Science, Art, & Charts

It’s been a couple of weeks since I posted. The time between the eclipses of 20 December, 2010 and 4 January, 2011 proved to be really intense for me, full of drama, doubt, and decisions. In the midst of it all, I read interpretations of astrological events that I, and others, saw one way, but then my life went another. It made me think deeply about how Astrology works, and why, so I thought I’d share a brief summary with you.

Astrology is part Astronomy. The positions of the planets against the background of the Zodiac are visible, and their cyclical travel has been mapped for many thousands of years, both in the past and into the future. There are tables, called ephemerides, where you can look up the exact degree that Mars, say, will be, on January 12, 2093 or where it was on January 12, 1756. Each planet has its own orbit around our Sun, and the time where one planet’s position is in geometrical alignment with another is known. So that part of Astrology is set. That’s Science.


Table of Planetary Positions

What is not observed, measured, and re-created exactly is just how those planetary alignments are associated with what happens in our lives. That’s the Art of Astrology. The art is of the interpretation of the positions of the planets with respect to us, in relation to what’s happening here, on this beautiful blue-green, third rock from the Sun. Just what does it mean to us on Earth when Jupiter and Uranus are at the same degree of Pisces, etc? In my world of Psychological Astrology, interpretations are based on the archetypes of the human psyche, especially as depicted in the ancient myths. This is Art.

Okay, we’ve got Science (Astronomy, calculated planetary positions) and Art (interpretation of archetypes being manifested in your life). So. The same planets float and travel in the sky above us all, yet one person’s life is very different from another’s. This, of course, has to do with the person. If you’re using an astrological model of who a person is, it has to do with their birth chart—where the planets were the moment the person took their first breath in this lifetime. So not only do we deal with planets today, but also when you were born, and (here’s a fascinating part) what alignments are present between today’s planets and those in your natal chart. Now we have Charts.


Dalai Lama's Transit Chart for 12 Jan 2011 3:33 PM PST

This brings us to Science, Art, and Charts. But here’s the rub. There are many, many astrological events/alignments happening at once. In any given day, the Moon is likely moving from one constellation to another, and other planets might also be leaving one sign and crossing into another. Planets are moving into and out of alignments with each other. Depending on how granular you look at these alignments, there are anywhere from 4 – 13 positions two planets can have with each other, and there are at least 9 planets, 2 luminaries (Sun and Moon), and many asteroids to be considered. Not to mention the Lunar Nodes, the Galactic Core, and other mathematical points that aren’t really objects, but have significance in the astrological model. How do we choose which ones are significant? The combinations are endless…

This week I read one general horoscope (for everyone, not just for my Sun sign or in any way related to my chart) that said that the Moon was in a tense angle with Saturn, which might lead to our feeling the gulf between our feelings and reality. Another said that the day’s Moon was lined up in harmony with the Sun, giving us a balance of yin and yang energy. Both of those were true. Both of those alignments were happening at once: the Moon was quincunx (150º) Saturn and at the same time was sextile (30º) the Sun. Which one do we choose to look at and how do we interpret this mixture of tension and harmony?

With my December Advent posts, I put together a horoscope for this year. It took quite a bit of work to decide which astrological events were the ones to talk about. And, too, deciding on which interpretation was the best for each of those events was intensely interesting. There were transits that could be interpreted as very positive, and those that seemed much more challenging. I know some astrologers who try to find the good in every astrological event, who search for the lesson and the silver lining in the darkest events. Others think it best not to pull punches; if the transit is tough and may show up on Earth as intensity, including violence of feelings or actions, we should be warned so we know how to handle it. So choosing what to talk about and how to think about those transits is a balancing act, at least for me.

I guess the point of this whole posting is that we, ourselves, are the ones that make those choices. We get to choose which glass to look at, and we get to decide if it’s half empty or half full. The knowledge of Astrology can help us understand what glasses are on offer each day, but it’s definitely our choice to pick the ones that feel most important, and interpret them.

What if our interpretations don’t seem to fit the circumstances of our lives? What do we think if we hear from an astrologer that an eclipse will mark the beginning of a fortunate phase, but we have family dramas and flat tires? The best thing I can think to do is study more, see where I’ve missed an interpretation that might fit better with the circumstances. And I look at my chart. Maybe for others, even others with my same Sun sign, that eclipse manifested as fun and fortune. And maybe it still will for me. Or maybe my fortune was in learning how to change a tire, so that I’m now more self-sufficient. Either way I look at it, the lack of my circumstances falling into direct line with astrological interpretations doesn’t make me doubt the astrological model so much as look more closely at the details. I realize that it’s up to me to decide not only how to interpret the astrological events, but how to react and behave in the circumstances.

Many people believe that a positive attitude helps bring positive circumstances into your life. Even astrologers who believe very strongly in talking about challenging transits will tell you that your own attitude toward what life brings you is what informs your experience.  So, whether or not you choose to use Astrology as a tool to understanding what kinds of energies might come up in your life, and the areas of your life in which those energies might be felt, you are the one who chooses your attitudes and reactions to those energies. We are all free to frame our experiences as we wish. My wish, for us all, is that we thoroughly engage with all our experience, live life to the fullness, and enjoy as much of it as we can.

About astronée

Renée is a professional astrologer. She has studied Astrology for 20 years, and is currently doing readings in person, via phone, and via Skype. She takes classes at the Centre for Psychological Astrology in London when she can get there, and teaches her own basic Astrology classes in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is the director of the Café Aquarius Astrology Center in Emeryville, CA, and the astrologer in The OptiMystics, a triple guidance reading partnership. Visit her website at
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1 Response to Science, Art, & Charts

  1. astronée says:

    The ephemeris from January 2010 is from Swiss Ephemeris from The chart of today’s planets in relation to the Dalai Lama’s birth chart comes from my Astrology software (Time Cycles IO series for the Mac). The photo of the colored cut crystal glasses comes from a website called Wholsale Products Poland (

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