Issue No. 21… almost there…

Last one of my backlogged Way of the Stars issue ;-)

On this one: A discussion on the keyword system and a very special  featured planet, The Moon. I wrote this article while I was out of town in Rosario.

The Way of the Stars

An Introduction to Astrology

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

“Lady of the Azure Mantle,
to you we call in the clear, dark Night.
To read our Destiny in your Heart,
these words I offer thee,
in perfect love and perfect trust.”


Merry Meet, my dear friends! This week I write a little about the so called “keyword system” or method I use to describe both planets and signs. Also this week, we take a look at the Moon, a very important key to understand any astrological chart.


The keyword system… or how to translate symbols into words.

Symbols are very hard to define. Entire books have been written trying to define just what exactly a symbol is. And that’s without even trying to consider any symbol in particular.

The main issue here is that a symbol transcends all of our forms of communication. I can talk or write about a symbol, like I have been doing since I started writing this column; I can try to communicate what a symbol is or means by creating one or more visual representations of it… paintings, digital art, photos; I can even describe a symbol with music or shape it in sculpture. And yet, I am no closer to translating the entire meaning and significance of said symbol. Almost every student of magic, the occult and divination has faced this dilemma. The symbol is always “beyond” the sum of all our attempts of definition.

Since we cannot describe a symbol completely (no matter how hard we try and how many tools we decide to use in our quest) we may be in big trouble, for Nature speaks to us through symbols. Nevertheless, somewhere along the line, after the thousands of years of developing human knowledge, someone found out that if you just hint enough of a symbol or idea, the awakened perception of a dedicated student, will complete the picture and convey the the entire symbolic meaning. To put this in more practical terms: given enough training and the right frame of mind, once you begin to learn about any symbol, you get close enough to it to “almost touch it”, and then you really “get it”… even if you are unable to properly express it.

Believe it or not, this is a revolutionary idea. It implies that our intuition and perception are not only “something we have” and use when we perform any divinatory work, they also are our main tool in the learning process that allows us to become skilled interpreters and practitioners. It extends our awareness.

To get to this stage, often someone with an intimate connection to the symbolic idea under study will “lead” us through a series of descriptive words or phrases. These phrases personify and show the basic characters of the symbol. Even knowing that words are less than the complete meaning, with practice and experience the mind becomes able to perceive the inner nature of the symbol. This requires some practice, and of course, something of a daring and unprejudiced mind.

These phrases and words we use to create the link to a complete symbol are like keys that open the doors of awareness. They lead us to the symbol they represent. It is because of this basic idea that they are called “keywords”.

If you have some experience with the Internet, you know that a Google search, for example, returns many more relevant results when you type in precise search words. The mind and subtle substance of our higher selves is similar: the right keywords will trigger a response that is descriptive and characteristic of the symbol we are being exposed to. The more precise the wording of our “search”, more complete is our understanding of the underlying symbol.

We need to remember, however, that keywords are just aids in the writing process. They are not the true symbol, and they are not immutable and objective. They can be quite personal and subject to changes in perspective. They are rooted in our cultural background. But they are, nevertheless, one of the best ways we have to teach with words something that is very elusive to define.

In astrology and many other forms of divination, the most common and modern method of teaching is by the use of keywords. In all the issues of this column, I tried to keep a consistent formatting, with italics being used in sign and planet descriptions to indicate that the word is a keyword. Next week, I will tell you how to create your own quick reference of keywords.

Now, let us look at today’s featured planet…


Today’s planet: The Moon.

In Astronomy:

  • The Moon is the natural satellite of Earth, it moves about us in an elliptic orbit that is inclined nearly 5 degrees with respect to our equator.
  • The Moon is composed mainly of iron, aluminum, titanium, silicon, magnesium, metallic oxides and small quantities of nickel. It is the only body of the Solar System humans have landed and walked upon other than our own planet.
  • The moon is responsible of the tides in Earth’s oceans. It is big an close enough to us for it’s gravity to “pull” and move the huge mass of the seas.
  • It keeps one of her sides constantly pointing to us, so the “far side” is always hidden from our sight. This happens because the lenght of the Moon’s day is the same as the time it takes her to circle around the earth (around 29 days).
  • The Moon is 1738.14 Km in diameter (a little more than a quarter of Earth’s). On average, it is around 380 400 Km away fom Earth’s surface. Gravity on the Moon’s surface is around six times less than the one we feel on our planet.

In myth and legends:

The Moon has been detailed in myth and song since the earliest times of humanity. It should not surprise us, then, that almost any culture on Earth has lunar deities and myths. The changing aspects of the Moon, with their regularity along the year has inspired both legends and practical applications (like lunar calendars and other timekeeping aids).

In many early civilizations, the myths related to the Moon were often paired with those relating to the Sun… they were like parts of a balanced duality. In modern astrology, this relationship remains… as we will soon enough see.

It is also worth mentioning that in many cultures, the Moon was associated with male deities. Our modern identification of the Moon as female comes mainly from our Greco-Roman heritage.


In Greek mythology,  the primordial Moon goddess is Selene, daughter of the titans Hyperion and Theia. Her sister is Eos, goddess of sunrise and the morning. In the earliest times of Greek civilization, Selene played a strong role, often paired with or balanced by Helios, the Sun (see, for example, the Homeric Hymn XXXII [1]). The Romans identified her as Luna.

Later on, with the dominance of Olimpic deities, Selene was largely superceded by Artemis, the Huntress. Artemis is the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and none other than the twin sister of the solar god Apollo. Artemis was worshipped by the Romans as Diana, and identified it also with the early Etruscan goddess Artume.

In Sumerian mythology, the main lunar deity was Sin, also called Nanna or Suen. He is the son of Enlil and Ninlil, widely worshipped in the city of Ur. He is considered also a god of wisdom, and one of the patrons of astrology.  

In Egyptian mythology, the earliest moon deity is Chons, also called Chonsu or Khensu. He is a very primordial deity, probably originating before the pantheon was fully structured. In early writings, he was considered a protector of the wanderers and night travelers. In later times, the role of the moon deity became property of Thoth, in his aspect as Iah-Djehuty. Thoth is also a patron god of astrology and astronomy.


In the astrological tradition:

The same way we equated the Sun with the ego and the conscious self, the Moon is related to the unconscious self of Freud and C. G. Jung.

The sign and house of a chart into which the Moon is located speaks to us about the needs, about how we deal with emotion, with our astral self and with our moods. Whenever you act without thinking, reacting to basic impulses, that is a manifestation of the Moon.

Empathy, intuition, and the kind of quiet understanding one comes to expect from a mother are natural expressions of a well balanced Moon in a chart.

In our daily life, the sign of the Sun is the one we aspire to identify with, but the sign of the Moon is the one that “comes out by itself” when we are not looking. It’s like the “hidden half” of ouselves, that often seems prone to sudden changes in shape and intensity… just like the real moon has a hidden side and changes in aspect.

She rules the sign of Cancer, and is thus connected with motherhood, nutrition, and of course: the more practical sides of femininity.

Because of her relationship to the personal unconscious, the Moon rules the process of dreaming and is closely connected to illusions and hopes. The Moon is the planet that relates to our feelings and the way we express them without words.

The Moon one of the three main keys to access the whole of a chart, and as such, it often receives a great deal of attention when we begin our interpretations. The relationship with the Sun and the Ascendant is often very relevant… are they in complementary or harmonic signs? Or is there an excess of tension between them? It is often said that the Sun is what we want, but the moon is what we need.

There is strong anecdotal evidence that the placement by sign and/or house of the Moon in a birth chart is often connected to the position of the Sun or the Moon of the mother. Extending this idea, the Moon related to all kinds of “mother-things”, like our country (the motherland), religious inspiration and even our college (the so called “alma mater”, mother of the soul).

In charts where the Moon is well balanced and placed, there is strong and harmonic expressin of emotions and feelings, good protective instincts, and a reflexive tendency to care for others.

On the opposite case, when the Moon is not well placed, it can lead to moodiness, overreaction with strong emotion, or even to very cold personalities which cannot express what they feel.


Coming up next week:

Next week I will teach you how to create lists of keywords and perform with them some basic interpretations. Also, we will continue our journey through the personal planets with a visit to Mercury, the quick minded planet of words and ideas. 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.



1 Comment(s)

  1. Pingback by Words of Magick » The Way of the Stars, Issue no.22 on December 19, 2007 11:33

    […] Last week(1), I rambled about the keyword system, and how it helps us to make sense of the symbols we work with in astrology. Today, I want to show you how to create a practical “dictionary” of keywords for your personal use. […]

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