Astrology, Plain & Simple: The Only Book You'll Ever Need - Cass Jackson, Janie Jackson (2016)
Chapter 9. Chart Interpretation
It is quite difficult and time-consuming to construct your own chart. Whole books are written on this topic alone. Chart construction involves many complex calculations, including the use of logarithms, and any one mistake, easily made and not easily spotted, will result in a flawed chart. Calculating your own chart by hand can be complicated, and we consider it outside the scope of the “plain and simple” approach of this book
Nowadays the ordeal of do-it-yourself has been removed with the advent of computers and astrological software that will calculate your chart in a flash. Go online, look for astrology software firms, and peruse their products' features to see what they have to offer. Some software is only suitable for professional or research astrologers and it is much too complex and expensive for a beginner. You need only reasonably priced program for most basic requirements.
Several websites exist that will provide you with a chart free of charge. One is called Astrodienst (www.astro.com). You have only to key in your birth details—date, place, and exact time—and your chart will be calculated for you. You can download charts and even obtain a good character reading from this service; several options are free of charge.
If you don't have a computer, you can go to your local library or a computer café, or ask a friend who can access the Internet, or pay a visit to your neighborhood astrologer.
Making a Start on Interpretation
One you have a chart prepared, there are several steps to take to interpret it. The steps involved are
1. Check the ascendant (see page 69)
2. Check the Sun sign (see page 3)
3. Check the Moon sign (see page 81)
4. Check out each planet by sign (see page 45)
5. Check out each planet by house (see page 95)
6. Check the genders (see page 37)
7. Check the elements (see page 37)
8. Check the qualities (see page 37)
9. Check the aspects, one by one (see page 107)
Let's look at our sample chart, which is for Hollywood superstar, Denzel Washington. Denzel was born on December 28, 1954, at Mount Vernon, New York, at 9 minutes after midnight (00:09) Eastern Standard Time.
Here is Denzel Washington's birth chart.
The first thing to look for in a chart is the rising sign (ascendant), always on the left-hand side. Looking at Denzel's chart, we see that the AC glyph (symbol) on the outer ring is in the sign of Libra. This shows that Denzel has 7 degrees and 34 minutes of Libra as his exact ascendant. For our purposes, it is enough to say that Denzel's ascendant is 7 degrees of Libra.
Next, look for the Sun, which you will see at the bottom of the chart at 5 degrees and 56 minutes of Capricorn. As there are only 59 minutes in a degree, you could say that Denzel's Sun is 6 degrees Capricorn. The spokes of the inner circle delineate the houses, and counting from the ascendant in a counter-clockwise direction, you'll see that the Sun is in the third house.
Next, look to see where the planets are placed. You'll find all the planets listed as glyphs in Denzel's chart, but we've saved you the eyestrain of interpreting them by listing them here for you beneath the chart.
In the very center circle of this chart, you will notice a bunch of straight lines traversing from one house to another. In the middle of these lines are little symbols: these symbols indicate the aspects. Depending on the angle of these lines, aspects can be easy or hard, beneficial, harmonious, or difficult. Aspects represent where problems, challenges, and opportunities lie. You can use the descriptions in chapter 8 to interpret Denzel's aspects.
Now that you have all the nuts-and-bolts planets and placement laid out, it's good to get the overall picture by assessing the gender, elements, and the qualities in Denzel's chart.
The listing that follows shows you the situation for all the planets and the ascendant.
Denzel Washington has lovely Libra rising. This gives him his charm and good looks. On its own, Libra rising is a nice facet, but the addition of Venus in Scorpio and even, perhaps, Saturn in Scorpio makes him downright charismatic and sexy!
Denzel has more feminine planets than masculine ones. This speaks to the fact that he is an actor rather than a fighter or a business tycoon.
Denzel has three planets each in intellectual air and emotional water signs, so he can emote powerfully on the silver screen, and he uses his brains while doing so. Two planets in earth signs help to make him practical, so he may be a good person to call when you need a shelf put up! Having only one planet in fire slows Denzel down and perhaps adds to his laid-back attitude rather than the kind of hyperactive attitude that a more fiery personality would display. Pluto is his only planet in a fire sign. Pluto with its long orbit is a planet of slow transformation, so this placement shows that his enthusiasms (fire) don't come and go willy-nilly. Denzel finds what he wants to achieve, and only makes changes toward that goal slowly and deliberately.
With five planets in cardinal signs, Denzel is more than capable of getting his own way. This is a very forceful personality wrapped up in a charming package. The four planets in fixed signs make Denzel dig in once he has his mind made up. The only flexibility that he displays comes from his one mutable planet, but that is Mars in Pisces. He can take two different approaches to a role or to any artistic endeavor, but once he has decided which one is right for him, he will not be persuaded to change his mind. In short, he's a tough cookie in a lovely package.
