WRITTEN IN the stars
Sun, moon, planets and stars – why astrology’s having a moment and how it can work for you.
Words Carolyn Enting
Just as the ancients looked to the stars for guidance, more and more people are looking to astrology in the wellbeing space. Its revival globally is understandable given the turbulent times we live in as people seek reassurance in the now, and future. Past research has found people are more likely to embrace astrology when they are under stress. “One of the things that makes us human is that we are always wondering, searching; we’re always asking ‘why?’, and so certainly in times of challenge or difficulty we’re looking for answers,” says Keep Looking Up! motivational astrologer and life coach, GiGi Sosnoski. “People down through the ages have turned to the holistic or esoteric arts for answers, especially in times of turmoil, because the ‘reality’ of their current situation isn’t offering the support they need. Astrology can give people hope, assurance and a sense of comfort about what’s going on. We’re all seeking answers one way or another.” Astrology also gives you the space to be uniquely you. “People all want to be honoured, respected and seen as individuals,” say Ophira and Tali Edut, best known as The AstroTwins. “It allows you to own and celebrate your quirks, without being judged for having them. Weirdly, it’s a safe space to be yourself and to belong.” Another reason for the recent rise in astrology’s popularity could be technology, according to The AstroTwins: “As technology use grows, people long to be connected to nature, to live in sync with the cycles of the moon.” Not to mention, the advent of apps makes astrology super-easy to access. Speaking of the moon, astrologers believe that the moon’s cycle affects us and our astrological charts. “The moon pulls more than just the rise and fall of our ocean’s tides – as we are made up of water, our bodies too experience a shift, a pull, a rise and fall similar to the tides, so it is natural for us to feel the effects of the lunar phases,” says Emma Mildon, author of The Soul Searchers Handbook: The Modern Girl’s Guide to the New Age World. “In fact, it is an age-old practice to rest, restore or even detoxify the body when it coincides with the moon’s movements,” – specifically, detoxing at the full moon. Mildon admits she tries not to go out on a full moon. Not because she morphs into a werewolf but because she tends to become emotional. Sosnoski elaborates her beliefs. “Full moons can definitely affect us – there’s a lot more emotional tension and intense feelings around a full moon. As far back as 400 BC, doctors and philosophers have attributed behavioural changes to full moons, so it’s not a new concept. Where do you think the word ‘lunacy’ comes from? (Luna = moon). Astrologically, that’s when the sun and the moon are in opposition, so there’s a push-pull energy, an edginess, a restlessness. We are more inclined to experience insomnia, stressful interactions, accident-prone behaviour or over-indulgence. It’s a time of culmination, so things are coming to a head.” Simply explained, astrology is the study of connections between cosmic and earthly events. Your position within the zodiac is your spiritual energy signature, made from the exact date and time of your arrival into the world, and can track your identity, values, family, lovers, experiences, networks, skills and gifts, says Mildon. It’s a blueprint for your life, and it holds clues to help guide you, showing you what your true purpose is and how to embody it. “Every chart is individual,” says Sosnoski. “I look at an astrology chart as if it were a fingerprint or snowflake, each one unique and no two are alike. An astrology chart is your celestial DNA, your life roadmap, a blueprint of your soul’s purpose. It confirms that yes, you are unique, you are perfect within yourself. You are like no other and it gives us wonderful insight into what you can look forward to, what you can develop, what you can learn, the directions you can choose for your life to take and how that can be empowering to you.” New York-born Sosnoski first discovered astrology age 10 and it’s been her passion ever since. She was introduced to the subject by her mother, who wanted to keep her only child occupied while she pursued a career as a Wall Street stockbroker. The signs and symbols of astrology became her playmates, and she gave them nicknames based on their characteristics. She went on to study with some of the top astrologers in America and Europe. However, she found many of them to be too fatalistic, what she calls “the doom and gloomers”. “Aside from gaining deeper understanding of the study of astrology through various teachers, I didn’t feel it gave me a lot of personal support or encouragement – that’s when I started to develop my form of astrology – motivational astrology. This utilises the astrology chart as a tool for greater self-awareness, self-expression and self-actualisation,” she says. “There are astrologers out there who are very much like ‘this is the way life is going to be’ but I believe you have free will. You are the driver of your destiny. Looking at an astrology chart is like looking at a road map. You are free to go down any road in life you choose, but here’s some of the directions that might take you to your destination in a more empowering way.” Today, Sosnoski uses her