A traditional birth chart shows where the sun, moon, and planets were on the Wheel of the Zodiac at the moment you were born. It can offer an astrological explanation for your communication style, how you process emotions, who you're attracted to, and more — think of it like a snapshot of your personality.
One thing that your birth chart doesn't reveal in much detail, however, is the direction that the rest of your life might take (and how the cosmos may factor into it). For that, you're better off looking up your progressed birth chart, also known as a secondary direction chart.
Using the same info that goes into your birth chart (your birth date, time, and place) plus the present date, a progressed birth chart calculates how far the planets have moved from their spot on your birth chart. For example, it's believed that the sun moves one degree forward on the Wheel of the Zodiac for every year after your birthday. And every sign occupies 30 degrees of the Wheel, so, by the time you hit your 30s, if not earlier, the sun could very well have moved onto the next sign on your progressed chart. By comparison, the moon will move on from your natal moon sign much sooner, as it changes signs about every three years in a progressed chart.
Before you calculate your progressed chart and start to question everything you learned from your regular birth chart, let's make something very clear: This doesn't mean that all of your planetary signs irreversibly change after you reach a certain age. Rather, it reflects the subtler, beneath-the-surface changes you might experience as you age.
"I like to think of them as a 'behind the scenes' birth chart," Mecca Woods, astrologer and author of the upcoming book Astrology For Happiness & Success, tells Refinery29. "A progressed chart shows you what's happening for you in terms of your personal development; the changes happening for you on an internal level."
Members of the astrological community on Reddit have reported looking up their progressed charts only to find that they're surprisingly illustrative of their current state of mind. One user described a change in their romantic priorities when Venus moved from noncommittal Aquarius to lovey-dovey Pisces in their progressed chart, while another described the period when their progressed moon was in Pisces as a deeply healing and creative time for them.
No one underwent a complete change in personality, but many could link a transition in their lives with the movement of the planets. "A progressed chart is a good way to map out the different stages of life that a person may go through, while predicting significant events along the way," Woods says, alluding to these sorts of smaller shifts that a progressed chart might indicate.
Your progressed birth chart doesn't spell out your destiny and it's totally fine if it doesn't resonate with you. Much like your solar, Venus, or Saturn return charts, it's simply another way to check in with yourself as you continue to grow as a person. Or, maybe wait a few years and look it up again — by then, the chart may have caught up to you.