What's Unique about a Birth Chart?

By Hank Friedman


The art of astrology is about seeing the uniqueness in each birth chart. We need to approach every horoscope as if it were a mystery, and a story about a person's life. That's because events in a person's life can only happen if they are promised by the birth chart. A camel cannot fly, nor a fish take a hike. Similarly, someone whose chart denies divorce will be very unlikely to have one, even when the "going gets rough" in their primary relationship.

In other words, in order to accurately understand how an individual's life will unfold, we need to have a collection of methods, a formulary, a set of tests. The more accurate our body of tests, and the more tests we have, the greater we can understand the potentials in a person's life, and whether they will manifest.

There are actually two kinds of tests: tests of potentials, i.e. factors in a birth chart that may someday manifest, and tests of unfolding, i.e. what will trigger the natal factors. An astrologer may be excellent at either kind of test, able, for example, to see what kind of nature the person has, or what kinds of events tend to give results, but unless an astrologer has an effective set of tests in both groups, the predictions will fail.

Here are an example of what I am describing:

Tom Hanks has Venus in Taurus in the 10th house (in both his Western and Vedic natal charts). This is a very good placement for career fulfillment. However, unless he experienced astrological cycles that "awakened" his Venus, he would not manifest a glowing career.

In fact, in his Vedic chart, he ran the Venus dasa from the age of 24, when he had the breakthrough role in the movie Splash. Interestingly, in his Western horoscope, we have Pluto Trine Venus and Neptune Opposed Venus that same year, symbolizing huge changes in his career status.

When Mr. Hanks got his Oscars (in 1993 and 1994), he had similar activations of his Venus (Sun progressed sextile Venus in his Western horoscope and the continuing Venus dasa with Venus well positioned in the sub-chart that indicates honors the D-11 during that period).

In other words, we as astrologers need a body of accurate formulae to apply to birth charts and a set to apply unfolding events, in order to ascertain both what is significant about each person's chart and when and if such themes will unfold.

As a practitioner of both Western and Vedic astrology, I am lucky to have large toolboxes in both systems. This enables me to cross-check between the systems, and when both give the same results, the theme is exceptionally likely to manifest. (But even without using both systems, the principles in each work very well.)

I have found that challenging Pluto transits to the Sun, for example, reliably represent major breakthroughs and changes in people's lives more than any other transit or progressed event. Similarly, the dasa of the planet that rules the chart (i.e. lord of the First House) leads to profound advances in self-understanding and self-expression.

It is important to emphasize, however, that for each person's birth chart, a Pluto transit or the dasa of Lagnesa will manifest very differently. That context is everything, and the more one focuses on the interplay between all of the factors in a birth chart, the deeper and more precisely one will understand each chart.

The study of astrology is never-ending, and one of the richest experiences I have ever had. May we all continue to learn from it, and so enhance both our own lives and the lives of those around us.


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