What is the difference between the Sun, Moon and Rising Signs?  Which one is the most important in a horoscope?

The Sun, Moon and Rising Sign are the three most basic & significant factors in an astrological chart.  They are all equally important in understanding your individual make-up, natural gifts and personal challenges, as well as your conscious & unconscious motivations.

The Sun is the source of all light and life on this planet.  Since it is in the center of our solar system, around which the planets revolve, the Sun symbolizes your personal center, conscious self and life-force.  It represents your identity, spirit, heart, ego, self-expression, presence and animus (the masculine, objective side of yourself). The astrological sign through which the Sun was transiting at your birth describes your basic purpose in life and is known as your Sun Sign (ie. “I am a Virgo”).  It indicates the areas in which you “shine”.

  The Moon has no light of its own, but reflects the powerful light of the Sun.  However, as it encircles the Earth, its constantly-changing phases are reflected by the ocean’s tides, female rhythms and plant & animal growth cycles. The Moon symbolizes the subconscious, survival instincts, feelings, moods and the anima (the feminine, subjective side of yourself).  The astrological sign through which the Moon was transiting at your birth describes your instinctive emotional responses, and is known as your Moon Sign.  It is associated with needs, feelings, values, inner resources, memories, motherhood, nurturing, tastes and food preferences.

The Ascendant (or Rising Sign) refers to the astrological sign that was rising on the eastern horizon (ie. sunrise) at the exact time of your birth — it corresponds to a clock’s 9:00 position.  The Rising Sign symbolizes the “window” through which you view the world.  It describes your personality, temperament, appearance, self-image and basic approach to life, as well as how others identify, perceive or experience you. The Rising Sign relates to your personal presentation, act, outer cover, veneer, front, packaging and manner in which you project yourself (the “I am“).  It is the intersection, or point of contact, between your inner world and the outer world.

I know my Sun Sign, but how do I find out about my Moon Sign and Rising Sign?

While you can usually figure out your Moon Sign by looking at an ephemeris (a book showing the planetary positions for each day of the year), you will need to have the date, place and exact time of your birth in order to know your Rising Sign.  With accurate birth data, you can easily go online to set up your personal horoscope for free on an astrology site such as www.astro.com — or you could consult a professional astrologer.  With your horoscope in hand, you could check out my Astrology Keywords page and look up the meanings of these signs and planets, then go to my Houses of the Horoscope page for insights about the house positions of your planets.  And this is just the beginning— there are so many astrology books out there to whet your appetite for further self-discovery!!

I was born on April 20.  Some tell me I’m a Taurus, but others say I’m an Aries.  Or am I both?  Help!

You were born on the cusp — a day when the Sun changed signs, from Aries to Taurus.  However, you are either a late Aries or an early Taurus — and the only way you’ll know for sure is through setting up a horoscope using the exact time, date and place of your birth.  And because the personal planets (Mercury & Venus) often fall in the proceeding or succeeding signs, you might easily identify with characteristics of both signs.  This goes for everyone who is born on a cusp!

I was born 6 weeks early — does this make a difference?

You must have been in a hurry to get going — LOL!  According to astrological theory, your personal horoscope is an astronomical, graphic representation of that exact moment in time & space that you emerged from your mother and took your first breath.  Whether you were born early, late — or were taken out through a C-section — is beside the point.

Your horoscope symbolizes your first impression of the world outside the womb — a cosmic snapshot, so to speak!  So it doesn’t matter at all when you were “supposed” to be born.  Your soul chose that particular time/place so it could fulfill its mission on earth.  You were in the driver’s seat despite all appearances.  There are more powerful forces at work than we humans can understand!

I don’t know the time of my birth.  Does this mean that I can’t have my horoscope done?

First of all, have you tried to locate your original birth certificate?  This is usually the best source, although some states, provinces or countries do not require the birth time to be on this certificate.  You can obtain a copy of the original birth certificate through the Bureau of Statistics at the state capitol or the city of your birth.  I have even known individuals who have called and been lucky enough to find a sympathetic soul who looked up the information for them on microfiche.  Might be worth a try!

Other sources of birth times are: hospital records, baby books, the family Bible, parents’ recollection (often a questionable source) or a family story of your birth.  If you have a rough idea, such as “in the early morning” or “around dinnertime,” it is possible to rectify the horoscope to the correct time by reviewing past events.

