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FYI, You're Misreading Your Horoscope! Here's How to Interpret It Like a Pro

Because it’s so much deeper than just your zodiac sign

You may know that Cancers and Capricorns are a bad match, that you shouldn’t make major life-changing decisions when Mercury is retrograde, and that you should check someone’s Venus before taking a relationship to the next level—but that doesn’t mean you’re an expert. (Yet.)

Even with a growing number of apps and social media accounts at your disposal, there’s plenty that separates even the most dedicated pop astrology lovers from the professionals. With all this information (and occasional misinformation), how can you accurately know what the stars are really trying to tell you?

So that’s why I tapped four professional astrologers to share their tips on how to decode your horoscopes more meaningfully. So grab your birth chart (don’t have one? Use a site like Cafeastrology.com or Astro.com to nab your own—you’ll need it to navigate the guide below) and start scrolling.

You’re So Much More Than Your Sun Sign

The first thing most people learn to identify in astrology is their Sun sign. Sun sign astrology is also what most daily, weekly, and monthly horoscopes on the internetfocus on. But no matter how attached you might feel to your chill Libra personality or tender Cancer qualities, your Sun sign barely scratches the surface.

Danielle Ayoka, who runs the account @mysticxlipstick, says women typically feel a stronger tie to their Moon sign—the Moon archetypically represents feminine energy. In your chart, it reflects your deeper, more emotional needs and aspects of your personality. Think of it as the person you are when you’re all alone when writing in a diary. Checking the horoscope of your Moon sign during an emotional or stressful day or week can often be more insightful than checking your Sun sign. And when it comes to dating, Ayoka says sun signs aren’t all that important.

Letting go of basic sun sign readings is the first step toward better understanding the complexities of your horoscope.

Interpretations of Sun signs also tend to be limited when they cling to old stereotypes. Geminis aren’t all two-faced, and not all Scorpios are manipulative. A focus on Sun signs can proliferate what Mecca Woods(@TheMeccanism) calls sign bashing, which can flatten your understanding of astrology.

‘I get frustrated when I see zodiac sign bashing,’ Woods says. ‘A lot of people don’t recognize that we are made up of all the 12 signs, they fall somewhere in our birth chart. Usually it’s a case like if you have a problem with a specific sign, it’s because there’s something they’re trying to teach you.’

Letting go of basic Sun sign readings is the first step toward better understanding the complexities of your horoscope and the behavior of others. As Danielle Arias(@starsmoonandsun) explains, “It’s most important for every person to remember that people are a collection of energies.”

You’re Made Up Of The Entire Solar System

The Sun and the Moon comprise the baseline of your personality. The Sun reflects your general approach to life, while the Moon is your emotional home base. But the Sun and Moon function with the eight planets in the zodiac, and the sign each planet occupies influences a specific part of your character.

Here’s a vague rundown of a few of the things each planet impacts:

Mercury: Communication, Intellect

Venus: Love, Beauty, Money, Values, Exchanges

Mars: Action, Physical Energy, Conflict

Jupiter: Expansion, Growth

Saturn: Effort, Structure, Ambition, Responsibility

Uranus: Reformation, Rebellion, Individuality, Liberty

Neptune: Intuition, Inspiration, Dreams

Pluto: Transformations, Power, Cycle of Life

For example, having Saturn (the planet of boundaries and structure) in Aquarius (which is rebellious and eccentric) can mean you struggle with keeping secrets. But it’s important to remember there are varying interpretations of the planets in every horoscope.

Compatibility Ix Complex

Using astrology to find the perfect match is far from easy. Novice astrologers might evaluate compatibility on a sign-by-sign basis, but cross comparing planets in each partner’s chart could make or break a relationship. While compatible Venus signs are promising, your Moon, Mars, and Mercury placements can really determine how well a relationship will play out over time.

Comparing Moons is a good first step when assessing compatibility. ‘Before anything else, you have to make sure that your Moon signs are compatible, because this is going to be how you are able to connect with a person emotionally,’ Ayoka says.

A lot of people who are married tend to have strong Saturn contacts between each other.

Ever meet someone and instantly connect? A compatible Venus or Mars could be at work. As the signs of romantic love, values, and physical connection, these two planets help us gauge chemistry, but Tess Lee(@astrogrlz) emphasizes the importance of comparing Mercury. ‘How your Mercury works with another person’s Mercury is always key, because communication is a really big thing in relationships that doesn’t get talked about,’ they explain.

Even with a compatible Venus or Mars, an incompatible Mercury could be the difference between a lasting relationship or a one night stand. ‘How you express yourself and how you talk with other people and work through problems is really important,’ Lee says.

Lee adds thats comparing Moon signs to Mercury can reveal how well someone may be able to understand your emotions, and an incompatible Mercury and Mars can lead to conflict. ‘That can lead to a lot of angry arguments and daily dissatisfaction, because Mercury represents our daily lives, the mundane of our life.’

When it comes to longevity, Woods says compatibility between Saturn signs marks lasting companionship. ‘Saturn is known as being the glue between people, and the glue meaning that even when things are challenging or difficult, we’re still willing to put in the work and the effort to make the relationship work,’ she says. ‘A lot of people who are married tend to have strong Saturn contacts between each other.’

