This is good medicine!
"Astrology is just astronomy inside out. Instead of the mind trying to comprehend the universe, we use the universe as a key to comprehending the mind. And strange as that seems, it works. Why? Once again, we don't know. But we can prove it. And so can you. Just learn the language. Take it on faith at first. Absorb the words. Form the sentences. Then judge for yourself."
-Steven Forrest from The Changing Sky
Here's a do-it-yourself course that will get you set up with your own computer program (thank you, Walter D. Pullen!) and some links that have good, immediate answers.
NOTE: All the wonderful written resources and computer programs in the world can't make you into a competent astrologer alone. If you are really interested, please find a gifted teacher to help you get your wings.
I offer Tutoring Packages and in-person classes in Minneapolis... -Saleem
(you should maybe scroll down a bit and explore- there are so many pieces to learning this, and it helps to see what might be most interesting for you first- my favorite tools of exploration to use are Transits)
First, the program:
Click on "Download Files"
Click on "Astrolog 5.40 for Windows" (The DOS and Mac versions are Greek to me- If you're on a Mac- Astrodienst is great)
Download and unzip it
Open the folder, and open "ASTROLOG"
You should get a chart with too much stuff on it
(If you don't get the wheel, but just text, click on "Graphics," "Show World Map"- then go to "Chart," "Standard List," and the wheel will be displayed- this handy trick is also going to be very essential once you start looking at transit listings and aspect info)
To give it some sensible order, click on "Setting" and scroll down to "Restrictions." Uncheck everybody you want to work with.
My personal favorites:
Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, Chiron, North Node
Next, pick the aspects you want to include. Click "Setting," choose "Aspect Settings..." I uncheck everything on the left. The traditional major aspects are the Conjunction, Opposition, Square, Trine, and Sextile.
Next, pick a house system (the 12 orange slices that start at the Ascendant, and can be many different sizes). I like the "Porphyry" house system- it's been the most reliable in my testings thus far. Go to "Setting," then "House System" and take your pick (Placidus and Koch are the two most widely used systems)
Next, set your location: Open "Info," "Default Chart Info," and plug it in.
Time Zone: 6:00
Longitude 93:16W (or you can enter 93w16)
Latitude 44:59N (or 44n59)
Correction For Now: 0
Save the work you've done by going to "File," then "Save Settings..." The file name is "astrolog"- click Save, and go ahead and tell it to replace "ASTROLOG.DAT" (cause you've made a better one! Yay!)
Now, go to "Info" and click on "Chart For Now." You should see your latitude and longitude displayed, and the current placements of the planets and angles where you are! (provided your computer clock is right)
You can check the results of your work by visiting www.astro.com (although you should double check the timezone info- I've recently noticed that they have some daylight savings time errors...), and plugging in the info (provided they have your location in their atlas- you might need to pick a nearby city if you were born in a dinky one)
Explore Helpful Resources
Now you've got your own astrology program to play with! Yay! Now what do all those shapes, lines, and numbers mean? Become more familiar with this new multidimensional language and symbol set, and start putting the pieces together.
Some online Learning Resources that can help:
Some Essential Books:
The best primer that will teach you the art of reading a chart:
The Inner Sky by Steven Forrest
The essential guide to working with transits:
Planets in Transit by Robert Hand
Two of my favorite cookbooks:
Chart Interpretation Handbook by Stephen Arroyo
Easy Astrology Guide by Maritha Pottenger
On understanding the Nodes of the Moon (so important!):
New Moon Astrology, and/or
Astrology for the Soul by Jan Spiller
Yesterday's Sky by Steven Forrest
Back to Astrolog 5.40...
The next step with your new program is to enter birth data of your own, and learn how to save charts for later.
Go to "Info," "Set Chart Info" and plug the birth data in. You don't have to enter the name or location if you don't want to, but you'll need everything else (once again, astro.com can help you check your results, and find your atlas info). To keep a chart you've created, go to "File," "Save Chart Info," name it, and put it in the "ast54win" folder. When you want to open a chart again, go to "File," "Open Chart," and click it!
To print your chart: go to "Graphics," select "Reverse Background." Then go to "Graphics" again, and select "Monochrome" (unless you can tolerate the nearly invisible yellow). You can play around with the size of the chart by making the window the size of your choice with your mouse, then going to "Graphics" and clicking "Square Screen." There are a few other things to try, but I'll let you figure those out for yourself. Once you get it all ready, the "Print" command is under "File."
