Armed with your birth time, date, and location, pulling up your birth chart online, all by yourself, is a snap. You can discover all of your planetary placements, read a little description telling you what they mean for you, and even take a screenshot for the next time you feel like flaunting your stellium. The best part about reading your birth chart online, second only to getting to feel like an astrologer yourself, is that it's free.
If you set up a chart reading in person, it could cost you a couple hundred dollars. On paper, this seems unfair — and plenty of astrologers who offer one-on-one readings have heard as much and harsher — but if you dig into what actually goes into a reading, the cost may not seem unwarranted.
Astrologer Mecca Woods tells Refinery29 that she has a practiced response for when people bring up how much she charges for her services. "I usually tell people that they're paying for my expertise," she says. "And that expertise doesn't come cheap."
Woods explains that professional astrologers usually have undergone extensive training and have spent years studying their field. With time (and a fair amount of money put toward the proper charting software), an astrologer accumulates a vast body of knowledge that's a unique blend of research and personal experience. To the untrained eye, a birth chart looks like a geometry problem — it's only with a sturdy astrological foundation that you can derive meaning from them with just a glance.
When we spoke with her about the process of chart reading back in 2016, astrologer Janelle Belgrave told us as much, adding that an in-person reading is simply different from looking up your chart online. The latter will give you the most basic facts about your astrological identity — the "what," so to speak. A one-on-one reading, on the other hand, will give you the "why" of your behavior, as it appears in your chart.
For example, an online chart will point out that your moon is in Virgo, while an IRL astrologer will tell you that that means you're reluctant to share your feelings if you think they might inconvenience others. In other words, a flesh-and-blood astrologer is probably going to paint a fuller picture for you than an online blurb ever could.
Not everyone is expecting that much detail when they go looking for their birth chart (some say all you need to know is your sun sign, moon sign, and your rising sign). But if you are, an expert's insight is worth every penny.