FAQ about astrology

Astrology is a fascinating subject. While almost everyone knows his or her astrological sign, they are not always familiar with the personal characteristics associated with it. Those who deepen their understanding of the subject will gain some truly unique insights into themselves and others. Below are some answers to the most frequent questions about astrology.

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. Similarly, the earth and all life upon its surface conform to complicated, perhaps never-to-be-fully understood, patterns that make up the Grand Design of the cosmos. The ancient Greeks were committed to this belief. Some of the greatest thinkers in the history of mankind did not think it unreasonable to study planetary cycles in order to gain a better understanding of how mankind in general, and people as individuals, fit into the cosmos. The Greeks assembled the body of knowledge upon which modern astrology is based. They applied their advanced understanding of astronomy and mathematics to the descriptions handed down from the astrologers/astronomers (there was no distinction in those days) of ancient Egypt and Babylonia.

What is meant by one's astrological sign?

When people refer to their astrological sign, they are merely stating which sign of the zodiac the Sun was in when they were born. These are also known as Sun signs or Star signs.

Why is the Sun's position so important in astrology?

As stars go with respect to size and brilliance, our Sun is not a very impressive specimen. However, in a universe incalculably cold and dark, it is fortunate for us that the earth unfailingly continues to circle around this little spot of warmth and light. Without it there would be no life. 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 astrological seasons: birth, growth, maturity and death. The cycle of seasonal weather 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. What this really means is that they are not sure if the Sun had entered another sign on the day of their birth. 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.

On what are the astrological sign descriptions based?

Some traits are shared by certain signs. This can seem confusing unless you understand how traits are classified. Astrology uses two general classifications to explain how the same characteristic can be shared by different signs. These two classifications also focus on the true nature of each sign as they are distinct from each other. One classification is known as Elements, which divides the twelve signs into four groups: Fire signs, Earth signs, Air signs and Water signs. The other classification is known as Qualities, which divides the twelve signs into three groups: Cardinal signs, Fixed signs, and Mutable signs.

What are Elements?

Defining characteristics in terms of Elements is based on whether a person's initial (elementary) reaction to everything in life is physical, pragmatic, intellectual or emotional. An individual's first reaction to things is an instantaneous process. Describing it as though it occurs in slow motion makes it easier for us to understand how one individual's primary reactions may differ from another's, and how much the tendency of these responses influences the way we think and the things we do.

The first element is Fire, represented by the signs Aries, Leo and Sagittarius. For these people, the first reaction to everything is a physical one. They are the ones most likely to "shoot first and ask questions later. " Fire sign people need to act. The moment their interest is aroused, they charge into battle, unarmed. In their haste to do something, important details may be forgotten or disregarded. They can be mindless as to how their careless actions may hurt or infringe the rights of others. The positive side of their animated natures is that fire signs possess great courage. Fire sign people are the most physically active. 
The second element is Earth, represented by the signs Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn. These individuals are invariably of a practical nature and seldom do anything without a purpose. Before taking action that might be a waste of time, before allowing reason and logic to present all sides of an issue (some of which may not be of direct benefit to them), and before giving in to the sentimentality of emotions, Earth signs assess everything in terms of their personal goals. They are remarkable at discovering ways to conserve resources. They instinctively recognise and enjoy the material comforts of life and don't mind expending energy in that direction. Earth signs are not particularly motivated to do anything until they find it expedient to do so. 
The third element is Air, represented by the signs Gemini, Libra and Aquarius. These individuals have an intellectual orientation to everything. Before taking action that might be unnecessary, before practicality distracts their attention, and before emotionalism can blur the facts, Air sign people focus their immediate attention on the available information in order to form a complete and unbiased judgement. They get sidetracked looking for some lesson to be learned. Attracted to all forms of education and communication, they are adept at making objective decisions and impartial judgments. In practical matters, Air signs must learn that what works in theory may not work in reality. They are usually the quickest to acquire communicative skills. 
The fourth element is Water, represented by the signs Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces. Those born in a Water sign always lead with their hearts. Before taking action that might cause anxiety, before practicality imposes a limit on sentiment, and before intellectual reason offers irrefutable evidence that their feelings are unjustified, Water sign people react to everything on an emotional level. Feelings dominate their decisions. These personalities must learn to curb possessiveness and emotional dependency. Water signs are the most sensitive. The emotional environment in which they are raised plays a major role in determining their emotional and mental health as adults. They tend to be shy and in need of constant reassurance. Their willingness to do anything is largely a matter of how they are feeling at the time.

What are Qualities?

The definition of characteristics in terms of Qualities is based on three basic attitudes towards life. Does a person want to get things done, as do the Cardinal sign personalities? Is a person too stubborn or fearful of changing the status quo, as are the Fixed sign personalities? Or, is a person likely to go along with the prevailing situation by adjusting to change, as are the Mutable sign personalities?

The Cardinal signs are Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn. People born in these signs are strong-willed and have a desire for accomplishment. They are the doers, the movers and shakers in the world. Also known as executive signs, Cardinal sign personalities like to be involved in major projects and to take charge of whatever needs to be done.

The Fixed signs are Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius. These personalities are cautious and tend to be extremely stubborn. Their opinions and habits are not readily altered. They do not appreciate unexpected, sudden, or imposed changes. The tenacity of these personalities is a valuable asset in research or other areas where patience and stamina are required. Their cautious nature prevents unnecessary waste of their time, talent and resources.

The Mutable signs are Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces. These individuals have remarkable ability to adapt to all kinds of situations, making it easy for others to live and work with them. Their adaptability makes Mutable sign people survivors. However, their willingness to constantly adjust to the influence of other people's situations can seriously inhibit the growth and development of their own talents and personalities.

Why don't some people seem to fit their astrological sign?

There are two reasons why some people don't seem to fit the descriptive characteristics of their astrological sign. In the first instance, they may not really understand the entire astrological description of their sign and are basing their opinion only on a few generalities. A more thorough explanation often reveals that most individuals do demonstrate the inherent characteristics of their Sun sign. Secondly, astrological interpretation is based on knowing the complete horoscope of an individual, which indicates where all the celestial bodies were positioned at the time of birth. It will reveal how strongly an individual exhibits the traits associated with his or her Sun sign. After the Sun’s sign, the most important position is the sign in which the Moon was located at birth. For example, let's say at the time of birth the Sun was in Aries. The Moon may also be in Aries at birth but it may just as easily be in any of the other eleven astrological signs. The astrological sign position of the Moon has an important bearing on personality and temperament from an emotional point of view. It describes how a person will emotionally handle the characteristics and traits indicated by the position of the Sun at birth. Many calendars and almanacs list the daily lunar positions.

What is the difference between astrological sign and horoscope?

As previously explained, a person’s astrological sign is determined simply by the position of the Sun at the time of birth. The horoscope, however, is literally a map of the heavens showing the exact position of the Sun, Moon, and planets. It is mathematically calculated using the exact date, hour, and location of an individual’s birth. Many people are born on the same date but at a different hour. Many are born on the same date and in the same hour, but not in the same place. An individual’s horoscope is calculated using all three of these variables. Every four-minute interval produces a slightly different chart, and even twins are rarely born within such a narrow space of time. The horoscope is indeed a unique chart, no two individuals have the same one. This is the reason why an astrologer can define an individual's nature and temperament in a most subtle and personal manner.