Glenn Perry's 
astrology from a psychotherapist's viewpoint

Dear Doctor Perry, 

I am an eighth grader doing some research for my science fair project. I want to know how horoscopes affect people's 
lives. For example, if someone reads their horoscope in the morning, I want to know if they change their life in any way to fit their horoscope. What if they do? What if astrology affects how their life is going? What if some big detail in their life is a detail in their horoscope? Please, tell me what you can about this topic and e-mail me back as soon as possible!
Dear Ali,

The first thing to understand is that Newspaper horoscopes are not real astrology. They're more for entertainment than for guidance. In the field of astrology, there is disagreement about this. Some astrologers think that newspaper horoscopes are Okay because they introduce people to astrology. But others think they mislead the public into thinking that astrology is just superficial nonsense and that only gullible people believe in it.  

The problem is that newspaper horoscopes imply that signs are people - that is, the whole of the person is reduced to just the Sun sign, e.g., "You're a Libra. Today is a good day for socializing."  This kind of advice is based on the idea that a person's day can be predicted by seeing how all the other planets relate to the sign Libra on that day, but this is highly questionable. It's like trying to determine the state of a person's health by examining their kidney and nothing else. Just as the human body has many organs (heart, liver, lungs, etc.), so each of us has a unique personality comprised of many parts. These parts are symbolized by the planets. Since any planet can be in any sign, a person is much more than his or her Sun sign. How the planets interact as a whole is what makes up the personality.
Another thing to understand is that the planets do not really have any influence. Astrology is actually about studying correspondences between earthly events and planetary movements. Just as a clock can indicate the time but does not cause the time, so the arrangement of planets at birth - your actual horoscope - can indicate the quality of your character and fate without actually causing that character or fate. This gets into some pretty big questions that have spiritual implications, such as why a person is born at a particular time. I'm not going to address that here. You need to learn addition and subtraction before you can learn algebra, right? 

One other thing: even though the birthchart can symbolize one's character and fate, this doesn't mean that character and fate are unchanging. The birthchart actually symbolizes how character and fate evolve together over time. Free will has a lot to do with this, because our choices influence how we evolve. One's fate reflects that evolution. If you make good choices, then you gradually become a better, higher version of yourself; likewise, your fate becomes more fulfilling and positive. More good things happen than bad things. 

Of course, everybody has difficulties at one time or another, such as loss, defeat, failure, or rejection. It's how we respond to those experiences that  makes the difference between a good
life and a bad one. If you choose to learn and grow from adversity, then you will express your birthchart at a progressively higher level. I cannot look at a birthchart and tell what choices the person is going to make. I can only see the nature of the opportunities and challenges that are likely to arise. A good life and a bad life can be equally symbolized by the same birthchart. This is because the chart doesn't determine the person; the person determines how he or she expresses the chart. 

It's a lot like going to school. Your curriculum tells you what courses you have to take and who your teachers are going to be. A whole group of students will take the same courses with the same teachers. This is like a group of people who are all born at approximately the same time on the same day; thus, they all have a similar horoscope. Some students will study hard and get good grades, while others will be lazy or cheat or fight with their teachers, and get poor grades. The courses and the teachers are the same for everyone, but some students will take advantage of their opportunity to learn, and others will not. Likewise, some people will choose to express their chart in a good way, i.e., work hard and strive to do well, and others won't. The amount of effort one makes makes the difference. Earth is like a big school. 

Good luck with your science project!

