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Tutorial: How to Understand Astrology Previews

Wondering how to get more in depth insights from my monthly astrology preview episodes over at the Spirit World Center (or any other year or month ahead astrology media!)? Here’s a step by step guide. 


When you're listening to year or month-ahead astrology media, it's really easy to get lost in the jargon and fast-moving dialogue. I often get emails from clients and friends: "Okay, but how is that thing you mentioned going to affect me?!" This post will help break down the process of how to personalize monthly or year-ahead preview readings to your own life.

When you're listening to a show about the astrology of the future, you're listening to an astrologer talk about the upcoming transits; that is: the movement of celestial bodies (like planets) through the sky in the months or years to come.

To understand how those movements will affect you, personally, you can compare them to your own birth chart and get some hints. When you pay an astrologer for a reading, this is the most basic essence of what they're doing.

While this process certainly can't take the place of a professional reading, it can probably help you get a lot more out of the shows you're watching and learn more about astrology in general.


Step One: Get a Whole Sign House Birth Chart

First things first, cast a whole sign house birth chart for free. If you already have one, head to step two. If you need help figuring out how to do this, head over to my tutorial. It only takes a few minutes and you only have to do it once! Once you have it, save your chart so you can reference back to it each month. 

Your birth chart or "natal chart" is a picture of the sky the moment you were born. It shows the planets, luminaries (the Sun and Moon), comets, fixed stars, lots and other features and reveals which constellations they were in at the time of your birth. We'll need this to compare to the current and future transits.

Step Two: Houses & Signs

Each house has information for us and the two most crucial starting points to understanding your birth chart are identifying the "sign" and the number of the house.

The sign refers to the signs of the zodiac. Signs are indicated by the colored glyphs that form a ring around the chart. They always occur "in order"  (the same way they occur throughout the passing of time in a year) moving counter-clockwise around the chart:

♈️ Aries

♉️ Taurus

♊️ Gemini

♋️ Cancer

♌️ Leo

♍️ Virgo

♎️ Libra

♏️ Scorpio

♐️ Sagittarius

♑️ Capricorn

♒️ Aquarius

♓️ Pisces

The glyphs of the signs

We're also interested in the number of the house which is indicated by the numbers running 1-12 on the inner ring of the chart. They will always occur in counter-clockwise, ascending order and will always begin with 1.

With your chart in hand, locate your rising sign in the 1st house. It is the leftmost point of the zodiac wheel in the image, indicated by the number 1.

Etta James' has Libra ♎ in the first house. Conversationally, we can say she is a "Libra Rising". I've circled the glyph for Libra on the left and the house number (1) on the right.

Your rising sign is the first house in the chart and is signified by a glyph, indicating the sign. There are many different ways astrologers say this, including:

  • "Ascendant in Libra"

  • "Ascendant at 3° Libra"

  • "Libra Rising"

  • "Libra in the 1st (house)"

Any of those phrases would imply that Libra is the sign associated with the first house.

Once we know the rising sign, we are able to automatically determine which signs are in the subsequent houses by following the natural zodiacal order around the wheel. Etta James, for example, has Libra in the 1st. So she must have Scorpio in the 2nd, Sagittarius in the 3rd, Capricorn in the 4th, and so on.

Step Three: Significations of the Houses

Now that you have an idea of which sign occupies each house in your chart, we can start to look closer at the meanings of the houses themselves.

All the houses in your chart are associated with specific themes, people, and places in your life. Here’s a simple starting list of associations I’ve found to be true in my work (informed by the tradition of Hellenistic astrology).

Putting it All Together 

When you break it down this way, it's easier to see a sort of "mad lib" or "keyword" method to all the madness. When in doubt, try to fill out something along the lines of the below:

_______ (the transit) is happening in my _____ (number) house of ________ (sign) and will bring _________ (the transit's qualities) affect my ________ (significations).

Imagine I say on the show "The Mars <> Venus conjunction will be bringing intensity, passion, and possibly friction to the Aquarius part of your chart....." I am describing the transit (a Mars <> Venus conjunction) and also the qualities of that transit (intensity, passion, and possible friction).

If we combine that information with our Etta James birth chart sample, that sentence would read:

"The Mars<>Venus conjunction is happening in my 5th house of Aquarius and will be bringing intensity, passion, and possibly friction to my sex life, vitality, and creativity."


It may still seem complicated and that's okay! Practice absolutely makes perfect. If you follow this format month after month, it will get significantly easier and you will find yourself learning over time. As always, I'm only an email away if you're truly stumped!

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