How Does Astrology Work?

Updated November 19, 2018
astrology chart

Some say that astrology is the language of the sky. And in a way it is! It's full of calculations, symbols, hieroglyphics, and mystery. It can be exciting and confusing. But it's like any other language, once you begin to learn and use it, how it works starts to make sense.

The Mechanics of Astrology

The science behind astrology is cut and dried. There's no question that it's based on scientific calculations or that astrologers were the astronomers of past ages. So, understanding the mechanics of astrology is an excellent introduction to how it works. In this video, Amy Herring of Heavenly Truth demonstrates the mechanics of astrology.

Astronomical Map

The sky is in constant motion, and a natal chart is like a snapshot taken of the moving sky on the day and at the exact time and place you were born. The horoscope is an astronomical map that shows the location of your Ascendant, Midheaven, Sun, Moon, and planets, along with the signs and houses. It pinpoints your place in time and space.

Astrology Works in Two Parts

Astrology can be roughly divided into two parts.

  1. Calculating the astronomical map; luckily, there are many computer programs, Apps and websites online that will do the mathematical calculations for you.
  2. When the science ends the art of reading the Horoscope begins.

Of course, a horoscope is written in zodiacal hieroglyphics. So, to read a horoscope you'll have to learn the written language of astrology.

Astrology's Hieroglyphics and Keywords

Astrology is a language of symbols and glyphs that go back many thousands of years. All the signs, planets, and aspects have a glyph. Once you know what the symbols represent and have a list of keywords, you can begin translating the language of the sky and get a feel for how astrology works.

Astrology's Glyphs

Ancient cultures derived the glyphs from the creatures and figures assigned to the star groups which form the constellation zodiac. The glyph for Aries looks like the head and horns of a ram; the glyph for Taurus look like the head and horns of a bull; the glyph for Gemini look like twins holding hands etc. In most cases studying the glyphs will give you some insight into what each represents.

astrology glyphs

Astrology's Keywords

With the use of keywords for the planets, signs, and houses anyone can analytically translate a horoscope. Briefly, keywords put key-phrases, key-sentences, and key-paragraphs together. There are many keywords for every planet, sign, aspect, and house. Various disciplines of astrology use different keywords. The lists below contain just a few of those used in natal astrology.

Keywords for the Signs:

  • Aries: Assertive, pioneering, selfish, rash
  • Taurus: Loyal, practical, patient, inflexible, lazy.
  • Gemini: Versatile, curious, communicative, superficial, inconsistent
  • Cancer: Protective, nurturing, sympathetic, moody
  • Leo: Generous, playful, dramatic, arrogant, narcissistic
  • Virgo: Discriminating, analytical, modest, critical, fussy
  • Libra: Diplomatic, sociable, cooperative, indecisive, passive
  • Scorpio: Emotional, penetrating, intense, secretive, vindictive
  • Sagittarius: Enthusiastic, idealistic, outgoing, irresponsible, tactless
  • Capricorn: Responsible, traditional, ambitious, pessimistic
  • Aquarius: Independent, inventive, non-conforming, impersonal
  • Pisces: Imaginative, compassionate, dreamy, escapist, deceptive

Keywords for the planets:

  • Sun: Since of self, life, vitality, purpose, aspiration
  • Moon: Emotions, instincts, habits, mother
  • Mercury: communication, logic, reasoning, learning
  • Venus: Love, harmony, worth, relating
  • Mars: Drive, vitality, actions, assertion
  • Jupiter: Luck, expansion, moral values, philosophy
  • Saturn: Obligations, duty, responsibility, commitment, father
  • Uranus: Liberation, eccentricity, originality, rebellion
  • Neptune: compassion, illusion, confusion
  • Pluto: Death, rebirth, transformation

Keywords for the Houses:

  • First House: Appearance, how others see you, personality, the physical body
  • Second House: What you value, self-worth, attachments
  • Third House: Communication, intellectual endeavors, the routine functioning of the mind
  • Fourth House: Home, roots, family
  • Fifth House: Creativity, children, amusement
  • Sixth House: Service, work environment, health
  • Seventh House: Marriage, partnerships, open enemies
  • Eighth House: Sex, legacies, secrets
  • Ninth House: Higher education, wisdom, ethics, philosophy, religion
  • Tenth House: Aspirations, social standing, authority
  • Eleventh House: Groups, social causes, and ideas, hope and wishes for the future
  • Twelfth House: self-undoing, sacrifice, spiritual connection

Keywords for the major aspects:

  • Conjunction (0-degree separation) keywords: Binding, merging, unifying
  • Opposition (180-degree separation) Keywords: Conflict, struggle, tension
  • Square (90-degrees separation) keywords: Challenges, difficulties, limitations
  • Sextile (60-degree separation) keywords: Compatibility, creativity, opportunity
  • Trine (120-degree separation) keywords: Beneficial, easy, protection

Using Keywords in Natal Charts

Keywords can decipher a birth chart. All that needs to be done is to plug in the keywords and begin putting sentences to together. Keywords are fun. You can use any of those listed for the sign, planet, aspect, and house and determine how it fits the life. Do this a few times with your own birth chart and you'll have a rudimentary understanding of how natal astrology works.

Real Life Example

A woman has a Capricorn Sun in the fourth house Square her Moon in Aires in the eighth house. This could be interpreted in several ways using different keywords, but among those is: The woman's sense of self (Sun) depends on being part of a traditional (Capricorn) family (fourth), but that is challenged (square) by her mother's (Moon) secret (eighth house) actions (Aries).

Of course, this could describe a number of scenarios, but within the context of this woman's life, she never felt like she was part of her family growing up. She sensed she was somehow different from the others and always felt a lack of belonging. She was raised near her father's family; her maternal relatives were hundreds of miles away. After her father's death, she questioned her mother who reluctantly confirmed that the man she knew as Dad was not her biological father. Her mother had kept the truth about her heritage a secret from her for over 50 years.

Using Keywords in Compatibility

Keywords can also be used when determining astrological compatibility. For instance, when comparing two charts, knowing just the aspect keywords will give you clues to where the ease, struggles, merging, and opportunities lie in a relationship. The keywords for the signs, planets, and houses then flesh the story out.

Real Life Example

A man's third house Mercury in Sagittarius is conjunction his lover's fifth house Mars in Sagittarius. You could say the man's idealistic (Sagittarius) way of intellectually (third house) communicating (Mercury) merged (conjunction) with his lovers enthusiastic (Sagittarius) drive (Mars) to create (fifth house).

This could have played out in many ways, but within the context of this love affair, the man's haiku poetry inspired his lover to create illustrations that brought each to life. As a couple, they co-authored and published five illustrated poetry books.

Why Astrology Works

How astrology works analytically is different from the why astrology works. Astrologers have never been able to explain precisely why it works so magically as a tool for human understanding. Theories exist, but the best answer to why it works might be, astrology works because it works! And it provides millions of people with a rich source of information for understanding themselves and bettering their personality, lifestyle, romances, occupations, future, and much more.

How Does Astrology Work?