Natal astrology

Natal astrology, also known as genethliacal astrology, is the system of astrology based on the concept that each individual's personality or path in life can be determined by constructing a natal chart for the exact date, time, and location of that individual's birth. Natal astrology can be found in the Indian or Jyotish, Chinese and Western astrological traditions.

In horoscopic astrology an individual's personality is determined by the construction of the horoscope or birth chart for the particular individual involved (known as the native), showing the positions of the sun, moon, planets, ascendant, midheaven, and the angles or aspects among them.

Once the horoscope has been constructed the process of interpretation can begin, which involves building a complete picture of the personality of the subject, or native. Interpretation involves three main steps: noting the important features of the chart, and the processes of chart weighting and chart shaping. Chart weighting involves noting the distribution of zodiac signs and houses in the chart, and the significance of this to the overall personality of the native. Chart shaping involves assessing the placement of the planets by aspect and position in the chart, and noting any significant patterns which occur between them.

Astrology is generally considered a pseudoscience by the scientific community. What little statistical evidence exists fails to show a causation between natal birth charts and real world consequences.

Important features

The important features of every chart that the astrologer must give special attention to are the positions of the sun and moon by sign and house; the sign on the ascendant, and the planet that rules that sign, called the ascendant ruler or chart ruler. Also important is the first planet to occupy the first, second, or third houses after the ascendant. Called the rising planet it will be particularly strong in the chart. If no planet occupies the first three houses, then a planet in the twelfth house close to the ascendant can be taken to be the rising planet. Planets that are in conjunction to (right beside) the primary angles of ascendant, midheaven, descendant, or IC (known as angular planets) must also be especially considered.

Chart weighting

Chart weighting begins by listing the sun, moon, planets, ascendant, and midheaven by categories of sign and house and noting the significant categories which appear. For example, a large number of planets appearing in fire signs will give importance or 'weight' to fire sign attributes in the native's personality.[1]

Weighting by sign

Chart weighting by sign lists the zodiac signs by three main categories - by masculine or feminine signs; by element (fire, earth, air and water) and by quality (cardinal, fixed and mutable). Some astrologers use all ten or eleven planets in the list and nothing else; while others include the ascendant and midheaven, but exclude the modern planets Uranus, Neptune and Pluto on the grounds that their influence is felt by whole generations and so their position by sign cannot have much significance in the individual chart [2]

These are the planets and their astrological glyphs as most commonly used in Western Astrology.
Sign Symbol Element Quality
Aries Fire Cardinal
Taurus Earth Fixed
Gemini Air Mutable
Cancer Water Cardinal
Leo Fire Fixed
Virgo Earth Mutable
Libra Air Cardinal
Scorpio Water Fixed
Sagittarius Fire Mutable
Capricorn Earth Cardinal
Aquarius Air Fixed
Pisces Water Mutable

Chart signature

Some astrologers summarise the process of weighting by sign through creating what is called the chart signature.[3] This involves noting which element and quality has the most signs and then combining them into a zodiac sign which is taken to be the signature sign of the chart. So for example, if a person has more fire signs than any other element, and more fixed signs than any other quality, then that person's signature is Leo (the sign which is both fire and fixed).

In some cases there is no clear majority in either element or quality to give a clear signature. In these cases the ruling planet of the sun is noted for its position in the chart (alternatively, the ascendant can be added at this stage if it has not already been included). Whatever sign the ruling planet occupies is then added to the totals for element and quality. So for example, if the Sun is in Taurus, its ruling planet Venus is noted for its position by sign. If Venus is in, say, Pisces, then an additional 'casting vote' is given to the element water and quality mutable. This is usually enough to provide a signature. A 'casting vote' is given in this way on account of the extra importance of the Sun in the natal chart. The signature sign is regarded by those astrologers who use it as frequently having an over-riding influence in the natal chart, irrespective of what sign the sun or ascendant occupies.

Weighting by house

Chart shaping

The ascendant in this sample chart is marked Asc and is in the traditional nine o'clock position of the horoscope

Chart shaping involves examining the placement of the planets in the chart by the aspects they form and by their positioning in the chart relative to one another. Any significant patterns or 'shapes' which occur in the chart are then interpreted for their importance to the personality of the native.

Aspect patterns

While the astrologer must note every aspect formed by the planets, aspects can be grouped together into larger patterns which must be given particular attention in the chart. The main aspect patterns are as follows:[4]


The houses are grouped into four main categories or hemispheres.[5] Horoscopes appear 'upside down' in relation to how the compass points usually appear, with the ascendant marking the eastern horizon traditionally appearing on the left hand side. For this reason the southern hemisphere appears in the upper part of the horoscope.

Jones patterns

The American astrologer Marc Edmund Jones has listed seven significant patterns which also occur in the chart, based on the positions of the planets relative to one another.[6]

Scientific appraisal

Main article: Astrology and science

Carlson's experiment

Shawn Carlson, the physicist behind a double-blind procedure to test astrology agreed to by panels of astrologers and physicists. The experiment led to the conclusion that natal astrologers performs no better than chance.