And yes, you can still have your horoscope set up and interpreted without having the birth time.   A solar chart can be drawn up for your birth date, where the Sun‘s position at noon (halfway through the day) is placed on the Ascendant point.  As seen from the example below, the rest of the chart is set up from this point.Needless to say, it can’t be as detailed and accurate in timing as a horoscope with the exact time.  However, there is still an amazing amount of information that can be obtained from a solar chart:  the astrological sign and solar house positions of the Sun, Moon & planets, the aspects between the planets, and the progressions & transits for projecting into the future.  Although you won’t know your Rising Sign or the house placements of the planets, there is still a lot to be learned from a solar chart — a more interesting option than knowing just your Sun Sign!

What does “Mercury retrograde” mean?  How does it impact me?

In astrological terminology, a planet is in retrograde motion  when it appears to be moving backwards in its orbit.  However, the planets never actually change direction as they’re orbiting around the Sun — it just looks that way from our perspective here on Earth.  From a personal—and collective—point of view, a retrograde cycle symbolizes a time for retracing your steps, reviewing your priorities and going back over things.  “As above, so below.”    Mercury retrograde is the most infamous, observable and widely-known retrograde of all — it has a well-deserved reputation for wreaking havoc with our best-laid plans!  Mercury has more frequent retrograde cycles than the other planets (3 times a year for about 3 weeks at a time) because it is in closest proximity to the Sun.

Since Mercury is the ruling planet of both VIRGO (accuracy, details & systems) and GEMINI (communication, distribution & transportation), its retrograde cycle can bring up snafus, bugs and breakdowns related to these matters.  Murphy’s Law (“anything that can go wrong will go wrong”) is an appropriate adage for this cycle!

Considering the potential for mishaps and setbacks, it isn’t advisable at this time to launch a business, start a new job, buy or list a home, sign documents & contracts, get married, undergo elective surgery, send out newsletters or promotional materials, purchase a car, computer, phone or electronic equipment, install new software, or initiate anything significant that you want to start off without a glitch!

Embrace this 3-week Mercury retrograde period as an opportunity to review, re-evaluate and catch up with yourself!  Instead of dreading or worrying about it, utilize this time to sort, file and clear off your desk, clean up your email and catch up with correspondence.  Edit writing projects, make necessary repairs, reconnect with friends, review travel arrangements, confirm appointments and tie up loose ends.  Allow extra time to get things done and, most important,  maintain your sense of humor!

The issues that tend to arise with each retrograde cycle are determined by the sign occupied by Mercury at the time.  For instance, if Mercury is retrograding in TAURUS, you’ll be going back over family affairs, domestic issues or property matters.  So…plan, prepare, develop workable strategies and get everything lined up for when Mercury turns direct and you can move forward again.  See Retrograde Planets to learn about the other planets’ retrogrades.

What do you mean when you refer to “transits” in your monthly reports?

From the Earth‘s perspective, the daily movements of the Sun, Moon and planets are known as “transits” (think transit system).  While the Moon moves the fastest (changing signs every 2 days),  the Sun takes a month to go through each of the 12 astrological signs.  When the Sun is transiting through a sign, it highlights and takes on the characteristics associated with that particular sign.  When the Moon transits a sign, it stirs up needs & emotional responses related to that sign.

And the same goes for each of the planets:  their expressions shift, adapt and take on the “coloration” of whatever sign they’re transiting.  The further away a planet is from the Sun, the longer it will stay in a sign.  The transits — and the angles (ie. aspects) they make to other planets, as well as to our natal horoscopes — are the most important predictive technique in an astrologer’s toolkit! To keep a closer eye on where the Moon, Sun and planets are currently, refer to my pages on Moon Transits and Planet Transits.

My boyfriend and I are both Scorpios — can this work for a long-term relationship?

To the extent that the two of you can provide the support, comfort and grounding for each other that—as Scorpios—you both require from a mate, then, yes, it’s very possible for this relationship to work.   You’ll need to avoid one-up-man-ship games, controlling behaviors or power plays (although friendly competition, such as a game of chess or tennis, can be a healthy outlet).  By striving for win/win outcomes, minimizing emotional friction and aligning your potent energies in the same direction, you could be a dynamic duo — and move mountains! 

