Recap From Astrology 101 Workshop
Yesterday, the Mountain CUUPs chapter in Boone, North Carolina invited me up to lead an Astrology 101 workshop. I’ve given this one a few times before, and am looking forward to fine-tuning it for future classes. Until then, here is a brief review of what we covered for friends present and friends away.
The Zodiac Signs
We started by playing a game where we matched the different signs of the zodiac along with various characteristics associated with them to the one of the four elements: Fire, Earth, Air, or Water. This exercise was all about building our associations between the signs, the elements, key words, and other features I’d described on the zodiac cards. Fire signs bring change, Earth signs bring stability, Air signs bring movement, and Water signs bring depth.
Once we got everything in order, it became clear that each element is associated with a different suit in the Tarot. Fire is associated with wands, Earth with pentacles, Air with swords, and Water with cups. This opened discussion to the zodiac decans—different subdivisions of each zodiac that we can consider based on the degree to which the aspect in question occurs in the zodiac sign. For instance, someone with a Sun sign 5 degrees in Aries is in the first decan of Aries, above 10 to 20 degrees is the second decan, and above 20 to 30 degrees is the third. Each decan is associated with its own card from the Minor Arcana. So, the narrative of the astrological year can be read not only in the progression of the signs and the elements, but also through the Tarot.
Another key feature of the zodiac signs that we observed were their position. Each element has a cardinal, fixed, and mutable sign. These correspond to the changing of the seasons—cardinals begin the season, fixed signs occur at its height, and mutable signs bring the end in preparation for change.
Based on all this information, even if we don’t know the particulars of every zodiac sign, we can understand its role in the grander scheme of things. We can consider its element, its associated Minor Arcana cards, and its seasonal position to hypothesize what energy the sign is bringing to life, what specific roles it is playing in the movement of time, and what specific type of elemental energy it contributes.
From here, we moved on to another matching game between the planets and their domains. Workshop attendees were quick to note the archetypal nature of these associations. Mercury, the Roman messenger of the gods, is related to communications. Venus, the Roman goddess of love and beauty, governs our desires and the ways we find pleasure or appreciation in the world. Mars provides an analysis of our energy towards engaging with projects, Jupiter represents luck or a sort of divine intervention quality to the fulfillment of our goals, Saturn represents challenges or lessons, Uranus describes our relationship to freedom, Neptune guides us in the depths of the mystical, and Pluto describes our relationship to power and social dynamics.
While the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, and Mars are all more personal planetary positions, the outer planets of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto are more generational. Jupiter and Saturn both correspond closely to our age group, like the ‘classes’ we probably grew up with if we attended public schools. Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto all shift through the signs more slowly, representing larger generational shifts in their domains.
As an example, we considered the millennial aspect of Neptune in Capricorn. Three major themes in our generation’s relationship to the spiritual are skepticism, capitalism, and protectiveness of tradition. We can even see this in the neopagan movements which flourish under our coming of age: atheopaganism, the integration of social media and witchcraft, and concern about protecting ethnically specific pagan religions or the initiatory nature of Wicca. Compared to both the generation before us (Neptune in Sagittarius) and the generation after us (Neptune in Aquarius), we tend to be perceived as rather conservative, even in our alternative religions.
The Houses & Putting It All Together
Our last key information download for interpreting the natal chart was to understand the natal chart houses. The first eight houses loosely follow the individual’s lifetime and certain aspects of it, while the later four are more abstract aspects of the individual’s life, such as their personal philosophy, aspirations, relationships to others, and relationships to the esoteric realms. Critical among the houses is the first point of the first house, the ascendant, which along with the Sun and Moon sign provide us with a good astrological introduction to a person.
Read More: The Ascendant, Sun, & Moon Signs
We talked about how to start reading a chart with these three key signs, then to look at generational planets, inner planets, and finally houses. We spent a few minutes discussing retrogrades, cusps, decans, asteroids, and nodes, and then wrapped up with a little free-form analysis of an example chart.
For folks interested in learning more, please let me know! I am already putting together material for a ‘Planting By the Stars’ gardening and astrology class in the Spring, and might also be convinced to offer workshops on natal house archetypes, progressive charts, retrograde planning, or more.
Pat Mosley (NC LMBT #16882) is a licensed massage and bodywork therapist in the Winston-Salem area. His work is rooted in compassionate touch, permaculture, and deep ecology with the resilience of all Earth's children in mind. Connect with him via email to firstname.lastname@example.org