"Know thyself". It was the advice of the ancient greeks, and perhaps it is the greatest and most important phrase of wisdom they left behind. It is also the most precious gift offered by astrology. Though self-knowledge of course can be attained without astrology, the depth and insight gained by the tools of the astrological art is simply beyond comparison. Truly, the "eureka!"-experience of astrology can be unforgettable.
Questions like: "Why do I react in a certain way?", "What needs and motives run deep within me and how do I better connect with them?" "How can I become more aware to resolve issues within me that seem to always return?" "How do others percieve me?", and so much more. It is not so much that people in our modern world are more lost; sure, nobody knows who they really are, but then again nobody knew that in early times either. The breakthrough of psychology, therapy, alternate world-views and eastern thought etc. has indeed brought another dimension of soul searching into our lives. But in most cases psychology fails to incorporate the important spiritual and soul-related parts of the human psyche, threatening to reduce human behaviour to a showcase for some particular school of thought.
This is something astrology usually can avoid, in spite of its own suspect foundations and doubtful scientific status. Various astrological schools differ in detail and practice, but seldom in grounding principles and interpretive meanings. It can seem narrow and fatalistic to trust the planets of the solar system to give hints about personality, but it really isn't. Astrology is a free, individualistic discipline, providing self-insight without confining anybody.
This is an important branch of astrology but one that often seems neglected. In choosing education and vocation, or just getting a general feel for one's professional outlet, astrology can be an invaluable guide. It never states "you must choose this or that line of work", but it gives important hints to why certain fields would be fitting. And perhaps more importantly, it shows the potential psychological satisfaction or struggle we should expect pursuing our dreams. Still it is essential not to take suggestions of this kind as gospel truth, for no astrologer is good enough to see everything. Also, what the horoscope has to say of these potentials can be vague and hard to bring to focus.
For understandable reasons, the particular use of astrology for synastry, i.e. determining romantic compatibility between lovers or would-be lovers, is one of the most popular and widespread. The demand for astrological lovematching is great not only for its considerable helpfulness, but also, I suspect, for the entertaining insight it provides to couples, friends and associates about their relating. The danger, as usual of course, is that people go no further than matching Sun-signs. While this tactic isn't completely pointless, it leaves way too much unexplored. A real horoscope overlay between partners, noticing cross-aspects, individual planet/sign weight factors and house overlays is necessary. This indeed could fulfil the expectations of relationship astrology.
The study of astrology introduces the cosmic perspective, or the realization that nothing in our universe is created, maintained or ended in isolation. There is an inner structure and belonging, though perhaps not explicit purpose, to our existence. At the same time this idea is a humbling one. It implies that human life, however important it may seem to us, are but one manifestation of spirit and intelligence: the one we happen to experience. Believing this, we will come to realize that the human mind is caged, unable to fathom with intellect all levels of being. The infinite mystery of the cosmos has always left people in awe. Astrology does not change this.
I will not say much about this; however, this "branch" of astrology is the entire foundation of ancient astrology. In fact, it was all that that anyone in the old days would even consider astrology to be useful for. Today things are different, but astrology has by no means lost its roots in the predictive field. Most astrologers do not aspire to use astrology for exact predictions of events, as it is notoriously evasive and unsatisfying. The planets keep on moving though, every day, and their position at a certain time indicates trends and periodic influences in our lives. The horoscope methods used for predictions in this broad sense are called transits, progressions and arcs.
In the beginning I cited the ancient pearl of wisdom, "Know thyself". It would be fitting to the background of this article to mention how the motto is believed to continue, namely: "Know thyself - and thou shall know all the mysteries of the gods and of the universe."