What is a Birth Chart?
A birth chart is a snapshot of the sky the minute we were born. It symbolizes exactly what the sky looked like when you took your first breath.
Astrology originated with one simple action: skygazing. Imagine you are standing outside at night looking at the beautiful starry sky. You are looking at the physical representation of a chart. When humans began to record observations of celestial events, and correlate them with earthly events, astrology was born. There are charts for everything. Birthdays, honeymoons, elections, stock market crashes, you name it. On a more esoteric level, an astrological chart is a symbol of universal energy. A chart is a tool for interpreting this energy.
The chart is the midway point between the universe and the reader. The planets, signs, and their placements are symbols of energetic vibrations, imprinted on you when you were born.
We’re all meant to come to earth and live lives of happiness and fulfillment. The path to happiness is rooted in authentic, embodied living. When we use our birth chart as a guide to compliment what we feel inside, we have the opportunity to reach new levels of personal acceptance and fulfillment. At times living in tune with our chart comes naturally. For many, being who we truly are is extremely challenging. It could be your environment telling you ‘No’, it could be your inner critic telling you, ‘you’re not good enough’. For whatever the reason, when we live life out of sync with our birth charts, we can feel unfulled, dissatisfied, or just maybe in a perpetual ‘Funk’. We may hear the whispers of our soul saying, “Do this! You like that, that is who you are!”, but we don’t believe it. We get confused. Confusion from what our parents told us, or by our own self doubt. Astrology is a tool to cut through all of the noise, and speak directly about our soul, to our soul.
Deep down inside, we know what our charts (and our souls) have to say. We don’t necessarily need our charts to tell us that we are fun loving or that we have a great eye and knack for design. But it helps to receive the confidence and reassurance from the universe. Astrology confirms what we know intuitively. It presents these objectively so we face it head on. By having the courage and conviction to live in harmony with our birth chart, we can live our best life, in full color. Although astrology is not technically therapy, it is therapeutic in many ways.
One of the first steps towards healing is simply recognizing what is, being mindful of it, and sitting with ourselves & experiences. Astrology has the ability to cut to the core of the issue, energy, or situation at hand. Because of the uncanny knack astrology has to label what is going on in our experience, it has the ability to increase mindfulness. Mindfulness is literally described as, "a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique." Too often astrology focuses on predicting the future, when really, astrologies biggest gift is keeping us focused on the present. We can use astrology as a tool for us to be more conscious of our actions, and more conscious of our REACTIONS, through self understanding and presence.
BIRTH CHART BREAKDOWN
Sometimes looking at a birth chart can seem overwhelming, but it is actually a very simple concept rooted in astronomy. You can understand what a birth chart is, and how to read it by following the simple steps below.
Imagine you’re looking at the clear sky, full of stars and planets (that look like stars). Astrology starts by looking at the 12 constellations on the ecliptic and where the planets are. It is like a snapshot of the sky. We can start to understand what a chart is, when you think of it like a 2D wheel imposed on the sky from our view on earth. The top of the wheel is like the night sky that we can see. The bottom of the wheel is like section of the sky that is outside of our view. Just because we cannot see planets, does not mean they are not included or important.
Imagine each planet in the sky recorded as a little symbol (found in the chart). Each little symbol for that planet will fall into a 'house', which looks like a slice of pie. This just shows us where in the sky the planet was when we were born. Each house has a number one through twelve, as seen below.
CHART INTERPRETATION 101
Your birth chart is composed of three distinct (yet interrelated) energies: planets, signs and houses. In simple terms, think of the planets as little light bulbs, signs as filters that color the light bulbs, and houses as the position of the light bulb in space/time. Click on the links underlined below to explore each topic in more detail!
1. PLANETS | What is the active energy?
The ancients used to watch these luminous bodies move across the sky at night, on a backdrop of the fixed stars of the zodiac. Planets are the lights, the active forces in the sky. They are the most important considerations when reading an astrological chart. Planets symbolize the basic psychological functions or archetypal energies common to all people. They activate the chart. They function, and are the primary energetic drivers in astrology.
2. SIGNS | How? What is the character of this energy? How are archetypes expressed?
The signs of the zodiac come from twelve constellations of stars in the sky along the tropical zodiac. Signs are the adjectives of the zodiac. They color how the planets & chart points express their fundamental energies.
3. HOUSES | What area of my life? At what point in the cycle? Where are archetypal energies active?
The astrological houses depend on the time you were born. Physically, houses represent a sector or area of the sky. For example, if you were born when the sun was setting, you would have your sun in the 7th house, near the ‘descendant’ axis. The 7th house or the ‘Descendant’ axis will always represent the westernmost part of the sky. Symbolically, the house shows us an area of life or the part of a cycle that is active. The house tells us where the action is taking place.
* Disclaimer! I am using ‘Whole Sign’ house systems (if this matters to you). *
4. ASPECTS | How to archetypes speak to each other? How do they act on each other?
Aspects synthesize the individual dynamics of the signs, houses, and planets. They describe how the planets talk to each other, or impact each other. A simple example is the aspect of the sun and moon. When the sun and moon are together (conjunct), it is a new moon. When the sun and moon are opposing each other, this is a full moon. Interpreting aspects is complex. Understanding the aspects in your chart is usually a great topic for a professional astrologer.
Now imagine the constellations of stars serving as the background to these planets. These are the SIGNS. The signs the planets fall into are like adjectives or attributes that show how the planets function. When we add everything together, we see that a chart represents where all the planets were in the sky, and what sign they were traveling through. For example, in the image below the Sun falls on the backdrop of Pisces in the 12th house, so we can say the Sun was in Pisces in the 12th house. Houses are static, they do not move or change, while the planets and constellations are in constant motion. Your birth chart captures a particular moment in time, symbolically representing a particular configuration of energy of your soul.