Several people have wondered about the importance of birth time in a chart. What does it tell you when you know the exact time? What happens when you don’t have any idea?
There are three things that help an astrologer tell what is going on with you:
- Planets in your chart (the “what is happening” indicator)
- Signs in your chart (the “why and how this is happening”)
- Houses in your chart (the “where it hits you”)
[as described in “The Inner Sky” by Steven Forrest]
There are also four initial things that help an astrologer work with who you are:
- Your Sun sign
- Your Moon sign
- Your rising sign — which sign was coming up in the east at the moment you were born
- Your ruling planet — the ruler of your rising sign
Example chart with birth time:
Here we could say that the person shows up in the world as a calm, harmonious person. Someone who loves art and beauty at a high level. (Libra rising, with ruling planet Venus in first house.)
The person is a Virgo (meticulous, organized, detailed) and is likely to be a scholar, curious but reserved and introverted (Twelfth house).
With Moon in Leo, this person has a deep passion for their calling in life, and may very well make a success of a business or career following that calling (Tenth house).
When you have only birth date and place:
- The Sun sign is accurate.
- Because the Moon moves very rapidly through the chart, its sign may change during the day, and there can be some uncertainty about which sign it actually belongs in.
- The rising sign is unknown.
- As a result, the ruling planet is unknown.
- And perhaps most importantly, the locations of houses in your chart (“where things hit you”) is unknown.
Same chart without birth time:
There are three ways to display a chart without a known birth time:
- Use local noon
- Use local sunrise
- Ignore local time altogether and use a display system where 0° Aries, the beginning of the zodiacal year, is shown at the 9:00 position on the chart.
I use this third display system.
Here is what we can say about this person using only Sun and Moon:
- The person is a Virgo (meticulous, organized, detailed). This is the classic “Earth mother” position for the Sun.
- With Moon in Leo, this person has a deep passion for their calling in life and may display that in dramatic ways.
For this chart without a birth time, I would look to planets, what signs they occupy, and the relationships between them in order to complete a reading.
So you see that knowing your birth time, even approximately, leads to much more information and clarity in a reading.
But even if you don’t know and can’t find out your birth time, there is still a great deal we can learn from your chart.