Why you want your natal chart
Most people are familiar with sun sign astrology, which describes personality traits based on the zodiac sign that the sun was in during the month you were born. If you’re a Libra, you’ve heard that you like balance; if you’re a Cancer you’ve read that home and family are important to you. Some people identify with these blanket descriptions of their sun signs, and some find that not everything feels right for them. The truth is that astrology actually goes much deeper than sun signs. All of the heavenly bodies were somewhere in the sky when you were born, and together they make up your natal (or birth) chart. You can think of your chart as a map of the energies that were in play at the moment of your birth, and yourself as a manifestation of those energies. It’s also not static: the planets are always moving, so as they cycle through the zodiac they continue to touch on those sensitive points that have always affected you. If you want to better understand yourself and the events of your life through the lens of astrology, you have to start with your whole and unique natal chart.
Getting your natal chart
You can find your birth chart on your own with the following steps:
1. Go to www.astro.com.
2. Create your horoscope as a guest user, or create a free registered user profile.
3. Enter your birth information.
4. Click continue.
5. Hover your mouse over "Free Horoscopes" in the navigation bar and click on "Natal Chart, Ascendant" in the lower right (under Drawings & Calculations).
You should see your natal chart! Here's an example. Click on the chart to print it or save it to your desktop.
Around the wheel of the chart in different colors, you will see the twelve symbols of the zodiac, from Aries to Pisces. Each sign is represented somewhere in your chart.
Each of the planets is represented by a glyph in your chart. The moon looks like a crescent moon, and the sun is a circle with a dot in the middle. Each planet in your chart is in a specific zodiac sign. For example, Jane Doe's sun is in Taurus and her moon is in Virgo. Learn more about this here.
The houses of your chart are numbered 1 through 12, and probably won't line up exactly with each zodiac sign. For example, in Jane Doe's chart above, both Scorpio and Sagittarius are in her first house.
You will see lines connecting the planets in your chart. This is more advanced, so you can learn more about it here.
The Basics: Sun, Moon, and Rising Sign
The whole chart can be overwhelming for a beginner! Start with these three elements:
Sun: What zodiac sign was the sun in when you were born? This is how you express your identity, your sense of self.
Example: Jane Doe's sun is in Taurus, so she is faithful, practical, and dependable. She probably expresses herself through a love of art, beautiful things, and the good life.
Moon: What zodiac sign was the moon in when you were born? This is how you process emotions, and what makes you feel good.
Example: Jane Doe's moon is in Virgo, so she processes her emotions through careful analysis. Virgoan activities, such as detail-oriented tasks, gardening, cleaning, cooking, and reading or writing make her feel good.
Ascendant or Rising Sign: If you know the exact time of your birth, you will see a horizontal line or arrow that begins the first house of your chart. The zodiac sign of your first house describes the first impression you make on other people, and how you approach the world.
Example: Jane Doe has Scorpio rising, so she is extremely perceptive; she may also be very private and approach the world cautiously, knowing that things aren't always what they seem. On first impression, people are struck by Jane's powerful presence and her insight.
For a free interpretation of the different parts of your chart, go back to astro.com and hover your mouse over "Free Horoscopes" in the navigation bar again. Click on "AstroClick Portrait" (under Interactive Horoscopes).
This will give you an interactive chart. You can click on different planets and angles for interpretations by sign, house, and aspect.
Cookbook Astrology vs. Personal Consultations
It can be fun to work your way through an astrology book or browse websites, reading about the different energies of your chart: the sign and house of your Moon, Mercury, Mars, Venus, and what your Midheaven means. This is what astrologers call “cookbook astrology”: putting together individual ingredients, one by one. But if you want to taste the flavor of the cosmic soup, nothing beats getting a synthesis of the energies in your chart from an experienced astrologer. Everyone’s chart is a little bit different, and there are many different ways to express the energy of a chart. A personal consultation illuminates how the energies of your chart fit together to make you unique.