The Essential Beginner’s Guide to Natal Charts

Guide To Natal Charts

A natal chart is a map of the sky at any given moment in time. It can be used to predict personality traits, future events, or anything else that has an astrological connection. If you want to get started with interpreting your own natal chart, this article will give you all the information you need!

What Does Your Natal Chart Tell You?

Your natal chart, also known as your birth chart, tells you exactly where each planet was in the sky at the exact time and place of your birth. Natal charts are a valuable tool that can help you figure out your true self. They provide insight into your personality, life path, and how to navigate it in the most harmonious way possible.

Your natal chart will also indicate the challenges you will face in life and provide you with guidance on how to use these tougher moments as learning lessons and opportunities for growth.

In order to acquire a natal chart, you will need to know the exact hour and minute of your birth, as well as the date and city you were born in. You can easily generate yours using our free birth chart calculator here. If you would like a more in-depth view of your chart or some additional support in interpreting it, you can read our free astrology guides on natal chart placements.

How Do I Read My Natal Chart?

The birth chart is essentially a wheel diagram broken into the twelve zodiac signs and twelve house segments, each spanning 30 degrees. The planets will appear in any sign or house, reflecting their positions at your time of birth.

While popular astrology offers horoscopes predictions focused only on star or sun signs, the natal chart reveals where all other celestial bodies were when you were born.

The sun, moon, and rising sign (Ascendant) are the big 3. The first step in understanding your birth chart is to learn about these placements since they significantly influence your personality.

1 Sun Signs

The sun sign is the first point of interest when looking at a birth chart. This astrological element indicates where your personal energy comes from and what type of person you are, as well as how others perceive you. The sun sign can be seen as your personal filter for viewing the world. It will determine how you make meaning and what you value, as well as what motivates and inspires you.

2 Moon Signs

The moon sign is the second most important point of significance when examining a natal chart. This placement indicates what type of emotions and experiences are important to you, how much energy you have, your personal rhythms or cycles, as well as your deepest desires.

Your moon sign can strongly indicate how you will react to events in your life and what you will do when faced with challenges, as well.

The moon also governs the unconscious mind and the personal memories that we’ve had. It is also the most feminine planet of the zodiac, often representing fertility and maternal energy.

3 Ascendant Signs

The ascendant is the third most crucial reference point in a birth chart.  It indicates personality traits or qualities tied to your ego – how others perceive you. The Ascendant is also sometimes referred to as the rising sign because it appears on the Easter horizon when you were born.

The ascendant is the most personal of all the astrological placements and will govern how you interact with others, your appearance, how you project your self-image, the kind of first impressions you leave on people, and your motivations in life. It will indicate potential career paths and what type of partner you should look for to be happy. If you know what your ascendant sign is, you can learn more about it here.

What Role Do The Planets Play In My Birth Chart?

The second step in understanding the natal chart is to learn about each planet’s meaning. The other planets are Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. You will have different astrological traits based on which planets are the strongest in your chart.

To determine your astrological traits, look at where each planet is within your natal chart and whether it falls into an air, fire, water, or earth zodiac sign. The houses and zodiac signs will be under the spell or influence of the planets that occupy them.

1 Mercury

Mercury rules communication and intellectual activity. It represents the mind, but also all sensory perception. Everything you experience through your senses is governed by this planet’s energy. Additionally, it governs how we think about ourselves and communicates with others about who we are as people.

2 Venus

The planet of love, Venus, is most commonly known for romance-related events such as marriage or how you express your affection and compassion. But it also represents our social identity, money, what we value, and the things we derive pleasure from, such as our tastes, artistic inclinations, and hobbies.

3 Mars

The red planet Mars is all about drive and energy, which could be physical or emotional. It represents passion, ambition, and competitiveness in everything we do, from day-to-day life to career goals. Our sexual desires are also under the red planet’s influence. What kind of people do you find attractive? We look to marks for answers. 

4 Jupiter

Jupiter stands for optimism and faith in ourselves as well as others. It governs our sense of justice and morality. As the most expansive celestial body (coming only second to the sun), the gassy giant also represents expansion and growth in astrology, hence its association with travel and higher learning. It’s the planet of abundance, generosity, and good luck. Jupiter is also known as the “party planet” because of its association with joy and pleasure.

