If you ask me, “Hey, where do you live!?”
I might answer, “In America.”
Depending on how much you really want to know about me, that may or may not satisfy you. If you just want to get some basic and general idea of what culture, politics and language I am surrounded by, ok… “In America” will do just fine.
Let’s say you ask me, “What’s your sign!?”
And I answer ,”Leo.”
That is exactly like me telling you I live in America. If all you want to do is get some fuel for making fun guesses about what sort of personality traits I probably have, then this is just fine.
When I say, “I’m a Leo.” I am telling you (whether I know it or not) that my birthday occurs when the Sun is in Leo. Usually, this is just a theoretical “Leo” not the real Zodiac Leo but lets leave that discussion for other articles. The Sun is the least of three important factors describing your destiny and character. The other two, in dramatically increasing order of importance, are the Moon and the Ascendant. Let’s also leave all that aside for other articles, and just be satisfied knowing that the Sun is one of the focal points of astrology. So when I say “I’m a Leo” I am telling you something about my destiny and character.
Well, what is Leo, anyway? It is a zodiac sign, an area of the zodiac.
OK, and what are the “zodiac signs?”
The are places in the sky. Places are visited by people who do stuff there. People live out their lives in different places, and those places provide (or lack) the resources their inhabitants need to do the stuff they want to do.
Well, that’s what a “sign” is. It is a place in the sky which provides resources that the Sun (or whatever planet you are talking about) can use to fulfill it’s role. In the case of the Sun, the role is to create your core identity. So the sign occupied by the Sun provides the resources that the Sun can use to create your core identity.
It’s like when you ask me, “Where do you live?”
You are asking about the place I am in, because that will give you an idea of the resources that surround me and, inevitably, become a part of who I am.
When I answer, “I live in America” it is like me telling you “I am a Leo.” It is pretty darn generic. It’s a bit useful, yes, but if you want to get a clear picture of me you will want to ask more questions.
“What state in America do you live in?” That would be a good followup, right? Because New York is pretty different from California, and they are both really different from Kentucky. All three are in America, yes – so they all have basic similarities – but they all modify those similarities in different ways to create distinctly different environments and provide people with quite different types of resources.
I tell you I live in America, and that gives you a useful starting point. But in America I live in the state of New York. Now you have a much clearer idea of the environment I experience everyday. Within New York I live in New York City. Wow, now you really clearly know what resources I have at my disposal. In New York City I live in Manhattan. In Manhattan, I live on the Lower East Side – which is very different than the posh museum district of the Upper West Side, etc. On the Lower East Side I live on the corner of Houston and 2nd Ave, near the Bowery. Doesn’t this give you a much clearer idea of my environment than my original answer, “I live in America?” I can tell you my Address, 26 2nd Ave. I can go further and tell you that I am sitting in the southeast corner of the room. Etc. Etc.
What astrology attempts to do is give a complete “address” for each and every planet in your horoscope. The sign is like the country. If you want more detail than this, you asks about the lunar mansion within that sign. Lunar mansions are like the different states within a country.
If you want still more information you ask about the “division”. There are different ways to divide up a sign into smaller sections. These allow you to more exactly specify the “astrological address” of a planet. After the lunar mansion the most important address is the “navamsha” – which subdivides a sign into 9 smaller divisions and thus allows you to recognize the unique potentials of every 3 1/3º within each and every sign.
This is pretty detailed and it is very useful when doing astrology in a serious manner, as a professional. “Very useful” is actually the understatement of the year. It is indispensable.
Astrology has 16 different divisions altogether creating a total of more than 60 unique “addresses” within each and every sign. Why is that important? Because the whole point of looking at a sign in the first place is to understand what resources it presents to the planet occupying it! The more exactly you know the address of the planet, the more clearly you know the resources it has.