When we first start to get to know our charts on deeper levels, it can feel like a maze of symbols and meanings to sort through. The symbols themselves are rich and complex, the birth chart a roadmap to your own soul’s growth and evolution, that gets to be a mandala that you sit with and allow it to blossom over time.
Although deep, the chart itself is broken into a few components. In this post, we’ll go over the main building blocks of the natal chart.
By working with your chart, and starting to explore the archetypes and configurations for yourself, we embark on a journey of self-discovery and self-actualization. We see ourselves mirrored in the chart, we connect to a deeper sense of purpose, we lean into our own authentic expression in powerful ways.
The Birth Chart
The birth chart is a snapshot of what the sky looked like at the moment you were born. Although it’s a depiction of the astronomical positioning, we look at the planets, houses and signs as symbols that are part of the collective and personal psyche.
When looking at the components of the birth chart as archetypal energies, through an evolutionary astrology lens, we get a picture of what you’re here to learn, your potential, strengths, challenges and overall evolutionary path.
The dance between the Signs, Houses, Planets, Angles, and Aspects tell a story of your larger path of individuation and growth.
When we engage with our charts from an evolutionary astrology perspective, we are invited to work with the symbols as wise guides. They are here to teach us lessons and to be engaged with consciously.
The birth chart carries story of past lives, karmic patterns, and the potential of the soul in this lifetime. It’s a map to personal transformation, healing, and aligning with our most authentic, purposeful selves.
The Chart Behind The Chart: The Karmic Story
Before getting started, a quick note. Evolutionary Astrology is based on the idea that we have eternal souls that are here to grow and evolve in consciousness throughout our various incarnations. Our past life brought us so far on our larger evolutionary journey, and we are here now to continue learning new lessons and exploring new territory – all while navigating the echos of the past.
From this perspective, the current birth chart is exactly what the soul needs to grow. It can give us insight into the past life story, while also showing us where we are guided next.
Each planetary placement, sign, and aspect is karmic, meaning they activated or configured the way they are in our unique chart based on past life experience, while also inviting us into new growth.
When looking at the building blocks in the chart, we can keep in mind that your Sun in Aries, is there for a reason or your Saturn in Pisces is there teaching you as well. They are all wise guides ushering your journey forward.
Your Birth Chart: A Quick Overview: The Difference Between Signs, Houses, Planets, Aspects
Planets, signs, houses, aspects. The building blocks of your birth chart
Your birth chart is made up of building blocks that come together to paint a larger picture of your zones of genius, challenges to watch out for, lessons you’re here to learn, and the overall evolutionary intention of your life.
Planets are the parts of the psyche. Ex. ego development, courageous function, relational capacity, etc.
Signs answer how that planet / part of the self is to grow and develop. Ex. With a Sun in Scorpio, ego development is through psychological process, depth, transformation and truth seeking.
The houses speak to the area of life where we will see planets and signs play out. Ex. ego development through Scorpionic processes in the context of relationship, creative expression, career, etc.
Aspects are the geometric angles that connect planets to each other and other points in the chart. The different aspects come with different assignments and textures, but as my teacher Steven Forrest says, “all aspects are about integration.” Ex. learning to integrate our drive to individuate with being in relationship.
The planets are parts of the psyche, which are invited to develop through the values and motivations of the signs they reside. For example, if you have Mercury (intellect, voice, learning) in Aries (the warrior), you are learning assertiveness, being direct, having the courage to use your voice. With the Sun (ego development, sense of self) in Cancer, you build ego strength through the drive of Cancer, which is to create safety, to feel, and to tend to your inner world.
As we get to know each planet, we understand different parts of ourselves better. We bring them into more consciousness and can use that energy to understand our own core needs and what helps us be our most vital, happy, authentic, and fulfilled selves. And, we can also understand some of the challenges they bring.
Think of the planets as actors on the stage – they are the key players that guide the personal narrative forward.
