Working Astrology Without a Birth Time – Part One

Prompted by an excellent question by one of Lua’s readers, I decided to approach the thorny problem of working with astrology when you don’t know your time of birth. In this first part, I’m going to take a look at why we need the time of birth and various methods of obtaining it.

Why all the fuss about time of birth?
In any day there are 1440 possible birth charts in the location you were born. Your chart is unique to you so it really is worth knowing which of those 1440 charts is yours!

To get an accurate astrological reading, you need to know the position of the Ascendant and Midheaven. On average, the Ascendant degree moves by one degree every 4 minutes of clock time. Most (although not all) big life events are accompanied by transits, arcs or progressions to the Ascendant-Descendant or MC-IC axis. The more inaccurate the time, the more inaccurate predictive work becomes, to the point where it can be rendered useless.

Without an accurate time of birth, we do not know which planets are placed in which houses. The houses of the astrological chart show you which areas of life the planets affect and manifest through.

The Moon moves on average 12 degrees every 24 hours. The Moon’s sign and position offers information on your emotional make-up. Not knowing your time of birth could mean you also don’t know your Moon sign as the Moon rapidly moves around the chart. The progressed Moon also gives a great deal of information and can act as a timer for events. If you do not know your time of birth this important information cannot be gained.

What constitutes the time of birth?
There is some discrepancy between astrologers as to what constitutes the time of birth. Some people say it is the moment with the head crowns, others that it’s the moment that the cord is cut. I take the cutting of the cord as the symbolic and literal separation between Mother and child. With the cord cut, the child takes a breath and is a single entity within the world. That to me is the time of birth.

The problem with the time of birth
The difficulty is that unless the time is faithfully recorded, it is likely to vary on a number of factors. The nurse or doctor may record after the fact, looking at their watch as they write up their notes, rounding up the time or guessing if they were waylaid.

If any complications arose at the time of birth with Mum or baby then these would of course have taken precedent over the making of notes. Depending on the situation, your time of birth may have been noted up to an hour after the fact.

As the time of birth is not always noted on hospital records, it may fall to the memory of Mum, the midwife, Dad or birth partner which can be hazy in the midst of the overwhelming experience. I count myself extremely lucky that my parents remembered my time of birth accurately as two minutes before noon.

How to find out your time of birth
Official Records

In some countries, your time of birth is stated on your birth certificate. Unfortunately in England this doesn’t seem to be the case although there are exceptions. If you order a birth certificate, make sure you ask for the full certificate and not the short version. I would advise asking if your time of birth is included before paying for a certificate.

If the time of birth is not stated on your birth certificate, try contacting the hospital you were born in to see if you are allowed access to the records they hold. From the research I’ve done, it seems that hospital records are not kept indefinitely in the UK. Alternatively if you were born at home, see if you can contact the midwife attending at your birth. In all instances I would advise contacting by letter or email rather than by phone.

Family Sources
Did your family keep a baby book? I was delighted to discover my Mother’s birth time in a baby book my Grandmother kept.

In the same vein, it may also be useful to check the back of photographs for notes written on them or photo albums. Way back when before digital photos, the company that printed the photos would include the negatives (I still remember having to post off a roll of film for developing!). Sometimes these negatives have the time that the photograph was taken printed on them.

Diaries and letters are another possible source of information so it can be useful to ask a family member to look back for you.

Questions to ask your family
It is possible to start to build a picture of the day by speaking to your parents, older siblings, grandparents and friends who were around at your time of birth. By asking questions, you may be able to narrow the birth-time down. Try not to state any time you may have already been given. When push comes to shove, people may tend to agree with a time supplied rather than consult a hazy memory. Good questions to ask are:-

  • Do you remember if it was day or night?
  • Had you watched the evening news or your favourite programme?
  • Were you watching something on television or listening to the radio when you heard the news? (If they remember the programme, you may be able to contact the broadcasting company to check the schedule.)
  • Had you eaten your breakfast/lunch/dinner?
  • Were you at work/school/college that day? Did you finish at your normal time?
  • Does someone remember a phone call to announce your arrival? Do they remember whether it was morning evening or afternoon?

When it comes to astrology, it really is worth playing detective to gain this valuable piece of information or to at least narrow the margin as much as possible.

In the next part of this series, I’ll take a look at what information you can glean from a chart with an unknown time of birth.

22 thoughts on “Working Astrology Without a Birth Time – Part One”

  1. Enjoyed reading this.

    And loved this: “I was delighted to discover my Mother’s birth time in a baby book my Grandmother kept.”

  2. Thanks Neeti. It was a big surprise when I found that baby book! I still need to do some work on my mother’s chart.

  3. Hi Leah,
    This is my first visit – I got here via Anne Whitaker, whom I hadn’t read in ages.
    Your remarks about actual time of birth reminded me of a wonderful book I read this past summer ( where the heroine’s astrologer husband always gives a lemon to a womanservant attending the births of his children, to be tossed out the window to him when the newborn’s skull CROWNS so he can make his calculations exact. The novel is set in Tamil Nadu.
    Recently I have been wondering if the time of birth given for me by British military from London, where I was born, to Germany where my father was posted, was correct. I have found almost every astrological prognostication I have received comes to naught. There is no one left to ask about exactitude as my mother is dead and, as mentioned, my father was on the continent at the time. My, I assume, old fashioned long form birth certificate does not give a time.
    I have slowly begun to compile a list of ‘events’ in my own life, as I read Robert Hand requires at least 15(!) in order to attempt
    a rectification. Indeed, I just found a British online company that charges 150BPS to do just the same. As it is, I shall probably remain in the dark for now. I do not think my time is off more than a few minutes at most.
    I am enjoying your articles very much. The peacock feather story reminded me of how strange adult behaviour seems to us as children. Odd too, your grandmother’s reaction, when during Oscar Wilde’s London era, Whistler had certainly brought the feathers inside the house. Some superstition she had perhaps?

