New Approach To Chart Interpretation
1: Introduction and the Elements
the past year Ive had a lot of time on my hands. One project I started
to keep myself busy was an attempt to finally learn to analyze any given
astrological chart as a whole. I already knew the usual interpretations of
the signs, houses, planets and aspects, but putting all those factors together
to see the big picture was something else. As I began this project, I realized
that I would need to start from square one and completely redesign
my approach to astrology.
education began in 1999 with books such as March and McEvers The
Only Way to Learn Astrology series, Trish MacGregors The Everything
Astrology Book, and Stephen Arroyos Chart Interpretation
Handbook. These books are all great starting points for the beginning
astrology student, but even the March and McEvers books, usually touted as
comprehensive guides to astrology, have something missing about
these books teach chart interpretation through an approach sometimes
disparagingly termed cookbook astrology; they give descriptions
of the planets in each sign and house and through each aspect. I certainly
learned a lot about myself by looking up the various facets of my chart in
these books, and they all definitely provide worthwhile information for the
beginning student, but they produce a definite lack of cohesiveness in terms
of understanding the whole chart.
skeptics often use the inaccuracy of simplistic Sun-sign astrology to
disprove astrology in general. All Geminis are not nonstop talkers,
some Virgos arent the slightest bit neat (Im one of these!) -
and some Pisceans, such as B.F. Skinner, are so methodical and precise as
to express the exact opposite of their supposedly mystical and vague
Sun sign. Some astrology skeptics who are a bit more educated in the art
also use the vast differences between people with planets in the same sign
as proof that astrology doesnt work. None of their claims
are proof in themselves that astrology does or does not work. What their
statements do mean, however, is that the individual elements of a
chart can never stand alone; all facets of a chart must be examined
simultaneously and as a whole to produce an accurate interpretation.
is where my efforts come in. Frustrated by my inability to see a
whole emerging from the myriad details of even a single stand-alone
natal chart, I developed a cohesive system to reorganize the many parts of
a chart into a more systematic, structured format. If youre one of
the many out there who seem to be blessed with an ability to synthesize a
complete picture of a chart on your own, congratulations - you wont
need my system. If, on the other hand, you find yourself confused by apparently
contradicting details in a chart or are just unsure of how it all fits together,
you may find this approach interesting and useful.
of the Conscious Evolution forums know me for my tendency to
offer unnecessary cautions and warnings, and I'm not going to disappoint
them by deviating from my norm. First, I must warn you that when I mentioned
I had been forced to renew my astrology knowledge from the ground up, I
wasnt kidding. There may be information in this series that conflicts
with what you have read or been taught, and there will definitely be techniques
and methods you have never seen before. The latter issue is one reason I
chose to release my information to the public, as I want to test some of
my new techniques to see how many others find that they actually work.
try to keep an open mind when you encounter ideas that seem to be at odds
with the conventional ideas found in popular astrology books. If the system
does not work for everyone I want to make sure its errors are inherent to
the system and not simply complaints that it doesnt jibe with current
Id like to caution that if you are looking for an astrology lesson
that deals primarily in real-world meanings, this is not it.
In this system I am looking for more abstract, generalized patterns
that can then be applied as appropriate to the real-world situations of the
individual whose chart is being interpreted.
turn-off with cookbook astrology is that the practical
interpretations these books give often have little or no meaning in terms
of certain charts. Again, this may be another reason for the bad name astrology
tends to get, as people read these books and find that a particular chart
configuration they have does not apply to them. I had a friend once with
Libra rising, which, according to many standard interpretations, should make
her rather neat and tidy or at least concerned with outward appearances;
her cat-urine-soaked apartment definitely belied the standard reading! The
Ascendant, like any other element of a chart, cannot be interpreted apart
from the other factors.
what kind of research is done on a particular chart configuration, someone
will always break the mold due to the free will inherent in us all. I do
not believe astrology can be used to predict precise behavior with an acceptable
degree of accuracy. What I hope my research and methods will show, however,
is that astrology can indeed predict the basic behavior patterns contained
within a moment in time.
will always challenge astrology despite any research by myself or others,
because it does not arise from any physically observable connection between
the planets and human behavior. The skeptics viewpoint often comes
from a belief that until something is proven observable, it cannot really
exist. Although Einsteins theories have yet to be disproven mathematically,
many still will not totally believe them until they can be reproduced in
a lab. I am actually very much a skeptic myself, but I have seen far too
many correspondences between people and their charts over far too long a
time to still believe its all just coincidence, despite
the fact that I dont know exactly where the correspondences are coming
from or how they arise.
