What is it? What does it mean?
Sometimes this word is used to designate the forecast or prediction of events based on the alignment of planets in the sky at any given time. As such, it has been seriously abused and twisted by the popularized (and usually meaningless and sappy) "fortune-cookie" versions that appear in newspaper features and other products we all know so well.
A horoscope to an Astrologer, however, is a map of the sky ... charted in a circular diagram ... showing where the different planets were located and their relationship to each other at a specific time of interest -- such as the moment of birth of a person, event, or other "entity."
This is what it looks like:
What does it show?
The odd symbols are called glyphs. They represent the planets and signs in a graphic shorthand Astrologers can read at a glance. The horoscope shows which sign each planet occupies. There are twelve signs in the Zodiac, each each planet is placed in one of them.
Just as you have a Sun Sign and a Moon Sign, you have a Mars Sign and a Saturn Sign, etc. These get less attention and publicity in the mainstream culture, but each contains important information.
The other thing a horoscope shows is where each planet is located relevant to the others -- and where they were in the sky at the time the horoscope depicts. The wedges formed by the lines that criss-cross the circle are the houses of the horoscope. (You've probably at least heard the term mentioned in passing.)
Each house depicts an area of concern in building a complete, fulfilled life -- things like money and possessions, language skills, partnership, professional standing and goals. Planets placed in a house bring interests and abilities to that area of life. And again, an Astrologer can tell immediately when seeing a horoscope what life areas are emphasized and which aren't.
Why does it matter?
Your horoscope tells where you are invested and how you approach these concerns. The totality of it describes your character, your Karma, your unfolding future. It's a lot to contain in one image -- on one sheet of paper, but that's what a horoscope does -- and why it's so intriguing and vital. Getting your horoscope "done" -- read and explained by a competent practitioner -- can be a life-changing experience like no other.
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