How To Read an Astrology Birth Chart: A Beginner’s Guide
INSIDE: Learning how to read an astrology birth chart can be a fun journey. A natal chart wheel offers so much information about who we are, what we are focused on, how we operate in the world, what we attract, and so much more. Learn how you can interpret yours in a few easy-to-follow steps...
The truth is, we all define success differently and find fulfillment in different things. While some are focused on building careers or finding life partners, others find happiness in travel, charity work, or self-actualization.
There's a saying that where focus goes, energy flows, and that couldn’t be more true when it comes to natal charts.
Unsurprisingly, according to Positive Psychology, there is a direct correlation between how we set our goals and how we achieve success. In astrology, we can decode our approach to success, while also gaining a deeper insight into where our energy truly goes by determining our planetary placements.
If you're curious about understanding your natal chart or learning how to read the astrology birth chart of someone you care about, you’re in the right place. Let's dig in!
How to Read a Natal Chart?
For someone who is just getting into astrology, just seeing a natal chart wheel can seem as confusing as hieroglyphs. You may wonder what in the world do all these symbols and lines mean? And where do you even start reading your chart?
If these and similar questions seem all too familiar, worry not. The truth is, astrology has many, many layers, and many different approaches, but with some steps, you could easily gain some insight into how that mysterious world functions.
We are here to back you up with some simple-to-follow instructions that can help you gain at least some clarity as to what astrology birth chart symbols represent and where you can begin with your readings.
Let's look at the steps now. May each bring you clarity and help you on your Astro-discovery journey!
1. Check your Birth Date, Time of Birth & the Location of Birth
If you don’t know where to start, check some of the trusted astrological sites that offer free natal chart wheels, such as:
There are a few ways to interpret an astrology birth chart, and there are a few types of house systems and wheels. For simplicity, today we are focusing on Western astrology, the Placidus House system, and the Placidus wheel.
These are the most common and are usually the default settings in Astro charts, making them great for beginners who are just getting into chart readings.
Knowing the exact (or least approximate) time and place of birth are essential, as this will affect the degrees of the planets and the houses. The wrong birth time, in particular, can shift the wheel so much that it can show a completely different Ascendant and different placements.
While you can get some basic information about your planetary placements without the time of birth, you won't be able to see houses or the ascendant sign, which are very important for a personalized natal chart reading.
2. Check Planets in Signs & Elements
Now that you’ve entered your data in a chosen calculator, you’ll be able to see two things: a natal chart wheel and a natal chart graph with listed planetary placements. In this step, we are focusing only on the graph.
The graph provides information about the ten planets and usually some additional information, such as the Rising sign, nodes, Chiron, and so forth. For simplicity, focus only on the planets and the Rising sign, as these will be the main influences and energies in your chart.
In the graph of your astrology birth chart, you’ll see that each planet has a sign. These signs will represent different parts of yourself. For the beginning, the main signs to look at are your Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and the Rising sign.
You’ll find what these planets represent in our Guide to Astrology Planets.
Neptune, Uranus, and Pluto are generational planets, and won’t have as big of an impact on your personality as other planets unless they make important aspects or are found on angles (which we’ll get to later).
Looking at those signs in the graph, you’ll likely be surprised to see that there is so much more to you than your zodiac sign.
For instance, you may be a Cancer Sun in the zodiac sign chart, but could just as well have four planets in Leo, making you super passionate, fiery, and charismatic! Or, your zodiac sign may be Gemini, but you may have Mars and Venus in Taurus, and Moon in Capricorn, which will make you very earthy, and sober Gemini with a solid character.
Looking at the graph, you can calculate the most predominant element in your astrology birth chart, as this will also play into your character:
Fire Qualities & Fire Signs - Aries, Leo, Sagittarius
Earth Qualities & Earth Signs - Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn
Air Qualities & Air Signs - Gemini, Libra, Aquarius
Water Qualities & Water Signs - Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces
To gain more clarity on modalities, and the characteristics of elements, check Understanding Elemental Qualities.
3. Locate the Houses Your Planets Are Placed In
Now, we are moving the focus to the natal chart wheel. Every astrological wheel is divided into 12 Houses, where each house represents a segment of life.
