I haven’t written anything new in a while, so I thought it would be a good idea to hit the rewind button and go back to some basics . There are other “back to basics” articles on this site, but none that go back to the actual genesis of Astrology and what it really is. So it seems like the appropriate time.
What is a Natal Chart?
Essentially a natal chart is a sky map of the stars at the time of your birth. This sky map is believed to be a blueprint of self to Astrologers. The Natal Chart is a Zodiac dial with planetary placements based on the skymap. There are two halves creating a 360 dial, one half represents the Tropic of Cancer, and the other the Tropic of Capricorn. These two halves represent the full 360 degree course of the Sun’s “orbit” as viewed from Earth, throughout the year. This 360 degree circle is broken up into 12 stations known as “houses”. Each one of these houses represents a different segment of one’s life and broken down into these areas; Self, Personality, Finances, Mentality,Home life, Pleasure, Health, Partnerships, Death, Travel, Occupation, Friends, and Unconscious. There are 4 points that divide these houses into quarters. There is the ascendant angle (left point of the chart and 1st house cusp) which also gets a sign placement. That’s the sign that is on the eastern horizon when you’re born, which will be your Ascendant sign. Facing North, the point 90 degrees from the Ascendant is your IC (Imum Coeli). The western horizon’s point which is the opposite point exactly of the Ascendant, is called the Descendant, and/or the 7th house cusp. The sign at the Southern most point at birth, is the MC or Midheaven. This is the 10th house cusp. Each house is 30 degrees (or 2 hours time) in the Equal House system.
So based on the vernal equinox (Ascendant to Descendant line across the chart), the Sun falls into one of the 12 signs. Say for example, you are born September 12th, which makes you a Tropical Zodiac Virgo (at 26 degrees). And say for example you were born 3 am exactly. Depending on your location the layout could change, but let’s say in your location (New York in this example) this is exactly 2 degrees in Capricorn. This puts the 26 degree Virgo Sun into your 9th house as shown below
This placement of the Sun in the houses would change simply by what time the person was born. Let’s say the person was born 2 hours later, at 5 am and in the same location. The Ascendant would then be in Aquarius, and the Sun would be in the 8th house (still 26 degrees Virgo though because it is the same date).
The Sun and the Ascendant signs are among the most important. But in astrology there are also sign placements for the other planets including the Moon. The Moon,Mercury, Venus,Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto also have sign placements in a native’s chart. These bodies may end up in in innumerable combinations and configurations. The natal chart deals with geometry heavily, so planets may end up working with, or against each other, or doing nothing at all. These interactions are called “aspects” and are based on the angles made by the specific planetary bodies. They range from positive (Sextile, Trine) to challenging (Square, Opposition, Conjunction).
-Example: Say your Sun is conjunct(on top of) your Ascendant angle. And your Moon is on top of your Descendant angle. This aspect would be called an opposition. They are 180 degrees away and are opposite in energy, and needs. This creates tension within a person’s natal chart. Oppositions are usually planets in opposite signs, they’re in the same modality usually.
This may seem daunting and like learning another language. That’s because it is. It takes time. But this is to wet your palette. There are also many key terms you should know and research to fill out the entire picture further :
- Cardinal Modality
- Fixed Modality
- Mutable Modality
- Astrology Aspects
- Malefic Planets
- Benevolent Planets
- Domicile Sign Placement
- Exalted Sign Placement
- Fallen Sign Placement
- Detriment Placement
- Astrological Elements
- Astrological Temperaments
There are Must Have Astrology books that give you information that you won’t find around the internet. Be on the lookout for my first book Summer 2015.
I also always recommend these 3 :
This information should help you fully understand the natal birth chart. But the Why’s and the How’s also need some attention so stay tuned for What is Astrology exactly? and The History of Astrology .