What TF Does Mercury Being In Retrograde Even Mean? And Other Astrology Basics

How to read what’s written in the stars

Millennials have made astrology cool again. Horoscopes used to be something you read after finishing the comics at the back of the newspaper but these days you can’t scroll for two seconds without seeing a meme dragging Scorpios or a reference to Mercury being in retrograde. Astrology is a fun way to get to know more about yourself and others, to help you make decisions, and to discover how compatible you and your crush are. If you’d like to use the stars to get more in tune with yourself but have no idea where to begin here are a few astrology basics to get you started:

Read: This is the University Degree You Should Do Based on Your Star Sign

Your birth chart

Everyone who rules their life by the stars knows the importance of having your own birth chart. It’s kind of like your birth certificate except way more detailed and home affairs doesn’t issue them (I asked). In the olden days making your birth chart would be a whole thing involving paper and pencil (lol, when last). Now you can just enter your birth details into a birth chart website. The exact time that you were born is crucial so WhatsApp your mom to find that out. Once you have your chart you’ll be able to see the position the planets were in when you entered the world.

Your sun sign

In astrology the sun and moon are considered planets (and for all the Pluto fans out there that still counts as a planet too) making 10 planets in total. Even astrological skeptics usually know their sun sign; it’s the one you’ll look for in the newspaper/magazines when reading Linda Shaw’s predictions for your week or month ahead. This is determined by which sign of the zodiac the sun was positioned in when you were born. The sun in astrology represents your conscious mind and your basic identity (while your subconscious and unique complexities are reflected by the moon). People who identify with the traits of their sun sign are often happy and purposeful in life as they are following the ‘boss’ (i.e. the sun) of their personality.

If you’re taking this whole journey of self-discovery through the stars super seriously then you can discover what house your sun is in too (more on ‘houses’ later). This will indicate what makes you (and the millions of other people born at the same time as you) special and unique.

Read: What Your Sign Says About How You’ll Know You’ve Found the One

Your moon sign

While your sun sign is your personality and your general nature, your moon sign shows your deeper side. Where the moon is positioned on your birth chart says a lot about your emotions and how you deal with them. There are two moon positions on your birth chart to look out for: the sign position and the house position. Which sign the moon is in relates to your instincts and innermost needs while the house your moon is in relates to how you get your emotional satisfaction. So if your moon is in Taurus and the third house you are known to have reliable instincts, and are constantly day-dreaming. Think of knowing your moon positions as getting to know who you are deep down.

Your rising sign

So now you’ve got your sun sign (your personality), your moon sign (your emotions), next there’s your rising sign, also known as your ‘ascendant’, which is how others see you. This is determined by what zodiac sign was ascending on the Eastern horizon when you were being born. This can affect your physical appearance, habits and how you present yourself to the world.

The elements

Each zodiac sign also correlates to one of the four elements: earth, air, fire and water. Earth signs (Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn) are grounded and stable, air signs (Gemini, Libra and Aquarius) are all about action (think ‘the winds of change’ kinda vibe), fire signs (Aries, Leo and Sagittarius) are passionate and, you guessed it, fiery, and water signs (Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces) are known for being sensitive and mysterious.

The houses in astrology

Close that ‘QUIZ: We Can Guess What Hogwarts House You Would Be In Based On Your Celebrity Crush’ tab because we’re not talking about that kind of house (although being placed in Hufflepuff obviously says a lot about your personality too). There are 12 houses of astrology, not to be confused with the 12 zodiac signs. While the 12 signs on the wheel of the zodiac are based on a yearly rotation, the 12 houses are based on a 24 hour rotation. At the moment when you were born the planets were all positioned in different houses depending on the exact time of birth. This is why people can share the same star sign but be really different; the time you were born really counts.

Each house is associated with certain traits, for example the first house is associated with appearance while the fifth house is associated with love. By tracking which houses the planets were at in your birth hour you can have an indication of what obstacles and what successes you can expect in your lifetime. This sounds like a big job but all online birth chart generators make it really easy to track.

The significance of the moon phases

If you want to have the power of the lunar cycle on your side watch the moon cycle. A new moon is a good time for new beginnings. Use this time of the month to kickstart ideas and make plans. Anything from starting a new job to starting that vegan diet you’ve been putting off will be off to a great beginning if done during this phase. Next think of a bright and full moon as a time for everything to come to the light. Use this time to wrap things up and ‘harvest’ whatever ideas you planted during the new moon. If you were wondering when is the best time to cash in your Bitcoins it’s during a full moon.

Read: Discover the Best Way to De-Stress, According to Your Star Sign

And finally what TF does Mercury being in retrograde even mean?

All planets are moving around the sun at their own pace. Sometimes earth moves faster than other planets and this creates the illusion that the planet we’re overtaking is moving backwards, or ‘retrograding’. Kind of like when you’re overtaken by a faster train it briefly appears that the train you’re in is moving backwards. So a retrograde period is the moment that the earth is outpacing another planet. According to astrology periods of retrograde are known to be challenging and testing (and a good excuse to use when things just aren’t going your way).

All planets can be in retrograde. The reason that Mercury is the one so often being tweeted about is because it’s the planet of communication, transportation, technology and travel. So when this planet is in retrograde it affects everything that’s dear to us and feels like a personal attack. Although it might feel like Mercury is permanently in retrograde it only happens three to four times a year and it’s advised you prepare for it by backing up files and not making any big travel plans.

Another planet whose retrograde can totally ruin your life: Venus. This is the planet linked with love and relationships and goes into retrograde every 18 months or so. So consult the universe before you propose, move in or get married because when Venus is in retrograde the weaknesses in your relationship really flare up.

Read more horoscopes.

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