Astrology for Real Life: A Workbook for Beginners

Astrology for Real Life: A Workbook for Beginners

by Theresa Reed
Astrology for Real Life: A Workbook for Beginners

Astrology for Real Life: A Workbook for Beginners

by Theresa Reed


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A fun and sassy no-nonsense invitation to the practice of astrology with easy-to-understand tools for self-development and conscious living

Astrology books are typically either overly simplistic sun-sign books or overly complicated chart calculations filled with astro jargon. Astrology for Real Life goes beyond simple sun-sign interpretation and at the same time cuts through the complications of horoscope analysis to make understanding your chart in depth, simple and easy. The goal is to make astrology accessible to total newbies and provide a working reference guide for intermediates.

The book is presented in workbook format exploring each part of chart interpretation—signs, planets, houses, aspects—with exercises following each chapter and fill-in-the-blank lessons that take the reader through all the just-learned steps. The tone is warm, fun, and personal, and the exercises give the reader experiential hands-on practice.

The end result: once you learn the basics in Astrology for Real Life, you can easily navigate the cosmos by making them work for you. It’s kind of like a roadmap where we begin by understanding the terrain and the tools available. From there, the planets will guide you in making brave, excellent choices in love, work, and life. It’s profound, fun, and practical. You’ll learn how to interpret your chart with confidence and use astrology in a practical, proactive way, with no astro excuses (blaming the stars for your issues).

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781578636563
Publisher: Red Wheel/Weiser
Publication date: 10/01/2019
Edition description: Workbook
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 262,019
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Theresa Reed is the host of the Astrology Bytes podcast. She has been a professional, full-time astrologer and tarot reader for over 25 years. Her monthly horoscopes and Star School astrology series are two of the most popular features on her online platforms. She has been featured on Nylon, Refinery29, The Numinous, mindbodygreen, Real Talk Radio, Beyond Worlds, and Spirituality and Health and has appeared on numerous other podcasts, radio shows, and WebTV. Visit her at

Read an Excerpt


Before You Begin

how to use this workbook: • what you'll need • busting a few myths

Your Birth Chart

Before you begin poking around the beautiful world of astrology (and this book), you're going to need a few things. The most important: your birth chart, also known as your natal chart.

The birth chart is a map of the cosmos at the time you were born. This chart can be determined by calculating your exact date, time, and location. Thanks to modern technology, you no longer have to do this by hand. Software does the math for you, so you can spend your time analyzing the details. Whew! Believe me, back in the day, those calculations were a pain. Thank you, astrology software!

You can get a copy of your chart by visiting websites that offer free on-demand birth charts such as or Here's how:


1. Scroll down to the Extended Charts section.

2. Click on For Guest Users or create a profile. I recommend creating a profile because you'll have your info stored and can access other cool features on the site.

3. Check the box for Data Privacy Information.

4. In the Birth Date Entry box, put in your information. For example:

first name: Jane

last name: Smith

gender: female

birthday: 5, December, 1992

hour: 2 (2 AM) min 45

country: USA

birth town: Boston, MA

5. Click Continue.

6. Leave the Chart Type and Chart Drawing Options as is. These are the default settings for a Tropical Chart, Placidus House system, which I use. If you want to use a different house system (explained later in this book), you can fiddle with that under the Options for Zodiac and Houses section.

7. Click on the link named "Click here" to show the chart. Voila! You've got a natal chart! Yay!


8. Fill in all the information on the box below Free Birth Chart & Astrology Report Data Input. Click Submit and BOOM ... your chart is right in front of your eyes. The internet is magic!

Or if you're totally gung-ho on all this astro-biz, you may want to invest in software. The best at the time of this writing is Solar Fire for PC and TimePassages for Mac. These programs have the basics for chart construction, plus everything you need for transits — and more.

Please make sure the information is exact. If you're not sure about the time of your birth, get a copy of your birth certificate (do not rely on Mom — my mother told my sister that her doctor was "busy eating lunch" during her birth, which wasn't helpful ... or entirely accurate). Unfortunately, not all birth certificates have the time. In those cases, you're going to have to guess as best as you can. Or you can work with an astrologer who specializes in "rectified charts," a practice that involves looking at different milestones in your life to determine a time of birth. This specialized service takes a lot of time and skill. I won't even attempt to touch it in this book!