Letter to an Eighth Grader 
Glenn Perry, Ph.D. is an astrological therapist, astrological consultant, and director of Association for Psychological Astrology To review or purchase his astrology books, tapes, charts, or other services, please visit
Newcomers' Guide to 
Astrology at its best enhances everything  you do in life. 
Whether you're looking for a more spiritual path, practical advise, or wondering what tomorrow may bring, astrology can empower you along that path. A deeper understanding of 
the planets will bring you out of the entertainment business associated with Sun Sign columns. On this page, NeptuneCafe presents a few suggestions about how to become more conversant in the symbolic language of astrology. 
New arrivals may feel disoriented at first. Regulars generally go directly to one of the weekly columns, which you can find on the Front Page. Otherwise, check this page out first.
NeptuneCafe specializes in intermediate to advanced astrology. You'll also find links to Crop Circles, Asteroids, and Political Astrology.
You can find the some of the best astrology books anywhere by visiting the NeptuneCafe BookStore
Another excellent way to find out more about your personal chart is to get a Professional Natal Report and/or a personal reading from a competent astrologer. To find out more, please visit astrological services information
The Keywords page will introduce you to astrology's basics: planets, signs, houses, and aspects.
And now, 
a word about Sun Sign astrology...

First of all, there's no Sun Sign astrology at NeptuneCafebecause this site is dedicated to advancing the craft of astrology, What most people know about astrology is based on Sun signs. While the daily or monthly horoscopes are often quite accurate, they only scratch the surface of what astrology has to offer. 

Sun signs are the twelve basic components of a vast metaphysical system that can help us learn more about ourselves, our relationships and what may be coming in the future. To read astrology’s symbols, one needs to know the ABCs of astrology, what the rest of the planets are doing in the natal horoscope. Learning about planets in signs, houses and in aspect to each other is like learning a second language. Essentially, the horoscope is a map of the psyche.

This map includes the Sun, the Moon, the Rising sign, the love planets Venus and Mars, and a number of other planets, asteroids, and sensitive points. Each planet is located in a sign, a house, and in aspect to other planets in the chart. Knowing how to interpret these placements means learning the language of astrology, and there are now many good books available to guide you on this fascinating journey. 
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The Top Ten
Beginner's Astrology Books
There's so many astrology books out today, but how do you tell the good ones from the not-so-good? The following books (in no particular order) are for those ready to move beyond Sun Sign astrology. Most of these cover the basics for chart interpretation, or provide essential groundwork for more advanced astrology. They're selected for their clarity and adherence to astrology's core principles. No flakes here.
Person-to-Person Astrology by Stephen Arroyo is sub-titled "Energy Factors in Love, Sex & Compatibility. Following an eductor's defense of astrology, the author introduces the main elements of the horoscope, and then explores the Moon, Venus and Mars in depth. How to find cosmic validation to be your authentic self.

The Only Way to learn Astrology, vol 1 by Marion March and Joan McEvers, is the first in a series of volumes geared to taking the novice to the professional level. In the first 70 pages, Volume 1 introduces the ABC's of astrology followed by 200 pages of reference for planets in signs, houses, and in aspect. Logical and straightforward path to learning astrology.

The Instant Horoscope Reader by Julia Lupton Skalka, is a primary dictionary for chart interpretation. Includes introductory chapter on terms and concepts, followed by listed interpretations of planets in signs, houses, and in aspect. The last chapter explaining celebrity horoscopes shows how its done. Simple cookbook reference. 

The Luminaries by Liz Greene and Howard Sasportas, is the best introduction to the Sun and Moon in the horoscope for those interested in psychology and psychotherapy. After grasping the concepts here you may wonder why all therapists don't use astrology. Profound and personally transformative. 

Choice Centered Astrology by Gail Fairfield, operates under the presumption that the individual always has choices, and astrology can help make intelligent decisions. While teaching the basics of chart interpretation, this book includes some more complex symbols such as Chiron and minor aspects, plus an appendix on the asteroids. Emphasizes insight over memorization.

Astrology, Karma, and Transformation by Stephen Arroyo, focuses on using astrology for spiritual growth, especially by using the outer planet transits as stepping stones to self- knowledge. Uses Eastern concepts of karma and reincarnation to explain life as a series of lessons. Explains astrology as a cosmic language.

