“The study of life’s reactions to planetary vibrations” is how Astrology is defined by Llewellyn George in his book, A to Z Horoscope Maker and Delineator. This means we all move to the beat of our own personalized, planetary vibrations. Astrology is a subject which interests many people, though they have misconceptions and misunderstandings about what it really is.
The first is that the sign the Sun is in at the time of birth is all that matters. All of the other planets and the Earth’s Moon were also in a specific Astrological sign at your time of birth, and that data is necessary in order to cast a horoscope for anyone. Then each of the planets were in one of twelve houses, all which mean something–appearance, money, neighbors, home life, love, work, marriage and war, sex and death, education, career, friends and wishes, and secret sorrows. I always thought it was strange that House 7 rules both Marriage and War, and that House 8 rules Sex and Death, but it definitely opens the door for some interesting dialogue!
Your Moon sign defines the emotional facets that make you tick. It gives insight into what you care about most deeply, or what you need in order to feel secure and valued. The Ascendant is a vital key to understanding a person, and to find it you must know the person’s birth time within a two hour window. This is the way a person acts when we first meet them, or the façade that they hide behind. We all have one, but we do not all know what it is. It is harder to find times of birth for people of older generations, but can be accomplished with persistence. Our ascendant tells us what physical traits, gestures, or the kind of personality someone seems to have when we first meet them, or how they will be perceived by others who do not know them well. Everyone “hides” behind their ascendant, as it’s a great coping mechanism. So your Sun Sign, Moon Sign and Ascendant make up what is called “the Trinity” in Astrology.
Another common error is when we hear people say, “I was born on the cusp of two signs.” This is impossible. An Ephemeris is a book which must be consulted in this case, as it lists the positions and signs where all the planets are/were on any day for a period of usually about 50 years. Generally, Sun signs do begin around the 21st day of one month and continue to the 21st day of the next month. But this is not always a hard and fast rule. A person’s Sun sign is always in one sign, never a mix of two. Cusps do exist, but they are the 30 degrees of division between the 12 houses of the zodiac. They have nothing to do with your Astrological birth Sun sign.
An Ephemeris is a necessary tool for any serious Astrologer. I am currently using The American Ephemeris for the 21st Century, by Rique Pottenger & Neil F. Michelsen. This one lists all the planetary information spanning the years from 2000-2050, at Midnight. Some of these books list the planet’s whereabouts from Midnight, some from Noon. As you learn more, you will begin to account for the various time differences from this, and ones related to different time zones in the world where the subject of the horoscope was born. Since we’ve only begun the 21st century, it’s most practical to buy an older ephemeris which covers the years 1950-2000, so you can cast horoscopes for yourself, family and friends. The New American Ephemeris for the 20th Century, is also written by Rique Pottenger & Neil F. Michelsen. My copy is an older one from the 1970’s, called The Complete Planetary Ephemeris for the 20th Century, but is the same book, by the same authors. You can find an Ephemeris for other time periods when you want information about your older ancestors, or famous people in history who interest you. The one I own is The Ephemeriden, a Swiss publication, from Z.S. Mason 789 Lexington Ave., New York, NY 10021, and it spans the years 1890-1950. I have also found one which covers the years 1800-2000, called Webster’s Timeline History, by Icon Group Int’l. You definitely need an Ephemeris or more than one to begin any astrological study, so you may as well get the one that covers the largest time frame.
Another “must have” reference is Dalton’s Table of Houses, also known as Spherical Basis of Astrology by Macoy Publishing & Masonic Supply Co., Richmond, VA. This provides the degrees of Astrology signs that begin on the Midheaven of your horoscope, and are placed on each subsequent cusp on your blank circle split into 12 houses, known as a sidereal. You should make these up in advance, so you have them handy when you are ready to cast a horoscope for anyone. Then you must have the birth date, time, city, state, or country of the person’s birth. Also necessary is Longitudes and Latitudes in the U.S. by Eugene Derney, or the same information from the country of birth. And for good measure, The Astrologer’s Handbook by Francis Sakoian and Louis S. Acker is a wealth of information for the beginner who needs to learn how to interpret the horoscope itself.
