The word astrology comes from the Latin “astrologia”. Broken down it means: “astro” – star or celestial body, combined with “logia”- the study of theory. In ancient history the word star had a loose definition, which meant it could refer to planets, stars, moons or any luminous celestial object.
For practical purposes we will focus on Western Astrology.
Western astrology is mostly horoscopic, which means it is a form of divination based on the creation of a horoscope for an exact moment, such as a person's birth, in which various cosmic or “heavenly” bodies are said to have an influence. Astrology in western pop-culture is often reduced to Sun or Birth Sign Astrology, which is taken from the individual's date of birth (i.e. the "position of the Sun" at that date).
Western astrology is based on the movements and positions of celestial bodies such as the sun, moon, and planets, which are then analyzed by their positions relative to one another. These are usually considered by their placement in houses or angles, and their movement through signs of the zodiac.
The 12 signs of Western astrology are:
Aries – The Ram – March 21 – April 19
Taurus – The Bull – April 19 - May 20
Gemini – The Twins – May 21 – June 20
Cancer – The Crab – June 21 – July 21
Leo – The Lion – July 22- August 22
Virgo – The Virgin or Maiden – August 23 – September 22
Libra – The Scales – September 23 – October 22
Scorpio – The Scorpion – October 23 – November 21
Sagittarius – The Centaur or Archer - November 22 – December 21
Capricorn – The Horned Goat – December 22 – January 20
Aquarius – The Water-Bearer – January 21 – February 19
Pisces – The Fish – February 20 – March 20
Each sign has traits and attributes that are meant to correspond to a person’s birthdate.
The signs are also correspondent to elemental attributes as well:
Aries, Leo, Sagittarius are all correspondent to the element of Fire
Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn are all correspondent to the element of Earth
Gemini, Libra, Aquarius are all correspondent to the element of Air
Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces are all correspondent to the element of Water
It is curious to note that many modern day astrologers will also state that Pisces, being the 12th house of the Zodiac, is not only a water element sign, but also sometimes called a "storm element sign". This comes from having a bit of each of the other 11 houses within it's make-up, thus producing "storm" qualities.
Other Forms of Astrology
Hindu astrology, more commonly known as Vedic Astrology, uses a different zodiac than Western astrology. In India, there is a long-established widespread belief in astrology, and it is commonly used for daily life. Hindu astrology is founded on the belief of bandhu of the Vedas, sacred scriptures, which is the connection between the microcosm and macrocosm, (as above so below).
Chinese astrology has a close relation with Chinese philosophy which is the theory of the three harmony, heaven, earth and water and very different as compared to "principles" of Western astrology. The constellations of the Zodiac of western Asia and Europe were not used, but the sky was divided into zones defined by 28 asterisms, known as "lunar mansions". It is a laborious system of computing a person’s fate and destiny based on his or her birthday, birth season, and birth hours and is still used regularly in modern day Chinese astrology to divine one's fortune.
(contributed by The Crystal Crone)