Understanding Astrology | The Luminaries

From our perspective on Earth, there are two bright celestial beings that illuminate our lives: the sun and the moon.



The sun which never ceases to burn, never stops shining, rises and sets along our horizons, creating day and night. If you have ever been caught outside as the sun sets, you know the glorious colors of the sun’s departure, and then the proceeding darkness that comes over the visible world. The sun is extremely noticeable - we see it and then we don’t - we know when it is or isn’t there.

The sun is also a life-giver, a creator. It is the star from which the earth and its sibling planets were born. On our planet, every living organism needs the sun in order to survive. The sun is a crucial component in the building blocks of life. On this very basic level, the sun is a point of survival. It is a necessity.

In astrological interpretation, the sun carries this same significance. It illuminates, heats, warms, brings focus to certain characteristics in a person’s psychology and life story. The sun can represent the is-ness of a person, their quality of being, the light that shines from within them. In ancient Hellenistic astrology, the sun was thought of as Spirit - the inner invisible thing that animates our otherwise mechanical bodies. The reason for being.

For further reflection, consider the placement of the sun at the time of your birth:

  • Rising - When the sun rises, we gain visible clarity. Often, it feels like daytime even before the sun is totally above the horizon. The birds start chirping, people are already going into work, and life is awake again. In the natal chart, the rising sun is indicative of a person who wonders about the reason for being; someone whose life exists in the mystery of those early hours - caught somewhere between productivity and sleepiness.

  • At it’s height - When the sun is at it’s highest point in the sky, most everyone is awake, in the middle of production, or perhaps taking a brief break before they get back into the swing of things. There is a sense of flow, the buzzing silence of work; it is the hottest part of the day and often the most active. In the natal chart, the high sun is suggestive of a person who produces things, manifests ideas, makes dreams come true. This can also show up as goal-oriented, pragmatic, and far-sightedness.

  • Setting - The setting sun is a signal to the world that it is time to tuck in, to get to the place you’ll be once the light is extinguished. There is often a rush to get home, to run any final errands, and a certain kind of fatigue that washes over people as they begin to ponder their dinner and nighttime routines. In the natal chart, the setting sun develops a longing for release - to let go of the productive mind and to become comfortable in the catharsis of unplugging.

  • At it’s lowest - Nighttime is here, and no one expects anyone to be productive at this time. There is a natural desire to be sleeping, disconnected, and reflective. In the natal chart, illumination occurs in reflection; awareness comes through disconnecting from the world at large.


Unlike the sun, the moon is subtle. There is such a difference between the two. Staring at the sun causes eye damage and is somewhat blinding, but to look upon the moon can feel so poetic and it isn’t damaging at all. If anything, it is quite uplifting to see the moon at night, as it is the best natural light source we have once the sun is out of the visible sky.

And isn’t it interesting that we are always discussing the moon in relation to the sun? Even the moon’s cycles are merely reflections of this ongoing dynamic. So what, then, is the moon besides a mirror?

In astrology, we perceive the moon as pre-verbal perception. It is the mysterious inner knowing, the gut feeling, the intuition, the bodily lurch towards or away from something. The ancient astrologers assigned the moon to Fortune - the way things physically incarnate - the way things feel - physical sensation. This is, ultimately, the experience of a nighttime event - you have to use your whole body to navigate through the dark.

For further reflection, consider the phase of the moon at the time of your birth:

  • Dark Moon - The moon was invisible at the time of your birth. Whether or not you were born at night, once night fell there was nothing to be seen in the night sky, there was only darkness and some distant stars. In the native this is indicative of deep introversion; a bodily need for release, letting go, and quiet reflection.

  • Waxing Quarter - The moon was gaining light at the time of your birth. Whether or not you were born at night, once night fell there was a new sense of light in the sky. It was growing and becoming fuller, and it was becoming easier to see on a night time walk. In the native, there is an innate desire for gains. When in doubt, it is safer to keep the things and then to get more things rather than paring down. There is also a bit of adventure and curiosity - a willingness to explore and be extroverted in order to gain more insight about the world.

  • Full Moon - The moon was very bright at the time of your birth. Whether or not you were born at night, once night fell there was a distinct brightness - possibly it felt bright as day. There was a sense of safety and clarity in this illumination. In the native, there is a sense of wholeness and big-ness, of having it all and fecundity. The need to be surrounded becomes prominent - surrounded by the things or the people that provide comfort.

  • Waning Quarter - The moon was losing light at the time of your birth. Whether or not you were born at night, once night fell darkness was becoming more prominent. What was once easier to see under the fullness of the moon was no longer visible due to the moon’s loss of light. In the native, this can show up as introversion, a return to home, to origins, to safety. There can also be a need to return items to their rightful place - to give away - to toss the things that are no longer needed.


Without even getting into the signs, the houses, or the aspects; there is already so much rich information in the simple observation of the sun and moon at the time of birth. Consider these two bright celestial bodies over the next few weeks, and observe what happens through the hours of the day as these two luminaries dance in the sky.