Astrology is the attempt to use the relative position of the sun, moon, and planets to comprehend the behavior of humans on Earth. Some believe that the planets affect the way individuals act, and more, that they influence actual events which will occur in the future. An astrologer is a person who investigates the heavens and divines what effect it will have on an individual based on that individual's birth date.
The Astronomy Behind Astrology
Because the Earth circles the sun, the apparent background behind the sun from the Earth's perspective constantly changes. Imagine a lamp placed at eye-level in the center of a room, with twelve pictures placed on the walls. As the viewer walks around the lamp he is unable to see the picture behind the lamp, but able to see the others. This same phenomena is occurring between the Earth and Sun. One of twelve constellations each with 30 degrees of arc appears to be behind the sun. It takes the sun approximately 30 days to appear to pass through the area staked out by each constellation. Each constellation is associated with a sign of the zodiac. A person born during the time when the sun is in that constellation is then said to be born under that sign.1
Astrology and astronomy were for many centuries studied as one subject. In fact much of the early scientific investigation into astronomy was prompted by astrological motivations to determine the fate of individuals and empires. Since then the two disciplines have separated. Astronomy has moved into a strict scientific field, while astrology continues to place emphasis on human behavior and events as influenced by astronomic observations.
The Signs of the Zodiac
There are many associations with the twelve signs of the zodiac. Besides being associated with a specific constellation, and human characteristics, each sign is also assigned a gemstone, and is ruled by the activity of a planet, the moon or the sun.
Aries (March 21 - April 20) is the ram. The planet Mars is thought to rule. The gemstone associated with Aries is the ruby. A person born under this sign is likely to be daring, to be able to exercise initiative and enterprise with great energy. A true Aries is an adventurer.
Taurus (April 21 - May 21) is the bull. The ruling planet here is Venus. Naturally the Sapphire is the stone affiliated with Taurus. A person born under the sign of Taurus is a great caretaker, nurturer, farmer. Practicality is the hallmark. Yet Taurus is a lover of beauty and luxury and loves to possess things.
Gemini (May 22 - June 21) is the twins. The ruler here is Mercury. Topaz in jewelry is fine for Gemini. Persons with this sign have an instinctual and agile mind, able to think ahead and execute plans with dexterity. Geminis are also good actors, speakers, and teachers.
Cancer (June 22 - July 22) is the crab. The Moon rules Cancer. Emeralds attract and look attractive on people with this sign. A Cancer is fertile, able to come up with many solutions to the same problem. Motherliness is a hallmark of its women. Protectiveness and empathy help to allow this person to reach out to others.
Leo (July 23 - August 21) is the lion. The ruling body is the Sun. The hard and noble Diamond is associated with Leo. A Leo, like a lion is self-assertive, yet playful like a cub. Pleasure seeking and chance taking can create problems. Athleticism makes Leo a formidable figure on the sports field.
Virgo (August 22 - September 23) is the virgin. Ruling planet is Mercury. The Jasper is the gemstone. A person born under Virgo is discriminating, knows what is good and what is not. Discrete and conservative this person makes wise decisions using practical intelligence. Considerable powers of organization and attention to detail mark the Virgo. Also very fastidious.
Libra (September 24 - October 23) is the balance. Ruling heavenly body is Venus. The aquamarine has an affinity for Libra. The Libra is able to cooperate with others, finds a balance in life between work and play, is businesslike. The Libra has command of language making him or her persuasive. Naturally the Libra exercises good judgement.
Scorpio (October 24 - November 22) is the scorpion. The ruling planet here is Mars. The black opal is the preferred gemstone. The Scorpio thinks about higher things. He or she may be destructive, but is also good at rebuilding. Passion can carry this person away, but in times of calm he or she is insightful and profound.
Sagittarius (November 23 - December 22) is the archer. Ruling planet is Jupiter. The garnet adds power to the Sagittarius. With expanded consciousness and understanding, the Sagittarius can put his philosophical mind to work solving broad problems. This person tends to be extravagant, and is always independent of mind.
Capricorn (December 23 - January 20) is the goat. The ruling planet is Saturn. The pearl compliments Capricorns visage. A Capricorn is well-organized and is a builder. Authoritative and serious, the Capricorn is an authority figure. Materialistic and acquisitive this person works hard and plans carefully.
Aquarius (January 21 - February 19) is the water bearer. The turquoise is the gemstone for Aquarius. This person can be humanitarian and altruistic to a fault sometimes not seeing the practical aspects and problems caused by being too nice. The Aquarius is very social, likes to be with and talk to others. Likes spreading idealistic and utopian concepts. Often situated in an ivory tower.
Pisces (February 20 - March 20) is the fish. The ruling planet here is Jupiter. The gemstone is amethyst. A person born under Pisces can be emotionally receptive, sympathetic and empathetic. Always self-sacrificial this person is impressionable and shuns leadership. Though sometimes vague this person is also prescient and able to build consensus.
It should be noted here that the information on gemstones, and personal qualities for each of the signs of the zodiac are much in dispute among astrologers. The personal characteristics noted above are based on a compendium of sources. There is a convenient poem that serves as a mnemonic for remembering the signs of the zodiac and when the occur.
On any given day, based on the location of the planets, the moon and the sun, relative to the Earth, astrologers attempt to forecast an individual's future based on that individual's sign of the zodiac. The astrologer may also calculate the best way to deal with that future. This forecast is called a horoscope.