Spoiler alert: We're so much more than our Sun signs. And the Moon is actually where it's at.

By Anna Svoboda
Getty Images/ m_pavlov

I got married in August, turned 33 in September, switched jobs in October, and moved to London from New York City in November. Needless to say, 2018 was a big transitional year for me. (Related: Susan Miller On the Astrological Themes That Will Affect Your Health and Fitness In 2019)

I attributed this full-human makeover to it being my Jesus Year and just insane coincidence. But actually, this regeneration was exactly what was supposed to be happening—according to my natal chart.

So, what even is a natal chart—and how can you use it to find out more about your personality, make sense of a challenge, or find a new direction in life? Read on.

What is a natal chart?

You're probably familiar with Sun-sign astrology or the "horoscope" you see online that generalizes the current planetary activity for each of the twelve signs. But your horoscope, tailored to you, is actually your birth or "natal chart." This circular diagram—which kind of resembles the Wheel of Fortune spinner—is calculated based on your date, place, and minute of birth. It's a snapshot of where the planets were positioned the moment you took your first breath. No one else would have the same reading as you unless all of these details were the same. And with 250 births per minute worldwide, it's unlikely that you're sharing an identical birth chart with many, or maybe anyone, for that matter.

Here's mine:

Don't let the clusters of symbols scare you—but also maybe consider using a professional to help make sense of all the activity.

My natal chart reading experience

I met astrologist Veronica Peretti when I started taking yoga classes in New York City. I joined her listserv, and after I moved to London, I stayed a loyal reader for the applicable advice ("don't freak out during Mercury in Retrograde, just slow down") and her relatable approach to wellbeing (she loves gifs and RHONY).

As a textbook Virgo, analytical and curious, and I felt like there had to be a reason I had become a new person (new last name, new area code, new career path) nearly overnight. So when she shared that she had virtual natal chart reading openings, I jumped at the opportunity to find out more...about me. (Related: What I Learned From Eating and Exercising According to My Zodiac Sign)

Based on the number of astrology-based articles and Instagram accounts out there in 2019, clearly I'm not alone for wanting to dive in. While people have been using a version of astrology since 1000 BC to make sense of our existence on this planet, it's likely gaining popularity as more people look for a reprieve from highly distracting, digital lives. Astrology helps you to look inward, reset, and get up close and personal with yourself— because after all, it's hard to understand someone else if you don't first know yourself.

The day of our video conference, Veronica kicked if off by asking what I was looking to get out of my natal chart reading,= and pulled a card from an Animal Spirit Deck to help shift the focus. Over the span of 90 minutes, she walked me through my natal chart, analyzed specific planetary events as they related to me, and looked ahead to their movements in the future. And she recorded everything so I could come back to it later.

Understanding My Sun, Rising, and Moon Signs

We walked through my Sun sign (the sign we're all familiar with) that represents what we're evolving into. In my case that's Virgo. I'm all about the details, hard work, and getting micro to understand the macro. I learned that my Ascendant or Rising sign (the sign that was ascending on the eastern horizon at my birth) is in Capricorn. This is how the world sees me and how I see the world: like a mountain to climb. I live for list-making and crossing things off. Check, and check.

Another important element in our chart is the Moon, as it rules everything emotional and habitual and dictates how one wakes up every day. I found out my Moon sign is in Libra, meaning I feel strongly that things should be just and fair; I seek peace and harmony and avoid conflict. Well yes, this was also accurate. I avoid conflict to the point of conflict.

We had set the groundwork and I felt like Veronica had held a mirror up to me. I was 100 percent on board for the next step: looking back at 2018.

It turns out October was a "bonanza of Scorpio activity" and Jupiter (the planet that brings blessings and gifts) was in Scorpio when I was changing my name and starting a new role. As the sign of life, death, and resurrection, Scorpio continually reinvents itself and embraces life's cycles. So basically, the energies from the Jupiter were magnified, abundantly, positively—and transformatively. Had I known this, would I have done anything differently? Probably not. I might have leaned in a bit more. Embraced the friction and stressors that come with reinvention. (Related: How to Choose the Best Healing Crystals for Your Needs)

Veronica then asked me if anything happened on November 15. Um, had it ever. I had flown to London on the 13th and started in my new office on November 15th, the very same day the progressive Moon went over my Ascendant, representing a time to get down to business and to be ambitious. It was no longer just my opinion: This was all way more than coincidence.

Should You Get a Natal Chart Reading?

If you've come upon something in your life that you can't make sense of, or are transitioning (new job, getting married), or just feeling like you need direction, a natal chart reading could be for you. Some people come back yearly or quarterly to check in with the cosmos. Some might start buying books like Be Your Own Astrologer and writing articles about it…(Who, me?)

Before getting a natal chart reading, be open-minded, ready to listen, and realistic. It's exciting to know that you'll be solving some of the mysteries of your personality—but let's be clear: this isn't fortune-telling. Astrology isn't a science and it won't tell you who your husband will be and where to find him. You're co-creating your experience with the universe, and you have free reign over the choices you make; astrology is a tool that tells you when to push the pedal to the medal and when to pump the brakes. (Related: Tarot Cards Might Be the Coolest New Way to Meditate)

How to Get a Natal Chart Reading

There are plenty of resources online to help you conduct a DIY chart reading, but if you want guidance and help analyzing the results, consider employing an astrologist. While there's no one governing body that says who is qualified, you can do your own research and read their reviews. It's a small investment of time and money, but IMO, understanding myself better is pretty much priceless.

And if you want to dip your toes in before jumping down the portal to your soul, try Linda Goodman's book, Sun Signs or the Astro Twins' astrostyle.com for a reliable horoscope. (Related: How to Use the Energy of Taurus Season to Train Smarter)

And beyond reading up on your Sun sign, follow the phases of the Moon, adds Veronica. The New Moon is for beginning something and setting an intention. "Watch [the intention] grow through the full Moon and then follow the waning cycle," she says. Allow yourself to be on this cycle of pushing forward and pulling back. In addition to this, she recommends reading your horoscope for your rising sign. It's oftentimes more accurate.

As for me? It's a long way off, but I've got something major happening in my house of home in June 2020. And I can't wait to copilot this journey.

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