Astrology Natal Charts for Dummies
Promise, we don’t actually think you’re dummies! It’s just a quick FAQ on the hows and whys of having your birth chart done.
Remember that astrology comes with a lot of nuance. You can’t necessarily take everything at face value, and it’s important to be able to interpret. This is just a quick guide on the terms you’re going to come across and what they mean. If you’re hoping to distil a lifetime worth of study into one quick blog post, you might have to lower your expectations, just a little.
If you’re anything like us, you read your horoscope regularly, know your own sign back to front, you may even use astrological compatibility to screen your Tinder matches…
So, if this is the case – you might be ready to level up. Have you ever considered having your birth chart drawn up?
Maybe you’ve thought about it but don’t know where to start. Or maybe you’re a bit intimidated moving from the Bustle horoscope column to speaking to a real-life astrologer. So – we’ve put together this quick FAQ, an “Astrology Natal Charts for Dummies” if you like, for those of you ready to take the plunge!
Why do I need an astrological natal chart done?
Unlike horoscopes, tarot readings or other forms of divination, which work best when you have a question in mind, a natal chart is a lot more far-reaching and thorough. Think of it as a snapshot of ALL the possible directions your life could take – it can give a glimpse into your personality, what drives you, you fears, family relationships, psychological patterns and so much more.
What information do I need to have my natal chart done?
Once you’re ready to kick off your journey, you’ll need to know a few key details about yourself:
- the day you were born
- the exact time you were born, and
- where you were born
Maybe you know these off the top of your head – or maybe you’ll need to hit up your Mum for the deets, but without them, you’re flying blind.
Using these three facts, an astrologer will map which sign each astral body was in at the moment of your birth (the sun, moon and planets). The zodiac sign that the sun was aligned with when you were born is probably the one that you’re most familiar with – this is the horoscope you read in the Saturday paper.
How do I have my astrological birth chart drawn up?
This astrological rite of passage can be handled online or one-on-one/face-to-face with an astrologer.
If you’re a little intimidated seeking out an astrologer – CoStar is a great option to generate a full natal chart AND get a regular personalised horoscope reading right in the palm of your hand (literally – just download the CoStar app for free friend!).
But keep in mind that you could be missing out on some interpretive info that only a RL astrologer can provide. Just reading a list of traits or predictions out of context can be a bit of a headf*ck (#sorrynotsorry) – an astrologer can walk you through the nuances that a print-out or screen dump can’t provide, but if you’re ready to dive into the astrological depths yourself – there’s no harm in having it all calculated online…
The Astral Bodies
As we mentioned in previously, you probably already know your sun sign (if not – this might be a liiiiittle out of your depth!). This is the sign you look for when you’re flicking through your Mum’s Women’s Weekly. It’s also the first of the “Three Legs” of the birth chart – your Sun, Moon and ascendent sign.
The Sun is your identity, it’s what drives you to be who you are and how you identify yourself. You Sun sign is how you answer the question “I am”, and it reflects who you are all the time – regardless of who you’re with or what you’re doing. It also represents the type of energy that you need to feel revitalised – for example – your Sun’s element (air, fire, earth or water) is helpful in understanding your self-expression tendencies and how you recharge.
The second “leg” of your chart is your Moon sign. This is the moon’s placement in the sky at the time of your birth.
The Moon speaks to our emotional self, and our core needs – those things we need to feel safe and nurtured. Your Moon is the subconscious side of yourself that you typically keep hidden and is a side of you only few get to see. It’s what guides you when you’re lost and need direction and for this reason, your Moon sign tends to be the guiding force when it comes to decision making and can predict how you typically react in emotional situations.
Your Ascendant Sign
Also referred to as your “rising sign”, this is the final “leg” of the tripod on which you chart stands. Your Ascendant sign is based on the constellation that was on the horizon at the exact time you were born, and this sign represents how others see you. This is your social personality, how you dawn on others, it represents your physical body and outward style.
