If you have known your Sun sign for a while and want to delve further into astrology, eventually you will probably get a copy of your natal chart by plugging in your birth data on Astro.com. After you do that, though, how do you understand your natal chart?
Your Sun sign is not even the first thing on my list of key components to understand a birth chart. To understand a Natal Chart, you must consider these 7 Aspects:
- The Angles
- The Quadrants
- The Sun
- The Moon
- The Inner Planets
- The Outer Planets
- Aspects and Patterns
The first and most important part to consider are the angles that will shape the picture that the Sun, Moon, and planets fill in.
If you don’t already have your natal chart to compare as you read through this article, you can use this free tool to create your natal chart. Note, it’s important to have the time, date, and location of your birth to get an accurate chart. If you don’t know the exact time, then use 12 noon instead.
Table of Contents
Many people have heard of the Sun, Moon, and Rising signs. The Rising sign, however, is only one of four angles that form a cross inside the circle of your chart. All four angles are necessary to define the canvas of your chart that the planets and luminaries then decorate.
The Ascendant is a point calculated based on the time of day the person was born in relation to that day’s sunrise. The Rising sign is the sign in which the Ascendant falls. It is necessary to look at a chart made with an accurate time of birth to know this, and it is also necessary to know the city in which the person was born because the Sun rises at different times in different cities.
If a person was born exactly at sunrise, the Sun would be conjunct the Ascendant, and the Rising sign would be the same sign as the Sun sign. Someone born exactly at sunset would have the Sun exactly opposite the Rising sign, or conjunct the Descendant.
Someone born at noon would have the Sun at the top of the chart, conjunct the Midheaven, and someone born at midnight would have the Sun at the bottom of the chart. For more information, see my article What is Katy Perry’s Zodiac Sign?
In an astrology chart, the Ascendant is often abbreviated AC. Its opposite exactly across the circle of the chart, the Descendant, is abbreviated DC. A good way to remember the Ascendant is that it represents the self you present to the world. Its opposite, the Descendant, therefore represents the others you draw into your life.
The other axis in the chart runs between the other two angles: the Midheaven, abbreviated MC for the Latin term Medium Coeli, and its opposite, which is the Imum Coeli, abbreviated IC.
The Midheaven represents the outer parts of your life, like a career you might be publicly known for. Its opposite therefore represents the inner parts of your life, like your home and family. For more information, see my article on Kim Kardashian’s Zodiac sign.
Knowing the signs of the angles can give broad clues about different areas of a person’s life. For instance, someone with the MC in Cancer might have a career in one of the nurturing fields like healthcare or food service. The opposite of Cancer is Capricorn, so the same person would have the IC in Capricorn, which might mean an austere home life.
A planet or luminary very close to an angle in the chart is significant to look at as well, as it adds emphasis to that part of the person’s life.
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The circle of the chart is then divided into four quadrants by the intersection of the AC/DC and MC/IC axes. These four quadrants in turn are each divided into three houses, for a total of twelve houses in the chart. Each of these twelve houses is then given symbolic associations with different parts of life, which can become very detailed and specific.
When I begin writing one of my celebrity profiles for this site and look up the person on Astro-Databank, which is like Wikipedia for astrologers, the picture of the chart is small until I click on it to see it bigger. It actually helps me to see the chart too small to get all the details at first because I can see larger patterns like which quadrants of the chart are unusually full or empty.
The quadrants basically mean what they look like they mean in the diagram. If someone has all the planets on the left side of their chart, closer to the self-oriented Ascendant than the other-oriented Descendant, they might be self-centered.
If someone’s chart is really heavy on the right side with more activity near the Descendant, they might be so dominated by others’ opinions that they need to take a survey to decide what color socks to wear.
If someone’s chart is heavier on the bottom half, they might be a very private person. With the weight on the right side of the bottom half, maybe they are so focused on the goings on of their immediate family that they are not interested in the larger world.
With the weight on the left side of the bottom half, they know who they are even if no one else does.
The Sun sign is a person’s life purpose and basic personality. The date ranges given in a newspaper horoscope are mostly reliable, other than for birthdays on the border between signs as discussed in What Zodiac Sign is July 22? The Sun predictably moves through those twelve signs over the course of a year. Frankly, a lot of the Sun sign stereotypes included in such horoscopes have some truth to them too.
The Sun sign tends to incorporate things that are fairly obvious about the person. While the Rising sign has more to do with first impressions as well as general life structure, the Sun sign incorporates things that co-workers and schoolmates who see the person regularly but not necessarily intimately would notice.
Of course the office is passing around a birthday card in June for the Gemini who never shuts up, and of course the travel-loving Sagittarius somehow manages to take more than her share of vacation, and so on.
What makes you different from all the other people in the world who share your Sun sign, however, includes the position of the Moon and the planets in your chart. Your angles determine in which house the Sun falls in your chart, and that can also produce variations on the theme.
The Moon sign is a person’s deeper emotional nature. This may be visible only to the person’s closest friends and family. The Sun sign stereotypes apply to the Moon signs too but sometimes not in a good way.
For instance, if you’re a Leo Sun, you will get caught if you engage in the Leo tendency toward drama as you are tempted, so you are regularly forced throughout your life to learn to channel that energy in a less destructive way.
However, if you are a Taurus Sun with a Leo Moon, most people see an innocent Taurus carrying a plate of fresh cookies, and only people who are too close to call you on it know you’re a huge drama llama in private.
