The Importance of an Accurate Birth Time

by Hank Friedman

Issues with Birth Time Inaccuracy

I cannot tell you how many times a small difference in birth time has made a huge difference in the reading of a chart. Birth time inaccuracy is astrology's "Achilles heel", i.e. the most common reason that readings go awry, and why astrology has had a bad reputation throughout the ages.

In the 2016 presidential election, for example, every astrologer that I heard of predicted Hillary Clinton to win. But they were all wrong because they didn't have her birth time, and making important predictions like that without a birth time is an exercise in futility. It can't and shouldn't be done.

Many years ago, a client wanted a compatibility reading with her boyfriend. After working up the synastry, she called and told me she had his birth time wrong. I reworked the data. Then she called me again with a third set of data.

What was striking was that even though all three variations of the data for her boyfriend were for the same day, the comparison went from good to bad to good as his birth time changed.

Just recently, I was given birth data by a very prominent person in order to do a reading for him, but the time of birth was sketchy, i.e. "Somewhere around 5 am", and so I gently responded that I needed an accurate birth time or instead, we could just do psychic work and skip the astrology.

When he researched and found his actual birth time, it was over 4½ hours later. The 5 am chart was undistinguished and could not have been the chart of a prominent person, but the chart using the accurate birth time practically shouted that he was famous, wealthy, and of great contribution to the world.

In my groundbreaking article, Astrological Techniques and Uncertain Birth Times, I was the first astrologer to alert my fellow astrologers to the astrological techniques, like astromapping, that should never be used with an uncertain birth time. I encourage you to read this very important piece.

But many practicing astrologers are still unaware of what methods they shouldn't use when the birth time is iffy.


The Ancient Solution

Ancient astrologers, both in India and Greece, had one big problem: birth times were very inaccurate. The main issue was that time pieces were both scarce and imprecise.

So they had to come up with an astrology that was relatively immune to errors in birth time. That led to the creation of the Whole Sign House system. In this system, all planets stay in the same house for two hours at a time. Therefore, if the birth time is within that 2 hour range, the reading will be completely accurate.

This was a masterful solution, and is still used throughout India today.

[This ancient approach also didn't use aspect orbs. So a planet in a specific house influences all the other planets in the same house and vice versa; and also all the planets in a house aspect all the planets in the opposite house, regardless of orb.]

In the house systems used in modern Western astrology, on the other hand, as the time changes, the Ascendant and planet positions shift continuously like a rotating dial, with the house positions of the planets changing often. That's why you need a precise birth time if you are going to use modern Western astrology to delineate charts.

You can see this in the animations below. Note the difference between the modern house systems and the Whole Sign House System.

Western chart animation Whole Sign Animation

Important Side Note

The techniques and methods used in modern Western astrology were developed using the Ascendant as the beginning of the First House and the Tropical Zodiac, which is why the Whole Sign House system should not be used. It simply doesn't work.

During the Hellenistic era, the Tropical and Sidereal Zodiacs were almost identical, certainly within the accuracy limits of the calculations available. So astrologers didn't have to decide which Zodiac to use.

It's no accident that Vedic astrologers stuck with both Whole Sign Houses and the Sidereal Zodiac, because their entire astrological system was designed from the ground up to work with these settings; while Western astrologers, even during the late Medieval era, gave up on Whole Sign Houses, and used the Tropical Zodiac with modern House systems.


Modern Solutions for Imprecise Birth Times

What are the choices an astrologer has for giving a reading without a precise birth time?

[As delineated here, in all cases, avoid using techniques that rely on exact birth times.]

There are several options:

(Assuming the birth date is known)

1. The birth time is completely unknown, then:

Western astrology: Use a Sunrise (or Noon) birth chart. This is a time-honored method that still can give valuable information on the person.

Vedic astrology: Use the Chandra Lagna chart, I.e. the chart rotated to place the Moon in the First House. Again, a time-honored method. (If the Moon sign changes during the day, then two Chandra Lagna charts will need to be constructed, and the astrologer will need to determine which one describes the person and their life better.)

With the birth time unknown, transits cannot be calculated for the Moon or Angles, and might be a little off for the Sun, Mercury, and Venus. Also, the Lunar aspects, the Rising Sign and house placements and rulerships cannot be ascertained.

2. If the birth time is known within a 3 or 4 hour range:

Western astrology: Create charts for every half hour of the time range and then interview the person to see which fits best.

Vedic astrology: Create the two or three charts that occur during the time range, each with different Ascendants, and then interview the person to see which fits best.

3. If the birth time is known within roughly 15 minutes, then see if the Ascendant changes sign, and if so, create charts for both Ascendants. Limit the techniques that you use to those indicated in my article on working with uncertain birth times.



Another, more demanding, option is to undertake rectifying those charts with uncertain birth times. Rectification is a process of investigating the person's nature and life themes and events to narrow down the time of birth as much as possible, i.e. to find the actual birth time.

Vedic astrologers routinely rectify charts, because they are able to use Varga charts (i.e. harmonic charts) to narrow down the time range. Varga charts can change in a matter of minutes. And because each Varga chart represents a different life topic (e.g. marriage, children, career, parents, health, wealth, etc.), Jyotishis can compare the Varga charts for different birth times with each of these themes in the person's life.

Rectification using modern Western astrology methods, on the other hand, is a huge endeavor, taking many, many hours of work and great skill on the part of the astrologer. That's why most Western astrologers never undertake to rectify a chart.

I have rectified charts using both methods successfully, myself, but no longer use modern Western astrology for this purpose because it is so labor intensive. (Note: I no longer take on rectification jobs because my practice is full.)

If you want to have your chart rectified, you can contact Michael Manzella, who comes highly recommended to me and who uses Vedic methods of rectification.


Astrology Software for Birth Time correction?

I have often been asked if a person can rectify a chart (find the correct birth time) using astrology software. I have tested every program on the market, and they all completely fail to give an accurate time.

The best ones might give, in some cases, likely time ranges, but even that requires knowing exactly what technique and points to use (not directions or progressions) and then the skill to determine where, within the broad time range, the birth actually occurred. In sum, even the best software is not of much use in rectification.

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