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An Introduction to Reading Your Birth Chart

Are you on a path of self-discovery? Or maybe even looking to learn more about what your zodiac sign means? A birth chart is a good place to start, to find out what is written in your stars. However, the many layers and individuality of birth charts can be daunting, leaving us unsure of how to even begin reading it. Below is a concise overview of the basic aspects for reading your chart to help you get started.

Getting Your Birth Chart

The first, and likely obvious, thing you need to do is to get a copy of your birth chart. Free generators will allow you to make one by plugging in your birthday (day/month/year), the time you were born, and the city you were born in. You can find one here. Once you have done that, the following information will help you decipher it. 

Understanding Houses

On the inside of the wheel are the numbers one through twelve, each corresponding to a ‘house’ that defines different aspects of your life: 

  1. Awareness of Self: appearance and outwards personality

  2. Personal Resources: money, possessions, values, and skills

  3. Immediate Environment: mental activity, learning, siblings, and communication

  4. Inner World: home, parents, roots, and inner security

  5. Personal Creativity: romance, children, fun, and creativity

  6. Daily Life: work, health, service, and self-improvement

  7. Awareness of Others: marriage and relationships

  8. Shared Resources: sex, death, letting go, and sharing

  9. Expanded Horizons: higher education, philosophy, travel, law, and religion

  10. Outer World: career, purpose, and taking power

  11. Group Contribution: friends, groups, goals, and aspirations

  12. Spiritual Life: solitude, institutions, transcendence, and self-sabotage

As you expand to the outside of the wheel you will see lines and coordinates connecting, but for a basic understanding we are going to skip that for now.

Understanding Planets

Towards the outside of the wheel, you will find symbols that correlate to each planet – such as the circle/disk for the sun (most charts come with a key). Each planet corresponds to a different aspect of your personality:

  • Sun: ego, self-expression, and vitality

  • Moon: emotions, instinct, habits, and mood

  • Mercury: intellect, logic, thinking, and communication

  • Venus: pleasure, romance, love, femininity, and money

  • Mars: aggression, drive, sex, desire, competition, courage, and action

  • Jupiter: luck, growth, optimism, achievement, and excess

  • Saturn: limitation, boundaries, structure, discipline, responsibility, and authority

  • Uranus: individualism, eccentricity, liberation, rebellion, and sudden inspiration

  • Neptune: illusion, delusion, imagination, escapism, dreams, and spirituality

  • Pluto: power, transformation, metamorphosis, death, and rebirth

  • Chiron: inner wounds of mind, body, and spirit

  • True Node: direction for growth

Understanding Each Astrological Sign

On the outermost part of the birth chart, you will find the symbols for each of the zodiac signs. While each has its own distinguished qualities, this brief overview will get you started:

  • Aries – courageous and pioneering

  • Taurus – loving and loyal

  • Gemini – quick-witted and open-minded

  • Cancer – nurturing and sensitive

  • Leo – generous and stubborn

  • Virgo – organized and thorough

  • Libra – artistic and charming

  • Scorpio – passionate and sensual

  • Sagittarius – enthusiastic and optimistic

  • Capricorn – hardworking and disciplined

  • Aquarius – independent and friendly

  • Pisces – creative and intuitive

But what does this all mean?

Well, you put it all together. Identify what planet you want to look into and locate what house and sign it falls under. For example, my sun is in Leo in my twelfth house. This applies an aspect of your personality (planet) with a part of your life (house) to the qualities common to the astrological sign.

Direction of Your Chart

The placement of your planets with the chart also affects how it is interpreted; we normally think of it in terms of hemispheres, this can get a bit tricky to remember because they are counter intuitive. This affects your personhood by where your planets dominantly fall.

  • North Hemisphere: Houses 1-6, the lower half of the wheel. If the majority of your planets are in this portion of the chart, you are likely to be subjective and private.

  • South Hemisphere: Houses 7-12, the upper half of the wheel. If the majority of your planets are in this portion of the chart, you are likely to be objective and sociable.

  • East Hemisphere: The left half of the chart. If the majority of your planets are in this portion of the chart, you are likely to be self-motivated and assertive, you take initiative,  and you are action oriented. Your life is emphasized by free will. 

  • West Hemisphere: The right half of the chart. If the majority of your planets are in this portion of the chart, you are likely to be receptive and focused on the needs of others. Your life is emphasized by fate.

These are not as clear cut; your chart will likely fall in multiple hemispheres.

Like many things in life, reading your chart takes practice. Our understanding of astrological alignment and how it affects us is ever evolving, there will always be more to learn. On top of that, your chart may not reflect how you see yourself, which is perfectly okay – take what you learn with a grain of salt, stick with what resonates and do not dwell on what does not!

Madison Turunen is a student of the Class of 2023 at Pace University, on the New York City campus. She is double majoring in History and Peace & Justice Studies with minors in Women & Gender Studies and Politics. Someday she hopes to go into human rights advocacy. She is a huge activist and environmentalist, with a lean towards gender equality and peace-building. As a part of Her Campus, she has published articles on lifestyle, entertainment, wellness, and news.
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