If you'd like to see a detailed list of aspects between planets, click on "Chart" and "Aspect List." If you'd like a visual (that includes their midpoints), go to "Chart" and select "Aspect Midpoint Grid." To see the orbs of the aspects, and the their positions clearly displayed, go to "Graphics," "Character Scale" and make it bigger.
Working with Transits
Okay- now for the really exciting part- seeing where the transiting bodies are in your chart right now, exploring the comparison charts from different time periods and relationships of your life, and learning about what's happening for you right now and in times to come.
To get the comparison for right now, open your chart, then go to "Info" and click "Comparison Chart." Unless you've entered other info for Chart #2, a bi-wheel will be displayed, with your natal chart on the inside, and the current chart on the outside.
Okay- now- are you ready to have your mind blown? Click on "Animate," "Jump Rate," and select "Hours." Then hold down the shift key and "+" You'll watch the Moon zoom along through your chart, and everybody else moving at their relative speeds. If you don't want to try the animation, you can just click "Shift +" or "-" to advance or rewind the chart a day at a time. This is an incredible tool for understanding how this astro-gizmo works- play with it!
One little glitch is that you can't see the date for chart #2. To do this, you must pause the animation, click on "Info" and "Set Chart #2 Info..." You'll find the details there.
You can also watch the animation of the current chart- which can be even more educational and exciting to boot!
Is your head spinning yet?
Here's a helpful, free resource from Cafeastology.com that will help you learn how to work with transits and progressions, and find interpretations for many of them:
Watch, and get co-creative with transits, they will teach you well!
Watching transits visually is great, but having a list of their timings you can review while away from your computer is key. To procure such a gift, go to "Setting," "Transit Restrictions..." and pick the transiting bodies you'd like to have listed. Also, be sure you want to include all the aspects that are displayed. Conjunctions, Oppositions, and Squares will usually show you most of what you need to know- don't overwhelm yourself with too many aspects when you're working with the faster planets (Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus and Mars- the faster the transiting body moves, the less significant its effects).
Next, go to "Chart" "Transits..." select "Transit to Natal Hits" (provided it's transits to Chart #1 you're interested in calculating). Select the time range, the starting date, and click "OK." If your list is in color (even after toggling the Graphics settings) try clicking on "View" and unchecking "Colored Text." To copy this list in order to paste it somewhere else, go to "Edit" and "Copy Chart Text Output."
It's also great to play with "Transit to Transit" listings to get familiar with what's happening for everybody, learning to attune to celestial activity, and to explore history a bit (the cycles of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto move this world. Explore, for example, the planetary alignments that were happening in the second half of the sixties). You also need to run "Transit to Transit" in order to get a list of planetary ingresses (sign changes) which are important events to become aware of.
Here's a list of the basic traditional dignities and debilities of the planets in the signs. Not included here are the modern rulerships: Scorpio- Pluto, Aquarius- Uranus, and Pisces- Neptune. Rulerships and Detriments are the first thing to learn, Exaltations and Falls are secondary. Make or find a blank of the zodiac, add the planets, and get familiar. This will help you immensely in learning how to flesh out the story of a chart.
Rising and Setting Times
Watch them in real time- see what you notice
Another esoteric delight to share: rising and setting times. Go to "Chart," "Rising and Setting," and bang!- you've got the info for the day. I highly recommend giving special attention to the Sun's times, and playing with the benefics (Venus and Jupiter). The four times each planet hits an angle each day are four windows where you can interface consciously and co-creatively with their energies. Try printing out a font-size 6 listing of a number of days in a row (I fit 2 columns onto each page). Fold this sheet up and put it in your pocket. Take it out and peek every time you're curious- it gets interesting pretty quickly (provided you're looking, and studying, that is!)
Learn your night sky with an awesome planetarium:
Here's another wonderful tool that will show you the night sky in real time, help you locate the planets, get familiar with the movement of the plane of the ecliptic (the zodiac) in relation to the horizon, and learn the constellations! You'll be a wizard of space and time in no time! This program is the most amazing planetarium I've ever seen!
Your new planetarium:
Thanks for taking the time to explore our living sky, and to dig a little deeper!
Innate Wholeness Astrology
by Saleem Adam Wolter
1415 6th St NE
Minneapolis, MN 55413