Date, time, and place of birth
It makes no difference what sort of astrologer you see anywhere in the
world nor does it make any difference what sort of astrology they are doing.
Before a natal chart is calculated, you will
be asked for your birth data:
Date of birth
Place of birth
Exact time of birth
Count on it. And don't even think of calling an astrologer unless you
have these three pieces of information.
So, given the enormous diversity of astrology today, why is it that every
astrologer asks for this same data? What's the big deal?
There are two reasons. The first reason deals with mathematical accuracy,
and astrologers, for very good reason, get very preoccupied with accurate
math. Exact birth data enables the astrologer to accurately calculate the
natal chart, which is the diagram of the Sun, Moon, and planets at the exact
time of birth as seen from the place where you were born. It does have to be
Most people know their date and place of birth. Knowledge of the exact
time of day varies. Some jurisdictions in the world put it on the birth
certificate (thank you, thank you), and other jurisdictions do not (boo,
Some kinds of astrology require a birth time accurate to the minute to
do the interpretation (all astrologers are grateful for this sort of
precision). Other astrological techniques have a little more flexibility,
and a few minutes one way or the other is okay. Yes, I have seen natal
charts where a difference in time of birth of five minutes one way or
the other is very significant.
This brings us to the second reason an accurate time of birth is important,
the real reason actually. The traditional metaphysical teaching is that the
soul makes its final descent into the newly-born baby's body at the time
of the baby's first breath. Usually this first breath is just a few seconds
or a minute or two after physical birth, which is why a recorded time of
birth is usually accurate enough.
But if you know an expectant mother-to-be, get someone in the delivery
room to note the time of the baby's first breath. Exact to the second can
give an astrologer some spectacular options to work with in chart analysis,
but exact to the minute is just fine.
This then leads to the question of why is the final descent of the
soul into the baby such an all-fired important time to note? Ah, now we're
into the cosmic stuff. Those sensitive to higher vibrations (empaths and
clairvoyants) will tell you that the soul of the child-to-be hangs around
the mother very closely during the last weeks and sometimes months of
pregnancy. All well and good.
While the preparation work of the soul for the new incarnation may be
complete, the soul still cannot pass from the "other side"
(the metaphysical plane) into the physical
plane until the time is "correct". What astrologers have known
for thousands of years is that the "correct" time for the
pass-through to the material plane is determined ahead of time by the
soul, and that "correct" time is the time of the baby's first
The alignment of the planets forms an energy grid, which when the baby
takes its first breath, is the exact moment for the soul to "slide
through" to the material plane from the metaphysical plane. Think of
the complex mathematical grid of planetary placements as tumblers in a lock,
always changing as the planets rotate. The only souls which can return are
those who match that grid, like a key in a lock, at a particular moment.
The soul's own inner patterns "unlocks" the door to return to
the material plane when the planetary placements are just right.
By knowing the time of the baby's first breath, we can calculate the
baby's "key" and know exactly what metaphysical evolution and
lessons the child brings to its latest human incarnation based on the
placement of the tumblers on the lock, the planetary positions. That's
what chart interpretation is all about.
The metaphysical impact of that first breath is so dramatic that it
remains with the child for the rest of its incarnation. This is why we can
read a natal chart 30 or more years later and still learn interesting things
about the adult.
This is why astrologers make such a big deal about an accurate time of
birth: because it IS a big deal.
WHEN NO TIME OF BIRTH IS AVAILABLE
But what do astrologers do when no time of birth is available? This
is more common that you might think. It's only been in the last hundred
years or so that accurate time-keeping devices have been common enough
in the West that time of birth is generally available to most Westerners.
Prior to the 20th Century the vast majority of humanity didn't have
any idea of time of day much less time of birth. Accurate time was the
exclusive preserve of the educated and wealthy elites. The masses grubbed
along as best they could.
This was one of the reasons church bells were invented, to let the
townspeople know what time it was. The drawback was that it required the
peasants know how to count the number of times the bell rang to know the
hour. Thus, the result was that it didn't work often given the abject
ignorance and illiteracy of the Middle Ages.
Yet even in our time-obsessed modern world, there are adopted children,
remote villages, and cultures still with a "no-time" attitude
which result in no time of birth being available.
For instance, I once had a client who was adopted and who was told by
the hospital where she was born in a large Canadian city that her time of
birth was confidential to her mother's birth records and could not be
released to the adopted child, my client, because it might identify the
birth mother. This was 30-odd years after the birth. Go figure.
Thus, time of birth for many people simply isn't there in today's world.
In these cases, all we have is a date of birth and a place of birth.
Well, for hundreds and hundreds of years before the invention of the
digital wrist watch, date and place of birth was all astrologers had for
the vast majority of humanity. What evolved was an attitude of "we'll
do the best we can", and thus the Solar chart evolved into use.
Without getting too technical, the Solar
chart contains at best only half the information a full natal chart
contains. Because we do not have a time of birth, we cannot calculate the
ascendent or any of the house cusps. In many respects, the chart looks
like a hockey player's front teeth: lots of gaps. But it's better than
nothing. And in some cases, it is exceedingly helpful, as limited as it is.
A case study in comparing a Solar chart and a natal chart is contained
in this website. We have full birth data for
Mrs. Takata, who brought Reiki to the Western world in the late 1930s.
Download a free analysis of her natal chart,
and you will find it's about twice as long as the
free analysis you can download of the
chart of Dr. Usui, Reiki's founder, for whom
we only have date and place of birth.
By being limited to a Solar chart are we missing important things about
Dr. Usui? Of course. But the information we have is accurate as far as it
goes, and it certainly tells much about the man that neither the legends,
the myths, nor his tombstone tell us. As such it gives us a start in
understanding the personality of an important historical figure in Reiki
who otherwise might remain a total mystery. That's the whole point of a