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Frequently asked questions!



What is Astrology?

Astrology is the study of cycles. The sun, moon, and planets move in their own time and in their own space according to individual cycles. So does the earth and all life upon its surface proceed in complex, somewhat mysterious, patterns that make up the what many refer to as the Grand Design of the Cosmos. The Greeks believed this enthusiastically. We owe the Greeks the gratitude for the foundation of modern astrology is based. They applied their advanced understanding of astronomy and mathematics to the descriptions handed down from the astrologersronomers (there was no distinction in those days) of ancient Egypt and Babylonia.

How does Astrology work?

As the planets parade through the night sky, they can be observed against the background of stars or constellations, and their relative positions plotted on a circular chart, or Zodiac Wheel.

Each of the ten planets, including the sun and the moon, symbolizes unique potential forces. Planets represent different cosmic forces that affect your basic character traits and your changing urges and needs. They provide the energies that drive your physical, emotional, and mental, and intuitive systems. These planetary energies are modified by the planet's position in the zodiac, and by its relationships (aspects) to the other planets.

What do Zodiac signs represent?

The Zodiac signs symbolize twelve archetype pictures or ideas, analogous to human life, that correspond to the planets of the respective Zodiac signs and their dynamic effects.

The Zodiac signs we know today have evolved over thousands of years as each culture's sky-watchers embellished each sign's mythology with their own particular cultural twist. As ideas and beliefs have spread through the world, so have the stories behind the Zodiac signs.

How does Horoscope Interpretation work?

Once you are familiar with the building blocks of a horoscope - the Zodiac signs, the Houses, the Planets and the Aspects, the time comes to put these elements together in order to interpret them.

1) The Sun Sign: is the sign in which the Sun stood at the time of birth. It provides a generalized picture of someone's personality.

2) The Ascendant: is the mathematical computation of the degrees of the cusp of the 1st house and points to the Zodiac sign that rose on the Eastern horizon at the time of birth. That sign is called the Rising Sign. The Ascendant relates to a person's outlook and behavior. It is of greater significance than the Sun Sign in some Astrology practices.

3) The Planets: The Planets in certain Houses describe the importance of vital areas in life and how they are expressed according to the sign and the house they are in.

4) The Houses: The Houses and their planets represent the individual backdrops against which the planets and their energies will manifest themselves. The division of the houses will represent the different areas of life.

5) The Aspects: the Aspects show the angular relationships between the planets. They represent the areas in life that enhance each other and those that conflict.

Taken together, these five elements are used to paint a complete personality portrait.Wheel Map

What is a Sun Sign?

The Sun Sign is the sign on the Zodiac in which the Sun stood at the time of birth. If it what people usually refer to when they say they are a "Sagittarius" or a "Libra". Since it takes 365 days to make a complete transit through the twelve signs of the zodiac, the sun spends about a month in each sign. Your Sun Sign is determined according to what time of the year you were born.

Astrologers use the Sun Sign to describe the broad qualities that can be generalized about someone's personality.

Why is the sun's position so important to Astrology?

During the twelve months it takes to make one complete orbit around the sun, the earth receives life-giving solar rays from continually changing angles. This cyclical pattern produces the four seasons. Birth, growth, maturity, and death; the cycle of the seasons is ordained by the earth's relationship with the sun, and every individual life upon its surface is in imitation of this pattern.

The date when the sun leaves one sign and enters another varies by just a day or two from month to month, occurring sometime between the 20th and 23rd. The astrological sign of those born during the one day when the sun moves into the next sign is determined by the time they were born.

For example, people whose birth occurred on April 20th might be Aries, while others born on the very same day will be Taurus if they came into the world after the sun entered the new sign. Those born on or around these dates are often said to be on the cusp. The confusion can easily be remedied. Many calendars and almanacs list the date as well as the time when the sun enters a new sign each month.

For interpretation sake, those born on the cusp of a Sun Sign will exhibit the traits and characteristics of both Sun Signs.  But please keep in mind, that a personal horoscope or birth chart has significant amount of other factors that add to the personality of the individual.  The Sun Sign is not the whole but the part of the personality. Other key factors would be the Moon Sign and the Rising Sign. 

For further information, please visit the FREE LESSONS

What is your Rising Sign?

Your Rising sign is the sign of the zodiac that was just coming up over the eastern horizon a the moment that you were born. Your Rising sign is important for two reasons.

First, like your Sun Sign, it serves to establish a basic pattern in your life. Where the Sun establishes your character, or who you really are, your Rising sign determines your personality, or what you show the world as you deal with it. Second, it establishes the position of your houses in the zodiac. That's because you Rising sign marks the beginning of your first house.

