Monthly Archives: May 2018

The Astronomy of Astrology

The astronomical basis for astrologyI am going to begin this lesson so we can understand the basic astronomy of the solar system.   As I discussed in the history of astrology, it was not so long ago that both astronomy and astrology were one body and I do feel that it is important to understand where the planets are in our solar system.  Although this could be rather tedious for individuals that would prefer to jump to interpreting their charts, we will use our understanding of the solar system in follow up lessons.

One of the interesting things that I have found about “our understanding” of the solar system is that many of us do not understand it at all.  We know that there is a Sun and a Moon, but beyond that many people do not know how many planets there are.  I recently queried a bunch of my friends and I got random answers from 6 to 11 to 13, and several did not know that Pluto was no longer a planet. That’s right – for those of you that did not know — Pluto is no longer a planet.   Before any Scorpios (Pluto rules Scorpio) start to develop an identity crisis over Pluto’s demotion, in astrology we still consider Pluto a planet.

I am sure that some of you are wondering how this happened?   Why did Pluto get demoted?   We can some this up in one word – ERIS.

OMG…. The Solar System Has Dwarves! (No Dwarves allowed)

dwarf planets in the horoscopeIn January 2005, Mike Brown and his team located in San Diego, CA discovered an object in the solar system that appeared to be larger than Pluto.  Brown and the astronomers at NASA initially called the object the “tenth planet” and gave it the provisional designation of 2003 UB 313.  However, the size of the object would end up becoming a huge problem and internal arguments and debates erupted in the Astronomical Community.

In August 2006, the IAU agreed upon a new definition of a planet in the solar system.   The adaptation of the new requirements for planethood (orbits the sun, has a round shape, and has “cleared the neighborhood” around its orbit) led to the demotion of Pluto to a new category of dwarf planets.  In addition, the asteroid Ceres (which was a planet until 1802 and herself demoted to an asteroid) was promoted to a dwarf planet.   The new dwarf planet that caused such a ruckus was named Eris who (perhaps by synchronicity) was the Greek Goddess of Strife and Discord.  In September 2008, the IAU admitted Haumea as a dwarf planet followed by MakeMake.


There are several other trans-Neptunian objects under consideration.  Some of these include Orcus, Quaoar, 2007 OR10, Sedna, and the asteroid Vesta.   In this course, I will only be covering dwarf planets Ceres, Pluto, and my preliminary understanding of Eris.   The other dwarf planets Haumaea and MakeMake I may include in the next course if I have had time to work with them.


The solar system in astrology

On the left hand side of this diagram, you will see a yellow glow.   This is the Sun and it is the center of our solar system.  Every planet, dwarf planet, and asteroid revolves around the Sun.

The Inferior Planets 

Mercury is probably the most famous of planets.  In recent years, pop culture has become very familiar with the astrological phenomena of Mercury retrograde.   Mercury moves around the Sun very quickly and it takes it 88 earth days to circle the Sun.   Mercury never gets more than 27 degrees away from the Sun, so it is usually found in the same sign or the one before or after it.

Venus is the next inferior planet.  It was named after the Goddess of Love in Roman Mythology, and like Mercury moves around the Sun rather quickly.  A Venusian year is 224-225 earth days.   The great irony about Venus is that one of her days is longer than it takes for her to revolve around the Sun.   Venus rotates very slowly on her axis and one day on the planet is 225 earth days.   Venus is never more than 48 degrees from the Sun.

Earth and Moon

This is where we live, and because we stand upon the Earth we do not measure the location of Earth in a chart in western astrology.   Since it is the observation point of the solar system, the Earth is always in the opposite astrological sign to the Sun.  For example, if you lived on the Sun right now (please bring a large air conditioned igloo) you would find the Earth in the sign of Pisces.  Why?  The Sun (as of this writing) is in the sign of Virgo.  It takes the Earth 365.25 days to revolve around the Sun.  This is called 1 year.   Further, the Earth is the only planet in the solar system (as far as we know) that intelligent life exists.

Earth is the first planet in the solar system that has a satellite that orbits it.  Although we refer to it as the “Moon”, its name is actually Luna.  The Moon revolves around the earth every 28-29 days.   Every month at the New Moon we begin a new lunar month, which is still part of many religious systems.

The Superior Planets:

The first superior planet in the solar system is Mars.    Mars is a rather interesting planet, because it has a rather elliptical orbit and with its striking red color it is very noticeable when it is the closest to the earth.   Mars was named after the Roman God of war and is often associated with bloodshed and anger.   In traditional astrology it is considered the lesser malefic and is often associated with bad omens.  Mars is about half the size of the earth and revolves around the Sun every 687 days or roughly every 2 years.

We Now Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Program…

There are many theories about the asteroid belt.  One is that there used to be a planet that existed between Mars and Jupiter, but it was destroyed by either an impact or due to the gravitational pull of Jupiter.  This is now home to thousands of asteroids ruled by their Queen – dwarf planet Ceres.  Ceres takes about 4.60 years to revolve around the Sun.   Within the asteroid belt are three other large sized asteroids which many astrologers use in their forecasting:  Pallas Athena, Juno, and Vesta.

