natal chart

A Short Course in Natal Chart Interpretation
Paper 3 Part 1
Working with the Ascendant, the Houses and Areas of Consciousness

natal chart

Please supplement this paper with two series in our Astrology Guides:

i) Looking Again at the Houses and ii) Karma and New Directions

In this short course, the emphasis is upon how to use the house structure rather than on its formation.  Although we will return briefly to the matter on the recording which accompanies this paper, what is most important to understand about the house system is that it permits a personal relationship with the patterns in the Heavens.

It is worth considering that each day, albeit at different times in the 24-hour period, approximately 7.5 billion people are observing a very similar pattern in the sky above them. During that time, only the moon will change significantly in relationship to the other planets. What personalizes this pattern for the purposes of the natal chart is the view at the time of birth from the latitude and longitude of the place of birth. This is the view that the house frame captures, and the story of our life is contained within it, if we know how to access it.

Created from the axial rotation of the Earth, the Houses represent 12 areas of life which, collectively, encompass all that is meaningful to a human being in the Three Worlds.

Astrological tradition assigns to each Zodiacal sign a 30-degree share of the 360 degrees of the circle described by this rotary motion and assigns to each a house to connect up the Zodiac and the frame. This makes the 24-hour rotation of the Earth on its axis a correspondent of the solar year.   During each 24-hour rotation, the Sun is in each of the 12 houses for a period of around 2 hours, while during each Solar year, the Sun is perceived to visit each of the 12 Zodiacal signs for approximately one month.

Regardless of the sign that the birth time places upon each of the 12 house cusps, known as the accidental signs, the energy of the natural rulers is always present in the form of the underlying principle associated with each house.  Both should be used as significators (or representatives).  So, if Aquarius is the sign on the cusp of H2, both Venus and Uranus are significators of an individual’s material wellbeing.

The Ascendant

The function of the Ascendant is to bring down from the Soul plane, the energy required to deal with life and to take advantage of our opportunity in the incarnation. The Arien principles of assertion and self-determination are always working through the Ascendent because the Ascendant is the cusp of H1.

The accidental sign will reflect the family mores or the received messages and lessons of the parent who was most significant to the child in the matter of equipping the child to deal with life.

The accidental sign on the Ascendant gives us the Ruling Planet which, through our approach to life, links us to a specific house in the chart which will become of special importance to us in the managing of our lives.  Learning to use the energy of the Ascendant consciously will assist moving off the Moon onto the Sun, and its energy should be integrated with the area of life represented by the house occupied by the Ruling Planet. It is also important to find out how the Ruling Planet interfaces with the principal theme of a chart. If there is no aspect or a challenging aspect to the Sun, this will have a frustrating effect and will require conscious management.

All the other eleven houses have cusps which are ruled by accidental signs and their planetary rulers. The houses in which these rulers are found create the same kind of connection between the house the planet rules and the house in which it is found as the Ruling Planet makes with the Ascendant and H1.  In Western horoscopy, there is a tendency to focus simply upon planets located in the house under review and not consider its significator’s role.  For example, if the sign Gemini is on the cusp of H2, Mercury the ruler of H2 becomes the significator of money. If Mercury is located in H7, then the kind of work associated with H7 (counselling; personnel; diplomacy; earnings of the partner) will be connected to income.  Skill in making such connections (links) accounts for the Hindu Astrologer’s ability to make detailed predictions which are, increasingly, off limits for Western horoscopy and the lack of which limits our ability to look ahead for opportunities.

Being able to work with significators is the key to practical time and energy management.

However, to use the house frame effectively, we need an accurate birth time, and this, of course, can be a real, practical problem.  I do not advise the use of 12:00 noon charts in horoscopy because there is such power in a familiar pattern that, even with the best intentions, we tend to read it as if the Sun were actually in H10 and stand to give unhelpful, if not erroneous, advice. If the birth time is uncertain, I recommend the removal the house frame in order to focus simply on the aspects between planets. This will identify the energies that are available but will not tell us in which areas of life a person will be predisposed to deploy them because we do not have the personalized view.


Basic principle / what it represents in a natal chart

Natural ruling


Natural Ruling planet

Ruling planet as significator of


Assertiveness (for self-advancement in the Three Worlds) / confidence to move outwards and break new ground; strength; initiative



Self and personal drives


Values /material resources, especially money



Love; harmony; stability;

pleasure; artistry and aesthetics


Communication / siblings; education; the environment; transport



Intellectual clarity; powers of speech; documents


Biological and cultural inheritance / family; real estate



Mother; emotional attachments; physical body


 Our awareness of ourselves /identity; individuality; creativity including conception of children



Good fortune;

success in creative ventures;

love affairs


Use of physicality/ health; work; vocation; domestic pets



Health conditions associated with work; care workers; pets


Relationship with Life and awareness of self through interaction with others / personal relationships with commitment; legal contracts



Intellectual  strength;


the partner


Emotional regeneration and learning through suffering / what we are given by others; what others bring about in our lives



Transformative process; harm from others; bequests


Broadening our outlook; Spirituality; overseas travel; new intellectual horizons



Change brought about by opening up to the new; increase; generosity; expansiveness


Ambitions and lifestyle choices; status; goals; career



Challenging circumstances; our own limitations; father; authority and authority figures; the Establishment