  4. Hi Sabina
    Thanks so much for your comment. I love the story about the lemons in that novel!
    If your birthtime is only a few minutes out then it should be reasonably easy to rectify I would think. It is expensive but then it does take quite a while to do. Check out Noel Tyl’s chapter in his Solar Arcs book as well. He gives a lot of useful information in there.
    My Grandmother was very superstitious. Because her Grandmother was Romany, I am not sure if that is where the belief comes from. I mentioned to a couple of friend though and they also said they had been taught that peacock feathers in the house were unlucky. Perhaps it differs in different parts of the country. I still think they are very pretty though 🙂

  5. This is an opus on the Internet about birth time rectification. I LOVE it. Thank you so much for taking the time to share this with us all. May you receive much blessings and abundance Leah!! 🙂

  6. Hi,

    I have my birth time on my Birth certificate but I am not sure whether it is accurate to the minute. How can i verify this.

    For eg. mine is 21:24 hrs. Should I try a couple of mins + and – to see which one suits me the most?

    Also, I dont know the method in which the time is noted at the hospitals in USA? As in when the umbilical cord is cut or when the head comes out?

    Thanks in advance.

  7. Leah Whitehorse

    Hi Rahul
    From what I have read, the time of birth in hospitals is taken at the moment the whole of the baby leaves the Mother’s body. The umbilical cord might not be cut straight away so that isn’t used as a measure although part of me feels that symbolically, this may be more significant.
    Still, if you have a birth time on your birth certificate, there’s isn’t any way to verify this with the hospital. However you can through astrology see if you can refine it. Most likely the time is reasonably accurate but if you know astrology, some of the best markers to look for at times when there are transits and/or progressions to the angles as these are always significant. A good astrologer who practises rectification would be able to work through this process for you.

  8. Hi Javed – Unfortunately without a date of birth, it’s impossible to cast an astrology chart. If you can find the date of birth, the time can be located using chart rectification.

  9. Hi Hitabrata – If you don’t know your time of birth, your only option would be to have a ‘chart rectification’ done where the astrologer works with you to assess your probable time of birth. This normally works best after the age of 30 as you would need to provide the astrologer with a range of dates of big life experiences for them to work with.

  10. Hi, yes unfortunately time of birth seems to be needed for Ascendant(inner self/who we strive to be/do everything to be) , Midheaven (career/public face) , and North node (soul path in life), as well as Moon (your emotive nature) and Progressed Moon (events in life)

    So not a lot can be deduced without, luckily I got my time of birth pretty accurately it seems, astrology can predict my life minute for minute it seems, also big events in life.

    Without these you can only go with the big slow moving planets, and the elements and rulers.

    Big planets, big planet ruler, house ruler ? , sign of house , element of house sign
    and so forth

    I wonder if there is a way to find the north node without this – but it can often been seen indirectly in the chart anyway, because the big planets will show where the persons potential is often in life when they are grouped together etc.

    You get a Sagittarius, with 4 outer planets in house 4 i.e., then you know what that person enjoys in life i.e., and prefers
    but you might not know the career – except you know the persons sunsign, and from that you can deduce it

    Sun signs are very similar often after all, only people who meditate don’t look like their sun sign it seems 🙂

    anyway good post, not sure what I should do to find the midheaven,ascendant,moon and progressed moon now – could really use them. Maybe I shouldn’t be using astrology with people who don’t know their time of birth, but resort to something else, maybe handreading.


  11. Hi Michel – whilst some information can be found without time of birth, a time certainly gives a comprehensive picture. The North Node can be used but without the house position, it only offers information from the sign and any aspects to it. Progressed charts can’t be used without a time of birth so that is also a major loss.

    Chart rectification is really the only solution without a time of birth. It’s quite time consuming and there are no guarantees but sometimes it can produce very good workable results.

  12. Javed Ahmed:)
    My heart goes out to you…star!
    I thought I had BIG problems, NOT knowing my time of birth.
    I’veBeen trying everything to find out, for the past year, with no luck. I couldn’t believe, my eyes, that is was possible not to know the Date!
    Wow, hang in there & the beautiful mystery.. That you are, and we all are will still play out! ( better luck next time Star;)

  13. Hi Rahul
    Thank you for your comment. If it is only time unknown, there is a process called ‘rectification’ that can help to find a time. Unfortunately without a date of birth, it would not be possible to work out an astrology chart.

  14. About 2 weeks before my due date, my mother sat on the toilet and the umbillical cord was just hanging out into the toilet. My theory is that I detached it myself in the womb because I saw what I was getting myself into. My mother was an R.N. (and weirdly, the same exact thing had happened a year previous to our across-the-street neighbor, who was so brain damaged from the event that had to be cared for as if an infant for his entire life-my first babysitting job) laid on her back with her legs spread open to get me oxygen while they rushed to the hospital.
    My official birthtime is 2:22 a.m. on a Friday the 13th but your umbilical cord theory has me wondering. The chart I’ve been using my whole life (a stellium in the 12th) would be very different.
    I always thought birth time was the first breath, and all the planets in the 12th do make sense in the context of major crisis just before birth. I’ve also been told that I project Uranian energy, a planet buried in the 12th conjunct Jupiter, so maybe?
    Thanks for the interesting article. I have no idea about my mother’s birthtime but her personally named asteroid and the progressed Sabians associated with it have become an invaluable resource for my healing.

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