How Astrology Works

The very first draft of Chapter Five of my forthcoming book on astrology. Your feedback and comments are welcome.

OK, now let’s stop talking about if astrology works, or why it works. Let’s get down to how it works.

Wait, slam on the brakes for a second.

There are a million (or so) books that try to teach you how to “do astrology.” The problem is, you really can’t learn how to do astrology by reading a book. It takes fantastic commitment, dedication, years of intense study, and years of practice to learn how to accurately “do astrology.” In this book I’m going to teach you how astrology works – but I don’t want you to think that by reading a book you can become an astrologer.

If you are not going to learn how to “do astrology” what’s the point of reading the rest of the book? Because you are going to learn about something even more important: life.

And something else is going to happen by the time you finish this book. You are going to be capable of selecting a good astrologer, being able to tell the genuine astrologer from a sham. And something else very important is going to result from you reading this book: you are going to get thousands of times deeper and better information from your astrologer’s readings.

I don’t mean to discourage the few of you who do actually want to become dedicated astrologers. You are the exceptions, and by reading this book you will be giving yourself exceptionally strong footing, a very solid foundation for your continuing education and practice in the astrological sciences.

Alright. Foot off the brake. Hit the gas.


Astrology starts by standing on Earth and looking up at the sky night. What you notice right away, I hope, is that there are lots of “dots” of light up there.

Do that every night for a few weeks. If you are very careful you will notice that almost all of the lights in the sky “stand still” while a very few of them seem to “move.” Of course, they all move, from east to west across the sky as the late evening becomes midnight and evolves into pre-dawn. But look carefully and you will see that they all move as a group from east to west across the sky. They “stand still” relative to one another.

Except for a few. A few of them wander and move about in relation to the others.

You would first notice this if you look at the greatest, bigest, hugest “dot” of light in the night sky – the Moon. Every day you would notice that the Moon is in a different group of stars. This would inspire you to check carefully all the rest of those tiny dots up there – to see if any others of them moved. And, after a few years of observation, you would figure out that there are a handful which do.

Those guys that move, we call them “planets.” The ones that don’t move, they are “stars.” And those are the basic building blocks of astrology: (a) the planets and (b) the stars.


After a decade or so of careful night-sky watching, you dear reader, would discover that there are exactly five dots in the sky which don’t stand still. That is why there are five primary planets in astrology:

1) Mercury

2) Venus

3) Mars

4) Jupiter

5) Saturn

Why isn’t Earth a planet in astrology? Because you are standing on it. It’s not up in the sky moving around you. Instead in is the very stage on which you play the role of your life. So in astrology the Earth is not a planet, she is instead the focal point. We call this focal point the “Ascendant” – but don’t worry about that yet. We will handle that later on.

How about Uranus, Neptune and Pluto?

Well, can you see them? No. Therefore they are not astrological planets. My condolences to astrologers who love them. At the very least let’s just say that I stick with a very pure and simple form of Astrology. Planets that you can’t see from the Earth are not a part of this simple and pristine form of Astrology. As you read through the book you will see how everything is perfectly balanced and symmetrical in this system and that the introduction of “new” planets has no place because there is no need.

But… there are a few other planets, besides these five. There are these two:

– Rahu

– Ketu

You may have never heard of these, or else you may have heard them called the “lunar nodes” or the “dragon’s head” and “dragon’s tail”? These two guys are invisible planets. So you may say, “Hey, if these two invisible planets are a part of astrology, why not include other invisibles like Uranus and Neptune?”

That’s a pretty dashing question.

Except there is an even more dashing answer: Rahu and Ketu are the points which cause eclipses. So although they are “invisible” they have extremely visible effects which human beings can readily observe in the sky. These two eclipse points move through the rest of the stars, so they are “planets.”

So first we have the five planets that look basically like stars, except that they move. Then we have two more planets that are invisible except for when they causes eclipses. Finally we have two more, two really big ones:

– The Sun

– The Moon

Astronomy defines the word “planet” as an object which orbits the Sun. We are not talking about astronomy! We are talking about astrology. Yes, astrology is the mother of astronomy, but there is a fundamental difference: astronomy is the science of how things are out in space while astrology is the science of how things are here on earth. The astrological definition of a “planet” does not need to be the same as the astronomical definition – because they are two different branches of science. As far as astrology is concerned, a planet is anything that moves in relation to the rest of the stars. The Sun and Moon do that. Therefore they are planets.

So you have a total of nine astrological planets. We are going to devote a whole section of chapters to exploring these!


The planets are the special few objects in the sky that move around. All the rest of the stuff in the sky – all those thousands of dots up there – are “stars.”

If you spend a little time looking up at night you will notice that the planets don’t just meander all over the sky, they all proceed through the same rather narrow band of stars – sort of like cars that don’t just drive all through the trees and whatnot, but stick to the road. The “Zodiac” is what we call the road the planets travel on as they move through the stars.

The stars in the Zodiac are by far the most important stars in astrology.

Since all these stars always stay put in relation to one another they form patterns which you see night after night and start to recognize. We call these patterns “constellations.”