Fellowship/community; friends; children after birth


Uranus/ Saturn

The need to break free from personal limitation and habits; instability bringing newness


Higher Self / the journey on from self- interest; a more wholistic view; psychic sensitivity; imprisonment; wild animals



Dissolution of boundaries and restrictions; idealism; dreams; visions


  1. Luminaries / Planets in a House

i. The natal Sun in any house makes that house and the things assigned to it central to the development of identity. This includes H4 where, typically, an individual will work hard at conscious parenting and taking responsibility for parents in their old age.

ii. In houses which it shares with the Moon, the natal Sun indicates that in an area of life already familiar, the person is set up to give an accomplished performance.

iii. The Moon in any house indicates the area of life made familiar from past life, and familiar circumstances and situations will reform. The exception is H12. There, moving on is encouraged by the denial of everything that an individual expects of the mother and family. The individual must find their own way on their own path, sometimes acting as the parent to the parent.

iv. In a house, the inner planets, also Mars and Jupiter will have an encouraging effect upon results in that house. Saturn will test by creating obstruction and difficulties occasioning rethinking, careful planning and persistence. The outer planets are all banishing principles. In their different ways, they will move consciousness on from an overemphasis upon this house and what it stands for of life in past life. It may be that there is no more learning to come from the experience. How do the banishing principles connect with Sun and Moon?

v. A retrograde planet in any house indicates a need to rethink matters connected to that planet and house.

2. Significators

i.  The natural and accidental planetary rulers, including Sun and Moon, will always take that energy with them wherever they are in a chart, e.g., Mars is always the significator of self -assertion. The aspects which they make with other planets will impact upon the experience within the house they rule.

ii.  Intercepted signs in a house indicate energies that will become more important with the passage of time. Eventually, the planetary ruler of the intercepted sign will become the new significator. The age at which this will occur will vary, so count the number of degrees remaining on the sign on the cusp and call each degree 1 year. This gives an approximate guide. If the sign change occurs when the individual is still a child, it may indicates a change in the family circumstances or the influence of a school.

The Areas of Consciousness

Like the Zodiacal Signs, the 12 houses can be grouped in different ways: by element and by quality. These groups have their place and their uses, and they are part of the basic language of Astrology. There is a third grouping called Areas of Consciousness. The significance of this for horoscopy is that it enables the astrologer to see what kind of focus an individual is developing through the house of the Sun.

The Three Areas of Consciousness are:

a). Personal Consciousness.

b). Relating Consciousness,

c). Universal Consciousness

Houses of Personal Consciousness

Houses 1, 2, 3, 4 are all concerned, in their different ways, with building up personal effectiveness in the Three Worlds. In these houses, we learn to deal with the opportunities and responsibilities of everyday life. This requires us to keep the focus upon our own lives, our drives, and our responsibilities. Typically, a person with this focus has limited room for compromise and will expect a partner to support his or her efforts.

Houses of Relating Consciousness

Houses 5, 6, 7, 8 are all concerned with balancing awareness of self and respect and consideration for others as individual in their own right. Without extensive interaction with others, there is no progress for us, even when the Sun is in H5 which is the House of Individuality and Creativity. In this case, the very incentive for the exceptional creative expression is receiving the recognition (and love) of others. Losing self in trying to please, rendering our lives unworkable by excessive compromise, are the lessons taught by these houses, and they are in general too all-consuming to release us to the bigger picture.  Typically, with the Sun in these houses, our concern remains our one-to-one relationships.

Houses of Universal Consciousness

Houses 9, 10, 11, 12 are all concerned with painting on a larger canvas to push out, through collective endeavour, the boundaries of what humanity can achieve. Without this opportunity, we feel cramped, starved of vision, and lacking in purpose. Often the motivation is to leave a better world for a younger generation. The lessons of these houses involve how to offer up individuality without losing authenticity, and how to deal with the demands of being a member of a team with those of partnership and family life.

From an extensive study of horoscopes over many years, it is obvious to me that as we are expanding consciousness, lifetime after lifetime, we move in and out of the three Areas as part of the on-going challenge of balancing out the emphases in consciousness formed up to the present lifetime. It is very common to find the Sun and Moon in different areas of consciousness and this “ups the stakes” involved in moving off the Moon onto the Sun.

Finally, up to this point, I have not provided any example charts because it is best that we stay focused upon charts of people with whom we are a familiar enough to be able to recognise the principles at work. It makes the learning process more meaningful. But once we start using significators, it will help if we have the same chart in front of us. An example chart accompanies this paper, together with a short summary of the life (Paper 3 part 2)

The accompanying chart is that of a celebrity hairdresser, who was once a household name, at least in the USA.  He is now a writer.  I have chosen this chart for a number of reasons, not the least of which because he has been a client for some time now and thus, I have come to know the details of how this astrological pattern has played out in his life. Money and fame have come and gone and now the things that matter most to him are self-understanding and using time well. He is very happy for his chart to be used in this way. Ironically, perhaps, we will be using use his proper name, Mark, because it is the professional name by which he would be recognized, not his birth name.

In the final paper of this course, I will list the questions that have been put to me most often in reading situations and work through them using Mark’s chart.

Make sure you know which planets are the significators (natural and accidental) of the matters you wish to look into, and, in your own chart, or the chart that you are using, follow them through to open out the situation.
Mark has lost two fortunes in his lifetime. See if you can spot the problem!

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