I am not a professional astrologer, but I have been studying astrology as a hobby for nearly three decades. I frequently refer to astrological information during my process when writing my futuristic novels, which all take place on or slightly above the earth.
Because my characters are born on earth, I am able to give them exact birthdays with corresponding astrological charts. (If they were born on other planets, they would be born under different constellations entirely.) I then use their astrological charts in order to more clearly define their personalities and motives. I brought up this method of character development to beta readers of my novel, not all of them were familiar with the workings of astrology and wanted to know more.
Astrology is a multifaceted discipline, but I will do my best to clearly explain the basics over a few blogs, starting with an explanation of the ten primary planets and celestial bodies that astrologers consider when reading a chart.
Most people relate astrology to their sun sign before anything else, but in many cases, it may not be the strongest influence on a person’s chart. There are a large number of celestial bodies that can affect the way a chart plays out, including planets, stars, constellations, and asteroids. Each of these celestial bodies can be in different signs. Astrologers who have your exact time and place of birth are also able to determine which house each of these signs resides in, which can give us a great deal more information.
There are ten primary celestial bodies that share our solar system—the sun, the moon, and the eight planets. These celestial bodies are what we first refer to when reading a chart, each which represents a different aspect of our core personalities.
The sun is often the first celestial body that people think of when looking at someone’s chart. Your sun sign represents your ego and your overall consciousness, and in some ways, your leadership style. Where it is located in your chart often shows where your outward personality shines most brightly. The sun sign changes on a monthly basis, usually between the 19th and 21st of the month.
Your natal moon represents your emotional state and your instinctive responses. What sign it is in can give you a clue as to what things are likely to nurture your psyche and its placement in your chart can also be indicative of your relationship with your mother or other females in your family as well as the type of activity that you are likely to experience in your domestic life. The moon sign changes every two to three days.
Mercury represents your intellectual life, how you think and communicate rather than how you feel. It does not indicate whether or not someone is intelligent, but rather it reflects how that individual assimilates information as well as how they communicate that information to others. The house that your Mercury resides in will often give clues as to what type of information is likely to attract your attention and what things you like to talk about with others. The planet of Mercury is the quickest of the planets; it stays in a sign anywhere from 15-60 days and is never more than two signs away from the sun sign.
Venus represents how you experience love, affection, and beauty. The sign that your natal Venus resides in may show what types of things bring harmony to your life and is highly indicative of how your creative mind works. Where in your chart your Venus is likely to give you a general idea of where you are likely to find a satisfying outlet for your creative efforts. Venus moves through each sign in approximately 30 days, and like Mercury, is never more than two signs away from the sun sign.
Mars represents how you deal with conflict, aggression, lust, and physical activity. The sign that your Mars is in generally indicates how you demonstrate your vitality and how you respond to challenges and can describe how your sex drive is fueled as well. The house that Mars resides in can indicate what areas of life you are likely to be more driven by. Mars typically changes signs every 60 days or so, but can experience retrograde that hold it in a single sign for up to seven months.
Jupiter is the first of the outer planets. These tend to move more slowly through the signs that the previous celestial bodies, and as they move further out they become more generational in nature. Jupiter represents generosity, expansiveness, and philosophy. The sign that your Jupiter is in tends to indicate how you approach both charity and higher learning. Where your Jupiter is located often shows both where you are able to receive financial and material benefits as well as where you are most likely to show your generous side to others. Jupiter takes approximately a year to move through each sign.
Saturn represents laws, boundaries, and hierarchies. It is a planet of limitations, and the sign that your natal Saturn is located in reveals how you interact with those limits and boundaries, as well as providing a clue about what general type of career you will be most suited for. The house that it is situated in is an area where life lessons may be particularly challenging, but when they are learned can be exceptionally beneficial as well. Saturn stays in a single sign around two and a half years at a time.
Uranus represents flashes of insight, sudden changes, and evolution. It is the planet of revolution and the unexpected, and the sign that it is located in shows how you are likely to respond to these sudden and unexpected changes. The house that the planet inhabits tend to be the area of life in which you are more likely to experience these lightning-like flashes, areas where, not only are you more likely to experience sudden changes, but also sudden and accurate conclusions that may appear to bypass logic. Uranus is the third slowest of the planets and remains in one sign for approximately seven years at a time.
The planet of Neptune is a planet of the deep subconscious, and like the Roman god that it was named after, it is both powerful and inexplicable. The sign that it is in and the aspects that it makes to other celestial bodies in your chart can reveal a great deal about how you find an escape from the harsher realities of life, sometimes even indicating a tendency towards escape using self-destructive methods. The house that Neptune resides in may be an area of your life that is murkier than other areas, an area that is generally wrapped in a layer of fantasy and confusion. The sign that Neptune is in is somewhat generational in nature as it stays in one sign for somewhere around 14 years.
Pluto is the farthest planet from the sun, and the coldest. It represents obsession, unsolved mysteries, complete transformation, and raw power. Pluto is the slowest moving of the planets, taking nearly 250 years to transit the entire zodiac, and the sign it is in often describes where the power and obsessions of an entire generation are most emphasized. The house that Pluto is in tends to be an area where you are most likely to experience drastic and permanent change. These changes sometimes are sometimes seen as particularly painful, but they can be radically healing as well. Due to the orbit of Pluto, it becomes retrograde on a frequent basis, and it takes between 10-20 years to go through one sign, often dipping back into the sign before it.
Keep in mind that while astrology may give you additional insights into an individual’s natural strengths and weaknesses, the stars do not control our fates. People who are naturally introverted can become excellent public speakers and those who are naturally extroverted can learn to love solitude. Human beings are far too complex to be fully defined by enneagrams, Myers-Briggs profiles, birth order, psychological diagnoses, or even the stars. While each of these methods may provide information that helps us understand people differently, none of them provides the full picture of an individual.