Astrology can change your life. It did mine. Astrology illuminates the secret corners of the self, provides a key to understanding others, contributes a useful method for scrutinizing relationships, and even offers a glimpse into the future. Beyond that, as with all great areas of knowledge, astrology has the power to alter perception. Once you know something about it, you never see the world in the same way again.

Using a vocabulary that’s both objective and poetic, astrology enlarges your curiosity (because after you absorb its principles, everyone you meet, no matter how dull the person or how fleeting the encounter, becomes a mystery waiting to be solved); it expands your insight into behavior and motivation; and most of all, it increases your compassion. Some people think that astrology divides all human beings into 12 groups. How wrong they are! Astrology teaches that all human beings are subject to universal needs and desires — and that every individual is entirely and splendidly unique.

About This Book

Astrology has many forms. In this book, I focus on natal astrology, the interpretation of a birth chart to gain insight into yourself and others. Using real life examples, I show you how to construct your birth chart (or how to get it on the Internet), how to interpret its component parts, and how to use that information to gain insight into yourself and others.

I consider astrology a tool — an objective tool — for understanding self, assessing relationships, examining your potential, and even making some basic decisions. In this book, I show you how to use that tool.


What You’re Not to Read

I’d like you to read every word in this book, but you don’t have to. You can safely ignore the paragraphs marked with the Technical Stuff icon, and you can even skip the sidebars (the gray-shaded boxes that are scattered throughout the book). Although reading these sections will enhance your understanding, you’ll get along fine without them.

Foolish Assumptions

Despite the title of this book, I assume that you’re no fool. I assume that you’re intrigued by the art of astrology because you’re seeking fresh ways of understanding. I also assume that, whether you’re a newcomer or a longtime follower, you’re primarily interested in your own horoscope.

I assume that you have access to a computer and can get on the Web, where you can easily obtain your birth chart. (You can also cobble one together yourself, using only the material in this book.) That horoscope combined with this book enables you to explore astrology in a multitude of ways.

My final assumption about you is simply that you have some sense; that you expect insight from astrology, not winning lottery numbers; that you understand that astrology isn’t about fate or even about luck. It’s about possibility, propensity, and potential. An old maxim, taught to every generation of astrologers, says it all: The stars impel, they do not compel.

How This Book Is Organized

Astrology For Dummies, 2nd Edition, follows a logical sequence. It starts with an overview, offers various methods for getting your chart, and then explores the Sun signs and the other components of the chart in detail. After that, it expands into relationships, leaps into ways of using astrology on a daily basis, and concludes with a section on talents and timing.

Part I: Mapping Your Place in the Cosmos

These three chapters cover the basics. Chapter 1 briefly discusses the Sun, the Moon, the planets, the rising sign, and the 12 houses. Chapter 2 tells you how to get your chart via the Internet or computer software. And Chapter 3 tells you how to construct a rough copy of your chart using the tables in this book. After that, you’re ready to dive into the rest of the book.

Part II: Here Comes the Sun

Astrology is an interpretative art that can lead in many directions. It starts here with four chapters about the Sun signs organized according to element. Chapter 4 surveys the fire signs (Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius); Chapter 5 explores the earth signs (Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn); Chapter 6 talks about the air signs (Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius); and Chapter 7 considers the water signs (Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces).

Part III: Everything Else in the Cosmic Cookbook

Sun Sign astrology, albeit fascinating, leaves many questions unanswered. The chapters in this part help fill in those blanks. Chapter 8 illuminates the Moon and the Nodes of the Moon in all 12 signs. Chapters 9 and 10 discuss Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto — plus the asteroid Chiron, which was discovered in 1977 and is now routinely included in horoscopes by many astrologers. Chapter 11 talks about the Ascendant, and Chapter 12 describes the influence of the planets in each of the houses. Finally, Chapter 13 looks at the way the planets interact by analyzing the aspects, or geometrical relationships, that link them together.

After you’ve looked up your planetary placements, you may find yourself suffering from information overload. Never fear — Chapter 14 shows you how to winnow that data down to its most essential components by looking for patterns that characterize your chart as a whole.

