Your Natal Chart Explained
The Meanings of Symbols in Your Birth Chart
Your birth chart is a map of the heavens relative to the time and place you were born. It is calculated for the exact moment and geographic location of your birth. You could think of it as a blueprint about you. It contains a unique combination of many multi-layered symbols.
The picture on the right is an example of a birth chart, or natal chart. It contains a symbol for the Sun, the star at the center of our solar system. It also contains symbols for nine more planets, an asteroid, the Moon’s nodes, and an astrological point called the Part of Fortune. The 12 signs of the zodiac form the 360-degree circle, which is the chart shape used in modern Western astrology.
The premise in astrology is that planets, constellations and chart sectors serve as symbols, and that there is a correlation between the meanings of these symbols and the traits and potentials inborn in a person.
Your Rising Sign and PersonalityYour natal chart is divided into 12 sectors called houses with the zodiac signs and planets arranged around them. It begins somewhere and that unique point is the exact degree of the constellation of stars that was rising on the eastern horizon at the moment of your birth. This beginning point is called your Ascendant. It is on the circle at the nine o’clock position which points toward the east.
Your Rising Sign describes the style of your outward personality. It’s the style you use to approach the world and the people in it. The meanings of your Rising Sign depict the qualities that were present in the moment at which you arrived in the world, including attitudes and outlooks about life and you. You absorbed these qualities as your impression of what the world was like, and how you needed to approach it in order to adapt to it. This is why your outward personality can exhibit different qualities from those of your Sun sign. Developing the finer qualities of your Rising Sign can help you make your way in the world.
Your Sun, Inner Light, and Sense of Purpose
The Sun in your natal chart represents your life force. It represents your inborn sense of ‘me,’ of being special, and of possessing creative energy. The Sun is called one of ‘the Lights.’ Receiving affirmation for your inner light throughout your life journey is vital to your sense of well-being.
The zodiac sign of your Sun describes the heart of your life force. You grow into your Sun Sign as you consciously develop its qualities. You can express and experience them both personally and through the work you do. They make you feel alive and good and like you are being the kind of person you were meant to become. Your Sun Sign symbolizes your sense of purpose in life.
Your Sun is a yang, masculine, and heroic energy. It is associated with your father and your experience of being fathered. It is the main yang in the yin-yang energy polarity in all of us.
The fields of activity or areas of life in which you most want to shine and play a meaningful role are shown by the houses in your chart connected with your Sun.
Your Moon, Sense of Safety, and Emotional Way of Being
The Moon in your natal chart represents your needs as a physical being. The Moon is the other of ‘the Lights,’ as it reflects the light of the Sun. This means that your Sun, your life force, must be radiated by the physical ‘you.’
When you were born, your body and emotions were one and the same thing. Even now, your emotional reactions register in your body, and the state of your body affects how you feel. The symbol of the Moon depicts human needs that must be met for optimal growth to occur. One is the need for your body to be fed, comfortable, and safe. Another is the need for emotional safety. This is the sense that you belong to people who will empathize with how you feel and protect you.
The zodiac sign of your Moon depicts your emotional way of being. It shows how you automatically react to people, how sensitive you are, how you express what you feel, and how you need to receive feelings from others in order to feel cared about. Your Moon sign together with other chart factors tells of things you can do—besides reaching for food—to ‘feed’ your sense of feeling comforted and nourished.
Your Moon is a yin, feminine, nurturing energy. It is associated with your mother, your experience of being mothered, and dependency. It is the main yin in the yin-yang energy polarity in all of us.
On another level, your Moon symbolizes your abilities to nurture others, and to work with food, homes, memory, rhythm, music, imagination, or emotional subject matter.
Your Other Inner Planets and Unique Abilities
Your personal energies and abilities are symbolized by the five inner planets. They are the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus and Mars. Each planet stands for an archetypal energy that is part of human nature. The Moon, Mercury, Venus, and Mars represent the particular abilities you use to go about giving a unique expression to your Sun Sign. These planets may be in different zodiac signs from that of your Sun. This just means that they have different motivations and traits. This is part of your complexity.
Mercury symbolizes your abilities to think and to communicate, including:
- learning, talking, listening, planning, deciding;
- reading, writing, working with data, ideas, images, or creative concepts;
- making transactions, working with your hands, and singing.
Venus symbolizes your abilities to love and to beautify, including:
- falling in love, feeling loved and valued, forming friendships, socializing;
- beautifying and styling your appearance, decorating your home, enjoying life;
- working with cosmetics, hair, or fashion, and designing the appearance of things.
Mars symbolizes your abilities to take action and assert yourself, including:
- using will power, pursuing what you want, showing strength, competing;
- defending and protecting your interests, showing anger, fighting;
- working out, dancing, doing performing arts, martial arts, or physical sports.
Your Outer Planets and Social Involvement
The five outer planets in your natal chart are Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. They portray social conditions and trends that were in your childhood environment, and how they affected you. They also indicate the abilities you have for being involved with the greater social and business dimensions of life.
