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  • Writer's pictureLaura Perry

What's your sign? A quick astrology exercise for everyone

Astrology** is a fascinating practice that's been around in one form or another for millennia. I'm old enough to have learned to draw charts by hand on paper using a printed ephemeris as a reference. Boy was I thrilled when they came out with astrology software!

A lot of people think astrology is just that little paragraph in your horoscope in the newspaper - in other words, your Sun sign. That's far from all there is to it, but it can seem quite complicated if you're new to it (or even if you're not!).

So if you've never really delved into astrology, or if you'd like a different way to look at some of the components of your chart, keep reading for a fun little exercise. No experience required.

All you'll need is your Sun, Moon, and rising signs. If you already have those, skip down to the paragraph that begins with "These three factors..." If you don't know them, you'll need to generate a birth chart. Don't panic - it's pretty easy. Just read on.

Here's a quick way to get a birth chart: AstroDienst's free charts. They're easy to create, and you can save and/or print them as you like. If you're a total newbie, start with their "Chart Drawing, Ascendant." Just enter your time, date, and place of birth, and you're set. But if you know a thing or two about astrology, their "Extended Chart Selection" offers options such as Whole Houses (my preferred style) and other choices.

Once you've created your chart, you're going to look at three things.

You probably already know the first one: your Sun sign. That's the zodiac sign (constellation) that the Sun is in on the chart. This is the one you look up in the infamous horoscope section in the newspaper, the one you can also figure out simply given the month and day of your birth. If you want to find it on your chart, you'll need to find which house (pie-slice section of the wheel) the Sun is in, then look to see which zodiac sign is labeled on that house. Look at the list below the chart if you're having trouble finding it on the wheel.

If the astrological symbols on your chart are hard to read, again, don't panic. It's not a secret code, just a symbol set. Find out the meaning of the planet and constellation symbols here.

Now find the sign the Moon is in on your charts. Your Moon sign is the zodiac sign (constellation) the Moon is in on the chart. Just like with the Sun sign, if you're having trouble finding it on the wheel, look at the list below.

Then find your ascendant, a.k.a. your rising sign. It will be the constellation label on the first house (one of the numbered "pie slices" on the wheel, the one with a "1" in it). It's the zodiac sign (constellation) that was coming up over the horizon at the moment of your birth.

These three factors - your Sun sign, Moon sign, and ascendant - are the three most basic components of your chart.

Of course, the planets and transits and other stuff are also important, but they're not necessary for what we're doing here. If you'd like to learn more about astrology, check out the workshops and blogs of Kelly Surtees and Austin Coppock. They know far more about it than I ever will.

What I'm offering you here today is something you can do yourself: a little creative activity and (maybe) personal growth based on these three components of your birth chart.

There are any number of different ways to interpret how these three work in your life, from id/ego/superego to inner self/outer self/core identity and more. Those details aren't necessary for what we're doing here, but you can certainly play around with them if you like.

You're probably already familiar with the basics of the zodiac and what the signs mean on a general level. But here's a good explanation of them all - air, fire, water and earth signs - that could come in handy.

Each sign has positive and negative characteristics and some that might be considered neutral. Look at the ones for your Sun, Moon, and rising signs and see what rings bells for you - characteristics that you recognize in yourself, whether or not you like them. If you don't like what you see, how would you change it? Which other characteristics of that sign would you rather have? Can you see yourself that way? Which ones do you feel are the real you, the best you?

Now that you've looked at the possible characteristics for all three (Sun, Moon, and rising sign), come up with a key word or phrase for each one that you feel embodies who you really are or how you would like to be. You can change up the order, if you like, to come up with your own little slogan.

You could focus on who you feel like you really are, deep down, that you would like to affirm and manifest in the world. Or you could focus on the best traits of each sign, characteristics that you'd like to expand in your life (so that maybe you'll leave some of the less great ones behind). Or some combination of the above.

Your chart tells you what you started with, but you're not stuck there. Astrology is about figuring out where you can go from here. Finding your strengths. Working around your weaknesses. Please don't ever let me hear you using an aspect of your chart as an excuse for not growing and moving forward. You're better than that.

I'll share what I came up with the other day for my own chart, which is what inspired me to write this post. My Big Three are Sun in Sagittarius, Moon in Capricorn, and Aquarius rising. I turned the order around to ascendant, Moon, Sun for my little "poem about me" that helps remind me of the balance I'd like to keep in my life:

Head in the clouds (Aquarius)

Feet on the ground (Capricorn)

Fire in the heart (Sagittarius)

What will your Big Three help you write about who your best self?

**Please note that there are several major types of astrology. What I'm talking about here is often called western or tropical astrology, and is the most common type used in the West. Sidereal astrology and Vedic astrology are two other popular systems. I had a Vedic chart drawn years ago and was amazed by its accuracy, but I haven't studied that system so I'm not qualified to explain it.

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