How to REALLY Start Paying Attention to Astrology
Or, In 2020 We Understand the Basic Structure of Our Charts
To begin, let me first say something a bit controversial: You absolutely do not need to know anything about astrology to be a magickal human or live a magickal life. If you don’t have the interest or patience to sift out good astrology from the bad, it’s honestly probably better for you to just let other folks dork out about the stars, and turn to other sources of insight that are more appealing to you.
That being said, I personally fucking love astrology, and I think it can provide incredible context, insight, & guidance on both mundane and magickal matters.
In my time as an astrology enthusiast, professional astrologer, and astrology tutor, I’ve found that there are TWO key things that truly, really, substantially help the astro-curious in beginning to truly, really, actually incorporate stellar wisdom into their day to day lives. These two things will take you beyond merely checking your preferred app and into the realm of genuinely knowing how what’s happening in the heavens relates to you. Are these two things alone enough to make you an astro-expert? Absolutely not. But if you want to take astrology slightly more seriously, this approach is a good beginning.
The first thing to know is your ASCENDANT, which you can read more about here.
The second thing to study is the HOUSES of the chart. The layout of your chart’s houses is completely dependent on your Ascendant, and in a nutshell, the houses of the chart are the fundamental structural blueprint upon which all the other astro goodness is built.
If you know your Ascendant and understand the basic framework of your houses, you will be significantly more able to read or listen to a horoscope and actually know what the fuck is happening and how the astroweather has the potential of impacting you, personally, in your own life. The same is true whenever you see some astrologer post about a specific astroweather event, like Mars retrograde in Aries. If you know what house(s) will be impacted by that Mars retrograde, you have a better sense of what to expect during that time period. (And, for what it’s worth, Mars will be retrograde in Aries from September 9th to November 13, 2020).
Ok, but, what are houses?
Houses, like the zodiac, are a way of dividing the 360º of the sky into 12 parts. Unlike the zodiac, the houses don’t move -- everyone has all 12 houses, in the exact same counterclockwise order, starting with the Ascendant. The houses point to areas of life, and taken as a whole, every single aspect of human life is represented by at least one of the various houses, from birth to siblings to love life to career to self-sabotaging.
Now, depending on the house system you use, the 12 house slices will be of different sizes. I really like to use “whole sign houses” for natal astrology and for teaching. Why?
- My astrology teachers use whole sign houses
- Whole sign houses have been in use since at least the time of Alexander the Great
- Whole sign houses have proven accurate and useful in my client practice
- The whole sign house system is simple to teach, to explain, and to use, making it very beginner-friendly
The most common house system is Placidus, which is part of a family of house systems called “quadrant houses.” If you use a website like Astro.com or Astro-Seek.com to cast your chart, the default house system will be Placidus. Koch is another quadrant house system used by astrologers like Mark Jones, and the brilliant Jessica Lanyadoo is a staunch devotée of the Campanus quadrant house system. I personally believe that the majority of house systems are correct and useful for different reasons. For now, though, we’re going to stick with whole sign houses because, as I said, they’re simple and highly functional (and, for what it’s worth, the incomparable Chani Nicholas advocates for whole sign houses, too!)
Whole sign houses say that each house, like each zodiac sign, occupies 30º of sky. The zodiac sign of the Ascendant is the same as the entire first house. The next zodiac sign, in zodiacal order (going counterclockwise around the chart) is the same as the entire second house. The next zodiac sign is the same as the entire third house. Etc etc until all 12 signs and all 12 houses have been paired.
If you know your Ascendant and the order the zodiac signs go in, you already have everything you need to know how your houses are set up within the whole sign house system!
If you want to take this a bit further and create an IRL print-out of your houses, you can download a workbook that guides you through this by signing up for my newsletter.
Okay, so, you’ve figured out your houses. What next?
Begin to reference the keywords for the houses whenever you hear or read about an astroweather event! Here’s a quick list of basic significations to make it easy for you (yes, it is essentially the same list as the one in the free workbook I send to people who sign up for my newsletter):
So, say you have a Capricorn Ascendant, and there’s a Full Moon in Virgo coming up. Using whole sign houses, Virgo is your 9th House. The Full Moon might highlight topics related to the online tarot class you’ve been meaning to finish, or perhaps a renewed satisfaction in your spiritual practice.
Perhaps you have a Virgo Ascendant, and you know that the next Mercury retrograde (in Pisces & Aquarius) will impact your 7th & 6th houses of relationships and pets -- maybe it’s a good time to renegotiate litter box cleaning with your partner.
As an exercise, do this for yourself, and think back to the eclipse on the new Moon in Cancer from July 2019.
Lots of folks had intense things come up during that time, but some folks were more impacted than others. Based on your Ascendant, what house is Cancer for you? Did anything happen in early July relevant to that house? How has that played out for you since then?
I’ll admit that this approach to paying attention to astrology isn’t the easiest, lowest-effort way -- the “easiest” way is to pick your favorite horoscope writers and read/listen to what they say religiously, and hopefully what they talk about each day/week/month ends up being useful & insightful for you.
But! If you want to go beyond only listening to what others are saying and towards understanding the underlying structural magic of the cosmos, this approach is a pretty good starting place, if I do say so myself. If you want to go further, you’ll also need to study the planets and their significations, and then progress on to the zodiac signs and aspects, and eventually, to the wonder of timing techniques. It’s true that astrology is a gigantic and fairly complex system of knowledge, with multiple approaches that sometimes seem to be directly opposing each other. And it’s also true that astrology is, in my view, one of the best ways to truly plug in to this wonderful, weird, confusing, challenging, joyously magical universe we live in.
So, if you love the idea of living with the stars, give this approach a try. Tell me how it goes!
RESOURCES FOR LEARNERS
Chani Nicholas, You Were Born For This (available in-store and online at HausWitch!)
Ghost of a Podcast, hosted by Jessica Lanyadoo
Kelly Surtees’ plethora of online webinars
Astrology University’s huge catalog of online webinars
BOOK A SESSION
Want to explore the basics of your chart with my personal, one-on-one help? My Bones-Only consult is a mini astrology reading (~30 minutes) devoted to doing just that. Usually $75, it’s $50 until the Sun moves into Taurus on April 19th! You can book a Bones-Only reading & other sessions here.
Diana Rose Harper is an invited speaker at 2020’s Northwest Astrological Conference. She sees clients from all over the world via the internet magick that is Zoom. She’s also a tarot reader, reiki master, zine maker, and crystal whisperer. You can follow her on Instagram, Twitter, & Patreon, and visit her website here.
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