Astrology 101

Zodiac Wheel

The Zodiac, The Planets, & How to Read Your Birth Chart

By Kiriko Kikuchi for

Do you remember your local newspaper’s Horoscope section?

You’d find tiny blurbs of personalized insight if you were lucky, or generic good advice if you were not. If your horoscopes were accurate enough to inspire curiosity, you’d have maybe two options to explore further: the Spirituality section at the bookstore, or the public library.

The Zodiac, The Planets, & How to Read Your Birth ChartThanks to the internet, astrology is experiencing a renaissance.

You can read your horoscopes in an app on your phone and download natal charts instantly. You can listen to astrology forecasts on Youtube. You can schedule video readings with astrologers across the globe.

And you can also learn the ancient esoteric practice of interpreting the cycles of the cosmos for yourself.

Astrology is infinitely more complex than just your sun sign.

In this post we’ll break down some of the most important elements of Western evolutionary astrology, as well as provide practical tips throughout of how to apply this knowledge to your life.

The Zodiac Wheel

If you’ve only ever had one conversation about astrology, it was probably, “What’s your sign?”

To which you’d answer one of these twelve constellations from the zodiac wheel:

Each of the signs represents an archetype of the human spirit, and together they illustrate the human experience.

The zodiac wheel turns in accordance with the 12 months of the year.

Zodiac WheelEvolutionary astrology frames the flow from one sign to the next as the archetypal flow of human consciousness:

  • Aries represents the birth of consciousness, striking out into the process of individuation.
  • Taurus is the conscious exploration of the Earthly experience.
  • In Gemini, consciousness encounters the Other and begins its exploration of duality,
  • And then reacts to the experience of Other with emotion – the realm of Cancer.

And so on. We’ll go through the rest of the signs in more detail in a future post on the zodiac wheel.

Let’s move onto the planets and what they represent.

The Planets and Their Powers

Astrology is full of symbolic correlations.

If the zodiac wheel represents an evolution of conscious energetic states, the planets represent the energies themselves and are personified by mythological gods and goddesses.

Each planet is considered the ruler of the different signs, and their energies correspond accordingly:

  • In the previous section, we left off with Cancer representing the individual’s experience of feelings. Cancer is ruled by the moon and lunar cycles, from oceanic to menstrual to emotional.
  • The Sun represents individuality and creative life force and rules the sign of Leo.
  • Mercury is the god of communication, business, and attention to detail embodied in its ruling sign of Virgo.
  • Venus, the goddess of love, pleasure, and beauty, rules the signs of Libra and Taurus.
  • Pluto, the god of death and transformation, and Mars, the god of war, are co-rulers of the sign of Scorpio.

We’ll cover the rest of the planets – Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, and Uranus – in depth in a future post.

Before we move onto the natal chart, if you’re wondering what sign Earth rules: none.

(Note for boss level astrologers: heliocentric astrology is a separate lesson for way, way down the line.)

This is because the zodiac wheel is a map of the constellations as seen from Earth.

As of the time of this article, all humans are born on Earth. If humans were to colonize other planets and reproduce there, their offspring would include planet Earth, ruled by the goddess Gaia, in their natal charts.

Hopefully that tangent clarifies the basis of the zodiac wheel.

Which brings us back to:

How to Read Your Natal Chart

Natal Chart

The most widely known aspect of the natal chart is the sun sign.

There are as many elements in your natal chart as there are heavenly bodies in the cosmos. Here’s a quick guide on how to get started reading your natal chart. All you need is internet connection, your birth time and date, and your birth location.

Before we proceed, let’s clarify some lingo:

Aspects are relationships between the various elements of your chart and are expressed as mathematical angles: trines, squares, conjunctions, oppositions, and more. You can see these in your chart as the colorful lines connecting the various glyphs.

Zodiac symbols are represented by the large glyphs in the outer wheel.

Planetary symbols are the smaller glyphs within the second inner wheel.

Houses are the numbers shown in the second inner wheel, assigned to each of twelve segments of your chart. The houses start with your rising sign, or the zodiac sign rising in the sky at the time of your birth. First house, second house, third house, etc. Everything in your chart resides inside one of these twelve houses. We’ll go more into detail in a future post on what the houses mean.

So to start reading your natal chart:

  1. First, create a free Astrodienst account.
  2. Click Free Horoscopes and select AstroClick Portrait.
  3. Your natal chart will pop up. It consists of various glyphs, numbers and lines connecting them.
  4. You can click on the glyphs or aspects of the chart and see Astrodienst’s interpretation of what each one means.
  5. The AstroClick Portrait interpretations default to excerpts from their “Youth Portrait,” aimed at teens and kids. You can read the adult version by scrolling to the bottom of the interpretation column and clicking “Alternative interpretation by Robert Pelletier.”

If this is your first time reading your natal chart, just click around and explore! It’s an amazing vortex to get lost in.

The planets have influence over our lives. They don’t control them. – Olde Ways


Learning how to read the map of the cosmos is less like a science and more like a walk through an art museum.

There is historical and cultural context that provides the framework for understanding the systems of astrology. And then there are your unique perspective, emotional experience, and free will, all of which interpret the surrounding cosmos and assigns it meaning.

Ultimately, astrology at its most empowering is about distilling the wisdom of the ancients to guide you in the present.

In future posts you can expect to dive deeper into everything we’ve introduced in this introductory post. Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on social media to find out when future posts are published.

May astrology serve to guide and empower you on your life’s journey.


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