motivational astrology to help people see their true potential, understand themselves better and get through any blockages to start moving forward. “From an astrology chart, we can see so much about the person’s true persona – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually, as well as the unique talents, abilities and gifts you’ve been given to work with. It’s my joy to share this information with others.” She believes knowing more about astrology and using it in your life is one of the best gifts you could give yourself or another. Don’t know your time of birth? Your astrological chart is a map of the heavens at the time and place you were born and Sosnoski believes it’s part of your soul path and growth, what you’re here to do and how best you reach your potential. “Your astrology chart can reveal so much about what makes you special, what you do that is unique, the abilities and talents you should cultivate. It can show challenges we may face, what we can learn from them and how to navigate them, but there’s no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in my motivational astrology. It’s how we use the energy,” she says. When getting your chart done it’s ideal to know the time of your birth but 50 per cent don’t know and that’s okay, says Sosnoski, she can work around that. There is an abundance of astrology apps and birth chart websites to check out if you’re curious about your own – check out Time Passages, Co-Star, Mystic Mondays or The Pattern. World upside down And what about reading the stars in the Southern Hemisphere as opposed to the Northern Hemisphere, where the zodiac was written in the stars, so to speak? “The positions of the stars on the celestial globe remain the same. However, the constellations in the Southern Hemisphere appear upside-down compared to how they are seen in the North. In addition, the altitude of the paths of stars will depend upon the observer’s latitude,” says Stonehenge Aotearoa cofounder and astronomer Richard Hall. Stonehenge Aotearoa in Wairarapa was built following the ancient knowledge of stone circles and adapted to New Zealand conditions – but that’s not unusual. “Stonehenge is a generic name for stone circles that have lintels,” Hall says. “In addition to the one in England, there is one in Russia and another in Bulgaria. There are, however, hundreds of stone circles throughout Europe, Africa and Asia. Each is unique because each has to be designed for its precise position on the Earth and the surrounding topography.” Hall says they get lots of questions from visitors to Stonehenge about their sun signs and the zodiacs. “At the centre of the Henge is an obelisk. Near noon, on a sunny day, the obelisk casts a shadow on a structure on the ground called an analemma. As the shadow falls upon the analemma it can be read to give the date and the length of the day, which varies throughout the year,” he says. “The shadow also shows where the sun is amongst the stars and the zodiacal sign it is moving through. In astrology, where the shadow falls identifies the star sign of people born on that date. Visitors to Stonehenge Aotearoa are usually surprised to discover that their star sign is not that given in newspapers and popular magazines.” Most horoscope guides give the date range for different star signs based on their northern hemisphere placements – so you might be a couple of days out here in New Zealand. So how does this affect your chart? Not much, according to Sosnoski. “When we look up in the sky, we may be seeing different star patterns and constellations but the planets and signs are what we use in astrology, not the stars or constellations. We use the sun, moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto (and to a lesser extent asteroids: Ceres, Pallas, Juno, Vesta, Chiron, etc., plus the North and South Lunar Nodes), and they’re up there regardless of where you are. What we’re looking at is, for example, the placement of Venus in Capricorn or the Moon in Aquarius and how that impacts your personal chart and forecast.” She is quick to point out that “Planets don’t make things happen; we do! The planets move through different signs at different times, giving us insight on how we can utilise the energies to further our growth, make progress and gain success. By knowing what’s ahead we can better prepare and find the most advantageous times to advance our goals, hopes and desires. It’s up to us to take what we know from astrology and apply that to our own life. The planets are there to give us guidance, empowerment, support. To me, they give worlds of information about our true calling, how we can get the most out of life, how we can understand ourselves better and how we can manoeuvre around difficulties and emerge stronger for it. Astrology gives you beautiful insight into someone’s soul, and that is the gift of astrology, but you need to be very gentle, careful and loving with that. The whole point of my motivational astrology is supporting the person, validating the person, encouraging the person, appreciating the person’s uniqueness and helping them to see their true potential.” The science According to modern science, astrology doesn’t stack up. When Richard and Kay worked at Carter Observatory, it was all about astronomy, not astrology – “everything had to be strictly science”. But whether it’s scientifically proven or not, looking to the stars can