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Traditions of Astrological Practice

by Cynthia D’Errico

Modern Western Astrology is based on traditions handed down by the Babylonians, Greeks, and other ancient civilisations. There is GEOCENTRIC practice which takes the earth as the centre of the universe. Although the earth revolves around the Sun, the astrologer’s point-of-view is how the planets affect us here on earth, the vantage point of sentient life embodied in matter.

There is also HELIOCENTRIC practice which is sun-centered and extrapolates from the planets’ (including earth’s) ever-changing relationships to the Sun information about people, events, and circumstances here on earth. In general, the planets, their continuously changing relationships to each other (called, aspects), the signs, and the houses are the flywheel of astrological practice and interpretation. Astrology is based on centuries of empirical observation of the relationship between the planets’ interaction and position.

In my opinion, there is a symbiosis between man and the cosmos which is reflected in internal and external states and circumstances, and, the sometimes uneasy, inequal alliance between fate and free will In other words, planetary positions and relationships are the cosmic geometry which provide a special syntax shimmering with the cosmic will, if we would but pay attention.

Transits, Progressions, Solar Returns Transits:

Transits refer to the motion of the planets in their respective orbits. The current position and movement of any particular planet affects each birth chart because it makes an ASPECT to one or more of the planets in your chart. On January 11, 1996, for example, the planet Uranus entered 0 degrees of the sign of Aquarius. If Uranus in one’s birth chart is positioned at 0 degrees of the sign of Leo, an opposition aspect between transiting Uranus in 1996 and one’s natal Uranus occurs.

Progressions: A progressed chart is cast by taking one day of life as equal to one year of life. This practice extrapolates symbolic time from our experiential notions of time. Thus, if one were born at 5pm on May 1, 1956, one’s 25th year of life would be symbolized by a progressed chart cast for May 26, 1956.

Solar Returns: Every year, at a slightly different time, the Sun returns to the exact place in the Zodiac as when you were born. The time is rarely exactly the same because the Sun’s motion is not as regular as our earthly calendar. A solar return chart describes the potentials and preoccupations that will characterize your solar year–from one birthday to the next. All of these charts are useful to the professional astrologer as clarifications of what the birth chart shows, and help to focalize specific issues that are sensitive to the chart-owner at a particular time in his or her life.

Branches of Astrology (this is not an exhaustive list!)

Electional: choosing an auspicious time and date to launch something, like a business, marriage, website…

Synastry/Compatibility: comparing the charts of two people to examine where they are compatible and where their energies conflict or challenge each other’s (you can compare your chart with your pet’s, your chart with your new house’s, etc.).

Mundane/Political: Specialists argue that these two are quite different, but generally, these are charts cast for a country, the inauguration of a President, an earthquake, or other mundane events that affect masses of people or whole nations.

Locational: examining a chart in terms of where the best place to live is for a particular person.

Financial: often applied to the stock market, share trading, etc. (Obtain the birthchart for the inception of Apple Macintosh and compare it to your chart!). In birth charts, information about your personal finances can be gleaned from the position of the planet, Venus, and the second house. There are many astrologers who specialize in financial astrology.

Horary: answers to pressing, personal questions. Every question is reflected in the cosmos. The word, “horary”, refers to the “question of the hour”. Horary is believed to be the most ancient form of astrology and a horarist uses rules and traditions that are very different from modern natal astrology.

Medical: Health indices in a natal chart are very useful in identifying symptoms of illness. All ethical medical astrologers use their knowledge in tandem with consults with a medical doctor or health care professional..

What Astrology is…and is NOT!

Natal, or genethliacal, astrology, is not a deterministic science. It is not a replacement for personal responsibility and decision-making. The heavens do not “compel”, they represent and symbolize. The well-known phrase AS ABOVE, SO BELOW does not mean that we are prisoners of our fate, but rather that the heavens act as a mirror which reflects our energies, choices, and purpose.

A birth or natal chart is a prefiguration of characterisitics, circumstances, susceptibilities, and challenges which, through your free will, you may accept, alter, temper or manage as you will. You are the living manifestation of your birth chart–YOU are its meaning. A birth chart has no meaning apart from you, your choices, and how you express its energies. Two people born at the same moment and place may share exactly the same birth energies, but each may choose to express those energies differently.

Astrology celebrates the complexity and uniqueness of each individual. Energy, not matter, is the stuff of life. Matter is energy made manifest, whereas the soul is pure energy. If you don’t believe you have a soul, then you should stop reading now. A birth chart represents the soul’s entry into the world of matter–at a particular time and place because once soul-energy enters the world of matter, it becomes time- and space-bound.

Since our soul energy is part of all other energy, including the cosmic energies, the birth chart symbolizes the state of those energies which coincided with our moment of birth. This is why the birth chart is often called THE BLUEPRINT of the soul. The interaction between soul and karma (action) resides in the realm of choice and will, projected into the world of matter.

Astrology is a belief system, which takes for granted that each unique life has a purpose (dharma) and takes action according to that purpose. Astrology is also a symbolic system which encompasses fate, free will, and our relationship to the cosmic will, or Creator. Its world-view invites you to align your soul’s purpose with the cosmic will by fulfilling your potential as an individual–and Astrology’s techniques and traditions are superbly suited to this goal. Not a New Age at All… Ancient Astrology was only one of many disciplines that comprised an integrated natural science which included alchemy (now medicine), botany (herbalism), and wholistic healing. All of these in our day have become fragmented into very separate disciplines, but, in fact, the so-called NEW AGE is a return to a very ancient age and philosophy of life.

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