If you’ve ever wondered WTF is a rising sign or how astrology even works, then this beginners guide to astrology is for you! Astrology is one of the most profoundly transformational tools we have at our disposal to get aligned with meaningful self-care and to understand ourselves – but, I know, it can feel confusing AF at times.
Rising signs and ascendants and houses, oh my!
Not to worry – I’m going to walk you through the basics of astrology so that next time you go to read your horoscope, you’ll know exactly what you’re looking at!
Literally, What Is Astrology?
Astrology is the art of interpreting the placement of the planets and constellations in relation to the earth to understand personality, karmic cycles, and collective experience.
Basically, as astrologers, we look up at the skies, (or at a map of the skies on our computers, more accurately), and interpret how the energy of the planets and constellations might be reflected in our society and in our individual lives.
Your natal chart, also called your birth chart or astrological chart, is a map of the planets at the moment you were born. There are lots of sites where you can get your natal chart for free; I recommend www.astro.com and www.astro-charts.com. You just enter your birth information, (your birthday and year, the city you were born in, and the exact time you were born), and bam! You’ll get a chart that might look like a bunch of scribbles but I promise you’ll have a better understanding of it by the end of this article.
Astrology 101: Your Complete Guide For Astrology Beginners
Sun, Moon, and Rising
First up, let’s talk about your sun, moon, and rising signs as these are the most essential parts of your chart.
Your sun sign is the sign you probably know off the top of your head. This might be the only part of astrology you’re familiar with, in which case, your mind is about to be blown!
Your sun is an important part of who you are, but it’s just one part of your personality. Your sun sign actually represents your joy. It’s what makes you happy, what lights you up from the inside out. When you’re doing activities that are aligned with your sun, you feel totally joyful and at ease.
But you also have the moon, all the planets, and a bunch of other stuff in your chart as well and each of these represents an aspect of your personality, values, and sense of self.
Your moon sign is the constellation that the moon was in when you were born. The moon is your inner self. It’s your emotions – how you express your emotions and what you tend to be most emotional about – as well as your intuition, your self-care needs, and what you need in order to feel safe and nurtured. Your moon sign often feels like a deeply personal revelation when you first learn about it, even if others don’t think it sounds like you at all. That’s because your moon sign represents the most personal, private aspects of you that you don’t share with just anyone.
We’ll talk about the planets in just a moment but first: your rising sign! This is the one that often trips people up as it’s a bit different from the first two or the planets.
Your rising sign, also called your ascendant, (yes, these two words are the same thing and are interchangeable), is not a planet or a celestial body at all. It’s actually the constellation that was rising over the eastern horizon at the moment you were born. That’s why this one can be impacted by your birth time so much – it changes very quickly throughout the day.
Your rising sign is your external self, the part of you that you do share with the world readily. For many of us, our rising sign is actually the sign that people always guess is our sun sign! (I’m a Taurus sun, Virgo rising and everybody always guesses that I’m a Virgo!)
These three together, your sun, moon, and rising signs, represent the multifaceted core essence of who you are as a person.
The Planets In Astrology
You also have all of the planets in our solar system in your chart as well and each one reflects an aspect of your life and personality. You have each of the planets in a particular sign, which colors the way that its energy is expressed through you.
Some of the planets have a deeper impact on us than others, which is based on how quickly they move through the twelve signs. That’s because planets that move slowly might be in the same sign for months, years, or even a decade or more which means everyone born during that time has that planet in the same sign. Therefore, that planet’s energy is not as impactful on your personality since everyone born close to you has the same placement.
