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Is it possible to describe one's character based on the birth date? Are the place and time of birth required? How far is it possible to draw valuable information about one's personality from an astrological chart?
This matter has no limit. It addresses one of the most important roles of astrology. Indeed, to know oneself and to know other people by looking into a natal chart is one of the best favourite hobbies of both professional and amateur astrologers!
In a matter of seconds, eyebrows frown, smiles lighten up faces, and the quick surge of adrenaline caused by reading an astrological chart is probably most revealing about the special interest aroused by this specific branch of astrology, which psychological analysis is. Indeed, the natal chart is supposed to describe, quite rapidly for experienced people, the personality as well as the factors of psychological growth of any human being. Astrology's main advantage is the short amount of time which is needed to understand a person through his/her astrological chart.
It is very common to hear people say that in real life, many months, and even many years are required in order to thoroughly know someone. It is especially so if the person in question is of a secretive nature, or if he/she has communication or self-expression difficulties. With an astrological natal chart, the astrologer "sees" the most salient characteristics within seconds, understands their symbolism in a couple of minutes, and is able to form an opinion about the chart owner's psychological weaknesses and strengths within a few hours, and sometimes, even less. Actually, the wording "weaknesses and strengths" is fairly subjective, and it is preferable to talk about vulnerabilities and abilities to adjust to vagaries and to people in most areas of life.
Personality description is probably the part of Western astrology which wins the best supports from its proponents. Unlike Chinese astrology for instance, which is more predictive than descriptive of a personality, Western astrology linked up with psychology and psychoanalysis very early.
Since the natal astrological chart is believed to represent the influences involved in the forming of a character, it is possible to analyse the mechanism at work for each of us, to understand behaviours which may be stunning when there is no visible cause. It is also possible to remedy specific repetitive patterns leading to failure, and also to take advantage of obvious qualities, which the person may not yet be aware of.
The above questions deal with the place and time of birth. The definite answer is that, even without these data, it remains possible to draw an amazingly interesting amount of information from a natal chart.
Without going into too many details, which is beyond the scope of this article, the technique used for the character analysis and the description of the psychological portrait takes into account the planets' positions and the inter-aspects among these planets, as well as planetary dominants and astrological houses (including the Ascendant, the Midheaven, etc.). Several typologies can already be identified in the first two parts of the analysis, namely the planets' positions and their inter-aspects. Therefore, although the time of birth is an important feature, much valuable information can still be obtained without it. As for planetary dominants, many among them may be found without a time of birth, since they are not always based on house cusps. However, it is true that assessments are not as fine-tuned and outstanding as in the cases where a reliable place and time of birth are known.
For instance, a dissonant Moon-Mars interaction is very likely to translate into huge mood swings, above-average impulsiveness, and uncontrollable emotional surges. Of course, it does not mean that it has a positive or negative impact. In the case of a soft interaction between the Sun and Jupiter, authority, leadership, and generosity are part of the person's characteristics, regardless of the astrological houses involved. All this is valid for planets in signs also. Indeed, the Moon in Aries is combative, and, to get back to our previous example, most likely over-emotional. Mercury in Gemini is prone to increase intellectual curiosity and keenness, or to scatter intellectual abilities, since this planet naturally rules intelligence. And so forth.
Is it possible to put a figure on the amount of knowledge which can be drawn from a natal chart without a birth time, as compared to a comprehensive chart with an accurate time and place of birth? It is not too risky to say that, in the first instance, the natal chart may yield up to 50% or 60% of the information available in a comprehensive chart. It must be noted that when the birth time is unknown, approximations are caused by astrological houses and by the Moon, whose average motion is 12 degrees per day, thus 6 degrees in 12 hours, which constitutes the maximal margin of error, if noon is taken as a conventional reference. Thus, considering that a sign measures 30 degrees, there is a non-negligible, yet relatively limited probability, that the Moon shifts signs, if her position at noon is between 24 and 30 degrees, or between 0 and 6 degrees of any astrological sign.
Therefore, it is necessary not to give too much importance to the Moon's position in sign, as well as to the aspects she makes, although 6 degrees constitute such a narrow stretch that it remains possible to take it into account and to pay attention to the information delivered.
As for the place of birth, similarly to the time of birth, it is possible, but not desirable of course, to ignore it. A different location implies a different domification, which means different astrological houses. By contrast, planets are not affected, and their interpretation in signs and aspects remains entirely valid. Considering that the Earth's circumference measures approximately 40,000 km as the crow flies, and corresponds to 360 degrees of longitude, which means 12 astrological signs, as far as houses are concerned, a gap of 200 km, quite a significant one, involving the place of birth, does not change the house positions more than by 200/40000 x 360 degrees, or 1.8 degree, or 1 degree and 48 minutes of arc. It is definitely very narrow! Thus, the impact is often negligible, except in the case where some planets move from one house to another.
Therefore, the answer to these questions is:
Yes, astrology enables to fairly accurately and rapidly describe one's character and personality. It sometimes discloses psychological facets which the chart owner is not yet aware of. This knowledge of oneself through astrology also enables one to gain awareness of one's vulnerabilities, to lessen them, to remedy them, and even in some cases, to turn them into strength by transcending or overcoming their negative components. For instance, an exaggerated emotional vulnerability can be exploited deliberately for artistic creations, and a natural tendency towards violence can be redirected into athletic exploits, etc. In similar ways, one can make use of one's assets more consciously, whether in one's actions, communication, and in all other areas of life.
Yes indeed, even when the time and place of birth are not available, and for instance taking noon as an estimate, it remains possible to get huge amounts of information, even though they represent only between 50% to 60% of the information which is available from a natal chart having a known time and place of birth.
May we remind that for example in France, in the majority of cases, and for free, with a simple telephone call to the town hall of the natal city, you can get a birth certificate with the time of birth, even though you are not a relative. It is strongly recommended to know the birth time before ordering a Comprehensive Psychological Portrait.