Every time you attempt to read a chart there are so many things to look at it can be daunting.
Here I have brought the essence of chart reading down to five features to consider. These are things you will always consider when doing any chart reading. If you practice this type of high level chart your interpretation you will get to the heart of your chart reading soon.
These five tips will sharpen your focus so you don’t go off at a tangent or wander down a chart reading back road.
1 – The Dominant Broad Stroke
The dominant broad stroke refers to the background feel for a chart shown by the quantity of plan at and their distribution throughout the char. It does not consider individual planets.
You count the visible planets only and this will always add up to seven. The seven visible planets are the Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.
The broad strokes that you count are:
The two polarities of active and passive.
The four elements of fire, earth, air and water.
The three modes of cardinal, fixed and mutable.
The four hemispheres of north, south, east and west
The four quadrants numbered first, second, third and fourth.
In all of this find the highest possible number and focus on interpreting that broad stroke.
2 – The Chart Ruler Complex
The chart ruler is the planet that rules the sign on the ascendant. If it is one of the three signs with two rulers (Scorpio, Aquarius or Capricorn) then look at both rulers.
Look closely at this planet and discover it’s message. Understand this planet by sign, house and any aspects it receives in the chart.
It is strong if it is in its own sign or in exaltation. Or in other words if it has essential dignity.
It is strong in accidental dignity which is the natural house of its sign. So for example, Mars in the eighth house is strong because Mars rules Scorpio the natural eighth sign.
Notice if it rules the hemisphere, quadrant or house it tenants.
If it has only soft aspects it is supported but if it receives only hard aspects it is afflicted. A combination of both is neutral.
See if it dominates the chart by being most elevated, oriental, the final dispositor or is it in an angular house (first, fourth, seventh or tenth). These positions add weight.
See of it forms part of a major aspect pattern and if it dominates the pattern. This placement adds weight.
Check if its motion is direct, stationary or retrograde. being direct adds weight and retrograde detracts.
3 – The Sun Complex
Understand the Sun in the chart by sign, house and any aspects it receives.
Fully explore the message of the Sun in the chart.
4 – The Tightest Aspect
To find the tightest aspect you have to consider the aspects between the planets and the orbs.
Look for aspects between the planets and not the points. The planets to consider when looking for the tightest aspect are; the Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto and Chiron.
Do not consider any points like the Ascendant, the Midheaven, the lunar nodes or the part of fortune etc.
I also do not consider the asteroids unless you use them in your daily astrology practice. If not then ignore asteroids including Ceres.
Only look for the five Ptolemaic aspects which are the conjunction, sextile, square, trine and opposition.
Find the aspect with the tightest orb which should be 00 00′. See which aspect it is and understand the meaning of this aspect. look at the two planets in the aspect and how they will work together in this chart and in this aspect.
Check the house and signs that the tightest aspect lies over and understand what this means.
5 – The Prominent Major Aspect Pattern
You need the find the most dominant major aspect pattern in the chart.
Some charts may not have a major aspect pattern. And if so then skip this step. Major aspect patterns in order of importance are:
If there is more than one major aspect pattern of the same type, say you have three T-squares, then find the tightest orbed T-square, the non-disassociate T-square and the one that includes the chart ruler, the Sun or the final dispositor.
Find this major aspect pattern and fully understand the planets involved in it by sign, house and essential dignity.
Use these 5 tips to help you read a chart quickly and easily.
The Physical Chart – Printing and Highlighting Main Features
This time I going to share with you some of my process and the focus will be on the natal chart. I will answer the following questions that plague new astrologers.
Once you have the chart cast what do you look for? What is important? What is not worthy of consideration and where do you start?
The image below is of a chart for Rosie and she is one of my clients. I have not shown the chart details that is; the time, date and place as that is not important.
What we are going to be looking at is how to prepare a chart for reading after you have printed it out and before you start.
This is like step 2 of the natal chart reading process.
What to Print
In Solar Fire or your other astrology program print a chart with a half aspectarian in the corner as shown above. This is a standard chart so you should have no problem doing this.
Write the house rulers against every house cusp. Start at the ascendant and in this chart (above) I have written Jupiter/Neptune and drawn a bubble around them at the house cusp.
Quadrant and Hemispheres
Draw a circle in the top right of the page. Draw a cross in it with one horizontal line and one vertical line.
This shows the four quadrants (1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th) and the four hemispheres (north, south, east and west).
Only counting the visible planets from the Sun to Saturn count how many planets are in each quadrant.
In this chart there is one planet in the first quadrant (Saturn), two planets in the second quadrant (Jupiter and Venus), three planets in the third quadrant (the Sun, Mars and Mercury) and one planet in the fourth quadrant (the Moon).
