Astrology is the fascinating science and art that delves into who we are, why we are here, and why we do what we do. A lesser known component of Astrology is the degree symbols. When viewing an astrological chart, there are 360 tiny lines that intersect with the circumference. Each line is represented by a degree, and there are 30 degrees within each Sign. Since there are 12 signs in the Zodiac, this adds up to 360 symbols. The degree symbols are not glyphs; rather, they are a symbolic picture of an individual's personal mythology and orientation.
If you were to have a chart generated by software or somewhere online, you'd be given the specific natal location of the Sun, Moon, Ascendant, planets, and so on. You'd also be given the degree of the placement. For example, according to my natal chart, the Sun is in 14 degrees Scorpio and the Moon is 18 degrees Aquarius. Whether using an astrology book or a generated report, the most information usually given would be the meaning of the Moon in Aquarius in the 11th House.
This is obviously more detailed and helpful than just an explanation for Moon in Aquarius! However, there is a discipline within Astrology that gets even more specific, and that is the realm of the 360 symbols. These ancient symbols are most commonly known as the Sabian symbols, but there are other symbolic systems that exist. Most Astrologers shy away from the 360 degree symbols, feeling that it only further complicates Astrology, or, that the Sabian symbols have been accurate at times, but largely hit-and-miss.
Author Martin Goldsmith, Ph.D (history) has studied the symbols of the zodiac for more than 30 years and has done extensive research on planets, signs and houses. After examining thousands of charts he realized that the Sabian symbols were more positive and accurate than other symbol systems; however, some of them had, at best, only a tangential relationship to the Sabian symbols.
In his 369-page book The Zodiac By Degrees: 360 New Symbols, Goldsmith offers an intriguing portrait of each of the 360 symbols. Mixing empirical research with intuition, he fills in the gaps and discrepancies outlined in the Sabian symbols--creating a whole new set of symbols. Astrologers will find this new book a fascinating addition to their interpretative tools, and the layman will discover a new way to see their astrological chart. You don't need to be an astrologer to use these symbols. Online, you can visit a site such as Astro.com to generate a free natal chart. (Scroll down to the section Chart Drawing, Ascendant.) Each degree in your chart is provided (e.g. Mars 11 Degrees Libra), so you can cross reference the degrees with the symbols in the book. If you're not sure of your exact birth time, your Ascendant (also known as rising sign) and House cusps may be off. However, the use of the descriptions of each symbol can be used to rectify your Ascendant. You can also order a chart from me, as well.
Each degree has a symbolic phrase, a paragraph of descriptive phrases, and a listing of famous examples and their occupation, milestones, reason for notoriety, roles played (on stage or in movies) and so on. For example, my Moon is in 18 (degree) Aquarius. The symbolic phrase is:
An ominous silence falls as the last man at a masquerade party prepares to unmask. Outside, a thunderstorm is brewing.
A few of the descriptive phrases:
Exposing uncomfortable truths; unwillingness to relate on a phony, masky level (troublemakers, enjoy rattling people); bringing negative undertones to the surface and clearing the air; breaking through fears and doubts that isolate people from each other...)
Some of the famous examples listed for this degree symbol include:
*Madame Blatavasky (Jupiter. Seeker, mystic, founder of Theosophical Society, wrote Isis Unveiled)
*Frida Kahlo (Chiron. Painter)
*Joseph Campbell (Saturn. Jungian anthropologist-The Masks Of God)
*Roseanne Barr (North Node. Brought social realism to the TV sitcom)
The examples the author picks are specifically related to the symbol itself, which makes it much more interesting than "Roseanne Barr, actress".
One might ask why bother with a interpretative system that isn't cut and dried like the rest of astrology? I believe the author answers this question quite well:
"Imagistic astrology allows you to penetrate to the level of soul and spirit. Symbols are like 'windows to the soul', for, as religious thinkers have always known, symbols can put you in touch with the spiritual energies they represent. Keyword astrology, by contrast, has no real energy. When you read keywords, you begin and end by checking off points on a mental list--That's true; that's true; that's not true. Symbols have the power to engage your intuitive faculties. They help you make a direct connection with a person's basic spiritual energies and penetrate the private language of their personal mythology."
I have found the information on each symbol of my natal chart to be an amazingly accurate portrayal of the archetypal energies that have woven throughout my life. I also compared the book to my husband's chart, yielding fascinating insights. Seasoned astrologers will find The Zodiac By Degrees an invaluable expansion to their interpretive tools. Non-astrologers will appreciate the added depth and breadth that the degree symbols provide to natal chart interpretation.
Content copyright © by Janet Boyer. All rights reserved. This review was written by Janet Boyer. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission.