It’s all written in the stars!

What Is Astrology?

Astrology is the study of celestial bodies and their influence on human behavior. In astrology, it’s believed that the movement and positioning of stars and planets can affect things like mood, personality, environmental changes, and even romantic relationships.

Are Astrology and Astronomy the Same Thing?

While both astrology and astronomy deal with space and celestial bodies, they differ in a major way: astrology is not a science, but astronomy is. In short, astrology suggests that celestial bodies have an influence on the natural world and can provide insight into future events. Astronomy is strictly the study of space, celestial bodies, and the physical universe.

Is Astrology All About Zodiac Signs?

Zodiac signs are just one component of astrology. Astrology in general goes beyond the zodiac signs, observing the many ways in which the alignment of celestial bodies can affect a person’s behavior and even predict their future.

Most people know their zodiac sign, but understanding how it’s determined is tricky. A zodiac sign is determined by a person’s birthday, or more specifically, the segment of space in the ecliptic that the sun occupies at the time of their birth. The comprehensive chart detailing a person’s zodiac sign, astrological houses, astrological planets, astrological aspects, and more is called a natal chart or birth chart.

Natal Chart
Natal Chart:

Key Terms

Let’s take a minute to unpack some of these terms:

Astrology: Britannica defines astrology as a type of divination that involves the influences of the stars and planets on human behavior and earthly events.

Celestial bodies: Stars, planets, nebulae, asteroids, comets, and more.

Astronomy:  The branch of science that studies space, celestial bodies, and the physical universe as a whole.

The zodiac:  The region of the sky that extends roughly 8 degrees north and 8 degrees south of the ecliptic. The orbital paths of the Moon and planets fall within the zodiac belt.

The ecliptic:  The path of the Sun through the celestial sphere over the course of a year.

Zodiac sign:  One of the 12 sections of the zodiac, or the diagram used by astrologers to map the positions of the planets and stars. The twelve zodiac signs are Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces.

Birthday:  The specific day or anniversary of a person’s birth.

Natal chart:  Also known as a birth chart, the natal chart provides a snapshot of the stars, the location of each planet, and the sign of the zodiac and the house it was in at the exact moment of your birth.

Astrological houses:  In addition to 12 astrological signs, 12 houses occupy the natal chart (or natal wheel). Astrological houses represent the various areas of expression in your birth chart. The size and position of each house is dependent upon the time and place in which you were born. The zodiac wheel is based on the ecliptic plane, and the house wheel is based on Earth’s 24-hour rotation around its axis.

Zodiac Wheel
Getty: Romolo Tavani

What Are the Main Systems of Astrology?

Astrology originated in Mesopotamia in the 3rd millennium BCE. Since then, it’s branched off into over 80 schools of thought or systems.

Here are some of the main systems of astrology:

Western Astrology: Western astrology is rooted in the idea that an individual’s personality, behavioral patterns, and future can be predicted based on the position of the planets, the Sun, and the Moon at the time of their birth.

Western astrology uses the 12 zodiac signs to gain insight into a person. Further, it suggests that the 12 zodiac signs can be divided into four elements: earth, water, fire, and air.

Chinese Astrology: Chinese astrology is based on the lunar calendar, which follows the monthly cycles of the Moon’s phases. It associates an animal with each year in a twelve-year cycle. The twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac are the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig.

For example, the year 1980 is represented by the monkey. If this is your birth year, you may exhibit personality traits like humor and creativity. If you were born in 2002, you may be as independent and as hard-working as a horse!

Chinese Astrology
Getty: Natala Krechetova

Vedic Astrology: Vedic astrology, sometimes referred to as Hindu astrology, Indian astrology, or Jyotish, was first used to choose dates for important rituals and sacrifices. Over time, people began to look to Vedic astrology as a source of knowledge about their futures and other personal matters.

Similar to Western astrology, Vedic astrology involves 12 signs: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces. However, the dates that determine each sign differ between Western and Vedic astrology.

Planets: Symbols and Influences

In astrology, the sun, the moon, and the planets all work to shape your personality and tendencies. Each celestial body has a designated symbol and is thought to influence a specific area of a person’s behavior.

