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Examining a Natal Chart

This article was written by Gloria Star on January 15, 2004
posted under Natal Chart

Astrologers also look at chart patterns, such as planets falling more heavily in one section or on one side of the chart than another, or forming a pattern which looks like a kite or a bucket. There are many ways to look at a birth chart. Some people see the chart as a mandala, and use it as a focusing or meditational tool. Some astrologers draw artistic renderings of the chart, emphasizing certain colors or symbols which have outstanding qualities.

To most beginners, however, the chart just looks like a jumble of symbols! Even though you may know some of the qualities of these different symbols, you may still feel a bit confused about how to put it all together. It does take time and study to synthesize all these factors, but there are a few tips which can speed along your sense of the chart as a whole.

1. To synthesize the concepts of the heavenly bodies, signs, houses, and aspects, consider the basic principles behind each of their symbols and create descriptive sentences about them.

2. Remember, the Sun, Moon, planet (or asteroid) illustrate what the energy is; the signs show how the energy works, and the house indicates where the energy is focused. Aspects add emphasis, strength, or intensification to the meaning of a planetary energy, and may help you understand why the energy is directed in a particular manner in your life. If you use the model of a play or drama, think of the planets as the actors, the signs as their roles, the houses as settings and scenes, and the aspects as the interactions between the actors in the drama.

3. When looking at a chart, it is sometimes helpful to begin by looking at the placements of the Sun, Moon, and Ascendant. The Sun indicates the kind of person you strive to be; the Ascendant is what others see; and the Moon is who you are within. If these three positions are compatible with one another by element or sign, then there may be an easier expression of the personality. But if there is discord between them, then the personality may be more difficult to pinpointóa factor of complexity emerges.

4. Look at where the planets fall in the chart. Instead of interpreting each individually, consider them all as equal in influence for a moment. Do they scatter about the circle? If so, perhaps you scatter your energy too easily. Do planets cluster on one side of the chart, or on the top or bottom? The chart's left half is considered to represent self-direction and independence. The right side indicates the need for feedback from others, and an orientation toward relationships. The top of the chart is public and outwardly focused, and an emphasis on this half of the chart will indicate a life of strong public influence. The lower half of the chart is inner-directed, and adds a need to get to know oneself. Planets falling primarily in this half of the chart indicates the need to feel comfortable with oneself and one's abilities before striking out in the world.

5. Count the number of celestial bodies in each element. If there is a preponderance of any one element, the characteristics associated with that element will be strong in your personality. The same is true of the modes (thus, if you have seven planets in fixed signs, your personality will express the nature of fixity). Then you can combine the two. As an example, if you have predominantly Cardinal and Fire planets, your personality will be very much like the Cardinal Fire sign, Aries.

This overview gives you a good starting base. One thing you will learn is that nothing in astrology stands alone. There are always other features which relate to the qualities, planets, signs, and other elements of the chart. And remember, your chart indicates potentialónot a set of absolutes!

I've written a number of books for Llewellyn over the years—believe it or not, my upcoming release is number eight—but far and away the most popular one was my third, The Goddess Is in the Details. And I have to confess, it was my favorite too. (Shhh…don't tell the other books. They'll cry, and I'll have to give them each a... read this article
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