Thanks to the internet, we modern-day astrological enthusiasts can
look up our birth charts all by ourselves. We can discover where all of the planets were in relation to the Wheel of the Zodiac at the moment of our birth and, in turn, learn more about our sun, moon, rising, and planetary signs. But, without the help of an IRL astrologer, it's tricky to know what, exactly, all of these details add up to.
Going to an astrologer for an in-depth chart reading can give you a much more personal understanding of your astrological identity than Googling your planetary placements can, but there's a catch. Even the most knowledgeable astrologer will draw upon
past experiences to inform their readings. For example, one astrologer's interpretation of your Virgo moon and the extent to which it affects your life may differ from another's.
That said, there are no wrong answers in astrology. There are merely different ways to look at a chart. So, unless you go to someone who is totally inexperienced in chart readings, you will always come away with an insight into your astrological identity — although those insights may vary.
In order to understand just how much a single chart is up for interpretation, I asked three astrologers the same questions about my birth chart to see how their answers compared.
Interview have been edited for length and clarity.
This is my chart, courtesy of
Astrodienst. It looks pretty messy (and not unlike a geometry problem), but here are some of the key details to keep in mind. My sun sign is Capricorn, my moon sign is Virgo, and my rising (or ascendant) sign is Pisces. I have a Capricorn stellium, meaning there are at least three celestial bodies placed in that sign. In my case, the sun, Mercury, Uranus, and Neptune are all hanging out in Cap. My placements, in general, are in earth signs (Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn). A bunch of my Zodiac houses are empty, meaning they have no planets in them — that's what the blank space in the lower-left quadrant of my chart indicates. Prior to receiving the astrologers' informed takes on my chart, I expected them to draw most of their conclusions from my earthy placements and my stellium. Earth signs get a bad rap as being taskmasters and, basically, no fun, and I was fully prepared for that to be the gist of my readings. It turns out, my chart is a little more nuanced than I thought.
Mecca Woods What kind of first impression do you think I give? "The impression that I get is of someone who may be shy, reserved, or maybe even a bit awkward at first glance (Capricorn sun, Pisces rising), but warms up to others when you get to know them. This is because of the heavy emphasis of the elements of water and earth in your chart, which are typically not as outgoing as the elements of fire and air. However, I do get the sense that you tend to care deeply about others (whether it's friends or the larger collective), even going above and beyond for them at times — especially where it pertains to their well-being and support." What does the chart suggest about my love life or approach to romance? "Even though you may not want to admit it (sorry, Cap sun, Virgo moon), you are a romantic at heart. When you love, you love fiercely and you love deep and may even experience trouble with letting people go or getting over heartbreak. At most, you need a die-hard romantic just like you who's emotionally intelligent and willing to dive to the depths with you in the name of love. This means you'll have to watch out for emotionally stunted types that take advantage of your ginormous heart while being unwilling to grow or share the emotional labor in the relationship." What does it mean that so many of my houses are empty? "It doesn't mean anything major, except that the houses that contain planets are where more of your energy is expressed or concentrated. Empty houses still get mileage in the chart, often when planets transit through them." What do you make of all the celestial bodies I have in Capricorn? "Capricorn is a sign that is all about structure, rules, authority, and responsibility. But, your stellium is in the 11th house and your ruler, Saturn, sits in the imaginative and dreamy 12th house. That tells me that you're here to make your own rules in a way that looks very different from what was done in the past. In many ways, you strive to change the game." What, in your opinion, is the most important, significant, or striking part of my chart? "I think the overall theme that I pull from your chart is how important authenticity and staying true to yourself really is for you. While you have an innate ability to connect, share, and bond with others, you have to make sure the needs of others don't drown out your ability to fully be yourself."