For more information on the Rising sign, visit Lesson 6.

What are House Cusps?

The Houses represent the different departments of life in which your planetary energies find their expressions. Houses are like slices that divide the Zodiac Wheel into 12 sections, each of different size according to the House System used. The House Cusp is the firs dividing line between two houses. Each house represents a cluster of interests and activities just as each sign represents a cluster of traits and approaches for dealing with those activities.

For more information on the Houses, visit Lesson 3

What is the Moon's Void of Course?

Every lunar month, the Moon travels through all twelve signs, passing through each sign in more than two, but less than three days. Void of Course comes into play when the Moon gets near the end of each sign, it goes beyond its last major aspect, or connection, with another planet. From the time of the last major aspect until when the Moon moves into the next sign of the Zodiac, the Moon is said to be in "Void of Course".

This period can last a few seconds or a day or two. Its effect is interpreted as a time period that is not good for making important decisions. Astrologers who practice horary astrology often do not erect charts during this period of time.

Read more here

What are Transits?

A daily Transit is a day to day horoscope chart. This type of chart compares where the planets were whey you were born to where they are on a given day and how that affects your life.

As planets slowly move along the Zodiac each day, they pass through the different houses of your natal horoscope and make different aspects with the positions of your natal planets. These transiting planets energize the latent potentials promised by your natal horoscope, and trigger the behavior and events which then become a part of your daily experience. For a definitive source on Daily Transits and how to read them, we recommend this book.

What are progressions?

What progressions represents are patterns or trends in a person’s life for any year designated based on the Natal Chart. A second chart is erected that advances the Natal chart to the chosen date. There are two methods that we practice at IRAI to delineate these trends 1) the Secondary Progression and 2) the Solar Arc Direction. A progressed Natal chart is often used when examining Transits by the Astrologer.

Other types of “progressed” charts are Solar Progressed and Lunar Progress or Return. Again with the objectivity of advancing the natal chart in time to examine the patterns.

The Solar Progress/Return is essentially a progressed chart of where your natal chart is advanced one degree for each year of your life up to your current birthday which is literally your Solar Return. So if your Sun Signs is 23 degrees Taurus at birth and are 30 years old, then your Sun Sign is now around 23 degrees of Gemini. Your self-expression has moved from the down to earth and steadfastness of materialistic Taurus to now more the Air expression of Gemini where you are full of many ideas and are maybe undergoing additional education and short distance journeying.

By the same token, a Lunar Return chart progresses your natal chart to a month in your future to the anniversary of the position of your Natal moon. Evaluation is then based on the planetary positions surrounding this anniversary moon for that month.

Do the Constellations form the Zodiac? When did Astrologers first describe the Signs of the Zodiac?

A common misconception is that the constellations, in the ecliptic, are what we astrologers work with when calculating and interpretating a chart. This is not the case because it would be unfair. Aries' constellation is quite small compared to the size of Virgo's so that alone would affect the computation.

Astrologers use the "signs" and not the constellations for their calculation. The signs are 12 equal sectors of the ecliptic which define the Earth's orbit around the sun.

We western astrologers, measure positions of planets by Zero Degree Aries which is the Spring Equinox. So our reference for the Zodiac is not the stars but the SEASONS OF THE EARTH. This is why it is called the TROPICAL ZODIAC. Eastern Astrology uses the sidereal method (VEDIC ASTROLOGY) that uses its reference points of certain FIXED stars but still divides the sky up into 12 equal sector using the zodiac "signs".

It was the Classical Greeks who began this system of zero degrees Aries. But there is confusion because there has been what is called the PRECESSION OF EQUINOXES that has changed the actual positions by about 25 degrees for the Zodiac constellations. Where the constellations measured in the sky during the ancients' time are no longer the same in our time due to the Earth's axis tilt.

So we literally just "borrow" the names of zodiac from the constellations but they do not have any natural correlation when casting a chart EXCEPT for determining the ASCENDANT or the Rising Sign in the eastern horizon at birth which then in turns determines the house division of the wheel given your preferred house system. Just to add a little confusion.

If you are asking about the history of astrology and how that developed. We have on our web site a nice time line of history at I don't think we have definite "date" of beginning of astrology as a practice since like so many things in history it appears to have been simultaneously developed in several different areas of the globe and cultures. Astrology is ancient astronomy. Astronomy developed out of Astrology. We do know that since man could think, we have always been looking for "signs" in the sky.


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