Astrology For Beginners: How To Decode Your Birth Chart
Astrology has been mainstream for a while now. Dating apps prompt you to post your sun sign on your profile. Daily, weekly, and monthly horoscopes are published in newspapers, magazines, and online. You can even ask your Amazon Alexa for your daily horoscope, and she’ll tell you what the stars have to say about your future. It has never been easier to learn about astrology and how to use it for guidance in your life.
At the same time, all of this information seems a bit surface level. There is such a strong focus on sun signs that many people don’t even know that moon signs and ascendant signs are just as important in understanding yourself through the lens of astrology.
For example, I’m a Taurus, and for a long time, I steered clear of astrology because I didn’t relate at all to my sign. After I did my birth chart and discovered all the other energies that affected my life, I understood why my personality wasn’t explained by the characteristics of Taurus. It was because my sun sign was just one part of the astrological equation. When I dove deeper and explored all the other factors at play in my birth chart, I realized that astrology could provide valuable insight into my life and my spiritual practice.
If you’ve been curious about astrology and you want to go beyond just looking up your sun sign horoscope, this article will tell you everything you need to know to get started.
The Importance Of Birth Charts
An astrology birth chart is a great place to start. It will tell you your sun sign, moon sign, and ascendant sign (or rising sign) as well as where all the influential planets were at the time of your birth.
There are websites you can use to get a complete birth chart done for free. This is the one I use and recommend.
Besides your date of birth, you also must know the exact time and the location of your birth. If you don’t know when you were born (and your parents don’t remember), I recommend digging up your birth certificate. This information is vital to an accurate birth chart because the planets can shift throughout the day. Your ascendant sign changes every four minutes, which will change the rest of your birth chart. That’s why it’s possible for twins to have very different personalities despite being born under the same sun sign.
Here are some astrological terms you’ll need to know:
Most people believe that the zodiac is made up of twelve constellations. These constellations are Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces, Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, and Sagittarius.
A sun sign refers to the position of the sun at your time of birth. In astrology, the sun is considered the most powerful celestial body.
Even though there are other factors that may affect your personality, the sun sign has the most influence on who you are as a person. Your sun sign will also shed some light on the major themes of your life.
Every thirty-ish days, the sun will “move” through each constellation on the zodiac. Because there are twelve constellations, it takes about a year for the sun to travel through all the constellations or astrological signs. I put the word “move” in quotes because the sun doesn’t actually move. It only appears to move because we’re on planet earth, which orbits the sun. The movement of the earth makes it look like the sun is passing through each constellation on the zodiac every month as it completes its yearly cycle.
The second most important part of your astrological birth chart (after your sun sign) is your moon sign. This refers to the position the moon was in at the moment of your birth—what sign it was passing through. If you’re like me and you don’t relate to your sun sign, you’ll probably get a better understanding of yourself through your moon sign.
While your sun sign provides information regarding your conscious mind (or your “ego”), your moon sign will give you a deeper understanding of your subconscious and your instinctual tendencies (or the “id” side of your personality). Some people even describe your moon sign as your true self, who you are deep down.
Ascendant or Rising Sign
The sign that was rising up from the eastern horizon at the time of your birth is known as your ascendant or rising sign. These two terms are used interchangeably.
This is the sign you will most “look like” on the outside. If your friends think you don’t embody your sun sign, they’ll probably understand you better through your ascendant sign.
This sign also dictates when major life events will happen to you. Typically, you’ll need to know your exact time of birth to figure out your ascendant sign. But theoretically, an experienced astrologer can look over your life and tell you what your ascendant sign is based on the timing of certain personal milestones you’ve experienced.
The twelve signs in the zodiac are all associated with specific elements. Once you know what your three main signs are (sun, moon, and rising), you can look at how much of each element you have in your birth chart.
Taurus, Capricorn, and Virgo
Creative, stable, nurturing
Gemini, Aquarius, and Libra
Intellectual, decisive, great at communicating
Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces
Emotional, intuitive, idealistic
Aries, Leo, and Saggittarius
Enthusiastic, ambitious, energetic
This elemental classification is especially helpful for you as a witch because you probably already associate certain characteristics with the individual elements. The witchy associations you have with the cardinal elements of earth, water, fire, and air carry over into astrology. People with a lot of air signs in their chart will probably embody more air personality traits. Others will have a variety of elements in their birth charts. That means they hold equal parts of several energies.
