Astrology 101

Astrology 101

We’re all at least somewhat familiar with our zodiac sign – but how much influence does it really have on our lives? It arguably depends on your perspective. On one hand, you have some who will blame communication woes or technical glitches on Mercury’s retrograde. On the opposite end, you’ll have those who roll their eyes at the mere thought of planets influencing, say, a computer meltdown.


I’m definitely in the former camp: I’ll plan a move around the moon’s cycles, I’ve thought twice about dating someone whose zodiac sign is incompatible with mine, and I make lunch for our office on New Moon or Full Moon days. Although I do acknowledge that sometimes a bad day is just a bad day (and not the cosmos’ fault), I firmly believe in astrology and its influence over our lives.


In fact, I find the entire concept grounding and connective – particularly in today’s distinctly “connected” but utterly disconnected environment. In many ways, we’re out of tune with nature’s cycles and, consequently, with each other. City lights mask the stars’ glow; Snapchat exchanges or Instagram posts replace deep, meaningful conversations. We’re more connected than ever and we’ve never felt so darn alone.


This is exactly why I find astrology fascinating. Situating yourself in relation to the planets and stars allows you to see the world through a broader, more inclusive lens. It makes sense that if the moon affects the ocean’s tides, it would also pull on our human systems. Looking into astrology has served as a beautiful reminder that who I am is intricately connected to the world, and others, around me.


Below, I’m breaking down a few key astral terms to help shed light on the dark spots – and, in the process, am hopefully converting some skeptics.


Sun Signs, aka your Zodiac Sign

Your Sun Sign is what you normally think of as your horoscope, aka the alignment of the planets at the time and place of your birth. The Sun passes through a full 360-degree orbit, and astrologers have divided this circle into 12 different sectors, with your sign corresponding to where the Sun was at the moment of your birth. You sun sign is indicative of your outward attitudes representative of both your mind and ego.


My Sun Sign is Leo. It’s the fiery, dramatic, confident one. Growing up, I was a quiet, contemplative introvert. I always felt a little odd knowing that my sign was representative of a more domineering character. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve found myself increasingly more aligned with my Leo zodiac. I’m not the hotheaded lioness some think of as the Leo, but I am confident, warm, loyal, and (as much as I don’t always like to admit it), deeply crave affection and attention.


Leo – bold, confident, a natural-born leader

Moon Sign

Your Moon sign refers to the Moon’s location at the time of your birth. It’s said that your Moon sign is associated with deep emotional needs, and is more aligned to your soul than your Sun Sign. You can figure out your moon sign by filling out a birth chart (you can find these on most astrology websites – I like this one). Figuring out that my moon sign is Gemini has helped me to clarify some of my unconscious desires and needs, and has shed some light on how to effectively pacify myself and communicate with others. A Gemini Moon is versatile, charming, and airy. It’s helped me understand my habitual need to change my surroundings, and the difficulty I have in sticking with one thing in all areas of my life. The inner restlessness I tend to be plagued by feels more manageable when I see it through the lens of the movement-inclined quality of the Gemini moon.


Gemini – versatile, charming, airy


The New Moon

Physically speaking, the New Moon is the phase when the moon is almost exactly aligned with the sun. It’s basically when the moon looks like a little crescent. When it comes to astrology, the New Moon symbolizes an opportunity for new beginnings. I think of it as a moment to establish (or reset) goals and new intentions and time to clear out the gunk. I always take a few minutes to sit with myself on the night of a new moon to quiet my mind, think about what’s meaningful, and create plans for the coming days.



New moon = new beginnings


The Full Moon

Physically, the Full Moon is just that – a full moon. It’s a time when literally and metaphorically everything becomes illuminated. Emotions magnify during the full moon, and there tends to be a huge surplus of energy – it’s a good time to celebrate, to dance, to allow yourself to get a little wild. This excess in emotion may make you feel a bit exhausted, or, oppositely, it may make you want to jump for joy. Regardless of what I’m feeling during a full moon, I find it’s helpful to be super kind to myself. I point my thoughts towards the positive and find it great for physical activities like yoga. 



Full moon = everything is clear (and it’s time to party)

Mercury Retrograde

Mercury is the planet closest to the Sun. A few times a year, its orbit is a bit faster than the Earth’s, which makes it appear as though it’s going backward. As a planet, Mercury is associated with communication and commerce. When Mercury goes into retrograde, then, it can adversely affect some elements of our lives. It’s recommended to avoid things like signing contracts, starting a new journey, or embarking on a new endeavor in Mercury Retrograde. But, ya know, take it as you will.


Mercury retrogade = things get weird


If you’re interested in looking more into the world of astrology – here are some resources:

All images: Flickr Creative Commons

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