What To Expect From Your First Birth Chart Reading

The stars can tell you so much.

An illustration of a woman looking up at the Milky Way. What is a birth chart reading? Here's what t...
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Over the past year, I’ve gotten so comfortable with Zoom that I attend meetings wearing the same sweatshirt as the day before, no makeup, and a messy bun. (Cue “Best I Never Had” by Drake.) But when I logged on for my first virtual birth chart reading, I felt the same as I do before a first date: excited, but nervous about the conversation ahead. I was logging on to Zoom to have my celestial destiny explained to me by a trained astrologer. What does the future hold for my career? Was my Cancer rising the reason for my eternal moodiness? Needless to say, I had my hair down and makeup on for this particular Zoom.

A birth chart reading promises to share astrological insights about your personality, life path, and more. It shows “where the planets were around the Earth at your time of birth,” says Maren Altman, an astrologer with over 1 million followers on TikTok. When people say their rising sign is Capricorn, or that their Saturn is in Aquarius, that’s information they gleaned from their birth chart, also known as a natal chart. With help from a trained astrologer, you can learn how the planets impact your life path through a birth chart reading.

Nia McDow, an astrologer with nearly 250,000 followers on TikTok, believes birth chart readings are a great tool to get to know yourself on a deeper level. “Throughout life, we are constantly figuring out ourselves, and birth chart readings just make that a bit easier,” she says. Understanding your birth chart can help you make sense of your quirks and foibles, and assist you in making decisions with insight from the stars. For example, if your Venus is in Capricorn, that suggests that you express love rationally and value stability, and might want to look for those traits in a partner.

Astrologers use birth charts not just to understand your personal trials and tribulations, but also to read relationship compatibility — a practice called synastry — or even suggest what the outcome of an election might look like. (The fact that all of 2020 was a sh*tshow? Yep, astrologers had been calling that one for centuries.) Birth charts can be read for anything, as long as that thing has a “birth time.”

What Does It Mean To Have A Birth Chart Reading?

To have your birth chart read, you need three components — your birth date, location, and time, down to the exact minute you were born. (Your rising sign, which astrologers believe reflects the outer face you present to the world, changes every two hours, so you do need to be quite precise.)

During a reading, which is often looked at in a circular chart (representing the earth), an astrologer will be able to tell you what the stars say your life will look like. A reading can suggest when will be a good time to start a new career, what sort of partners you’ll attract, and even when you’ll “peak.”

Something to consider when getting your birth chart read is that if you’re young, a lot of your chart won’t have played out yet. For example, Altman told me that she sees me traveling a lot, when I don’t even have a passport (yet). She reminds me that the 9th house, which is ruled by Sagittarius, takes longer to manifest — meaning that some things may not come into fruition until later in life.

Personalized Birth Chart Reading vs. DIY

A personalized birth chart reading isn’t an absolute must-have for aspiring astrologers. If you’re looking for a more DIY approach to your birth chart, there are lots of apps that will generate your birth chart for free, like Co-Star or Chani, as well as provide analyses. Downloading an app to get your daily readings or check out your planetary placements is often cheaper than having it read by an actual astrologist, but it won’t be as specific or detail oriented, nor will you have the chance to ask questions.

With a personalized reading, you’re not only having a deeper conversation about your chart, but may get answers an app can’t provide. “Each chart is carefully tailored to that particular individual, so readings [never] feel repetitive,” says McDow. For example, an app can easily tell you what the traits of your rising sign are, but could not tell you more intricate details, .

What I Learned From Getting My Birth Chart Read

Before getting my chart read, I knew the basics of my zodiac profile: My sun is in Libra, my moon is in Pisces, and my rising is in Cancer. This basically means that I’m a flirt who likes to daydream and cry about everything and anything. A mess, but a hot mess.

When Altman pulled out my full birth chart over Zoom, she immediately mentioned my Cancer rising, noting that it’s the base of my personality. I’m emotional (!), a leader, often look for threats, and am protective. With my moon in my 9th house, Altman thinks that my lifestyle will be like Anthony Bourdain’s — where I travel and commit to a spiritual study. I don’t really relate to this (yet), unless you consider the Law Of Assumption a spiritual study.

One part of the reading that spooked me was when Altman brought up an “intense relationship” I started in late 2019. Although I’ve never actually been in a relationship (since my generation doesn’t like to commit), someone I met during that period has had a significant impact on me — the sort of situationship where you’re fulfilled by them texting you at 2 p.m. instead of 2 a.m., but they have absolutely no intention of dating you. Altman said she sees this sort of energy coming back during Venus Retrograde, where I will be re-evaluating the relationships in my life and questioning my dating motives.

The most challenging planet in my chart is Saturn, which is in my 10th house of career on a degree called midheaven, which rules public image. Saturn is a planet of restriction and challenge, while my career is a huge focus in my chart and my life. Altman tells me I have prospective creative endeavors that could bring me financial success, but with my Saturn being in the 7th house of partnerships, I have the potential to get taken advantage of, or trusting others too much in my career.

The most exciting part of the reading was when Altman told me I have a level one peak in 2023 that will last almost 30 years, where I will be intensely in the public eye and extremely focused on my career. A peak in astrology represents external circumstances that perfectly align with your desires: You’re at the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing. She sees this “skyrocketing,” saying I will get a lot of exposure. “It will be a really big time for you,” she tells me. According to my chart, I’ve been in a period of preparation since I was born — I’m just growing and growing. As Alexis Rose says, love that journey for me!

Of course, a single birth chart reading doesn’t determine the entire trajectory of your life. It's just one interpretation from the stars, and it’s up to you to make decisions based on the information you get in the session. With that being said, it looks like 2022 will be a year of focusing on my career and creative endeavors to prepare for my 2023 peak — thanks to some insight from the stars.

“[Getting your birth chart read] can be an extremely therapeutic experience, especially if you have unanswered questions or are feeling confused,” McDow says. “It can provide a form of clarity that's absolutely beautiful.”