between the birth chart and other influences
Part One

by Hank Friedman

A birth chart is an incredible tool for understanding much about a person and their life. And transits and other unfolding cycles reveal incredibly valuable information about their journey. And yet, a birth chart can be quite affected by many factors that are present in the person and their lives, like gender, culture, and more. (And these life factors are impacted by the birth chart too. )

In this article, I will explore some of these interactions.

Note: It would be naive to think that the birth chart encapsulates all of human experience and expression and is the only factor in determining how a person appears and acts.

In fact, the other factors both within and outside of a person's birth chart that can alter how a person manifests, sometimes beyond recognition.

It is vital for astrologers to take into account the relevance of other important features of a person and their life besides what's in their chart.


Within charts, for example, planets in the 12th house are often significantly muted. A person with Leo Sun in the 12th for example, will seldom grab center stage like a 10th house Leo Sun will.

But let's not lose sight of all of the many different life factors that can and often do overshadow or at least modify chart themes.

Some of the most obvious influences include gender, genetic factors, disease, psychological type (e.g. enneatype, Jungian personality type, etc.), maturity, and culture.



Because women are fundamentally different than men, the way that women express the four elements in their charts (and the planets) can be profoundly different than how men express them.

Many women with strong Fire in their charts often are warm, passionate, generous, and devoted, while men may dominate, crave attention, and expound.

Men, in many cases, find Water signs challenging, and might be defensive, withdrawing, and reactive, while women can embrace Water more easily, and be nurturing, romantic, empathic, and vulnerable.

Both men and women have different issues with the air signs. Men can be too cerebral or detached or noncommittal if they have significant air in their charts, while women can be too accommodating, image-oriented, and gossipy.

And since women are so much more socially aware than men, a female Aries will rarely be as self-immersed as a male Aries often is.

On the other hand, men with important points in Earth signs usually embrace Earth and become grounded, productive, and disciplined, while many women with major Earth planets can also feel self-critical, over-responsible, and even burdened.

In general, women soften rough-edged signs and planets and men accentuate individualistic and assertive ones.

Genetic Factors, Health, and Trauma

While some astrologers can ascertain from birth charts the presence of genetic factors (including appearance, mental health, and physical stamina), the degree of specificity is often minimal. And I doubt that most astrologers can pinpoint with any degree of accuracy issues like Down's syndrome and other genetic diseases, or schizophrenia, and yet issues as profound as these will drastically overshadow the expression of the chart.

Note: When I gave readings to schizophrenic clients, they could only identify with one or two planets in their charts.

A serious illness can also overshadow the nature of a person, as indicated by their chart. I once gave a reading to a client who was terminally ill, and the vitality and exhuberance that an astrologer might have expected from her chart to see in her was nowhere to be found.

Both severe trauma and disease can markedly alter or even override the person's nature as indicated by the birth chart.


Decades ago, I was talking to a singles group about astrology, and a wiseacre chimed up, "does the chart indicate that we stuck behaving the same way forever"?

I responded, "Do you act the same on a date now as you did when you were fifteen?"

A three year old will often express their Moon (and planets in the First Quadrant) more than their Sun, and in a completely unbridled manner. (With the exception of cultural influences, see below.)

An agitated teenager will certainly show their emotionality and individuality more than they will when they reach the age of 40.

And most people will have tamed a great deal of their Fire by the time that they're 60 years old.

So both age and maturity are major factors in how a person's chart manifests in their life.

[Note: I am including self work within maturity. Most people learn from experience and reflection how to work with their own nature.]


Some cultures are known to be emotionally warm and expressive (e.g. Latino countries) and will be very comfortable touching and hugging each other, i.e. expressing their Fire and Water signs, while other cultures (e.g. British and German) will not.

And behavior is much more circumspect in Japan than in America, so don't expect a Japanese person with a lot of Fire signs in their chart to behave anything like a Fiery Texan.

In fact I was astonished to read, many years ago, that the division of functions of the two sides of the brain (e.g. rational thought in the Left Hemisphere, and creativity and emotional expression in the Right Hemisphere of the brain) does not apply to those raised in Japan! In other words, their brains function fundamentally differently.

Different cultures will therefore bring out some of the person's planets and signs, and tone down others.


I wrote this article because I was struck by how differently people embody their charts depending upon so many factors outside of the horoscope itself. And therefore how important it is to get to know the person you're giving a reading to, and to take into account as many of the influences upon them as possible.

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