A birth chart is a map of the positions of the planets at the exact time and location you were born. Each person's chart is unique. Accurate interpretation of a birth chart gives the Astrologer a view into the inner life and outer circumstances that affect a person.
Excluding Earth, there are 10 planets in our solar system: Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. Each of these bodies has its own symbolic meaning, with the personal planets, or those closest to the Sun, having the most powerful effect in shaping our conscious personalities.
In analyzing any chart, the major points of interpretation are: 1) the sign and house placements of each planet; 2) the relationships between the planets, as defined by the aspects (angles); and 3) the balance of signs, elements, houses, and aspects.
Most charts contain a preponderance of a particular element, an emphasis on a particular sign, house, or even aspect. Imbalances in a chart reveal our general outlook on life and ways we assert our individuality. For instance, if a chart shows 8 out of 10 planets falling in Fire signs (Aries, Leo, or Sagittarius), the person will likely have a bold and adventurous approach to life. In the example of aspects, when there are a number of trines in a chart without any squares or oppositions to create friction, it can create a feeling of inertia in the person's life, allowing them to follow the path of least resistance rather than take independent action.
The outer planets (Uranus, Neptune, Pluto) are felt in a more unconscious way and tend to have lasting effects on a generation, rather than on each individual. However, when one of the outer planets forms a major angle (e.g., 60°, 90°, 120°, 150°, or 180°) to one of the personal planets, the qualities typically expressed by that planet will be altered dramatically. To use an example from my own chart, while my Sun sign is Aquarius (an Air sign), it forms a 90° angle to Pluto in Scorpio, effectively acting to intensify the expression of my Aquarian characteristics. The same principle holds true regardless of the planet or angle involved. Let’s say my friend and I both have our Moon in Sagittarius; however, in my chart my Moon forms a major angle to Pluto, while hers forms an angle to Saturn. While we both technically have the same Moon sign, the difference in planetary aspect would result in significant differences in the way we express our emotions.
A birth chart shows only the life potential of the individual; it doesn't predict what will happen. The way the energies depicted in the chart play out in a person’s life is dependent entirely on the actions of the individual. The purpose of astrological consultation is to guide the client to a place of greater self-awareness by outlining her assets, while also exploring strategies for best using those assets to tackle the challenges indicated in the chart.