It’s also important to remember that you’re much more than just your Sun Sign!  Besides the fact that men and women tend to express their Sun Signs in different ways, there are many other important elements, qualities, signs and planetary aspects at work between your individual horoscopes.  And most important of all, it isn’t “signs” that relate — it’s the “person within” who channels the energies indicated by the horoscope!  For further insights on this subject, see my page on Relationships.

I am interested in getting an astrological reading from you.  How do I go about this?

Most of my readings are done by phone.  You can start the process by emailing me your date, place and exact time of birth (see my Contact page).  It would useful if you could give me a brief synopsis of your current areas of concern (ie. work, relationships, finances, relocation, etc.) so that I can focus on these issues as I prepare your chart.  I wouldn’t want to miss anything important!  If you would like me to look at the charts of a partner or children, then include their birth information, too.

You’ll want to allow 90 minutes for the initial phone session, so you’ll need to let me know the best days & times for you (I can be available Mondays through Saturdays from 11 am – 5 pm Pacific Time).  I will confirm your request or email you back with another suggestion.

I will record the session and email you the mp3 and a copy of your horoscope afterwards.  If you live out of the US, then we’ll look into the best options for communicating (such as Skype, WhatsApp or Viber).  My fee is $150 for an initial consultation, which should arrive prior to our session.  I accept personal checks and PayPal.  If you’re already a client, my fee for a 1-hour update is $100.

What can I expect from an astrological reading?

In our session, we begin with an overall look your natal chart and its basic design and dynamics. Then, utilizing the predictive techniques of progressions & transits, we’ll address your current concerns and explore the major cycles that are unfolding for you, now and in the future.  Solar returns, astro*carto*graphy & relocation charts, and horoscopes of significant others will be included when appropriate.  You are free to ask me anything, as it is my purpose to provide you with as much insight as possible!

In my experience, those who truly know themselves and fully live out their horoscopes are the most happy & fulfilled individuals.  My personal desire is to enlighten. empower and inspire you to understand yourself better, make positive choices and healthy decisions — and move forward in your life with purpose, clarity, self-acceptance and joy!

I’m interested in studying astrology — where do I begin?

You have a grand adventure ahead of you! The best thing I can suggest is that you read books on the subject, network with others who share your interest and take a class, workshop or online course.  This is how I learned.  Go to  www.meetup.com to see if there are any local astrology groups you could attend.  Once you have your correct horoscope, buying or borrowing  books that help you interpret it would be a good place to start.  You also have lots of information available to you on my website, particularly the Astrology Keywords page, which defines the signs, planets & aspects.  And the Houses of the Horoscope page will help you understand what the houses represent.  There is also the Planet Transits page, where you can see what aspects are going on throughout the month; the Moon Transits page will tune you into the current lunar positions and cycles, along with their interpretations.  And the monthly Cosmic Weather Reports are all chock-full of information.

If you get serious about this, you may want to invest in astrology software; I use Solar Fire (around $350); otherwise, there is a wonderful app out there called AstroGold (adapted from Solar Fire) which is about $30.  It’s designed for the iPhone, but has an alternative for androids.  I appreciate the portability of this app!  You can input charts from friends & family (and save them) for studying – very important way to start.  Also, you may want to contact Moon Trine & Co and order their Astrological Mini-Calendar, a small book with monthly calendars of planet & moon transits.

See if your local library has any astrology books, or go on Amazon.com for any book you’re interested in.  I use a different system than other astrologers and will not recommend many books that are out there.  I’m now in the process of writing the book I will recommend in the future, but it’s not ready yet.  My mentor was Carl Payne Tobey.  You may want to start with his correspondence course, which is out in book form now by Naomi Bennett.  See Amazon for that one.

If all else fails, know that I do coaching calls @$75/hr.  I have many students out there who do there studying on their own, and when they have enough questions or want to step up their game, they contact me.  So there are all kinds of paths you could follow.  Astrology is a subject that provides a never-ending source of learning; even a little bit of knowledge can go a long way, especially when it comes to knowing yourself!

©2021  Diane Elizabeth Clarke

♦ If you’re curious about some aspect of astrology that others could relate to, feel free to leave your question below.  While I won’t be responding personally, I will be happy to publish your question and my response to it if I feel that it would appeal to others.  Thanks!