What You Need To Know If You Want To Get Into Your Horoscope This Year

Photographed by Rochelle Brock.
Two days in, and 2018 is already proving to be the year of the horoscope, stargazers. If getting more familiar with your astrological DNA was one of your New Year's resolutions, you'll be in good company, but the heavens have been up there all along, waiting for you to turn your gaze skyward.
Of course, if you've never so much as read your weekly horoscope, the realm of astrology can appear vast and daunting. Luckily, there's an entry point to be found for even the greenest beginner. All it takes is an open mind (and a willingness to accept the fact that there's no such thing as a "cusp" sign).
Read on for a crash course in all things astrological.
Ready to launch into the new year but not sure where to start? Take a cue from the stars and let your horoscope guide you. 'Scope the rest of your year here.
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Lesson One: Your Sun Sign

When someone asks you "What's your sign?" it's more than likely they're asking you to share your sun sign, which indicates where the sun was located when you were born. At any given moment, the sun is aligned with one of the 12 signs on the Wheel of the Zodiac (more on that later). It spends approximately 30 days moving through each, during a period known as that sign's "solar season." The dates you see below each sign in a horoscope actually mark the beginning and end of those seasons, so all you need to do is find which sign's solar season includes your birthday, and that's your sun sign — aka the sign that most people use to find their horoscope.
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Lesson Two: What Makes Your Sign Tick

Once you know your sun sign, it's important to learn what makes it different from the other 11. Your sign has a specific ruling element and ruling planet (for our purposes here, the moon and sun function as planets), both of which influence its overall identity. For example, Leos are ruled by fire and the sun — thus their passionate, bright presence. Meanwhile, the moon and the element of water help inspire the emotions and many moods we associate with most Cancers.

Getting more familiar with these features will help you understand your sign and your own personality. Not to sound corny, but there really is something special about each of the signs.
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Lesson Three: It's All About Timing

A close runner up to your sign's planet and element is its quality, which refers to the time of year during which it celebrates its solar season. Signs with solar seasons that begin at the start of one of the four seasons of the year (Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn) are known as cardinal. Those whose solar seasons fall midway through one of the regular seasons (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius) are fixed, and the ones that close out the seasons (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces) are referred to as mutable.

Much like your sign's element and planet, its quality plays a role in determining its behavior — particularly in how your sign views and exerts control. Where cardinal signs tend to be natural leaders and innovators, fixed signs prefer preexisting plans that they can execute skillfully. And mutable signs are happy to go with the flow.
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Lesson Four: Go Beyond The Solar

Mainstream astrology places a premium on sun signs (and, as the previous lessons have demonstrated, there is a lot to be gained from reading up on yours). But that does not mean you should overlook your other signs, which are determined by the moon and other planets' positions in the sky at the moment of your birth. (Yes, you have other signs — in fact, a basic birth chart will reveal 13 new ones.)

Luckily, all of these placements can be found in the same place: your birth chart, which is essentially a snapshot of the Wheel of the Zodiac and where the sun, moon, and planets were placed on it when you were born. You can go to an astrologer to have yours drawn up and read, or you can do it yourself online — either way, you're probably in for a surprise. You may find that your sun sign is the only fire sign in your chart and that's why you lack the sort of temper expected of an Aries. Or, maybe you discover you have a stellium in a sign you felt inexplicably drawn to, even though it wasn't your sun sign.

Of course, learning that you have a dozen new Zodiac signs to your name is a lot to process, so if you're still easing yourself into astrology, start slow and pay most of your attention to your moon and rising signs after you get the hang of your sun sign.
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Lesson Five: Where You Feel The Planets Most

As you get used to your new planetary signs, don't think of them as completely separate entities. More accurately, in the machine that is your astrological identity, each planet keeps a different part running. For example, the moon rules your innermost thoughts, while your Venus sign indicates your romantic preferences. Your Mars sign indicates where your passions lie — as well as what really ticks you off. As a rule, the inner planets (Mercury, Venus, and Mars) will influence your everyday life, while the outer planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto) will have a greater effect on your talents, abilities, and subconscious.
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Lesson Six: Beware Of Compatibility "Rules"

We'll try to keep this brief: The answer to your romantic woes does not lie in your birth chart. Of course, that hasn't stopped astrological thinkers from looking. Much has been made of the distance between two signs on the Wheel of the Zodiac — there might even be some truth to the age-old belief that opposites attract. But, when you get down to it, anyone can make up their own compatibility theories based on personal experience. If you really want to see your love life reflected in the stars, pay attention to what Venus, Mars, and the moon are up to. These celestial bodies touch such areas of your life as your emotions, affections, and sexuality. Their movements will never spell out the future of your love life for you, but they might allude to the general direction it may take.

Those of you who already feel well-versed in astrology 101 may want to look into synastry, or the practice of laying your birth chart on top of your partners and comparing their respective placements.
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Lesson Seven: Give It Time

Don't get discouraged if you feel like you're already drowning in astrological jargon. Take breaks from your horoscope, browse around for the right astrologer, and reflect on the role that you'd like astrology to play in your life. If you'd prefer to stick to your sun sign and nothing else, that's totally fine. But so is going deep with your reading and becoming an expert in the most minor asteroids (although that is definitely far beyond astrology 101). Either way, you'll have the building blocks necessary for any horoscope fan — and the understanding that you should never take the stars too seriously.

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