Sun: Identify formation, core sense of Self
Moon: Emotional experience, subjectivity
Mercury: Voice, intellect, communication
Venus: Love, connection, empathy
Mars: Assertiveness, courage, something worth fighting for
Jupiter: Faith, abundance, expansion
Saturn: Integrity, self-discipline, doing the thing that makes us proud
Uranus: Individuation, authenticity
Neptune: Mysticism, liminal, imagination, intuition, connection to the divine
Pluto: Truth, transformation, depth
There are twelve zodiac signs that are archetypes that guide our growth and evolution. As mentioned earlier, the planets act as the parts of the Self, and the signs are the guides in that process.
If the planets are the actors on the stage, the signs are the characters they are embodying.
Each sign represents a distinct energy and possesses it’s own set of characteristics of traits. Each has their own motivation and end goal. This list is purposefully simplified but gets to the heart of the matter:
Cancer: To love, trust, feel
Leo: To develop the self
By understanding the signs that are particularly activated in us (you might have planets in Scorpio but none in Capricorn, for example), you can lean into the learnings of that specific archetype (in this case Scorpio will be a guide in this lifetime). We get to explore the higher and lower expressions, the invitations of each, and come into a deeper connection with ourselves in the process.
If you are to look at your astrology chart, you can see that it’s broken up into 12 segments. These are the houses in your chart.
Each house, or segment, represents an area of life. These areas of life act as the context in which the sign and planet is invited to develop within.
Ex. If you have Mars in the house of relationship, you may be learning themes around how to maintain your sense of self in the context of relationship, learning to connect with your sexuality and passion, learning to assert yourself, or learning to be courageous when it comes to matters of the heart.
In evolutionary astrology, we always look at why this is the case, and why you have the chart you do.
For example, this Mars placement may come out of a past life context of losing oneself in relationships and giving one’s power away. We’d have to explore the nodal story for details.
A quick note, it’s common to not have planets in every house. In fact, it can be common to have a few houses more packed than others, while others are empty.
With those full houses, you have more lessons to learn from those areas of life. With the others, they are still important. We explore them by looking at signs and rulers.
Here’s a quick overview of the houses. Each one has lots of nuances and can take on different meanings. My hope here is to give a basic overview of the umbrella themes to get you started. Just knowing this can take you far.
The Houses 1-12
- House of personality and self
- House of resources (inner and outer) and values
- House of communication and information
- House of home and family
- House of creativity and self-expression
- House of responsibility and skill
- House of relationship and trust
- House of intimacy and deep bonding
- House of belief and meaning
- House of career and public reputation
- House of momentum, goals and groups
- House of spiritual connection and ego detachment
Continuing the metaphor of the actors and characters, think of the houses as the scene they are in. This is the area of the life that the scene is playing out, the context the growth is happening.
Additionally, the birth chart also encompasses important angels that are sensitive areas that hold importance in understanding our life’s path and personal growth.
- Ascendant (or rising): How we dawn on people. How we get our act together. Congruence between the inner and outer world.
- Descendant: Our connection with others, trust and relationship
- Midheaven: The highest point in the sky, our larger reputation, career, and legacy we leave
- Nadir: Our deepest inner selves, what we need for nurturing and security to be able to branch out into the world. Ancestral roots and home.
The signs and planets on the angels, as well as aspects, give us information about what we are both cultivating and learning in these areas as well as what we need to feel fulfilled. For example, by understanding our Midheaven we gain an understanding of our core needs in our career and larger calling.
Your Birth Chart: Conclusion
In conclusion, getting to know the nuances of each symbol and the depth they can bring in our lives, is an ongoing process. It can feel overwhelming at first, especially as you start to combine the different elements and paint a larger picture. However, by exploring the symbolic meaning of the signs, houses, and planets we can better align ourselves with our true selves, navigate challenges, and nurture our creative passions. We consciously embark on our own path of growth and healing. The karmic story puts the chart into perspective, inviting us to be aware of old karmic patterns and lean into new ways that will ultimately be freeing, fulfilling, and connected to a deeper sense of purpose, connection, and self-expression.