Techniques in Astrology: Delineating a Chart

Horoscope Reading(Astrology Explored)–Many a beginning and mid-level astrology student agonizes over how to put all the pieces of chart together to read it.

Much of this can not be taught. Oh we can go through the delineations of various signs, house placements and aspects and tell you what each one means. But the next step, fluency, is process that happens within the budding astrologer’s mind. It can not be taught because each astrologer must rely on their own unique way of processing information to help them make sense of a chart.

Of course writing about delineating a chart would take a book. But here at least are a few things to consider when starting to work on your methods to gain fluency.

How I Started Reading Charts

For a long time I used Steven Forrest’s technique of analyzing the Sun, Moon and Ascendant first, but at that point I was still looking every possible combination and writing it all down. This turned out to be very useful in the learning process because I had delineations in front of me that I could juxtapose. If I saw the same information repeated in the pattern in the stars, then I counted it as a running theme and used it in the reading for the client. Along the way I learned a few things that taught me how to read a chart in a meaningful way to the client.

Analyzing a Chart

When I look at a chart now, I tend to look at aspect structures, how a set of planets interacts with each other. I also look at a horoscope from two perspectives, how the client views him or her self and how other people might view that person, from the outside, looking in.

First, I look at the personal planets to get a snapshot of the how the person thinks of him or her self. For this process I do not consider the aspects, because those are how they interact with other people. One thing I’ve learned about clients is that not many people have insight on the impact of their daily interactions. Most of the time how they think of themselves is wrapped up in the delineations of Sun, Moon, Venus, Mercury and Mars.

Next I will look at how Uranus, Neptune and Pluto interact with the personal planets. These heavy hitters will often point out significant growth issues that are constantly being worked by the client either consciously or unconsciously. Here the aspects become very important as the energies of these planets significantly alter how an individual handles the energy of the personal planet.

For those not familiar, or for those that need review these planets represents these issues.

Uranus—the need to find a separate identity apart from the home, clique of friends, community, nation ad infinitum. The goal is find your special gift and incorporate it into what you share with the world.

Neptune—Our very heady connection to the divine forces of the Universe. The Universe is a broad place with heaven and hell coexisting very nicely. Whether you take Neptunian forces and create your own version of either is strictly up to you. The trick is that one wears the guise of the other. Learning to recognize the difference is the goal.

Pluto—the god of the underworld strips you of everything, from emotional attachments to personal possessions. You can’t take it with you, Pluto, tells you, so what exactly are you going to take back when you return to spirit? Our earthly selves resists this message, resulting in us holding people and things in iron grips setting us up for painful experiences where we are forced to examine exactly this.

Aspects to the “Heavy Hitters”

Trines to Uranus, Neptune and Pluto should be treated cautiously. Due the easy way energy flows from these planets to the personal planet in question they can, but not always, overwhelm the personal planet involved having the individual act more in a Neptune, Uranus or Pluto way. Think of it as too much of a good thing.

Sextiles show that the individual can act in a Uranus, Neptune or Pluto, but not always. Afflictions to this aspect structure indicate that people will act in a Uranian, Neptunian or Plutonian manner when they are facing stress.

Conjunctions can easily overwhelm the personal planet. For instance, take a normally sweet Virgo and combine him or her with a Pluto conjunction and you have a very controlling Virgo. Make sure those socks are not only paired in the sock drawer, make sure they are arranged from dark to light. On the other hand, someone with a personal planet in conjunction with Uranus won’t even have a sock drawer, just basket with all the socks thrown in together. Neptunian conjunctions won’t know where the socks or the sock basket is.

With Squares, the personal planet resists the energy of the heavy hitter, so is constantly having to deal with those sorts of issues. Generally, though not always, the client perceives this as events happening to him or her.

Inconjuncts has the client swinging from the personal planet to the heavy hitter unable to resolve the energy.

Oppositions play out as the client going from one extreme to another until they find a way to balance the energies.

Jupiter and Saturn

I’m not giving short shrift to these two planets. Not strictly personal planets, they do represent your place in the world. This is important information, no doubt. Keep in mind that the essential delineation is how the person views himself, while the aspects show how other people perceive him or her.

Jupiter represents your sense of social justice, how communities should be organized for people to interact. Your place or what place you think you deserve, in the social order, is represented by big Fatso.

Saturn represents the limitations that you feel the world places on you. Where the client is in their Saturn cycle, pre-Saturn 1st Saturn return, between 1st and 2nd return or after the 2nd has a bearing on how the person perceives these limitations.

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5 Responses to Techniques in Astrology: Delineating a Chart

  1. ann says:


    this is an interesting article. I’ve been studying astrology for almost 5 years now, i guess im still on the beginners level. i just want to ask a question. i have mars in libra conjunct with pluto and saturn. it is said that mars in libra is a detriment. you mention in your article that personal planets that are conjunct with hard-hitters such as pluto, will make the personal planets overwhelmed. does this mean that my mars is not a detriment at all because pluto compensates for the lack of its power? or is the presence of pluto makes it weaker even more?


    • bturnage says:

      One would have to see the entire chart to see how Mars works in it, but yes, Mars in Libra is said to be in its detriment because Martian desires and Libran aims work at cross purposes. Mars seeks to take action, but Libra wants to negotiate a middle ground. Mars wants to make war, Libra wants to make love. People with this placement often have trouble standing their own ground.

      Now keep in mind that Mars in Libra does not usually function well. Any dimension that is added to it will only reflect this.

      With Saturn and Pluto standing along side of it, this Mars would be acutely aware of the responsibility to negotiate the middle ground, and would feel as if it failed if it did not do so. Pluto adds a dimension of manipulation and “spying”, gathering information to achieve the Martian result.

      If used positively you can use Saturn and Pluto to strengthen your ability to negotiate and achieve consensus, but you need do so consciously with a full awareness of the pitfalls of each planet.

      In the traditional sense, your Mars will always be in its detriment. How you choose to use it is up to you.

  2. Ellen Longo says:

    Thanks for this Beth. It’s so educational to see how other astrologers approach the chart. I like your distinction between how others see the person and how they see themself.

    “For this process I do not consider the aspects, because those are how they interact with other people.” By this, do you mean that if there is an aspect between two personal planets the person always projects one part onto another person? Can’t the person feel the conflict or flow within their own personality?

    • bturnage says:


      Thanks! And in regards to your question, depends on how self aware the person is.

      Some people are less so and tend to blame other people for their difficulties. These people are less aware of all aspects, from how their actions may generate a situation to how their response exacerbates it.

      Some people are overly self aware and blame themselves for every failed interaction.

      The goal is the middle path, awareness of how our perception of our reality creates it.

  3. Dear Beth
    It was really interesting to see your take on inside and outside views about personality.

    What i have observed over years is or inside look at Birth Chart and Moon Chart and for how others see us have a look at Sun Chart and Mc chart. It has worked amazingly for me but from now on i will also keep the points that u shared in my mind while doing a reading.

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