It’s important to know your exact birth time if you want an accurate horoscope. The memory of your mom or your surviving aunt that it happened “around two in the morning” doesn’t really do the job — it needs to be precise within a minute or two. After all, your Ascendant (Rising Sign), Midheaven, Vertex, and all the houses along with them move about a degree every four minutes, so a difference of a minute or so could mean the change of entire sign for any of these. Just as important, even if it doesn’t change the whole sign, even a degree of change can be critical, especially when you’re looking at progressions and major transits later on. Further, the exact degrees of your Angles are a major indicator of the threads of destiny you’re engaged with, the not-necessarily-biological family of which you’re a part, so it's important to know them.
“Rectification” of the birth time is traditionally done by a thorough backwards glance over your life to see when important events have occurred that usually are associated with specific transits or progressions. Then, the birth time is moved forward or back a reasonable amount (by minutes, sometimes hours, but usually not days) until a chart is derived that has angles which would have been hit at those times. It makes perfect sense, but it relies upon having a lot of important events, preferable injurious ones which tend to register more strongly, to draw upon. Most people have one or two, but few have such a woundingly dramatic life saga of specifically-recorded afflictions that rectification this way becomes a slam-dunk.
Sometimes you get lucky and the right, definitive disasters clear things up. A transiting Pluto conjunct the Ascendant, for instance, is a slow and reliable indicator. If you had a year of being totally shut down and then bounced back with a whole new image, and if Pluto was anywhere near your Ascendant at the time, rectify your Ascendant to fit that degree, ‘nuff said. But that doesn’t happen to everybody, and the occasional illness or minor accident, even a bitter divorce, may simply not show up even in the most accurate of charts, so rectifying an inaccuracy that way is dicey, indeed. Most rectifications are done using an insufficient handful of major and minor events, even though some available computer rectification programs will stack up all kinds of smaller aspects and rulerships upon these to make them seem more statistically significant. Still, you’re often on very shaky ground, and several possible birth times frequently emerge without a decided favorite.
The People You Know
There’s another entirely different approach that may yield surer results, especially if your life hasn’t been a well-documented psychodrama of painful events. It’s done simply by seeking out and matching the degree areas in your own chart and those of all (well lots, anyway) of the people you know. If you collect your friends’ and acquaintances’ charts, as most budding astrologers do, you will rather quickly notice that there’s a regular crossover between them, with the degree of your Sun and Moon showing up unusually often. Also, revealingly, the degree of your Ascendant and Midheaven (and Vertex) also show up unusually often, with the inner planets following right behind. These are the warp and woof of your weave of destiny, so to speak, the signature of your larger, celestial family. What they have, you have, and vice versa, because you swim in the same waters.
Once you look at it that way, the rectification potential becomes obvious. If you don’t know your exact time, look at a maximum number of charts of those you’ve known the longest, and see what recurring degree areas they have that aren’t your Sun, Moon, or inner planets. Those will be your Angles, almost for sure, right down to the degree or so. Don’t be content with just the natal charts for confirmation (especially if you don’t have enough data, too few friends, poor thing) — do all their composite charts with you as well and you’ll find the same thing happens. It takes a little jiggling around to find the best logical fit, but then you’re home.
The Things That You Do
“Oh, that won’t work for me,” you say. “I don’t have enough friends and I don’t know their charts.” Well, being a loner doesn’t cut you off from your special warp and weft of existence. You live in it every day, and the timing of your thoughts, actions, and the small events around you reflects it. Cast timed charts for all the new bright ideas and questions you have, for when important phone calls and e-mails come in, and for other generally pivotal moments in your day — the moment-to-moment electional and horary moments of your life. Collect and compare those for a few months, and there, too, you’ll find the degrees of your Sun, Moon and inner planets coming up, plus a few extras, and those are likely your Angles. They’re simply the lines of attraction you move along, which also unite you with all the other recurring people in your life, again re-manifesting themselves. It’s not an ego thing, either — you’re not discovering yourself so much as finding out the currents you’re moving along so you can ease your path among them. And as a dividend, along the way, you’ve rectified your chart!
Witnesses to Your Birth
When it’s all done, even if you started with an “exact” hospital time on your birth certificate, you’ll likely find you’ve changed that time a bit, probably toward a slightly earlier one. That could be for a variety of reasons, the most likely of which is that most births are recorded as the time they got you cleaned up enough for the doctor to safely declare you a guaranteed live birth, not the struggling moment of your first breath. They’re too busy making sure you take a second one to be jotting down the time at that point, and they usually don’t come back into your life once it’s done (they’re just witnesses, and they’ve got their own life threads to follow). That makes most rectifications, by any method, come up five to even twenty minutes earlier.
But beyond even that, and past any discussion about the true time at which incarnation begins, etc., what you want is a chart that fits the past, describes the present, and gives some nice clues to the future. When you’ve found out what all those threads are, and you’ve filled in your own to meet them, then your life is at one with the fabric in which you reside.
Darning is done just that way — you add and weave matching threads to fix a hole in the fabric so it fills in the missing part as if it were always there. You don’t fix a sweater or a sock by just bunching the empty spot together with a couple of quick stitches or throwing an arbitrary patch onto it. You recreate the missing original threads in their proper alignment, so it fits gracefully into the original, seamlessly.
So there, hopefully, you have a slightly larger view on rectification and also a useful new tool to make it work. Now go try it on your own chart, and while you’re at it, try darning that hole in your favorite sweater, to better learn the principle…here’s how…
[for more on this celestial “weaver’s” view of astrology, see our earlier Threads of Destiny]