Illustrated Through Qabala Concepts
elements (Fire, Earth, Air, and Water) and three qualities (Cardinal, Fixed,
and Mutable) form the real basis of astrology. Many, if not most, astrology
books and lessons, in their hurry to teach you what the signs and houses
mean, treat these facets as secondary to the positions of the planets. In
my opinion, this is a big mistake, as the true meanings of the zodiacal signs,
as well as the aspects, are derived from the varying combinations of the
elements and qualities. Jumping right into a description of the signs without
first explaining how the signs are formed is akin in my eyes to arbitrarily
assigning qualities to the signs based on hearsay. To a Virgo, at least,
this is a real no-no!
before we even get near the signs, were going to have to review what
the elements and qualities mean. This can be very difficult for beginning
astrology students due to the high level of abstraction involved. Were
not dealing with real-world issues here, were talking about principles
even more abstract than the signs and planets themselves. The level of difficulty
involved in this may well be why most astrology books avoid this topic aside
from a few cursory paragraphs, if that.
and qualities seem abstract at first glance because they deal only with
potential, not with any action or result. If you know any physics
or even basic science, think of the elements and qualities as being potential
energy, the energy that a stationary object is capable of, as opposed to
the kinetic energy of a moving object. One extremely important theme exemplified
here is that the study of astrology is in reality the study of the many steps
a potential (in general) must take in order to express itself physically
in the material world. Platos theory of pure Form, which descends into
matter through a series of progressive condensations, is a good analogy here,
as are the four levels or Worlds of the Qabalah (Archetypal,
Creative, Formative, and Material). This theme of form descending into matter
will be repeatedly discussed throughout this series.
four Worlds of the Qabalah (Kabbalah) are a good starting point for our
discussion of the elements, since each World can correspond to an element.
Of course, you do not have to believe in the mystical Judaism of Qabalah
as a religion; this is merely a mental exercise using some Qabalah
first and most powerful World of the Qabalah is Atziluth, the Archetypal
World. This theoretical world is where the true forms of everything reside.
To better explain this concept, try to remember the last time you had a really
great idea for something. How did you bring this idea into reality? You developed
a clear picture of it in your mind, invested a lot of time and effort into
it, and then took the necessary steps to physically produce it.
before you did all this, you had an inspiration, a sudden spark
of thought emerging within you; you knew what you wanted to do, even if you
didnt know how you would do it or even what it would look like. In
essence, when you had your idea you created a sort of perfect mental blueprint
of how it should be. This blueprint is what is known as an archetype, a totally
pure ideal or Form. Archetypes, not surprisingly, exist only in the Archetypal
World due to their inherent perfection, which is impossible in the imperfect
material world we live in. The Archetypal World corresponds to the element
of Fire in astrology.
to the purity and perfection of archetypes, as well as the fact that the
first stage of having an idea is an intangible something beyond our thoughts
or even feelings, archetypes, and thus the element of Fire, have a spiritual
connotation. The element of Fire represents energy, desire, and inspiration
- in potential, of course. Since elements are potentials themselves, Fire
would then be a potential of potential; it is pure energy and motion.
This concept is extremely abstract so do not be surprised if it takes time
to wrap your mind around it.
next world is Briah, the Creative World, which can be linked to the
second step of having an idea: forming a clear picture of it in your mind.
The keyword here is mind, as the Creative World has to do with
all things mental. If youre going to make or do anything, you first
have to know what it is and how to do it. How do you acquire this information?
One way is through communication with others. By interacting with other people
we learn the basic frameworks through which our ideas (Fire) can be expressed.
The frameworks themselves are not part of the Creative World; the process
of finding and discovering these frameworks is.
Creative World, Briah, is linked to the element of Air in astrology. To further
illustrate the meaning of this element, consider again the idea
process. If Fire represents your first burst of creative energy toward a
goal, Air would represent the research or learning you would have to do to
achieve that goal. You might have to take a course, in which you will have
to both receive and test information in order to go on to the next phase
of your goal.
your goal doesnt end in the creation of a physical product; maybe you
saw someone at a party and suddenly fell in love. How are you going to get
from your archetypal ideal of how a relationship with that person would be
to an actual relationship? You would have to do quite a bit of communicating,
both verbal and non-verbal. You might talk to friends to find out if the
person is even interested in you. You might watch from a distance to get
a clearer picture of who this heart-throb is. And at some point you will
have to talk to him or her in order to determine whether or not you are the
slightest bit compatible. Only then, assuming everything goes according to
plan, can you begin forming a relationship.
summation, Air represents not just communication but all forms of information.
If Fire is pure energy, Air is pure information or data. It shouldnt
be hard to see, then, that Air is also often linked with the mental side
of the human psyche, as opposed to Fire being associated with the human spirit.
In the tarot, Air is represented by the suit of Swords, a suit with a negative
connotation in many tarot decks. This perception may have arisen for two
reasons. First, the element of Air represents the first descent of a pure
ideal (Fire) into matter; it is a step down in terms of purity and perfection.