Tali Edut What kind of first impression do you think I give? "With a Pisces rising on the chart, you may come across as more mysterious or dreamier than you actually are. People will have trouble reading you and might even underestimate your abilities if you don’t advocate for yourself." What does the chart suggest about my love life or approach to romance? "With the moon in Virgo, you need someone who is grounded and stable in order to feel safe. Your Venus (in Pisces) and Mars (in Cancer) are both water signs, so the sentimental, family-oriented type will make you swoon. You’re not a huge casual dater (if at all). It’s too unnerving for you. And you’re probably drawn to sensitive types who are into music, art, nesting, and food." What does it mean that so many of my houses are empty? "Empty houses are nothing to freak out about. It’s kind of like having a blank canvas on which to create. A planet occupying a house brings energy to the area of life the house represents. And that can mean karma, drama, or all sorts of things. Your 11th house has a lot of action and that’s the tech sector…any surprise you work for a website? Nope." What do you make of all the celestial bodies I have in Capricorn? "That concentration of planets in Capricorn really does give you a great work ethic, but you have unpredictable Uranus and dreamy Neptune in the pack, so you need to be left alone to create and work on your own schedule — which might make you erratic, but who cares? You get the job done right!" What, in your opinion, is the most important, significant, or striking part of my chart? "Of the four elements (fire, earth, water, air) you don’t have any fire except for your Sagittarius north node (your destiny point). You might want to do a little 'astrological Ayurveda' to pump up the fire element by eating warmer foods, decorating with bright colors, trying yoga in a heated room, even doing something more flamboyant like taking an acting workshop."
Janelle Belgrave What kind of first impression do you think I give? "With a Pisces rising and the sun conjunct Neptune, people may not have an impression of you that’s entirely accurate. In fact you, yourself, may wonder who you are at times. With Pisces and Neptune energy, appearances may be deceiving, not in a malevolent way, but in that you’re always shifting and accommodating to your environment. Pisces risings may struggle with choosing a persona to project into the world. This dynamic can give way to someone who has a very vivid imagination that may rival waking reality. In this case, there’s a healthy amount of solid Earth energy to give a foundation for this dreamy and shape-shifting energy to latch onto, giving it something practical to work with." What does the chart suggest about my love life or approach to romance? "When looking at relationships or romance in charts, we typically look at the seventh house. Here, we have Virgo on the seventh house cusp as well as Jupiter in Libra [which overlaps with the seventh house]. Jupiter usually points to where we have an abundance of something or where we can learn to grow and expand as people. In your case, you may find personal growth through relating to others. Over the years, there may be many opportunities to partner romantically with others, as Jupiter is the give-me-more planet, and it's in Libra, a sign that is focused on learning balance of self through working with others. "Then we look at the sign on the cusp, Virgo. Virgo deals in the material and tangible. There may be a desire to join with people who are down-to-earth and reliable. [In your chart,] Virgo is ruled by Mercury in Capricorn, which gives off the vibe of wanting partners who are practical, hard-working, and possibly traditional." What does it mean that so many of my houses are empty? "Houses without major planets with them simply mean that they’re not an area of heavy focus. They’re still important to a person’s life, but those areas are not where they’re doing the most work. However, we can look at the sign at the beginning of an empty house to get an idea of what’s going on in that part of their life. For example, with Gemini on the third house cusp, we look at Mercury [Gemini's ruling planet] to understand what may be going on in that area of life. However Mercury is influenced will impact the dealings of your third house of communications, travel, and education." What do you make of all the celestial bodies I have in Capricorn? "I look at stelliums as concentrated energy. Several planets have signed up to experience a sign. In Capricorn, we're dealing with themes, like time, age, authority, hierarchy, status quo, and ultimately integrity. What's the guiding light in this person's world? Not what society deems acceptable for them, but what they want for themselves instead." What, in your opinion, is the most important, significant, or striking part of my chart? "As an astrologer, I tend to go after the 'stressful' aspects in a person's chart. In this case, that's the massive Capricorn stellium."
Let's start with the eerily similar: All three of them said not to worry about the empty houses and brought up my Pisces rising while discussing my first impression. As I expected, they highlighted my stellium as the source of my work ethic and love of rules. But their readings still differed slightly.
For example, when it came to discussing my dating life, both Edut and Belgrave focused on my Virgo placements, while Woods considered how my Virgo moon interacted with my Capricorn sun. No one was completely off-base in their analysis, but each of their interpretations were, nevertheless, different. Let this be a reminder to anyone seeking romantic guidance from the stars: Your chart cannot give you a clear-cut answer about your love life. Luckily, there weren't any radically different findings across all three astrologers' readings. Though they may have looked at different points in my chart to reach their conclusions, they all ended up in roughly the same place. And, it goes without saying, my untrained eye wouldn't have noticed half the details these seasoned stargazers pointed out. So, if you've already Googled your birth chart on your own and came up wanting more, it's worth it to reach out to an astrologer in person or via email. You just might realize there's more to your signs than you think.