The purpose of the art of astrology is to better understand oneself and the world around you. In fact, that is the purpose of every esoteric art; to attain a new understanding of the life that you live and what makes it – and you, as an integral part of your life – work they way it does. Astrology explores this understanding through the use of astrological charts: explaining and understanding different parts of yourself, an event, or another object based upon the position of planets and zodiacal signs at certain times. In this way, astrology is unique among esoteric arts, because it not only deals with static interpretation, but also of changing interpretation, by adding a concrete element of time into the mix.
Most commonly, astrology is used in the context of natal, or birth, charts, in order to help discover what astrological forces acted upon someone at the moment of their birth. These forces do not wholly or completely define who you are, and the position of the astrological planets, and even the very evolution of the art of astrology, are merely manifestations of the universe’s consciousness, or animus mundi, in the corpus mundi. The state of the universe at the time of birth affects the shape of that child’s life, expressing itself through biological and social factors, as well as bringing its own addition to the soul into the mix. These factors coming together, as expressed in a natal birth chart, represent the shape of one’s life. A more fundamental aspect of this shape is one’s personality, the baseline of which is laid down by three astrological Signs, and is then modified over the life course. These three Signs are the Sun Sign, the Moon Sign, and the Rising Sign (or Ascendant).
The Sun Sign – the Sign that the Sun was passing through at the time – is the most well-known of the three Signs, and is often used as the primary, defining factor of one’s personality. The Sun Sign defines one’s conscious perception of oneself, one’s purpose, and one’s sense of their own identity. It represents the present, and the progression of the years. It is the realm of the mind. It represents how you manifest to yourself.
The Moon Sign – that which the Moon was in at the time – represents one’s inner self and the subconscious; those parts of ourselves that we are not aware of, and those most private feelings that no one else is aware of. It also represents the past, and the passage of months. It is the part of one’s personality most in tune with intuition and emotions, and is the realm of instinct. It represents how your subconscious manifests itself to you.
The Rising Sign – the Sign that was emerging on the eastern horizon at the time – is also known as the Ascendant, and represents one’s outer personality and appearance; the mask that everyone has and presents to the world. It also represents the future and the passage of days, and represents how you attempt to achieve your purpose. It is the realm of perception. It represents how you manifest yourself to the rest of the world.
In order to truly understand someone’s astrological personality, they must understand these three Signs and how they interact. Common characteristics in any of these Signs indicate that that trait is particularly strong in someone’s personality. In interpreting the three Signs, one looks at the Sign’s meaning, and then at the position it occupies; for example, a Leo as a Moon Sign indicates that one is naturally creative and that they have a sense of pride deep inside of them that they may not be aware of, and are emotionally secure and assured. Leo as a Sun Sign indicates that your drive is to be creative, and your purpose is to display your abilities to the world. Leo as a Rising Sign indicates that outwardly you focus on elevating yourself in the eyes of others, and appear prideful or even arrogant, and are confident and self-assured, and in pursuing your Sun Sign’s purpose you are creative and confident.