The Importance of an Accurate Birth Time (and How to Get It)
What time were you born?
Your mother says, “In the afternoon.” Grandma remembers your father calling form the hospital “just after lunch.” “Two o’clock p.m.” is written with a flourish in the baby book. So, what time were you born and does it really matter? If you want to have an astrological reading, it does.
An accurate astrological chart can reveal volumes of information about a person’s character and potential, as well as the challenges and opportunities that await him or her in the future. The natal chart (also called a birth chart or horoscope) is essentially a freeze-frame image of the sky and the precise birth moment and location. After that moment, of course, the Earth kept turning and the planets continued their journeys across the heavens. Nobody else shares your natal chart. You are truly unique! And you owe it to yourself to have a reading about the real you.
So what if your birth time is only approximate–accurate to within, say, a half hour?
The Ascendant, or rising sign, a key factor in chart interpretation, moves one degree every four minutes. It changes signs about every two hours. If your birth time is off by 30 minutes, you could easily come up with the wrong rising sign. And, since all the house cusps change along with the Ascendant, some planets could be in the wrong houses. This would greatly alter the astrologer’s interpretation, since the houses represent the basic areas of life in which the planetary energies are played out.
Having the wrong birth time can also make a big difference in forecasting. Thirty minutes by the clock can throw off the timing of some predictions by years. If any planet’s sign or house placement is incorrect, the forecast might make no sense at all. This would be a serious waste of the astrologer’s time and your money!
How to obtain an accurate birth time
Many birth certificates do include the time. You or your parents may have the original tucked away somewhere. If you live in the U.S. (and possibly in other places) you can also obtain a copy of your birth record from the Vital Records office or Health Department of the county where you were born. A written request is usually required. Phone ahead, though, to find out where to write, what information is needed and how much it costs. The fee is generally $15, and you need to provide your birth date, parents’ full names and often the name of the hospital, or at least the town, where you were born. Sometimes other information, such as a Social Security number, is needed.
It is important that you specifically request that the birth time be given. Some forms for duplicate birth records don’t have a space for the time. Ask that it be included on a separate sheet if necessary, and boldface or highlight this so the clerk who handles your request is sure to notice.
If you like, you can tell them it’s for an astrological chart. I do this as a means of educating the public, but if you’d rather not give a reason, that’s fine too.
What about rectification?
Some astrologers, including me, offer a service called rectification, in which we work backwards from key events in the life to determine the birth time–sort of like forecasting in reverse. Although it’s an educated guess, a rectified time is still a guess. However, if you’ve tried the vital records process and been unsuccessful (as in the case of sealed adoption records and births where the time was never recorded), rectification is an option.
So, in the case of your astrological chart, timing is everything. The relatively small effort it takes to get the right time can pay off in years of informative and growth-promoting readings.
For additional information on obtaining duplicate birth records in the United States, visit VitalChek. Be sure to double check this information with the agencies listed before sending requests or money, to make sure the address, fees, etc., are still current.