The Moon moves through the same twelve signs as the Sun but on the much faster timetable of a little less than a month. This is visible to the naked eye. At a New Moon, when the Moon is dark in the sky, the Sun and Moon are in the same sign. At a Full Moon, when the Moon in the sky is bright, the Moon is in the sign opposite the Sun’s sign.
It is therefore possible to tell in a person’s chart at what phase of the Moon’s cycle they were born. Sun conjunct Moon in a birth chart would be someone born at the New Moon, and Sun opposite Moon at the Full Moon. Sun square Moon is either the first quarter or the last quarter.
For instance, from Sun in Leo, Moon in Scorpio would be the first quarter, Moon in Aquarius would be the Full Moon, and Moon in Taurus would be the third quarter.
Some astrologers therefore look at not just Moon sign but Moon phase in a chart, like Dane Rudhyar in The Lunation Cycle. Someone born at the New Moon would be involved in creating a new idea, like Rudhyar’s example of Karl Marx, who came up with the idea for Communism.
Someone born at the first quarter would spend their life building a new structure, and someone born at the Full Moon would be involved in a structure at its high point. Finally, someone born between the last quarter and the New Moon would be involved in tearing down an old structure to make way for something new.
The inner planets are Mercury, Venus, and Mars. (The Sun and the Moon are known as the luminaries, not planets.)
The inner planets, like the luminaries, move pretty quickly through the signs. They therefore are more involved in defining the unique quirks of an individual than the slower-moving outer planets are. Mercury has to do with communication. Venus is about what we value and find beautiful. Mars is how we go about getting our needs met.
Mercury and Venus generally stay within two signs of the sun. For instance, a person with the Sun in Leo could have Venus in Gemini (two signs back) or Venus in Libra (two signs ahead) but not Venus in Scorpio (three signs ahead). Mars, however, can be in any sign regardless of what a person’s Sun sign is.
For more information, see my article What is Khloé Kardashian’s Zodiac Sign?
The outer planets are Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. They move slowly enough through the signs that people born within a year or so of each other will typically have all the outer planets in the same signs.
Within the group of outer planets, there is a split: Jupiter and Saturn are the social planets, and Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto are the generational or transpersonal planets, as broken down by Kepler College.
Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto take the longest to move through the signs, as described in my article on Taylor Swift and Katy Perry. The longest is Pluto, which has a 248-year cycle that does not spend the same amount of time in each sign. Pluto signs tend to map neatly onto the generation labels used by non-astrologers. For instance, Millennials like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Lizzo have Pluto in Scorpio, while Generation Z TikTok star Addison Rae has Pluto in Sagittarius.
If you have a personal planet or luminary in aspect to an outer planet, your individual traits might intersect with larger collective trends. For instance, someone with Mercury in Leo might tend to overshare no matter what generation they were born in, but if they were an older Millennial, among the first people to use social media on the Internet, and had Mercury in Leo square Pluto in Scorpio, they probably got in trouble for oversharing on LiveJournal or Myspace.
Aspects and Patterns
Aspects are connections between points in a chart. In most astrology software, the hard or challenging aspects are indicated with red lines on the chart, and the harmonious aspects are indicated with blue lines.
As discussed in my article on Lizzo, one type of hard aspect is called a square, and it is between points that are 90 degrees, or three signs apart – from Aries to Cancer, for instance. The other type of hard aspect is called an opposition, and it is between points that are 180 degrees apart, or across the circle from each other – from Aries to Libra, for instance.
Harmonious aspects are trines, 120 degrees or four signs apart, and sextiles, 60 degrees or two signs apart.
Each of the twelve Zodiac signs is divided into 30 degrees, and, for any aspect, you want the degree numbers to be as close as possible. To use an example from my article on Addison Rae, she has the Sun at 14 degrees Libra. This counts as a trine to her Jupiter at 11 degrees Gemini but not to her Saturn at 0 degrees Gemini. While different astrologers have different cutoffs for how many degrees apart an aspect can be – this is called an orb – generally an aspect is not counted if it is more than 10 degrees from exact.
Some patterns between aspects are dramatic enough to be visible from the small view of the chart on Astro-Databank as described previously. Not everyone has these particular patterns, but they are common enough to comment on.
Easy to see patterns include T-squares and grand crosses. Both of these patterns are between signs of the same mode. As discussed in my article on Lizzo’s Zodiac sign, each of the four seasons – spring, summer, fall, and winter – incorporates three Zodiac signs. The first sign in each season is cardinal mode, the second fixed mode, and the third mutable mode. A grand cross is two oppositions square to each other like in AOC’s chart, and a T-square is an opposition where both ends are square a third point.
The grand cross configuration produces considerable internal tension. The best way to get that tension out is to do something, so it is a powerful motivator to action.
The T-square, like a grand cross, is motivated to act. It is basically a grand cross with one end missing, and the absence of the missing end tends to be felt. Sometimes a person with a T-square in their chart will wind up with a partner whose chart fills that hole, as with Kanye West and Kim Kardashian.
While the twelve signs are divided into three modes that connect with hard aspects, they are also divided into four elements that connect with harmonious trine aspects. The elements are fire, earth, air, and water. A grand trine is another easy to see pattern that connects all three signs of the same element.
As noted in my article about Lizzo, who has a grand trine in earth signs, energy flows smoothly and easily in a grand trine. A grand trine can be helpful, but you sometimes have to push yourself to take advantage of its benefits.
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