The Learning to Speak Astrology Series: Basics

By Barry Kerr
In Culture

Astrology is a language of archetypes, science, psychology, mythology and intuition. Merely understanding the language is, in itself, an insightful experience. For those new to astrology, the terms can be confusing and can obscure the rich and meaningful information available through this ancient tool of wisdom. To help you become more astrologically literate, here is a Glossary of Terms and Concepts for Astrology.

Photo courtesy of Alberto Restifo/ StockSnap

Photo courtesy of Alberto Restifo/ StockSnap

It starts by thinking of all that is up in the sky as having specific correlations with your self; physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually: As above, so below. The basic components of astrology are planets, signs, houses and aspects.

Planets  (symbols are scattered around the chart diagram)

Think of the planets (including moon and sun) as sub-parts of your personality. For example, Mercury reflects your rational, thinking mind: the way you communicate. Mars represents your personal will: how you make decisions and take action. And so on …

Zodiac Signs (symbols evenly dispersed around the perimeter of the chart diagram)

The signs represent 12 different universal archetypal energy qualities, a circular spectrum (Zodiac) aligned with the Earth’s orbit around the sun. The 12 signs pair off, at opposite ends of the circle, as six polarities. Signs are not constellations, even though they received their names from constellations.

When someone asks, “What’s your sign?” what they are really asking is, “What sign was the sun in when you were born?”

If you were born in the middle of October, you would say, “I’m a Libra.” Because the sun represents the basic core of who you think you are from your ego’s point of view, the sign quality it is in tends to dominate your personality. That’s why most people have for ages known and identified with the meanings of their sun sign. However, even if your sun is in Libra, if five of your other planets are in Taurus, you will probably act more like a Taurus, but feel like a Libra. And other parts of you will express in other ways. Human beings are not simple.

Houses  (numbered compartments in the chart diagram)

The 12 houses represent different compartments of human life, like communications, home, work, partnerships, career, friends, etc. The houses are determined by the exact time of day you were born.

So, for example, if you have Mars in Virgo in your second house, that means you tend to make decisions and take action in a careful, detailed and analytical way, with much consideration for (house) your own needs and wants and values. Move that same placement to the seventh house and the consideration is more for supporting the needs and goals of a relationship. By viewing which signs and houses all your planets fall into, the outlines of your personality traits, motives and tendencies can be traced. Now it gets deeper with Aspects.

Aspects  (the lines that run through the center of the chart diagram)

When two planets are at certain angles to each other on the zodiac, the parts they represent take on a special relationship. These are called Aspects. Some aspects represent an easy, harmonic (soft) co-existence between your inner parts. Some aspects reflect a tense, challenging (hard) relationship between your inner parts. The soft aspects reflect gifts, talents, and wisdom you have gained in previous lives. The hard aspects reflect challenging difficulties and lessons you are here to experience and learn. We all have a mixture of both, some contradictory. And isn’t this the way humans are? Astrology helps us understand these inner complexities.


Barry Kerr is a soul-based, evolutionary astrologer and life coach, with 35 years of experience and an international clientele. He and his wife, Kristine Gay, a licensed therapist, are owners and practitioners at Choose Conscious Living in Madison, Wisconsin. Both have extensive training in soul-guided healing of mind, body, heart and spiritual systems. They offer healing, coaching, therapy and astrology services. Barry offers astrology readings, coaching and healing by phone or Skype. Want more information? Contact Barry at

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