Jupiter symbolizes abundance. That can manifest as success, being influential, wealth, generosity, encouragement or opportunity. It is an active energy in commerce and higher education including law, medicine, and academia. On a personal level, Jupiter energy represents your abilities to believe in yourself, and find and play a meaningful role.
Saturn symbolizes restrictions. They can manifest as lack, disapproval, formalities, rules for acceptable behavior, or obligations. It is the active energy behind authorities, governments, laws, corporations, institutions, and regulations. On a personal level, Saturn energy represents your abilities for handling responsibilities, discipline, and working hard.
Uranus symbolizes breakthroughs. They can manifest as inventions, the uses of electricity, the findings of physics, technologies, or the progress made by civilizations. It is the active energy in revolutions, upheavals, and progressive social movements such as women’s rights. On a personal level, Uranus energy represents heightened mental abilities and a capacity for going beyond conventional ways of doing things.
Neptune symbolizes yearnings. They can manifest as escapism, addictions, illusions, deception, victims, compassion, rescuers, or mysticism. It is the active energy in ‘smash hit’ music, movies, and fashion that capture collective feelings and longings. On a personal level, Neptune energy represents heightened feeling or visual abilities and a capacity for artistic or spiritual expression.
Pluto symbolizes power and powerlessness. It can manifest as abuses of power, terrorizing, crime, destructiveness, disasters, or life-and-death crises. It is the active energy in psychologists, detectives, and work that involves renovating, rebuilding, or research. On a personal level, Pluto energy represents heightened psychological abilities and a capacity for dealing with the dark side of life.
Zodiac Signs and Other Symbolism for Your Traits and Talents
Since the planets represent energies that everyone has, how can your uniqueness be seen? The uniqueness of each of your energies is depicted by three main layers of symbolism connected to each planet in your birth chart.
The first layer is the zodiac sign a planet is in. The zodiac sign describes the qualities you seek to express when you use that planet’s energy. This leads you to having certain personality traits, because you like to express certain qualities.Each zodiac sign has an element that it is attuned to. That means that a planet in that sign will direct its energy toward that dimension of the world. The elements are:
- Fire, the action-oriented and intuitive dimension;
- Earth, the tangible and practical dimension;
- Air, the intellectual and social dimension; and
- Water, the feeling-based and imaginative dimension.
- Cardinal signs (Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn) have initiating but short-burst energy;
- Fixed signs (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, Aquarius) have enduring energy; and
- Mutable signs (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, Pisces) have adaptable energy.
The second layer of symbolism is the astrological connections between the planets in your birth chart, called ‘aspects.’ These indicate which of your energies combine to operate at the same time, and whether they flow together well or not. Aspects are what show difficulties you might have with particular energies as well as significant abilities and talents you possess.
The third layer of symbolism is the house connected to a planet. Houses 1 to 12 in your birth chart represent areas of life. They are relationships, home, career field, money, school, recreation, health and more. They are the places in which you seek to express your energies. The house that a planet rules is the place where it becomes adept at using its energy. But the house that a planet is in becomes the place where it most wants to express its abilities.
All of this magnificent symbolism is combined by an astrologer to help you gain a rich, in-depth understanding of the kinds of things that could motivate and fulfill any of the energies you have. There is always more to discover about yourself.
Your Soul’s Mission to Find a Sense of Wholeness
While the Sun in you propels you to individualize yourself and develop your gifts, your Moon’s Nodes tell about the mission your soul is on during this lifetime.
The Nodes are about learning to balance out your experience in two opposite areas of life. Your South Node falls in a house in your natal chart, and suggests that you arrived in this world already knowing how to do that area of life very well. The result is that you would gravitate there and feel very attached to living it out again. The catch is that you’d find over time that it’s a frustrating dead-end. Your soul’s mission is to push you into ‘doing’ the opposite house or North Node area of life, because it is undeveloped and spiritually necessary for finding a sense of wholeness.
Analogy That Puts It All TogetherOne way of understanding how your natal chart works is by analogy to a conductor and orchestra. Your Sun is like a conductor who has a healthy ego, inner vision for the music he or she is creating, and passion for directing the members of his or her orchestra. The rest of your planets are like the musicians with their instruments. They are all different, have different places on stage and produce different sounds, rhythms and volumes. Yet all have important parts to play. By serving the conductor’s vision, they create the music. The music is like a life—an amazing phenomenon that gets both expressed and experienced from moment to moment.
Your Chart as a Bridge to Your Inner Knowing
The symbols in a natal chart and their interrelationships are complex and embody detail and nuance beyond what I have mentioned here. There are also more of them. The point is that a natal chart is a rich source of insights about living. I believe your chart serves as a bridge to your inner knowing about capacities you want to express and challenges you have to meet in order to fully do that. There are plenty of reasons why the experience of life can make some of those things become not obvious, buried or unclear. That’s why I think that your natal chart can be an extraordinary and useful guide to the navigating of your journey through life.