Co-written by Victoria Redd
About Victoria: I’m a part-time intern for Chasin’ Unicorns and a full-time medical student interested in psychiatry, especially working with children and in global mental health. I stumbled into the world of crystals during my Saturn Return, and quickly became immersed in the realms of mystical and spiritual tools for self-empowerment, including astrology, tarot, and Ayurveda. And I’m always ready to learn and explore more!
Please note – all these modalities are ones that we have tried and are helping us gain a deeper understanding of ourselves, connection with inner knowledge, soul journey, and inner child. No two people will have the exact same experiences with any one of these tools, and we can only speak from our own experiences! All resources mentioned are ones that we have used to deepen our connection with these tools for self-understanding, and recommendations are not sponsored.
This is a powerful tool for self-connection, self-discovery, and self-empowerment, no matter how deep you want to go. Whether you only focus on your sun, moon, and rising signs, or delve into transits, aspects between signs, or the effects of asteroids, you can learn a great deal about yourself by gaining a deeper appreciation of your chart and understanding more about who you are. It is not that the stars or planets “determine” what we should be doing or that we are helpless in the face of a retrograde, but that knowing more about these larger influences of plants and stars gives us a window deep into our soul to gain a more profound understanding of why we are different from our parents, our friends, and our partners. There is much more to astrology than the simplified and reductionist writings of monthly horoscopes in magazines, that promise you’ll find your true love in March if you’re a Venus sun or that work will be awful in September because you were unlucky enough to be born a Capricorn. Astrology doesn’t mean that things will happen to you because the stars have determined it; astrology is instead a powerful and deep tool for self-exploration, self-discovery, and understanding who you are, what you love to do, and how you can best utilize your strengths.
There are multiple forms of astrology, but tropical is the one I have been exploring and so I’ll speak to that! Essentially, there are three main things you are focusing on in astrology – the planets (the nine planets, along with the Moon and the Sun), the zodiac signs (Aries through Pisces), and the Houses (twelve houses, with the 1st house starting at your ascendant or what was on the eastern horizon). The position of the planets in your astrology chart is determined by the time, date, and place you were born, as it paints a picture of the sky above you from when you came into the world. I think the best and most usable definition of planets, zodiac signs, and houses comes from Amy Herring in her book Essential Astrology, so I’ll quote those here below (emphasis added):
“Planets represent different fundamental human needs and the various voices inside of us that clamor for attention…Signs represent the different ways a planet can express its needs…Houses represent our various activities and behaviors in life and the context or situations in our lives that we might look to in order to most comfortably meet our planetary needs (nouns) in the style (adjectives) we find most fulfilling” (Essential Astrology, pages 28-29).
Joanna Martine Woolfolk author of, “The Only Astrology Book You’ll Ever Need” states: “So I continue to see that the reason astrology exists is to answer questions about you. Basically, it’s all about you, Astrology has been described as a stairway leading into your deeper self. It holds out the promise that you do not have to pass through life reacting blindly to experience, that you can within limits direct your own destiny in the process reach a truer self-understanding.”
Basic aspects of understanding your personality can come from knowing your sun sign (based on the date you were born), rising sign (sign that was on the eastern horizon at the time/location you were born), and moon sign (position of the moon at the time/date/location you were born). The sun can be thought of as highlighting the core aspects of your personality, your rising sign as the person you present to the world, and your moon sign as your emotional or hidden inner world, or how you are in love and relationships. These are filtered through the zodiac signs and houses that each one of these points rules, although the ascendant is always the 1st house (because that’s where the wheel starts). So for instance, my (Victoria) Sun is in Capricorn in the 3rd house, I am a Libra rising, and my Moon is in Pisces in the 5th house. Going into even more detail, you’d look at the degrees of each of those, which impacts both the expression and how you may feel energetically… but that’s more complex! Samantha is a Pisces Sun, Leo Moon.
Another important piece of understanding your astrology chart is to know where your South Node and North Node are located. These are not planets but are two points calculated based off the movement of the moon. The South Node is known as the lessons that you came into this life with, either from prior lives (if you believe in that concept!) or from childhood. These are the energies you resonate well with and the things that come easily to you. Your North Node represents the type of energy you are moving towards throughout your life, or how you can find your dharma. The belief is that you should move towards accessing the higher aspects of your North Node over the course of your life to help you connect with your soul’s purpose, and try not to get too stuck in the “easy” energy of the South Node. For me, my South Node is in Cancer in the 10th house, while my North Node is in Capricorn in the 4th house.
A last essential piece in using astrology for self-connection is knowing what elements you have strongly represented in your chart. Each zodiac sign is assigned a certain element, which is associated with several basic characteristics. Earth signs are Capricorn, Taurus, and Virgo; Air signs are Aquarius, Gemini, and Libra; Water signs are Pisces, Cancer, and Scorpio; and Fire signs are Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius. I have a very Earth-dominant chart, for instance, whereas the only Air I have in my chart comes from my ascendant and the asteroid Ceres. The element where you have more planets or important points is a place where you have lots of energy that comes naturally to you, whereas the elements where you have fewer planets may reflect areas where you need to work a little bit harder!
