There are tons of birthday-related info you can find with a simple Google search like ‘What were the hit songs on my birthday?’ and ‘What were the news headlines on my birthday?’. Fascinating as they are, these historic snapshots of what the world was like on the day of your birth are just new inventions compared to your astrology chart.
Your astrology chart, also called a natal chart or birth chart, is a snapshot of the position of the stars and planets in the sky on the day you were born. Many ancient cultures believed these positions could give insight into your life path and your personality. Long before the existence of personality tests, the Babylonians were dividing the sky into twelve neat slices, each of which had its own symbolic meanings, giving us the zodiac as we know it today.
A natal chart shows you all of how these twelve slices of the sky and the planets affect aspects of your personality, public identity, self-perception, and desires. While your natal chart can look like a bunch go gobbledygook at first glance, the chart is easy to read once you know how it’s structured. So, let’s get started with the basics.
Some Basic Terminology for Reading Your Natal Chart
- A placement is the position a celestial body is located in on your natal chart.
- A house corresponds to a constellation, more specifically, it deals with the realms of human experience that each constellation represents. That’s why they’re numbered from 1 to 12.
- The elements of your natal chart are fire, water, earth, and air. These correspond to each of the zodiac signs.
- Fire: Creative and passionate, the fire signs are Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius.
- Water: Intuitive and mystical, the water signs are Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces.
- Earth: Grounded and practical, the earth signs are Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn.
- Air: Mentally agile and communicative, the air signs are Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius.
- The zodiac signs are organized into modalities which are used for marking important points on your natal chart such as your ascendant.
- Cardinal: The cardinal signs are the rulers of their elements and they are Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn.
- Mutable: The mutable signs are Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces, making them some of the most adaptable signs.
- Fixed: The fixed signs are Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius so while they can be a little set in their ways, they are the stable influences of your astrology chart.
Identifying Your Sun, Moon, and Rising
A sun sign is the constellation that the sun was ‘in’ at the time of your birth, hence the name. This is the conventional zodiac sign that most people know about because it’s the most straightforward way to figure out your astrological birth info. For example, if the sun is in the constellation Cancer in the days of June 22 to July 22, you’re a Cancer. Well, I’m a Cancer, and if you look at the natal chart above, you’ll see that there’s a circle with a dot inside (☉) positioned under the Cancer (♋︎) symbol.
Your sun sign is your ego. It is the conscious, overt, and active force of your identity. Despite this, not everyone relates fully to their sun sign and that’s when other placements in your chart come into play.
Indicated by a crescent moon (☽), your moon sign tells you what constellation the moon was ‘in’ during the time of your birth. This represents your emotional and subconscious side as well as the part of you that you keep out of the public eye. It symbolizes your inner private life.
In the example chart above, the moon is in Gemini.
Rising or Ascendant
Your rising sign or ascendant sign is the constellation rising on the eastern horizon when you were born. It is represented on your natal chart by the letters AC. It symbolizes your public identity, or to be more accurate, the person others see you as. Because of this, your ascendant shapes other people’s perceptions of you which in turn shapes their interactions with you.
The ascendant in the example chart is Virgo.
This means the example chart is a Cancer sun, Gemini moon, Virgo rising. Put these together and you’ve got the three main things people look at when they ask about your natal chart.
The Planets of Your Natal Chart
Aside from the sun which symbolizes your identity and the moon which symbolizes your inner self, there are other celestial bodies in your natal chart whose positions affect your personality depending on which house they’re in.
Named for the messenger god Mercury, or Hermes for the Greek geeks out there, the planet Mercury (☿) is all about communication. It speaks about how we communicate with others and how we get our ideas across. When combined with placements, the house that Mercury falls under describes a person’s communication style.
Venus (♀) is the planet named after the goddess of love and beauty so it’s only fitting that it talks about what we find beautiful and our ideals of love.
Mars (♂) is the masculine counterpart to Venus, symbolizing active energy and even aggression. Where Mars is in your natal chart tells you where that active, go go go energy appears the most and how it manifests.
Jupiter (♃) is also called “The Great Benefic” due to its rulership over matters of abundance and luck, but Jupiter doesn’t deal in the kind of luck that lets you win the lottery. Instead, it’s all about opportunity and having the right skills and knowledge to take advantage of an opportunity when it arises.
Saturn (♄) is about the professional realm and the achievements we gain through work. The association is linked with Saturn’s relationship with karma which in this context is about reaping what you sow. Saturn’s regimented approach can be rough which is why your Saturn placement can clue you in on your relationship with its restrictions as well as what career is best suited for you.
Uranus (♅) is the opposite of Saturn as it is the rule breaker of the planets. Its capacity for destroying established ways of thinking and doing allows it to make room for sudden innovation and radical change. Where your Uranus placement is speaks about what sphere of life you are most groundbreaking and visionary in.
Neptune (♆) is the home of all of water’s psychic, intuitive, and illusory connotations. It is inspiring, fantastical, and empathic. Where Neptune is in your natal chart talks about where your intuition is focused the sharpest.
Pluto is represented by both ♇ and a circle atop a crescent attached to a cross. On the example chart, you’ll see it located nearest to Sagittarius (♐︎). Pluto is about symbolic death and rebirth, meaning that it deals with transformation and shedding old patterns of being.
The Astrological Houses of Your Birth Chart
The astrological houses talk about the areas of human experience. Look at the middle part of your natal chart and notice the numbers written along them. These ‘pizza slices’ of your birthday sky are the houses.
- First House: Associated with Aries. Identity and public persona.
- Second House: Associated with Taurus. Material comfort and security.
- Third House: Associated with Gemini. Communication and learning.
- Fourth House: Associated with Cancer. Domestic life and relationships.
- Fifth House: Associated with Leo. Creativity and passion.
- Sixth House: Associated with Virgo. Physical health and daily routines.
- Seventh House: Associated with Libra. Intimate relationships in all their forms.
- Eighth House: Associated with Scorpio. Wealth, sexuality, and transformation.
- Ninth House: Associated with Sagittarius. Philosophy and intellectual pursuits.
- Tenth House: Associated with Capricorn. Public reputation and career.
- Eleventh House: Associated with Aquarius. Humanitarianism and connection with a wider community.
- Twelfth House: Associated with Pisces. The subconscious and intuition.
Combining Meanings to Interpret Your Natal Chart
Now that you have all the symbolic building blocks you need, you can put them together to create an interpretation of your natal chart. Fortunately, this isn’t so hard. Just pick out a planet in your natal chart and find the house and astrological sign it falls under. This three-leg method for interpreting your natal chart lets you synthesize an in-depth interpretation of how the influences of each planet, house, and sign interact with each other.
To illustrate, let’s pick a planet out of the example chart. In it, Jupiter is in the Eighth House and falls under Taurus. When read together, this is a combination that points to good fortune including both the ability to create situations where good fortune is possible and being attracted to fortunate situations. Money is the chief concern. Jupiter is expansion and good luck and Taurus is diligent and practical enough to make it happen. With the Eighth House in the mix, this is someone attracted to unconventional, even taboo ideas, but also wealth. The Jupiter + 8th house + Taurus person is good at making money, loves sticking close to partners who have it, and likes to create abundance that provides them with a sense of security. Lack of financial security makes this person deeply upset.
And that’s about it! You can do this with all of the other parts of your natal chart.
Of course, that isn’t all there is to know about your natal chart. This is a deep rabbit hole and it’s not uncommon to see people dig into the element distribution in a chart, Vedic astrology, asteroids, and angles.