So what if you're off by a few minutes? In some cases, a few minutes may not make a difference. But sometimes it might radically change a chart. It's always best to get as close to the time as you possibly can. If all else fails and you cannot determine a time of birth, you may want to choose to do a Solar Sign chart, which means using sunrise as your birth time. Although this won't give you an accurate ascendant and the houses will not be correct, you can still gather a lot of useful information. In this case, you would want to focus on the planets, signs, and aspects. Again, this chart may not give you the complete picture, but you'll have plenty to work with for a long time!

Next, you'll want a journal. Journaling is a great way to work through the exercises in this book and to record your own thoughts. When you write things down, the brain has a better chance of absorbing the information. Writing down the information is so important for astrology, which can feel overwhelming at the start. A journal dedicated to your astrology studies will help you greatly. Your journal doesn't need to be fancy. Just pick one that you like writing in. You may want to consider pasting a copy of your chart on the inside cover so that it's handy.

Of course, the purpose of this book is to use it as a guide. Look for the journaling sections, scribble in your journal, go through the exercises (called "Astrocises"), add notes from other resources — it's all good! Hands-on is the best way to learn.

Finally, you'll want an ephemeris, which is a reference book that shows you exactly what is happening in the cosmos. This book is a necessary tool for astrologers and is essential for mapping out transits. The times are usually listed as GMT (Greenwich Mean Time). When you first open your ephemeris, you might freak out at all those symbols and numbers. Don't stress; I'll show you how to understand all those arcane-looking tables in an upcoming chapter! You can purchase an ephemeris at your local metaphysical book-store or at one of the online booksellers. If you prefer, you can find digital ephemerides on various websites. (Psst ... Astrology for Real Life is chock full of recommended books to help you go deeper with your studies if you feel called to. If you find a topic that draws you in, you may want to purchase one of my recommendations! My astrology library is packed, yo.)

Once you have all of these things, grab a few pens and let's dive in!

What Astrology Is ... and Isn't

Since the beginning of time, we've been trying to figure out our place in the cosmos. We've tossed bones, gazed into flames, watched the birds, and looked to the heavens for answers. What are we doing here? Who are we? What's it all about, Alfie? More importantly, are our fates predetermined ... or not?

Enter astrology.

Astrology is the study of the stars. It's a neat system believed to have been developed in Egypt many moons ago (pun intended) and passed on to the Babylonians, who are credited with fine-tuning the system into a practical and highly useful tool. The Babylonians used astrology to predict weather patterns, attend to seasonal tasks, and divine the future. Because they had the most advanced mathematical methods, they became quite adept at pinpointing planetary positions and transits. The zodiac was "born" around 500 BCE.

From there, it became intermingled with Egyptian and Greek beliefs before finally making its way to the Western world, where it continued to morph into what we know as astrology today.

Astrology became a respected science, utilized by kings and generals (President Ronald Reagan was a fan!), and finally, the rest of us ordinary folk.


Astrology is a system that studies the effects that the planets and stars have on humans. Astrologers examine the correlation between the positions of the heavenly bodies and their relationship to events on earth. By studying the patterns and positions of the planets at the time of a person's birth, astrologers believe we can get an idea of that person's character and potential.


Not only can astrology give insights into your personality and possibilities for achievement (or trouble), but it can also help with timing events, exploring compatibility with your boo, and making conscious choices.


Astrology is not some foolproof system that will mark out every detail of your life with crystal-clear coordinates. Even though astrology can be a remarkably accurate tool, there are many ways of looking at a chart, which means interpretation could be different from astrologer to astrologer. And even the most gifted astrologer can't possibly see everything. To expect otherwise is unrealistic. No one has that power.

Astrology gives a general idea of the energy that is operating, but there is always room for interpretation ... and error. So just because your astrology chart says that new beau will be an ardent lover who will make you tingle from the top of your crown chakra all the way down to the soles of your feet, don't assume he'll be that way with you.

Astrology is not a guarantee ("My chart shows I'll be rich!"). A challenging chart doesn't mean you're bound to be a drunken lout living under a bridge, nor does one with all the excellent aspects and planetary positions indicate you're destined for a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Because life doesn't work unless you work too.

