Creating the Natal Chart
The astrological, or natal, chart is a method of mapping the space surrounding our Earth for a birth moment. A natal chart is simply a snapshot of the cosmos at the time of birth — a cosmic portrait. We know that all things are in motion. Not only do the planets move slowly at different speeds in great elongated orbits around the Sun, but the Earth itself turns on its axis once in 24 hours. As the Earth turns during a day, each one of us is exposed to the entire 360 degrees of the zodiac. The natal chart is a diagram or picture that stops the cosmic clock and captures the universe as it exists at a particular moment.
A natal chart is your individual cosmic portrait or mandala. It is what the universe has to say about who you are and what you may become. The seeds of the future are always sown in the present, but can we read them? This is what the study of astrology is all about: reading the signs of the times and listening to what they have to say about ourselves, now and in the future. Your cosmic portrait is ready any time you are.
The Sun sign interpretations that we find in most newspapers are a far cry from the work of professional astrologers. For one, the sign the Sun was in on the day of your birth (for example Aries, Taurus, or Gemini) is only one of many factors that are looked at by professionals. In addition to the day and year of birth, most professionals use the time and place of birth as well. Birthdate, year, time and place are all needed to pinpoint your place in time and space. Given this information, an astrologer creates what is called a natal or birth chart (erroneously called a horoscope by some).
Each natal chart includes the exact position of the Sun, Moon, and the planets: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. These planets are then placed in a circular diagram called a chart wheel. This wheel is a miniature diagram of what the sky looked like at the moment of birth as seen from the birthplace.
The very top of the chart, or MC (Medium Coeli — short for midheaven) is that part of the zodiac directly overhead, while the bottom of the chart, or IC (Imum Coeli, or lower heaven) is the part beneath your feet and on the other side of the Earth from you. At the extreme left-hand side of the wheel is the ascendant, or rising sign — the part of the zodiac that is on the horizon or rising at the birth moment. Conversely, the descendant is on the right-hand side of the chart. This is the part of the zodiac that is setting. These four points, the ascendant, descendant, midheaven, and IC are very important to astrologers. They are sensitive points.