Elements and Modes Table
Draw a table of four columns and three rows.
On the top label the columns F (fire), E (earth), A (air) and W (water). On the side label the rows C (cardinal), F (fixed) and M (mutable).
Add the number of visible planets (the Sun to Saturn) and write the quantity in the appropriate cell in the table.
Add up each row and column. The total will always be seven.
Find the chart ruler which is the planet or planets that rules the ascendant sign. In this case, it is Pisces so the ruling planets are Jupiter and Neptune. Colour in each instance of the ruling planets in yellow.
Major Aspect Patterns
Find all the major aspect patterns.
In this chart there is a stellium of the Sun, Neptune and Mars and a Moon yod of Mars, Pluto and the Moon.
Bracket the stellium and highlight in red so you can see it easily.
Colour the yod in green to relate to the quincunx colour which is green.
The idea is to bring forth the main features of a chart through the use of colour so you can easily see the main points when you pick up this chart again next month.
If you are reading many charts a week you do not have time to reread each chart to discover the main threads. they should be highlighted the first time around.
Note the most elevated planet in this case it is Mercury (although I originally noted Mars in the drawing and I can’t change the image.
The word ephemeris (plural ephemerides) is from the Greek word ephemeros, which means daily.
This is a quick introduction to the graphic ephemeris. Generally the ephemeris that astrologers use is a hefty reference book.
It details astronomical data like daily planetary positions by zodiac sign with the degrees and minutes for each planet as well as information such as sidereal time (used for calculating the ascendant).
An ephemeris is usually laid out month by month for each year. Planetary positions are listed in tables for either noon or at midnight depending on the ephemeris used.
Luckily we have a visual representation of the daily planetary positions in the graphic ephemeris. It is a quick way to find hard aspects.
It can be quite tedious to manually calculate all the planetary positions for a birth chart. Perhaps there are some of you who began your journey into astrology with this method.
You were probably relieved when the old Blue Star and then Solar Fire programs generated perfect charts.
Charts with a higher level of mathematical accuracy (even though birth times are still unreliable) are created by computers rather than manual calculations.
The graphic ephemeris has a slightly different purpose than the ephemeris book. It is mainly used for predictive work and specifically outer planetary progressions, transits and directions shown in a graph.
It is a highly visual tool where you can select the preferred time period. The planets remain constant on every graph of the period. It is the connections to the natal chart that are shown clearly by this method.
Imagine if you take the birth chart wheel as 360° on a piece of paper and you fold it in half at the (0°Aries/0°Libra) line you then have 180° of the circle.
Next fold it in half again to show 90°, finally if you fold the chart once more you have a 45° ‘slice’ of the circle. If the paper was transparent, it would show all the planets and angles within the small 45° slice.
Transiting planets will be at the same point on the slice and therefore will be depicted near each other on the Graphic Ephemeris. This is simply a different way to look at the transits to a natal chart.
The process of folding the chart from conjunctions 0° into oppositions 180°, into squares 90° and then semi-squares 45° or sesquiquadrates 135° only allows hard aspects to be shown.
Generally there are no harmonious aspects like sextiles or trines depicted on the graph.
How to Read a Graphic Ephemeris
The left of the graph begins with a column showing the cardinal degrees from 0° for 30°. At 30°, the fixed signs start and carry on to the 45°, and then begin again at the top from 0° to 15°. Finally the mutable signs are shown from 15° for 30°.
Across the top is time in months.
On the right side of the graph is a column with the natal planets and angles by sign. Each planet and point has a coloured dotted line associated with it running horizontally across the page.
Predictive work usually begins with revealing the transits. The outer planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune as well as Chiron and Pluto are generally selected for transits.
The direct transiting planets enter the graph at the left and move through time down and to the right. During retrograde periods, they move up the page in a wave motion. Where planets are at 0° of the cardinal signs by transit, they will re-enter the graph at the top.
Planets changing signs have a small dot in the planetary colour on their path.
Pluto has a shallower path than Jupiter. This is due to the slower movement of this minor planet in space.
Where a transiting planet’s curve crosses a natal planet’s dotted line, a transit aspect to the natal planet is formed.
The aspect glyph is at the intersection of the two. Where two transiting planets’ paths cross each other on the graph, there is an aspect being formed between those two planets on that day in space. The actual aspect symbol is not shown on the graphic ephemeris, only aspects to the natal chart.
Nodes and Moon cycle
The nodal axis moves in a straight line on the plane of the ecliptic and is always retrograde.
The full moon is shown as a white circle and new moon as black circles.
