The Basics of the
This chapter introduces the basics of astrology. The example chart was produced by the
CD-ROM program included with the book. The program does all the necessary mathematical
calculations, based on the birth date, time, and place. The result is a two-dimensional
map showing where all the planets were in the zodiac at the time for which this
chart was created. In order to make this more real, I have used the chart of a real person,
Prince Charles, as an illustration.
The chart is composed of several elements: the signs, planets, houses, and aspects.
When you are considering family relationships, the planet signifies qualities of particular
family members, the sign describes how individuals act, and the house tells us which
family member we are to consider. The relationships between the planets (family members)
are the aspects. Let's look at the houses first.
November 14, 1948 / London, England / 9:14 PM Standard Time
There are twelve houses. The numbers around the center circle of the chart indicate
which house is which. The first house is always just below the horizon (the horizontal
line) on the left side. There are signs on both cusps (edges) of each house, and sometimes
there is a whole sign inside the house, called an intercepted sign. The cusp of the
house is the first edge, going in a counterclockwise direction. The houses represent the
different activities and experiences we encounter throughout our lives. In the example
chart, the symbols for the signs mark each house. The symbol for Taurus is inside the
Tenth House, and the following sign, Gemini, is on the cusp of the Eleventh House.
Scorpio, opposite Taurus, is inside the Fourth House.
The Houses and Family Relationships
When we are considering family relationships, the houses (the twelve divisions in the
chart) are the most important factor. Each house is associated with specific people in
your life, so this is where we start in analyzing family relationships. In the following
table you will find family and other relationships listed. The primary relationships are
related to you by blood. The second column lists other secondary relationships.1 All of
the relationships in this table are from the perspective of the person whose chart you
When you read about relationships in your printed report, remember that the descriptions
of the signs have been written to describe the individual not in terms of the relationship,
but in human terms. This means that while a description might be really great
for a parent, it may not be so great for your sibling or cousin. The report includes information
to help you keep in mind what relationship you are considering, and what characteristics
might be best for that relationship.
You also will want to remember that the nature of relationships changes throughout
your life.When you are young, your parents are your caretakers and teachers. Later in
life you may form a business relationship with them, or become closer-more like
friends. Still later in life you may become the caretaker. Thus the parent can be a Fourth
or Tenth House person, an Eleventh House friend, and finally a Twelfth House responsibility.
We often find that we have strong friendships that become romantic relationships.
2 Some of us develop strong friendships with people we meet through our careers.
The point is that relationships change and have facets that relate to more than one house
in your chart. As you read the book and your CD-ROM interpretation, try to be flexible
about where you assign your favorite people.
The arrangement of the signs in the houses of your chart depends on the time of birth.
You will get the best results from the CD-ROM program by including the birth time for
each person. If you don't have a birth time, I recommend that you use 12:00 PM. By
choosing a birth time of noon, you get the median positions of the planets on the birth
date. Then select Sun-on-Asc from the Zodiac/House list in the lower left corner of
the input screen. Astrologers have found that charts with the Sun on the Ascendant tend
to work almost as well as charts with the exact birth time.
The Sun only moves a little way through the zodiac (about 1 degree) each day, yet it
appears to travel across the sky as the earth turns. For example, at noon the Sun is in the
Midheaven-it is at its highest point in the sky. At about 6:00 AM the Sun is in the Ascendant
-the point in the east where it rises. At around 6:00 PM the Sun is at the Seventh
House, opposite the Ascendant, and at midnight it is at the Fourth House, at the
bottom of the chart wheel. The time of day you were born determines the position of
the Sun in the chart.
The time of day you were born also determines the arrangement of the signs within
the houses. The twelve signs of the zodiac rise and set during each twenty-four-hour period,
just as the Sun does. Each sign moves across the Midheaven, or middle of the sky,
in about two hours, and a different sign rises in the east (the left part of the chart). The
Midheaven is at the top of the chart, and the Ascendant, or rising sign, is on the left side
at the horizon line. The signs are shown at the lines (cusps) that indicate the beginning
of each house.
The Sun rises at dawn in the east, at the Ascendant, and is on the Descendant at
about sunset. The Midheaven is the noon point in the chart. If the Sun is there in a
chart, the birth time is close to noon. The cusp of the Fourth House represents midnight
and is opposite the Midheaven (the Tenth House cusp).
By locating the Sun in the wheel, you can estimate the time of birth. Prince Charles
was born at 9:14 PM in the late fall, so we know the Sun had set around 4:00 PM that
day in England. The signs rise and set in a clockwise motion, and a sign takes about two
hours to move through a house. His Sun is about one and one-half signs (about three
hours) from the Fourth House cusp. This seems about right for someone born in November
in England. This is one way you can verify that the chart is approximately correct
-if the Sun appears where you expect to find it in the twenty-four-hour wheel of
the chart, based on the birth time.