Now Back To Your Regular Scheduled Program…

We now leave the realm of the personal planets – Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, and dwarf planet Ceres.   The next two planets are considered the social planets.  By social, I do not mean Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

The first social planet is called Jupiter.   Jupiter is named after the Roman King of the Gods.  Jupiter is the biggest of all the planets in the Solar System and he is most noted for the ‘huge red eyeball’ structure on his surface.   I suppose, the King of the Gods has to keep an eye out on the universe.  Jupiter takes 11.86 years to circle the Sun.   This is approximately 1 zodiacal sign per year.  In traditional astrology, Jupiter is considered the great benefic and is known to bring luck to those who had his favor.  This could have arisen out of the idea that Jupiter is the giant vacuum cleaner of the solar system, and he protects the inner planets from cosmic debris that might have cataclysmic effects.

The Saturn return is probably the 2nd most talked about astrological phenomena (tied with Eclipses) that occurs around the age of 30 for everyone.  Why?  It takes Saturn 30 years to go around the Sun.   Although Saturn is probably one of the most beautiful objects in the solar system, it is considered the Great Malefic in astrology.   Saturn has many rings that surround it which many feel symbolically represent the limitations and boundaries which confine us to physical reality.   The fact that it is the last planet that is visible to the naked eye amplifies this feeling that Saturn is the barrier to a much larger universe that we fully do not understand.

WTF… First Dwarves and Now Centaurs?

Chiron is a planetoid in the outer solar system discovered by Charles Kowal in 1977.  He became the first of a new breed of galactic objects known as Centaurs.   Although Centaurs travel as close to the Sun as Jupiter and many far past Neptune, Chiron has an elliptical orbit between Saturn and Uranus.  It takes Chiron 49-51 years to revolve around the Sun.

Unlike dwarf planet Ceres, Chiron is not the largest of his kind – that distinction belongs to Chariklo.   There is some debate in astronomical circles that believe one of Saturn’s Moon’s – Phoebe – may have been a centaur that got trapped in Saturn’s gravitational pull.   Other notable Centaurs are Nessus and Pholus.  In this course, I will only be using Chiron and may bring the other Centaurs into a future course.

The Outer Planets:

The first of the two outer planets is called Uranus.  It was discovered in 1781 using a telescope and is considered the first planet of modern times.  Uranus is unique in that he tends to break all the rules, and immediately upon his discovery doubled the size of the known universe.   Uranus is very unique because he spends 42 years with one pole facing the Sun and then 42 years with the other poll facing the Sun.   In total, Uranus takes 84 years to go around the Sun or roughly 7 years through each sign of the zodiac.

Our next planet is Neptune who was discovered in 1846 by Johann Galle.   Neptune has a beautiful blue surface almost the color of the deepest parts of earth’s oceans.   He is named after the Roman God of the Sea.   It takes Neptune 165 earth years to circle the Sun and around 14 years per astrological sign.

The Dwarves:  Hi Ho, Hi Ho It’s Off To Work We Go…

The most famous of all the dwarf planets is Pluto.  As I stated earlier, we still consider Pluto a planet in astrology and there are no plans to kick him out of the planetary pantheon as our close cousins the Astronomers did.   Pluto was discovered in 1930 and has a rather eccentric orbit sometimes coming closer to the Sun than Neptune.  It takes Pluto 248 years to go around the Sun, but he quickly moves through the zodiac sign of Scorpio and crawls through the sign of Taurus.

On December 28, 2004, Mike Brown’s team in San Diego, California discovered Haumea.   Haumea is the strangest of the dwarf planets because she looks like a gigantic Easter egg.  After naming Eris (she is coming), the IAU decided that it would name all ‘outer planet like objects’ after characters in creation myths.   Haumaea is named after the Hawaiian Goddess of childbirth.   It takes Haumaea 283 years to circle the Sun.  Haumaea is currently in the sign of Libra.

The third largest dwarf planet is called MakeMake.  He was discovered by Mike Brown in San Diego on March 31, 2005.   He is named after the Rapa Nui God of humanity and was the chief god of the bird man cult.   It takes MakeMake 309 years to circle the Sun.  MakeMake is currently in the sign of Virgo.

The Fairest of Them All

Now is the final member of Dwarf planets – Eris.   Eris is the dwarf planet that caused all the controversy.   Eris is named after the Goddess of Strife and Discord and as I stated earlier she surely lived up to her name.  Eris is the 9th largest body in our solar system and is believed to be larger than Pluto.  Eris is the slowest of the dwarf planets and takes a whopping 557 years to go around the Sun.   Like Pluto, she has a rather elliptical orbit and moves very quickly through the sign of Libra and crawls slowly through the sign of Aries.   She has been in Aries since the early part of the 20th century and is still currently in the sign.   I will be covering Eris at length towards the end of this course.   I feel that she is very important in astrological charts – especially in Mundane Astrology.

