Because you might not be familiar with all the lingo yet: here’s a primer on some astrology stuff.

The Signs

Everyone’s familiar with the concept of “being a Gemini,” but the 12 archetypes of the zodiac pertain to much more than your sun sign. They may characterize your personality to an extent, but we all embody bits and pieces of other signs, depending on where the rest of the planets were hanging out when we were born. They also describe the themes we grapple with collectively when a planet comes to visit. Read more

The Houses

The personalized version of your chart always starts with your rising sign, or your Ascendant, which is the sign that was rising over the Eastern horizon at the exact moment of your birth. Rising signs shift quickly by degree, and you can’t know the rest of your house placements without knowing your exact birth time. It’s a good idea to find out if you can, because houses tell you about the area of your life that’s being affected by the planets. You’ll get much better intel if you can tell that “challenging times ahead” will specifically arise in your love life versus at your office. Read more

The Planets

I hear you, hairsplitters: the Sun, the Moon, and Pluto aren’t technically planets, but they’re referred to that way in astrology. In order to suss out what’s going on in your chart — or in your present reality — you have to understand the motion of the planets. Each planet also corresponds to — or should we say rules — a sign. For instance, you’ve got the Moon, which rules emotional Cancer — and thus governs our emotions. Planets also orbit the sun at different speeds, which affects how long you can expect to feel their impact. The inner planets (like the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, and Mars) move faster through the zodiac, which means their effects are more transitory. The outer planets (like Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, Uranus, and Pluto) take their time, which means they bring deeper (and more long-term) change. Read more

Making Sense of Your Readings

What I offer here is a bit more involved than your typical newspaper horoscope. Daily horoscopes look at one aspect of your chart — your sun sign — and give you a generalized interpretation of how things look for you and the millions of other people born that month. They do nothing to account for the fact that your Sun is at 15 degrees Taurus, versus the other guy’s Sun, which is at 29 degrees Taurus and is being tightly aspected by Mars and Saturn. Read more