Home Astrologers Understanding a birth chart in astrology and how to read one

Understanding a birth chart in astrology and how to read one

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Your curiosity got the best of you — and you’ve taken the plunge to explore what everyone keeps talking about: that elusive thing called the astrology birth chart.

Also referred to as a natal chart, looking this up can be a wildly eye-opening experience. As much as some people think astrology is just a fad, it’s not, bro — astrology has been around for thousands of years and impacted all of the major civilizations worldwide.

Astrology isn’t a joke. In fact, it’s super powerful. It has been studied, refined and grown throughout time, just as we, as a people, continue to evolve as well.

But that doesn’t mean looking up your birth chart will cost you your salary — in fact, you can look up your birth chart for free online by finding a website and entering three very important things: your date, time and place of birth. While a lot of people cringe because they don’t have their exact time of birth on hand, that’s okay — you can still see a great deal about who you are and where your life is ultimately headed even by just utilizing your date and year of birth.

Oh, and spoiler alert: you can hire astrologers like me to interpret your birth chart or pull it together for you if you’re uncertain about where to start — or to gain more in-depth insight even if you’ve been studying your chart for decades.

Astrology is an art form, which is why working with a professional may ultimately provide the most rewarding experience. Already feeling nervous about the complexity of a natal chart? Just chill out and read your horoscopes.

What is a birth chart for?

Let’s get some definitions out of the way, shall we?

First off, your birth chart is a map of where the planets were at the exact moment a person, situation, relationship or endeavor began. Yes: countries, pets, businesses and marriages all have their own natal chart. However, for simplicity purposes, we’ll obviously focus on the most common one: the birth chart of a person.

A birth chart utilizes the placement of the planets and luminaries at that exact moment to create a blueprint that gives insight into aspects of an individual’s personality, as well as pinpoints the timing of key life events. In this way, we can see that a birth chart is insightful, helping to guide us to be the best versions of ourselves, as well as illustrate the path forward. It is the destiny we have the choice to embark upon. While many people see astrology as fate, I prefer to look at it as a way we interact with the world as we are creating our destiny.

The zodiac wheel contains all planets and zodiac signs. Image credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
Getty Images/iStockphoto

What are the first things to look at in a birth chart?

Once you input your birth details into a program, you’ll likely see a circle pop up with a description of what it means. By using very advanced computer software, birth charts can be pulled up in seconds. This circle will be split into 12 pieces of a pie, with many symbols scattered amongst it.

However, for beginner’s sake, you’ll want to locate your Sun sign, Moon sign and Ascendant (or Rising Sign). Those are extremely important, as they color the core aspects of who you are and how you interact with life on a daily basis.

Your Sun sign is tied to your core personality and identity. That comes from which zodiac sign the Sun was in at the time you were born.

Your Moon sign is connected to your inner emotional life and soul. That appears dependant on which zodiac sign the Moon was in at the time you were born.

Your Ascendant is where the Sun was rising on the Eastern horizon at the exact time you were born. If you do not input your time of birth, you will end up just knowing your Sun and Moon signs, not your Ascendant.

What are the planets in a birth chart?

Next, notice that there are several different symbols that are scattered about the chart. There will be at least 10. For sake of ease, reference this article to learn about what each planet means. Think about the planets as aspects of your personality and the zodiac sign each of those planets falls within as the color or “costume” that these components wear. that is what gives more insight into the facets of your psyche.

For instance, let’s say your Venus — the planet of affection — is in Taurus, but your Mercury — the planet of communication — is in Gemini. This shows that you’ll crave intimacy in the ways of a Taurus, but speak and connect with others in the mode of a Gemini. Oftentimes, people will reference what predominant zodiac signs, modalities and elements dominate your chart.

What are the houses in a birth chart?

As you noticed right away, your circle is split into many different slices, somewhat like a pizza or a pie. There will be 12 different sectors, called astrological Houses. Each of those sectors rules a different area of your life. If we stick with the metaphor that planets are actors in a play, the houses are where they actively express their energies. So if your Venus is in Taurus, it’ll resonate in that energy — but if it falls in your Ascendant it will shine differently than if it is in your 10th House.

Confused yet? Don’t worry. That’s why astrology is a lifelong study.

What are the zodiac signs on the cusp of each house and the degrees in a birth chart?

