I just had the pleasure of answering a question that comes up a lot and thought I would share it with you. I found this question here on Facebook.
Q: “Why is it that the moment of birth is so important in terms of astrology? Why not the moment of conception, the end of the first trimester, or the onset of puberty?”
Your question is a natural one. The answer is simpler than you’d think. What astrologers use is not exactly the moment of birth per se, it is actually the moment of first breath. Physically what happens at the first breath is that the baby is, for the first time, an entity of its own. Up until first breath the baby is, for all practical purposes, a part of its mother’s body, running all its functions through her. But at first breath the umbilical cord is cut and the baby now breathes for itself, and must learn to eat, poop and run all its biological functions outside the mother’s systems. After birth, the baby becomes a person. Before modern technology, parents did not even know their child’s sex before birth and could not choose a name.
I believe there is a spiritual thing happening at the birth moment that parallels these physical symptoms of autonomy. When that first breath delivers oxygen into the brain, each and every cell in the baby’s body is imprinted with the quality of the moment along with that initial hit of oxygen. The baby then becomes an agent of that moment, linked to it by its very life, and the baby’s job is to be the finest expression of that moment possible. A moment is a temporally holographic picture which can be read from any number of divinatory angles—casting of runes, divining entrails, tarot cards, etc, including the precise positions of planets in the sky at that moment. What I like about using astrology as the divination method is that it is more detailed and precise—more granular, if you will—than any other personality system out there (compare Myers-Briggs, enneagram, etc.) and thus eloquently suited to reflect our complex human nature back to us.
Hinduism has spoken for millennia about prana, the breath of life or universal energy. With that first breath we take in prana and we become a person. And when we die, our breath, our anima/animus, our indwelling spirit, leaves our body for the last time. Goodbye, prana. And while prana may not be measurable, we sure do know when it’s there—and when it’s gone.
As to what hospitals and midwives record, that could be anything: the moment of crowning, the moment the baby emerges, the moment of first breath. Fortunately, those all tend to happen pretty close together. But a smart, technically knowledgeable and experienced astrologer will usually question a birth time, knowing as we do that nurses often record births later in the day and are approximate in their notations. Whenever I see a birth time that’s exactly on the hour or half hour, I suspect that a little tweaking of that birth time may well lead to a more accurate chart.
All this brings up the question of caesarian births and of induced births. Some people come to me with their birth time, “but,” they say, “I was induced” or “I was caesarian. I wasn’t born when I should have been.” That may be so, but the first breath is still your birth moment, even if it was on a hospital’s schedule, not yours. And many astrologers and spiritual guides believe that even the random factors of life fit into a great design, such that an individual could choose a birth moment that included the eventuality of interference.
There was a study done (I forget by who, sorry—it might have been Carl Jung) that showed that astrological family patterns, such as the frequent appearance of a particular Sun or Moon sign, tend to be disrupted by births that are induced or caesarian, giving a greater likelihood (with the increase of these birthing techniques) of modern people feeling a sense of not belonging to their families of origin. Interesting idea, isn’t it?