You may have heard of the birth chart. It’s a graph generated by a program that charts the positions of the planets and constellations at the time of your entry into the world. At a time when people are searching for ways to figure out their identities in the midst of upheaval, more people turn to different means of finding their identity and this chart has been a way for some to do so. But there’s more to the birth chart than pretty planets and flowery words.
We spoke with two astrologers, May Sim from Selfstrology and Monica Gamboa or Monch the Mystic, on what you can learn from your birth chart and how you can use it as a tool to navigate the world around you.
What is a birth chart?
"Basically, it’s like someone pressed a ‘pause’ button on the universe for the moment of your birth," May, one of Asia’s premier astrologers, explained. "The astrological birth chart is a visual representation of the placements of all the planets and cosmic bodies at the exact time and geographical coordinates of a person’s birth."
For Monica, your birth chart is a unique map for you to use. "The birth chart is a map of you. It's your astrological blueprint, your thumbprint. It's so unique to you because of the time and place you were born."
The basics: sun, moon, and ascendant signs
The most commonly known features of a birth chart are the three main signs: the Sun, Moon, and “Rising" or "Ascendant" sign. "These are essentially the sign placements of the Sun, Moon and sign on the rising [or upcoming] horizon at the time of birth," May explained.
"They determine the style of expression for identity, emotional and subjective needs, and the general attitudes to life and the world. So in general, you can ascertain the core tenets of personality from these three, though it can still be a superficial analysis since just looking at merely sign placements of three chart components is just scratching the surface of birth chart interpretation.
If your birth chart was a stage, the planets are the actors and the sun is your character, your ego, your identity," Monica compared. "And then your moon is your emotions and your needs. Then you have a rising sign which is the actor's costume or the outer layer you wear [to achieve a goal]."
Other figures: the houses
You may also come across the "Houses" which May explained were the "areas in a person’s life, such as work environment and work scope, partnerships, your resources, etc." Your chart reveals your various attitudes towards those areas of life. "For example, why do some people prefer to work at a desk with excel sheets and why do some people prefer to travel from city to city for work?" May shared. It can all be explained by your astrological natal chart.
So how does one "use" their birth chart?
It may seem trite at first, but both May and Monica agree that there's a lot you can glean from a birth chart. "Most people think I'm exaggerating when I say ‘everything,'" May mused. "But it's true. We can see your psychological attitudes on everything from topics you like to study to your attitudes towards your parents to the kind of sex you like in bed."
There are multiple ways a birth chart can be implemented. For example, Monica, who has a degree in psychology and a passion for theatre, is currently working on astro drama where her clients can "act out the signs and the elements in their birth chart." People also use it for self-care. Some signs prefer their time alone to rest and recharge, while others need social interaction.
Others use it as a fun way to gauge their interactions and relationships with people. "I don't really use my birth chart for anything other than for fun," Katrina — with a Taurus Sun, Scorpio Moon, and Capricorn Rising — shared. "I don’t decide anything based on my signs, but I feel that it’s interesting to analyse them after the fact ... Sometimes, you’d just know which people would easily hit it off with you based on their signs. Other than that, I don’t take my birth chart very seriously."
The same goes for Barney, who has an Aquarius Sun, Aries Moon, and Cancer Rising. "I use it both as a fun thing to do and as a tool for life since there are times when I would like to have an explanation for why I act the way I do," she shared. "It makes me feel seen and understood, and also helps me understand other people too."
That's not to say that your birth chart is the end all and be all of who you are. Monica emphasises that we have free will and are active actors in the stage of life. "The birth chart tells us what we're fated to experience or the theme of our life," she explained.
"But we also have the free will to say, 'This is what I choose. This is happening, but I have the free will to choose how I will react to it,'" she shared.
"That in itself determines everything, the way you respond to what you're given. So for me, the birth chart is merely a tool to help us navigate our life conflicts or tensions," she added. Just like a map, we're free to take detours and twists and turns.