The Astrologer's Handbook by Frances Sakoian and Louis Acker, provides all the essential information you'll need to interpret your horoscope. After understanding your Sun Sign potentials, read about your Rising Sign, and then on to each of the planets in the signs, houses, and in major planetary aspects. Handy and practical reference.

Astrology: Woman to Woman by Gloria Star, is a great teaching book for woman, focusing on how to break out of conventional roles as defined by a patriarchial society. How to own your masculine side, and still nurture and create a home, develope your mind, and open your heart. Goes through the planetary basics in a supportive, guiding method.

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Astrology by Madeleine Gerwick-Brodeur and Lisa Lenard, presents a graphically appealing, nuts-and-bolts approach to learning astrology's basics. While any beginner will appreciate this book's superb organization, it's ideal for younger readers. Perky and comprehensive.

Astrology, the Next Step by Maritha Pottenger, teaches the astrological alphabet, which is the correspondence between the planets, signs, and houses. If you know the twelve "letters" of astrology, you can "read" any chart by seeing which letters and letter combinations are emphasized. Includes asteroids and Chiron as basics.
The planets, their glyphs, and meanings

         The Sun    Just as its target-shaped symbol or glyph suggests, the Sun represents your center: the center from which all your energies radiate, the center from which you view the universe, and also the physical center that is your body. Its position by sign, house and aspect shows how and where you radiate your energies into the world. The Sun is the basic life-initiating or father principle. You could think of the Sun as the king.

         The Moon    Whether you see this symbol as a crescent Moon, bowl, or radar dish, the idea is the same. The Moon receives, contains, and gives form to the abstract energy represented by the Sun. If the Sun is the basic you, the Moon is what gives you your particular personality – your genetic heritage, earliest training, and habit patterns. The symbol can also be seen as a cradle or enfolding arms; the Moon is the basic life-sustaining, nurturing or mother principle. Most obviously, the Moon is the queen, but she is also the land and the people.

       Mercury    This glyph suggests the messenger of the gods with his winged helmet. Fittingly, this planet represents how you think, communicate and move about. Mercury appears from Earth to shuttle back and forth near the Sun – like the nerve impulses in your body or the transportation systems of our society. It is a link, a bridge, a translator, putting abstract energies into symbols so they can be manipulated within your mind or communicated to others. Mercury has many guises, including the scribe, the ambassador, the merchant, the bell cord that goes from banquet hall to pantry, and the air itself, which carries the sound waves of speech. Mercury is also the nimble juggler, and the child who skips through the hallways and plays pranks.

        Venus    This glyph is traditionally the mirror of the goddess, but it is even more like a flower, whose function is to attract pollination so the plant can bear fruit. Venus symbolizes your powers of attraction, of bringing people, objects or ideas together to create harmonious wholes. It shows how you project and appreciate beauty, how and what you love, what gives you pleasure, the areas of your creativity, your tact and social skills. Venus could be the royal mistress, the hostess, or the artisan who makes the castle beautiful.

        Mars    The shield and spear of the war-god Mars are also like the Sun glyph with an arrow showing energy emerging from it. Whereas the Sun is your basic energy center, Mars, centerless but with an arrow, shows how you apply this energy to get things done. And, if the Sun is your basic self or ego, Mars is how you assert yourself and defend your ego. It is anger and aggression, but it is also the energy that enables you to fight for survival. Mars is the "muscle" of society as well as your body: the workers, the soldiers, the knights who defend the helpless, and the police who enforce Saturn's law.

        Jupiter    The glyphs for Jupiter and Saturn are almost the reverse of each other, just as the planets in many ways symbolize opposite energies. Jupiter is like arms raised and flung out to take in all the goodness of the world. It signifies that part of you that wants to reach out, overcome limitations, and take in everything to make it your own. (Appropriately, Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system.) It gives expansiveness, optimism, generosity, magnanimity and a love of freedom and new experiences, but it can also bring acquisitiveness, wastefulness, insensitivity to others' needs, and lack of attention to detail. Jupiter can be the chancellor who helps the king rule, a minister of far-reaching vision who sees the big picture and lays plans for the future prosperity and well-being of the state. He can also be the lawgiver who maps out the basic code that holds society together; or the archbishop, who calls on a higher power and unites the realm under the banner of faith.