There are a few house systems in astrology, but most default Natal Chart settings will show the Placidus House system where some houses appear bigger than others or the Whole Signs System where each house is even.
Neither is wrong, and you can decide later in your Astro journey which House system suits you the most. Where planets are placed is where our focus and energy goes, and regardless of which system you use, the rules are as follows:
First, check if you have any planets on angles or angular houses in your astrology birth chart, which are the 1st, 4th, 7th and 10th houses.
These are the strongest and the most important houses in the natal chart as they represent us, our relationships, our home life, and our career; therefore, they will be the most obvious influences.
Planets placed here will be in the "spotlight" as they will influence the four important segments of our lives. If you don’t have any planets on the angles, worry not. That doesn’t mean you are in a state of lack. It just means your energy is likely dispersed into some other areas of your life - Succedent or Cadent houses.
Next, check if you have any placements in the Succedent Houses.
These are the Houses that are directly linked with the matters of the Angular Houses and support these houses somehow. They are the second house of finances and material world, the fifth house of children and fun, the eighth house of intimacy and shared finances, and the eleventh house of friends and associates.
Lastly, check if you have any planets in Cadent Houses.
These are the 3rd House of relatives and learning, the 6th house of routines and service, the 9th House of travel and higher education, and the 12th House of the unknown and spiritual.
You can read more about what each house symbolizes in our Beginner’s Guide to the 12 Houses in Astrology.
4. Find Rulers of Your Houses
On the wheel, you’ll notice that each of the 12 Houses in the astrology birth chart has a sign on the cusp of it. This sign will determine the overall energy and theme of that house, while planets found there will further impact how we approach that specific area of our lives.
Aside from looking at whether there are any planets in the house, you’ll want to know which planet rules each house. Here are the rulerships:
Aries is ruled by Mars
Taurus is ruled by Venus
Gemini is ruled by Mercury
Cancer is ruled by Moon
Leo is ruled by Sun
Virgo is ruled by Mercury
Libra is ruled by Venus
Scorpio is ruled by Pluto and co-ruled by Mars
Sagittarius is ruled by Jupiter
Capricorn is ruled by Saturn
Aquarius is ruled by Uranus and co-ruled by Saturn
Pisces is ruled by Neptune and co-ruled by Jupiter
For instance, if you found the sign of Leo on the cusp of your 3rd, the ruler of your 3rd House will be Sun. This means that the placement of the Sun in your chart will play a key role in matters of the 3rd House.
If your Sun is placed in the 7th House, it means there will be some correlation between matters of the 3rd and 7th House. For instance, you could have a joint venture and partnership (7th House matters) with relatives or siblings (3rd House matters).
For signs that have co-ruling planets, you can also take a look at the placement of the co-ruling planet to see how its placement resonates with you.
5. Check Aspects
Besides rulerships and basic placements, aspects in astrology birth chart play an important role when it comes to connecting the dots of your life. They connect planets and add complexity to our natal charts, and connect planets from different houses.
Positive aspects are usually represented with blue lines in the wheel and blue symbols on the graph, and these are the trine and sextile. Hard aspects are represented by red lines and symbols and these are squares and oppositions.
Conjunctions represent the merging of two planets, and you’ll know that you have a conjunction if you have two planets placed very close to each other. They are very significant, powerful, and intense, and therefore are usually represented in red, although they are not necessarily good or bad.
You can find a more in-depth explanation of what each aspect means here: Astrological Aspects: The Path to Understanding Your Struggles & Your Blessings.
Some people have more and some have fewer aspects. Some have predominantly tense (hard) aspects in their charts, while others have more favorable aspects.
If your chart looks more red than blue, it means you will likely have some points of tension in your chart, but you’ll also likely have a strong character and be strongly motivated to overcome challenges.
Those with more blue lines in their astrology birth chart will experience more ease in areas of life touched by these aspects.
Reading a natal chart takes time, practice, and expertise, as charts are immensely complex, just as we are complex beings. However, you don’t need to be a professional astrologer to know how to interpret your chart and understand the basics of natal placements. So, welcome abroad, and enjoy your discoveries on your Astro-ride.
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