Natal chart: how to read your astrological birth chart

How To Read And Interpret Your Natal Chart And Planetary Placements

What’s the difference between your sun, moon, and rising?

by Emily Anne, Valerie Mesa and Claire Fox
Originally Published: 

For a lot of people, the term "astrology" means a one-sentence magazine horoscope that tells them how their day will unfold. And, more often than not, those forecasts are too general, incredibly random, or just totally incorrect. How can everyone in the world be categorized by only 12 astrology placements? That's because most people don't know how to read a natal chart.

"Your natal chart is like your energetic blueprint or your soul's energy map," Tara Schulenberg, co-founder of Elevate the Globe, tells Elite Daily. "It shows you a snapshot of where the planets and luminaries were at the exact moment of your birth, and therefore carries a map of the energy you're working with in this lifetime." Even a set of twins born a few minutes apart will have different charts.

Traditional astrology examines not only your “main sign” but at least nine other planets that fall into a sign at birth, along with the aspects they make to one another. Everyone has a sun sign, moon sign, rising sign, Mercury sign, and so on. But even knowing the three “big ones” could change your mind about how accurate astrology is. From a beginner’s perspective, it’s easy to be overwhelmed and confused by it all (Is Mercury your rising sign? How can your sun sign and moon sign be opposites? What does Pluto have to do with anything?).

With 12 possibilities for each planetary placement in your natal chart, not to mention their unique aspects, no two natal charts are exactly alike. Cast your natal chart here, and make a note of where your sun, moon, and ascendant fall. If this seems like a lot of information, here are the most important things to remember.

The 3 Most Important Parts Of Your Natal Chart

  • Sun: Your sun sign is your overall “self,” ego, and who you grew up to be.
  • Moon: Your moon sign is your emotions, your hidden self, and who you were as a child.
  • Rising/Ascendant: Your rising sign is how you relate to other people and the personality you project.

Inner Planets & Your Personality

There are plenty of other factors influencing who you are. Every planet in the solar system landed in a sign when you were born, and each one represents something within you. However, Sun and moon are considered “luminaries," and astrologers don’t count Earth.

"The inner planets move faster and are closer to Earth, therefore closer to you, so their effect is on your emotions, habits, and thought patterns," says Schulenberg. "These are the planets that you'll notice have the most influence on your day-to-day life."

  • Mercury: Your natal Mercury represents how you communicate, your mind, and how you learn and process information.
  • Venus: Where Venus was placed when you were born is how you express femininity; it's the love language you speak and how you act in partnerships.
  • Mars: The placement of Mars is how you express masculinity, anger, aggression, and passion.
  • Jupiter: Jupiter's place on your chart dictates your luck, your personal belief system, and how you broaden your horizons.
  • Saturn: Where Saturn was when you were born translates to the restrictions and challenges you may face, how you handle responsibility, and your career(s).

Outer Planets & Your Personality

The outer planets are considered generational because they move around the sun much slower than inner planets. They stay in each sign for years and, according to Schulenberg, have a slower effect on your daily life due to their distance.

  • Uranus: The placement of Uranus on your chart shows your visionary side, how you rebel, and represents flashes of genius and inspiration.
  • Neptune: Neptune on your chart affects your dreams and fantasies and represents how you escape this reality.
  • Pluto: Pluto's placement shows how you will experience rebirth, transformations, and your karma/fate.

How To Read Your Unique Natal Chart


Getting a handle on these key placements in your birth chart will paint a much fuller picture. Remember: The rising sign represents your physical appearance, the sun is your soul purpose, and the moon determines your emotional instincts. Take the time to study the traits of all of them.

“I would start with the sun, moon, and rising sign — those are pretty easy to pull from the chart — so that you don't get overwhelmed with all of the other planets and science,” recommends Chelsea Jackson, an astrologist and astrology writer for Elite Daily. “Starting with those three, that's kind of like the backbone of your chart, and then you can expand on those signs and how they interact with each other.”

Start with basic, easily answered questions. What zodiac sign elements are your sun, moon, and rising signs? Do they complement each other? Which planet rules your sun sign compared to which planet rules your ascendant? Are your emotions (moon) in a difficult relationship to your ego (sun)?

Are your moon and your significant other’s moon vibing with each other? Then, you can study your communication style (Mercury), your style of harmonizing with others (Venus), and how you go after what you want (Mars).

Say you’re a Libra sun, but a Capricorn rising with a Scorpio moon. You're probably a lot more serious and private than the pure Libra stereotype. People who meet you take you seriously because of Capricorn’s earthy, commanding presence. Your relationships might be committed and bordering on obsessive because of Scorpio’s influence on the moon.

There are endless ways to examine a chart, and so many resources online, such as Cafe Astrology, to help you learn more about each placement. Once you become more knowledgeable and advanced, house placements add another layer of complexity. But even with all of this expansive information to dig into, it’s important to not get too caught up in letting your natal chart supersede your identity.

“I would say not to let your birth chart define who you are. It's a tool to use to understand yourself better,” Jackson says. “But I think people get very tied to their chart and use it to say things like, ‘Excuse my behavior because I'm an Aries.’ I don't think we should use astrology in that way. But I think it's great as a self-awareness tool.”

Being reduced to one sign out of 12 is simplistic, and astrologers agree. Astrology is enriching when you dive beyond the surface, so don’t knock it until you look beyond your sun sign. Taking time to study your emotions, relationship styles, and your means of communication are great ways to grow.

In Schulenberg's words, "You can learn the reasons behind your habits, patterns, and emotions and learn how to work with the energy in your chart to create the life you've always wanted." Everyone is complicated, and real astrology should always recognize that and celebrate it.


Tara Schulenberg, co-founder of Elevate the Globe

Chelsea Jackson, astrologer, intuitive, and artist

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