Your Ultimate Guide to Birth Charts

pair of hands writing information on a piece of paper showing a birth chart

​Do you read your horoscope or articles about your sign and think, “I don’t identify with that at all?!” This tells us a few things about you:

  1. You probably have a different Ascending/Rising sign and Moon sign, and
  2. You’re ready to get your birth chart done

Astrology involves many, many layers, and many of us don’t realize that our Sun or zodiac sign is only the top layer of divining our very individual traits. Many astrology skeptics argue, “Horoscopes are so vague,” or “How could everyone in the world be divided into 12 personality types?”

The answer is that you have to go much deeper than just your birth date to find more detailed info.

While your daily horoscopes are based on a broader scope of information about each Sun sign, Moon sign, and planetary aspects, it’s the combinations of the rest of your birth chart or star map that can help dig down to your particularities. (This is also why we can’t write a personalized horoscope for everyone every day – there are simply too many combinations!)

Astrology is like a Matryoshka doll; the more you pull back the layers, the closer you get to the heart.

Let’s take a closer look at what birth charts are, how to use them, and discover the big picture of your personality!

What is a Birth Chart & What Can it Tell me?

A birth chart is basically a screen capture of every astrological thing that was happening at the exact time, date, and location of your birth.

The moment you arrived, the planets, zodiac, and astrological houses and the way they were positioned at that exact moment can tell us so much more about you than just knowing your Sun or zodiac sign!

Birth charts will tell you:

  • You have more than one sign
  • The house and sign the planets were in at your exact birth place and time reveal a lot about you
  • What you’re like in love, and how you can best attract compatible matches
  • What areas will make for a successful career
  • Your strengths and weaknesses

What birth charts will not tell you:

  • The name of the person you will marry/fall in love with
  • Everything that will ever happen in your life, in order, starting now

This is why astrologers will always ask you for your birth time and location – that information is what they need to build your birth or natal chart. Think of it like a snapshot of the sky at the exact time and place of your birth.

First up, let’s talk about your Primal Triad. Did you know you have more than one sign?

Your Primal Triad

The Sun sign indicates the sign the Sun was passing through at the time of your birth. All the planets were in a sign at that time. Your Sun sign tells you about your basic personality.

You also have a Moon sign, which tells you about your inner world, feelings, and mindset. It will reveal how you will handle your emotions and how you’ll view and interact with the world and the people in it.

A Rising or Ascendant sign is the zodiac sign in your 1st house, representing the sign that was on the Easternmost horizon at the time of your birth. It is often referred to as the mask you wear to show the world, or about the public impression you make.

This is sometimes where people have their astrology a-ha moment – if people ‘never take you for a Libra’, they may be working on clues from your Rising sign and not your Sun sign.

You may hear people talking about being a double Scorpio or a triple Cancer – it comes from the Primal Triad. If you have 2 or 3 of the same sign within the Triad, you are a double or a triple sign.

Because the planets and zodiac signs change so often (more on that later), being off, even by half an hour, can sometimes have an effect on your Rising or Ascendant sign and your Moon sign. Astrology works in degrees, and planetary placements are constantly changing – just like we are!

Your birth chart is made up of more than your Primal Triad, though – let’s look at the next later – the astrological houses.

The Astrological Houses

Just like there are 12 zodiac signs, there are 12 astrological houses on the wheel of your birth chart. These houses each speak to a different category of your life, and the combination of what they represent and the traits and influences of the zodiac sign and/or planets that reside there will point to specific aspects of your personality.

  • 1st House of Self and Ego (Rising Sign) – The impression you give to others, the masks you wear, gives insight into your personality.
  • 2nd House of Wealth and Values – Your assets, possessions, and views on wealth all reside here, your core values and how you can harness your talents to make a living.
  • 3rd House of Communication, Travel, and Education – Sibling relationships, short-term travel, how you express yourself, and how you think and learn.
  • 4th House of Family and Home – Traditions, cultures, and customs close to your heart. Reveals your roots and what kind of structure you need in your life.
  • 5th House of Pleasure and Creativity – The things you find attractive in someone, hobbies, children, and what brings you satisfaction.
  • 6th House of Health and Routine – Deals with your current environment and living situation, including pets, how you approach wellness, and how you can be of service to others.
  • 7th House of Partnerships – Your attitudes toward commitment and how you interact with others can also reveal your friends and enemies.
  • 8th House of Ritual and Rebirth – Spirituality, sex, combined finances, and the cycle of life, death, and rebirth are all represented here,
  • 9th House of Philosophy – Your attitudes toward other cultures and how you push your boundaries, long-term travel.
  • 10th House of Career and Social Status – Your place in the community, how you are seen by society, and your vocation or calling.
  • 11th House of Friendships – Groups and social organizations live here – charitable acts, what you seek from others.
  • 12th House of Endings – Anything hidden resides here – secrets, undiscovered skills, fears.