This means there is no such thing as a good chart or a bad one. Astrology only shows the potential. Whether you take advantage of your strengths or work through your difficult jazz is up to you.

Astrology is a tool for empowerment for those who are willing to look at themselves critically and do the work. When you use astrology in that way, your life becomes magical.



You've probably met plenty of people who roll their eyes when it comes to astrology.

Astrology? C'mon. I'm supposed to believe that{gestures vaguely to the sky}the "planets" and "moons" and "stars"{sarcastic quotation marks}influence my life? Get real. That's crazy.

But actually, it's not "crazy." Think about it. The moon, sun, stars, and planets impact our lives in many ways. This has been studied and confirmed by scientists at top universities!

If you encounter a skeptic, here are three examples you can share with them.


The moon's gravitational pull causes the ocean to have high tide and low tide. Think about that. The moon is so powerful that it's literally pulling the ocean back and forth.

If the moon is so powerful that it influences the entire ocean, is it really so "crazy" to think the moon might be influencing us tiny wee little humans, too? After all, our little human bodies are filled with water, sodium, and various minerals, just like the ocean. Surely, we're being influenced in some way!


Researchers from Columbia University confirm that gravitational tugs from Jupiter and Venus impact our climate here on Earth.

As reported in USA Today: "Scientists can now link changes in the climate, environment, dinosaurs, mammals and fossils around the world to this 405,000-year cycle in a very precise way," says Dennis Kent, a paleomagnetism expert at Columbia. Boom. Proof that other planets influence life here on Earth. (See 05/07/climate-changes-orbits-jupiter-and-venus-affect-earths-climate/ 587280002/.)


Different seasons — spring, summer, autumn, winter — are caused by the tilt of the Earth's rotational axis relative to the Sun.

In wintertime, when it's dark, many people struggle with S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and experience apathy, exhaustion, anxiety, and depression.

That's one very clear way that a celestial body in the sky (in this case, the Sun) can influence how human beings feel and behave.

You can share those three examples with a skeptical friend. Hopefully, they'll begin to see that's not really "silly" or "crazy" to think that the moon, sun, stars, and planets influence our lives. Because ... we know that they do!

When you study astrology, you're studying the subtle and emotional ways that the moon, sun, stars, and planets impact us — impact how we feel, how we behave, and the challenges and opportunities that arise at different moments.

Look, your ol' friend might still be totally skeptical, and that's okay! We're all entitled to our own beliefs, and you don't have to persuade or convince anyone to see the world the way you do.

However, when your skeptical friend's computer crashes during the next Mercury Retrograde and they lose the 80,000-word PhD thesis that they've been working on for three years, you can just gently shrug and say, "Well, I did warn you. ..."


Some schools of thought believe everything is predetermined. Others think that we create the future. There's actually a grain of truth in both camps.

Here are my thoughts on the matter.

Some things are fated. For example, a child born with the ability to paint like Picasso at the age of four is a prodigy. This isn't a learned behavior; it's an innate skill that cannot be explained. The talent is there, and by leaning into it, the child has the potential for great success.

Our free will determines the outcome. Let's say that same child prodigy develops his talent for a time to great acclaim but one day decides that he wants to be a plumber. He abandons his painting and enrolls in a trade school. His path, which seemed to be fated, has now shifted because he made a different choice.

Although we have free will, we assume we don't. Or we don't utilize it. This is why fortune-telling and predictive astrology seem to work. You'll get a reading, suppose that's the way the oatmeal cookie disintegrates, and then sit around, waiting for that tall, handsome stranger to arrive bearing gifts or for disaster to strike. This mindset treats life like some sort of waiting-for-things-to-happen, which is about as passive as it gets.

A better approach is to be proactive. This means: understand your chart and what may lie ahead, but then make smart decisions with that information. (Personal responsibility feels so good!) If you treat astrology like you're the boss, it will work for you.

To illustrate my point, I have a crummy chart by most standards. With a Scorpio Moon and a whole mess of Mutable planets in a tough T-square, it's no wonder astrologers wince when they take a gander at my chart. By all means, I should be screwed according to the heavens! But it hasn't worked out that way. Sure, I've had my share of drama here and there, but for the most part, I am happily married, have great kids, and have a successful career. My life rocks!

