What Is a Birth Chart?

Steven Hunt / Getty Images

You can create an astrological chart for any moment in time. It's like stopping the cosmic clock and studying the positions of the planets at that moment. Your birth chart is the moment you arrived into this lifetime. It tells you all about the energetic influences at play, and what life lesson you can expect.

Horoscope means hour watcher in Greek and is another name for the astrological chart. But that term is used most often now to mean predictions based on astrology, like the popular Sun Sign horoscopes.

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The Birth Chart

 Molly Hall Nagy

This is what an astrological chart looks like, though they vary in appearance. This is for the Dalai Lama of Tibet.

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The Houses

  Molly Hall Nagy

The chart is divided into twelve sections, and these are known as the houses. The houses begin with the Ascendant, at the middle left on the wheel. The numbers go up, as you move around the chart counter-clockwise.

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Zodiac Signs

  Molly Hall Nagy

The Zodiac signs run counter-clockwise around the wheel. This image shows the natural wheel with the Zodiac signs beginning with Aries at the Ascendant. Every chart begins at a different degree of the Zodiac and continues around the wheel.

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 Molly Hall Nagy 

The chart is 360 degrees around, so it's broken up into that number of Zodiac degrees. This image shows the degrees of the wheel.

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30 Degrees

  Molly Hall Nagy

Each house has 30 degrees, and so does each Zodiac sign. This image shows the pie piece of 30 degrees that make up one house in the birth chart.

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Horizon Line

  Molly Hall Nagy

This image shows the horizon line. To the left is the Ascendant, and to the right is the Descendant. The Ascendant is the degree of the sign rising on the Eastern horizon when you were born. Another name for the Ascendant, shown on charts as ASC, is Rising sign.

The Rising sign is your outer personality cloak. But it's also the conduit through which you engage with the world. It determines things like your appearance, quirks, style, temperament, self-image, childhood experiences and so on. The Rising sign for this chart is Leo.

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Horizon and Meridian

 Molly Hall Nagy 

This image adds the Meridian that crosses the Horizon line. Together, they show the cross-quarter points on the chart. These are the Ascendant, the Descendant, the IC (Imum Coeli) and the MC (Medium Coeli or Midheaven).

What These Mean in a Birth Chart

  • Ascendant: Rising sign, outer personality, the Self on its own, the impression you make on others.
  • The Descendant: Turning to meet others, your persona in relationship, the give and take of relating, the mirror of relationships.
  • The IC: Private life, interior doorways to soul memory, the emotional roots.
  • The MC or Midheaven: Career, the public persona, fulfilling worldly ambition, reaching potential.
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Hall, Molly. "What Is a Birth Chart?" ThoughtCo, May. 3, 2018, thoughtco.com/learning-to-interpret-birth-charts-207239. Hall, Molly. (2018, May 3). What Is a Birth Chart? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/learning-to-interpret-birth-charts-207239 Hall, Molly. "What Is a Birth Chart?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/learning-to-interpret-birth-charts-207239 (accessed May 20, 2018).