5 Saturn

The ringed planet is all about restrictions, discipline, and responsibility. Saturn represents the limitations we place on ourselves or those placed on us by others in how much we can achieve in our daily lives, as well as pushing through those limits to get what we want out of life. Many people dislike the energy of Saturn, but it brings structure to our lives. It reminds us about our commitments and the limits of time and matter. Its position by sign or house can reveal our fears and sense of duty.

6 Uranus

The planet Uranus represents originality, independence, and freedom-seeking. It’s position in the natal chart reveals how we express our innovation and areas in life where we choose to conform by breaking the rules or going against established norms and order.

7 Neptune

The planet Neptune is known for its intense spirituality, creativity, and sensitivity to other people’s feelings. It can also represent larger-than-life fantasies or the feeling of being in a dream state. When you want to know more about your dreams, spiritual inclinations, and where your inspiration comes from or where it manifests, Neptune placements can provide answers. 

8 Pluto

Pluto is all about transformation, death, and rebirth. It represents a profound internal change that leads to new beginnings after periods of difficulty or loss. Also known as the god of the Underworld, Pluto rules over subconscious forces. Its obsessive energies can be destructive if you give in to its desire for power and control.

How Do You Read Houses On A Birth Chart?

The third step in understanding the natal chart is to study houses. These are 12 segments divided into 30 degree angels on your birth chart, each representing a different area of life. Various signs and planets will align with each house of your chart. Houses generally belong to three categories- personal, family, and public life- with the exception of the 12th house.

1 1st House

The first house (also known as the ascendant) shows what is most important in your life and how you present yourself as an individual. It will tell you about the role of planets within this section such as which types of people are attracted to you or if there may be something negative that needs to be addressed from past relationships, experiences, and your self image.

2 2nd House

2nd House
The second house is about material possessions, self-worth, and the things we value in life. This section of the natal chart will tell you what things are most important to your well-being as an individual, which can be anything from health care needs or food for sustenance to wealth and abundance as a measure of success in life.

3 3rd House

The third house governs how you communicate with your surroundings, and it includes modes of communication such as talking to someone face-to-face or through the phone. It also shows intellect and all sensory perception (including taste).

4 4th House

The fourth house governs family and home life. It reveals our sense of belonging, security, and what we feel comfortable with in this area of our lives. We also look to this cusp to glean information about our heritage, roots, or ancestry.

5 5th House

The fifth house governs creativity, children (if there are any), romance, arts, or entertainment pursuits like music or dancing that we pursue through recreational and leisure activities.

6 6th House

The sixth house is all about work and health, which both fall within the scope of this section of the natal chart. It speaks to what you need to do for your body, like eating well, getting enough rest, and exercising, or working hard at a job that pays enough to help you afford necessities. That’s why it is the domain of routines, tasks, duties, wellness, and vitality.

7 7th House

The seventh house is about partnerships, our needs for a healthy relationship, and how they correspond to another person’s needs. This house reveals how we find balance, not just in marriage and relationships but also in business partnerships. The planets that fall in this house can reveal details about your style of diplomacy or lack thereof.

8 8th House

The eighth house governs economic success (or lack thereof) and investments not just from an individual perspective but also on behalf of others. It is also the cusp of death and rebirth, self-transformation, sexual relationships, and commitments of all kinds.

9 9th House

The ninth house governs higher education, foreign affairs, and religion. This section of the natal chart will show what type of philosophical or religious beliefs you feel most connected to as well as how it shapes your sense of self in relation to others around you who may have different views on these topics.

10 10th House

10th house
The tenth house is about public recognition and success. It speaks to how you are recognized in the world, whether it is through awards or recognition for things that matter most to you. This cusp reveals your enterprising nature, often associated with your ambitions, motivations, career, and achievements. 

11 11th House

The eleventh house governs friendships and groups we associate with based on our interests.  This section reveals where we seek our sense of belonging with like-minded people. Also called the house of blessings, the 11th cusp symbolizes wealth we have acquired through effort and how or if we share it with others.

12 12th House

The twelfth house is about time, karma, and soul growth. It is the last section of your natal chart and speaks to how you may be able to heal or experience new beginnings that come from difficult times. It relates spiritual practices like reflection, surrender, release, cleansing, forgiveness, and finding peace. The 12th cusp can also reveal patterns of self-undoing since it is a house of extremes and abundance.

What Are The Most Important Aspects In A Natal Chart?

