Whether you “believe" in astrology or not, pieces of it are part of everyday life. Most people know their “sign. " Many know the qualities of their sign. But they may not know when someone says he is a Capricorn or a Scorpio he's giving information about which zodiacal constellation contained the Sun when he was born. Indeed, there are certain qualities that the “natives" of a sign - as astrologers call them - seem to share with others born under their same sign. But it's also true that not all Leos, Libras, or Scorpios are alike beyond the range of general traits that do often describe them.
Perhaps the second most important factor describing a person's character will be the Moon sign . . . the zodiacal constellation that contained the Moon at the time he was born. Because the Moon changes signs every two and a half days, it's almost impossible to know where the Moon was at a certain time without special books and charts. But a Leo with a Moon in Capricorn is a very different creature from a Leo with a Moon in Gemini. Right there you can see part of the wonderful complexity that makes all people, regardless of the pigeon-hole of their Sun sign qualities, uniquely themselves.
A third crucial addition - when describing a person's character by his astrological components - is something called the Ascendant, or Rising Sign. Those mean the same thing. Astrologers use them interchangeably. This thing - which sounds so mysterious - is literally the zodiacal sign that was rising or ascending on the Eastern horizon at the time of birth in the place of birth. That's why an accurate birth time and place are crucial in casting a valid horoscope for a person, an event, a question, a forecast . . . whatever.
Think of the Zodiac as a large belt of star constellations encircling the earth, and as the earth turns, the procession of constellations “moves" across the sky. There are 12 signs of the Zodiac, and one circle is completed every 24 hours. Obviously, therefore, every two hours - the sign “rising" on the eastern horizon changes. And, a person born with the Sun in Aries, the Moon in Scorpio, and Sagittarius Rising is different from a person with the Sun in Aries, the Moon in Scorpio, and Cancer Rising.
So, you ask, how does an astrologer keep all this stuff straight - along with the positions of the other eight planets that influence on a person's natal reading? It's easy, actually. We cast a horoscope. Back in the bad old days before computers did all the work for us, we had to do the math calculations ourselves, and look up information in about four different tables and books. The process could take about half an hour - and it was pretty darn tedious!!
Which brings me to the answer to the title of this article: What Is A Horoscope?
Most people think a horoscope is the little four-line piece of advice based on your birthday that you find in the newspaper. OK, that's one definition, and a dreadful example of what the craft of astrology can do. But a horoscope is also what astrologers call “the chart" . . . and if you have ever had a natal reading, you probably received this strange circular picture with funny signs and symbols - none of which made any sense to you, but, for the price of your reading, this was one of the goodies.
A horoscope - that circular picture - is really a map of the sky, a snapshot of the positions of the astrological ingredients as they existed at the instant you were born. The map is contained in the circle, and there are things astrologers can tell “at a glance" - literally - about the life of the person they are reading.
A horoscope is divided into twelve segments (or “houses") exactly like the twelve numerals on the face of a clock except that everything is backwards from everything you normally know about reading a map. East is to the left, West is to the right, North is to the bottom, and South is to the top. The Rising sign - the sign rising on the eastern horizon at the moment of birth - is at “the 9 o'clock position. "
That sign, with its qualities, outlook, and concerns, blends with your Sun sign and Moon sign to create the personality you use when you meet the world, the traits you show people in general. Obviously, this is important and revealing about the “first impressions" you make on other people.
You've probably known people who were very different when you got to know them better (got to know their Sun sign qualities) than they appeared at first (when they were projecting their Ascendant sign qualities for you to see. ) And when you really get to know a person well, get to know the “person inside, " you are likely being shown their Moon sign qualities, the elements they share only with very close friends, family, and intimate companions.
If you've ever had a natal chart done - and can put your hands on it after all this time - there are other things that a “first glance" at a chart will tell about you. Planets placed in the bottom half of the circle (or “below the horizon") are elements you use in your personal affairs and private life.
(c) 2007 by Rebecca Brents. All rights reserved.
Rebecca Brents writes on a wide variety of spiritual and new age subjects, including astrology, tarot, feng shui, alternative health, metaphysics, and self-improvement. She publishes the extensive online new age Ezine, The Enchanted Sprite on her website, Enchanted Spirit: http://www.enchantedspirit.org/ , and offers numerous online new age lectures and new age classes in these various fields. She also provides astrology readings, tarot readings, and personal consultations through The Enchanted Spirit Metaphysical Source Shop http://www.enchantedspirit.com/ . Stop by and subscribe to her free new age ezine, New Age-New Horizons http://www.enchantedspirit.org/Whats_New/ .