On the other hand, planets that move quickly through the signs have a much greater impact on our personality and individual way of expressing their energy. The personal planets move the quickest, spending just 1-2 months in each sign, and have the greatest personal impact on us:
- Mercury: Represents how you communicate and what you like to talk about
- Venus: Represents how you give and receive love and what you find beautiful or valuable about life
- Mars: Represents how you take action and express passion and fierce emotions
The transpersonal planets move a bit slower, spending 1-3 years in each sign, and have to do with how we interact with society:
- Jupiter: Represents how you express and experience faith, trust, luck, and how you expand
- Saturn: Represents how you take responsibility and handle commitment
Finally, the generational planets move very slowly, spending 7-15 years in each sign, and have the least personal impact on us but do reflect the values of our generation:
- Uranus: Represents the revolutionary impact your generation has on the world
- Neptune: Represents the boundaries and ideas your generation dissolves and releases
- Pluto: Represents which elements of society your generation burns down and how they rise from the ashes
The Signs In Astrology
Now, we’ve been talking a lot about having planets and everything else “in a sign” so let’s unpack that. Each of the twelve signs is actually a constellation of stars and you might be shocked to learn that you actually have all twelve signs in your chart!
That’s right, even if you’re a Scorpio, you’ve still got Leo and Aries and Virgo and all the rest in your chart as well!
You likely do not have planets in all twelve signs but you do have the energy of all of them within you. It’s kind of like each of the signs is a puzzle piece and we need all of them to create a picture of a complete person – without all twelve, we would be missing a part of ourselves!
Each sign has a particular energetic signature and way of expressing itself, which is filtered through the planets and houses in your chart, (more on that in a moment):
- Aries: The Warrior – passionate, assertive, action-oriented
- Taurus: The Goddess – sensual, pleasure-seeking, ease
- Gemini: The Magician – curious, flexible, social
- Cancer: The Mother – nurturing, emotional, protective
- Leo: The Sovereign – bold, self-loving, creative
- Virgo: The Priestess – ritualistic, of service, organized
- Libra: The Lover – intellectual, artistic, partnership-oriented
- Scorpio: The Witch – deep, mysterious, transformational
- Sagittarius: The Healer – wisdom-seeking, adventurous, expansive
- Capricorn: The Crone – grounded, practical, responsible
- Aquarius: The Rebel – revolutionary, change, alternative
- Pisces: The Oracle – sensitive, intuitive, empathic
You have all these energies inside of you somewhere, though some of them you likely express much more readily than others, particularly those that you have your sun, moon, rising, and personal planets in.
The Houses In Astrology
All right, so what about the houses – what are they? Houses are an additional element of astrology that add nuance and depth to the way we interpret your natal chart. As a professional astrologer and witch, houses are actually one of my favorite parts of astrology because they add so many layers to the chart!
Just as there are twelve signs, there are also twelve houses in your chart. When you look at your chart, these are the twelve wedges that divide the wheel. There are many different systems for calculating houses and they’re all valid but I highly recommend using Whole Signs Houses which is the oldest and simplest system. You can change the house system in the settings on either of the chart websites I recommended above, as Whole Signs is typically not the default option.
Basically, every sign naturally rules one house and they go in the same order as the signs. Depending on your chart, you most likely have different signs in each house than that house’s natural ruler.
So basically you have every planet in both a sign and a house, and that house is ruled by another sign. Confused yet?
If your brain is hurting at this point, don’t worry – houses are actually a lot easier to understand than it might seem at first glance!
Let’s look at an example to simplify this: I have my moon in Aries in the 8th house. The 8th house is the house naturally ruled by Scorpio, (the 8th sign in the zodiac). Therefore, my moon has the energy of both Aries and Scorpio!
So while my moon, (my emotions), is passionate and assertive, (Aries), it’s also mysterious, with a lot of depth, (8th house). See how this adds so much more nuance?
Here they all are for your easy reference:
- Aries rules the 1st house
- Taurus rules the 2nd house
- Gemini rules the 3rd house
- Cancer rules the 4th house
- Leo rules the 5th house
- Virgo rules the 6th house
- Libra rules the 7th house
- Scorpio rules the 8th house
- Sagittarius rules the 9th house
- Capricorn rules the 10th house
- Aquarius rules the 11th house
- Pisces rules the 12th house
I hope this article has helped you get a deeper grasp on astrology and how it can be a powerful tool to understand yourself, your own needs and tendencies, and the way you express yourself. Check back for our self-care horoscopes at the end of each month!