be a whole lot of fun as well as mystifying. Since she was a little girl, Sosnoski has been looking up and been in awe of the magnificence, beauty, splendour and power of the universe. She loves the feeling of looking up and being amongst the stars – which feels like “home”, she says. “It’s also a beautiful experience, especially here in New Zealand where the sky is so vibrant and clear,” she adds. “There’s an old adage that says, ‘as above so below’. From the beginning of time we’ve looked to the heavens for guidance. Throughout civilisation – the Egyptians, Romans, Chinese, Mayans all watched the phases of the moon to know when to plant and harvest their crops. The North Star has always been sought out by sailors to reach their destination. In fact, the Māori navigated to New Zealand from Polynesia by just observing the night sky! In spite of all the scientific technology, the stars will always be a go-to for explorers and to this day are used when there is equipment failure. The sky, stars and planets have always been an important tool for our personal navigation and will always remain as such.” Sosnoski has high hopes for the future. “I do believe we’ll come out of this time of challenge much stronger and more compassionate, even if there is a divisive energy going on right now. That is what I believe some of the astrological energies are pointing to going forward.” Planets explained A guide by GiGi Sosnoski The sun Everyone knows their sun sign – these are the 12 classic signs of the zodiac – but often not what the sun actually represents in your astrology chart. The sun rules your will, your ego, your vitality, your leadership ability, your sense of identity and your creative life force. Many believe it also represents our true purpose in this life. It signifies your ability to express yourself as an individual and where you can shine. Where the sun is positioned in your astrology chart (based on your date, time and place of birth), lets us know the areas of life where you can sparkle! It is influenced also by the astrological connection your sun makes to the other planets and points in your chart, so again, it is unique to YOU! One person’s Aries sun is not necessarily like anyone else’s. It takes approximately one month for the sun to change zodiac signs. Leo is the zodiac sign ruled by the sun – epitomising all that glorious vibrancy with natural-born leadership and charisma. The moon The moon in your chart lets us know how you feel, how you react, what you need for your emotional security in life. It represents our nurturing urge, emotions, instincts, moods, receptivity, feelings. It’s all about our emotional and instinctual energies and how we express these. The sign your moon is in (based on your date, time and place of birth) and where it’s located in your chart shows where you are emotionally invested and where you seek comfort and security. The moon can also show issues surrounding our mothers, home, family and upbringing. Where the sun in your chart acts, the moon in your chart reacts. It takes about two and a half days for the moon to change zodiac signs. The moon governs the sign of Cancer, characterised by sensitivity – Cancers tend to be loyal souls, with a nurturing nature. New moon New moons are like new year resolutions. We get a chance to start again! When we have a new moon (once a month), it signals beginnings and is the go-ahead for us to implement our plans, projects, dreams and to manifest the things we want for our future. It is an auspicious time for initiating events. Where the new moon is moving through your astrology chart gives us a great deal of information on how it will affect you. There is a different sign each month for each new moon, offering us insight into how we can best use the new moon energy. The next new moons to work with are 12 April and 12 May in New Zealand. There are loads of suggestions for performing new moon rituals to help you focus on your goals – Google “Oprah Daily new moon rituals” for an extensive list. Full moon Astrologically, the sun and the moon are in opposition on a full moon. Around the full moon (occurring once a month), things tend to come to a head. Full moons are times of culmination. Things are somewhat emotional, there are deep feelings and restlessness. Anytime we come into the full moon, that is your celestial signal to release what no longer is supportive, helpful or desirable for you to move forward. It’s a good time to weed out, let go and release negative energy. Each month the full moon is in a different sign, which gives us different energies to work with. The AstroTwins have loads more advice at astrostyle.com/new-fullmoon-rituals. Mercury Mercury is the planet that rules all travel, communications, movement, interactions and thought processes. Where Mercury is located in your personal astrology chart tells us about your intellectual urge, how you express yourself, your reasoning ability and your awareness. It represents knowledge, information, your nervous system and shows where and how you best communicate. Mercury takes about two weeks to change signs but goes retrograde three to four times a year. Both the quick-witted, loquacious Gemini and analytical, observant Virgo are ruled by Mercury. Mercury retrograde Mercury retrograde is usually known for communication mishaps, travel delays, mechanical breakdowns or a time of flux. This “backward” motion occurs three to four times a year. But I don’t believe it is something to be feared. A Mercury retrograde period can be an advantageous time to re-focus on our plans, thoughts and self-expression. It’s a good occasion to consider what needs reworking, re-creating or improving in our lives. Use the retrograde cycle to release what’s no longer valid and open instead to new possibilities. As for the usual retrograde reminders: be prudent when it comes to agreements, contracts, negotiations, travel arrangements and your interactions. Change is in the air, so allow extra time, double-check details, be patient and most of all, be kind to yourself and others and keep harmonious feeling flowing forward! Venus Venus rules love, pleasure, creative expression, our values and relationships. We look to Venus in our charts to understand how we view intimacy and our attachment to others. From the position of our Venus, we can learn about how, who and why we love. It is our social urge, all things regarding art, beauty, charm and how we attract others. It can show where there is harmony, appreciation, joy and bounty in our lives. It can also represent finances. The cycle of Venus is four to five weeks to change signs and Venus goes retrograde every 18 months. Both stable, sensualist Taurus and beauty-loving, charmer Libra are ruled by Venus. Mars Mars represents energy, action, desire – it is the warrior planet! It shows how we express anger and aggression, our survival instinct and our vitality. Where it is located in our chart tells us about our drive, the assertion of our will, force, power and competitive edge. It highlights where we direct our energies and how we express our temperament. Named after the Roman god of war, Mars symbolises the get-going, get-it-done, get-ahead focus in our lives. Mars takes six to seven weeks to change signs and retrogrades every two years. It governs the fiery, go-getting sign of Aries. Jupiter Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, represents benevolence, optimism, growth and prosperity. It rules areas of expansion in our lives and our aspirations, philosophy, religion and higher-minded awareness. In our charts it can indicate where we can find enrichment, luck, good fortune and growth. In general it can represent ease, sometimes indulgence or laziness, but mostly the appreciation of joy and plenty in our life! Jupiter takes about 12 to 13 months to change signs and goes retrograde each year for about 120 days. Jupiter governs the freedom-loving, truth-seeking sign of Sagittarius. Saturn Saturn is a somewhat serious planet. It rules hard work, discipline, responsibility and sometimes challenges. It lets us know where there may be restrictions, limitations or a need for more patience and resilience. But although Saturn usually gets a bad rap, it is an important planet, as it can represent our ambitions and efforts paying off. It seeks stability, structure and security – it wants to do things by the book, be detailed, punctual and conscientious. It can be the teacher, the authority figure. Where Saturn is in our chart can show where our ambition lies and how we can triumph over challenges. Saturn takes approximately two and a half years to move through each sign. It goes retrograde each year for about 140 days. Saturn governs the wise and responsible sign of Capricorn. Uranus Uranus is a quirky planet. It’s tilted so far on its axis that it basically orbits the sun on its side! It represents the bohemian side of ourselves – it rules rebellion, innovation, dynamic change and doing things in its own time and in its own way. It also symbolises technology, all things progressive and futuristic, the unexpected, disruptions, out-of-the-box thinking and new discoveries. Where Uranus is in your chart shows us where you might have unique talents or abilities. A strong Uranus in a chart can also indicate someone who is eccentric or is a nonconformist or likes to do things for shock value. Uranus takes about seven years to move through each sign and goes retrograde every year for around 150 days. Aquarius is the individualistic sign connected to Uranus. Neptune Neptune is the planet representing our dreams, intuition and mysticism. It also rules spiritual enlightenment, creative and artistic inspirations and our imaginations. Neptune can also show areas of our lives where deception, disillusionment or apathy can occur. It’s mysterious, has difficulty distinguishing between fantasy and reality and can express itself in vague or “otherworldly” ways. Neptune epitomises poets, painters, musicians and dreamers and their escapist tendencies. It has an affinity for nature, holistic pursuits, the sea and secrets. Neptune takes about 14 years to move through each sign and goes retrograde every year for around 150 days. Pisces is the imaginative, creative sign connected with Neptune. Pluto Pluto, our outermost planet, takes 14-30 years to move through each sign and goes retrograde each year for about 185 days. Pluto is all about transformation. It is the phoenix rising from the ashes! Pluto represents metamorphosis, rebirth, major shifts. Pluto is a very powerful part of our charts and represents issues of power, control, destruction in order to create and regeneration. It’s aligned with the intense and mysterious sign of Scorpio, which reminds us that to bring about change, we must let go of the past. g