        Saturn    To make a bad pun, the glyph for "Sat-on" looks like a seat-or maybe a candle-snuffer. When carried to excess, Saturn can keep life down or even snuff it out, but when applied in moderation it is the necessary force that defines limits and keeps Jupiterian expansion from getting out of hand. It signifies obstacles and frustration, but also discipline and order. Saturn could be the minister of finance or the royal housekeeper who keeps a tight hand on the purse-strings, the conservative advisor who champions traditional values and stems the tide of change, the severe judge who puts a stop to crime (and sometimes people's lives as well), or the wise old counselor who guards against excess. Saturn is the furthest planet in the solar system to be seen by the naked eye. Beyond lie planets not ordinarily visible; these enable you to transcend the everyday reality of Saturn and explore worlds outside ordinary common sense.
       Uranus    The glyph for Uranus was made up to suggest the initial of its discoverer, Herschel, but it could also be seen as the head of a baby emerging from the birth canal. It represents the first breakthrough into the universe beyond Saturn, a sudden disruption and cracking-open of Saturn's confining shell. It brings upset, surprise and insecurity but also originality, a love of the new, creativity and freedom. Uranus is the court jester who turns reality on its head, the rebel who shakes up the status quo, or the traveler from a remote kingdom who stands out from all others at court with his outlandish manners and dress.

        Neptune    The trident of the Roman sea-god suggests the oceanic quality of Neptune. Whereas Uranus cracked open the rigid shell of Saturn, Neptune furthers the process by dissolving the shell entirely. Neptune is the urge within you to go beyond all the boundaries and limitations that make you a particular human being and return into the vast and formless ocean of oneness with the universe. When people are insufficiently grounded, Neptune can bring weakness, dishonesty, illusion, addiction and an inability to cope with everyday life. But once their egos are fully developed, Neptune can bring empathy, selfless service to others, and transcendent knowledge and bliss. Neptune is the soothsayer, who brings knowledge from the world of dreams; or the religious hermit, who bypasses the archbishop's church and is in direct contact with God.

        Pluto    Pluto is often represented as "£," but many astrologers prefer a glyph like Mercury's with the crescent in a different place. Whereas Mercury translated information from one form to another, Pluto transforms – people, situations, whatever it touches. Another way of seeing the Pluto glyph is as a dying plant releasing a seed. The disruption and dissolution begun by Uranus and Neptune is completed by Pluto in death and the rebirth that follows. Pluto shows up in everyday life as change, development, transformation, regeneration. People with a strong Pluto can lead lives with many upheavals and "rebirths" or can be forceful and persuasive in bringing about change in others. Pluto could be the magician, who works in the secret realms to bring about change. He is also the invisible tide of change itself, which brings an end to whatever is outworn, so that life can periodically be renewed.

Additional Points
Some astrologers consider additional bodies such as various asteroids and Chiron, a small comet-like object that orbits between Saturn and Uranus and goes around the zodiac in just under 51 years. Many also use the lunar Nodes, mathematical points that travel backwards around the zodiac in about 19 years.

        Chiron    The key-like glyph that astrologers have settled upon since Chiron's discovery in 1977 suggests the opening of a door, possibly one through the wall erected by Saturn, leading to a new realm of innovation and freedom represented by Uranus. Half-horse, half-man, Chiron arose from the savage race of centaurs to teach civilized values and technologies for improving human life. Most memorably, he himself suffered a painful wound that would not heal, yet taught the healing arts to the young Aesculapius. Epitomizing the wounded healer, Chiron is thought by many astrologers to signify the hurt places within us, and the ways they can enable us to heal and improve the lives of others.