Now look at his placements of Sun in Capricorn, Moon in Scorpio, and Libra rising. Going back to chapter 2 and chapter 4 in this book, read the descriptions of these signs, and the descriptions of these planets. Think about how the energies of each planet blends with the sign of the zodiac where it is positioned. Then look at the houses that these planets occupy, and see how the energies of each house would affect the energy of the planet, and the energy of the sign (see the table on page 105 for a quick guide to keywords for each house).
The trick with chart interpretation is to combine the energy of the planet with the nature of the sign and then with the area of life that the house deals with.
Looking at Denzel's chart, here is an example of how to interpret one of his placements by planet, sign, and house:
Saturn (work, responsibility) in Scorpio (intuitive, secretive) in the second house (home, security): The fact that Saturn is in the second house shows that it took time for Denzel to find the right image for his work and for himself as a person. It will have taken him time to accumulate the wealth that he enjoys but once he has done so, he will do his best to hang on to it (Scorpio). The second house is about values, and with Saturn there, Denzel values putting in an effort, attending to details, and doing his duty. He also values other people who take the same attitude. He is likely to spend a fair bit of his wealth on his parents (Saturn can represent either parent according to different astrology systems). This placement suggests that Denzel's parents were a considerable support to him and one parent or even grandparent was a powerful role model who Denzel looked admired.
Saturn is conjunct Venus (see chapter 8, The Aspects). Some people are very lucky in their marriages, partnerships, and other relationship with this placement, but others find it a dampener on love. Denzel seems to have a good family life, though. Saturn is also trine Mars and in a wide trine to Uranus. This means that he can use his drive (Mars) and uniqueness (Uranus) to obtain the status, respect and wealth (Saturn) that he wants.
Denzel's complete list of aspects is as follows:
As you did with the planets and signs, go into the chapter on aspects and look up these characteristics one by one. For example, Denzel has Sun conjunct Mercury. This indicates he will almost certainly be strong-willed, with a high intellect.
Deciphering a birth chart can take some time since it involves a blending of information. Now that we know Denzel has Sun conjunct Mercury, let's see what else we can discover about this aspect.
Looking at his chart and his list of planets, signs, and houses, we see that the Sun is conjunct Mercury in the third house, in the sign of Capricorn.
Going back to page 51 in this book, we find that Mercury is the planet connected with communication of all kinds, with your friends and siblings, and with the way that your mind works.
Going back to page 29 in this book, we find that Capricorn is sure-footed, and cerebral. There's nothing indecisive about Capricorn—this is a very self-disciplined individual, able to plan and achieve long-term goals—the possibility of failure simply does not exist for Denzel.
Finally, going to page 100 in this book, we find that the third house is associated with our immediate environment and the way we communicate within it. The third house is concerned with day-to-day contacts—for Denzel, most likely this will show how well he relates to his co-stars.
Blending these elements together—sign, planet, house, aspect—gives us the fullest picture possible of Denzel.
When you begin your journey into chart interpretation, start with your own chart. You know yourself better than anyone, and as you blend together the interpretations for sign, planet, house, and aspect, only you will be able to know if it “rings true.”
Predictive Techniques: Interpreting the Transit Chart
Professional astrologers can choose from a number of techniques for predicting the future, but this book is called Astrology Plain and Simple, so let's keep things simple and use a technique that every astrologer knows: a technique is called transits.
This is taking things a bit farther than most beginning astrology books do, but transits are not that difficult to do, and most people love to make predictions. Have you ever picked up your local paper (or even your phone app!) to check your horoscope for the day? That information is based on transits.
The word “horoscope” means “map of the hour.” The birth chart represents a sky map for the time of birth, but the stars are always moving—they are in transit. So if you want to see what's coming your way in the near future, you have to take a few extra steps. Let's say you're getting married on June 20 of a particular year. In such a case, you want to look at a specific time and a specific place. The easiest thing to do is to just have a new chart calculated with the “birth time” of your wedding. However, most astrologers use predictive techniques to look at trends that are occurring over a few weeks or months because it takes the planets varying amounts of time to travel through—or “transit”—each sign. In this case, you would draw those new planetary placements outside the ring of the original birth chart. Once that is done, you can compare the new transiting planets against the original birth planets, making note of the aspects they are making.
Let us return to Denzel Washington for the moment. As an example, back in 2005 when we were studying Denzel's chart, we decided that we wanted to see what would happen to Denzel in the early part of 2007, so we calculated a new chart for March 1, 2007, which we show you on page 158.
Once we had drawn up the new chart, we took the planets from that and put them outside the original birth chart. Now I can use all the knowledge I have learned from this book about the nature of planets, signs, houses, and aspects to see what is going on in Denzel's 2007 life.
This section will give you an idea of the information that can be gleaned once you learn to interpret transits. We'll take each feature one by one, just as we did when looking at the birth chart.
