When a student begins studying astrology, the basic components can be easily learned from a book and memorized, to a certain extent. Putting puzzle piece A together with piece B can also be done rather efficiently. But when it comes to putting the puzzle of an entire chart (and therefore an entire person) together, it can be easily overwhelming. A natal chart isn't just the sum of its parts, and must be understood on a foundational level to see how all the parts really fit together. Once the foundation is understood, themes start to emerge and you can transcend the parts and understand the whole. This is the holy grail for any student!
There are many ways to start dissecting the puzzle of a natal chart. Many people start to dive into a chart by starting with the Sun, Moon, and Rising sign so as to understand a sort of basic vignette, and then add the rest of the planets in one by one to that foundational understanding. Many people assess the bigger picture by analyzing a sort of hierarchy of planetary 'weight', such as which planets are stronger or weaker because of their dignity or debilitation (fall, exaltation, rulership, or detriment). Still others will look at groupings of planets, to determine which elements or modalities are strongest, or the Jones' patterns such as the Bucket or the See Saw. All of these are fine ways to begin, and all are an attempt to get a sense of the foundation of a chart, an understanding of the primary cornerstones of a chart on top of which everything else in the chart can rest. I'm going to illustrate a different way of discovering the foundation of a chart using the nodes.
The Chart Behind the Chart
I look at the foundation of a chart as well, but because I am an evolutionary astrologer,* I use the nodes of the moon to understand a person and a chart's foundation. I ask two questions of the chart; first, rather than trying to understand or predict what this person will do, how they will behave or what good or bad luck will befall them based on their planetary placements, I ask the chart 'Why is this person here?' Before I try to understand what someone with a Sun in Aries IS, or how they'll behave, I try and understand why that soul needs their Sun in Aries to begin with. To do that, I first start with understanding the north and south nodes of the moon: why they're here, and where they came from – the orientation they entered this life with, respectively.
Second, rather than assuming someone will epitomize all expressions of their natal chart placements as if they were a walking astrological stereotype, I assume that the chart tells me not what that person IS, but what they are becoming. Therefore, I ask the chart, 'What is this person trying to learn?' Having a birth chart represents the tool box they were given when they were born, but they still need to learn to use each tool (planet in sign and house) effectively. Once I understand the nodes, I can look at the rest of the planets in their signs and houses in the chart and understand why this person has the toolbox they do.
It's with these two things in mind that I interpret any chart, and I'll demonstrate the resulting techniques here. This is the chart of a mystery actress. I chose a famous person because while a famous person's life is not revealed only through what the public knows about them, it at least gives some ability to place biography with astrology. I will reveal her name at the end of this interpretation. Be good! Don't skip to the end.