Marilyn Campbell

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Understanding Astrology

Scroll down to bottom of page for links to Marilyn Campbell's series of  Q & A's on astrology basics.

View of saturn and rings

One of the things that I find most fascinating about our current culture is how ancient practices have come back into public acceptance.  For instance, in the field of medicine, we are seeing respectable physicians prescribing the use of herbs, acupuncture, magnets, etc., as alternatives to chemicals and surgery.  In science, quantum physicists are “discovering” proof that our thoughts have the ability to affect our physical being.  Psychiatrists are openly admitting that reincarnation is quite possible and that someone suffering from multiple personality disorder could actually have a number of disembodied spirits manipulating his or her behavior.  

In spiritual matters, masses of people are turning to ancient beliefs and religions for answers, as well as seeking advice from psychics, tarot card readers and astrologers.  It is well documented that powerful people throughout history regularly consulted their wizard or astrologer before deciding the fate of their empire.  Not long ago, I had a big surprise in this area.  During a visit to the Vatican, I had (as usual) taken a detour off the suggested tourist path in order to find the Borgia apartments.  The suite had been stripped of furnishings but, to my delight, I found that the ceiling of the great hall was beautifully painted with zodiac symbols, under which the names of Popes were inscribed.  Of course, one must keep in mind that the Borgia Pope had bought that position rather than having earned it with religious fervor, his sister was the infamous Lucretia, and the two of them practiced a number of UN-holy acts! (By the way, there was a guard sitting in that unfurnished room whose sole job seemed to be preventing us from taking photographs or videos.  Although it is normal to ban flash photography to prevent damage to paintings, it felt to me that this guard was more concerned with preventing anyone from recording evidence of heresy.)

Earth & crescent moon

When skeptics question the veracity of astrology despite history, I point out the scientifically proven power of the moon’s cycles on tides and plant growth.  Then I point out that hospital emergency room records confirm how humans (who are mostly made up of water) are affected by a full moon and that there are even some fire departments who pay full moon differential because it is so much busier – and more dangerous – than usual.  If one accepts the fact that Earth life can be affected by the moon, isn’t it logical that other bodies in our solar system have some powers over our lives as well?  For instance, “Mercury Retrograde” is rapidly becoming a phrase that acceptably explains computer glitches, communication foul-ups and car breakdowns (in the “Password” game, this category would be titled “things that can crash.”)

I happen to believe that we all have the ability to tap into the universal consciousness to get answers to our questions, but at this time of human evolution, most people are still unable to get past the mental sludge surrounding that ability.  Astrology and numerology are based on grounded information that anyone willing to put in the time and energy can learn to use, despite the level of development of their extrasensory abilities.  However, I encourage beginning students to adopt the attitude that astrology and numerology are ways of understanding what advantages and disadvantages were in place when a person was born and when the ideal time for a specific action will be, rather than as a predictive or forecasting tool.

Andromeda Galaxy

Thus said, the following is an excerpt from one of my novels, in which a character is explaining to a novice how astrology works.  The purpose of the description is only to create a simple, entertaining visual, so it is not precise by any means.


* * *


            “Okay.  I want you to imagine the solar system, with all the planets revolving around the sun. Close your eyes if you have to.”

            Figuring it would be faster to go along, Gina did as suggested.

           “You know how the moon affects the tides and farming and people’s moods, well, the rest of the planets affect us, too.  Each heavenly body rules at least one zodiac sign and affects specific areas of earth life, such as surprises, communication or love.  Now imagine a large piece of glass shaped like a pie with 12 pieces cut in it.  Each piece has about a four-week calendar period and the name of a zodiac sign on it. These pieces are arranged counterclockwise in this order: Aries, for March 21 to April 19, then Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces, which brings you back to March 20th.  Set this glass pie plate above the solar system so that your sign, Cancer, is right over the sun and give it an easy spin in a clockwise direction.  With me so far?”

            To Gina’s amazement, E.G.’s words instantly created the image in her mind and she nodded.

           “Okay.  Now see another circle of glass above that and cut it into 12th’s also, but with the numbers 1 through 12 written inside each piece.  These segments are called houses and represent the different aspects of our individual lives, such as personality, relationships, career, karma, and so on. Give that one an easy spin too but in the opposite direction.”

            Gina wondered why the pieces were called houses, but she didn’t want to extend the lecture longer than necessary by showing interest.

           “Next, picture one more piece of glass on top of everything, with a big, 24-hour clock, marked by minutes, painted on it.  Give that one a faster push in a clockwise direction.  Good.  And finally, place a vertical band around all the plates, kind of like a giant Ferris wheel, with each seat representing a past, present and future year in time, and start it turning. Now imagine a photographer looking down on the whole creation from high above.  When the seat with your birth year lined up with the minute of your birth on the clock, exactly above the spot in the zodiac pie that marked the month and day you were born, all the revolving and spinning stopped just long enough to take a photo of all of it.  That picture would show which planet was in which sign and which sign was in which house and, voila, you have your natal chart.  Pretty simple, huh?”

            Gina opened her eyes and laughed.  “Are you kidding?  I got dizzy and fell off one of the spinning pie plates somewhere over Pluto.  But that’s okay, I get the picture...sort of.”

           “Good enough.  At least you understand how just knowing someone’s sun sign is only a small piece of what makes them tick.  When I look at a person’s whole chart, I see what characteristics, tools and baggage they were born with, as well as when and where opportunities and challenges will pop up in their life.”

            “It sounds rather fatalistic.  Don’t you believe in free will?”

         E.G.’s black-rimmed eyes widened.  “Of course, I do.  Only the opportunities and challenges show up in the chart, not what you will do when presented with them.  But that discussion would take us further into the holographic universe than you need to go today.  The point I want to make is that the day and month you were born can indicate certain general qualities about you, but the year and exact time determine the specific details and can even drastically counter your sun sign attributes.”


* * *


Got it?  If not, don’t feel bad, it takes Gina most of the book to get on board the metaphysical train. 

                                                                              * * *
Click on the following links to read some Astro Q & A's Marilyn Campbell has written for various columns:

Sun Sign vs Rising Sign

Sun Sign vs Moon Sign

Sun Sign Standard Traits vs Individual's Natal Chart

Retrograde Planets


Pluto Transition

Planetary Influences on Earth Life

Astrological Houses

The Age of Aquarius

Male vs Female Sun Sign Characteristics

New and Full Moon Exact Timing