Part IV: Using Astrology Right Now

Gaining insight into your psyche is a worthy enterprise, but most people interested in astrology have other topics on their minds: like relationships, which I discuss in Chapter 15. Included in that chapter is an assessment of all 78 Sun sign combinations — plus tips on how to capture the heart of each sign of the zodiac.

In Chapters 16, 17, and 18, I tell you how to squeeze the maximum benefit out of astrology. Chapter 16 explains how the current positions of Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto affect you — and what you can look forward to in the future.

Chapter 17, the most hands-on chapter in the book, focuses on only one planet (and I’m using that word loosely): the Moon. Its monthly swing through all of its phases and all 12 signs brings days when the cosmos is with you — and days when it’s decidedly not. In this chapter, I tell you how the position of the Moon can help you decide when to take the initiative, when to hang back, when to start projects, when to wait, and more.

Chapter 18 addresses a phenomenon that never fails to annoy people: retrograde Mercury, which is famous for generating bouts of delay and aggravation. I’m generally quite sanguine about this passing influence. After all, it happens three times a year. What’s the big deal? Or so I used to think. Recently, though, retrograde Mercury put me on the wrong train twice in a week, swallowed up a crucial e-mail, and lobotomized my iPod. In this chapter, I tell you how to cope better than I did.

Part V: The Part of Tens

After you understand the Sun, the Moon, and the planets, you have the basics down. In this part, I apply that information in two ways. In Chapter 19, I reveal the planetary components of ten different talents. And in Chapter 20, which addresses the fine art of astrological timing, I tell you when to throw a party, when to launch a business, when to buy a computer, even when to get married — by the stars.

You’ll also find the Appendix, which lists the positions of the Sun, the Moon, and the planets, including Chiron. This is the section of the book to turn to when doing a birth chart. It tells you where the planets were (and will be) between 1930 and 2012.

Icons Used in This Book

Four icons sprinkled throughout this book serve as road signs. Here’s what the icons mean:


In an ideal world, every planetary placement, aspect, and transit discussed in this book would be accompanied by an example from the life of a flesh-and-blood human being. In the real world, book space is limited, so I’m able to use only a few such examples. This icon highlights those examples. In many cases, real-life examples feature movie stars, politicians, and other public figures. Occasionally, I focus on people I know personally. In those instances, the names are changed. The astrology remains the same.


Certain facts and principles are essential. I discuss most of them in the early chapters. But when you need to recall a fact in order to understand another aspect of a birth chart, I try to remind you, gently, using this icon.


It’s impossible to talk about astrology without coming smack up against astronomy and mathematics. Whenever I give a nuts-and-bolts scientific explanation of an astrological phenomenon, I warn you upfront with this icon. Want to skip the explanation? Go ahead. Most of the time, you can ignore it and still be on track.


A paragraph marked with this icon may suggest an easier way of doing something. It may point you to a book or a Web site that covers material similar to that being discussed in the text, it may suggest a way to offset a problem that arises with a particular configuration in a chart, or it may tell you how to, say, seduce a Capricorn. Never let it be said that astrology isn’t useful.

Where to Go from Here

If you’re a novice, you may as well know the truth: Astrology is a complicated system. The only way to describe it is to begin at the beginning, which is what I do. But I’ve seen the way people leaf through astrology books, and I have written it with the understanding that you may open it anywhere.

So consider this book a reference. You don’t need to read the chapters in any particular order. You don’t even have to remember much from one chapter to the next because this book is filled with cross-references and reminders. If you know a little bit about the subject, you can jump in anywhere.

Nonetheless, you may want to start at the beginning and read a chapter or two before you plunge into the rest of book. If you know your sign but nothing else, turn to Chapter 2, which tells you how to get an accurate horoscope. If you already have a copy of that essential document, you’re ready to begin. I invite you to take a random walk through the book.

I find the knowledge I’ve gained from astrology to be consistently fascinating and helpful. It’s my hope that you, too, will rejoice in — and benefit from — the wisdom of the stars.



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