What goes on in an astrological reading?

So if you’re anything like I was when I first got into astrology, you might be wondering what exactly goes on when you get your chart read by a professional. An astrologer can share a tremendous amount of insight into your personality and potential life path: strengths and weaknesses, career opportunities, natural talents, romantic compatibility, and challenges you may face. The self-understanding gained through a chart reading provides a sense of self-assurance and can help us get back on track if we’re struggling with confidence or finding direction.

Who Should Get a Chart Reading?

Anyone interested in self-improvement and personal development. I’ve found that astrology is most helpful to individuals who are in a transitional period or who are facing some sort of crossroads decision. If you are stuck in an unfulfilling career, having issues with family or friends, or wondering when you’ll find love or make your big break, astrology can help you uncover personal truths that allow you to take it to the next level. Conventional self-help tools like therapy, life coaching, or religion are also powerful in these sorts of situations, and while astrology is not a replacement for any other tool, it can be an interesting complement and a good way to view yourself from a new perspective.

Finding an Astrologer

Before you even start, do you research to find an astrologer who is both qualified and aligned with your goals and values. There is ambivalence within the astrological community about whether certification is important, especially in a time where the internet means that so many of us are self-taught, but if you are concerned about making sure someone is credible you can find someone who is certified with the AFA or NCGR.

You can also ask an astrologer how many years they’ve been practicing, find out if they focus on any specific topic in readings (e.g. love & relationships, career & business), and learn more about the specific school of astrology they follow. Generally speaking, those who are classically trained in Vedic (Indian) or Hellenistic (Greek) astrology will be very fixed and objective in the information that they provide to you - e.g. this placement is good, this one is bad, here is your life’s destiny - without a lot of room for change or self-determination. Modern astrologers tend to adopt a more subjective and psychological approach to the subject, where there is no “good” or “bad,” just areas for growth, challenges and opportunity.

Once you have an appointment set for a reading, you’ll be asked to share your birth date, time, and location so that the astrologer can “pull” your chart. If you have or can get a copy of your birth certificate with an official time stamp, that is best, as a precise birth time is very important in ensuring that your chart is accurate. Most states will allow you to order a copy of your birth certificate with a time stamp from their vital records department.

During your Reading

When an astrologer “reads” your chart, they are analyzing a map of all the planets and celestial bodies in the sky at the moment of your birth. During your reading, the astrologer will talk you through where all of the planets are located in your chart, their interpretation of these placements, and what they imply about your personality and/or life path. Some astrologers will stick to description (e.g. your Sun is in Aries, so you are impulsive, independent, and dynamic) while some might use these descriptors to provide advice (e.g. as an Aries, you could benefit from cooling your temper, slowing down and making sure you’re able to finish everything you start).

Example of a birth chart

Example of a birth chart

Essentially, the sky is broken up into twelve pieces that correspond to each of the zodiac signs, which all have their own significations and characteristics. If the planets are like “nouns” that each govern different areas of your life (e.g. the Moon rules your emotions, Venus love and values), the signs are like the “adjectives” that give each planets their particular flavor (e.g. Aries is impulsive and dynamic, Taurus is slow-moving and sensual). Just putting together the planet and the sign it’s in gives you a ton of information, but you can also divide your chart into a seperate twelve slices with the houses, which serve as “adverbs;” they illustrate in what areas of life the energy of each planet and sign will be expressed (e.g. the Seventh house is partners and other people, Eighth house is other people’s money, sex, taboos, and the occult). Through looking at the relationships between the planets, whether some are more prominent in your chart than others, and which signs seem better placed or more challenged, the astrologer can put the pieces together and paint a holistic picture of your personality.

The astrologer should take the lead in talking you through your chart and pointing out what they think is relevant for you to know about yourself, but by no means should the dialogue be one-sided. If there is anything you are particularly curious about, or if there is anything they say that you’d like explained further, speak up and let your reader know! Tell them what resonates and what doesn’t, ask questions, and let them know what you find the most interesting or insightful about what they’re saying. Not only does this ensure that you get the most out of the reading you likely paid good money for, you can share helpful feedback with the astrologer about their interpretations and reading style.

What an Astrologer CANNOT Do

Read your mind, communicate with the deceased, heal you of trauma or predict your future (well, the last point might be open to interpretation!). Some astrologers integrate practices like tarot, palmistry, reiki/energy healing, or even counseling with their readings, and it is helpful to ask about this ahead of time if you’re interested.