Understanding Your Birth Chart

by Gayna

Do you have a copy of your birthchart? If so, it can be an invaluable tool to understanding the complexities of your personality, your path in life and even why you chose it.
Many websites now offer brief free interpretations. But if you have a visual image of your chart, it is helpful to look at the shapes and patterns it forms and analyse these individually.
What follows is a key to the symbols and a short explanation of the meanings of some of the factors in your chart. From studying these you can start to understand more about the meaning of your chart.
The natal chart is a theoretical map of the heavens, from the viewpoint of the part of the Earth where you were born, at the moment of birth, with the parts of the zodiac above and below the horizon included. The zodiac is divided into 12 signs and 12 houses, through which the planets continue to move.
Your basic personality is determined by the sign in which the Sun fell at time of birth. Nothing can alter this, but its effect, especially regarding how you are seen by others, is modified by other factors of the chart.
The Moon, representing your innermost self, feelings and responses, is the next most important factor.
Then there is the line which crosses the chart horizontally; the left hand section is known as the Ascendant (AS). If the sign in which this falls differs from your Sun sign, as is likely, the qualities of that sign overlay the features of the personality to some extent. Thus the physical appearance and the persona are considered to be determined by the Ascendant sign, and may be used to disguise the 'real you' in public. The effect of this may fade as age increases and there is less need to hide your basic self from others as you become more self-accepting. The right hand half of the line is known as the Descendant, and represents the point at which you draw others into your life, and indicates the qualities you are likely to seek in them in friendships and relationships. This polarity, signified by the whole axis, is an indicator of the qualities, and possibly signs, you will relate to regardless of your Sun sign. Known as the 'feeling' axis, it also shows the karma of who you have chosen to relate to in the world in this lifetime, and how you have chosen to experience life.
As far as the major structure is concerned, the vertical line culminates at or near the top of the chart as the 'Medium Coeli' (r) or Midheaven. This represents the point at which you project yourself into the world in a meaningful way, and is therefore associated with career and world status. The line's nadir or 'Immum Coeli' (IC) marks your roots as a person and the factors which influence what motivates you; therefore, it also indicates your family background. Known as the 'thinking axis', it shows the karma of what you have chosen to do in the world in this lifetime, and how easy or difficult you will find it to succeed in this.
There are many other components which require interpretation. The planets represent the energies available to you. They are placed in signs which determine the manner in which the energies are used. The houses count anticlockwise from the left horizon and indicate the areas of life in which the energies are likely to be most easily available. The aspects represent connections made between planets due to the angles between them, and reflect the degree of ease with which energy flow occurs between planets.
Information about the elements and the modes or qualities is given in the 'Introduction to Astrology'

Sun - The living being, physical body, psychic energy, male principle, father.
Moon - a The soul or psyche, fantasy, feeling, change, fluctuation, female principle, mother. Mercury - b Intelligence, reason, movement, associative or connective function, communication.
Venus - c Love, art, physical attraction, sentiment(-ality), sex, money, femininity.
Mars - d Action, energy, impulsion, drive, aggressive function, libido, masculinity.
Jupiter - e Expansion, growth, material or metaphysical wealth, health, humour, development.
Saturn - f Limitation, restriction, contraction, concentration, inhibition, separation, maturity, loss.
Uranus - g Suddenness, revolution, violence, transmutation, magic, alchemy, occult arts, creativity.
Neptune - h Susceptibility, fantasy, romanticism, mysticism, (self-)deception, psychic powers.
Pluto - P Power, demagoguery, dictatorships, the masses.

1. The position of a planet in a chart is considered to be strengthened if it is close to one of the 'angles' ie Ascendant, descendant, MC or IC. Angular relationships or aspects modify the influence of planets.
2. A planet reflects the qualities of the zodiac sign in which it is placed.
3. A planet also operates according to its house position.

The qualities of the signs of the zodiac.
Parts of the body Ruled by:
Aries A Courage, impetuosity, energy. Head, face. Mars
Taurus B Patience, persistence, obstinacy Neck, shoulders, Venus
Gemini C Progressiveness, cleverness, instability. Arms, elbows, wrists, hands Mercury
Cancer D Inspiration, sensitivity, evasiveness Chest Moon
Leo E Dignity, breadth of mind, power, pretension Heart Sun Virgo F Reason, logic, exactitude, pedantry Waist, stomach, ribs Mercury
Libra G Harmony, evaluation, trivialities Abdomen, kidneys, Venus
Scorpio H Profundity, insistence, roughness, sexuality Sexual organs Pluto
Sagittarius I Justice, propriety, sophistry Thighs Jupiter
Capricorn J Independence, abstraction, stubbornness Knees Saturn
Aquarius K Spirituality, conviction, illusion Calves, ankles Uranus
Pisces L Compassion, tolerance, indolence Feet Neptune.

House 1 - Development of personality, childhood, physical body, constitution, outer persona, appearance
House 2 - Material possessions, money, feelings, sensuality.
House 3 - Family relationships, communication, siblings.
House 4 - Parental home, hereditary characteristics, roots, basic nature.
House 5 - Procreation, sexuality, pleasure, risks, creativity, speculation, offspring.
House 6 - Health, work, service, earning a living.
House 7 - Partnership, marriage, love relationships, open enemies, immediate community.
House 8 - Sex, accidents, death, inheritance, partner's money, father figure.
House 9 - Spiritual life, philosophy, religion, travel, wider education.
House 10 - Vocation, profession, ambition, public life.
House 11 - Wishes, hopes, friendships, peer groups, the wider community.
House 12 - Secret enemies, seclusion, obscure difficulties, inner life, dreams, altruistic service.

S Trines are angles of 120° between planets. They are considered strong easy or favourable aspects.
V Sextiles are angles of 60° between planets. They are considered milder easy or favourable aspects.
Q Conjunctions are angles of 0° between planets. They are considered easy or favourable aspects and may have a reinforcing effect on the other planet's influence, depending on the planets concerned.
T Squares are aspects of 90° between planets. They are considered powerful difficult, challenging or unfavourable aspects, but can add strength to a situation when surmounted.
X Semi-squares are aspects of 45° between planets. They are considered milder difficult, challenging or unfavourable aspects.
R Oppositions are angles of 180° between planets. They are considered difficult, challenging aspects.
Z Quintiles are angles of 72° between planets, considered to create some difficulties. [ Bi-quintiles are angles of 144° between planets, considered to create some more minor difficulties.
W Inconjuncts are angles of 150° between planets, considered to be challenging in the short term but possibly to have a creative and strengthening effect in the longer term.
There are many other more minor angles which can also be considered, asc well as some combined angles such as Grand Trines (three 120° angles forming a triangle), Grand Squares (four 90° angles forming a rectangle) and Yods (two 150° angles plus one 60° angle forming a long triangle) which are considered to have significance in terms of the life paths and long-standing patterns, and which can be a 'mixed blessing', providing the opportunity for both challenge and achievement.

© Gayna

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