|Your astrological chart, or horoscope, is drawn from calculations based upon the date, time, and place of your birth. Every element of the horoscope (which, if it’s like most Western horoscopes, will be drawn on a circular wheel) is expressed symbolically. Each symbol in the chart represents a celestial body, sign, house, or aspect.
An astrologer studies your chart and analyzes the patterns and factors which describe your personality and needs. In a sense, an astrologer "reads" the information contained in your chart.
The mathematical processes involved in formulating horoscopes have been translated into computer programs, which most professional astrologers currently rely upon. Still, a certified professional astrologer needs to know how to complete these calculations. You can obtain an accurate computation of your astrological chart through a professional astrologer, a public library with a chart calculation program on its computer, or an astrological computer service.
Your horoscope is a map of the heavens at the time of your birth, and is usually drawn as an Earth-centered (or, geocentric) map showing the planetary positions as viewed from your place of birth. Some astrologers also draw Sun-centered (or, heliocentric) maps. The geocentric premise, however, is that since you were born upon the Earth, and the focus is on you, an Earth-centered map will be most relevant to your life.
The 360-degree circle upon which this chart is drawn represents you as a whole person. Envision a line dissecting the circle into top and bottom halves: that line represents the horizon at the time and place you were born. The planets, Sun, and Moon are drawn around the circle. Those bodies falling above the line were above the horizon when you were born; those below the line were below the horizon at your birth.
The circle is divided into twelve segments, called houses; the first house falls just below the horizon line on the left side of the chart.
The twelve signs of the zodiac lie on the dividing lines, or cusps, bordering each of the houses.
The sign on the left horizon is called the ascendant, or rising sign. This changes about every two hours, so you can see the importance of an accurate birth time to your astrological chart!
Symbols for the Sun, Moon, and planets all appear within the chart, as may those for the Nodes of the Moon, asteroids, and/or any other factors you or the astrologer are interested in.
Some of the houses in your chart may be empty. Do not be alarmed. Each house is connected to a planetary influence, whether or not not it contains a planet.