You’ve made it through 13 lessons of Astro DIY and you’re ready to bring everything you’ve learnt together to interpret a birth chart!
Here we go!
Interpreting a birth chart is about taking the whole picture into account. Astrology often gets a bad reputation, largely when people focus too much on just sun (or ‘star’) signs. What happens when you meet a quiet Leo and all they’ve ever heard about Leo is that they are loud and dramatic? They aren’t able to see what use astrology could have for them.
The truth about chart interpretation is that that’s not where it stops – by taking a look at the Leo’s full chart you’ll be able to explain why they are the way they are, and show them other influences that resonate with them more.
Image from inside Parkers Astrology
Full chart interpretation is useful for lots of reasons. Say someone has their Sun in Sagittarius in the 7th House, but their Venus is in Capricorn in the 12th house. This will give a completely different spin on the way they act in and attract relationships and tells us a lot more than what we could possibly know from just their sun sign.
Let’s start with a quick recap from our first lesson:
What is a birth chart and what’s the difference between the planets, zodiac signs, houses and aspects?
Birth Chart – The birth chart can be seen as a map of one’s life – it’s sort of like taking a photo of where the planets were the exact moment when you were born. The birth chart can be used to understand why you are the way you are, desires, motivations, strengths, weaknesses and so much more.
Planets – the planets represent the type of energy expressed, characters and archetypes; the what.
Signs – the zodiac signs represent the tone of the energy, the way it’s expressed the qualities, the costume of the characters; the how.
Houses – the specific area of life the energy is played out in, the stage, the backdrop; the where.
Aspects – an aspect is the angles planets make to each other, the relationships between planets; the dialogue between characters.
Now grab your chart from astro.com (here’s how!), your astrology notebook or paper/pen, get the whole Astro DIY series to hand, plus any astrology reference books, Google, whatever tools you need, and let’s delve in!
Interpretations are built; like an architect, you have to apply basic rules of construction. There are plans (the charts). There are walls and floors (the Sun, Moon and rising signs). There are windows to let in the light, and buttresses (helpful planets). There are dark passages (difficult planets). Most important, there are stresses and strains, revealed by the difficult aspects; and supports, represented by constructive aspects. And we must not forget the foundations, as shown by the anchorages – of which there are many. Your first interpretation will be small constructions – like a simple shed. It will take time to build a cathedral or palace, but with patience and care, you will eventually do so.
Parkers Astrology by Julia & Derek Parker.
Ten-Step Approach to Chart Interpretation
- Chart Shape: take a look at which parts of the chart are occupied by planets. Are they mostly in the top half, or all within three signs? Is it a bowl or a bucket? Work out which quadrants and hemispheres are highlighted.
- Elements and Modes: make a little table noting down how many planets you have in each element and polarity. What elements are strongest? Is this chart more cardinal, mutable or fixed?
- The Big Three: look at the Sun, Moon and Ascendant. This will give you a quick overview of the person and some of their basic personality traits, their emotional side, their needs and desires, and what they put out to the world.
- Ruling Planet: the planet that rules someone’s Ascendant/Rising sign, is the ruling planet of the birth chart. For example, a Cancer Rising is ruled by the Moon. This adds some extra emphasis to this planet and it’s position in the chart.
- Planets: check out where the other planets are – Mercury shows how someone learns and communicates, Venus and Mars give us insight into our relationships, passion and drive, Saturn illuminates where challenges lie ahead for us. Write these out and make some notes for key points.
- Houses: observe which houses in the chart contain planets. Are one or two houses full of planets, showing an immediately clear focus area in someone’s life, or are they really spread out?
- Angles: pay some extra attention to the angular houses in the chart – that’s the 1st, 4th, 7th and 10th houses. These show key areas of life such as the self, home and family, relationships and your career. The planets and signs in those houses will shed some light on those areas of a person’s life.
- Aspects: make special note of any major aspects, as well as patterns such as a T square. Does someone have a lot of trines? Maybe things come quite easily to them in life. Mostly squares and oppositions? That might explain why they feel like life is constantly throwing them challenge after challenge, or pulling them in opposite directions.
Look at what planets are involved in the aspect. What kind of relationship do you think they would have? Do Mercury and Neptune get along?
- Intercepted and Duplicated Signs: these occur when a sign doesn’t appear on any of your house cusps. Intercepted signs always come in pairs, for example if Taurus is intercepted, Scorpio will be too. These signs indicate energies that we hold back on or don’t feel comfortable in, sometimes ‘causing problems in our life. A duplicated sign is when this appears twice on a house cusp, and represents our strengths and energies that come easily to us.
- Go back through your notes and look for the patterns and themes. Libra Sun in the 7th House trine Venus, planets all in the Western Hemisphere? Relationships are going to be a big focus for that person! Or maybe your aspect interpretations are bringing up creativity and the arts again and again? These themes can make up the backbone of your interpretation and should form your guide and central talking points if doing a reading.
Watch out for traits that come up again and again – highlight these, they are important to your overall picture of someone.Don’t put a strong emphasis on a trait if you are unsure about it, if it isn’t backed up elsewhere in the chart, or if another aspect of the personality contradicts it.
Your end product should be your own awesome notes and guide for a birth chart, highlighting key themes and traits. This gives you the knowledge to give an overall reading for someone and can easily shape a written report if you’re prepared to add in more detail. When doing a reading or report for someone, you can choose whether to order this by planet, the strongest influences, or to focus it instead on different areas of life (eg. having a section on home and family or career).
A few extra tips to send you on your way:
- Double check the birth data you’ve been given as best you can! Spending lots of time working on an interpretation, only to find out later that it’s inaccurate is really no fun.
- Key words are your friends! Jot down the key words for planets, signs and houses as you go and turn these into fuller points later on.
- If you’re doing a chart interpretation for someone you know, be aware of how this might affect the reading. Try to put aside what you know about them. To be an ethical astrologer sometimes you will need to tell someone a hard truth or raise those imperfect qualities. Similarly, you might come across a theme or trait that surprises you, which you find hard to match to the person you know. Put your preconceived feelings aside and be willing to learn something new. Let your friend lead you on whether or not it’s accurate rather than filtering things out.
- A birth chart interpretation should be able to identify where someone’s motivation and energy comes from. Where their potential (whether it’s being utilised or is untapped!) lies. The way they respond to situations and what their overall energy is like. Confident? Anxious? Warm? Aloof?
- Don’t avoid contradictions altogether. We can all be slightly different people, or have traits or responses that differ depending on a situation, or who we are around. When looking at contradicting factors in a chart, consider which has more weight. Whether or not personal planets are involved can be a good way to check for this.
Chart interpretation is a really exciting part of astrology, it can bring us closer to people, show us our strengths, teach us what parts of ourselves we need to grow and work on and be really healing.
The birth chart shows us our potential, but what we do with it is up to us. Nothing is set in stone. Just like the stars and planets in the universe, our own chart and map to life is constantly moving, changing, adapting. Let it lead you on the journey, but don’t hesitate to wander off your original path.