It is also important to note that the Ascendant sign changes every few hours, so it is important to be as accurate as possible when noting your time of birth.
We know this is an awful lot to take in all at once, so we have (very helpfully if we do say so ourselves) tried to break it all down into nice bite size pieces! Now you’re an expert in your Sun, Moon and Rising signs - read on for the rest!
Learning about the planets in relation to the zodiac is the next critical step in your journey into the wild world of astrological natal charts. While the energy of your Sun sign is certainly important, it's the planets in astrology that are at its heart and soul.
Tracking and interpreting the planets' movement through the zodiac (as well as interpreting the planetary aspects they form with one another on their journeys) is basically what astrology is all about, so understanding their meaning is kind of critical. And knowing the ruling planet for your zodiac sign can help you understand your own astrological energy — and get to the know the planets — on an even more profound level.
The Inner Planets
The planets with short orbits move across the zodiac frequently and where they are in a natal chart is specific to your date and time of birth. Referred to as the inner planets, they include the Mercury, Venus, and Mars (in addition to the sun and moon), and they directly impact our unique personalities, traits, needs and desires – as well as our day-to-day experiences.
Mercury rules your mind and communication (which is why things can go so haywire when Mercury is in one of its infamous retrogrades), Venus rules your love life and Mars shows us how we express aggression and chase our goals. So – for example, if Venus happened to be in Aries when you were born, that could mean you’re open, flirtatious and driven when it comes to love – since these are qualities associated with Aries.
The Outer Planets
Meanwhile, the planets on the other side of the asteroid belt are referred to as the outer planets: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto move much more slowly than the inner planets, changing signs between every 1-30 years. The outer planets define more abstract, larger life themes, as well as experiences shared by entire generations.
The significance of the outer planets in a birth chart is determined by the “houses” they occupy. Your birth chart is divided into twelve sections referred to as houses. Each house represents an area of life: Houses one through six address everyday activities and mundane matters such as personal finances, the home, and routines; houses seven through twelve relate to more abstract concepts, including philosophy, legacy, and psychic abilities.
The placement of the outer planets reveals where we store our energy, as well as our strengths and weaknesses. Jupiter rules luck and progress, Saturn rules fears and discipline, Uranus represents change and Neptune reflects your dreams and how you heal.
Your Ruling Planet
If you're an astrology enthusiast (which, if you’ve come this far – we’re assuming you are), you've probably already heard people talk about their ruling planet. Each zodiac sign has a planet that influences them the most. This planet can even be thought of as the source of their power and each zodiac sign exhibits qualities that resemble that of their ruling planet.
Most people think their ruling planet rules over their sun sign, but this is a common misconception – your ruling planet is the planet that rules over the zodiac sign that your Ascendant sign falls under.
- Aries: Ruled by Mars
- Taurus: Ruled by Venus
- Gemini: Ruled by Mercury
- Cancer: Ruled by The Moon
- Leo: Ruled by The Sun
- Virgo: Ruled by Mercury
- Libra: Ruled by Venus
- Scorpio: Ruled by Pluto
- Sagittarius: Ruled by Jupiter
- Capricorn: Ruled by Saturn
- Aquarius: Ruled by Uranus
- Pisces: Ruled by Neptune
For example, if your Ascendant sign is Gemini, your birth chart’s ruling planet is Mercury – thanks to this planet’s influence, you’re probably verbose and whip smart, but unfortunately, you’ll also be much more affected by Mercury’s orbit and movement – especially if it’s in retrograde (SORRY!).
So! We come to the end of our Birth Chart blog – we know, we know – it’s A LOT to digest and we've only scraped the surface, but hopefully we’ve broken it down enough that you’re willing to take the next step! Don’t let the intricacies of the birth chart deter you from having yours drawn up – but if you are feeling extreme levels of overwhelm – maybe hit up a RL astrologer to help guide you through the process… this is just the beginning.