I want to share with you a meaningful path that astrology has opened up for me in recent times, especially since I stepped into fatherhood in 2021. This is something that I never came across in my education, but was always interested in: intergenerational, ancestral astrology work—holding natal charts of a family’s generations next to one another, with an eye for patterns of fate, behavior, trauma, and of course, drama. What has become clear is that the birth chart is in many ways ancestral.
Collecting birth times is a relatively recent practice for commonfolk, and so the capacity to properly research three or four generations’ worth of natal charts is brand new to the story of astrology. While we can look at sign placements with birthdays alone (for instance, I can track Venus in Libra from my daughter (a Leo), back to me (a Libra), through my father (a Scorpio), as well as his father (a Virgo)), the deeper patterns and characteristics of those planets are untraceable without a birth time. As well, considering that the Moon covers roughly twelve degrees of the zodiac every twenty-four hours, so many of our inherited patterns (the Moon is your past) can’t be pinned unless we know exactly when someone is born. Additionally, the degrees of the ascendant, descendant, midheaven, and nadir of the chart are changing every fourth minute, and we know that these points pack a ton of karmic purpose.
The reality is, you breathed your first breath at the perfect moment—a moment we can investigate now with impeccable depth—and you didn’t do it alone. Your ancestors were there then, and are here with you now. Each time you crush a clove of garlic, crack your knuckles, or even sneeze, recall that your ancestors likely did these things in strikingly similar ways. You are always accessing your ancestral connection, just by being in your body. We can extend the same concept to personality traits with astrology. For instance, I can tell you that my daughter’s electric intellectual connection with the present moment, reflected by a precise planetary pattern in her natal chart, is inherited from her maternal grandmother, who was born under the same alignment over six decades prior.
To hold my own chart next to my father’s, we were each born with a midpoint structure involving the Sun, the Moon, and Pluto. This alignment happens for roughly eight hours each month (four separate days for about two hours each day), a very small window. I do not have an official birth time for my paternal grandfather, but on his date of birth in 1917, this same alignment happened for two hours in the afternoon (and this birth time aligns with him for other reasons, too). If I could trace birthdays back into further generations, I would. But I can conclude from what I do know that in my paternal line, we menfolk have been dealing with a complex, compulsive, and extreme emotional makeup for a long time. One after the other, we have stowed it away and passed it on to the next generation. I shared earthly life with this grandfather for only seventy-four days, but with these insights into his chart, I can tap into a commonality that would otherwise be invisible to me. And through the lens of ancestral healing, I can without a doubt say that part of my fate or journey is reckoning with deep, obsessive, circular emotions that are so immersive they can be hard to even identify. (A correlating epigenetic note: both my father and grandfather are veterans of war.)
If I have a son one day, we’ll see if the trait continues when his birth chart debuts. Potentially, I could even use this information as a tool for predicting my own son’s birth date and time. Pretty cool, right? As I think about it, there are quite a few mysteries which this sort of intergenerational birth chart knowledge can help us understand:
- The ways parents and children are challenging each other to transform and develop
- Unprocessed ancestral traumas that repeat through generations, in need of deeper attention
- The magic and divine alignments behind a traumatic (or even simple) birth
- Points of connection and shared energy between generations
- How a single person’s journey is unique and adds to their family legacy
Each of these feels incredibly powerful to me. The birth chart is often mis-represented as though each of us is an isolated entity, like we are only who we are because of our charts. But after a look at the avenues listed above, we can throw that notion out the window.
I must have been in my late teens when a teacher introduced me to the concept of the human tabula rasa: the idea that each of us arrives in this life as an empty canvas, awaiting impressions that form who we are (I realize I have greatly reduced the argument here). Now, the idea feels terribly sad to me—the result of a deep separation from nature that is tumbling humankind toward oblivion. An understanding of ourselves as basically unrooted leads us only to a never-ending anxiety, constantly questioning our purpose and destiny. Consequently, we exhaust our life force on an endless search out there for who we are. But the birth chart directly contradicts this. Astrology shows us instead that each of us arrives earthside with the essential structures of our identities imbedded within us, much the same as in the forest, each acorn contains a potential oak tree.
This is not to suggest that our lives are unmagical and predetermined. But like the oak tree nearest to you right now, your life is part of a much longer narrative that has played out over countless generations. These ancestral stories are nonlinear, burled, flowering, fractal—rich with holes and mysteries, great deeds and tragedies. To understand your life in this context is in direct contradiction to the modern, western myth of a completely individuated hero’s journey to meaningfulness and glory.
Recall the last time you shared a moment with the night sky. Did you feel small and insignificant? Or empowered and uplifted by the unquantifiable, unwitnessable web of magic that folds you into its sacredness? Both feelings are important, but I advocate for the more of latter. It was that deep humbling before such vast mystery that catalyzed my spiritual connection with the planets. I was twenty-two, walking nightly under the constellations on a nearby trail, when I planted myself in the fact that everything is stardust. Little did I know the ecosystem of meaning I participated in, fed by this simple truth. We understand that ecosystem through astrology, and when we live authentically, we tend and wield that living magic, each in our special way.
Every natal chart is a mixture of ancestral planetary alignments and patterns distinct to that time, place, and person. In its fullness, no chart will ever be duplicated, just as time never repeats itself. Unique, but not alone, both individual and indivisible from those who came before, you are a whole, which is part of a greater whole, which is part of a greater whole, which is part of a greater whole…
You get me?
Your connections to your living family and ancestors are probably not news to you. But the fact that we can harness astrology to understand and improve those relationships—that’s remarkable. I encourage you to do some research on your own, if you have the tools. You can also work with me in a birth chart setting, where I have been incorporating family (and other close) relationship synastry as a sort of add-on. This service has been organically called out of me, and it’s what excites and challenges me the most right now.
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