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So, WTF is My Birth Chart, Anyway?

by Isabella Gomez

If you have been anywhere on social media this past week, you probably heard the news: it’s Scorpio szn, y’all! My entire Twitter and Instagram feeds have become cluttered with astrology memes that I don’t quite understand, but enjoy nonetheless. The truth is, although I like and believe in astrology, I’m not exactly well-versed on what it all means or what characteristics pertain to the different signs.

But since I do know that my birth chart is the place to start, I reached out to Valerie Mesa, a writer and astrologer whose work has appeared in Broadly, Elite Daily, and The Mujerista, to name a few, to see if she could break it down for me. (Fun fact: this third-generation witch started reading the cosmos as a preteen and has read the charts of celebs like Halle Berry, Jackie Cruz, and Eiza González, so she’s literally a planetary guru.) “Your birth chart is an exact screenshot of the sky the day that you were born,” Valerie told me. “It’s a photo of the sky on the very moment, is the best millennial way of explaining it. Realistically it’s your cosmic footprint, your soul’s essence.”

The minute that you were born, she explained, the sun and moon and all of the planets were in a specific position, or sign. A birth chart is important because it helps us interpret those signs and figure out how much of each of the four elements—earth, water, air, and fire—we have within us. Earth signs (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn) relate to stability, practicality, and reality. Water signs (Pisces, Cancer, Scorpio) lean more toward spiritual intuition, emotions, and creativity. Air signs (Aquarius, Gemini, Libra) represent the thinkers, communicators, logical-driven people. And the fire signs (Leo, Aries, Sagittarius) stand for passion, enthusiasm, and action-driven intuition.

“The planets are little paintbrushes that kind of paint the different parts of us,” Valerie explains. “Astrology is a magnifying glass to your soul.” And while beginners may find it overwhelming to dissect every single planet, element, and sign, here are the core areas you should focus on as you begin to understand what you can learn from your birth chart, according to an expert.

Sun Sign

Your sun sign is what you typically understand your zodiac sign to be, which is determined from your birthday. It represents the position the sun was in when you were born and manifests as the sole purpose or destiny you should aspire to fulfill in this lifetime. Your sun sign usually indicates a large number of your personality traits, but although this tends to be the main aspect of our horoscopes that we focus on, Valerie points out that it’s really only the beginning.

Moon Sign and Moon Nodes

After you’ve finished reading about your sun sign and what it says about you, it’s a good idea to look at your moon sign next. This tends to reflect our internal feelings and reflections.  In addition, analyzing the North and South Nodes of the moon can tell you a lot about where you’re coming from and where you’re going. “The South Node is like a little backpack you bring from your past life—both the qualities you’re going to use, and the qualities you need to remove if it’s no longer your destiny,” Valerie says. The North Node, on the other hand, is the complete opposite and represents the purpose you have yet to fulfill in your current life. It’s where you’re looking forward to and learning to grow into next. 

Rising Sign

The rising sign, also called your ascendant, is where your birth chart gets very specific: you need to know the time you were born as exact as possible, since these change within a two-hour window. Your rising is very important because it encapsulates the overall theme of your life, says Valerie. If you don’t particularly connect with your sun sign, it’s possible your rising traits may shine through more or be easier to identify with.


One fun thing about birth charts is that you can use them not only to analyze your own energy, but also that of friends and potential partners. According to Valerie, Venus and Mars play the largest role in figuring out romantic compatibility between people. The former represents your values and self-worth, while the latter stands for sex drive and self-assertion. Sharing elements in these two sectors can be helpful in figuring out how you and your S.O. get along, as can Mercury’s portrayal of your communication habits. The moon is also helpful in comparing your emotional triggers and reactions, and whether they go hand-in-hand or might be something that needs more empathic work.

Overall, birth charts, horoscopes, and astrology are an infinite realm to study our relationship to ourselves and the forces that rule our inner and outer worlds. Whether you’re scratching at the surface or already deep into your astrological ventures, Valerie recommends Cafe Astrology as a site to calculate your chart (for free!) and begin reading up on your elements. “There’s no such thing as another you. That in itself I think is so magical because a lot of times, we want to fit in with the world or some of us don’t wanna fit in. We want [to] be completely different,” she tells me. “But there is no other you. Your birth chart is a perfect example of that.” 

Feature image via Ella Xu

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