I think it might be a good time to do a series of posticles (posted articles, anyone?) giving some basic pointers to what goes into astrology. So, to use American terminology, welcome to Astrology 101.
To do astrology, the first thing you need is the chart. That’s the circular picture with a bunch of strange symbols, apparently random numbers and some lines connecting various of the strange symbols with one another. It may be called the birth chart, the native chart or the radical chart but it’s the starting point for astrological interpretation—and for budding astrologers.
I’m not going to go into how the chart is calculated. While there were computers which could do the job when I started, it was almost quicker to calculate the thing by hand anyway. Besides, given that the storage medium was the good ol’ floppy disk and computers were neither ubiquitous nor reliable, it was a Good Thing to be able to erect (Technical Term #1) a chart by hand. You just had to be good at sums.
So let’s look at it from the point of view of interpretation. Think of it as a cake with a number of ingredients, all of which are essential to the recipe and each of which has an effect on most, if not all of the others. The seasoned astrologer will be able to look at the chart as a whole and get a picture in his/her/its mind of the overall person, event or whatever entity is being studied and will then start muttering things like, ‘Oh, that’s interesting’ or ‘Hmm, don’t like that’ and if the Native (Technical Term #2) or person-for-whom-the-chart-is-being-read is within earshot, that’s when they start looking for the exit, generally getting nervous or possibly start thinking about making a will.
By the way, if an astrologer says something like, ‘What’s a nice little planet like you doing in a chart like this,’ leave immediately by the nearest exit and then start running. Fast.
So the starting point for this recipe is the ingredients. What you need are; twelve signs, two Lights (Technical Term #3, meaning the Sun and the Moon) and eight planets, twelve Houses, four angles and a minimum of five types of Aspects.
The beginner will look at each ingredient individually—planet in sign, planet in House, aspect from one planet to another—and build a picture from that. A more practiced and experienced astrologer learns to look at those things all at once and synthesise the various (and possibly conflicting) bits and pieces into one part of the whole picture that will indicate the personality of the Native when the process of interpretation is complete.
Right. That will do for now. Next posticle we’ll look at the zodiac in all its twinkly glory.