Gaining a deeper appreciation of astrology will take you into other realms, including noting the angles between planets (do those energies work harmoniously together in your life or do you feel stuck as you try to navigate them), using the degrees to know how eclipses will affect you (all three of this summer’s eclipses hit important degrees on my chart, ouch!), knowing if any planets were in retrograde when you were born (my Mercury was retrograde, so Mercury retrograde is my natural energy), adding in asteroids to give deeper complexity of understanding energies (such as Chiron, the wounded healer), paying attention to the phase of the moon when you were born for more specifics on how you uniquely express the emotional lunar energy (mine was a waxing crescent), noting what mode is dominant in your chart (Cardinal, Fixed, or Mutable zodiac signs), leaning into the energy of your planetary returns and their lessons (when major, slower-moving planets pass through the sign they were when you were born, such as the Saturn Return around age 29), or seeing where your progressed moon is and knowing how that aspects your current needs.
As you can see, there are lots of ways that you can connect with the stars and the planets to connect more deeply with yourself! I think astrology is an amazing tool for self-empowerment because if you understand your energies and what works well for you, what you need to develop, where you need to focus your skills, what you know you’re going to be great at, then you can feel more secure and able to stand up tall knowing who you are.
One specific aspect of astrology is connecting with the cycles of the Moon as she moves through the sky, and basing ritual practices and intention-setting on where she is in her cycle. The Moon moves along through the sky over the course of about a month, spending about 2.5 days in each sign of the zodiac. Her cycle starts in the darkness of the New Moon, then she slowly waxes to the First Quarter Moon, into the brilliance of the Full Moon, then wanes into the Last Quarter Moon, before finally completing her cycle again. The Moon has often been associated with femininity, given her connection with menstrual cycles among people who bleed monthly, although there have been many male-presenting gods who are associated with the Moon as well. The Moon cycles often also have been associated with ritual work, with certain herbs used in different points of the cycle, or tinctures steeped for one whole moon cycle, or certain spells being performed only under the darkness of the New Moon, the belief that crystals can be best charged with the light of the Full Moon, along with countless others.
In relation to the zodiac cycle, the Full Moon will be in the opposite sign as the Sun, while a New Moon will be in the same sign as the Sun. For instance, the Sun entered Virgo on August 23. The Full Moon was in Pisces (the opposite sign of Virgo) on August 26, and the New Moon landed in Virgo on September 9. This gives a different energy to each month’s New and Full moon, and a slightly different focus for the energy of that moon cycle overall. This also means that one rate course of a year, there will be a New Moon and a Full Moon in the same sign, about 6 months apart, which gives us moments throughout the year to revisit the energies that we called upon and see how our intentions have grown and changed over rot course of many months.
In terms of intention-setting, I like to work New Moon to New Moon. My practices have been shaped by many of the resources I share below. I use the New Moon as a time to set a new intention, plant a new seed for the energy I would like to work with over the next month, how I would like to grow, and what it is I would like to strengthen or empower within myself. I like to relate my intention and my mantras to the natural energy of the New Moon given the particular zodiac sign that it is in. Over the course of the month, I work with the energies of that intention, coming to fullness with the Full Moon and its magical, soft, white light. I try to deepen and strengthen my process with my intention and modify it as needed, as I work through the unique energies of each part of the cycle. I like to specifically pause and do ritual and journal work at the New Moon and Full Moon in particular.
To see your chart, go to www.astro-charts.com or www.astro.com (also soon will be available on http://www.healingpaige.com) and input your date of birth, location of birth, and time of birth. Then you can start to explore your unique chart placements!
My favorite astrologer resources are @iamdaniellepaige (amazing astrologer and intuitive), @debrasilverman_astrology (astrology courses, fun and helpful videos!), @cosmic.cousins (also have a super fun podcast!), @soulshineastrology (business astrology and great podcast too!), @spiritdaughter (she focuses on the Moon in particular but lots of great astrology info there too!), @danielleblackwood (focuses on Goddess archetypes in astrology), @sandysitron (astrology and hypnosis, weekly intuitive horoscopes), @deepseaastrology (“intuitive strengths-based astrology to support healing, transition, and transformation”), @magichourastrology (astrological candles and notes and awesomeness).
My personal favorite books are “Essential Astrology” by Amy Herring and “The Twelve Faces of the Goddess” by Danielle Blackwood.
I have developed my lunar practice most strongly through the work of Dr. Ezzie Spencer (@ezziespencer) and her book “Lunar Abundance”, which walks you through the unique variations of the energy of each of the lunar phases (she sub-divides them even more into eight beautiful phases!), and through the Moon Workbooks from Jill Wintersteen of Spirit Daughter (@spiritdaughter), which come out for each New Moon and Full Moon. I also love the resources for lunar ritual provided by The Moon Deck (@the_moondeck), Tamed Wild (@tamedwild), The Moon Sisterhood (@themoonsisterhood), and the Moon Journal (@themoon_journal)