I'm often asked this question. I’ve tried my hand at general natal readings off and on over the years, given that clients always seem to want them. But I’ve recently drawn a line under these for good. Here are some of the reasons why.
This idea that an astrologer can describe a person in detail solely from the birth chart is a myth of modern astrology. I know there are websites where you can supply your birth data, pay a modest fee, and receive some 30 pages of material that’s allegedly all about you. But folks, these reports are not written about you at all. They are a patchwork of creative writings about the symbols of astrology—which is not the same as being about you!
I remember thirty years ago when a friend and I first ordered our natal portraits. When we sat down to share notes, we discovered that portions of our reports were exactly the same. She thought this must be a mistake! But this is by design. These booklets are compiled by stringing together pre-written paragraphs for every planet-in-sign, planet-in-house, and planetary aspect combination in your chart. I’ve written about a major flaw in this approach before, which you can read here.
But the problem goes even further. After years of studying traditional methods, I believe that it’s simply incorrect to approach the birth chart in this way. The chart is better understood as the bare bones of something multilayered takes shape only over time--more like a sculpture than a portrait.
If the modern approach to the birth chart is bogus, then what is a better approach? Here are the initial steps I’ve learned to take. I calculate the antiscia of the planets and mark them on the chart. I note the seven Arabic ‘soul parts’ and do the same. I assess the temperament, looking for any marked imbalance. I look at the condition of Mercury and the Moon for whether they share priorities, based on sign and phase. I look for planets/parts on the four angles, as these reflect built-in parts of the person’s structure. I look for agenda-driven planets--those that have just changed sign or are about to change sign, where the sign change brings an increase or decrease in essential dignity (sign, exaltation, or triplicity). I look for whether any fixed stars--including the outer planets Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto--fall onto other planets/parts or directly onto a house cusp. I look at reception to see who’s got clout among the planets.
Having taken these steps, am I then able to write a full description of the person? Heck, no! Even with information about the person’s life context (which is essential), choosing the correct interpretation from the endless possibilities is like trying to find the needle in a haystack. It’s a fruitless endeavor—especially when most people know themselves pretty well to begin with!
My teacher has pointed out (on his website, here) that no one would ever go to a doctor and say, “Tell me about myself.” You go to the doctor when you have a problem and you want the doctor’s diagnosis and treatment. It’s the same with the other helping professions. Why should we think astrology is any different?
To learn more about traditional methods, please visit my blog, where you will find over 120 articles I’ve written on the subject. And of course I highly recommend John Frawley’s books, starting with The Real Astrology, and including the recently published Horary Examples (of which I am a contributing author). Mr. Frawley also has scores of audio lectures available for purchase, along with free sample lectures to get you started.
Thanks for stopping by,
Kathryn at The Sun’s Joy
PHOTO CREDIT: Pixabay (CC0)