The Transiting Ascendant
The new ascendant moves very quickly and it will move right around the chart within the space of 24 hours. Unless Denzel had an important meeting, interview, or date on a particular day that was set for a particular time, we wouldn't bother to examine the transiting ascendant at all. As it happens, in this example you will see transiting ascendant was at 9 degrees of Leo and in the eleventh house.
The Transiting Sun
The transiting Sun is at 10 degrees of Pisces. Denzel's natal Mars is at 17 degrees of Pisces. The Sun moves quickly (a touch under a degree per day) so it is clear that in about a week's time, Denzel will have a Sun/Mars transit. This could set him off in flurry of activity, or he may lose his temper at that time. He should take care when driving or operating machinery. The fact that all this is happening in Pisces makes it less fearsome, since Pisces is a gentle water sign. The events will take place in the sixth house, so Denzel will be very active (and maybe angry) at work. As this house relates to health and to the head, he may have a headache or eyestrain on that day.
The Transiting Moon
Like the transiting ascendant, the Moon moves so quickly that it is only worth looking at this for an event at a specific time. In this example, the transiting Moon was at 16 degrees of Leo.
This is at 27 degrees of Aquarius in Denzel's fifth house. Mercury also moves very quickly, at a little more than a degree per day, so it will be out of Aquarius within a couple of days. Meanwhile, this will bring a few original ideas to Denzel, and he will apply these to his leisure activities, his creativity, his children, and family, to gambling, making vacation plans, playing sport, or to lovemaking (all fifth house activities). Meanwhile, note that transiting Mercury is separating from an opposition to Pluto. This could represent a power struggle of some kind relating to creative work. Denzel might have been up against a tax deadline, a corporation, or even his wife regarding his ideas (Mercury rules the mentality) or those of others. He might be arguing with one of his children (fifth house) even yelling at them to turn the music (fifth house) down, and to stop spending money (Pluto) on their friends (eleventh house). Lots of options there, no? However, Mercury moves so quickly that its effects are unlikely to be long-lasting.
Venus is also fast-moving, but for the moment, it is at 10 degrees of Aries and in the seventh house, so Denzel is taking an active role in partnerships, love, and marriage, or joint ventures of some kind. That would fit Venus transiting active, fiery Aries in the seventh house.
Mars moves more slowly, taking about two years to move through the complete zodiac. For the moment, it is in Aquarius and because it is only 2 degrees right now, it will be in that sign for a couple of months yet. Now, Mars is transiting the fourth house, suggesting that Denzel is putting his energies into his home and family situation. It will soon move to the fifth house of creativity, so no doubt he will soon be back at work, putting his energies into making something of his next project. In a week or so, Mars will conjunct the Moon. This could send Washington household into a flurry of family activity, bringing fun and good company to the house.
For this year (2007), Jupiter is in Sagittarius and in Denzel's third house. This could take him on quite a voyage of mental exploration. If he works on a film, the action might take place in some far-off location and Denzel will learn much about some foreign place. [Editor's note: During this time, Denzel was wrapping up American Gangster, filmed in the United States and Thailand; a film which won numerous accolades and awards.] Everything relating to Jupiter will be emphasized by its presence in its own sign of Sagittarius and in a house that has a similarly explorative energy. He could become involved with contracts and other legal matters and he may find a new philosophy during this period.
This is a little worrying as Saturn is a slow-moving planet and it is already beginning to come into a conjunction with Pluto. By the time this is over, which could take several months, Saturn and Pluto will have brought some serious pain Denzel's way. This is all happening in Leo and in the eleventh house, so it could relate to sad news about his or some other relatives' children (Leo) or friends (eleventh house). A hoped for project (eleventh house) could be too grandiose (Leo) to make it to fruition.
Transiting Saturn is also about to square natal Venus, and to reinforce the natal square between Venus and Pluto. This will put some real strain on Denzel's relationships and it could lead to some real misunderstandings.
Neptune really does take its time, so its effects last for a year or two in some cases. It is coming into an opposition with Pluto and a square to Venus. This will represent a real muddle. If Denzel is doing anything he shouldn't, it will come out into the open now! Neptune has spent several years in Aquarius and it has a few more to go yet, so its effects on Denzel's friendships (Aquarius) and his creativity and leisure (fifth house) are quite strange. He could have some kind of psychic revelation or turn to a different way of looking at life, and bring that into his work. Neptune rules film, and the fifth house rules entertainment, so we definitely have not seen the last of this charismatic actor.
This is at 28 degrees of Sagittarius and it is making a trine to Denzel's natal Pluto and a sextile to natal Neptune. Pluto only moves a degree or two in a year, so these aspects are likely to affect Denzel over a long period, so it is just as well that they are harmonious aspects.
Pluto in the third house in Sagittarius leads Denzel into more marketing of his skills than ever, and possibly also into writing (the third house concerns writing, while Sagittarius relates to publishing). His wealth will increase, and apart from one or two minor setbacks, he seems set for many good years to come!