new age spirituality

Astrology - a Spiritual Perspective

Astrology is the belief that the position of heavenly bodies determines or influences human character and destiny. This article describes its origins and mechanisms and surveys the scientific evidence. It concludes by giving a Spiritual perspective of what Astrology may mean for human free will.


Man has long considered there to be a connection between the planets and stars and events on earth. It was observed that the moon affected the tides and correlated with the woman’s menstrual cycle.

The early Babylonians practiced a form of Astrology as far back as 3,000 BC. It came to Greece around the middle of the 4th century BC, reaching Rome ahead of the Christian era []. The Chinese form of Astrology is also thought to date back to the third millennium BC.

For much of human history Astronomy (the scientific study of stars and planets) and Astrology (their use in divination) have been synonymous.

How it Works

For many people Astrology is the daily horoscopes found in the morning newspaper or the generalized descriptions of the twelve Sun signs. Since each of these forecasts apply to something like a twelfth of the world’s population their accuracy is unsurprisingly not that great. And yet the fact few newspapers and magazines go out without a horoscope column testifies to the continuing fascination of Astrology.

In fact the Sun signs on which popular Astrology is based are but one small part of the astrological whole. A unique birth chart, or map of the heavens at the moment and place of our birth, can be calculated for each of us. This birth chart consists of many factors which combine, according to Astrology, to determine both our character and personal destiny.

A birth chart maps the position of the “planets”, ie Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto. Note that for many Astrologers the first seven planets carry more weight than the much more recently discovered and slower moving Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, which are considered to provide only the most general traits for a generation.

The planets represent aspects of the self which exist within each of us. For the major planets these are:

  • Sun: self-integration.

  • Moon: rhythms, instinctive response, reflection.

  • Mercury: communication, mental and nervous co-ordination.

  • Venus: unity, sympathy, evaluation, feeling.

  • Mars: activity, enterprise, self-assertion, energy.

  • Jupiter: expansion, material growth, understanding.

  • Saturn: formative, restriction, discipline, rigidity.

Each planet in the birth chart is located within a sign and a house.

The signs are the familiar Sun signs from or popular horoscopes. They indicate how the principles represented by the planets operate (so the major principle of self-integration, or how we put the various parts of ourselves together, is represented by our sun sign). Each sign is traditionally ruled by one, or sometimes two, planets. The signs, together with their essential meanings are:

  • Aries: "I want," action oriented, pioneering, assertive, "me" first, enthusiasm, leader, competitive, selfish, head/brain, ruled by Mars.

  • Taurus: "I have," sensual, cautious, acquisitive, musical, traditional, stubborn, throat/neck, ruled by Venus.

  • Gemini: "I think," curious, talkative, sociable, duality, mercurial, whimsical, intelligent, superficial, hands/arms, ruled by Mercury.

  • Cancer: "I feel," sensitive, tenacious, family and home oriented, helpful, nurturing, moody, stomach/breasts, ruled by the Moon.

  • Leo: "I am," passionate, dramatic, independent, noble, creative, leader, egotistical, heart/back, ruled by the Sun.

  • Virgo: "I serve," practical, work and service oriented, critical, common sense, intelligent, health conscious, fussy, intestines/digestion, ruled by Mercury.

  • Libra: "We are," partnerships, balance, grace, charm, cooperative, social, ideas, lazy, kidneys/lumbar, ruled by Venus.

  • Scorpio: "I desire," intense, controlling, sexual, compulsive, deep, secretive, mysterious, obsessive, genitals, ruled by Mars and Pluto.

  • Sagittarius: "I seek," philosophic, fun-loving, adventurous, blundering, wanderlust, scattered, hips/thighs, ruled by Jupiter.

  • Capricorn: "I build," ambitious, cautious, authoritative, cunning, competent, stable, saturnine, knees/skeleton, ruled by Saturn.

  • Aquarius: "I know," friendships, cause-oriented, the group, society, progressive, eccentric, aloof, calves/ankles, ruled by Saturn and Uranus.

  • Pisces: "I believe," feeling, duality, spirituality, soul growth, suffering, artistic, overly emotional, feet, ruled by Jupiter and Neptune.


Each of the signs is also associated with an element, ie:

  • Fire: (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius) are associated with intuition, passion, and energy.

  • Earth: (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn) are associated with sensation, stability, and practicality.

  • Air: (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius) are associated with thought and communication.

  • Water: (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces) are associated with art and emotion.


A further essential component of the birth chart is the ascendant. This is the sign that was ascending on the Eastern horizon at the place and moment of the subject’s birth. In Astrology the ascendant is considered to represent the personality, the face that is shown to the world (whereas the Sun sign describes the core character).

The birth chart is divided into 12 houses starting from the ascendant. Whereas the Sun takes a year to travel through the twelve signs, the entire zodiac ascends in the East every 24 hours. The houses represent different aspects of human life. Planets in houses indicate in which areas those principles will most express themselves. Their meanings are as follows:

  • First house: Identity, self-image, movement and expression, physical appearance, and the impact of the personality on the environment. This is the way you present yourself, and how you start things. Planets here may also indicate the manner of one's birth.

  • Second: Values, substance, money, possessions, security, stability, the here and now, sense of self-worth, emotional resources, rewards, comfort, inner talents and resources.

