the general gist
An astrological chart (also called a horoscope) drawn for the moment of birth shows a life’s potential, poised at its beginning. Each of us comes into this life with an intention to learn something—to evolve, you might say, to a higher state of consciousness. Your individual nature — mental, emotional, spiritual, and all the other aspects that comprise who you are — provides you with the perfectly adapted tools to accomplish your life's purpose. Some of those tools are experiences you have in this lifetime, and others are resources that you possess within yourself. We can describe those personal resources, and in doing so, help you develop a deeper awareness of who you are and what you need and want in your life. Astrology is not a belief system, but a symbolic language describing human nature — a different vocabulary for things you already know on some level.
the chart and its symbols
The symbols you see on an astrological chart represent planets, other celestial objects and points, and the twelve signs of the zodiac. The planets represent different human functions, and the signs describe the style or character with which those functions are performed. The circle is divided into twelve parts called houses that represent various fields of human experience: for example, your personal identity, your sense of self worth, your engagement with the world around you, your home life, your relationships with others (in all the forms that may take), your soulful inner life, your exploration of the new and unfamiliar, your public identity, your role in your community, your dreams and your spirituality. These components — the planets, the signs, and the houses — combine in a variety of complex relationships and present a complicated picture of who you really are — or who you intended to be when you were born.
The goal of a good astrology reading is to give you a sense of how the discrete parts of your chart function together to determine the main themes of your life. The integration of the disparate pieces is the aim of a good reading as well as the aim of a life well lived. That integration depends on a thorough understanding of the foundational elements of your chart: the Sun, the Moon, and the Ascendant (also called the rising sign). Those three central components form the basis of your personality and character and give expression to the evolutionary intentions of your soul. The rest of the planets and their position by sign and house add other notes to the symphony of your identity, representing additional facets and functions of your nature. The conscious integration of each of these pieces is the goal of each person, and it takes a lifetime of living to do so. Your birth chart reading will illustrate what it looks like when all these pieces are functioning together optimally (or colluding in less-than-optimal ways) and identify some of the significant themes that may unfold over the course of your life.
a word about past lives
Your chart contains symbolic information about past life emotional experiences, but not the facts themselves. What matters about a past life is not the biographical detail but the emotional resonance of that experience. For example, your chart can't tell us that you were a widowed mother with six starving children during the Viking invasions, but it can convey the sense of past life trauma around fear for one's personal safety, the burden of trying to care for others without the means to do so, or the insecurity of living in a situation where the rug may be pulled out from under you at any minute. Those kinds of experiences make a big emotional impression, and it is that residue that is important for our purposes. It is not necessary to belive in reincarnation in order to find value in evolutionary astrology; the symbols work metaphorically. If you are uncomfortable with the language of reincarnation, or if your personal beliefs do not accord with that philosophy, there is no need to include it in a reading. The parts of your chart that might indicate past life experience are just as easily read in terms of your experience in childhood or even in terms of your more general past, your inheritance, genetic or otherwise, from your cultural and family lineage.