So, you read your horoscope regularly, you know your own sign
backward and forward, and you've even dipped a toe into sign compatibility
. If you ask us, it's high time you got your birth chart drawn up. This astrological rite of passage can be handled online or one-on-one with an astrologer (for a price), but however you have it calculated, the info should remain the same — exactly where the sun, moon, and planets were placed in the sky at the moment of your birth.
We spoke with astrologer Janelle Belgrave
about how to figure out birth charts (or "soul maps," as she calls them), and what makes them
To get started, you need to know a few key details about yourself: your birth date and time, and where you were born. With this info alone, an astrologer (with the help of astrology software
, of course) can map out which sign each astral body happened to be in
at the moment of your birth. You're probably most familiar with your sun sign, or the sign that the sun happened to be aligned with when you were born; that's the one we identify with — the one we read horoscopes for.
Of course, the signs that the moon and the planets align with have a major impact on who you are, too. A well-made chart can tell you "about you, your family, the life that you were born into, and what your soul is looking to heal and/or achieve in this lifetime," Belgrave said.
While horoscopes, tarot readings, or other forms of divination work best when you have a question in mind, a birth chart is much more thorough (and doesn't require any particular query). Belgrave said to think of it as a snapshot of all the directions your life could take: "Within the natal chart you can see personality, drives, fears, parental relationships, siblings, children, psychological patterns, and more on one sheet of paper."
Like we said, you can absolutely find your natal chart online — Belgrave recommends using this site
— but you might be missing out on some interpretive info you can only get from an astrologer IRL.
"Reading about a list of traits or fatalistic predictions out of context can create a great deal of misunderstanding and/or fear that an astrologer can walk you through," Belgrave explained, adding that online charts can even end up contradicting themselves. But, if you don't mind getting into the astrological weeds to get your answers, there's no harm in calculating your chart online.
However you get ahold of your birth chart, it can look a little confusing. So, with Belgrave's help, we're walking you through some of the key symbols that you'll encounter on your chart. Get acquainted ahead.