Galactic Guidance, a Zodiac Advice Column: What do I need to know about natal charts?

When your horoscope app doesn’t have the answers, look to the stars for advice. And by that, we mean look to Gala Galactic, HelloGiggles’ resident zodiac advice columnist. If you’ve got zodiac questions, she’s got answers for Galactic Guidance: A Zodiac Advice Column. All you have to do is send your Qs to [email protected]. Happy stargazing! 

Dear Gala,

I’m pretty new to astrology and I keep reading about natal charts, but I don’t understand what they are or how they can help me know myself better. Can you help?

— Looking for answers

Hi Looking for answers,

Wonder no more, I’m here to provide you with some answers! The word “natal” is defined as “relating to the place or time of one’s birth.” Since each of us, even twins, have a unique time and place of birth, a natal chart is a chart unique to each of us. But what exactly is charted? Long ago, the cosmos, as we Earthlings knew it, was divided up by astrologers into 12 different Zodiac signs. At the time of your birth, reader, the planets in our solar system were going about their errands, orbiting the Sun and relating to each other. They were shifting through the territories of the Zodiac signs. Your natal chart accounts for where each of these planets were located (and what they were up to) when you came into the world.

One’s natal chart appears as a wheel representing all the zodiac signs along its rim, and it is divided up into 12 parts called “houses.” The cusp, or beginning, of your first house is your ascendant (rising) sign. Since houses shift with the Earth’s rotation, rising signs change about every two hours. Your ascendant is the sign that was rising on the East horizon at the location and time of your birth. In astrology, your rising sign is the self you project into the world. It’s the person you feel most confident being when making a first impression.


You probably already know your Sun sign, which depends on the day and month you were born. Your Sun sign is your substance, the person you are always becoming and growing into. In your natal chart, the Sun will appear as a circle with a dot at the center. It will be near the zodiac sign you know yourself to be, but it will also be within a house. The house your Sun resides in depends upon your ascendant since all following signs are numerated accordingly. In the Zodiac, the order of the signs is Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces. Say, for instance, the sign of Gemini was rising on the East horizon at the time of your birth on September 26th. That would mean your rising sign was Gemini, and it would most likely place your Sun sign (Libra) in the 5th house.

The moon shifts in the sky and changes signs approximately every two and half days, and will show up on your chart as a crescent symbol. Your moon is your private self, the self you return to for rest and restoration. Your family and closest friends will be the first to recognize this part of you. If the moon was in Aquarius at the time of your birth, then you would be an Aquarius moon, likely in the 9th house (houses are not always equal in size, so there is room for numerical fluctuation here). If just knowing your rising and moon sign in addition to your Sun sign offers such a nuanced and layered understanding of your personal astrology, imagine what will happen when you find out the position of your Mars, your Venus, and your Mercury!

The house system in a natal chart is extremely important to one’s self-discovery. Houses have their own established meanings and affects that can deeply influence the concerns and preoccupations of your personal planets and therefore your life. A 5th house Libra is not the same as an 8th house Libra, trust. In addition to house system, a natal chart provides you with information about your planetary aspects. These aspects include Conjunctions (mirroring/combining), Oppositions (tension/dynamism), Squares (obstacles/transformation), and Trines (flow, power).

The truth is, the more you study your own chart, the more you see. Planets illuminate planets, granting you talents and intuition, and one little asteroid can stimulate a whole heap of emotional upheaval for eight years. You can’t change the stars, reader, but you can learn to understand them. In my heart of hearts, I believe that all magic mediums reveal to us that which we already know about ourselves.

For some of us, the knowledge that what we’re going through is part of a larger pattern can be of great comfort. It can also activate us to recognize where pain can lead to transformation, and conflict toward great love. Yes, you can look up your natal chart for free online. But if you’re looking for meaningful answers and in-depth analysis, consider asking an astrologer to cast a chart for you and help you interpret it.

Yours with lots of information,

Gala Galactic

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