Thirteen Steps to Reading a Birth Chart
(your mileage may vary)
(photo: me and my nifty Toyota coupe rockin’ our shades, circa 1987)
- I run the chart, and then I look at it. Just sort of… look at it, without thinking too hard. Usually there is a beverage involved. Sometimes, snacks. I recommend snacks.
- Then I calculate all the major natal aspects and write them out by hand. By the time I’ve done this I’ve pretty much memorized the chart – and it’s given me a chance to slow down and think about it, bit by bit. It’s kind of like warming up before a race. It also helps me placate my Virgo planets.
- Next, I calculate all the progressed aspects to natal planets – one degree orb approaching, one leaving.
- … and the solar arc directed aspects to natal planets, same orbs.
- And the transits from Jupiter out, paying special attention to hard aspects to personal planets. I can get pretty loose with the orbs here.
- Then, I run them all – progressions, solar arcs, transits- through a net to catch the four or five biggest ones. I nabbed a great checklist from Steven Forrest’s book “The Changing Sky.” All the smaller stuff usually lines up pretty neatly underneath the four or five biggies.
- I work out where this year’s eclipse points fall in the chart, and which natal planets are getting aspected within 4 degrees (conjunction, square, oppostion only).
- By now I’ve got a pretty good idea of where the action is. Only then do I consult the questionnaire that my client has filled out and sent to me, to see if my idea of what’s important in their life right now matches up reasonably well with their own. After doing this for a bazillion years, I’m usually in the ballpark. Folks can surprise you, though.
- I figure out when these progressed/transiting biggies, or something a lot like them, have happened before. For instance, if someone’s having a Saturn/Moon transiting conjunction, it’s worth going back over the past 14 years or so to figure out when they had the opposition and the closing square. That sort of thing.
- Then I dig desperately for metaphors, stories, songs, whatever it takes to illustrate the central themes of the story. For me, this is the hardest – but most important – part of the job.
- Okay now – don’t judge me too harshly. When I’m recording a reading, I write the damn thing out. All of it. Because it’s easier than taping and retaping it, which is what happens when I wing it, because I’m afraid I’ve left something out or that I’ve said something stupid. If it’s an in-person thing, I write a really good outline. What can I say: I’m a writer. It’s really important to me to feel I’ve said things right.
- Then I record it, or have the face-to-face consultation, after which I’m not at all confident I’ve done a good job or given my client anything useful.
- And then, I remember it’s not about me at all… and I let it go. Mostly.
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