What Is a Horoscope?

When people use the word horoscope, they usually mean one of two things:

  1. The person’s natal chart as cast by an astrologer.
  2. General predictions based on an individual’s sun sign.

You probably understand the second one perfectly well. Your “daily horoscope” is something you see in most newspapers. It is usually short and fairly generic.

But what most psychics and talented astrologer’s mean when they talk about your horoscope is the first one: Your natal chart or birth chart.

The horoscope you see in the newspaper has no real resemblance to a birth chart. A birth chart has two parts:

A physical chart mapping the positions of important heavenly bodies and their mathematical relationships to each other.
An interpretation of what this means for the person born under these astrological influences

Astrology is an old art. In some ways, a chart remains geocentric. For example, you may see some planets described as “Retrograde” on it. This means that from the point of view of earth, they appear to be traveling backwards.

Of course, they aren’t actually traveling backwards. But it looks that way from earth. This has astrological significance. Generally speaking, a retrograde planet is considered to be in a weakened state. It is also often interpreted as revisiting old issues.

While most people only seem to be aware of the idea that if you are born between certain dates, your sun is in a particular sign, an astrological horoscope goes a lot deeper than that. The chart shows the exact position of your sun within that sign. Each sign occupies 30 degrees of the circular chart, so your sun and all other heavenly bodies will be given a number between 0 and 29 degrees, usually with minutes listed beside it for greater accuracy.

It is possible to calculate positions to the seconds place, but this adds no real information and takes up too much space on the chart. So it is typically rounded to the closest minute. Minutes will be listed between 0 and 59.

The sun moves roughly one degree each day. So the sun spends roughly 30 days in each sign.

But, not only do you have a sign for your sun, you also have a sign for your moon, all other planets and a few other things that are considered astrologically significant. The most important one you are likely to see is called the Rising Sign or Ascendant. This is the sign rising up over the horizon at the time of your birth.

The rising sign moves very fast. There are 24 hours in the day and 12 signs in the zodiac. Thus, the Rising Sign changes every two hours. Although most of the chart can be calculated fairly closely with just your date of birth, the Rising Sign cannot be calculated without also having your place and time of birth. This is part of why astrologers ask for all these things.

A standard horoscope from one of the best psychics online would typical shows a circular drawing divided up into 12 slices like a pie chart, each given the name of an astrological sign. Little squiggly symbols will appear throughout, each with some numbers and symbols next to them. This is a kind of astrological shorthand. Someone proficient in astrology can read this and know the position of all the heavenly bodies listed in the chart.

In addition to the circle, which you have probably scene, below it you will typically see a grid that looks a bit like a staircase made of boxes. Some of the boxes will have symbols in them and along the outside of the grid there are other symbols. This is also a kind of shorthand and it shows the relationship between different heavenly bodies.

Generally speaking, if your sun is at 15 degrees of your birth sign, things at or near 15 degrees of any sign will have some kind of relationship to the sun. This principle generalizes. These mathematical angles are also used to interpret the meaning of relationships between other heavenly bodies in the chart, such as Mercury and the Moon or Mars and Jupiter.

The major mathematical angles listed in most charts are the conjunction (0 degrees apart), sextile (60 degrees apart), square (90 degrees apart), trine (120 degrees apart), inconjunct (150 degrees apart) and opposition (180 degrees apart). These do not have to be exact. Close is good enough. If it is exact (within 1 degree of the listed angle), it is considered to be especially strong. Sometimes you will see such angles called “fate aspects.”

A conjunction is a concentration of power. Unlike most of the relationships, it is not classified as good or bad. It is just a place where two (or more) things work strongly together in the chart.

  • A sextile is considered to be a good aspect. It is a place of opportunity.
  • A square is considered to be a bad aspect. It is a stressful aspect, a point of great friction in your life.
  • A trine is a good aspect. It describes a stable, harmonious relationship between the heavenly bodies involved.
  • An inconjunct is moderately a stressful. It describes a need to make modest adjustments.
  • An opposition is considered to be a bad aspect. Like the square, it is a very stressful aspect.

The chart or map described above is typically accompanied by many pages of written descriptions of the positions of each body, the meaning of that, its important relationships to other things in the chart and what that means. You will not see a relationship listed for every pair of heavenly bodies. The listing will only be for those that are close to the major aspects listed above, though some astrologers will use additional aspects not listed here.

Many people are only familiar with sun sign astrology, which simply determines the sign of your sun based on your birth date. As you can see, a professional horoscope is a great deal more involved than that.

What Is a Horoscope? was last modified: by

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