Advice for Beginner Astrologers

It’s been decades since I first got into astrology, which sounds crazy as I’m only in my 30’s, but it was an early interest of mine which continued to intrigue me well into adulthood. I remember the first time my older friend got her planner out and asked me when my birthday was. After a few moments she announced that I was a Virgo, and proceeded to list a few virgoan qualities which seemed to fit my characteristics. I was curious, so one day during my weekly school trips to the library, I sneaked off and asked the librarian for books about ‘horoscopes’ – the only word I new which described astrology and the signs of the zodiac. When I got home I asked my mother to take me to the library again so that I could check out some of these books, and that’s where my journey began. I wasn’t even 10 years old.

By the time I was a teenager I was already well versed in the basics; my year 5 school teacher had introduced me to astronomy which helped fuel the desire to learn more about the planets, and linked into my research about the signs of the zodiac, the houses, and I had gotten my chart analysed for about £15 using an online program. I started noticing patterns in my own life in regards to my friends; as a child I had a lot of female Aquarian friends, but as I got older we grew apart and most of my friends were water signs, usually with a dash of fire.

It can be daunting to dive into astrology as an adult, fully aware that you want to immerse yourself in this wonderful world and learn the language of the stars. I sort of wandered into it not really knowing where it would lead me, simply wanting to explore this extension of psychology and learn more about myself. So I’ve put together some tips and advice on how to get started and not get overwhelmed by the vast amount of books and online resources available.

  1. Start with yourself. Most astrologers I know got into astrology because they wanted to learn more about themselves. This will also prove to you that astrology works and remove any doubts in your mind. Get your psychological report done at astro.com (it’s written by psychological astrologer/Jungian analyst/author Liz Greene). It’s worth every penny.
  2. Start with learning the meanings of the planets and the signs of the zodiac. The order in which you’ll learn these will depend on how far you want to take your studies. If you simply want to learn about Sun Signs, then learn the meanings of each sign first, and you’ll be off to a good start. You can learn the other stuff later. However, if you’re positive you want to be able to read a chart, start with learning the meanings of the planets. The planets represent parts of one’s personality (ie. Mercury the mind, Venus the desires, etc.), and the signs of the zodiac represent the energy one is working with in each part of the personality.
  3. Learn the mythology associated with each of the planets. The names Venus, Mars and Jupiter may sound like planets to you, but they were names of Roman gods (with Greek equivalents) long before the planets were discovered and/or named. After years of observing the movements of planets and their impact on Earth, they were given these names because they relate well to the archetypes of these ancient gods. Never underestimate the relationship the planets have to their names, you can learn a lot from them.
  4. Know your astronomy. I’m working on a free booklet on astronomy for astrologers, but in the mean time be sure you know how things work up there. Know the difference between the tropical and sidereal systems, where the zodiac belt is, which planets are visible from Earth and when the others were discovered and by whom. This may sound irrelevant to an astrologer but trust me, once you start talking about astrology, people have a lot of questions, like why their sky app says Neptune is in Aquarius but you’re telling them it’s in Pisces!
  5. Read the basic books, don’t just rely on online resources. The online world is amazing, but astrology is one of those subjects which will require you to go over the basics again and again. The information won’t stick first time round, there is just too much to learn. Having some good introductory books that will help you learn the aspects and properties of the elements and vibrational modalities is key. I have a couple of beat up dog eared basics books which still I open up from time to time.
  6. Another tip for book study. Forget the hefty 4 inch thick book about Pluto. If you’re not already beyond intermediate level or a practicing consultant, no one has time to spend 3 weeks reading about one planet. By all means, keep the books on individual planets on your wish list, but start with good all-rounder books that talk about all of the planets. The same goes for the houses, and I highly recommend Howard Sasportas’ book The Twelve Houses which I find accessible even for the beginner. The one exception I would make would be a book on the ascendant, as you won’t find much information about it in a book about planets, even though the ascendant is just as important as the Sun or Moon (in my opinion).
  7. Learn the lingo. What does it mean when a planet is ‘in’ a sign? What is Mars trine Venus or Moon square Sun? What is a double Scorpio? What is Saturn on the ascendant? How can Mercury be conjunct itself? Once you’ve got a grasp of how the basics of astrology work, you should learn the terminology as soon as possible if you want to advance and join in online discussions, attend seminars or read more intermediate books.
  8. Houses are important, and so is the ascendant sign. Know your birth time. I can’t stress how important this is! I know for some people it’s impossible to get an accurate birth time, especially if you are in places like England where the birth time is not recorded on the birth certificate. However, with a rough window, one can work out an approximate birth time. My mother says she was born ‘around dusk’ in February. This gives me 3 possible rising signs; Leo, Virgo and Libra. I know my mother, and I know signs can be hereditary, so looking through her life experiences and studying my own chart I’m pretty sure she has Virgo rising. This also puts Mars in her 9th house, which makes sense as she is originally from Thailand and moved to the UK in her 30’s.
  9. Use your family’s birth charts to kick start your study. You already know them, so you’ll see how everything works in astrology if you are able to gain access to the charts of people you know well. Don’t bother with celebrity charts when starting out, unless you actually know them personally (perhaps if you’re a huge fan and feel you know them pretty well this is okay). I do my studies primarily with my own, my daughter’s and my 2 best friends’ charts, because I know I have accurate birth times for them. Of course, it’s best to get permission for two reasons. Firstly, a birth chart is like someone’s soul, you are opening it up and dissecting it, and it’s extremely unethical to do so without the person’s consent. Secondly, if the person is aware that you’re using their chart for your own studies you are able to ask them questions and link their answers to an aspect, a transit, or a planet in a sign. This is one of the best ways of learning something new. How do you think astrologers get the information they write in their books?
  10. And lastly, of course is to enjoy yourself. No, I’m kidding. I’m not going to cheat you out of a tip. My last tip is to go for a consultation session with an astrologer you trust and admire. This isn’t a sales pitch; yes I do offer astrology consultations, but you need to find an astrologer whose style and ethics you can get down with. If that’s me, go ahead and use the booking form on the sidebar to schedule our first session, but if not, take a look online or in your country’s new age magazines to find the right astrologer for you. When you get a consultation you get a glimpse into what exactly a working astrologer does. What they look for, what is important, what is irrelevant (nothing is, really). This helps tremendously in understanding what modern astrology is used for and how it can be used as a self-development tool. I can’t speak for all astrologers, but I am happy to discuss how I analyse a birth chart with a client if they want to know.