Each house in your chart — ranging from First (Ascendant) to Seventh (Descendant) to 10th (Midheaven) and reaching completion at 12 — is ruled by a zodiac sign. That is why you have all zodiac signs in your chart somewhere. The zodiac sign that is listed beside each number is referenced as “on the cusp of the [insert number] house.” It’s just a fancy way of saying you may be a [insert zodiac sign] but your [sector of life, like your money or home] is characterized by traits of [zodiac sign] because that’s on your numbered House.

Also, because a birth chart is a complete circle, it is composed of 360 degrees — no less, no more. Not every house needs to be 30 degrees — in fact, many houses will be much bigger or much smaller. The size of the house doesn’t mean it is less important to you in life. For instance, you might have a smaller Ascendant (identity) and Descendant (partnerships) than your Midheaven (public perception and career). This just means that when planets are moving through these particular sectors you will end up having fewer karmic lessons to learn in that area — or more if the zone is larger. The smaller the house, the quicker you learn your lessons and evolve around those topics of interest. Planets will also have specific degrees marked beside them, saying exactly where they were in the sky (as well as minutes).

Astrology has been studied for thousands of years. Image credit: Getty Images
Getty Images

What are the planetary aspects in a birth chart?

And then — wow! What are all these lines linking different planets in weird angles?

Because astrology uses basic geometry, we can see planets linking at different angles. The main planetary aspects are: conjunction (0 degrees apart), sextile (60 degrees apart), square (90 degrees apart), trine (120 degrees apart) and opposition (180 degrees apart). Planets that are linked by an astrological aspect will work together in a very powerful way to create an important effect in an individual’s life.

For instance, returning to our example: Let’s say your Venus in Taurus is trine with your Mars in Capricorn. That means they are working together harmoniously and will lead you to be a passionate individual, capable of much social popularity. However, because those two planets are in Earth signs (Taurus and Capricorn are elemental earth), you’d be able to resonate with others in a practical and grounded sense, rather than bouncing off the walls like a class clown (or a Fire sign).

Astrology is an art form, which is why working with a professional may ultimately provide the most rewarding experience.
Astrology is an art form, which is why working with a professional may ultimately provide the most rewarding experience.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

What are the nodes in a birth chart?

Last, but certainly not least for our tutorial of your stars, there’s something very special in a natal chart called the Lunar Nodes. Those show where the ecliptic was moving at the time of your birth as well (and where the eclipse axis was). The North Node represents what you are learning in this lifetime and is tied to your destiny and core purpose and life lessons. Your South Node is located exactly opposite this and is connected to past lives, karma and the types of patterns you’ve mastered in previous lives. Those are extremely sensitive points on your birth chart and activate profound change within one’s life.

What other kinds of astrology charts can you make?

Good thing you asked! There are a lot of different charts that can be made — solar return charts (predictions for what will happen in the year to come for you), compatibility charts (also known as synastry charts that assess the strengths and weaknesses of two individuals), electional astrology charts (mapping out the stars to plan for specific actions to increase one’s luck and success in actions) and more! And yes, I — and other astrologers — do them all the time. I’ve done them for major celebrities, politicians, corporations, events and people worldwide. And yes, they work for everyone. You just have to have the courage to look up to the stars, know that you’re a part of something bigger and trust that astrology can be the lens to guide you.

Your birth chart is a map of where the planets were at the exact moment a person, situation, relationship or endeavor began.
Your birth chart is a map of where the planets were at the exact moment a person, situation, relationship or endeavor began.
Getty Images/Science Photo Library

What kinds of astrology are there?

So many types — plus, each astrologer throws their spin on an interpretation, basing it on their past research and experiences. But as for the most popular astrologies out there (that use this system of interpretation), the world tends to follow Tropical (Western astrology) or Sidereal astrology (also called Vedic astrology).


Kyle Thomas is a globally recognized pop culture astrologer who has been featured in Cosmopolitan Magazine, ABC Television, Hulu, Bustle, Elite Daily, House Beautiful, Marie Claire, YahooNews, MSN and more. He is known for his cosmic guidance for celebrities, business executives and prominent influencers. His work harnesses the power of the stars in regards to entertainment lifestyle and trends affecting people worldwide. For more information, visit KyleThomasAstrology.com.





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