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Tips on How to Read a Birth Chart

Every time you start to read a chart there are so many things to look at and it can be daunting.

Here I have brought the essence of chart reading down to a few features to consider. These are things you will always look at when you do any chart reading.

If you practice this type of high level chart your interpretation you will get to the heart of your chart reading sooner rather than later.

These tips will sharpen your focus so you don’t go off at a tangent or wander down a chart reading rabbit hole.


1. The Dominant Broad Stroke

The dominant broad stroke refers to the background feel for a chart. This is shown by the quantity of planets and their distribution throughout the chart.

The broad strokes do not consider individual planets.


Planet Count

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 the chart ruler by sign, house, aspects and position in the chart.



The chart ruler 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, division or the house it tenants.

If the chart ruler has only soft aspects it is supported, but if it receives only hard aspects it is afflicted. A combination of both brings a neutral feel.


Position in the Chart

See if the chart ruler dominates the chart by being high in teh chart and most elevated, oriental, the final dispositor or is it in an angular house (first, fourth, seventh or tenth).

These positions add weight to the planets and give it gravitas.


Major Aspect Patterns

See if the chart ruler is well engaged by being part of a major aspect pattern. Check if it dominates the pattern.

This placement adds strength to the chart ruler.


Chart Ruler’s Direction

Check if the chart ruler’s motion is direct, stationary or retrograde.

Being direct adds weight and makes the planet strong but the state of being retrograde detracts from the planet’s potential. Being stationary can add strength depending on how comfortable it is in its sign.


Read more >>> Dispositor Trees


3. The Sun Complex

Understand the Sun in the chart by sign, house, aspects and position in the chart. A well placed Sun will function far better than an afflicted Sun.

The Sun’s Message

Fully explore the message of the Sun in the chart.


Read more >>> What Each Sun Sign Wants at Work

Explore more >>> Your Astrology Questions Answered


4. The Tightest Aspect

To find the tightest aspect you have to consider the aspects between the planets and the orbs.


What to Look For

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.


What to Ignore

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.


Tightest orb

Find the aspect with the tightest orb which should be 00°00′.

See which aspect it is and understand the meaning of this aspect.

Consider 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 tips to help you read a chart quickly and easily.


Read more >>> Essential Dignity

Read more >>> Astrology ABCs

Author Bio

Alison Price: Professional Astrologer

Alison helps you uncover your individual creativity and lead a fulfilling life using your own astrology. She shares her wisdom from the heart with a touch of humor. She offers Consultations for everyone and Coaching for Aspiring Astrologers.

If you’d like to get in touch with Alison, you can reach out to her via email at

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