Still skeptical? Here's what you need to know
Still not convinced about birth charts? If you're worried about it being "inaccurate", May assured us that if done correctly, your birth chart will always be useful for you. "Birth charts are always correct. In my 17 years of professional practice, I’ve not seen it fail before," she shared. Both Katrina and Barney shared that their signs really resonated with them.
"Interestingly, my sun, moon, and rising signs accurately explain how there is a dissonance between my emotions and how I act, and it's amazing how much I resonate with it," Barney said.
Katrina agreed, saying "I think my birth chart is eerily accurate. My Sun sign, Taurus, determines my ego or identity. True enough, I am practical, deliberate, and stubborn — the stereotypical Taurus. I take comfort and pleasure very seriously and most people will find me dependable."
Wrong time of birth
If people do think something's "wrong" or inaccurate with their chart, it usually comes from the wrong time of birth. "I think if someone were to experience an interpretation as ‘inaccurate’, the first likely reason is that the chart is not drawn to an exact birth time. It needs to be correct to the minute, not an approximate)," May added. That means if you were born at 7:01PM and placed your birth chart at 7:05PM, then your chart is not yours but another person’s.
Even twins have different birth charts. Katrina, who has a twin sister born two minutes after her, shared that their differing rising signs reflect their attitudes IRL. "I have read before that Capricorn Risings are more fixated on the end of things while Aquarius Risings (Katrina's sister) are more attuned to the beginning of things. I would say that that’s an accurate description of my twin and me."
In Monica's opinion, online apps like Co-Star Astrology and Café Astrology are good starting points to introduce you to astrology and birth charts. But she also added that people can get a deeper understanding of what it all entails when they approach a trained astrologer. This way, the astrologer and the client get to dialogue. This allows you to link the areas in your life or personality too.
Speaking of trained astrologers, you need to check the credentials of whoever is reading your chart too. "Another likely scenario is that the interpretation is done by someone, whether live or via an online source, who isn’t fully trained to interpret charts," May cautioned. Typically, budding astrologers are mentored by more experienced astrologers who have years of experience to back up their teachings.
If you do want to have your birth chart read, it's also important to approach it with intention. "I think one trend of turning to astrology nowadays is that it’s for ‘knowing more about myself’. That can be problematic because the intention is too general and directionless," May evaluated.
The searches for "birth charts" and other astrological interests went up at the height of the pandemic last year. "I'd say because the pandemic made us look inward and really be with ourselves," Monica explained, saying our birth charts are our reflections in graphic form. "The more you study it, the richer it gets in helping us understand and give meaning to our lives. Because we're always searching for meaning, right?"
According to May, astrological charts are extremely useful when approached "with a clear purpose" and "particularly for problem-solving". For example, if one of her clients approaches her wanting to determine why someone has paranoia about not having money, or why they can’t hang on to a job for more than a year, then the chart truly comes to life.
Aside from intention, you also need to be open to what you'll hear during the reading. For Monica, a reading shouldn't be just her saying that a person is this way and that. Ideally, it should be a two-way conversation that aims to maximise the utility of your birth chart in your daily life. For example, a reading can help you figure out which career path can suit you best. It has also been applied in therapy and counselling.
Still, a lot of people just want to get "tidbits and useless trivia" about themselves which are "fascinating to read, but ultimately not very useful," May explained. It’s fun to do, but again, you may be able to learn more information that can be really useful in your day-to-day life. According to May and Monica, you can use it to gauge work and personal relationships, manage your mood, and more.
When having your birth chart read, May recommends treating it like a full-body medical checkup. "If you do it to understand more about a disease you have and how to solve it, it’s brilliant. But if you do it for fun and ‘to know more about my body’, then you get random tidbits about your blood vessels that you’re not sure what to do with."
Did this convince you to check out your birth chart? Whether you want it as a quick icebreaker when meeting new people or use it as a tool to improve your life, it doesn’t hurt to give it a try. Keep an open mind and approach it with a clear purpose; you never know what you’ll find.
(Cover photo from: @monchthemystic)
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