Shawn Carlson's double-blind chart matching tests, in which 28 astrologers agreed to match over 100 natal charts to psychological profiles generated by the California Psychological Inventory (CPI) test, is one of the most renowned tests of astrology.[7][8] The experimental protocol used in Carlson's study was agreed to by a group of physicists and astrologers prior to the experiment.[9] Astrologers, nominated by the National Council for Geocosmic Research, acted as the astrological advisors, and helped to ensure, and agreed, that the test was fair.[8]:117[10] :420 They also chose 26 of the 28 astrologers for the tests, the other 2 being interested astrologers who volunteered afterwards.[10]:420 The astrologers came from Europe and the United States.[8]:117 The astrologers helped to draw up the central proposition of natal astrology to be tested.[10]:419 Published in Nature in 1985, the study found that predictions based on natal astrology were no better than chance, and that the testing "clearly refutes the astrological hypothesis".[10]

Dean and Kelly

The scientist and former astrologer, Geoffrey Dean and psychologist Ivan Kelly[11] conducted a large scale scientific test, involving more than one hundred cognitive, behavioural, physical and other variables, but found no support for astrology.[12] Furthermore, a meta-analysis was conducted pooling 40 studies consisting of 700 astrologers and over 1,000 birth charts. Ten of the tests, which had a total of 300 participating, involved the astrologers picking the correct chart interpretation out of a number of others which were not the astrologically correct chart interpretation (usually 3 to 5 others). When the date and other obvious clues were removed no significant results were found to suggest there was any preferred chart.[12]:190 A further test involved 45 confident[lower-alpha 1] astrologers, with an average of 10 years experience and 160 test subjects (out of an original sample size of 1198 test subjects) who strongly favoured certain characteristics in the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire to extremes.[12]:191 The astrologers performed much worse than merely basing decisions off the individuals age, and much worse than 45 control subjects who did not use birth charts at all.[lower-alpha 2][12]:191

Mars effect

Main article: Mars effect
The initial Mars effect finding, showing the relative frequency of the diurnal position of Mars in the birth charts (N = 570) of "eminent athletes" (red solid line) compared to the expected results [after Michel Gauquelin 1955][13]

In 1955, astrologer,[14] and psychologist Michel Gauquelin stated that although he had failed to find evidence to support such indicators as the zodiacal signs and planetary aspects in astrology, he had found positive correlations between the diurnal positions of some of the planets and success in professions (such as doctors, scientists, athletes, actors, writers, painters, etc.) which astrology traditionally associates with those planets.[13] The best-known of Gauquelin's findings is based on the positions of Mars in the natal charts of successful athletes and became known as the "Mars effect".[15]:213 A study conducted by seven French scientists attempted to replicate the claim, but found no statistical evidence.[15]:213–214 They attributed the effect to selective bias on Gauquelin's part, accusing him of attempting to persuade them to add or delete names from their study.[16]

Geoffrey Dean has suggested that the effect may be caused by self-reporting of birth dates by parents rather than any issue with the study by Gauquelin. The suggestion is that a small subset of the parents may have had changed birth times to be consistent with better astrological charts for a related profession. The sample group was taken from a time where belief in astrology was more common. Gauquelin had failed to find the Mars effect in more recent populations, where a nurse or doctor recorded the birth information. The number of births under astrologically undesirable conditions was also lower, indicating more evidence that parents choose dates and times to suit their beliefs.[8]:116


  1. The level of confidence was self rated by the astrologers themselves.
  2. Also discussed in Martens, Ronny; Trachet, Tim (1998). Making sense of astrology. Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books. ISBN 1-57392-218-8.
  1. Sasha Fenton, Understanding Astrology, pp78 - 84, pp141-2, Aquarian Press, London, 1991
  2. Jeff Mayo, Teach Yourself Astrology, pp122-23, Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1979
  3. Robert Pelletier and Leonard Cataldo, Be Your Own Astrologer, pp44 - 47, Pan Books, London, 1984
  4. Robert Pelletier and Leonard Cataldo, Ibid, pp166-68, 1984
  5. Sasha Fenton, Ibid, pp68 - 70, 1991
  6. Robert Pelletier and Leonard Cataldo, Ibid, pp 162-5, 1984 ; Derek and Julia Parker, The New compleat Astrologer, pp 172-3, Crescent Books, New York, 1990
  7. Muller, Richard (2010). "Web site of Richard A. Muller, Professor in the Department of Physics at the University of California at Berkeley,". Retrieved 2011-08-02.My former student Shawn Carlson published in Nature magazine the definitive scientific test of Astrology.
    Maddox, Sir John (1995). "John Maddox, editor of the science journal Nature, commenting on Carlson's test". Retrieved 2011-08-02. "... a perfectly convincing and lasting demonstration."
  8. 1 2 3 4 Smith, Jonathan C. (2010). Pseudoscience and extraordinary claims of the paranormal : a critical thinker's toolkit. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 978-1-4051-8123-5.
  9. Zarka, Philippe (2011). "Astronomy and astrology". Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union. 5 (S260): 420–425. doi:10.1017/S1743921311002602.
  10. 1 2 3 4 Carlson, Shawn (1985). "A double-blind test of astrology" (PDF). Nature. 318 (6045): 419–425. Bibcode:1985Natur.318..419C. doi:10.1038/318419a0.
  11. Matthews, Robert (17 Aug 2003). "Astrologers fail to predict proof they are wrong". The Telegraph. Retrieved 13 July 2012.
  12. 1 2 3 4 Dean G., Kelly, I. W. (2003). "Is Astrology Relevant to Consciousness and Psi?". Journal of Consciousness Studies. 10 (6–7): 175–198.
  13. 1 2 Gauquelin, Michel (1955). L'influence des astres : étude critique et expérimentale. Paris: Éditions du Dauphin.
  14. Pont, Graham (2004). "Philosophy and Science of Music in Ancient Greece". Nexus Network Journal. 6 (1): 17–29. doi:10.1007/s00004-004-0003-x.
  15. 1 2 Carroll, Robert Todd (2003). The skeptic's dictionary : a collection of strange beliefs, amusing deceptions, and dangerous delusions. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. ISBN 0-471-27242-6.
  16. Benski, Claude, with a commentary by Jan Willem Nienhuys; et al. (1995). The "Mars effect : a French test of over 1,000 sports champions. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books. ISBN 0-87975-988-7.

Further reading

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