astrology birth chart basics dreamingsouls

Sun vs Rising, Houses, Planets, and Aspects

I don’t believe in astrology; I’m a Sagittarius and we’re skeptical.

– Arthur C. Clarke

I love this quote because it really nails how most people perceive astrology: you either believe it or you don’t, and either way you probably know your sign and its basic characteristics. Whether you want to deepen your knowledge of astrology beyond just the sun sign, find out if you’re compatible with someone, or deep dive into your soul’s journey through human consciousness, you’ll benefit from being able to read your own birth chart. And in this post, we cover just that. Read on if you want to learn:

  • The difference between your sun sign and rising sign
  • The meaning of the houses
  • The planets and what they represent
  • What aspects are and how to interpret them

First, check out our Astrology 101 post for details on how to pull up your free Astrodienst birth chart, come back to this article, and we’ll start at step one: determining your sun sign and rising sign.

Sun Sign vs Rising Sign: What’s the difference?

The most widely known aspect of the natal chart is the sun sign. This is the constellation that aligns with the sun at the time of your birth. The sun sign represents who you are as a whole and why you are on Earth. When you say, “I’m a Pisces,” you’re referring to your sun sign.

Your rising sign, also known as the ascendant, is the constellation rising in the sky at the time of your birth. Your rising represents your personality and how the world sees you. So you might say, “I’m a Pisces with Aries rising.”

The Houses: What Do They Mean?

Houses are the numbers shown in the second inner wheel, assigned to each of twelve segments of your chart. The houses start with your rising sign in the first house, then move counter-clockwise to the second house, third house, etc.

Each house is made up of a 30 degree segment of the wheel, and each represents a different arena of your life.

The first six houses are the personal houses, meaning they focus on the individual, and the last six houses are the interpersonal houses, meaning they focus on relationships within humanity as a whole. The entire wheel is divided into four quadrants, and each quadrant contains 3 houses.

The Personal Houses

The first quadrant has to do with individual consciousness – consciousness is born in the first house, engages with the physical world and develops values in the second house, and then encounters the Other and learns how to communicate and engage in the third house.

In the second quadrant, consciousness explores its immediate environment. In the fourth house, consciousness experiences emotion in regard to the Other, causing it to seek security in the home base. In the fifth house, consciousness learns to express said emotion through creativity, and then in the sixth house, hones its creativity via consistent discipline.

If you’ve read our post on The Zodiac [link], you may notice that the house characteristics correspond with the characteristics of the respective zodiac signs. The first house corresponds with Aries, the second with Taurus, and so on.

The Interpersonal Houses

The third quadrant represents the development of relationships. Consciousness forms partnerships in the seventh house, confronts its shadow self in the eighth, and explores foreign cultures and lands in the ninth house.

In the fourth and final quadrant, consciousness explores humanity as a whole. In the tenth house, consciousness focuses on life purpose, which develops into envisioning the ideals and future of humanity in the eleventh, before expanding into multidimensional unity consciousness in the twelfth house.

The Planets and What They Symbolize

Mystic Medusa [link] describes astrology as a play, with the houses providing the setting, and the heavenly bodies representing the characters. So in the birth chart, the houses are the various areas of your life – finances versus creativity, family versus career – and the planets are elements of your own personality. Here is a basic review of the heavenly bodies and what they represent.

The sun represents life force and creativity.

The inner planets exist between Mars and the Sun. They are Mercury, the god of communication and time, merchants, and analysis; Venus, the goddess of relationships, love, the arts, beauty, values, and pleasure; the moon, which is not a planet but represents the subconscious and emotion; and Mars, the god of war, action, and survival instinct. They correlate with the personal houses.

The outer planets are all of the planets that are beyond Mars. They are Jupiter, the god of expansion, foreign cultures, and philosophy; Saturn, representing discipline, boundaries, and authority; Neptune, ruling mysticism, inspiration, and alternate realities; Uranus, the god of individuality and revolution; and Pluto, the god of death and transformation. They correlate with the interpersonal houses.

We’ll go more into more detail about the planets and also cover asteroids in a future post.

What Are Aspects and What Do They Mean?

Aspects are relationships between the various elements of your chart and are expressed as mathematical angles. You can see these in your chart as the colorful lines connecting the various glyphs.

A conjunction is when two planets or asteroids are within 0-10° of each other and has a unifying effect between the planets.

A trine is when the planets form a 120° angle to each other and harmonizes the planets.

Squares occur when two planets form a 90° angle to one another. They produce tension – either in the form of stress or motivating action.

Oppositions are two planets at 180° angles to each other, easily spotted on opposite ends of the chart. They have a mirroring effect, meaning there is a part of you that is likely to look for the traits of the opposing planet reflected in another person.

We’ll go more into detail covering aspects and aspect patterns like T-squares and grand trines in a future post.

So now you know how to read the basics of your natal chart: your sun sign and rising sign, the houses, the planets and what they represent, and the different aspects and how to interpret them. The easiest way to practice reading astrology charts is to read for as many people as possible. Start with people you’re already close to. This will help illustrate the parallels between what the chart says and what you already know about them. And then you can start reading for acquaintances and strangers. Feel free to contact us here or on social media with any questions and to update us about your astrology quest!

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