How to Read an Astrology Chart

Astrology Chart

Astrology charts look complicated but they don’t have to be difficult to understand. All you need to know are some of the basics of signs and placements to gather the information from the chart that can help you with a decision or other form of guidance.

The easiest way to start studying an astrology chart is to look at the basic meanings of a sign as they relate to personalities, possible future endeavors, and challenges. This isn’t an in-depth chart but presents a good overview that is fairly easy to read.

The Basic Symbols

One thing that confuses many people looking at an astrological chart is all the symbols. These are called glyphs and they are shorthand types of symbols to represent zodiac symbols, planets, and other aspects. There are 12 for the zodiac signs and 10 for planets. Many of the glyphs resemble the image of the zodiac sign or an image associated with a planet.

For instance, the glyph for Aries looks like a ram’s horn and Aquarius looks like waves of water. Neptune’s glyph is like a pitchfork, similar to the weapon the god Neptune is pictured with, and Venus is a female stick figure.

The Divisions of Signs

Two categories are used to divide the zodiac signs and each means something slightly different. Understanding the categories will help understand each of the signs and what they mean on the chart.

While each of the zodiac signs has its own personality, they also can be further explained by their division into two categories.

All zodiac signs are divided among the four elements of fire, earth, air, and water. Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius are under the fire element meaning they are passionate and assertive. Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn are under the earth sign, meaning they are grounded, family-oriented, and cautious. Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius are in the air sign, meaning they are idealistic and creative. Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces are in the water sign, meaning they are nurturing and guarded.

All signs are also in quadruplicity. There are three of these called cardinal, fixed, and mutable. Aires, Libra, Cancer, and Capricorn are in the cardinal meaning they are assertive and goal-oriented.

Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius are in the fixed category meaning they have incredible follow-through but are unyielding and resist change.

Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces fall under the mutable section, meaning they are flexible and can bring many opposing sides together.

Understanding Planetary Attributes

Some words are used in a chart that may seem confusing when it comes to planets. Those are rules, detriment, exalted, and fall. Detriment and fall don’t mean something bad but refer to specific ways the planet acts within a zodiac sign. When a planet is a detriment to a sign, it means that more work may be required in that area. When it falls to a sign, it means it’s invisible and has no real effect.

Rules mean the planet is in sync with the sign and exalted refers to it working well. It’s also important to remember that how a planet associates with a sign also depends on which House it’s in. The location and personality of the planet can tell you where you are spending your energy, where time is wasted, where you are the luckiest, and other things depending on the planet, the sign, and the House.

About Houses

Houses on a chart aren’t so complicated when you break the chart down. The chart is divided into 12 Houses but also is divided into four quadrants. There is a horizontal line called the horizon that cuts across the chart and a vertical line called the meridian that cuts from top to bottom.

These are based on a directional map of east, west, south, and north except the directions are reversed from a traditional map legend where the east is to the left with the sun at dawn and the west is to the right with the sun at dusk. South is at the top with the sun at noon and the north is at the bottom with the sun at midnight.

There is also midheaven, which is at the top of the meridian, the ascendant which is at the sunrise of the horizon, the descendant which is at the sunset of the horizon, and Imum Coeli which is at the bottom of the meridian.

There are 12 houses on the chart all divided equally with three in each quadrant. They are numbered beginning with 1 at the House just below the ascendant under the horizon. The numbering goes counterclockwise with the 12th House laying above the horizon line at the ascendant.

Each House represents something. The 1st House represents the way of expression or how others see you and the 2nd House is resources. The 3rd House is communication and the 4th House is home and family. The 5th House is loved ones, speculation, children, romance, and fun while the 6th House is work or pets. The 7th House is partnership and the 8th House is sex, death, taxes, other people’s money, wills, and legacy. The 9th House is travel, vacation, and ideals. The 10th House is status and career. The 11th House is friends, groups, and causes, and the 12th House is in the unconscious mind, and confined spaces like hospitals or prisons.

Each House is ruled by a planet and the planets emphasize certain aspects of that House, adding to further understanding.


Learning the aspects of a chart is important because it deals with the relationship of planets and their relationship to each other. This is a highly numerical part of learning to read a chart that involved a great deal of study.

There are eight major aspects and several minor ones. However, to make it easy, start with only the six primary major aspects.

A conjunction is when two planets within the same zodiac sign are tied together or mixed. Opposition is when opposite signs are there amounting to a confrontation. A square occurs within the same quadruplicity and invokes a challenge, action, or turning point.

Trine occurs within the same elements and represents flow or reinforcement. Sextile involves opportunity and occurs with two signs before or after the sign you are examining. Quincunx relates to signs six to eight away and involves reorganization, judgments, and service.

Most experts in astrological charts state people should do the aspects themselves rather than relying on a program. However, it does involve many numbers and calculations. It takes some work to be proficient.

Chart Interpretation

Three primary things are involved in interpreting a chart. They are the sun and moon, the ascendant, and the chart ruler.

The sun is the outward masculine focus of your life while the moon is the inward feminine side. Investigating the House and sign these two are in can give you a clearer picture of how experiences affect personality.

The ascendant, or rising sign, shows how life unfolds that shapes the personality. You must look to see what sign it’s in and the planet that rules that sign to understand it. The planet that rules the sign, or chart ruler, will help you understand the character traits and those that surround the character of the person.

Here is where the real chart interpretation begins. You must take these different aspects and blend them to get a picture of what is going on or what could happen soon.

Look at what is on the cusp of the House and what is rising, along with what the House means and the person’s sign. For instance, a rising sign in the 2nd House could relate to how the person will deal with an upcoming money issue, especially if the person is born under one of the more cautious zodiac signs. The planet that is on the cusp could add some dimension to what could play out.

Two Important Things

Anyone looking at an astrological chart should look at two things. First, they should look at what stands out the most. That is where the action is. Second, they should look at what is lacking. For instance, having no opposition means the person may be living a life of excess or one that is out of balance.

Those interested in astrological charts should practice reading them and working out the numbers. That is the only way you become more familiar with them and make them less intimidating. A bit of practice could have you understand more than you ever thought you would!