What is a Natal Chart?If you look at the words natal chart you could read them another way "birth map" - this may help you understand what is being talked about. Basically, the natal chart is a map of the sky including the positions of the planets for the time that you were born. Where you are born has an impact on what is seen in the sky, e.g., if two people were born on the same day and at the same time but in a different city and country, what is seen overhead would be different. This would mean that their natal charts showing planetary placements would be different from each other.
So, the first step in using astrology is to draw a map of the sky for the moment a person is born. This map includes all the planets, plus a few other points of interest such as the horizon and the middle of the sky directly over the birthplace. The time of birth is important for detailed work because it affects the position of the various parts of the chart, in particular the zodiac sign on the eastern horizon (this gives the Rising Sign/Ascendant) and position of the point over the birthplace (this gives the position of the Midheaven).
If the time of birth is unknown it can be worked out through major life events by an experienced astrologer who specialises in this branch of astrology: this is known as rectification. To do this you would need to give the astrologer as many major life events as possible such as: marriage; birth of children; major moves; divorce; death; new business ventures or jobs; and/or any other significant changes to your life.
Another way of finding out what time you were born is to contact the hospital you were born in. In the majority of cases they have this information recorded on the mother's file.
Natal Chart InterpretationsOnce the natal chart has been prepared, the positions of the planets in different zodiac signs (ie, Aries, Taurus, Gemini, etc) can be 'interpreted'. This is an area that people interested in astrology usually become a little skeptical about the validity of astrology because the interpretations can vary greatly from one astrologer to another. One way to understand these differences in interpretation is to understand that the planets and other points in the natal chart are used as symbols: as such, they have quite a broad ability to represent different qualities depending on the age, sex, marital status, belief system, etc of the person whose natal chart is being interpreted.
Interpretation is also affected by the particular areas of interest of the individual astrologer. For example, some of the areas of specialisation include psychological, past-life, medical, child-based, and the list goes on!
The type of information gained from the natal chart includes understanding the early home life, relationship with parents and how these affect adult relationships. There are many others areas that can be looked at in quite a comprehensive way such as how you are perceived by the people around you, emotional needs, how you express love and affection, etc.
The information found in the natal chart can also provide an insight into what talents a person may possess that have not yet been realised or used to full potential.
Natal charts offer the benefit of self-understanding which may give a person a whole new perception of themselves, direction in life and open up possibilities for new directions in life; both in the physical and psychological sense.
ForecastingNow that I have explained what a natal chart is, it's time to have a look at a basic system of forecasting.
One way to understand what type of information forecasting can provide is to think of weather forecasting: looking at the general conditions in a person's life at various times - sunny, cloudy, windy, etc. Basically, if you knew it was going to be raining on a particular day, you probably would organise a picnic for another time. The same applies to using astrology for everyday life.
There are various ways to use prepare a forecast, the simplest being transits. Another word for transits would be movements - this refers to the movement or transit of planets. If you think of the natal chart, this is a map of the sky showing the planetary placements at the time, date and place of birth and does not change or move. In reality the planets do not stop moving, but continue their journey around the Sun - these continual movements of the planets are what are being referred to when an astrologer talks about transits. The transiting planets are then looked at in relation to the natal chart.
Forecasting can be a valuable aid in understanding and making the most of opportunities coming your way and also in dealing with some of the difficulties that life can bring.