Your birth chart explained

by Langa Mohlala

Understanding your place under the stars.


Most people know and have a basic understanding of their star sign. We can relate to the astrological memes and clichés, and we often base compatibility in relationships on what these memes and clichés dictate. However, this knowledge is only the tip of the iceberg.

Did you know that your zodiac sign is actually your sun sign? Did you know that your ruling planet plays a role in your personality and life path? By simply knowing your date, time and place of birth, you can unlock your birth chart and understand your place in the zodiac. From the representation of each ruling planet to the differences between sun, moon and rising signs, here is a short guide to understanding your birth chart.


A birth chart (or natal chart) essentially explains the positioning of the planets in the sky during the exact moment of your birth. It also explains how these planets affect your personality. Although it is better to have your birth chart read to you by a personal astrologer, you can read it on any astrology website. The key components of a birth chart are the sun sign, moon sign, ascendant/rising sign and midheaven placement.

Your sun sign – which is determined by your birthday – describes your identity. It represents the position of the sun when you were born. It represents your soul’s essence and is the most dominant aspect of your chart. Blogger and astrologer Ashley Tracey states that your sun sign’s element “is helpful in understanding your self-expression tendencies and how you recharge”.

Writer and astrologer Nikki Halsted explains that sun transits “happen approximately every month, [which is] why we associate certain zodiac signs with different months”.

Your moon sign represents the soul behind your identity, and it rules the deeper part of your personality. The moon is the stimulus behind your emotional reactions. Your moon sign helps you understand your inner world, subconscious tendencies and your typical reaction during emotional situations. It intensifies the traits observed in your sun sign. Moon transits are said to happen every two days.

Your ascendant (or rising) sign (AS) relates to the star sign that was over the Eastern horizon at the time of your birth. It encompasses the overall theme of your life and is the side of you that surfaces when you are in social situations. Your rising sign changes every few hours, which explains why people may be surprised when they discover your zodiac sign. If you do not connect with your sun sign, your AS traits may be easier to identify with.

Your midheaven placement (MC) is found at the top of your birth chart and is the most public point in the chart. It relates to your career path/life purpose and suggests social status.

In astrology, each zodiac sign has a planet that rules over it. Ruling planets influence how each sign run its unit, and how everyone behaves under their influence.

Mercury (which rules Gemini and Virgo) represents communication. It reflects logic and rationality.

Venus (Taurus and Libra’s ruler) represents beauty, love and money. It – along with Jupiter – is known as a 'benefic' in traditional astrology and boasts a favourable influence.

Mars (ruler of Aries) symbolizes action, determination and aggression. It provides the adrenaline-fueled burst of energy that drives movement. Mars also reflects our physical passion and lust.

Jupiter (ruler of Sagittarius) symbolizes fortune, philosophy, abundance and spirituality. It also controls expansion, encouraging us to broaden our horizons through philosophy, spirituality and education.

Saturn (Capricorn’s ruler) is associated with time, regulations and restriction. On a good day, it represents hard work, professional achievements and resilience. On a bad day, Saturn can be harsh and force us to learn through tough love and troublesome challenges. It does have our best interests in mind but simply wants us to follow the rules.

Uranus (ruler of Aquarius) symbolizes technology, rebellion and innovation. This planet despises the rules and is always eager to encourage powerful, revolutionary change.

The power of Neptune (ruler of Pisces) exists where fantasy and reality meet. On a good day, its energy is extremely creative and potently psychic. On a bad day, however, Neptune can be delusional and evasive. When Neptune’s presence is felt, explore your imagination but remain grounded.

Although Pluto is no longer considered a planet, it still plays a major role in astrology and is Scorpio’s ruler. It signifies power, transformation, destruction and regeneration. Pluto reminds us to manifest change in order to release the past.

As explained earlier, the Sun embodies our fundamental essence. Leo’s ruler represents our ego, sense of self, basic personality and general preferences.

The Moon epitomizes our emotional inner world and symbolizes everything beneath the surface. As the ruler of Cancer – the sensitive water sign that defines nurture and safety – the Moon represents the spiritual retreat of our most secretive selves.

As complicated as astrology is, it is fascinating to see exactly how celestial bodies can influence us. Being able to read and understand a birth chart makes understanding ourselves slightly easier and more rewarding. It also makes the memes that much funnier.


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