As a witch, this information might help you know what elements to call on during a spell. Perhaps you know that you’ll bring lots of earth energy to your magic because of your birth chart, so you call on the energy of air to help balance it out.
When you have your birth chart, you’ll see what signs each of the planets were in at the time of your birth. This will impact your personality and on your everyday life as these planets continue to orbit during your lifetime.
Here’s what energy each planet is associated with:
Mars: Motivation and conflict
Uranus: Change and technology
Neptune: Hopes and dreams
Jupiter: Luck and learning
Saturn: Boundaries and external factors outside your control
There are twelve houses in your astrological birth chart. Each house gives you guidance on certain aspects of your personality and life experiences.
When you get your birth chart, it’s shown as a wheel. First, you’ll want to locate your ascendant sign on the wheel. That will be your first house. From there, you move counterclockwise around the wheel to see which sign falls into the rest of your eleven houses.
Each house represents a part of you, and the sign that corresponds with each of your houses will provide you with information regarding that part of yourself.
For example, your ascendant sign is your first house. Your first house is associated with your outward behavior and outward appearance.
Here’s an overview of the rest of the houses:
Second house: Money and material wealth
Third house: Communication
Fourth house: Home and environment
Fifth house: Creativity, romance, and pleasure
Sixth house: Health and work
Seventh house: Partnerships, marriage, and long-term enemies
Eighth house: Change, transformation, sexual relationships
Ninth house: Study, travel, beliefs, and spirituality
Tenth house: Ambition, career goals, social status, your reputation
Eleventh house: Hopes and dreams, friendships
Twelfth house: Self-sabotage, self-imposed limitations, secrets, and accidents
Decanates of Sun Sign
If you want to go further into your sun sign, you can look up what part of your sun sign you were born in.
Each sun sign is split into three parts. This split is called a decanates. Each part is about ten days long. It means something different about your personality depending on if you were born during the first ten days, the second ten days or the third ten days that the sun was in your particular sign. There are also additional constellations and planetary subrulers that are associated with each decanates
For example, the decanates of Aries is March 21-March 31, April 1-April 10, and April 11-April 19. The associated constellations are Andromeda, Cetus, and Cassiopeia, respectively. The planetary subrulers are Mars, the Sun, and Jupiter.
You can look up your astrological decanates online or in an astrology book to learn what effect it has on your life.
Sun Sign Cusps
You might also want to figure out if you were born on the cusp of your sun sign. If you were born during the first or last four days of a sun sign, you were born on the cusp. This means you might hold some same personality traits as the other sun sign you’re closest to. You’ll still likely relate more to your true sun sign, but you might want to read both horoscopes for guidance rather than just relying on your primary sun sign.
There’s so much more you can learn about astrology and if this article piqued your interest, I invite you to dig deeper into this subject.
There’s even more information you can glean from your astrological birth chart such as what body parts are associated with your sun sign which may provide guidance on nutrition, potential health ailments, and personal erogenous zones.
If you’d like to pick up a book on astrology or read up online, my favorite three resources for beginners are the Astro Style website and the books The Only Astrology Book You’ll Ever Need by Joanna Martine Woolfolk, and Moonology by Yasmin Boland.
Once you have a firm understanding if your birth chart, you can look at the movements of the different planets and compare what you know to what you read in your daily horoscope. Eventually, you’ll be able to write your own horoscope based only on the movements of the planets, just like a professional astrologer.
The Only Astrology Book You’ll Ever Need by Joanna Martine Woolfolk
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by Julie Hopkins
Julie Hopkins is a writer, yoga teacher, and founder of Power Within, a whimsical online space created to help others improve their lives with magic. She’s from Chicago, but spends most of her time traveling to cool places.
Julie discovered the world of magic after she got tired of reading personal development books and hearing the same ideas over and over. Looking for a new way to grow, Julie started experimenting with tarot cards and felt an immediate connection to her intuition in a way she’d never experienced before. After that, she began studying magic in all its forms, never looking back. When she’s not writing about witchy things, you can find Julie making candles, daydreaming, and playing with other people’s dogs and babies.