The fourth consideration to make when reading your natal chart is your aspects. These are angular alignments planets make with each other. They will show areas of your life that enjoy more synergy where you can thrive and make something great happen with another person or yourself. Planetary aspects can also bring to light negative energies that bring up challenges in specific areas of your life and how they manifest, providing an opportunity for self-awareness, growth, and transformation.

Here are four of the major aspects you will discover in your birth chart. Identify them in your chart and see which planets are connecting to each other in those areas. The signs and planets will provide you clarity as to what they mean.

1 Trines

Trine Aspect
Trines show the planetary energies that work well for you and positively influence your personality. They bring a natural flow and good fortune between the connected planets. You might find things come effortlessly or that you have a natural talent in the areas they influence.

2 Squares

Square Aspect
A square is an aspect that shows tension and potential struggle. It can be challenging to deal with but also provides necessary lessons or struggles that are a requirement for growth.

3 Oppositions

Opposition Aspect
Planets in opposition create a push-pull energy, forcing you to find balance between different viewpoints or desires. They can be frustrating, but also lead to a deeper understanding of yourself.

4 Conjunctions

A conjunction is an aspect that shows areas of your life where you are able to work well with yourself and find a natural flow. They occur when planets appear on the same sign within very close proximity. Conjunctions in your natal chart can be super easy to deal with or intense, depending on the planets involved.

Summary About Natal Birth Charts

There are a lot of factors that go into chart reading and the natal chart is different for every person depending on what time they were born or where they were born. However, with practice, you will learn how to read your own personal charts and find new insights about yourself that can improve and empower your life.

Want to find out what secrets were written in the stars at your time of birth? Create your free birth chart here.

Frequently Asked Questions About Astrological Natal Charts

While exploring what secrets your astrological birth chart holds, some things may not be clear. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions that may come to mind as you discover more about astrology.

1 Do Zodiac Signs Follow a Chronological Order in the Birth Chart?

Yes. Zodiac signs follow a chronological order in the birth chart, typically moving counterclockwise around the astrological wheel. Therefore, this means that the signs progress from Aries to Taurus, then to Gemini, and so on, until ending with Pisces before looping back to Aries.

Visualizing the astrological wheel as a circle can help understand the flow of the signs, with each sign occupying a 30-degree segment of the wheel and transitioning seamlessly into the next zodiac sign as the wheel turns counterclockwise.

Using the mnemonic “Although the Grand Canyon looks very lovely, several smaller canyons are prettier” can aid in memorizing the sequence of the 12 zodiac signs, which are Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces.

2 Is My Birth Chart Accurate Without a Precise Time of Birth?

Without the birth time, your chart won’t be fully detailed, but it can still offer insights. You’ll learn your Sun sign and planetary positions, revealing general personality traits and life themes.

To obtain your birth time, explore options such as checking your long-form birth certificate, consulting with your parents or family members for recollection, or contacting the hospital where you were born or the institution responsible for maintaining birth records in your locality (note that fees may apply).

As a more advanced option, you can consider rectification astrology, where an astrologer works with you to analyze your life events and attempt to pinpoint your birth time.

You can still create a chart based on an estimated birth time, but it won’t show your rising sign, and the accuracy of the Moon and house placements may be compromised. While a precise time of birth is ideal, a natal chart without it can still be a great starting point for exploring astrology.

3 Can You Have Multiple Planets in One House or Sign?

Yes. Finding multiple planets in a single sign or house cusp in a natal chart is common. When three or more planets occupy one single sign or house cusp, this creates what astrologers call a stellium.

This concentration of energy can create a focal point for personal development and experiences related to the themes of that sign or house cusp. However, it’s essential to consider how these planets interact with each other through aspects and their individual placements, as this can further shape their expression in your chart.

4 Can You Have Two Signs in One House?

Yes, having two signs in one house cusp in an astrological chart is possible. It occurs when a house spans across two zodiac signs. When this happens, both signs influence the themes and energies associated with that house cusp, adding depth and complexity to its interpretation.

5 What is an Intercepted Sign in a Birth Chart?

An intercepted sign in a birth chart occurs when a zodiac sign is entirely contained within a house and does not appear on any house cusp. That means the qualities and themes of the intercepted sign may not be as readily expressed or easily accessed in the individual’s life. Interceptions are significant in astrology as they suggest areas where you may need to consciously integrate the qualities of the intercepted sign into your life.

6 What Does it Mean When a Planet is Between Houses?

When a planet is between houses in an astrological chart, it will be right on the boundary of two adjacent houses and won’t fall squarely within either cusp. Planets between houses can introduce a blending or overlapping of the themes associated with the two houses involved. The planet’s energy may influence both areas of life represented by the adjacent houses, creating a connection or synergy between them.

7 What is the Difference Between Progressed and Natal Charts?

Your natal chart reflects your celestial positions at birth, providing insights into your inherent personality traits and life path.

On the other hand, a progressed chart tracks your ongoing evolution by advancing planetary positions based on your age. It uses your natal chart as a base and calculates how the planets would’ve moved if a day in the chart represents a year of your life. This advancement helps you understand how your natal energies might unfold and evolve over time.

So, while your natal chart remains static, your progressed chart is dynamic, revealing insights into your personal growth and future life themes. Both charts are used in astrology to provide a comprehensive understanding of your astrological profile and predictive insights into your future.

8 What are Dominant Elements in a Birth Chart?

This phrase refers to the element (fire, earth, air, or water) with the most planets in your chart. The dominant element will contribute a more potent influence on your overall personality and approach to life.

For instance, if most of the planets in a chart are in fire signs, this may indicate a strong emphasis on passion, creativity, and enthusiasm. In contrast, a chart with many planets in earth signs might suggest practicality, stability, and groundedness.

Understanding dominant elements can provide valuable insights into your personality, strengths, and areas for growth.

9 Can Twins Have Different Astrology Charts?

Absolutely! Even identical twins, born very close together, can have slightly different birth times due to their order of emergence. This slight difference in timing can shift the placements of some planets (especially the faster-moving ones like the Moon) in their respective charts. These differences can influence their personalities and life paths.

10 What are the Different House Systems in Astrology?

Astrology uses various house systems to divide the chart into sections. Placidus is the most common, but others exist, such as the Koch, Whole Sign, Vehlow, Campanus, Regiomontanus, and Equal House systems.

While the house system can affect interpretations, the core meaning of planets and signs remains similar across systems. Experiment and see which resonates most with you.

11 What do Asteroids in the Natal Chart Mean?

Although not as popular as the planets, asteroids in the natal chart represent additional points of interest that astrologers use to gain deeper insights into an individual’s personality, relationships, and life path. Here are 5 of the most common ones.

  • Chiron, often known as the ‘Wounded Healer,’ symbolizes healing, transformation, and using past wounds to gain wisdom.
  • Ceres, associated with nurturing and motherhood, reflects how you care for yourself and others and where you might find fulfillment in nurturing roles.
  • Juno reveals your ideal relationship style, what you seek in commitment and the balance of power in relationships.
  • Pallas, representing wisdom and strategy, indicates intellect, creative problem-solving, and the pursuit of truth and justice.
  • Vesta, the asteroid of devotion and focus, reflects themes related to dedication, purity, and pursuit of spiritual or creative fulfillment.

12 What Do ASC, DC, MC, and IC mean in Astrology?

You may have come across abbreviations like ASC (Ascendant), DC (Descendant), MC (Midheaven, and IC (Imum Coel1) while exploring your natal or synastry chart. These angular houses mark the beginning of the four cardinal signs (Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn) and the four cardinal houses, each holding significant meaning in various aspects of an individual’s life:

  • ASC (Ascendant): This is your rising sign, which marks the 1st house. It shows how you present yourself to the world and the first impression you make.
  • DC (Descendant): Appears directly opposite the Ascendant and marks where the 7th house begins. It signifies partnerships, collaborations, and how you attract others.
  • MC (Medium Coeli or Midheaven): This is the highest point of the chart that marks the beginning of the 10th house. It represents your career aspirations, public image, and goals for achievement.
  • IC (Imum Coeli): The lowest point of the chart marking the 4th house and opposite the MC. It signifies your home life, family roots, and sense of security.

Understanding these points in the astrological chart provides valuable insights into different areas of your life, and you learn more about your personality, relationships, career, and home environment.

13 What are the North and South Nodes in the Astrological Chart?

These points in your natal chart are also called the lunar nodes. They signify your soul’s journey and karmic lessons.

The North Node, or True Node, points to your life’s purpose and the direction in which you will evolve in this lifetime.

Conversely, the South Node reflects past patterns and tendencies you carried over from previous lifetimes, urging you to integrate the gifts learned while releasing outdated behaviors.

Together, these nodes form an axis highlighting the balance between your past and future, offering insights into your soul’s journey and potential paths to evolution.