I realize this all sounds quite complicated, and to people who believe that Astrology is only where the sun is at birthtime, it is. I studied in formal classes from professionals for at least several years before I was ready to begin working with a following of my own. So you can see this is a serious science, and not some kind of simple nonsense that some try to lead others to believe. There are many complicated ways to cast a horoscope, but I offer the easiest here. It is made up from all the books listed. I have checked to be sure that all these books are available new or used from Amazon.com, or E-bay. Why spend a fortune to get started, when textbooks can be very expensive? Maybe you can find them at your community library, though normally their “New Age” sections are not well stocked, and the same is true for certain bookstores. I loathe the term anyway, as we are working with ancient wisdoms which are being rediscovered by enlightened ones.
The information which follows is the simplest way to cast your own horoscope, also called a Natal Chart. We will use birth information for a person born on July 4, 1955 in Paterson, NJ at 3:30 PM in the afternoon.
1). Look for July 4th, 1955 in the Ephemeris and use the Sidereal time listed next to the date.
2). Convert birth time to “military time” or 15:30. Subtract 1 hr. for Daylight Savings Time in
this case, thus using 14:30. There is no DST in the winter months.
3). The Longitude and Latitude for Paterson, NJ is Long 74W10 Lat 40N55. Our Longitude
Of 74 falls in the 5th meridian, if we consider Greenwich Mean Time, so we will multiply 5X
10 seconds, or add 50 seconds.
4). Another adjustment of 10 seconds X the birth time, or 150 seconds (rounded from
the adjusted 14:30), is necessary.
5). One more adjustment is needed for Local Mean Time, and it is 3 minutes and 20 seconds.
Now all 5 of these figures must be added together, and it will look like this:
Hours Minutes Seconds
18 44 56 Sidereal from Ephemeris on B-day
14 30 Adjusted Birth Time
50 10 X Meridians, from Longitudes
150 10X birth time rounded from 14:30
+ 3 20 Adj for Local Mean Time
32 Hours 77 Minutes 276 Seconds
-24 (one day) + 4 -240
8 81 36
9 Hours 21 Minutes 36 Seconds
So the figure with all the calculations is 9 Hours, 21 Minutes and 36 Seconds
Take out your Dalton’s Table of Houses. Look at the tops of the pages, and find the number
that is closest to the one from your calculations. In this case, it is 9 21 46, and next to it is the
Astrological sign and degree number which will be on the Midheaven of your chart. This one is 18 Degrees of Leo. I leave the seconds off, unless it is very close to being another sign, and necessitates this degree of exactness.
You may have seen blank sidereals, the forms Astrologers use to write their information on when they cast the Natal chart. It is a plain circle, split into 12 houses, one for each Astrology sign. So 18 Degrees of Leo will be on the cusp of the 10th house, known as the Midheaven. Go down to the 41st Latitude on the same page of your Dalton’s table, as it was the nearest Latitude to the birth place. Use the next Astrology signs and degrees from your Dalton’s Table, to be placed on the house cusps 11, 12, 1 (your Ascendant), 2, and 3. For the 4th house, or Nadir, and houses 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9, simply place the opposite Astrology sign, until each house has its own sign. Now go back to your Ephemeris and the birthday, see what sign each planet was in that day, and place them in the correct houses. You did it! You just cast your own horoscope!
You have only one more calculation, that of the Moon. Take your standard birth time, again 14:30, as we have used as our example. Add 5 hours to this, making it 19:30. Take the 19:30 and divide it by 2, getting 9.5 degrees which will be rounded to 10 degrees. Again consulting the Ephemeris, for our example day, the Moon was in 27 degrees of Sagittarius earlier in my midnight ephemeris. There are only 30 degrees of each Astrological sign, so the Moon cannot be in 37 degrees of Sagittarius. Therefore, the Moon sign is in 7 degrees of Capricorn, the next sign.
So now you can feel confident that yes, you can be your own Astrologer! I have uncovered the usual myths and confusion that often surrounds this subject. Once you try the five step formula a few times, it will become second nature to you. You will learn the most by casting charts for those closest to you, and studying their traits. I hope you find Astrology as fun and fascinating as I do!