The Sun: The ruler of sense of self, identity, and vitality

  • Symbol: ☉
  • Zodiac sign it governs: Leo
  • What it influences within you: Consciousness, self-expression, confidence, creativity

The Moon: The ruler of emotions

  • Symbol: ☾
  • Zodiac sign it governs: Cancer
  • What it influences within you: Mood, your inner world, memories, intuition

Mercury: The planet of the mind and communication

  • Symbol: ☿
  • Zodiac signs it governs: Gemini and Virgo
  • What it influences within you: Your mind, communication style, logic, reasoning

Mars: The planet of action and determination

  • Symbol: ♂
  • Zodiac signs it governs: Aries and Scorpio
  • What it influences within you: Energy, ambition, passion, drive

Venus: The planet of pleasure and beauty

  • Symbol: ♀
  • Zodiac signs it governs: Taurus and Libra
  • What it influences within you: Love, money, relationships, art, love language

Jupiter: The planet of growth

  • Symbol: ♃
  • Zodiac sign it governs: Sagittarius
  • What it influences within you: Luck, expansion, wisdom, hope

Saturn: The planet of work and structure

  • Symbol: ♄
  • Zodiac sign it governs: Capricorn
  • What it influences within you: Life lessons, strength, authority, perseverance

Uranus: The planet of social change and rebellion

  • Symbol: ♅
  • Zodiac sign it governs: Aquarius
  • What it influences within you: Perception shifts, progress, technological advancement, change, humanitarianism

Neptune: The planet of spirituality and magic

  • Symbol: ♆
  • Zodiac sign it governs: Pisces
  • What it influences within you: Imagination, illusions, religion, escapism

Pluto: The planet of creation, death, and rebirth

  • Symbol: ♇
  • Zodiac sign it governs: Scorpio
  • What it influences within you: Transformation, power, death, destruction, regeneration, evolution

How to Use Astrology in Your Daily Life

Astrology is fascinating, but what are its practical applications? Followers of astrology believe that planetary movement, zodiac signs, and natal charts can tell us a lot about our everyday lives.

Here are just a few examples of how astrology can benefit us daily:

  • Astrology can offer insight into relationship issues, dating, and marriage. For example, a couple who has been engaged for a long time might look to astrology to identify their ideal wedding date.
  • You can gain insight into your leadership style and career trajectory with astrology, specifically by looking at your natal chart. The True Node or North Node represents your life path. While it won’t tell you exactly what to do with your life, it can offer information about how to make the best choices to nurture your highest self. Should you work around the clock to build an exceptional career, or should you strive to seek balance between working and spending time with family? Your natal chart can help you make decisions like these.
  • Astrology can be a great self-care tool. It’s easy to feel powerless or out of control amid life’s chaos, and astrology can provide a calming sense of structure. It can offer advice about how to navigate difficult situations and even shed light on what the future might hold. For example, Libras tend to care deeply about their physical appearance. If you’re a Libra who’s an hour late for a date because you can’t choose the right outfit, it might be wise to take a deep breath, be mindful of your innate tendency to get hung up on your physical appearance, and remind yourself to focus on what really matters: enjoying your date!


Who discovered astrology?

The Mesopotamians were not only the first known astrologers, but the first astronomers as well!

Where can I find my zodiac sign?

Check out Zodiac Signs: The Complete Guide, our deep-dive into the 12 zodiac signs and what they represent.

Why does my birth time matter?

The planets and cosmic forces that define Astrology are always in motion. Providing specific information about your birth time and place can lead to a much more accurate astrology report or horoscope interpretation.

Not sure what time you were born? Ask your parents, contact the hospital where you were born, or check out your birth certificate!

Is astrology real?

Astrology attempts to identify a correlation between the positioning of the planets and stars and events that occur on Earth. Because there’s no way to prove the validity of these connections, astrology has generally been rejected by the scientific community.

According to astronomer Andrew Fraknoi in An Astronomer Looks at Astrology, “A system that connected the bright planets and ‘important’ constellations with meaningful life questions was appealing and reassuring.”

Science or not, people have been studying, practicing, and advancing astrology for thousands of years! What do you think? Can you say with certainty whether astrology is real?

To learn more about astrology and other holistic topics, check out our Health & Holistic blog posts including Mariah’s Monthly Horoscopes!