For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a realist, strictly adhering to all things science with no time for the spiritual, otherworldly, or unexplainable. But last year, while I was dealing with some major adulting drama, I started listening to That’s So Retrograde, a podcast dedicated to all things natural wellness, covering topics like meditation, aura reading, and psychic abilities. The hosts, Stephanie Simbari and Elizabeth Kott, chat about life and all things cosmic. Their astrology talk is fascinating and felt so relevant to everything I was going through in 2016. These discussions began to give order to my seemingly chaotic life. I found myself exploring astrology on my own time, and I began incorporating what I was learning into my everyday life.

Watching ocean,sea horizon with a Moon eclipse. astrology Stargazing, Sun stars

Even though I felt really great about setting new moon manifestations, I was still super confused about what all the signs, planets, and houses represent, and even more lost as to how these separate elements combine to form an interrelated whole. To get a grasp on the basics, I attended an astrology foundations course taught by Sarah Provenzano, the founder of the local astrology guild. She’s been studying under professional astrologists for about four years and wanted to share what she’s learned in an easily digestible, super relatable format. I learned a ton and she answered so many of my basic questions — and helped raise so many more that I can’t wait to explore further. Below, I’ve outlined the four biggest lessons I learned about understanding the basics of astrology.

Your natal chart is your life’s blueprint

Natal charts, or birth charts, are extremely important in astrology, as learning to read these birth blueprints form the basis of the discipline. By calculating your birth day, birth time, and birth location, you can map out your natal chart, which pinpoints where every planet and constellation was positioned in the sky at the exact moment you were born. From that specific map, astrologists believe they can infer your personality characteristics, your life’s trajectory, and the kinds of experiences, ideas, and things that will be important to you.

You’re more than just your sun sign

There’s a lot more to your astrological make-up than just a simple sun sign (AKA your zodiac sign, like Pisces or Virgo). To start, there’s your ascendant sign, which is how people perceive you, and your moon sign, which identifies your emotional, inner core. And that’s to say nothing of the meaning of the location of each planet in the specific houses in your particular birth chart. Your chart is an inconceivably unique combination of elements that’s incredibly complex. Basically, I learned that we’re all special snowflakes after all!

A woman watching the sunrise over a lake.

Horoscopes aren’t really the end goal

While astrologists can absolutely divine future obstacles, joys, patterns, and themes from your natal chart, your horoscope isn’t the point of understanding your chart. After taking this class and realizing how deep and expansive your natal chart really is, self-awareness is the end game of studying astrology. By exploring the multi-faceted aspects of your chart, you’re able to better grasp an honest, outside perspective of your personality that can inform how you see yourself and how you interact with others.

It’s an art — and a science

Okay, I know astrology isn’t actually a science (don’t come for me, NASA!), but after spending an entire day learning about what each planet, house, and sign means and being shown the basics of chart reading, I was left with more questions than I had coming into the class, since astrology is such a complex practice to master. There are angles, positions, degrees, transits, and a whole host of other technical aspects that require astronomical, mathematical, and historical knowledge to fully understand astrology. If you’re intrigued by astrology and how this planetary phenomena relates to your personality, there are years and years worth of info to study.

For me, that’s the best part. Learning how to interpret a natal chart is like learning a language; you start out grasping only the basics, but as you go, you’re able to conduct fuller, more meaningful conversations. Plus, these astrological musings are pretty damn applicable to setting goals, interacting with others, and finding your true self. I plan to keep learning more about the cosmic forces surrounding my birth and major life events, and in turn, gain a deeper understanding of myself.

Are you interested in learning more about the particulars of astrology? Tweet us @BritandCo and tell us what you’d like to learn!

(Photos via Getty)