The Way of the Stars (Issue 15)

Merry meet, my friends!

This is the 15th. issue of The Way of the Stars, my weekly column at The Daily Spell.  On this one, I show you the parts that make up a basic birth chart. There is also a “nice” description of one of the most difficult signs of the zodiac…. Scorpio.

The Way of the Stars

An Introduction to Astrology

By Pablo Dotro(*) – The Mage of the Many Shadows.

“In the Stars, Destiny is written,
 and to Her we call upon to read it.

In your name I write these words,
my Lady Urania, in praise and love.”


Merry Meet my friends! This week I will show you what the key elements of a birth chart are. I will name and describe some of them, so we can begin to “look” at a chart. Also, I give you a description of one of the heaviest/darkest signs of the zodiac, Scorpio.


Anatomy of a chart.

Charts are great tools. They provide a visual way to understand the astrological landscape of a person or event. Like the rest of astrology, charts have evolved in their nearly five thousand years of existence. Modern, circular, charts are a relatively new development, but they nevertheless are loaded with tons of symbolic information. I have prepared for you a sample chart here(1), with purple colored areas showing the more important parts of it.

For simplicity’s sake, I’ve chosen a very “basic” and simple chart style, the “web default”’s birth chart (for those of you who are curious, it is my own chart). It has all the important elements that an astrologer would use to interpret it. Let’s take a look at it, shall we?


1: Birth data.

These are the basic details of the person or event the chart applies to. In this case, it shows gender, name, date and place of birth (notice that the geographic coordinates are included), and the time of birth expressed as local time (time), UTC/GMT time (Univ. Time) and sidereal time (Sid. Time). The time and geographic accuracy are of great importance.


2: Zodiac Wheel.

This is the “heart” of the chart. The zodiac wheel depicts a graduated circle representing ecliptic and signs, and upon it shows the house divisions and the planets. There are many different styles for drawing this wheel… it is often a marketing point for astrological software. I, however, tend to prefer the simple ones that show the planets and houses properly scaled and positioned.’s default and “astrodienst” styles are quite good at this.

The colored lines that cross the inner circle are called “aspect” lines, and show the angular relationships between planets and other important chart points.


3: Element and rhythm count.

This simple grid shows into which element/rhythm each chart point is placed. There are a few astrological techniques that make use of this information, and it also allows for a “quick look” at which elements and rhythms are more prevalent on the chart.


4: Positions.

The planet and house position listing is simply a list of where in the zodiac each important chart point is placed. It complements the graphic display of the zodiac wheel, often providing more accurate position data (i.e. second of arc accuracy). It is often very useful when the chart has clusters of points very closely spaced in its wheel.


5: Aspectarian.

This part of the chart is quite important to astrologers. It is a bi dimensional grid shows the relationships between planets. It essentially duplicates the information shown by the lines in the wheel and orders it in an easy to read format. Each cell in the grid is either empty (no relevant angle) or has an aspect glyph (representing the angle), a number (called orb, the distance from the exact angle) and an “A” (Applying) or “S” (Separating) showing if the planets are getting close to the exact angle or are separating from the exact angle. We will learn to “read” it later on, so don’t worry if it looks bizarre to you ;-)

As we progress in out journey, we will learn how to do some basic interpretations on simple charts, and how to extract interesting practical information of charts like this one.


Today’s sign: Scorpio

Scorpio is one of the most difficult signs in terms of experience. It is the fixed sign of water. In Libra we related to others on an intellectual and conventional level. Scorpio brings a whole new set of interactions to life. Scorpio takes in the memory, emotion and depth of Water into new heights… or should I say depths? Indeed, Scorpio is the sign most concerned with getting to the bottom of things, it loves secrets, and will hunt them with a passion that defies belief. It is also the most hermetic of the signs… it is as prone to keeping secrets than it is to uncover them. It is enigmatic and magnetic. People with a strong Scorpio are quite deliberate, and can appear at times as very cold and controlled, while also being the most passionate of the entire zodiac.

Scorpio is the home of two very purposeful planets, Mars and Pluto. Both are concerned about power, but this is not the raw Martian energy of Aries… it is “bottled up”, hidden and controlled by the heavy and concentrated energy of Pluto. In here, the cutting edge of the warrior’s sword is turned into the surgical precision of the surgeon’s scalpel.

Sometimes, people with a strong Scorpio will be “the power behind the throne”, controlling situations in ways that are fundamentally hidden from sight. But in any case, visible or not, power is important for Scorpio.

Pluto is the God of the Dead, and so Scorpio is very much related to death. From a seasonal point of view, Scorpio happens to be in the midst of autumn, when the trees are nearly bare, and the ground is decomposing the dried leaves under cold rains.

In life, this evokes the moments of deep crisis, when our own identity seems to die. Scorpio is capable of learning out of those moments. Since it has great experience in them, it can detect the seeds of future crisis in itself and others… and that gives it a tremendous edge when using this power… Scorpio is able to tell you what you do not want to hear about yourself, and will do so in the exact time when it will have the greatest effect.

Scorpio is also the sign of sex. In sex, our identity is fused with that of our partner… it is a “little death” that creates a deep bond. Few things are more “Scorpio-like” than this.

Why do we need an archetype as dark as this on the Zodiac? Well… because it is in our nature to have two sides, because at some time in our lives, we need to let go… and because for life to happen, death needs also to exist.

In our journey through the zodiac, the stage of Scorpio allows us to transform those things that hurt us into a productive and constructive part of our consciousness. Scorpio symbolizes the potential for this transmutation.

As with every powerful image, Scorpio can use this potential for evil or good. The lower aspect of the archetype gives vindictive/vengeful personalities, control freaks, tyrants, “The Godfather”-like attitude and power mongers… while the higher aspects of it can manifest as a great spiritual healer, or the archetype of the alchemist and mediaeval magickian, performing outstanding feats of willpower and transformation. It can also show itself in good researchers and investigators, psychiatrists, and those who delve into the depths of the mind.

As the archetype of death, Scorpio is clearly a transit point in the zodiac. It marks a “before” and “after”. All the disconnected aspects of the self are either integrated or ejected when the scorpion shows the strength of its sting. An experience that no one can forget.


Coming up next week:

Next week we well take a closer look at the chart wheel, learning how to spot the three more important points: Sun, Moon and Ascendant. And of course, the next sign in our journey is Sagittarius, which will take us from the depths of the dark Scorpio into the shiny cusp of a higher awareness. Remember you can read this one and all past columns in my blog(2).

(*) Pablo is an advanced astrology student at the Centro Astrológico de Buenos Aires (, a First Degree student at Witchschool, and has extensive experience in Wicca, ceremonial magick, computer science, the Internet, physics and chemistry.




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