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What Are Astrology Birth Charts? A Complete Explanation (And Where To Get One)

Develop a deeper understanding of why you think and feel the way you do.

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Sometimes, my mind feels like a mystery that I can’t unravel. Why do I behave the way I do? Why can’t I change my poor habits to productive ones? It’s a universal aspect of humanity: Although we can adjust some of our personality traits, we cannot erase them. But why is that? And how can we understand ourselves to make the most of our personality, both its positive and less positive parts?  If you’re trying to get in touch with your subconscious and develop a deeper understanding of why you think and feel the way you do, there’s no better tool than your astrological birth chart. It maps the night sky at the exact time of your birth, providing the astrology insight you require to better understand yourself. Keep reading for everything you need to know about your astrology birth chart, including what it is, where you can find yours, and how to make the most of it. 

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Astrology Birth Charts, Explained In-Depth for Beginners

An astrology birth chart (also called a natal chart) is a map of the sky at the time of your birth. It takes into account not just the date but the exact moment and exact geographical location you were born to determine precise planetary and celestial alignments. Your birth chart shows you the positions of Jupiter, Saturn, Pluto, Uranus, Neptune, and all other major celestial bodies at your time of birth.

This is important because the alignments of the planets can greatly impact our moods, behaviors, and destinies. (Notice, for example, how you feel during the next Mercury retrograde.) Since the moment you were born, celestial and planetary positions and the sign of the zodiac they were occupying when you came into the world have been impacting your personality, including many of the traits that you might wish you could change. Thus, your birth chart is more than a map of the night sky; it’s a guide to your character and the influence the planets and their alignments have exerted over it throughout your life. 

Where can I find my birth chart?

Finding your natal chart used to be a colossal undertaking, requiring a protractor and a table of the positions of all the planets and relevant stars. Fortunately, that’s not the case today. Numerous websites and apps can, after you’ve entered your requisite details, reveal your birth chart in mere minutes. To create an accurate birth chart, you’ll need to know the exact time, date, and location of your birth. Do not guess: These charts shift every four minutes, which means an estimated time of birth will dramatically affect the interpretation of the impact celestial bodies have had on your life. To be sure you’re getting an accurate chart, check your birth certificate to confirm your time of birth. 

How do I interpret my birth chart?

At first glance, interpreting your birth chart will be challenging. Astrology is replete with symbols and phrases that, to the uninitiated, can look like hieroglyphics. That’s because astrology is an art form that’s been around for centuries. It’s not meant to be learned overnight, and it’s perfectly natural to be a bit confused at the start. But stay the course. What you unlock can tell you about your romantic compatibility, your path to wellness, and more. 

The simplest starting place is with your rising sign, or ascendant sign. This is the zodiac sign that was ascending over the horizon at the moment you were born. Every astrological chart is a little different, but your rising sign is usually marked by a circle with a horizontal line through it, and it’s often placed near the nine o’clock position on your chart. 

Your rising sign is one of the most important components of your natal chart because it impacts your interpretation of reality. Are you perceptive of patterns, your subconscious, and signs from the universe? Or are you a realist — pragmatic and right-brained? Your rising sign shapes your life’s path, and is vital to understanding your birth chart. Once you’ve found your rising sign, you can interpret the rest of your birth chart by moving counterclockwise around it. From here, it gets a bit trickier to understand, so let’s dive in. 

Your Astrological Chart: The House System

Similar to a clock, your astrological chart is divided into twelve sections. It’s common to mistake these sections as representations of the twelve zodiac signs — but they are not. Instead, each section represents a “house,” or a two-hour period in the day. Each house represents one area of your life. Understanding planetary placements within each house is what guides the insights to your personality and life. 

If you’re confused, don’t worry. It can take years to get comfortable with astrology and the nuances that make it so fascinating. Let’s dive still deeper into the twelve houses. They play an enormous role in interpreting your birth chart, and are therefore essential to learning. Each house represents something different: 

  • First house: The ego, meaning your physical appearance, self, and identity (“this is who I am”)
  • Second house: Material objects, possessions, and money
  • Third house: Expression and communication, particularly with your siblings and coworkers
  • Fourth house: Home and family 
  • Fifth house: Creation (both creativity and progeny)
  • Sixth house: Routines
  • Seventh house: Partnerships (both marriage and contracts)
  • Eighth house: Intense elements of life, like transformation, inheritance, and sex
  • Ninth house: Big-picture thinking, like philosophy and higher education
  • Tenth house: Legacy, purpose, and career
  • Eleventh house: Evolution (both societal and personal) 
  • Twelfth house: Mental health and spirituality

Interpreting the Signs in Each House

Now that we’ve defined the twelve houses that make up a birth chart, the next step to understanding yours is figuring out where all of the planets and celestial bodies are (e.g., which house they’re each occupying). You’ll want to pay attention to each of the eight planets, plus the Sun and the moon (all of which have their own unique symbol). 

You’ll also want to pay attention to where the twelve zodiac signs are in relation to the planets. As a recap, the twelve zodiac signs are: 

  • Aries
  • Taurus
  • Gemini
  • Cancer
  • Leo 
  • Virgo
  • Libra
  • Scorpio
  • Sagittarius
  • Capricorn
  • Aquarius
  • Pisces

Each zodiac sign is associated with its own group of personality traits and attributes. These will become easier to recall as your astrological knowledge progresses. For now, don’t sweat it — just locate an online guide that can help you interpret your natal chart until you’re more familiar.

Putting It All Together

The final piece in the puzzle of interpreting your birth chart requires putting all of these elements together. To do this, follow a simple formula: Planet, plus Sign, plus House. For example, let’s say you want to figure out what’s going on with Venus, the planet of sensuality, romance, and taste. First, you’ll look to see what sign Venus is in — creative Cancer, spiritual Pisces, or grounded Taurus? Next, you’ll look at which house it’s in, which is the final clue to the influence Venus has on your birth. It takes practice, but once you get the hang of it, these three pieces of information come together quickly (and make it easy to see how each planet has influenced your personality and your life). For instance, if the moon is in Sagittarius in the twelfth house on your birth chart, you’re likely to process your emotions (governed by the moon) through uncovering (Sagittarius, the sign of discovery) your spiritual abilities (twelfth house). 

Don’t beat yourself up if that doesn’t yet make sense. Astrology takes time, but understanding how the planets and celestial bodies affect your life is worth the effort. The self-awareness and sense of fulfillment that accompany its discoveries are incredible. 

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