There are two ways of grouping the zodiac stars into constellations. One of them creates twelve patterns, the other creates twenty seven. Let’s talk about the twelve zodiac constellations first, since almost everyone is a lot more familiar with those.

Out of all those dots of light in the Zodiac, why did we decide to make twelve?

Because the moon becomes full twelve times during the course of one year.

That’s why there are twelve solar zodiac constellations and not thirteen or some other number, no matter how sassy and savvy some people seem to think they are when they talk about a constellation called “Ophiuchus”, claiming that it is the “13th Zodiac Sign.”

You see, there is a huge misconception that astrology came after human beings depicted images and pictures in the stars of the sky. You get these people saying, for example, “Oh, Virgo is a young maiden, that’s why astrology thinks it is all about purity.” As if the stars of Virgo really look like a young virginal girl!? They look like a bunch of shiny dots, let’s be real!

What really happened is that astrology came before we codified definite symbols to represent the various constellations in the sky. Because we noticed purity in connection with a certain area of the sky we said, “Look, see that part of the sky, those stars over there? Think of it as a group and imagine it depicting a young virgin girl.” Or take cancer, for example. It’s really just a square more or less. But after astrologers figured out the deep, private, reserved nature of this part of the sky they said, “OK, see those four stars over there in a square? Well, think of it as a Crab.”

So astrology has exactly twelve main divisions of the zodiac, twelve constellations or “signs.” We made twelve divisions because there are twelve cycles in the course of a year, depicted in the sky by the twelve full moons.

These are the twelve signs of the solar year:

1) Aries, a ram with big brave horns

2) Taurus, a productive and beautiful bull

3) Gemini, two merry people

4) Cancer, a timid creature of the sea: a crab

5) Leo, a regal lion

6) Virgo, a pristine young virgin girl

7) Libra, scales – used in the marketplace and symbolizing liberty and justice

8 ) Scorpio, the dangerous scorpion

9) Sagittarius, the centaur archer

10) Capricorn, a ferocious mythical sea-monster

11) Aquarius, a pot holding water or precious things

12) Pisces, two fish swimming in opposite directions

I mentioned earlier that there was another way to group the zodiac stars. A way that results in not twelve but 27 constellations! This is the lunar zodiac, often called the lunar mansions. We have 27 of these because the Moon takes that many days (more or less) to complete one complete “lap” through the zodiac “roadway.”

Remember that popular astrology is about as useful as a fortune cookie. Just because the 27 lunar zodiac signs are less popular than the 12 solar zodiac signs doesn’t mean they are any less important or useful to real astrology. These lunar mansions are just as important as the “normal” twelve zodiac signs.

So I am going to devote a whole section of chapters to the twelve signs of the solar zodiac, and another whole section to the 27 signs of the lunar zodiac.


Up till now I’ve introduced you to the planets and the stars, but there is a third ingredient in astrology of equal importance to the planets and stars! We started by looking up at the sky, right? We noticed the dots of light in the sky and called them “stars” – and noticing that some of the lights moved around, we called those “planets.” But what about the sky itself!?

Yes, the sky itself is the third key player in astrology.

In the course of a day, all the planets and stars rise in the eastern sky, come to their highest point above our heads, then proceed to set in the west and go to their nadir in the midnight invisible sky beneath the ground. From this we get important symbolism associated with the different directions of the sky.

We divide the sky into twelve areas, usually called “houses.” Why twelve? Because there are twelve signs in the zodiac!

The zodiac sign that is rising on the Eastern horizon creates the “first” section of sky – the “first house”. The next sign creates the “second” section, second house. And so on.

I devote an entire section of chapters to explaining these twelve houses.


The universe is in constant motion. Such is the nature of life, and the nature of time itself. Nothing ever, ever stops or stands still.

But you can take photographs!

You can make snapshots of moments in time, important moments. That is what an astrological “chart” is. An especially important moment in time is the moment of your birth. A “birth chart” is a snapshot of the universe at this moment in time.

Try to visualize this:

The stars and planets are moving from east to west through the sky and back again every single day. Within that movement, the planets are gradually proceeding on the roadway of the zodiac. So as all the lights in the sky rise and set every day, some of those lights (the planets) are slowly moving in relation to the rest of the stars. In other words, the stars and planets all move through the sky every day, while the planets also move gradually through the stars at their own different speeds.

I don’t know how well you were able to visualize it, but I am sure that you at least realize it is pretty complex and there is a lot of motion going on up there in the sky. The fact of the matter is that every moment in time is unique. No two moments in time will ever be exactly the same. This is because of the complex movement of the 9 planets against the stars, while both the stars and planets move through the sky.

You should have an astrologer cast your chart, but of all the aspects of astrology, this is the least difficult thing to do. To best utilize the simple and pure form of astrology I am going to explain in this book, you want to have your chart done with “sidereal” and “whole-sign house” settings.

Sidereal means that your chart uses the real zodiac, not a theoretical or “tropical” one. We learned about this in the 3rd Chapter. Whole-sign houses means that each sign creates a single house. When you combine a sidereal zodiac with whole-sign houses you have a very powerful chart on which simple, clear, ancient principle of astrology will work very well.

– Vic DiCara

© 2010 Vic DiCara, All Rights Reserved

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