Don’t know your birth time? Join the club.
I get lots of email from folks that are struggling or at a dead end with their Astro-studies because they don’t have a birth time. Not gonna lie: it does make a difference, and in some ways, it will limit how much you can get from studying Astrological birth chart. It does NOT, however, mean that Astrology is a lost cause for you. There is a ton of interpretative work that you can still do if you lack an exact birth time.
I’m going to split this post into two parts:
- Why the birth time is important and why astrologers want it, and,
- What you can do if you don’t have a birth time
If you don’t know your time of birth, you can still make up your chart on Astro.com using my step-by-step instructions (available here), the only difference being that you need to set your time of birth as ‘unknown.’
WHY ASTROLOGERS WANT YOUR BIRTH TIME
So, first up – why does having your birth time matter, anyway?
Essentially, your birth chart is a snap of the heavens at the date, place, and TIME you were born. Without the time, one of the key ingredients is missing. Here’s some of what’s missing if we (Astrologers) don’t have that piece of info:
#1 The Ascendant’s degree position is unknown
On a spiritual level, the Ascendant, or ‘horoskopos’ (hour-marker), is the moment a new soul starts out on its life journey. In ancient Astrology, the Ascendant was sometimes called the ‘helm’ and the Ascendant ruler ‘the steersman’; these points act as guides or help one navigate through life, successfully or unsuccessfully.
Without one of the key inputs, your time of birth, you’re likely to be missing at least one or more of the key outputs: specifically, the degree position of the Ascendant (aka ‘rising sign’), which marks the point of the horizon at your exact time of birth.
Note I said degree position: with a loose birth time (i.e. ‘I was born between 9:30 and 10:00 am’) you may end up knowing the sign that was on the Ascendant, but you’ll lack the specific degree position, which has a knock-on effect in the rest of the chart. [Note: Of course, that said, you’ll want to be pretty careful about an estimated birth time, as that is NOT an exact birth time. It’s very common that parents believe that they remember, but once you get several years away from childbirth, memory becomes very unreliable. This does not make the chart unworkable, but perhaps just a bit unreliable as it pertains to timing techniques and transits.]
The Ascendant, in particular, is an incredibly personal point in the chart; transits, eclipses, and other activations to the Ascendant can be life-changing and deeply felt. Without knowing its exact position, it becomes impossible to use the Ascendant in timing techniques.
Further to that, the Sun, Moon, and Ascendant are a kind of Astrological triple-threat; together, these go a long way in describing the personality and texture of a birth chart. Without knowing at least the ascendant or rising sign, we also cannot know the ascendant ruler, an important planet/house position that is highly relevant to the owner of the chart.
#2 The Houses
Astrology is largely composed of a few key elements: the signs, the planets, the houses, and the aspects. Although you don’t need to know the exact degree position of the Ascendant, you must know at least the sign of the Ascendant to know which signs rule the houses of your birth chart. If you are Cancer rising, as an example, then we know that Leo will rule your 2nd House and Virgo your 3rd House (based on using Whole Houses as your house system).
Planets and signs can tell you a lot, and aspects can tell you even more, but for many, not knowing the houses may leave a huge chunk of information missing. In the birth chart, that can leave us without having a sense about what areas of life may direct or ‘steer’ our lives; with transits, it becomes all but impossible to understand WHAT is going to happen, even if we can get a sense of what it’s going to feel like from the planets and signs.
#3 No Ascendant = No Angles
The Ascendant/Descendant and MC/IC axes, often called ‘the angles,’ are very important parts of the chart, and it is only by knowing one’s exact Ascendant position that we can then know the sign and degree location of all of the four angles. Without an accurate birth time, the degree locations of the angles cannot easily be found.
As previously mentioned, the Ascendant is highly sensitized, as are all four angles of the chart. Most folks come to Astrology readings wanting to know about themselves (ASC), their relationships (DSC), career (MC), or family (IC), which are all parts of life where we find an angle. Like the Ascendant, they can be hugely important as a part of transits, but cannot be used in timing techniques unless we can count on the chart that’s in front of us.
#4 The Moon Sign/Degree can become undefinable or problematic
The Moon travels about 13 degrees of the Zodiac every day and therefore spends around 2.5 days in each Zodiac sign.
On certain days, the Moon will start out in the early degrees of a given say – let’s say Pisces – which means the Moon will still be in Pisces at the end of that 24-hour period.
On other days, however, the Moon may move between two signs. It may start the day in the late degrees of Pisces and at some point move into Aries.
Some people might ask: well, couldn’t I use self-inquiry to try and suss it out by weighing up how I connect to a particular Moon sign? Sure, you could. It’s possible. It’s also possible, however, that your Moon sign is not a stand-alone anomaly. What you currently identify as your emotional signature/expression (especially if you’re a young person in the process of self-discovery) may better relate to a problematic malefic or aspects between the Sun/Moon/Ascendant and other planets. I’m going to play devil’s advocate later in the post on this exact point, but it’s something to ponder. You may do well and identify your Moon as one sign or another, but as someone starting out in Astrology, you may also end up pinning the tail on the wrong donkey.
It should also not go without mention that several of the planets can change signs within a 24-hour period, so in rare cases, sign positions for planets other than the Moon can also be problematic.