The second and more important reason has to do with the fact that a large
part of the processes involved with Air are of a divisive,
either/or sort that can be either really good or really bad.
binary logic integral to computers is an excellent example of this division;
most computers are incapable of dealing with abstract, both/and
concepts. Unfortunately, many people in our world tend to be stuck on this
level as well and also have trouble seeing both sides of a situation. These
people are not necessarily trapped on the Air level, they are actually
over-expressing Aquarius, which we will get to at a later date. But there
is much more to Air than if this, then that-type logic testing;
it deals with information as a whole.
been inflamed with the idea of falling in love and having created the proper
atmosphere through airy communication, you would now hope to begin forming
a relationship with the person you had your eye on. As it happens, the next
World down is Yetzirah, the Formative World. All our dreams and hopes
and feelings are contained here, as the Formative World is the world of
imagination and emotion. You probably already know that it can be difficult
if not impossible to complete a task, no matter how educated you are on the
subject, if your heart isnt in it.
figurative assembly line of the four Worlds, after coming up
with the idea itself (Fire), then formulating the initial, ideal schematic
for it (Air), the next step is to create its basic framework or skeleton.
As most of us are aware, relationships based on purely material or intellectual
matters usually do not stand the test of time; when unpleasantness starts
to happen to one or both individuals, the relationship crumbles because neither
wants to do the work involved. This is because relationships of this type
lack the emotional backbone to stand up to the unfortunate happenings
of this world. The processes involved with the Formative World create the
emotional and/or imaginative support that the Fire and Air processes need
in order to take form in the physical world.
Formative World represents the last step before the descent of inspiration,
thought, and emotion into reality, it is also the most accessible and familiar
level to most people. Unfortunately, because of this accessibility, for every
overly logical, heartless person, there seem to be ten overly
emotional individuals running about, ruled by undisciplined feelings and
bouncing between one emotion and the next. The fluidity of the emotions involved
in the Formative World is perhaps why this World is associated with the element
of course, we mustnt forget the last World, Assiah - the Material
World, associated with the element of Earth. This is the realm of physical
existence we wake up in every day, and it represents the culmination of the
other three processes. Here, whatever was brought down through the other
three levels is imbued with a physical reality of some sort.
the Qabalistic four Worlds metaphor to illustrate the way the elements,
representing forces of potential, condense themselves repeatedly until an
actual form is produced. However, the order described above (Fire, Air, Water,
Earth) is more the order of a finished or complete world, one
that we have not quite achieved yet. In our world, nothing is finished;
everything is evolving continuously. The twelve signs of the zodiac represent
this process of constant evolution, and the elements cycle through the zodiac
signs in the following order: Fire, Earth, Air, Water.
zodiac, each of the Qabalas two higher elements (Fire and
Air) is followed by one of the two lower elements, Earth and Water, both
of which are considered to be less pure by the Qabalists due
to their distance from the absolute potential of Fire. But this arrangement
makes sense when you consider our world and the process of evolution itself.
Fire and Air may well be more perfect than the messier and often
downright dirty elements of Earth and Water, but we live in an
imperfect world. An excess of Air in a chart, especially the Air of Aquarius,
can produce a rigid, black-and-white way of viewing the world. While the
universe does tend to operate, on a large scale, through either/or processes
(the Sun either has enough fuel to continue its fusion reactions or it does
not, the chair Im sitting on is either there or it is not, etc.), human
and even many animal processes do not operate exclusively on either/or
of the dangers of excesses of Fire and Air, each of these is followed by
a more imperfect element. This way, if Fire or Air get a bad
case of a swollen ego and become too rigidly idealistic for reality, Earth
and Water will come along shortly thereafter and make short work of whatever
wont compute in the physical world. Inversely, if Earth and Water get
too stagnated or blindly uninspired, Fire and Air will arrive afterward to
build a shining new vision on top of the mud of Earth and Water.
two lower elements are traditionally referred to as negative,
while Fire and Air, the two higher ones, are called positive.
Those classifications are peripheral to the interpretative approach laid
out in this series, but they are often mentioned in other materials.
I began trying to truly understand astrology, I found it incredibly frustrating
to find a starting point to work from. Now I see this is because, as the
cycle of elements through the zodiac suggests, nothing really
starts anywhere, whether were talking about astrology or
the world itself. Its all one big circle of creation and destruction,
death and rebirth, growth and decay, day and night. We may say that Aries
is the beginning of the zodiac, but Aries only creates/rejuvenates what Pisces,
its preceding sign, has distilled and processed.
all for now. In the next article, well consider the qualities
(otherwise known as directions), and we might even get to a description
of the signs!