In your predictions for 2016, which signs, in particular, will be rewarded?

When we are talking about signs that are fortunate and also those that are less fortunate in 2016, it is necessary to mention decans and to highlight some exceptions. I would certainly say that Taurus, Scorpio and Leo merit the podium, both because they have numerous planets in favourable positions, and because the tiring transit of Saturn has recently ended. The exception is for those born in the third decan of these signs, who will have to face the long and insidious negative transit of Mars, in particular in the months of February, March, May and June. Specific mention must be made of Aquarius, which, above all in the second part of the year, will rediscover that freedom of being that has been missing for some time.

Who will emerge the most damaged from 2015?

Those who have not done their homework will emerge the most damaged. In astrology, now that the “positive” and “negative” have been superseded, one can easily identify the tragedies and the moments of glory. Thus, one can state, for example, that the first decans of Gemini and Virgo, as well as the third decans of Taurus and Leo, not to mention some of the second decans of Cancer, have certainly been the most disadvantaged, tired, knocked out and stressed by 2015. If, on the one hand, it is undeniable that there have been difficult and tiring transits which have been translated into moments in life that are crucial and serious, on the other hand, the experience of working individually shows that knowledge and intense work on escaping from the cage of ones own character, together with the ability to be in tune with celestial time can even overturn the prediction and transform the years envisioned as “dark moments”, into phases of considerable personal development.

The winning couples in love in 2016?

A difficult question. When does one win in love? How many want to “win together” rather than wanting a personal victory? There are couples who only really win when they split up. In astrology, relationships should be investigated by comparing the birth charts of the two partners, in what is known as Synastry (the relationship horoscope). For fun, lets say that, on paper, the Taurus – Scorpio couple appear to be the strongest, with Leo – Libra in second place.

Can you explain to us the role of the ascendant or rising sign? And what its importance is in the sign it belongs to.

The ascendant is the appearance, the superficial layer, the “person” in the sense of mask, face, façade. It is our colouring, our clothing and our way of walking, of shaking hands and of combing our hair. The ascendant is the way in which we make our entrance into the world, the part of us that we show immediately to the Other. The ascendant is also the cusp of the first astrological house and its position determines the scope and the collocation of all twelve houses. Its importance is decisive in the analysis of a birth chart, to the extent that from the combination of the Sign (of the Sun) and the Ascendant one can achieve a good descriptive level of the subject. Let’s take, for example, a Capricorn with ascendant Gemini and a Capricorn with ascendant Libra. In both we will find the well-known traits of toughness, the ability to sacrifice, strength, endurance and reserve. But in the first case we have a drive towards sociability, a greater acceptance of the light-heartedness of the world, great wit, a nose for business and a cool and clear-headed character, continually alternating between the old and the new. In the second house, on the other hand, the Saturn component predominates (the planet that Libra and Capricorn have in common) and so the subject will be restrained, reflective, introverted, discerning and, at the same time, in need of affection.

Which signs are the easiest and which are the most difficult with regard to the general aspects of life?

The reaction to life can be investigated by starting from different points on the birth chart. Often, the position of the Moon tells us a great deal about this, just as the position of the Ascendant does. I don’t think we can talk about “the general aspects of life” because it is the very nature of the issue that makes the difference. The problems of work steal sleep from the Virgo, while a Pisces is better able to deal with loneliness, and a Cancer with separation from the family. It is clear that we cannot disregard the past events in a person’s life if we are to have a complete picture. If we want to talk about star signs we can divide them by elements and say that the Earth signs are more pragmatic, slower in reacting and hostile to unexpected events. The Water signs are sensitive, deep and shrewd, and have muted and unseen reactions. The Fire signs are instinctive and courageous, ingenious , impatient and like to see things clearly. The Air signs are mercurial, adaptable, incapable of staying still and intolerant of the absence of interchange.

How do you calculate the birth chart and what is its purpose?

The birth chart is calculated with ad hoc programmes, many of which are free and available on specialist websites. It is only necessary to know the date, hour and place of birth. There are still those who work it out manually, as it was done in the past, following tables and doing calculations. For the astrologer the birth chart is the main instrument of work, a map filled with information and clues which are constantly and quickly compared to what the enquirer recounts and with what is happening to them.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to become an astrologer?

I will use the metaphor beloved of Marco Pesatori, a person who taught me much more than just astrology and who is certainly more able than me to give advice: learning astrology is like learning to play the piano. First one needs the technique, which can be learnt in a short time. One needs to know how to play every note, then several notes together, then to train the ear to hear all the notes sounding within each note (or star sign). Then one must free oneself from the technique, creating new harmonies, variations and improvisations. All of this – I would add – without falling into a delirium of omnipotence that is common to many and without sinking into a slapdash attitude and without losing ones ethical principles. One has the presumption of knowing everything, to dominate life with knowledge. But astrology derives from the need to defend oneself from an infinite and frightening world, more than from the will to dominate it.

What is the principle characteristic of each of the signs: Earth, Water, Fire and Air?

Earth: endurance            Water: sensitivity            Fire: courage           Air: communication

How important are the Sun and the Moon in the context of the birth chart?

The Sun and the Moon are symbols of the masculine and the feminine, present in each one of us, as well as our relationship with the masculine and the feminine. Both are of fundamental importance in the analysis of the reference models: Sun – father, Moon – mother, and, therefore, often central to the interpretation of a birth chart. If the Sun, drawn as a circle, represents the id in its totality and the centre of the individual, the Moon, drawn as a sliver, is the area of transparency, the part that is moist, thin and deep.

What is the role of the planets with regard to the star signs, and what would their ideal position be?

The planets indicate a quality, and the sign defines its modes of expression. If Mars, the planet that indicates the qualities of energy and strength, is in Virgo, then the strength of the individual will be filtered by reason, and energy will be organised, conserved and honed. If, on the other hand, we think of Mars in Aries, we immediately have to imagine that energy will manifest itself in an explosive, rapid and blazing manner. Any relationships of the planet with other planets of the birth chart will help to obstruct these propensities. Modern astrology, as was already the case with classical astrology, applies a precise method according to which there is a relationship of domiciliation between the planets and the signs. To put it simply, there are signs in which the planets are in their own home; sometimes they are so at home that they are in exultation, while in other signs they feel estranged or even exiled. One might think that the ideal position of a planet is the sign in which it is domiciled or exulted, therefore, that it is better that Venus is in Taurus, that Mercury is in Virgo and that Mars is in Scorpio. I do not think that this is so. I find that every position is significant and unique in the way in which it is experienced by the individual. Not only that, but very often it is precisely the positions that are not ideal that stimulate the development of an individual, with results that go far beyond those derived from a planets-signs arrangement that is convenient and relaxed.