It is time to go back to high school geometry! Your natal chart is laid out on a circle. A circle is a full 360 degrees all the way around. In astrology, we read the degrees going in a counterclockwise direction.
In astrology there are 12 signs of the zodiac. Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces (there is a chart at the end of the post to identify the glyphs).
Each sign is 30 degrees each. 12 x 30 degrees = 360 degrees. The degrees are numbered from 0 at the beginning of the sign all the way through 29 counting in a counterclockwise direction. The next sign starts at 0 and so on. Not all programs that do charts will show all the single degree marks. Most will show 0, 10, 20. You just have to realize that 15 is halfway between 10 and 20. 12 is between 10 and 15, etc. Many times, the degrees are not numbered at all… just remember each sign is 30 degrees and divide it up for yourself.
Now this is where most people get confused. Houses are NOT all 30 degrees each (unless you are using whole-sign houses, which is not very common). The only thing you can rely on is the House #1 always starts at the 9 o’clock point and House #7 at the 3 o’clock position (the horizon line). The size of the houses varies widely. In my chart, one of my houses is 46 degrees wide and another is only 23 degrees. SIGNS ARE ALWAYS 30 DEGREES, BUT HOUSES ARE NOT.
There are 12 houses of varying size. They are numbered in a counterclockwise motion and are usually labeled closest to the center of a chart. They divide up your chart like a pie. Sometimes you get a bigger slice than the other guy. The lines that go from the center of the circle to the outside are the houses and the colored sections on the outside are the signs. See how the lines don’t match up with the signs?
The 1st House starts at just under the 20 mark of Gemini, so I would read that as 21 degrees Gemini. The 2nd House starts at 26 degrees Cancer. The 3rd House starts at 14 degrees Leo.
(10 degrees Sag is in the 6th House, 1 degree Aqua is in the 8th House, and 8 degrees Taurus is in the 11th House)
When you go and look at your own chart, know that the signs will be in a different configuration than the one above, but you will still read the degrees in the same way, counterclockwise and 30 for each sign.
Would you like an easy way to know where the New and Full Moons are affecting your chart? Check out the astroMANIFEST subscription service and member site.