You may not have a sign or planet in each house, and that’s okay. On the flip side, you may have a whole handful in one! Three or more planets in one house is called a stellium and is considered to be an important message about what you need to focus on in this lifetime.

If you have Sagittarius in the 10th house, for example, you might not hold a career in the same industry for very long – you may find yourself more drawn to the kind of work you’re doing rather than your job title. Sagittarius is philosophical and wants to be challenged, so in the 10th house of status and career, this could translate to a multifaceted resume and a lifetime of great stories to tell.

Now that we have the Houses down let’s look at how the planets and zodiac signs interact and how they get captured in your chart.

Planets & Zodiac Signs in the Birth Chart

Looking at a chart, it’s shaped like a 12-piece pie, with both inner and outer rings and lots of symbols. The 12 zodiac signs each occupy a 30° area around the wheel of the zodiac. The inner rings are the 12 astrological houses.

The outer ring, or wheel, will have your 12 zodiac signs. Planet symbols fall into the 12 slices of pie, and the slice they show up in indicates what you ‘have’ in that house and sign. The planets are constantly moving, though – and at different speeds.

The farther away the planet, the longer it stays in a sign. For example, Uranus, the planet of change and originality, changes signs every seven years.

Pluto changes the least frequently (every 10-20 years, depending), and the Moon (closest to Earth) the most frequently: every 2.5ish days.

You can see how some of the farther planets can define a similar influence over generations. For example, I was born when unconventional Uranus was in intense Scorpio, which is considered to be a power position, as the rebellious planet is exalted here.

For those born between September 1975 through November 1981, this placement produced incredibly strong-willed and determined people who were perhaps more experimental when it comes to sex. Here is when the world of psychology and self-understanding really became more commonplace and less taboo.

While planets stay in one zodiac sign for 2-8 weeks (Mercury) to 20 years (Pluto), they change in the houses every two hours or so, so you can see how even people born on the same day but a few hours apart, or even cities or countries apart can have different birth charts!

Each planet rules over a different aspect of our lives, meaning that your Sun sign rules the core of your Self, but the rest of the planets have a say, too. For example, if Mercury, the planet that rules communication, was in Leo at your time and place of birth, your communication style is likely to be passionate, fiery, and enthusiastic — characteristics attributed to Leo.

Each planet also brings its influence to our birth charts, so when someone says, “I have Jupiter (prosperity, fortune), in Virgo (health, honesty), this combination means they will likely find their best results when they pay attention to detail and are realistic with what’s going on. This is a hard worker who may attract luck but doesn’t count on it!

  • Sun – Sense of Self, ego
  • Moon – Emotional Self, feelings
  • Mercury – Communication, how you express yourself
  • Venus – Love, relationships
  • Mars – Activity, courage, how we assert ourselves and get motivated
  • Jupiter – Luck, generosity, opportunity
  • Saturn – Discipline, ambition, and commitment
  • Uranus – Innovation, rebellion, change
  • Neptune – Mysticism, intuition, imagination, and healing
  • Pluto – Power and transformation

It’s the way these planets influence the houses and zodiac signs their in that can help us start to piece things together. Having Jupiter in Taurus (cautious, risk-averse) is much different than having this placement in Aquarius (rebellious, risk-taking)!

The angles or transits they were in can also reveal difficulties and opportunities, but Advanced Birth Charts will be explored in another article!

Now, what can your birth chart tell you about your relationships?

Your Birth Chart Gives Insight on Relationships

Your birth chart won’t tell you who to marry, but it does provide valuable insight into the type of partner you’re likely to attract and the most opportune dates for meeting that person. Careful analysis of your chart also helps you to pinpoint the best days for important occasions such as engagements, weddings, or vacations.

It can tell you much about the way you will love and need to be loved in return. Your Venus placement can help with this, as can your 5th and 7th house placements.

If you’re single and looking to meet a lover, your chart tells you the personality to seek when it comes to selecting your best match. It can also guide you to avoid certain types of people so that you can prevent heartache. If you’re already with someone, you can find hints about how to make the most of that relationship.