Each sign represents particular personality traits of each family member. Stated briefly,
they are as follows:
Aries 1 Will, ambition, impatience
Taurus 2 Endurance, patience, stability
Gemini 3 Versatility, adaptability, mobility
Cancer 4 Emotionality, nurturing, caution
Leo 5 Self-confidence, leadership, dignity
Virgo 6 Diligence, analytical, dependability
Libra 7 Cooperation, fairness, refinement
Scorpio 8 Ruthlessness, secretive, bold
Sagittarius 9 Philosophical, generous, optimistic
Capricorn 0 Conservative, systematic, self-control
Aquarius - Inventive, impersonal, unconventional
Pisces = Sympathetic, reserved, intuitive
Everyone has all twelve signs in their chart, and therefore everyone's chart reflects these
personality traits in one or more family members. What does the sign on the cusp of
each house tell us? If the sign represents particular qualities and the house represents a
particular family member, then the sign on each house tells us some of the qualities associated
with that family member. Everyone has the same signs in their chart, but the
arrangement in the houses determines which sign is associated with each family member.
Each family member has his or her own arrangement of the signs.
Prince Charles has the sign of Libra (7) on the Fourth House cusp of his birth
chart. By looking at the tables in this chapter for basic planet, sign, and house meanings,
we find that one of his parents-particularly the one represented by the Fourth
House-exhibits the qualities of cooperation, fairness, and refinement. From Charles'
perspective, this probably refers to his father.
In my own chart, I have Leo (5) on the Fourth House cusp. Therefore one of my
parents exhibits the qualities of self-confidence, leadership, and dignity. My mother always
seemed this way to me, even though I know she didn't always feel this way herself.
The Sun,Moon, and planets indicate people in our lives-people who have the characteristics
of the house and the sign where the planet is found. Each planet is associated
with one or more of the signs. Astrologers say that the planet rules the house.
The house placement of the signs tells about a specific family member. The planet's
placement in your chart tells you additional information about that family member.
We have looked at the Fourth House in Prince Charles' chart.Venus is the planet associated
with Libra, so one of the parents is felt to have Venus qualities of gentleness, sociability,
and charm. Prince Charles has Venus in the Fourth House, in its own sign (Venus
rules Libra). Prince Charles probably feels that his father exhibits Venus qualities very
well. The other planets in the Fourth House represent other people who live in his
home, whether family members or not. Those people exhibit qualities of sensitivity and
sympathy; intellect and resourcefulness; and authority, strength, and leadership.
The fourth factor in chart interpretation is the aspect-the distance between the planets
in a particular chart. Certain harmonic relationships-divisions of the 360 degree circle
by whole numbers-have been found to be significant in charts. Some astrologers consider
a wide range of aspects and others stick to just a few.
The following list includes the most commonly used aspects. Traditional astrologers
use only the conjunction, opposition, trine, square, and sextile.
The chart itself contains 360 degrees. The conjunction aspect occurs when two planets
are exactly together. Prince Charles has Neptune (l) very close to Venus (f) in his chart,
so they are said to be conjunct, even though they are about 21.4 degrees apart. The
amount of distance allowed between the planets in an aspect is called the orb, or orb of
influence. You can relate this idea of orb to tuning a radio station. You don't have to be
right on the exact spot on the dial to receive the signal. The closer you are to the exact
signal, the better you can hear the message. I recommend orbs of 6 degrees or less when
looking at the birth chart.
Each chapter of the book will expand on the ideas presented in this chapter, showing
how each planet, sign, house, and aspect reveals details about your family relationships.
The book is organized around the houses and the family relationship(s) they reflect.
Using your own chart or that of a family member, look at each symbol. You may want to
make an extra copy of the chart for this exercise.
Write the name of each sign next to its symbol in the chart.
Write the name of each planet next to its symbol.
Look at the aspect grid and notice which planets are closely associated with each
other. The symbol in the grid tells you what the aspect is.
Look at the lines in the middle of the circle in the chart and the symbols for each
line. The symbol indicates the aspect. The symbols and their names are listed on
the chart form and on the previous page of this book. Interpretations of the aspects
are listed in appendix 2.
Now, using some of these words, make up sentences that describe the person, as I
did with Prince Charles' Fourth House.
Do these sentences fit how you feel about your family members?
Adjust the sentences by using different words.
When you have finished, you will have your first, very basic astrological interpretation of
family relationships! You will see how easily ideas come together in words to describe
the people in your family and how you feel about them.
In the following chapters, we will explore each family relationship in greater detail.
You may find it helpful to memorize the keywords in this chapter or to mark the pages
for easy reference. You will also want to learn to recognize the symbols for the planets,
signs, and aspects quickly and easily. Then you will begin to read charts directly.