First Steps in Reading a Birth Chart

First Steps in Reading a Birth Chart

In episode 260 astrologers Leisa Schaim and Chris Brennan discuss the first steps you should take when trying to interpret a birth chart, and which astrological factors you should focus on in natal astrology.

New students of astrology often learn a number of different techniques, but they are often unsure of the order and priority that you should give to different factors when you are first looking at a new chart.

Since there are many different approaches to astrology, astrologers will tend to develop different approaches or prioritize different things, and this became clear in a thread we started on Twitter in preparation for this episode.

Our goal with this episode was to outline our approach to what we prioritize when looking at a new chart, although many of these factors are generally consistent with most major traditions of western astrology.

See the show notes below for a full breakdown of the steps that we recommend.

This episode is available in both audio and video versions at the bottom of this page.

News and Announcements

The Astrological Association of Great Britain is hosting an online astrology conference this week, June 26-28, 2020!

The title of the conference is Serving The Future, and it will feature 6 workshops, 4 plenaries, and five tracks with speakers from around the world.

You can sign up to attend the conference live or purchase the recordings on the Astrological Association’s website.

Show Notes

Here are some of the topics we discussed, with links to related resources:

Preliminary Remarks

  • What is the first thing you look at when you pull up a new birth chart?
  • What are the main things you should look at in every chart?
  • One of the things I realized from the responses was it depends what you are looking for.
    • What is the context?
    • What information are you seeking to find?
  • What is purpose of particular consultation?
  • What draws your eye?
    • Having a set system versus every chart presenting something unique.
  • What techniques speak to the chart as a whole in some way?
  • Or what placements will indicate overriding themes in the person’s life?
  • Some techniques are tradition specific.
      • First steps then depend highly on what the trad you follow emphasizes


Our steps on what to prioritize:

  • Rising sign/Ascendant
    • Subnote: the birth time, whether it looks rounded
  • Ruler of the Ascendant: house, sign, aspects
  • Sect – day or night chart
  • Sun: sign, house, aspects
  • Moon: sign, house, aspects
  • Most positive benefic based on sect (Jupiter by day, Venus by night)
  • Most negative planet based sect (Mars by day, Saturn at night)
  • Stationary planets (within about a week before/after birth)
  • Notable chart patterns: a stellium, T-square, etc.
  • Planets conjunct the degrees of angles, and angular planets by sign
  • Elemental or modality emphasis
  • Close aspects, applying aspects, hard aspects
  • Topics of consultation:
    • General significator planet, house, and house ruler



    • Annual profections
      • What is the profected house for the year?
      • What is the ruler of the year?
      • Transits involving that house or ruler
    • Transits
      • Slow moving transits currently happening
      • What houses are Saturn and Jupiter transiting through
      • Proximity to Saturn return or other Saturn angles
      • Close outer planet transits
      • Recent retrogrades
    • Houses recent eclipses fall in
    • Glance at progressions
      • Any recent planetary stations
      • Proximity to new or full moon
    • Zodiacal Releasing: Spirit, Eros

Watch the Video Version of This Episode

Here is the video version of this episode on how to read a birth chart:

Listen to the Audio Version of This Episode

You can either play the audio version of this episode of the podcast directly from the website or download it as an MP3 to your device by using the buttons below:

Join the discussion

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • Great episode, as always! 🙂
    Can you please let me know how I would select a chart in Solar Fire that shows the table: `Retrogrades, Stations & Traditional Points’ (approx. 56 minutes into the episode)?
    I checked in `Preferences – Edit Settings – View Menu – Clicked on `Selected’ to get to `Categories’ but couldn’t find it.
    Thanks for considering! 🙂

  • Hi, thanks for that great episode, it was very helpful. But here is something that I have never been able to find an adequate answer to online….What if all the planets in my birth chart are direct? I just looked to see if any of them had been stationing, but when I looked both back and ahead 2 weeks from my birth date, all planets were still direct. Also, I was born with the North Node on the same degree as my ascendant in Leo. How much significance do you place on the nodes? Do you have an episode where you discuss the North and South nodes? I tried to look, but I didn’t see anything. Thanks again for all your hard work, you definitely help me learn.

  • A great episode. Thanks Chris and Leisa for making the information simple yet detailed. I am pretty new to astrology and one thing I noticed about my chart while you were talking about planetary placements is that I have planets equally divided. 5 above the horizon, 5 below and 5 in the eastern hemisphere, 5 in western. Is this a common occurrence?