Why is an accurate birth time important?
The birth data that’s needed by an astrologer is your date of birth, your birth town or city, and the exact time of day you were born. Much of the information in your chart is dependant on the accuracy of your birth time to the minute, and here’s why. . .
The positions of the planets in the sky that give rise to differences in personality move quite quickly and make a perceptible and meaningful shift every 3 minutes. Traits move from the foreground to the background and back again so that with a difference of just 15 minutes I (the astrologer) could easily be talking to a radically different personality. That’s confusing enough, but it gets worse: predictions are based on very specific timing of fast-moving points in your chart. If your time is off by even a few minutes, the dates of events and experiences in your lifetime could be off by months, or (easily) even years. The prediction could describe a time period accurately but be off by years and any astrologer worth her salt cares about that kind of accuracy.
Astrology is a precise discipline, and an astrologer’s ability to interpret should never be tested using poor data. Yet, that’s what astrologers have had to deal with for centuries. We are told that what we do is intuitive and not scientific, yet we are expected to prove astrology’s veracity with inaccurate or incomplete birth data, because hospitals have no concept of the importance of accuracy in this matter. Most hospital staff do not know that the official time of birth from the standpoint of astrology is the first breath. That’s the moment when the baby takes oxygen into its cells and begins to be an entity independent of the mother. I have found that many clients’ birth times are questionable and in need of a little testing and rectification. So first breath is the moment that should be recorded, at least for the sake of astrology. But that is not well-known.
This leads to poor data and astrologers—and astrology itself—are judged by how well our system works with poor data. Where’s the sense in that? OK, rant over.
Why your mom’s memory is not the best source
Your mom may have the best memory in the world, but even she is just reporting what someone told her or what was written on a piece of paper. This is because no mother alive is watching a clock at the moment her child is born. I’m an astrologer and a mother and even so, it was my husband and my very kind Ob/Gyn who noted the precise time of my daughter’s birth, not me.
Your birth certificate is your go-to record
Your birth certificate is the main vital record of your existence. In the eyes of the law, it makes you a real person. It is your property and I strongly suggest you dig it up and look at it. If you have ever gotten a passport, you probably have a birth certificate. If you don’t have it, your mother may. If you cannot find a relative who has it, you can get a copy by contacting the county seat where you were born. There are also some third-party services who keep vital records, so you can try googling “birth certificate TOWN, STATE.” Be prepared to pay $25-50 for that.
Most birth certificates have a place to list the time. If the time listed includes minutes and is not a round hour, you’re in excellent shape. If your birth certificate doesn’t list a time, or if you don’t have a birth certificate, then your real search begins.
Try the hospital
Begin by calling the hospital you were born in. Get the Records dept. Ask them the procedure for getting a copy of your birth record. That is vital medical information which belongs to you and is confidential. They will probably need you to mail (or better yet, fax) a copy of your driver’s license or ID and a letter stating your birth name and that of each parent, including mother’s maiden name. They will tell you exactly what they need and where/how to send it. Ask how long it will take to receive the record. It is very likely they will need to dig through a lot of records to find yours and they may need weeks to do that.
It’s possible the hospital no longer has the records–they may have been transferred to microfiche (remember microfiche?) or similar media and moved to the county seat, in which case the hospital may point you in the right direction. If the hospital has burned down, flooded or endured a war, you may be pretty much out of luck and your search may end there, so you’ll need to search the memorabilia as I describe below. But even though the hospital is an uncertain route, it is still best to start there.
Were you a home birth?
If you were born at home via midwife, you might try the midwifery to see if they have records or if they transferred anything to the county. If you’re lucky, they still exist, are findable and still have the records.
Do it now
For all of these reasons above, it’s best to begin searching for your birth time as soon as you realize you will want an astrology reading at some point in your life. The records can be lost or destroyed at any time. Don’t leave your only access to this valuable information up to chance.
Search the memorabilia
Another thing you might try while you are waiting to hear from the hospital or county seat is to ask your mom to search for any written record of any kind from the days after your birth. I have had clients find a birth announcement, baby book, hospital bracelet, hospital bassinet card and even handwriting on the back of a newborn photo. Any of these can be a fine source, so search the memorabilia. Even if your mom is the rambling kind, you may be surprised at what you can unearth when you press for written information.
No luck at all?
If you have nothing more than a solid birth date and a span of time that day when at least one relative assures you you were born, then rectification is possible. (I have received inquiries from clients who don’t even have a certain birth date and whom I have had to reluctantly turn away.) Rectification, which means “making right,” is the process of moving your birth time back and forth and finding a time when everything clicks together: your personality and your history. You feel that the astrologer is describing you and your experience. It’s a very distinct sensation when it happens.
Rectification is a lot of work for the astrologer and I avoid it, or simplify it, whenever possible, because more tedious work for me means greater cost for the client and if the client can find their birth time and save us both the effort, it’s well worth it to do so. Searching out your birth time is definitely the first course of action and rectification only a last resort.
The “No Birth Time” method of doing a reading, even without any birth time at all
When you’ve tried your hardest to discover your birth time and you come up with nothing, there’s still something we can do without resorting to rectification. I call it the “no birth time” method and it gives us all the information we can count on in the chart, without cluttering up the chart with information that might not be true.
A birth chart contains 4 general categories of information: planets in signs, planets in houses, signs on house cusps and planets in aspect to each others. Without the time of day, we cannot know the “signs on houses” part, which means we also cannot know the “planets in houses” part. Most especially, we cannot know the Rising sign (aka Ascendant) or the Midheaven sign. Without knowing which houses planets are in, there’s a lot of information missing and it’s not information that’s all located in just one place, but spread throughout a wholistic chart, where every piece of information impacts other pieces. It’s less like information is lost through amputation, but more like the chart is lobotomized (sorry for the awful analogy).
But there’s a simple way to provide a view of the chart that contains only information that was accurate all day. We set the chart for noon, then use a 0º Aries Rising. This effectively erases the houses and shows us only the planets in their signs and aspects to each other. Then I note the span of degrees (and possibly signs) the Moon was in that day, and voila! A readable chart which doesn’t contain ALL the information, but at least doesn’t contain misleading information. And because each piece of the chart contains such a wealth of information that I could spend 2 hours talking just about your Mercury retrograde in Aquarius (for example), we end up with more than enough to talk about that could answer your questions about personality, love life, career, and purpose in an initial reading. You can request any of our services as a “no birth time reading.” But do expect to be asked about your search because we care about doing the best work we can for you around here at Pandora Astrology.