Astrology Lesson Part 1 – What IS Astrology, Anyway?
A l’alta fantasia qui mancò possa;
ma già volgeva il mio disio e ‘l velle,
sì come rota ch’igualmente è mossa,
l’amor che move il sole e l’altre stelle.
Here vigour failed the lofty fantasy:
But now was turning my desire and will,
even as a wheel that equally is moved,
The love which moves the sun and the other stars.
–Dante, speaking at the end of Paradise
As above, so below-
You’ll often see this phrase used in astrology. It’s actually from The Emerald Tablet. Also known as the Tabula Smaragdina or the Smaragdine Table- this is an interesting, yet cryptic magical text. No one knows its original source. Reputed to contain all the secrets of the transmutation of the secret of the prima materia- it is said to be the foundation of the art of European alchemists and the art of the Hermetic Tradition. The phrase “As above, so below” is said to more or less encompass the full system of traditional and modern magic contained within the text.
Because astrology is a powerful tool for personal transformation- and also used in manifestation work, you can see why this phrase is used. We look to the stars, the planets, and their positions to better understand ourselves and our fate. What we see above is reflected within us, and what is reflected within us- is also what we see above on a clear, starlit night.
Technically speaking, perhaps a bit of both. Metaphysics has a couple of definitions- and one is not that flattering. Defined as “the branch of philosophy that deals with the first principles of things, including abstract concepts such as being, knowing, substance, cause, identity, time, and space.” but also, an “abstract theory or talk with no basis in reality”.
While some may find the latter to be insulting, I don’t. When we understand that though astrology does in fact, fall under the header of “metaphysics”- we should also ask ourselves, “Who defines reality?” and in doing so, understand that astrology can be a powerful tool for not just better understanding our own, but shaping it.
Still, the argument of whether astrology is an art or a science rages on. Astrology is, after all, referred to as “The Mother of All Sciences” .
An astrologer needs to be able to have a high level of intellectual clarity. In addition to this, though, we act as guide- so, perspective and empathy are also necessary. Our work is very much interpretive, and therefore, a subjective perspective capable of a great deal of understanding and meaning.
Some would say that it is an art based on science and I am inclined to agree. Astronomy is most assuredly a science- and astrology is, at heart, the language of astronomy in our lives. Mathematics, physics, astronomy and empathy entwine to create a system of understanding.
So, perhaps the answer is both…and neither.
The Two Major Players
As you read about astrology, you will no doubt encounter two different and distinct types. Tropical and Sidereal. Western astrology, or Tropical, is what we will be working with in our lessons. This is merely because this is the type of astrology I practice- though it’s an often heated debate: neither is superior to the other. You may find one speaks to you more than the other does, but this is a personal decision.
You may have also heard of Sidereal or Eastern Astrology. This is sometimes referred to as Vedic or Joytish.
Twice as Nice
Both tropical and sidereal refer to a year- but, they’re two different definitions. They are also two systems for the coordinates of the ecliptic that we use in astrology. They do each divide the ecliptic into signs based on the constellations – but here’s where they begin to differ. The tropical system is based on the intersection of the ecliptic along the celestial equator or the vernal equinox of the Northern Hemisphere. The Sidereal system, on the other hand, does so based on the fixed stars. Don’t worry, we won’t hash out all the differences, here and it’s much less complicated than it sounds.
The point is, though, that both of these are incredibly useful tools and both are valid. It’s important that you find the one that you feel most in tune with.
What You Will Need
As we go through these lessons, you will need a copy of your natal chart. If you don’t have your natal chart, I will be using mine for an example to help better illustrate the concepts at play.
I also recommend you keep a notebook, to take notes and to journal your own thoughts as we go.
Later on, we’ll also explore the ephemeris, so, if you’d like to grab a copy and familiarize yourself with that, you can. Don’t worry if it seems complex at first. We’ll simplify it so that you can read it with ease.
In our next lesson, we will begin to explore the symbols you’ll see in astrology and what they mean. Stay tuned!
Victoria Reinertsdatter is a well- respected professional astrologer. These astrology lessons are written especially by her for Psychic Today readers.
Victoria also offers psychic and astrology readings along with the rest of our fantastic psychic email reading team. To find out the choice of email readings available, so why not call the team on 0333 335 0297 or simply email us at [email protected] for details.