When one is an experienced astrologer one can jump right into a chart and swim around, going, often by instinct to where one needs to focus. This is more difficult for a beginning student, who often feels more comfortable having a definite agenda to follow. And so I’m presenting you with the one that I follow, sometimes carefully, at other times loosely, depending on the situation.
The first thing to look at in a chart is whether or not there are oppositions. (See article called “Cardinal, Fixed, and Mutable.”)
Next tabulate which planets are in fire, earth, air, and water, and which are in cardinal, fixed, and mutable signs. Check to see which element and modality predominates. To have predominance there must be at least 4 planets in that element without having an equal number in another element. The same rule of 4 holds true for checking preponderance by modality. (See article called “Elements and Modalities.”)
Next check to see if there is a sole dispositor to the chart. (See article called “Sole Dispositor.”)
Check to see if all planets are in the upper half (houses 7 – 12), lower half (houses 1 – 6, on the east side of the chart (houses 10 – 3), or the west side (houses 4 – 9). Check also to see if there is a single planet in any one of these hemispheres. (See article called “Hemisphere Emphasis.”)
Look at chart formation. (See article called “Chart Formation.”)
Check to see if there are any squares in the chart (it is extremely rare to find a chart without them), and then find the square that is the closest-to-exact.
Check for major aspects between the four planetary departments: (1) Sun/Moon (See article called “Sun/Moon aspects: the Department of Vitality”), (2) Venus/Mars (See article called “Venus/Mars Aspects: The Department of Efficiency”), (3) Jupiter/Saturn (See article called “Jupiter/Saturn Aspects: The Department of Motivation”), and (4) Uranus/Neptune (See article called “Uranus/Neptune Aspects: The Department of Significance”).
Next, determine how many of these four departments are activated by aspect. If all, none, one, or three are activated, refer to the article called “The Life Approach (1).” If two are activated, refer to the article called “The Life Approach (2).”
Measure the distance from the Sun to the Moon, and then referring to the table in the article called “Lunar Mansions: An Introduction” determine which Lunar Mansion the Moon is in. Once you have done this you can then proceed to the corresponding Lunar Mansion interpretation found in the various articles covering this subject.
Once you have completed all these steps its a matter of synthesizing the information into a coherent whole, which is the art of astrology. You will find that the more familiar you become with the information contained in these blogs and the more charts you do following this method, the easier and clearer it will become to see how all the various parts combine to make the whole. May the planets guide you in clear and right ways as you explore the zodiac!