Oh My Stars

In Part One of this series, we looked at the basics of reading a birth chart by looking at Mystery Guest Number One from my online astrology course, Fred. This time around we are going to look at how to read the aspects in a birth chart by looking at Mystery Guest Number Two: Edna. Here’s the chart… go ahead and click on it, it gets bigger.

beliefnet astrology matthew currie edna

And yes, there is a perfectly good reason why I am not revealing the names of the actual people attached to the birth charts until the end of the class. When you know whose chart it is you’re looking at, there is simply too much of a tendency to prejudge and read your own opinion into it. If I tell you that this chart belongs to Mother Theresa, you might look at that Mars in Cancer and think she redirected her aggression into nurturing people. If I told you the Mystery Guest was really Hitler, you might think something like “that’s a debilitated Mars, so Hitler redirected his aggression against all of Europe!”

No, it is not Mother Teresa or Hitler… When an astrologer looks at the birth chart and does a consultation for a person, that astrologer should be able to see the whole person. Sometimes seeing a person clearly involves us setting aside our notions of who we think they are and focusing on the more objective details. If I wanted to work at a job that served primarily to reinforce my basic suspicions about people, I wouldn’t be an astrologer… I’d still be an insurance adjuster.

And yes, once again I am using Whole Sign Houses, so this chart looks a little different from most of the ones you see online that use Placidus houses. Again: I have my reasons for this. And again you will notice that I have chosen the chart with an Ascendant in the very late degrees of its Sign. No that wasn’t deliberate, but if it makes you get used to looking at Whole Sign charts a little more quickly, then so be it. So no matter what you may think at first glance, this chart still has Gemini — all of Gemini — as the First House.

You’ll notice that at the bottom left hand corner of the chart there is an aspect grid. Here’s a closer look:

beliefnet astrology matthew currie aspect grid

An aspect between two planets modifies their attributes and how they manifest themselves, and the kind of amplification/manifestation is dependent aspect involved.

Here is my description of how the various aspects work, using a language even more universal than that of astrology: Star Wars. Go ahead and click on it and read it… I’ll wait here for you.


Got that? Cool. Just to make it a little easier for you let me break down what the symbols mean.

beliefnet astrology matthew currie aspects

The top row are The Big Five – the aspects you really need to get to know well. In the middle is the quincunx (also sometimes called “the inconjunct”).  It’s not really a “major” aspect, but it’s a little too pronounced/noisy to really be considered a “minor” aspect.

If all you know about the planets are the nature of their Sign placements, you’d think Edna must be kind of a wimp, because her Mars is “debilitated” in Cancer. It’s a much stronger Mars than you might think, given that it’s in a “debilitated” Sign for Mars. Just look at the aspects amplifying it.

Now if at this point you’re thinking “okay, that’s enough aspects… learning the rest will just be a minor inconvenience,” you’d be partially right. The three I’ve listed above are all minor inconveniences to one degree or another. There are also relatively useful minor aspects like the quintile, septile, novile… but the truth is that if you find yourself digging deeply into them when you’re reading a chart, there’s a reasonable chance you’ve missed something more important going on with the major aspects. Minor aspects are like that cousin of yours at the family reunion who’s always waiting to corner you to sell you something — spend too long with him and you’ll miss out on time with Great Grandma and Uncle Jay, which is where all the real action is happening.

NEXT TIME: Putting all the bits and pieces together, hopefully.

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