At the end of the day, the stars can’t predict everything when it comes to finding love. A relationship always has the potential to turn sour because, as Arias explains, it’s a choice. ‘I may look very compatible with someone,’ she says. ‘But if they have a fear of intimacy, no matter how good our astrology is, it’s not going to work.’

Retrogrades Are Actually Good For You

All the planets in the solar system go retrograde. This means that for us on Earth, the planet appears to be moving backward, instead of going ‘direct.’ Each retrograde influences different aspect of our lives, like Venus retrograde impacting your relationship.

During Mercury retrograde, you want to look at your thought processes and how you think about things.

But the one that gets the most hate is Mercury retrograde. Some believe Mercury retrogrades are the reason behind the world’s woes (also: lost keys), but it’s far from the truth. Retrogrades are a time for reflection, and all self-improvement junkies should rejoice.

‘Things are slowing down and will be more thoughtful, and we have to engage in lessons that are going to help us grow,’ Lee says. ‘I would say to people who are afraid of retrogrades, who think they’re bad, is to be open, because even if there are bad times during Mercury retrograde, there’s always a lesson within that bad time.’

‘I think a lot of time it gives you an opportunity to redo something maybe you didn’t do right the first time,’ Arias says. ‘So maybe the relationship that went south or the disagreement you had with a friend, now Venus is retrograde. It helps us to reassess, reevaluate.’

These inner planets go retrograde at varying times of the year, which means their impact on each sign varies based on the season. For example, in 2018, Mercury will go retrograde in Sagittarius, which means anyone who is a Sag, Gemini, or other mutable signs will feel these affects more strongly.

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You thought. lol be a success story, not a victim. Astrology is a great tool to use to make the best out of any situation. This year, we have a total of EIGHT planets going into retrograde. This is a period in time where a planet appears to be going backwards in the sky. This creates the energy of that planet to go “inward” often creating a time of reflection. That energy pushes you to learn from your past and even sometimes, past lives. This could be anything from learning a valuable lesson to making a realization about you or your life to better help and grow you as a person. To make all of this happen, retrogrades can cause certain things to occur. For example, Mercury is a planet that symbolizes expression and communication. When this planet retrogrades, it screws with those things. So, make sure you double check that you’re sending your nudes to the right person and try to express yourself clearly through communication. Don’t learn the hard way lol. Mercury’s retrograde will be at its peak during the last week of March. I’ll make sure to give tips before each retrograde to hopefully help you through them💖 . . . . . . #astrology #astrologymemes #mercuryretrograde #mercury #communication #retrograde #bruja #bruxa #witch #witchesofinstagram #empath

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‘Mars retrograde is going to affect your ambition, your career, career decisions,’ Ayoka says. ‘During Mercury retrograde, you want to look at your thought processes and how you think about things.’

And while retrogrades are ultimately good, the one thing to watch out for is making any drastic changes when the personal planets are retrograde, which include Mercury (communication), Venus (relationships), and Mars (motivation). ‘If you try to dye your hair or get your eyebrows waxed or something, it just may come out a bit off,’ Ayoka explains. Once a planet goes direct, these big changes, be it a makeover or a breakup, might leave a film of regret.

Transits Can Transform Your Career

Transits are one the most complicated areas of astrology. Retrogrades are one thing, but everything in the solar system, except the Sun, is constantly moving along a path. The movement of planets affects our lives based on what signs they leave and enter, and transits can last years, months, or a few weeks. If you’re lost, that’s OK, but a basic understanding of transits can provide insight into what opportunities lie ahead, especially when it comes to your career.

If there’s like Saturn transit going on, that’s always a good time to get your shit together.

Keeping up with the new Moon is probably the easiest way to see what changes are taking place. Some astrologers like Chani Nichols even focus their horoscopes around the changing Moon. And according to Arias, the 10th house, or Midheaven of your birth chart, can reveal the perfect time to start looking for a new job (a Midheaven is the part of the zodiac that reflects your career).

For example, if there’s a new Moon in Sagittarius, and your Midheaven is in Sagittarius, it’s time to send out those résumés!

Following Saturn (structure), Jupiter (growth), or Mars (motivation) transits can also signal career shifts. ‘If there’s like Saturn transit going on, that’s always a good time to get your shit together,’ Lee says. ‘When it’s transiting through a major house, for example, then that’s always a big time for like career revelations, the next path.’

Zooming out, a much larger transit affecting a lot of millennials right now is Saturn return. ‘It’s that moment just before you turn 30 years old, Saturn returns at the exact same point that it was at the time of your birth,’ Woods explains. ‘Saturn really forces us to mature, buckle down, and get serious about what we want to do and what our future looks like.’

Astrology Is A Tool, Not A Rule

Astrology is not meant to be predictive or prescriptive. It does not tell us what to do, or what will be, but advises on the best possible course of action by explaining what astrological influences are affecting our lives.

Ultimately, Woods says, the power belongs in your own hands. ‘I think people should definitely be aware of what’s going on in the cosmos, but at the end of the day, what really matters is whether or not they’re actually putting in the effort behind the energy,’ she explains. ‘With any horoscope, with any birth chart, with any transit, there’s always the choice.’

Take these tips as a jumping off point for self-learning and mining your own intuition, and you’ll feel like a pro in no time!

This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan US

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