When the fall semester commenced, I finally had the amazing opportunity to meet many of my fellow Michigan in Color writers in person for the very first time. Nearly every single person I’ve met so far has asked me something along the lines of: “So, how do you write those horoscopes?” I always try to stammer out a response that isn’t too long-winded but still encapsulates the process, even though it always ends up sounding like a different language to the other person.
There is a misconception that horoscopes are just completely made up by the writers. However, they actually require a lot of research. Horoscopes are based on various astrological events in a given time frame. In astrology, space is divided into twelve 30-degree circular sectors that encompass all of the planets in our solar system. Each 30-degree sector is what we call an astrological/zodiac sign. In my weekly column, I mainly focus on planetary ingress (planets moving from one sign to another), transits/aspects (the angles that planets make with each other), retrogrades (when planets appear to move backwards) and both full and new moon phases (signals of the start or the end of a life cycle).
The first step in my writing process is to find out which events are occurring each week. I always use cafeastrology.com to track each event every week, and then I compile all of the planetary movements and the dates and times at which they occur under the “Celestial Motion” section that appears at the top of every horoscope I publish. I use this section as a general guide so I don’t need to waste space on dates and information applicable to all signs in the individual zodiac sign sections. However, I don’t put the general information into paragraph form until I’ve finished writing each sign’s messages so that I know what topics I mention most throughout the piece and I can ensure my general information will set up the readers to understand their individual sign messages. I also know that people often skip the Celestial Motion section, so I want to make sure that everything within the zodiac messages can stand on its own.
Up until this point, my process requires little effort since I’ve only taken down dates so far. Now that I’m ready to write the individual zodiac sign sections, I need more information that is zodiac-sign specific.
I base my zodiac sign section on the type of astrological event, the planets involved, the signs of the planets and the astrological house(s) (another rotating wheel split into 12 sectors just like the zodiac wheel). The house wheel makes one full rotation every two hours, which is why it’s important to note the exact time that these transits occur. There are different ways to determine where the houses start and end, but I use the Whole Sign House system, which neatly aligns the houses to the zodiac wheel. To find where each planet fits into a house, I use a website to draw a birth chart for the date and time of each event I want to track.
You might know that each sign has its own properties: Aries is the sign of passion and anger, Taurus is the sign of love and luxury and Gemini is the sign of communication and intelligence. However, each planet also has its own set of properties: Mercury is the planet of communication, Venus is the planet of love, Mars is the planet of anger and passion and so on. Houses also have their own set of properties: the first house deals with self-identity, the second house deals with money, the third house deals with communication and so on. While signs and planets typically deal with areas of someone’s personality, houses represent an area in a person’s life. For instance, if your birth chart has an Aries Sun in the seventh house of partnerships, your Aries sun traits of passion and straightforwardness will manifest in your relationships.
This is where things start to get pretty complicated; houses in horoscopes aren’t exactly the same as house placements in natal charts. The houses are labeled from numbers 1 to12, and the planets fall somewhere in these divisions. When interpreting birth charts, you simply mark down the number of the house that contains the planet. For example, if Venus falls inside the house labeled fifth on the birth chart, we would say that Venus is in the fifth house; it’s pretty straightforward. While I haven’t been able to find exact instructions on tracking houses in any astrology-related articles online, I have read many other horoscopes and noticed patterns in the definitions of the houses and the descriptions of each sign’s horoscope. First, locate the planet of interest on the chart. Next, look at the sign and the house that contains the planet. Regardless of the numbers displayed on the chart, I assign this house as the first house for this sign. Each sign has its own definition of houses, and the house containing the planet in question is always assigned as the first house.
The next numbers in the sequence are assigned to each house in a clockwise direction. Since I want to know the planet’s house number for every sign, I just go counter-clockwise around the circle. For example, let’s say that Mars’ orbit has led it into Libra’s sector of the sky. This means that for Libras, Mars is in their first house. Virgo is one sign counterclockwise of Libra, meaning its first house is one house counterclockwise of Mars’ current position. Houses are counted in a clockwise direction, so Mars is located in Virgo’s second house. Leo is two signs counterclockwise of Libra, so this means Venus is in Leo’s third house. Continue with this cycle until each zodiac sign has a house number assigned to every planet with a notable planetary event.
According to the event type, planet, sign and house, I can get an idea of what astrology predicts will happen. Using our earlier example, we will say that Mars is moving into the sign of Libra. Now, I want to know what this means for Capricorns. Capricorn is nine places away from Libra counterclockwise, so we know that Mars is in Capricorn’s tenth house. When a planet changes signs, it takes on qualities of the sign and house it enters. Mars is the planet of passion, Libra is a sign of diplomacy and the tenth house is the house of career and ambition. From this information, I would say that Capricorns will have some sort of breakthrough at work, and they should communicate their ideas with their coworkers and managers in order to progress. Repeat this process for every astral event for every sign.
Once I’ve finished writing for every sign, I go back to the Celestial Motion section and note all the general information that I don’t cover in the zodiac sign sections or information that I think is useful for all interpretations.
These are pretty much the essential components of my horoscope configuration. There are other concepts I include in my horoscopes such as ruling planets that I didn’t include here, and there are concepts like moon signs, chiron and minor aspects that I don’t even include in my horoscopes because, in my opinion, they are too irrelevant and excessive for a weekly horoscope. The amount of time I spend on each horoscope depends on the number of events per week, but they can range anywhere between two to six hours.
I cannot speak for every astrologer, but this is my method of writing horoscopes. As far as I’m aware, there is no definitive guide for horoscope writing, and I don’t particularly think there should be. While astrology is a practice with pretty defined guidelines, I think it’s important for people to define their belief system for themselves.
If you’re completely new to astrology, I recommend using Cafe Astrology’s free birth chart reports to get familiar with the meanings of different planets, signs and houses as they relate to your life:
If you ever come across a word you don’t know in astrology, theastrologydictionary.com has a ton of definitions:
If you’re interested in learning more about any astrological concepts like houses or retrogrades, astrology.com’s “Learn” page has great links to different resources:
I use astrologyking.com for all my information on the dynamics of different planetary transits. This website also has good information on aspects in birth charts:
I use Astroseek’s birth chart calculator to draw charts for my horoscopes since this website allows you to easily change the date and time:
If you want to read more horoscopes, I referenced these when I was trying to figure out how to deduce information for my column:
MiC Columnist Andy Nakamura can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.