Where a solar eclipse happens there is a black circle with the conjunction symbol within it. A lunar eclipse is depicted by a white circle with the opposition symbol within it.
Thor’s Hammer is a Major Aspect Pattern sometimes found in astrology charts. It is triangle shaped and if you have one you can see it immediately.
If you don’t have one you will probably only learn about this pattern later in the first or second year of your astrology studies.
Thor’s hammer and other major aspect patterns used to be part of the second year syllabus but have recently been brought forward to some first year classes.
Thor – the Man
Thor was a mythical guy who wielded a small hammer that was used for throwing. When hurled the hammer would spin and hit his opponent with quite some force. It was not a hammer for banging nails in or banging on about.
The head of his hammer was shaped short and blunt as the major aspect pattern triangle is today thus the name Thor’s hammer.
Thor’s hammer is formed by three planets, two planets in square with each other and both sesquiquadrate to a third planet.
Features of a Thor’s Hammer
There are several things that make a Thor’s hammer different to any other triangle shaped aspect pattern like a grand trine, T-square or yod.
This pattern has only hard aspects
The square (90°) always drawn in red ink, and the sesquiquadrate (135°) always drawn in orange ink, are both aspects from the eighth harmonic. This means they are derived by dividing the circle by 8 (360/8=45) and 4 (360/4=90). The sesquiquadrate is one quarter (90°) plus one eighth (45°) resulting in 135°.
There are no soft aspects in this major aspect pattern such as a trine or sextile.
In our example chart Terry Fox has Sun square Mars and both sesquiquadrate Saturn and this forms his Thor’s hammer.
It is a manifesting aspect pattern
A manifesting aspect is one from the eighth harmonic set of aspects. These are always challenging and will be the aspect that the person will be working with already. Manifesting aspects do not hide in the bushes they are to be grappled with from day one.
Resistant to change
Due to the tight squares and sesquiquadrates this aspect pattern is resistant to change and the planets in the aspect pattern will be locked together and work as a ‘team’ for the person whose chart it is. This can be for good or bad depending on the planets involved.
In our example chart the three planets are the Sun, Mars and Saturn.
Difficult to live with
A Thor’s hammer is difficult to live with because it will keep on coming up as the squares and the sesquiquadrates demand their attention.
The Sun square Mars is a very masculine aspect full of life and energy.
The Sun sesquiquadrate Saturn suggests a struggle to achieve the life’s goals but shows perseverance.
The Mars sesquiquadrate Saturn indicates the drive and the ambition are linked in a powerful way but that caution may be cast to the wind in the push for life.
The focal planet is a sensitive point
One square and two sesquiquadrates.
In every triangle shaped major aspect pattern there are three planets. Two will be in cahoots and the third will be a ‘focal’ planet.
The focal planet in a Thor’s hammer is the one with the two sesquiquadrates connecting to it.
This planet will express the energy of the two other planets in square through itself into the chart. This makes the focal planet very sensitive to the energy from transits and progressions and those from the other two planets as well.
In our example chart for Terry Fox the focal planet is Saturn retrograde in Sagittarius in the fifth house of sport. This suggests the energy (Mars) and the identity (Sun) was been harnessed towards the goal (Saturn) even to the detriment of the life as this man pushed through adversity in sports.
Note the dispositor of the focal planet
The focal planet’s dispositor is the planet that rules the sign that the focal planet is in. So if the focal planet is Saturn in Sagittarius, Jupiter (as the ruler of Sagittarius) will be the dispositor of Saturn. or in other words, Jupiter will dispose Saturn in the chart.
This suggests that caution will be cast to the wind and the underlying Saturn drives may be taken recklessly because of Jupiter’s influence on the staid focal planet Saturn.
Thor’s hammers need careful interpretation. You have to understand the meaning of the three planets (Sun, Mars and Saturn) and the meaning of each individual aspect (the square and the sesquiquadrates) and which planet is stronger in each aspect before you can understand the inner dynamics of a Thor’s hammer.
Again in our example, in the Sun square Mars aspect, the Sun is powerful in Leo (score +5) and Mars is in detriment in Taurus (score -5) so the Sun dominates the square.
In the Sun sesquiquadrate Saturn aspect, the Sun again dominates this aspect and bosses up the sesquiquadrate with Saturn.
In the Mars sesquiquadrate Saturn aspect, Mars is in detriment in Taurus (score -5) and Saturn is peregrine in Sagittarius (score 0).
Neither Mars nor Saturn has accidental dignity by house but Mars is most elevated and Saturn is retrograde so on average Mars will be stronger than Saturn in that particular sesquiquadrate. This again shows the weakness of his Saturn.
Be on the lookout for a Thor’s hammer and see how it works in your charts.
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