  • Third: awareness, mental expression, early schooling, siblings, attitudes, daily life, companions, all forms of communication and short journeys, adaptability to new ideas, ability to relate to one's surroundings and environment.

  • Fourth: Home, foundations, parents, domestic matters, heritage, roots, sources of nourishment.

  • Fifth: Anything added or taken away from the fourth house, children, romance and love affairs, ego, creative expression, play and gambling, attitude to change.

  • Sixth: Housework, employment and employees, attitude to work, general health, purification, ritual, habits, hobbies.

  • Seventh: All kinds of partnerships, marriage, awareness of others, how one relates to people.

  • Eighth: Joint or shared resources, sex, inheritance, sex and regeneration, emotional union.

  • Ninth: Travel, religion, search for meaning, higher education, goals and aspirations, seeking and finding.

  • Tenth: Public image, profession, persona, reputation, values and standards, ideals, how one would like to project oneself.

  • Eleventh: Friends, social values and concerns, groups and group awareness, hopes and dreams, attitude to humanity.

  • Twelfth: Hidden motives, confinement, retreat, self-transcendence, service and sacrifice, escapism, charity.


The aspects, or angles, between planets also hold significance with certain aspects representing a harmonious relationship while others are considered difficult.

A birth chart produces many fragments of information, ie planets in signs, planets in houses, the ascendant, the aspects and a few others. It is in the interpretation of the chart that the science of Astrology becomes an art. The astrologer will synthesize the various meanings into a complete picture of the subject. Interpretation employs the principle of synergy - the whole is greater than the sum of the parts - and requires more than a little intuition (psychism?) on the part of the Astrologer.

Does it Work?

Brilliant psychologist CG Jung held a strong interest in Astrology. According to Jung, "Astrology represents the summation of all the psychological knowledge of antiquity." Jung coined the term “synchronicity” to describe meaningful coincidences or hidden connections.

For more on Jung and Astrology, see
Jung and Astrology
Jung & Astrology The Freud/Jung Letters
Books on Jung and Astrology

Statistician Michel Gauquelin discovered the so-called "Mars effect". This refers to the planet Mars occupying certain positions in sports champions' birth charts with a much greater probability than would be expected by chance. Gauquelin went on to find significant correlations between other planets and professions. Whilst being somewhat different from traditional Astrology Gauquelin’s work does confirm the meanings assigned to the planets.

For more analysis of Gauquelin’s work, see
Planetos - an Online Journal
Books by Michel Gauquelin

Eminent psychologist Professor Hans Eysenck supported Gauquelin’s findings. Of Gauquelin’s work he says, "I think it may be said that, as far as objectivity of observation, statistical significance of differences, verification of hypothesis, and replicability are concerned, there are few sets of data in psychology which could compete with these observations... I think we must admit that there is something here that requires explanation." Eysenck published Astrology: Science or superstition? in 1982.

For more on Eysenck’s work in Astrology, see
Tribute to Professor Hans J. Eysenck: 1916 - 1997 by Geoffrey Dean and David Nias

Astronomer Percy Seymour (Member of the Royal Astronomical Society and former Plymouth University lecturer) has published a book presenting The Scientific Proof of Astrology. Seymour found the movements of the Sun, Moon and other planets interfere with the Earth’s magnetic field. Thus babies are born into different magnetic conditions according to the positions of the planets and this may influence their developing brains.

For more on Seymour's work, see
Written in the stars (UK Guardian)
The Magus of Magnetism (An Interview With Dr. Percy Seymour) by Bronwyn Elko

A Spiritual Interpretation

Astrology has a long history. That it has endured for so long and remains so popular, even in the form of daily horoscopes, suggests that within the froth lies some substance.

Jung’s notion of synchronicity describes the inexplicable relationships between apparently unrelated events which occur more frequently than chance. It hints at there being a system of hidden connections operating at a level of organization somehow beyond the physical realm.

Astrology falls into the realm of synchronicity. Bodies too distant to exert significant physical influence upon earthly events can correlate uncannily with happenings down here.

But maybe the relationship is not one of cause and effect? Maybe both the heavens and human existence are both effects - or manifestations - of some deeper, hidden cause?

Spirit created the physical realms that incarnate Spirit might act out many and varied scenarios with the sole purpose of experiential growth. While encased in flesh we are denied absolute knowledge of our Spiritual essence lest it distract us from our earthly adventure. But, should we stop to listen, clues to our true nature surround us. It’s almost as if we must solve the puzzle in order to return home. Astrology is but one such clue.

So do not discard the significance of the stars and planets as mere superstition. Should you have the opportunity, familiarize yourself with you birth chart. But do not consider yourself as its puppet, you have free will. The positions of the heavenly bodies at the moment of your birth and throughout your incarnation create certain potentials. You may find that if you go with these, results will smoothly follow actions. But these celestial potentials are not the totality of your being. It may be that you have other, overriding, priorities to pursue. Listen to the voice of the stars, but do not deafen yourself to other equally valid influences. Let your own intuition be your guide.

Links valid 10 Feb 2005. See also Your Real Star Sign, Astrology and Tarot on the Web.

This article uses material from the Wikipedia articles: History of astrology, Astrological sign, House (astrology). It is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.