Tune into astrocartography, the astrology of travel, to inspire your next vacation, active adventure, or relocation.

By Maressa Brown
January 22, 2020
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If you read your monthly horoscope and looked up your astrological compatibility with that hot Bumble date, you already know astrology can be a useful tool for self-awareness, getting a read on current vibes (hey, dramatic eclipse season), and understanding relationship dynamics. But did you know it can also be used to inform your wanderlust and even a big move?

Pioneered by an astrologer named Jim Lewis in the 1970s, astrocartography (or locational astrology) is a system that allows you to see how your perspective on the world, energy, love, and career prospects might be influenced when you travel or lay down roots somewhere new.

"Life may feel great for you in one location but difficult in another because of your unique astrocartography profile," explains Ralph MacIntyre, a San Diego-based astrologer who specializes in astrocartography. "There are places on Earth with energies that will have a positive influence on your work or love life, for example, or promote good health, while other locations may frustrate these developments. Astrocartography maps indicate where your unique astrological influences show opportunities for growth and highlight challenges or disadvantages also associated with particular areas."

Here's what you need to know to use astrology as your life—or vacation-planning—GPS.

The Basics of Astrocartography

If you've ever cast your astrological birth chart using a website, an app, or ideally, by working with a professional astrologer, you already know that it serves as a "snapshot" of the sky when you were born. Rack up "HBD" texts every August 3? You're a Leo. Born on New Year's Day? You're a Cap, obv. But while we tend to refer to ourselves as our sun sign, it's basically the equivalent of a doctor looking over labwork and noting your age. Your sun sign—the zodiac sign that the sun was in when you were born—is just one detail of many that make up your individual astrological picture. And once you have your unique birth chart handy, you can use it to understand how you might be influenced when you're living or visiting a particular spot on the planet, according to the theory of astrocartography.

Astrocartography compares your birth chart to the location of the sun, the moon, and the planets relative to the Earth when you were born. By keying into these specifics, you can get a sense of where you might enjoy or struggle with certain energy shifts (and use that info to plan an adventure vacation or self-reflective yoga retreat.)

What an Astrocartography Map Looks Like & Means

If you pull up your individualized astrocartography map (which you can do on astro.com's AstroClick Travel feature or through a professional astrologer, like MacIntyre), you'll see lines running vertically or curving across the map. One line might run straight down the east coast, another directly through the middle of the Pacific. Each is related to a planet and its position in the sky when you were born.

Check out the energetic effect of each planetary line:

  • Sun: A confidence-boosting line, the sun line can lift your mood, making you feel in sync with your core self.
  • Moon: Associated with emotions, the moon can boost feelings of vulnerability and sensitivity.
  • Mercury: As the planet of communication (as well as transportation and technology) Mercury's line bolsters self-expression, as well as travel and intellectual pursuits. (And, yes, it also goes retrograde sometimes.)
  • Venus: The planet of romance, beauty, and money, the Venus line can amplify all of these themes, leading to long-term love and partnerships, creativity, as well as feeling and appearing extra magnetic.
  • Mars: Ruling action, athleticism, energy, and sex, the Mars line can encourage combativeness—but amplify excitement and passion.
  • Jupiter: The largest planet in the solar system is linked to expansion and fortune, so it's considered one of the luckiest spots.
  • Saturn: The taskmaster planet, Saturn oversees hard work and uphill battles that are meant to teach crucial lessons. Being near a Saturn line might make life feel like a slog, but ultimately, it can boost your maturity and personal growth.
  • Uranus: Revolutionary Uranus is all about sudden, unexpected shifts, change, and freedom. The influence of the line can have you feeling energized (generally in an anxious way) and determined to break free of convention.
  • Neptune: The planet of dreams, spirituality, and intuition, Neptune clouds rational thought, so its line elevates imagination—but also illusion.
  • Pluto: The planet of transformation also deals with deep-rooted, psychological issues and power struggles, so it can be an emotionally challenging spot to spend time in.

And because the sun is always rising in one spot while it sets at another, there are four lines for each celestial body, referred to as the "four angles" or cardinal points:

  1. Rising or Ascendant (AC): Your rising line is associated with your outward personality, and you'll identify with the energy of whichever planet(s) was coziest to your ascendant at the time of your birth. Travel or move to your sun AC line, and you could feel more confident and centered in the way you appear to others out and about in the world.
  2. The Descendant (DC): The descendant line speaks to your relationships with others. For instance, your Venus descendant line might be a powerful one for finding love.
  3. The Imuni Coeli (IC): The IC line is associated with your origins, your home, your family, security, and how that foundation influences your identity. It has a reflective influence, so your moon IC line might be a place where you can make headway with a practice like therapy or meditation, getting in touch with deep-seated emotions.
  4. The Medi-Coeli/Midheaven (MC): The MC line reflects social standing, public reputation, who we are—or aspire to be—at our peak level of success. Spending time on your Mars MC line might have you feeling fired up to pursue bold professional goals. (Related: How to Crush Your Goals, According to Your Zodiac Sign)

Pair these angles with your planetary lines, and you'll get an interesting sense of what lessons or energies you might experience in a particular part of the globe. Say you go to college in Boston, right on your Venus AC line. This could mean that you're more apt to be social, make vibrant connections, and cultivate your sense of self-worth. Or if you move to Los Angeles, where your Mercury IC line lies, it may be easier to speak about your emotions and inner life or learn more about yourself through therapy or researching your genealogy.

How to Use Astrocartography Before Making a Major Move

Say you were born in Chicago and want to know how you'll feel if you take a job in Miami. You can also use the theory of astrocartography to do relocation astrology, which involves "shifting" your birth chart.

"For example, if two people are born at the same moment in time, but one is in California and the other in London, their perspective on the sky is very different," explains astrologer April Elliott Kent of Big Sky Astrology and the Big Sky Astrology Podcast. "The stars and planets are in the same signs and relationship to one another, but our perspective on them shifts depending on our geographic location."

Here's how this could look: If Pisces is rising in the east in California, a child born there will approach unfamiliar situations in a Pisces way—gentle, empathetic, says Kent. And if a child is born in London at the same moment, Leo would be rising—a commanding, expressive personality. "If that child grows up and moves to California, they'll align with the Pisces that was rising there at the time of their birth," she explains. "[It would be] very disorienting for a Leo ascendant person to have to behave in a Pisces way." (Related: The Sex Position You Need to Try, According to Your Sun Sign)

The Bottom Line

Astrocartography is not a magic bullet, says MacIntyre. It's simply a way to key into the energies of a given location, which might influence you in a particular, preferable way. "You will still need to make the effort to change or accept new opportunities that cross your path," he says. (Related: How to Use Travel to Spark a Personal Breakthrough)

Kent echoes that point by reminding that even if you accentuate or moderate natural tendencies and opportunities by shifting your chart, you're not going to shrug off your core wiring informed by your birth chart. "You're still you, wherever you go," she emphasizes, but by understanding and applying astrocartography, you might be able to better understand yourself—and get a leg up on your dreams and goals.

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