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A Beginner’s Guide to Understanding Your Birth Chart

What was supposed to be a one-time reading of my birth chart during the first two weeks of the pandemic turned into me falling down an astrological rabbit hole I’m still in nineteen months later. I’ve followed astrologers on TikTok, bought every book on astrology in Urban Outfitters, and even bought a personalized book on my birth chart from Birthdate.co. If you’re new to astrology, though, and have no idea where to start, I’ve put together all the knowledge you’ll want to have to take the first steps to understanding your chart.

How to Find Your Birth Chart:

First and foremost, you will need your birthdate, birth location, and time of birth to calculate your birth chart. If you do not know your time of birth, do not worry! You’ll still be able to find out major information, like the signs all your planets are in. However, you do need your birth time for a more nuanced and complete picture of yourself because that will tell you your rising sign, your chart ruler, and all the houses your planets are in. If you do not know the exact time you were born but have a general idea of what time of day you were born, go from there and get as close to your true time as possible because the ascendant changes signs around every two hours.

For an easy to navigate, free website to calculate your birth chart, my go-to resource for all things zodiac related is Cafe Astrology! Just punch in all your birth info, and in seconds you’ll have a full report on all the placements in your chart and what that specific placement says about you.

The Most Important Parts of your Chart

While every part of your chart is important, you will want to spend the most time studying your “big six.” Though most astrological content focuses on one’s big three (aka, one’s Sun, Moon, and Rising), the big six will give you a more in-depth look on yourself since it also includes the inner planets Mercury, Venus, and Mars.

Sun:

Your sun sign is an overview of who you are. It represents your core personality traits that stay constant throughout different phases in your life.

Moon:

Your moon sign represents your inner self. It reveals your emotional side and how you handle emotions, your intuition, instincts, and deeper desires.

Mercury:

Mercury is the planet of communication. Whatever placement this planet is in will tell you how you communicate, think, learn, and process information.

Venus:

This part of your chart is all about pleasure. It’ll tell you who you’re attracted to, what type of people you’ll attract, and how you flirt or express affection. It’s also a lens into learning how you attract good fortune into your life and what in life you derive the most pleasure from.

Mars:

Mars is the planet of passion, intensity, and drive. Your Mars sign says what makes you tick, how you act when you’re angry and how you fight, and your ambition. This is also the place in your chart you’ll look for a more spicy look into your life since your Mars placement will tell you all about your sexual side.

Ascendant:

Your ascendant, also known as your rising sign, is arguably the most important part of your chart (yes, more important than your sun sign). Your rising sign is the zodiac sign that was on the eastern horizon when you were born. It is also the moment your soul enters enters your body for the first time.

Your rising sign is all about your social personality. It is how you see the world, but also how the world sees you and the first impressions you have on other people. This placement also speaks on your physical appearance and style!

Important Terms to Know

The deeper into astrology you dive, the more complicated the picture that is your birth chart becomes. Every little aspect of your chart says something about you that makes your horoscope resonate more and more with your personality the deeper you study it.

Houses:

The 12 houses in the Zodiac all represent a different area in life. The houses provide insight beyond your personality, and depending on which house your sign and planet fall in, it’ll show where the traits most associated with that sign show up in your life. It’ll also tell you where you may face the most challenges, but also where you thrive the most.

Modalities:

Modality is an umbrella term for whether you are a cardinal (Capricorn, Cancer, Libra, Aries), fixed (Taurus, Scorpio, Aquarius, Leo), or mutable (Virgo, Pisces, Gemini, Sagittarius) sign. While Capricorns are very different from Aries, they express their own traits associated with their sign in similar ways.

Cardinal signs are the first signs of each of the four seasons. These are the go-getters of the zodiac, characterized by their ambition and ability to take initiative.

Fixed signs are, as the name suggests, fixed in their ways. While known for their stubbornness, which can be both a blessing and a curse, they are also known for their loyalty and perseverance.

Unlike cardinal signs that are usually set in their plans, or fixed signs that are typically set in their ways, mutable signs are easily adaptable to their surroundings and capable of changing their personas and expressions to what is the most fitting for the situation they are in.

Stelliums and Chart Rulers:

If you’ve ever wondered why you don’t identify strongly with your sun sign, your chart ruler and any stelliums present in your chart may explain why.

Stelliums are when at least three of your your main planets fall in the same zodiac sign or house. This is important because it makes the traits and themes associated with the sign or house more prominent and influential in your life.

Your chart ruler will tell you which planet and the themes associated with that planet have the strongest influence on your life. This is why knowing your rising sign is so important. To find your chart ruler, you will look at the planet that rules your rising sign. For example, if you are a sagittarius rising, your chart ruler will be Jupiter and the sign that planet falls in since that is the planet that rules over sagittarius.

Where to Find Out More

By no means am I an expert. I just thought this guide would be a useful starting point for ladies interested in learning more about their chart. All my knowledge usually comes from zodiac TikTok and astrological books. So if you want fun, comedic content that relies a lot on stereotypical, but hard-hitting relatable sun sign facts, @zodiac.boyfriend and @jkitscole are my favorite tiktokers that post just that. @Lunarandlilacs and @kmryberg are astrologers on TikTok I follow for more in-depth, analytical astrological content.

For books, The Stars Within You: A Modern Guide to Astrology, is a great book with all the basics to astrology. The Astrology of You and Me goes beyond understanding your own birth chart to understanding how to interact with the people around you. From needing to ask a Capricorn boss for a raise or needing to compromise with a Libra roommate, this book has you covered. Lastly, The Astrology Dictionary: Cosmic Knowledge from A to Z is a small hardcover, small pamphlet-like dictionary filled exclusively with any astrology term you need to know.

Jaclyn Sersland is a junior from Laguna Beach, CA, double majoring in criminal justice and political science. Besides writing for Her Campus, she is a part of the GWU Equestrian team, Alpha Delta Phi Society, the Criminal Justice Students Association and Women's Pre-Law Student Association. Besides writing, she loves going through her booktok tbr list, watching the latest netflix drama, and hanging out in the city with friends.
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