All posts here are from sections of the books: "North Node Astrology; Rediscovering Your Life Direction and Soul Purpose" and "Lifting the Veil; Becoming Your Own Best Astrologer" and "Astrology for the Third Act of Life" and finally "Saturn Returns~The Private Papers of A Reluctant Astrologer" All available in paperback, Kindle and Audible on

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

How to Read an Astrology Chart: What matters Most

Dear Kendra~

When I look at my own chart, or a client’s chart, I want to find out first what is truly going on here--what is the question beneath the question? And I want the chart to give me a clue as to what would be most helpful in “solving” that issue. I don’t want to bring up fear or excuses, shame or blame, I simply want to see what and why, and how to make it better.

So, I look at the transits first, to see what area of life the planets are throwing the spotlight on, and look to see if they are squaring off against each other or helping each other. Everybody can read their Sun sign transit report on the web, but what they’re reading is as general as a weather forecast! It’s so much more accurate to see how those transiting planets are aspecting your individual chart, and you can do this easily by creating a transit wheel around the natal chart if you have an astrology program, or you can look at an ephemeris to see the movements of the planets aspecting your birth chart.

But if you do read the web or magazine astrology reports for the day or month, keep in mind that its more accurate to read about your Rising Sign, than to read your Sun sign. All seasoned astrologers know this. There’s some validity to the Sun sign report, but more to the rising sign, because that makes the house placements more accurate. There could be a full Moon eclipse with all sorts of dynamics that astrologers are raving about, but if it’s not hitting your planets—well, you missed the thunderstorm! Your storm and rainbow will come in a unique way for your life and chart—when your transits show aspect your unique planetary pattern.

So with that in mind, what do I look for first? What matters most?

#1 Major transits of Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. Especially Saturn Returns, Uranus squares and oppositions, and any of these outer planets conjuncting the Sun or Moon or crossing one of the 4 angles of the chart. This is where attention needs to be drawn to, and any astrology “cookbook” will explain the meanings. The art of astrology, like in good cooking, is knowing how to synthesize it all into a whole. And to make it good and nourishing.

#2 What is most useful to know? Look at the natal chart next, and see what the Soul is “wanting to do” in this lifetime. What does the storyline look like? What are the challenges and pitfalls? Where strengths could be maximized?

The storyline of the Soul is told in the sign and house position of the Sun, the Moon, the Rising Sign, and the North and South Nodes. The whole chart is an inter-connected mandala that should support your reading, even if you understand only a part of the mandala—it’s like a puzzle, isn’t it? You could do a good reading by understanding the basics in depth….and then you will see “support and amplification” of the basics in the rest of the chart.

Astrologers all have their favorite ways of understanding and reading a chart—for some it might be through the Moon or the asteroids, but my particular bias is to look at the long term “Soul karmic story” of the North and South Nodes (you know that, because you read my book: “North Node Astrology” about how I feel about the Nodes and how to use them) and then to look at the short term needs. This is shown in what Mars and Saturn are doing in the birthchart and what they are doing by transit. Those are planetary energies that we can consciously “work with” at the moment, and actively do something about! Which brings me to the most important point if all---

#3 Don’t see the planets as “bad guys” but rather as energies that you are now ready to learn and grow from --no transits happen before their time! And everything can be lived out in a higher octave or a lower octave. You choose how to react—that’s your free will.

It might be helpful to imagine the planets as “Gods who have an agenda…who want to be honored and listened to.” They are archetypal energies that show up synchronistically, or astrologically, at a particular time for a particular reason. Do you know what the reason is? You can “know” this intuitively, or you can get help by looking at your chart. Most of us know things both ways…but the astrology confirms our intuitions.

Here’s an example: Saturn is often seen as strict, constrictive, authoritarian, melancholic energy—a little gruff and depressive as well—and “he” wants to tell you what to do and how to do it. Now most people don’t like being told what to do! However, I always look first to see what this old man, Saturn, is saying in the transiting chart, because he has a perspective on things that I sometimes avoid…. but truly, if we don’t deny what he is reminding us about—we’ll find that Saturn creates the best luck and the longest lasting happiness. Not Jupiter, but Saturn! We generally create the Saturnian foundation for Jupiterian luck to happen.

So the “reality watchdog”, Saturn’s practicality, might sound something like: finish your term paper so you can graduate, or, take those vitamin supplements for your bones, or make that commitment to deal with your finances. Saturn rules bones, houses, and all the “forms our lives take”—so by honoring Saturn transits we create “reality structures” to hold our life. When we discipline ourselves to do the hard work in the short run, we reap the rewards in the long run.

Saturn also rules the womb, and the institution of marriage—so when there’s a Saturn-Moon transit for example, if can sometimes manifest as a pregnancy, or if it’s Saturn/Sun or a Saturn Return it could be a marriage—or divorce. And as beautiful as marriage ceremonies are, they are a lot of hard work, foreshadowing the hardest yoga of all—two people loving each other!

Anyway dear Sophie, it feels like you are working powerfully with Saturn now, as you are in your first Saturn Return. And from what you’ve said, it impacted your womb, your work, and your relationship. It seemed as if Saturn was all about denying you at first, but I think it was more about “re-structuring”. Saturn rules time—he was known as old Kronos—from the Greek word for “time”--so my sense is that you are keenly aware of the passing of time, and making a space ready for new life “structures” and adventures. Is that true? I want to hear your story—the particulars-- what’s happening….?

Have you talked with your friends who are between 28-30 about their first Saturn Returns? I think the 2nd Saturn Return between 58-60 is usually less dramatic, but has more to do with “unfinished business.” Interesting how we all have these passages at the same time, but “play it out” in different ways. The core issues are the same though….don’t you think?

How are you?

As always, with love,



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