Storm Cestavani – Updated May 2017


Down and Dirty History of Astrology

The Down and Dirty History of Astrology:

In January 2011, Parke Kunkle (an astronomer) rocked the world when he said that due to the changes in the Earth’s alignment the dates of many zodiac signs have changed.   This led to mass confusion that spread over social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter, and ultimately landing on popular television shows hosted by Rachel Maddow and Anderson Cooper.   As an astrologer, I found this very humorous and even spent an entire episode on radio discussing what turned into viral panic amongst those that did not wish to be the sign they were now assigned to.    For better or for worse, depending on whether or not you like the sign of Scorpio or take issue with it, the sign was reduced to a mere 6 days.

I suppose the most amusing part of this whole viral astrological insanity, was that many of the newscasters were laughing about the absurdity of peoples interest in astrology – yet at the same time were reporting about the change of astrological signs because it went viral.  I suppose that they do not sit back understand the great irony that what they admonish was alive and well within the psyches of the collective consciousness, and although it does not matter too many; astrology is still as powerful as it was 4000 years ago.

As Ophiucus (the supposed new zodiac sign) made his way across popular websites, Facebook, and twitter feeds, it took Kunkle sometime to acknowledge that his theory is nothing new, yet simply a 2100+ year old theory developed by Greek astronomer Hipparchus.   According to his math (and a strange wobble of the earth on its axis), Hipparchus realized that the heavens slowly move over time – so what was once in the sign of Aries, is possibly now in the sign of Pisces or Pisces. This theory is known as precession of the equinox, and although some astrological traditions (such as Sidereal and Vedic) use the current constellations as the backdrop of their astrological forecasting, Western or Tropical Astrology is based upon seasonal activity and therefore 0 Aries is always the first day of spring.

I suppose Kunkle needs to take this course!

Although much of the collective consciousness (fancy word for group think) believes the study of astrology is for people who spent too much time watching the movie “Hair” or believing in such hooey as the prophecies Nostradamus, in the ancient past astrology was an honored profession.   The empirical art of astrology, as we know it today roots lie within the ancient Sumerian and Babylonian culture (modern Iraq), which dates back to 1950 BC.   Recording planetary alignments and weather patterns, the priests of Babylonia developed a rather sophisticated understanding of the will of the Gods upon the nation.  Although astrology in Babylonia was not real concerned with individual lives, whether or not the current governmental leader was aligned or in good favor with God had a trickle-down effect upon the citizenry.  The astrologer of this era was a respected member of the governmental hierarchy, and had much influence on the affairs of the leader — after all who would want to irritate the Gods?  Astrology eventually spread to other parts of the world and was an important function in both Judaic and Egyptian cultures.

Whereas the roots of Mundane Astrology began in Babylonia, the roots of Horoscopic or Natal Astrology began after Alexander the Great conquered Egypt.   There were enormous differences in the psychologies between the Babylonian and Greek astrologers.   Whereas the Babylonian astrologers were very concerned with agriculture and understanding the messages of the Gods in order to survive, the luxurious Greeks were more interesting in understanding the dynamics of how the universe operated and were more scientific and mathematically inclined.  The most famous astrologer of the Greeks was Ptolemy who wrote the book “Tetrabiblios”, and along with other astrologers of the era developed the system of Western astrology which included the time of birth of the native, the planets, houses, and signs of the Zodiac.   Since the time of the ancient Greek astrologers, not much in regards to Western astrology has changed concerning our understanding and comprehension of the cosmic science.  Like the astrologers of Babylon, the Greek astrologers were widely respected and held great notoriety in their society.

As Christianity and Islam began to take hold of the religious world during the ‘Middle Ages’ and Renaissance, a curious change began to occur in astrology.   Politics became involved since both Christianity and Islam were religious idealisms based on the God of Abraham whose will should never be questioned and whose timing should never be pronounced.  Although astrology was practiced by many astrologers during this period, there began to be little religious tolerance for practicing astrologers who went underground and began the art of “fortune telling”.   This intolerance continued through the Age of Enlightenment.

In the 20th century astrology began a renaissance of its own, yet unlike centuries prior astrology began to become person focused as the psychology movement began to take hold.  The most noted psychiatrist that took an interest in astrology as a symbolic tool was Carl G. Jung.  His interest has influenced some of the most noted astrologers of the 20th century including Dane Rudhyar, Liz Greene, Howard Sasportas, Charles Harvey, and Richard Idemon – whose contributions to psychological astrology have been substantial.  As we move into the second decade of the 21st century, astrology continues to evolve and expand with various specialized interests including harmonics, a revival of Hellenistic astrology, horary, astrometeorology, and much more.  It is safe to say that astrology will continue to expand through the decades in ways that are probably not even imaginable at the time of this writing.

Further Reading:

Nicholas Campion, A History of Western Astrology
Nicholas Campion, The Great Year:   Astrology, Millenarianism, and History in Western Tradition
Liz Greene, The Astrologer, Counselor, and the Priest

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