A Guide To: Astrology Readings

So you’ve downloaded Co-Star, you’ve aligned your travel to fall outside of Mercury’s retrograde and you won’t go on a date without first getting those birthday digits. Astrology is a great cosmic predictor, and it can be a tool that truly enhances your life in ways you wouldn’t imagine – astrologer Deborah Ehrlich explains more.
22 Jun 2022
Words by: Deborah Ehrlich

"My phone broke down, Mercury must be in retrograde."

What is a retrograde? Does it affect me? Who is Mercury?

It’s hard to believe that what was once a taboo subject is now in vogue, and astro apps are now part of people’s daily rituals as is checking the price of Bitcoin. The question is: how can astrology play a practical role in our lives without it becoming an excuse for a computer breakdown, spiritual bypassing (“I’m too Aquarian to reply”) – or poor behaviour? (Honest Geminis do exist.)

At its core, astrology is the study of cycles, and knowing which part of the cycle we’re in can help us be in harmony with our environment. Any good trader will tell you that. If you think about it, we’re already attuned to nature’s message. We recognise that drinking a hot soup in the winter is better for us than eating a salad. When it’s raining, we bring an umbrella and skip the beach picnic. What if you could extend that same logic to start your own business? Ensure a successful surgery? Have better relationships?

Enter astrology: an ancient technique that provides a framework for understanding your life purpose, with the view to using your unique talents to live a fulfilled life, and optimise performance here on Earth.

Astrology explains why you can’t sleep on a full moon, why your ex-boyfriends flooded into your life last month – and what to do about it.

Indigo night sky speckled with stars with a single beam of light
Photography by Hafidh Satyanto
The word “horoscope” is derived from the Greek words meaning “hour” and “to observe” hence both an accurate birth time and location are required to produce a chart.

Horoscopes, Historically

Before the birth of YouTube horoscopes, this practice was a professional tailored service much like a doctor or lawyer, and people consulted via readings. Think of it as the difference between a private banker and robo-advisory. In fact, Medieval doctors studied astrology in medical school as a prerequisite to obtaining a medical degree.The word “horoscope” is derived from the Greek words meaning “hour” and “to observe” hence both an accurate birth time and location are required to produce a chart. Don’t get me wrong, daily newspaper horoscopes aren’t bad: It’s like reading about a diet and trialing without consulting a doctor or blood work. Or maybe you bought an NFT someone promised would “do well.” We all do it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t: but you’ll never really know why, and it could be an expensive experiment.

Types of Readings

For tailored guidance, a Natal Reading uses your birth chart, which is a snapshot of the solar system as viewed from the place and the minute you were born – it is unique to you. The less biographical information offered, the better. The astrologer will read purely from your chart. This elegant piece of sacred geometry can bring insights such as your life purpose, relationship tendencies, personal strengths, vocational opportunities, health vulnerabilities and even weird habits.

A natal reading explores not only your “sun sign” but all the planets that form your cosmic DNA and how they come together to make you, you. At its best, a natal reading confirms your intuition, and separates it from mislabeled distractions. It explains why you behave differently at work and at home. Why you keep having that boss, or attracting that partner. If done correctly, natal readings translate your chart to help you connect your dots.

Black and white close up of Astrology Chart

A Transit Reading is a cosmic board meeting for your year ahead. Transits, or the passage of the planets in the sky, influence your own horoscope, and a reading provides a month-to-month guide for the year as well as for the major themes dominating the next 12 months. Transits are helpful to make decisions (Is this the year to leave my job?) or plan ahead (When should I freeze my eggs?). As such, Mercury’s retrograde transit could be a disaster for some, unnoticeable to many, and dare I say, helpful to the chosen few. A strong Mars transit can be a catalyst for an argument, and Mercury’s transit can aid a great writer in producing a marvelous work. A short preparation can offer big payoffs so you know when it’s time to work on your pitch, and when it’s time to stay inside and binge on Netflix (yes, there’s a transit for that too).

When you layer two charts on top of each other you get a Compatibility or Synastry Reading. This is a tool to understand the dynamics between two people – which planets in your charts have strong parallels, and which need more nurturing. Synastry readings won’t tell you you’re doomed, but they may suggest you keep your businesses separate in order to stay married. Be careful of assuming your Aquarian Moon can’t handle your business partner’s Leo Sun – you may find that it’s just two sides of the same coin. Synastry readings are tools to create empathy, not excuses to pass blame – sorry, Pisces.

If you are just trying to find a specific launch date for your website or choose the week of your first team offsite, a mini Election Reading can be useful. The astrologer “elects” a few dates to choose from or can provide information on what to expect if you have a date you’re already stuck with, so you can be prepared for what may come. The same can be used for a medical surgery. In the same way the sea swells on the full moon, we have greater tendency to hemorrhage, but how risky this is depends on your chart. No one wants a do-over of an invasive procedure, and a good astrological surgery date can prevent one.

Getting to the bottom of your insomnia or why you have a seemingly incurable recurring skin irritation can be investigated with a deeper Medical Reading. A passing transit of Mars could be irritating to a certain body part, and sometimes it’s just a natal condition we need to learn to manage. Astrology teaches us that nature is not static, and neither is your body. Avoid planning your next hiking trip when you know your sciatica could flare with a big Sagittarius transit. Medical readings link seemingly unrelated symptoms using your natal chart, helping to find holistic solutions with the guidance of a medical practitioner. There exist a host of medical astrologers who are also naturopaths, Ayurvedic practitioners and herbalists (I’ve been known to self-treat and I do not recommend it).

The beauty of this practice is that you do not need to understand your chart to benefit from astrology. Of course, the more you know about your own accounting, the better you’re able to capitalise, so to speak. But for most of us out there, we’re happy to let the professionals do the heavy lifting.

2 overlapping bleeding white rings of circles against black background
Photography by Tomáš Orbán

No Birth Time? No Problem

That being said, an astrologer’s nightmare is hearing, “My aunt thinks it was around 3 am.” What if you don’t have an accurate birth time? This is not uncommon, especially if you were born in a country not known for good record keeping, or you have a birth time on the hour. Be skeptical if you and your sister were both born at 9:00 am. A Chart Rectification by a senior astrologer can help you back track your birth time provided you have an estimated birth time window and can dig up enough specific examples of events in your life (broken leg – cliff diving – March 4th, 2018 – 4:30 pm).

Science shows us that humans release hormones like cortisol in the morning and melatonin at night. This cycle is part of the circadian rhythm, a process all animals experience that link us with the cycle of the sun and moon. Being in rhythm with the planets is akin to getting a good night of rest: we feel in harmony with our environment, and in tune with ourselves.

For readings and astro musings find Deborah on IG @deborahlynna