Why? I knew where I was lucky and where I needed to work. And then I took responsibility and made conscious choices along the way that allowed me to create a life I love. I use astrology as a guide, not as a bible. It's my secret sauce!

Another example: not that long ago, I had Saturn running through my second house of money. An astrologer buddy said, "Oh, looks like you're going to be broke."

I laughed and said, "That's not how I roll." I knew that Saturn can be a badass, but if you approach it with mindfulness and an eye for structure, you can work together like a dream team. With this in mind, I created a new budget and a big goal: pay off my mortgage fifteen years early.

Once I got this plan in place, I hunkered down like a banker during the Great Depression. I counted every penny, clipped coupons, looked for deals, and paid extra on the house. By the time the transit came to a close, I was only a year away from that big goal. Oh, and I was debt-free too.

That's how to max out the cosmos.

Once you move through this book, you'll be operating like that. Conscious. Responsible. Positioned for success. Sound good? Let's make the magic happen!

Journaling Exercise

How do you feel about free will versus fate? When have you felt as if life was leading you? Can you recall a time when your decisions completely changed your life?



In this section, we get all the nuts 'n bolts ironed out. You build a solid foundation, which sets you up to understand and speak this whole astrology jive confidently.

Me Speak Astrology One Day (get the lingo down)

Once upon a time, my husband and I were engaged in a "smart war." Hey, we're both ruled by Mercury, so it's only natural that this is how we amuse ourselves. Anyhow, he was babbling on about physics or some such thing when I got sick of his science spiel and pulled out my ephemeris. I started reciting calculations and fancy-schmancy words like quincunx and ascendant. It was all Greek to him. That didn't end the smart wars, but it did shut him down temporarily.

When you first begin studying astrology, that's what the jargon feels like — a strange, arcane language that I like to call "astro-babble." For geeks like me, it's a way to sound like a genius. But really, it's not that complicated, people.

Once you learn some of the primary language, you're in like some smarty-pants Jeopardy contestant. Or, at the very least, you can start rattling off these terms the next time some ivory-tower scholar tries to intimidate you. "Yeah, well, that information about the ancient civilizations and space does sound interesting, but did you know that right now the planets are forming a geometric angle called an inconjunct, and it's going to be creating chaos in the cosmos?"

See how rad you sound?!

Here are some words to get down, stat:

Ascendant: The Ascendant, also called the Rising sign, is the sign and degree of the zodiac as it was rising at your time of birth. It's your public image or the face you present to the world.

Aspects: These are the geometric angles formed between planets and the angles of the houses. The aspects show whether the planets are cooperating ... or not. This is how you can determine if you've got trouble ahead — or easy street.

Astrology: Astrology is the study of the movements of the celestial bodies and the belief that they affect our lives here on planet earth.


Excerpted from "Astrology for Real Life"
by .
Copyright © 2019 Theresa Reed.
Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Part One Before You Begin,
Your Birth Chart,
What Astrology Is ... and Isn't,
Part Two Fun-damentals,
Me Speak Astrology One Day (get the lingo down),
The Different Types of Astrology (Yes, There Is More Than One),
It's Elemental, Dear Watson,
Characteristics of the Zodiac Signs,
The Planets,
Retrograde Planets in the Natal Chart,
Asteroids and Other Interesting Points,
The Astrological Houses — Home, Sweet Home,
Angular, Succedent, and Cadent Houses,
The Hemispheres,
Chart Patterns,
House Systems,
Strengths, Weaknesses, and Singletons — What's Standing Out?,
Rulership, Exaltations, and Other Ways to Determine Planetary Power,
What's Your Angle? Introduction to the Aspects,
How to Read an Ephemeris,
Summary of the Fun-damentals,
Part Three The Itty-Bitty Nitty-Gritty,
The Sun,
The Moon,
Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto,
The Ascendant (Rising Sign),
Part Four Putting It All Together,
The Down and Dirty Way to Interpret a Chart,
Transit Authority,
How to Make Retrogrades Your Bee-yotch!,
Three Big Returns to Watch Out For,
Make Magic with the Moon,
Business as Unusual,
Advanced Alert!,
What to Consider When Making Predictions,
Tips on How to Practice,
Final Thoughts,
Resources Galore!,

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