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Natal Chart or Birth Chart: Components and How to Read It

Learn what a natal chart is and how to interpret it. Calculate your birth chart from Magic Horoscope.

Natal Chart
Natal Chart or Birth Chart: Components and How to Read It | iSTOCK

A natal chart is one of the main tools used by astrologers to interpret the influence of the stars in people's lives. The good news is that you can also harness and use this knowledge without needing to see a professional! Read on to discover how to create your birth chart, step by step.

Natal chart: What is it according to astrology?

We should think of the natal chart as a photograph of the planets' positioning at a specific moment in time. It can be calculated for a specific day in order to find out what planetary energies were present at a specific moment and place. If you want to understand yourself better, a natal chart is a very useful tool as we get to see the planets' positioning at the time of your birth.

In astrological terms, the natal chart represents the sky (planets, stars and other celestial bodies) and the Earth (the horizon and the meridian) from a place (altitude and latitude) and time (local sidereal time) from a geocentric position. The primary functions of the birth chart are psychological interpretation and prediction techniques.

Natal charts reveal how you are as a person in different stages of your life, and from that, how you will react to different day to day situations, how your work will go, how your friends perceive you, etc. In short, it reveals the patterns in your life and the events you attract. This tool also shows us the kind of people you are surrounded by.

If you're itching to know what a natal chart is and how to use it to your benefit, keep reading!


Components of a natal chart

The natal chart is, in essence, a diagram. It's a circle divided into 12 parts with concentric rings in it. The main components of a natal chart are the signs, the houses and the planets.

The zodiac signs

The 12 astrological signs are evenly distributed around the circumference of the natal chart and divided into 12 segments of 30º each. It was based on where the constellations that represent the signs used to be, even though nowadays the constellations may differ.

The signs are found in an anticlockwise rotation, from the first sign Aries to the last sign Pisces. This information gives us the foundation for the rest of the components: houses, planets, etc.

The 12 astrology houses

The zodiac is also divided into 12 astrology houses. Each house represents an area of our life. The first house represents our personality; the second house represents our economy, the third house represents communications, etc.

These houses in a natal chart are calculated by taking into account the time of birth of an individual, this is, the ascendant, which  marks the beginning of the first house, at the left of the diagram, in red, and the other houses also follow in an anticlockwise rotation.

The ascendant can be different each hour. For example, if two people are born on the same day but at different times can have different astrological houses.

So a person with ascendant Aries would have Taurus in their second house, but another with ascendant Gemini would have Cancer in their second house (Cancer is the sign that goes after Gemini).

The Planets

The planets symbolize the archetypes which manifest within each individual.  We must take the sun, the moon and the 8 planets of our solar system into consideration in our natal chart. Obviously, Earth isn't counted, as it is where the influences are received. Natal charts are geocentric.

The so-called Personal Planets are the ones which most affect the individual in question (Mercury, Venus, Mars). This group also contains the luminaries (the sun and the moon). These planets indicate basic needs which must be attended.

The transpersonal planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto) are taken more into account when considering global events. They push us to perfect our collective thought processes, looking for evolution as a group and provoking revolutionary changes in each generation.

They appear on the card in the form of symbols, with the location given in degrees and in an indicated sign.

How to make a natal chart

The three basic things needed are  the date of birth, the time of birth (the more precise, the better) and the birthplace.

Calculating a natal chart by hand implies many mathematical calculations, most of which are rather complex. For example, we have to apply complex formulas to the time of birth in order to change it to sidereal time, which is needed for the birth chart. In fact, contemporary astrologists use these tools to calculate their astral charts!

Due to this, if you want to see your natal chart or any chart for any given day,  the best option is to  use one of the many free online birth chart calculator programs. All you have to do is enter your information, and you immediately get your chart.

How to read a natal chart

Once you have your natal chart calculated, the next step is to know how to read it so you can get the conclusions that will be useful for our vital experience.

This is a complex process which we will try to summarise so that anyone can interpret the basic points of a natal chart. Learning how to read one properly takes a lot of time, but we are going to give you some ideas.

There are three main elements we must pay attention to the sun sign, the ascendant and the moon sign. The first step is to see in which Zodiac sign they fall under, so we can understand their nature.

The Sun, the ascendant and the Moon

The sun sign is what everyone knows as our zodiac sign  and refers to when they say they are "Virgo" or "Leo" or any other sign.

The sun represents our goals and aspirations in our lives. But have you ever met someone who didn't seem to fit in with their sign? This is when the ascendant and the moon sign show their influences.

While the sun symbolizes aspirations, the ascendant reveals how the individual in question represents itself. Their attitude towards the world surrounding them, their mannerisms, how they express themselves and how others perceive them. That's why a Leo can seem strangely quiet, he/she may have a demure Capricorn or a pragmatic Virgo who doesn't waste words as their ascendant.

Regarding the ascendant, we must also ask ourselves whether the three main signs form part of the same element group. Ideally, the answer would be yes.

Lastly, the moon sign reveals our emotions, how we live and interact with them. It also reveals information about our need for affection, an essential part of understanding ourselves and those who surround us.

After this primary analysis of the individual's personality, we then proceed to identify the houses and the planets found within each of these.

The planets in the houses

The astrology houses where the planets are found are the areas where life tends to lead us, where larger amounts of energy are invested and where most events happen. If there are no planets in a house, our attention is better off directed towards other questions.

In order to make precise interpretations, our mission is to unify what the planet symbolizes with what each house represents. For example, if Mercury is in the 6th house, we could deduce that the individual's mindset is focused on their work and that they appreciate vital balances. If Mercury is in the 7th house, it can change the individual into someone who needs constant mental stimuli from others to be happy.

Planetary aspects

After linking each planet with their sign and house, we have to pay attention to the interactions between planets. The angular distance between any two components in a natal chart is called an aspect.

If two planets have a small angular distance between them then it is called a conjunct, if the same planets are on opposite sides of the natal chart, it is called an opposite; if the planets are at a 120º angle, it is called a trine, and if they are at a 90º angle, then it is called a square. There are other aspects apart from these, but they have less influence.

The energy generated by a conjunct or a trine aspect is considered to be favourable, while an opposite or square aspect usually brings problems to the individual's life. Many of them can form between many planets, but the most influential aspects are the ones built between the personal planets and the luminaries.

One last thing to consider is in which astrological house the sun and the moon are. The sun symbolises the area of life in which the individual will "shine" depending on the house it is found in, and the house where the moon is located represents the area of life the individual will seek emotional satisfaction in.