since accomplishments in the previous life were not of a spiritual nature, the capricorn has a harder time than other signs in perceiving the quality and reality of spiritual concepts and higher wisdom. The life lesson is to use one’s dedication and creativity in the service of a spiritual purpose. However, the capricorn should refrain from the tendency of being dedicated to causes that are based on “blind faith”.
Aquarius (20 Jan – 18 Feb)
- Quality: A deep understanding of the “oneness” of humankind. This sign recognizes the ability of universal love in providing the sensations that other signs can experience only via a love affair.
- Previous life: The individual dedicated one’s energies to bringing others together into a united group.
- Life lesson: To learn to balance universal love with proper boundaries. The tendency of this sign is to either throw away the exclusive intimacy that a marriage implies, or to try to include too many people within one’s circle of friends.
Pisces: (19 Feb – 20 Mar)
- Quality: Sympathy
- Previous life: The individual commited suicide in a desperate act to end the pain. (This is not from the last life per se, but a previous life that has yet not been karmically balanced.)
- Life lesson: The primary lesson of this life is to avoid escapism. People with this energy are also connected with feelings of hopelessness and pessimism. Due to heightened sensitivity, individuals with this sign will often dedicate themselves to the concerns of others. However, there is also a tendency to try to avoid the harshness of life via drugs and alcohol.
Symbolism of the Sun, Moon, and Planets
So far, only the zodiac signs have been discussed in this article. However, there are plenty of other options for exploring karmically-related life events and challenges.
Note for the uninitiated: the birth chart is the alignment of a number of celestial bodies at the time of one’s birth. The most common celestial bodies included in a chart are the sun, moon, and planets in our current solar system. The chart not only plots the alignment of these celestial bodies with the zodiac signs, but also the alignment of certain celestial bodies with each other.
Let’s now take a look at the significance of the celestial bodies from an astrological point of view. Note: the following descriptions are very generic, and as such they may not be accurate for every individual.
- Sun: The topic that daily occupies a person’s mind.
- Moon: Relates to traits that were picked up as a result of early childhood experiences.
- Mercury: Mental habits, talents, and abilities.
- Venus: The nature and direction of love impulses.
- Mars: Positive and negative uses of energy.
- Jupiter: Expansion and magnification: often indicates where positive karma will be experienced
- Saturn: Restriction and limitation: often indicates where negative karma will be experienced.
- Uranus: Breaking free from old patterns.
- Neptune: Confusion, self-deception (this sign does not always have significance for an individual).
- Pluto: Indicates a change in life that cannot be avoided.
In astrological charts, the alignments between planets are called “aspects”, and are generally regarded as either positive or negative. The aspects are the following:
- Trine (120 degrees) & Sextile (60 degrees): positive in most cases
- Conjunction (0 degrees): positive or negative, depending on the planets
- Square (90 degrees) and opposition (180 degrees): negative in most cases
Aspects of planets, examples:
- If Mercury is negatively aligned with Saturn, the individual is likely to suffer from depression. If there is a positive alignment, the result would be more along the lines of a serious personality.
- A positive alignment with Uranus will cause flashes of insight, while a negative alignment brings a tendency toward mental breakdown.
Planet alignments in zodiac signs, examples:
- If Mercury is in Virgo at the time of birth, the person could either be highly self-critical (the negative aspect), or simply very analytical (the positive aspect). Whether it is the positive or negative aspect depends on how Mercury is predominantly aligned to other planets.
- If Mercury is in Pisces at the time of birth, the individual could experience excessive worry, preoccupation with loss and death, and an overactive imagination. (In rare cases such as Mercury in Pisces, there are no positive aspects, no matter how well-aligned Mercury is with other planets.)
Note: The attributes of Mercury, Venus and Mars are considered to be “overlays”. In other words, they are characteristics in the current life that do not necessarily correspond to attributes at the soul level. Instead, they are “added” for the purpose of fulfilling certain life tasks or lessons.
At the time of birth, each celestial body is also aligned to a certain house. The house is simply another way of dividing “the heavens” into twelve slices. In astrology, the houses related to different “parts of life”. Each house has meaning on several layers including (1) the direct meaning, (2) the karma brought into this life, and (3) the lessons to be learned. The houses are quite useful in determining in what part of life a person will encounter challenges. Here are (once again, very generic) descriptions of the houses (which are always numbered using roman numerals):
- I: Self-image, egotistical point-of-view
- II: External resources
- III: Mental gifts
- IV: Things that provide security
- V: The parent-child relationship
- VI: Relationship to the world
- VII: Relationships with friends and partners
- VIII: Love interaction with partner
- IX: Level of fairness & justice accumulated from past lives
- X: Concepts of authority, duty, and devotion
- XI: Individuals who were adversaries in past lives
- XII: Relates to the LATEST past life
Examples of planets in the houses:
If Venus (love) is located in the eleventh house (former adversaries), it indicates that there will be a love interest in the current lifetime that was an adversary in a previous life. The lesson here is to find ways of expressing affection to someone with whom there is an “echo” of rivalry. If successful, the karmic burden of the former rivalry will be wiped out. Failure to accomplish this task will cause the negative karma to be pushed forward to a future lifetime.
If Saturn (negative karma) is in the seventh house (relationships), it indicates that there is a karmic necessity for the traumatic breakup of a marriage. The lesson is to use the breakup as a motivation to find the reason for the breakup, and then make the necessary changes in oneself to avoid the pattern from occurring in the future.
The astrological birth chart is much more than simply a description of one’s personality. If the chart is understood correctly, it can provide valuable insight into the reason and nature of life’s challenges, as well as the lessons that need to be learned from them. When the reasons for one’s challenges are clear, it is much easier to concentrate on overcoming them, instead of resisting them. By being aware of one’s life lessons, a person is in a much better position to make significant progress on one’s spiritual journey.
Final note: the information for this article has been adapted from the book Astrology Plus by Hilarion (Marcus Books, 1980). The book includes a more comprehensive list of the meanings of planet/sign/house alignments. Although currently out of print, Astrology Plus is available for purchase as an ebook.
Photo by Frank Cone