Navigate Your Natal Chart: An Introduction to Astrology (Part 1)

The Big Picture

We are all twelve zodiac energies, not just one or two. Pop culture generally focuses on the sun sign – this is the one most people know and leads them to believe “I’m a Gemini” or “I’m a Taurus” and that’s that. But it’s not so!

In truth – we are ALL, ALL twelve of the zodiac energies. I’m willing to bet that there’s at least one zodiac energy that makes you think “I am NOT a Virgo!” or Cancer, or Pisces, or whatever. But I can assure you that you are, or at least that you contain that energy within your being. I encourage you to expand your perspective of yourself and try to see how that energy fits into your self. We are multifaceted beings!

The twelve zodiac archetypes form a spectrum that creates a Whole. Each sign, with its archetype, brings its own essential elements to that Wholeness. Some of those elements are superpowers, strengths, brilliances – but along with those come natural limitations in certain areas. An area where one sign is limited, though, is where another is super talented and gifted! Understanding that you possess all twelve energies/archetypes is truly empowering, because it means you possess the Wholeness that they form within your being. Through understanding your natal chart, you learn how to tap into that Wholeness.

Each energy serves its own unique purpose, and the more you become familiar with them and with your chart and others’, you’ll see that there’s balance and harmony where you once saw limitations and “lack of.”  We contain the ability to do far more than we give ourselves credit for. If you’ll allow it, exploring your natal chart can open your mind up to the fact that you actually possess a lot more skills and superpowers than you’re currently giving yourself credit for. 

Your Cosmic Signature

Your cosmic signature is based on the concept that at the moment in time when you make your entry into this world, the planets’ unique configuration forms the imprint for your unique energy. In other words, your unique energy is a snapshot of the planetary energy at the moment of your birth. Your birth chart is essentially a picture of how you’re wired as a unique energetic being. It’s your personal work of art! And it allows us to take in a ton of information about ourselves in a very compact space.

When you’re looking at the wheel, the circle – you’re looking at an image of the sky the moment you were born. Imagine looking up to the sky on that night (or day). The different symbols on the chart represent the locations of the various planets. Anything above the center of the circle was above the horizon and visible in the sky at the time, and anything below that line was not visible in the sky (but still present in your energy!)

Your natal chart is a map of your cosmic signature. There are lots of pieces that tell us all kinds of different things. Every piece has its own story, so there’s a lot of storytelling in the process of unpacking it. I always recommended taking it one piece at a time to give yourself enough time to really digest the information. 

Outside the Wheel

Generally along the outer edge of your natal zodiac wheel, or birth chart, are the symbols representing the twelve signs, divided amongst their individual “sections” of the sky. Each sign’s section contains the energy of its archetype, so as the planets move through the various sections, they react and respond in different ways, depending on the energetic archetype.

Inside the Wheel

The symbols within the wheel represent the planets and celestial bodies in our solar system (note that when I say “planets” I’m generally referring to both). The planets themselves also represent energetic archetypes which bring their own unique personalities to the party. So one person’s Venus in Capricorn, for example, is not the same as another person’s Sun in Capricorn – because Venus and the Sun are two different celestial bodies that have their own unique energy, and will create very different expressions of the Capricorn archetype. 

When you begin to understand the energetic archetypes and all the ways in which they come together, it starts to read like a beautiful story. We are each weaving such intricate tapestries of energy. When we don’t understand this highly complex energy that we bring with us into the world, we end up fighting against ourselves and beating ourselves up for it, and comparing ourselves to other people, thinking we should be more like this or more like that. It’s agonizing. These natal chart energies can help us understand how to work with our own energy instead of against it, inviting ease and alignment into our lives.


Let’s back up for a second. What does “natal” really even mean? It literally just means “birth” or associated with birth. So “natal chart” refers to a chart of the sky that corresponds with your birth. There are other types of astrological charts, but if you’re a beginner, it’s best to start with natal.

If you love learning, you’re in luck because natal charts are the gift that keeps on giving! You can explore yours for years and still continue to discover things in there that will make you wonder how you never noticed before. You may also notice that those pieces come to your attention at relevant moments in your life – it’s pretty magical!

Planets, Luminaries & Other Celestial Bodies

Luminaries and Planets

Luminaries are light sources. The sun is a luminary, the moon is a luminary (even though its light is a reflection of the sun’s), and stars are luminaries. Planets, on the other hand, have physical mass and are not light-generating.

Celestial Bodies

This would include asteroids, like Chiron, and fixed stars, like Altair. It’s an all-encompassing term and would include both planets and luminaries under its umbrella as well. 

All celestial bodies have their own orbit around the sun as well as moons or other bodies in their own orbit. The further away they are from the sun, the longer their orbit. The duration of a celestial body’s full revolution around the sun is one of the many ways we can get to know its unique energetic “personality,” influence, agenda. All together, they represent the various sides of the human experience. 

Mercury, for instance, is the closest planet to the sun, which means it completes a full revolution the fastest. Because of that, a big piece of Mercury’s personality is its relation to our intellect, our thinking minds, and mental energy. Our Mercury sign, then, can tell us a lot about that area of our being. 

There are many, many, many celestial bodies in our solar system, all of which have their own influence, but the major players that you’ll see in most natal charts are shown below. (Note: Earth is not typically depicted.)

Stay tuned for part two, where we’ll dive into the Big Three: Sun, Moon, and Ascendant (aka Rising) signs.

Content from videos 1 & 2 of the Simplifying Natal Charts YouTube series by Carly Whorton, adapted by Maddie Billings

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