        North Node    The glyph suggests the Dragon's Head, the old name for this point. Directly opposite it in the zodiac is the South Node or Dragon's Tail (L), which is often omitted from the chart wheel because it is always 180 degrees from the North Node. The Nodes are the two places in the zodiac where the the Moon's orbital plane connects with the plane of the Earth's orbit around the Sun. Some astrologers read both Nodes as connections, particularly to relatives or groups. Others see the South Node as old skills, relationships and attitudes that you have thoroughly mastered and now must leave behind, and the North Node as new areas that you need to advance toward for your continuing evolution.

Ceres, Pallas, Juno and Vesta
Among the thousands of asteroids known, Ceres, Pallas, Juno and Vesta have a special place. While these are not necessarily the largest asteroids, they were the first to be discovered, and as such they have imprinted themselves on human consciousness in a major way. 

They also complete the female pantheon of goddesses, rounding out the system of symbols begun in the usual ten planets. Of the six great goddesses of Olympus, only Aphrodite (Venus) and Artemis (the Moon) are represented in the conventional astrological symbol system. The other four great goddesses of Graeco-Roman mythology, Demeter (Ceres), Athene (Pallas), Hera (Juno) and Hestia (Vesta), were missing from astrology until they were re-invoked by their discovery in the early 1800s.
SUN - Inner Hero, character, central concerns, personal path, will, vitality, confidence, self-reliance, creativity
VENUS - Inner Lover, romance, harmony, relationships, eroticism, art, style, vanity, jealousy, elegance, sweets
MARS - Inner Warrior, strength, sex, urge to conquer, fighting style, anger, aggression, desire, drive, passion
MOON - Inner Mother, feelings, unconscious, instincts, security needs, home, family, memories, moods
MERCURY - Inner Communicator, mind, speech, knowledge, mental attitude, opinions, curiosity, siblings, trade
CHIRON - InnerShaman, wounded healer, physical and psychological health, holisitc views, alternative medicine, pain, outsider
CERES - Inner Mother, nurturing, caretaking, life passages, parent-child relationship, animals, grains, growing cycles, birth, death, grief
VESTA - Inner Sister, personal integration, devotion, scholastic interests, work, path of service, financial security, what is sacred
JUNO - marriage, commited relationships, social skills, business partners, women's rights, storms, social rituals
PALLAS - Inner Strategist, creative intelligence, social skills, wisdom, visual arts, pattern recognition, political activism
JUPITER - trust in life, belief, growth, expansion, opportunity, luck, self-righteousness, justice, prosperity
SATURN - structure, limitations, ambition, authority, restriction, form, law and order, bitterness, wisdom
NEPTUNE - cosmic antenna, dissolving boundaries, mysticism, drugs and alcohol, self-sacrifice, spiritual aspirations, faith, delusion, ideals
PLUTO -  death and re-birth, destruction and creation, power and abuse, emotional entanglement, obsessions
URANUS - freedom, equality, ingenuity, inventiveness, independence, unconventional, radical, shock, revolutionary
Asteroid Reports
Officially titled Asteroid Goddesses in the Natal Chart, this 45-page comprehensive report is written by asteroid experts Demetra George and Douglas Bloch. In these pages, the four primary asteroids are fully explained, both in their general signficances as a feminine archetypes, and the meaning of each in your natal chart. Cost is $25. 

email to order your report or to discuss how it can be bundled with a personal reading.
Introduction to Asteroids
In traditional astrology only two planets are feminine, and the rest are masculine. The Moon and Venus describe the only socially acceptable roles that women were allowed to play over the past few thousand years, while men had the Sun, Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto as archetypal role models. Of course nowadays women are no longer confined to being a mother (the Moon) or mate (Venus), and are actively participating as co-creators of the 21st century global culture.