If your relationship is currently rocky, it can advise if you ought to stay and work things out before throwing in the towel and moving on. In either scenario, a relationship synastry report, which looks at the natal charts of both people involved, is an excellent way to examine the compatibility and health of a relationship.

If you’re wondering why your relationship looks good upfront from a zodiac compatibility perspective, but you keep butting heads on how you communicate, you should be looking past a Taurus-Scorpio basic match and look at which signs are in your 7th House of Relationships or 3rd House of Communication.

Your Birth Chart Helps With Career & Financial Luck

Looking at the 2nd (Wealth/Income), 6th (Health/Work Ethic), and 10th (Career/Ambition) houses can help you choose your career.

This is one of the most common questions we get, but it’s not as easy as “Gemini in the 3rd house means you’ll be a journalist.” You can look at your placements in these three houses to determine how you value and earn money, how hard you will work, and how ambitious you will be – or need to be.

There’s nothing written in the stars that specifically says, “You should be a nurse” or “You should be a poet,” but there are many hints and indications in your chart of what careers are the most suitable for you.

There are some career fields that will seem to open themselves to you. It’s your innate talents, where your skill sets and interests lie, and your outlook on life that will stand out and point you in a direction you should pursue. When analyzing a career chart, it’s more important to look at how you do things rather than what you actually do.

For example, maybe there are indications that you’ve got a flair for communication and languages. It could manifest itself in a career as a translator, teacher, tour guide, public relations professional, author, lyricist, customer service representative, counselor, or a myriad of other places.

By knowing the strong points as revealed in your chart, you can match them up with your interests and enter into a field where you will excel and enjoy it, too!

People often ask if astrology or their birth chart can provide the winning lottery numbers. I wish it was that easy. I’d never have to work if I could do that! The mega-jackpot results are not hidden in your chart, nor is any get-rich-quick scheme. You’re not going to magically get out of debt because you ask an astrologer for guidance. Life doesn’t work like that.

What is revealed in your chart is if you have a flair for making money – or how you do. Perhaps you’re the sort who’s going to have to work hard but who will be well rewarded. Maybe there’s the potential for you to receive an inheritance. It’s conceivable that you could make and lose money very quickly.

There’s even a chance that your chart will show you’re irresponsible with your income and will need to focus if you want to have any financial security. Whatever the situation you find in relation to money, or lack thereof, it helps you to plan what to do next so that you can be financially comfortable, at least, if not terrifically successful.

Your Birth Chart Gives Health Advice

Let me begin by stating, quite emphatically, that neither astrology nor any other form of divination (such as numerology or the Tarot) should ever be used as a substitute for medical advice! Astrologers are not doctors, and you do them a disservice if you expect them to be.

However, there can be astrological implications regarding areas of your health that point to where you need to pay attention.

Some of the health secrets found in your birth chart could be things such as the potential for addiction, whether you’re going to be more interested in alternative medicine or holistic treatment, what part of the body might be weakened or challenged, and where there’s a tendency for upset and discord.

All of the signs of the zodiac relate to a part of the body or one of its systems in some way. The chart can alert you to specific areas that are impacted by the placement of the planets and any challenging aspects. It can encourage you to pay particular attention to those areas of your health.

Use Your Natal Chart to Learn All About You

There’s no denying there are many secrets found in your birth chart. The only way to use them to their full potential is to discover what they are! Hopefully, it can also give you a better understanding of why our zodiac or Sun sign alone is merely skimming the surface of our personalities when it comes to astrology.

The more you dig into the information revealed by your chart, the better understanding you will have of yourself and even receive some guidance into how best to direct your energy and attention when it comes to career, health, and relationships.

This should also give you some insight into why astrologers charge a fee for their services in deducing the unique traits of your natal chart – it takes a lot of time and knowledge to do so! A reputable astrologer has spent many years looking at the signs and symbols and understanding how they all mesh together. They can look at your chart and see what stands out.

Let us know what you discovered by getting your birth chart done!

Related article: The Ultimate Guide to Reading Your Birth Chart Like an Astrologer

About The Author

Vanessa Hardcastle

Vanessa Hardcastle is a hardheaded Taurus with an affinity for sarcasm, good books and large dogs. She is fascinated by sociology and behavioral psychology – what, exactly, shapes our personalities? Astrology is a leg on the journey of self-awareness, as is philosophy, frank conversation, self-reflection, and heavy metal. Writing allows this emotional hermit to indirectly communicate - making powerful connections through storytelling.
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