All About Your Hand Painted Natal Chart
At the moment of your birth, the heavenly bodies in our solar system make a unique configuration that will not be repeated for another 4,320,000 years. Because this configuration is calculated mathematically based on where you were born, no two human beings–and there are over 7 billion of us–can have the exact same configuration. Not even twins. How cool is that?
“At the moment of your birth, the heavenly bodies in our solar system make a unique configuration that will not be repeated for another 4,320,000 years.”
Using the birth date, time, latitude, and longitude, I generate a computerized natal chart using some pretty cool astrological software. It typically looks something like this:
The software I use for natal art portraits has a really neat feature a lot of other astrological software doesn’t: you can switch between “chart” view and “cosmos” view. Using “cosmos” view, I can reconstruct your chart imagery accurately without any risk of say, placing Venus between the Earth and Sun if it was actually orbiting on the opposite side of the Sun when you were born. It looks like this:
There are plenty of places online you can go to have your natal chart calculated for free. Most all of them will generate a Western Tropical chart. For my natal art portraits, I prefer to use a Sidereal chart*. This is how I can assure the greatest degree of astronomical accuracy. The differences between the two constitute a blog post all of their own, so I won’t get too much into it here. But Bill Nye, one of my favorite science personalities, explains the difference between the Tropical and Sidereal zodiacs pretty succinctly in this video:
Well, the Babylonians didn’t “make up” the Tropical zodiac, Ptolemy (or more probably Hipparcus)¹ did. And of course, Bill might not be aware that there are a number of Western Sidereal astrologers who practice using the Sidereal zodiac, and that Vedic astrology is also based on the Sidereal zodiac, but the intricacies of that discussion are best saved for another post. Suffice to say, if you are not familiar with Sidereal astrology, there is a chance that your astrological sun and rising signs are different than what you may be familiar with under Western Tropical astrology.
In geocentric astrology**, the Earth is always placed in the center of the chart. Why? Because the Earth is where we live, and the chart is always calculated relative to our exact place of birth. In fact, the very uppermost point of the planet Earth in the center of the chart represents the exact place you were born. Since there is no “up” in space, it makes sense that “up” in an astrological chart is relative to the place where we are. Like this:
“Well, the Babylonians didn’t ‘make up’ the tropical zodiac.”
“It’s easy to see how even twins will have subtle but important differences between each others’ charts.”
The eastern horizon is represented on the left side of the chart and the western horizon is on the right, depicted by the horizontal line bisecting the chart. The astrological sign “on the ascendant”–that is, on the left hand side of the chart where the horizontal line bisects it—is said to be the “rising” sign. It is the zodiac sign cresting the eastern horizon at the exact moment of birth, from our perspective at the birth place. Imagine the Zodiac dial in this portrait is divided into 360 degrees and is constantly in motion in a clockwise direction, a new degree cresting the horizon every 4 minutes. It’s easy to see how even twins will have subtle but important differences between each others charts.
Because a natal art portrait is meant to be a sort of “snapshot” of the solar system at the exact moment of your choosing, the planets are depicted roughly in relative scale*** rather than as glyphs, and without aspect lines. The astrological glyph of each celestial body is inscribed on the face of the chart, so each body can be clearly identified. In this sample, the inner wheel is inscribed with the glyphs representing the House Rulers. Not all of my natal portrait designs have this, and you can choose to have it left out of yours. The outer wheels indicate the 12 Houses (using the Placidus system), the Zodiac belt, and finally the seasons.
*If you would like a PDF copy of your Western Sidereal chart emailed to you, feel free to contact me. I do charge a nominal fee of $2, and you will typically receive your chart in 1-2 business days. Otherwise, you can get one free at www.astro.com. Be sure to select “extended chart settings” and change the zodiac field from “default” to “sidereal” in the drop down menu.
**Another branch of astrology, called Heliocentric astrology, uses charts constructed around the Sun rather than the Earth. It’s pretty fascinating, too. I can always use a Heliocentric format for your natal art portrait if you prefer.
***Please permit me some artistic license here. I say roughly in relative scale because, given the limited amount of space I have on a piece of paper, the celestial bodies cannot be well-depicted at scale from the perceived distance from which we would be viewing them. Imagine the portrait as if you were looking through a porthole. If the Sun were actually the size I depict it, the smaller planets and the planets farthest away would be nearly impossible to discern with the naked eye. They would look more like stars. If I depicted the Sun at scale compared to the planets, she would pretty much blot out anything else in the picture. Also, the calculations involved in making the celestial bodies “to scale” is beyond my capabilities in terms of time and equipment.
¹Powell, History of the Zodiac (2007), p. 25.
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My astrological explorations began in 1994 and have taken me on an amazing, decades-long journey of discovery beginning with the teachings of Sybil Leek and continuing with those of Joanna Woolfolk, Nicholas Campion, Max Heindel, Ptolemy, Susan Miller, Carol Rushman, Steven Forrest, Cyril Fagan, Robert Powell, and Dane Rudhyar, to name just a few. I began reading privately for family and close friends in 2003 and following a profoundly transformational spiritual experience opened my practice to the public through Mystick Physick in 2014.
Now more than ever I see the need in the world for the life and soul guidance that astrology can offer to those who seek to understand its sublime language. Collectively we are waking up and determined to find meaning and purpose in our daily lives. This is the gift that astrology offers us.
I’m Phaedra, astrologer and artist of Mystick Physick. I make my home in Idaho’s gorgeous Treasure Valley with my husband of 18 years, our dog Rocket and cat Jet. In my natural habitat I can usually be found meditating, continuing my ongoing astrological explorations, painting to the astrological rhythms of the solar system, or reading about the latest discoveries in the science of consciousness or astrophysics. You can find me at phaedrapaints.com and mystickphysick.com.
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