I hope these 10 tips will be useful to you as a new student of astrology. Don’t forget I’ve started to post new astrology videos on my channel now.

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There are those who think Sun Sign horoscopes are complete and utter nonsense; “how can you group everyone in the world into 12 categories and tell them what is going to happen to all the people in each group!?” And then you get those who won’t leave the house without checking their horoscope app or newspaper column to make sure they aren’t going to get hit by a bus today or that their other half isn’t going to dump them. I’m here to tell you that they’ve both gotten the wrong end of the stick.

The Sun Sign horoscopes you read at the back of a magazine do have some weight to them, and, believe it or not, are calculated using a system that actually makes sense – just not for your Sun Sign*! This is quite a confusing statement; why are they called Sun Sign horoscopes when you don’t look them up for your Sun Sign? The average person has heard of the 12 signs of the zodiac, many can name at least 8 of them, and most know their own Sun Sign. So much emphasis has been placed on the Sun Sign that it has become the main focus of astrology for everyone but those who are serious about astrology. Very few people have heard of a Moon Sign or an Ascendant, or are aware that the other planets in our solar system play a part in our personal natal charts, so Sun Sign horoscopes have become increasingly popular.

When calculating Sun Sign horoscopes, most astrologers place the Sun in the first house of the 12 house chart system. There is only a 1 in 12 chance of one having a 1st house natal Sun, and even then, unless one was born right along the equator line at or just after sunrise with a new sign at 0 degrees of the horizon, the horoscope will be inaccurate. I say this because if we are using the placidus chart system, where the latitude and time of year of one’s birth details changes the sizes of the houses, being born any time along the equator line gives one more or less an equal house chart by default. Not only this, but the time of birth should be exactly as a new sign (the Sun Sign) is coming over the horizon, at precisely 0 degrees. This gives one an equal house chart, with the Ascendant and each subsequent sign starting at the cusp of each house and the Sun, rising with the horizon in the first house means that it and all transiting planets will be in the ‘correct’ house for prediction. With this combination, and only with this combination, one can use Sun Sign horoscopes accurately*.

You might need to read that last paragraph again! It took me a a few tries to explain it in as basic terms as I could. If you’re still not following, I invite you to watch my video on the same topic where I explain this with charts.

Most of the horoscopes you find will be calculated using the planet’s position in the houses. For example, you could have a natal 10th house Leo Sun, with Mercury transiting your 7th, making a square aspect to your Sun. The magazine horoscope will place the Sun for a Leo Sun Sign prediction in the 1st house, and transiting Mercury would then be in the 11th. The horoscope might suggest tension or miscommunication with your friends or teammates (11th house pertaining to friends and groups), but this translation has nothing to do with what Mercury is actually stirring up in your chart, because Mercury is transiting your 7th house, not your 11th; so you may indeed find there is tension and miscommunication (Mercury square Sun), but it’s with your spouse or business partner (7th house) rather than with your friends.

So now that we are armed with this information, is there anything useful we could do with it, or should we forget Sun Sign horoscopes altogether? Personally, I do not read Sun Sign horoscopes, but that’s partly to do with the fact that I could simply check out my transits and make out what’s coming up for me without the aid of another astrologer. If, like hundreds of thousands of people out there, you enjoy reading your horoscopes whether for entertainment or to get a heads up, I recommend reading the horoscope for your Ascendant sign. This is the sign that is on the cusp of your 1st house (the sign that was coming up over the eastern horizon when you were born). This way the planets will be in more or less the correct houses. Bear in mind, however, that most of us will not have equal houses or signs that begin at 0 degrees of each cusp. There will usually be quite a bit of overlap, so it’s always best to find out the exact degree of a transiting planet so that you can see what house it falls in, in your chart. Those whose Ascendant signs occupy a minority of the 1st house should also read the horoscope for the following sign. For example, I have Scorpio on the Ascendant, but two thirds of my first house is Sagittarius, so I would read the horoscopes for both Scorpio and Sagittarius.

If you’re serious about reading Sun Sign horoscopes, you could experiment with making notes for both your Ascendant and the sign following it for a few months and look back to see which has proved to be more accurate. Years ago when I was experimenting with this idea, I spent a whole year making notes for the predictions of my Sun, Moon, Ascendant and sign following the Ascendant, and the latter two proved to be more useful.

Another thing to understand when reading your horoscopes is that all they can predict is the energy that a planet transiting a house or aspecting a natal planet is bringing into your life. Astrology can suggest possibilities by analysing the energies, but it can not tell you exactly what is going to happen and remembering this is key to successfully incorporating horoscope forecasts into our daily lives.

*Provided the Sun Sign horoscope is calculated with Sun in the first house.

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