Twentieth-century astrologers, such as Walter Koch, Dane Rudhyar, Michel Gauquelin, Marc Edmund Jones, Evangeline Adams, Lois Rodden, and Noel Tyl have passed the ancient art of astrology down to the contemporary era. The current practice of astrology is carried out with extreme mathematical sophistication, as every minute measurement and aspect of the interactive dance of the stars is scrutinized to produce untold thousands of lines of analysis. The resulting system is a hybrid phenomenon, as classical deities are merged with images drawn on the sky. But typically, astrologers do not receive an education in classical mythology, nor do most mythographers and classicists turn their attention to the "superstition" of astrology. Hence, astrologers are not always in a position to recognize the appropriate deities involved in their art.
An individual's "sun sign," that is, the position of the sun relative to the earth on one side and the constellation along the ecliptic behind it, is only the most basic identifying marker in astrology. To obtain the full picture, a zodiacal "chart" is constructed for each individual, and for specific events, by diagramming the precise positions in the sky of all the constellations and planets at a given moment. Special significance is attached to certain sectors of the sky for the moment of birth, especially the "ascendant" or "rising sign," the constellation on the eastern horizon, and the "midheaven," the zenith point directly above. Whatever sign or planets that happened to be in these sensitive sectors at the moment of birth will be read as having an important influence on that individual's life and character. Also, astrologers are not always aware of their blind spot. All the planets are "read" for their significance except one-the earth, the planet we are riding on while projecting our fanciful images onto the sky. The sun sign is opposite to the placement of the earth, so each sign's opposite, the "earth sign," must also be taken into consideration to yield thorough results in an astrological reading. Similarly, individuals born "on the cusp," between two signs, need to have both those signs' qualities applied in order to see the special combination that person represents.
Signs and Planets, Houses and Elements
The system's orienting point is the date of the vernal equinox, around March 20, when the sun annually enters the constellation Aries, the Ram. This is the first sign, then, and considered the first "house" or sector in the universal system, on which all other charts are then superimposed. Each house will be assigned specific aspects of life. In the case of the first house, these include personality itself and physical appearance. Each constellation along the ecliptic is associated with a specific deity, and through that god's personality elements, a complex of factors is identified. In this way, the first house, Aries, is ruled by Mars, god of war; hence the "warlike" qualities of the Aries personality such as the enthrallment of battle, debate, argument, and competition, and the powerful nature of the Aries in general. Aries is considered a fire sign, as each constellation is correlated with one of the four elements. Fire signs include Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius; earth: Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn; air: Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius; and water: Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces.
The second "house" is Taurus, the Bull, ruled by Venus, goddess of love. As an earth sign, Taureans will have a strong connection to the earth, and the qualities of fertility, sexuality, and sensuality. They are practical and "down to earth," but they can get bogged down, as if "stuck in the mud." The concerns of the second house include physical comfort, money, finances, and support systems. In this sign, the hybrid nature of the astrological system can be seen. The sign is ruled by Venus. But when the image of the bull is added, an entirely different deity emerges, the bullgod, Dionysus, or Osiris of ancient Egypt. This god's complex symbolism must be included for thorough assessment of this type.
The third house is the realm of Gemini, the Twins, ruled by Mercury. Among many other things, this god is a trickster and a thief, lending many Geminis a fascination with the shady side of life. The third house is said to rule over the area of communication of all types, media, short trips, and so on. The image of the Twins adds the characteristic of a dual nature. The sign's air nature links it to the world of intellect and ideas, and shows the connection to birds, flitting about from branch to branch, from subject to subject, as Geminis will often feature the famous short attention span.
The fourth house is Cancer, the Crab, ruled by the Moon goddess, whose phases lend Cancerians a moody, changeable, unpredictable nature. Nurturing, parenting, and issues of home life are the characteristic areas ruled by this house. The crab demonstrates the Cancer's love of hoarding and hiding things, especially feelings. Cancers will typically hate to have anyone else invade this inner sanctum of secrets, trampling on the soft inner parts inside the crab's protective shell.