WHAT YOU CAN DO WITHOUT A BIRTH TIME
As I promised at the beginning, there is still a lot one can do without knowing your exact birth time. Here are just a few of my thoughts/recommendations about how you can continue to work with Astrology:
#1 Try Chart Rectification
Chart rectification is a service provided by a professional Astrologer where they use specific key events in your life to assemble at the very least your Ascendant sign, if not the degree position. I do not offer this service, but there are plenty of people that do which you can find in a quick Google search. You should know upfront that some people don’t believe in rectified charts, but if you’re keen, it may not hurt to try it out. Rectification potentially takes a lot of time for Astrologers (hours of trawling your chart against transits, etc., looking for a need in the haystack) so it is not an inexpensive service.
#2 Concentrate on the Planets & Signs
On a given day, you’re highly likely to be able to know the sign position of: the Sun, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. The Moon, as we’ve seen, can be trickier since the Moon is always on the move and often changes signs.
The planet-sign combos in your chart can still give you a ton of insight: Venus in Taurus gives and receives love very differently than Venus in Sagittarius; Mars in Libra will go about getting what it wants in an entirely different manner than Mars in Capricorn; Jupiter in Cancer is a super-strong, effective Jupiter, while Jupiter in Capricorn may feel a little bit less lucky.
Sure, you won’t know on what particular stage these planets are busy playing out their personalities, as you won’t know the house positions, but it doesn’t mean you won’t be able to discern a lot about your ability to connect to others, how your mind processes information, how/when you’re able to fight for what you want, etc. There’s still a TON here to consider.
I know I’ve written earlier in the post that you may not be able to figure out your Moon sign, but you also *may* be able to figure out your moon sign, too. I know, contradictory…but truthful. Even if you can’t figure out your Moon sign, you can almost definitely know if it was waxing or waning at your birth. Less likely but still possible, you can also try and figure out what particular Moon phase you were born under.
#3 Check out your Aspects
As a follow-up act to the planet-sign combinations, you can also look at your chart aspects. Is there an important aspect to your Sun? Your Venus?
Are your Moon and Mars in terse argument, having no conversation at all, or getting along swimmingly? Is Pluto applying pressure to your Jupiter? Or is he standing alone in the party all by his lonesome?
Aspects are how certain elements of our psyche or personality combine and interact, for good or bad, with other elements of our psyche. Sometimes, those combinations are helpful, like with the Sun trine Venus or Jupiter; sometimes, those aspects can be a bit more difficult, as the Sun opposite Saturn. The aspects help us see a system that is interdependent; signs and planets do not stand alone, but in fact, interact with each other in the natal chart and throughout life with transiting planets.
Although I only use the classic Ptolemaic aspects (conjunction, sextile, trine, square, opposition), certain Astrologers rely predominantly on aspects. Johannes Kepler, an Astrologer from the 17th Century, invented three new aspects that are still in use today, based on his feeling that the aspects were the most important part of a chart: the quintile (72 degrees), the biquintile (144 degrees) and the sesquiquadrate (135 degrees). If you’re constrained by a lack of birth time and houses, you may wish to go deeper into the study of aspects and what they can offer you, possibly by trying out new or different aspects.
#4 Discover your Asteroids
Of course, my favorite tool is the Asteroids. There are two sub-classes of asteroids: the ‘big four’ asteroid goddesses (Ceres, Pallas, Juno, Vesta) and the infinitesimal tiny points that are named and numbered.
Even if you don’t know your birth time, many of the asteroids move very, very slow, and therefore don’t change a huge deal from day to day. Astro.com includes the ‘big four’ for free in their extended chart selection; to know more about the other asteroids that may be in your chart, you can go to serennu.com and cheaply generate a list of all of your asteroids.
I’ve written about what the asteroids are and how you can work with them, and I also have different posts about asteroid categories. Once you generate the list of your asteroids, you can always use the google search tool on my site’s homepage to see if I have any information about the asteroid, and if not, check around on the general blogosphere. (You can also always search any site’s content by googling in the search bar: straightwoo.com: ‘your search term’).
#5 As within, so without
Astrology is not just about self-discovery, it’s also about a general study of the human psyche, which in turn, almost always leads us back to ourselves. All roads lead to Rome. 🙂
Inevitably, as we study others, we end studying ourselves, too. Counseling and healing work of any kind is always circular in nature, and while you may feel you’ve shown up on a particular side of the table to either heal or be healed, the truth is that healing comes from something much above either party and is doled out in equal measure to both persons. Healer and ‘healee’ become one in a counseling session.
Ironically, I think I’ve learned just as much and more from studying other people’s charts as I have from studying mine directly. There’s something that happens when you encounter ‘the other,’ that part of other folks that you don’t necessarily see in yourself…except, when they have the same ‘bad’ Moon sign as you, the same Sun-Mars square as you, or are experiencing the same once-in-a-lifetime transit as you. Suddenly, you can start to see and understand their experience of something not as foreign or otherly but as a likely reaction from external pressures that meet with a set of particular internal limitations, some of which you may personally identify with. You can forgive your own ‘defects’ and gain a different perspective on how another person works with and possibly transmutes the energy you perceive as difficult into something productive.
So in short, look around. Maybe there’s something somewhere in another chart that’s just as useful as knowing more about yours.