Your Body and the Stars: The Zodiac as Your Wellness Guide

by Stephanie Marango and Rebecca Gordon

The you that you see in the mirror is a body borne of millions of years of anatomical evolution—a head, a torso, arms, legs, and more that define our species. But what about the rest of you? The parts of you that are not visible or tangible but that define you to your very core? (And by core we mean more than your abdomen!) These bits and pieces of your body are so much more than physical form: they are the living, breathing embodiment of your hopes and fears, strengths and susceptibilities, dreams and disappointments.

Civilizations throughout history have looked to the stars to empower our understanding of ourselves and our world. For aeons, our ancestors saw no distinction between earth and heaven, the natural and the divine; the stars were reflected within the regions of the body and, correspondingly, offered an insightful guide to life’s inner workings. Let’s look at our hands as an example: You likely see two functional appendages, while our ancient Greek predecessors looked at their hands and saw a gift from the gods—a gift from Zeus, ruler of the gods, to be exact. This gift was in the form of twin sons, known in Latin as Gemini, represented as a constellation of stars the sun passes through every year (May 21–June 20).

According to the ancient Greeks, your two hands represent the Gemini connection to realms both mortal and divine, and the communication between one and the other. When you consciously attune to your hands (using them enough but not too much, engaging them in proper alignment, and keeping them strong yet supple), you evoke the best of your own Gemini characteristics no matter when you were born, such as great adaptability and communication. And likewise, if you are not in balance, then Gemini’s susceptibilities—such as feeling scattered—may predominate.

The study of this relationship (between heaven and earth, celestial bodies, and human affairs) became the study of astrology. It is a mathematical art and science that developed out of people’s daily observations and experiences for thousands of years. And as illustrated by the Gemini myth above, our ancestors believed that the physical and nonphysical worlds were united, that ancient gods pervaded, animated, and informed the earthly world.

Without our modern, scientific knowledge, their surroundings—and the wisdom derived from them—were poetry. Storms were not the result of fluctuating meteorological conditions, but the outcome of mighty clashes between the gods. Earth did not arise through a happenstance combination of gases, but was born from the womb of a great Mother. Love was not an activation of dopamine-rich areas of the brain, but a shot from Cupid’s bow. There was no distinction between matter and spirit, nature and divine. Gods regularly influenced, and were influenced by, earthly affairs—and there was no greater place to witness the workings of these divinities than the night sky.

On a clear and dark night, a couple thousand stars may be visible to the naked eye. To the trained eye, these stars combine to form twelve constellations, each with its own story and sign. These twelve constellations lie along the sun’s path, known as the ecliptic plane, forming a starry belt called the zodiac. In principle, the sun travels through one constellation a month, working its way through the entire zodiac in a year. (Since the sun is not actually moving, its apparent path is the trajectory it appears to make in the sky, based on the vantage point of an observer viewing the sun from Earth, which rotates as it orbits the sun.)

According to the IAU’s updated requirements for planet status, eight planets currently exist. That said, astrology counts eleven, including Pluto (plus additional objects like the Sun and Moon—the luminaries—which are not planets, per se, but exert a similar effect).

Each planet represents a dimension of your character. For example, Mars represents action, a powerful force that helps drive you toward your goal whether during a marathon or an argument. Venus, in contrast, characterizes you as a lover and underscores the qualities that attract you to your partner from the get-go. All the planets are present throughout your birth chart.

If the planets function like actors on your living stage, think of the signs as roles that the planets play as they travel through the zodiac. There are twelve zodiac signs of 30 degrees each, equally dividing the 360-degree celestial sphere. And while your sun sign might be the most prominent, all twelve signs live and express themselves within you.

As a planet travels through each of the zodiac signs, it is influenced by each sign’s distinct characteristics. For example: Gemini’s role is communication. When the planet Mars is traveling in Gemini, he brings his trademark style of action into the realm of communication; he might therefore become a verbal powerhouse, aggressively advancing his cause in a way that would make any debate team proud. On the other hand, Venus traveling in Gemini is a charming orator, expressing her message with the grace and ease that befits a beauty pageant queen.

With its complexity, astrology becomes much more than pop culture prediction or predestination. The original intent behind astrology was to optimize the human condition by drawing the connection between the planets and the stars to life on Earth, to use the language of the sky to learn from the past and make the most of the present and future. Throughout time, astrologers have used astrological information for a variety of purposes, including informing important political decisions, forecasting weather patterns, fortuitously timing events, and caring for one’s health. In other words, astrology has been used to answer why, when, and how versus what. And the same holds true today: each horoscope may function like a self-help guide, a way of understanding your true self and living it accordingly. 

Excerpted with permission from Your Body and the Stars, © 2016 by Stephanie Marango and Rebecca Gordon.