"I don't know what time of the day I was born." "I don't know any way to find out my birth data -- even the hour." These are statements all too often heard by professional astrologers and serious students of Astrology. Without the hour of birth, determining the correct sign ascending (rising) can be a time-consuming procedure through the lengthy processes of 'rectification.'
Knowing the correct sign ascending at birth is of utmost importance in making Astrology more meaningful -- particularly in timing events in a native's life and in understanding and 'predicting' his reactions to life itself.
Where there is not time or interest for a complete rectification, it is customary to erect a solar chart (a 'horoscope' in which the Sun is placed in the first house and in the native's birth-sign, the rising sign or ascendant and the Sun-Sign being treated as the same), or a noonmark chart (Sun is placed at the midheaven -- very top -- of the horoscope and in the native's Sun-Sign). While both charts do show planetary sign placements and aspects (distance relationships) between planets and the Sun and Moon, they cannot be expected to show the correct signs on the cusps of the 12 houses and consequently leave much to be desired in the reading of the chart. Until corrected by precise rectification, neither the solar nor noonmark chart can accurately time events and trends in the individual's past -- or future.
So, astrologers and students of Astrology find the unknown birth hour a real enigma -- 'fly in the cosmic soup' when attempting to erect an accurate natal chart.
Why do so many individuals not know their hour of birth? Reasons are many. Some never knew or had a reason to find out; others have forgotten; some may not have any easy source or means of checking on the exact time -- at least they may think they don't. This article can give you and them some new ideas for finding that elusive birth hour, thereby making it possible to determine a correct ascendant (rising sign).
Experience bears out the fact that those born 20, 30 or more years ago may not remember or have any readily available records to prove/confirm their birth time. Too often, available records are inaccurate, or not exact. Surely the majority of people born years ago did not arrive and utter their first cries exactly on the hour -- at 6:00 AM, 12 noon, or 10:00 PM! But, unfortunately, birth certificates seem to reflect such times more often than the odds would favor.
Fortunately for astrologers, astrological research, and for individuals concerned, in more recent years more-precise records and accurate recording of birth data are kept so individuals can know their birth times down to the minute -- even the second in some rare cases.
Since the main concern here is determining a close estimate of the birth time so the correct ascendant may be known for those who do not have their birth time, it is time to look into some workable and common-sense ways of obtaining as nearly-correct a birth time as possible with the least expenditure of time and energy.
First, understand the normal ascendant progression: Aries - Taurus - Gemini - Cancer - Leo - Virgo - Libra - Scorpio - Sagittarius - Capricorn - Aquarius - Pisces (caused by the earth's rotation); then attempt to narrow the possibility of which sign might have been ascending (rising on the eastern horizon) at the birth hour. Keep in mind that a native can have only one of a possible 12 signs rising, and that the ascendant changes approximately every two hours as the earth turns on its axis. Example: an Aries born between 4:00 and 6:00 AM normally, would have Aries ascending; if born between 6:00 and 8:00 AM, Taurus would be the rising sign/ascendant, etc. Of course, this simple system of progression cannot allow for sign 'interceptions' in 'houses,' or daylight saving time, and does not apply equally to all latitudes. Nevertheless, it does give an idea of the regular progression of the 12 signs as they ascend (rise) daily.
In determining unknown ascendants, begin with a systematic process of elimination. Narrow the birth time as much as possible. For instance, narrowing it to nighttime reduces the number of possible ascendant signs to six instead of 12. Further, if time can be narrowed to between 6:00 PM and midnight, the number of possible ascendants is reduced to about three instead of six.
Begin the elimination process by asking the person such questions as these: "Were you born during the day or at night?" If day, "Was it before or after noon?" If night, "Was it before midnight or after?" If before midnight, "Was it between 6 and 8, 8 and 10, or 10 and midnight?" Additional questions may narrow the time even more.
By reducing the possibilities in this manner, 'rectification' of the birth chart to establishing the sign ascending should be a relatively easy matter. You may check the accuracy of your preliminary 'rectification' by careful observation of the person, and by reading the general characteristics of the 12 signs ascending. See detailed descriptions of all 12 Rising Signs and Decans: Ari Tau Gem Can Leo Vir Lib Sco Sag Cap Aqu Pis.
To determine the exact hour and minute of birth, further rectification based upon the timing of major/important events in the native's life past to present will be necessary. When done correctly (with painstaking and time-consuming care), the true birth time and the correct sign/degree of the ascendant (cusp -- beginning -- of the first house) as well as the signs/degrees of the other houses can be determined. This is possible since at this point an astrologer (or a good chart-calculation program) would be able to calculate a chart based on the newly-determined birth time.
This elimination process will not be so helpful in all cases, however. Sometimes the native will not have even a remote idea of the birth time and/or no clear manner to get birth information. But since a good astrologer often prides him/herself on making the "impossible" possible, consider some other means for getting "unavailable" birth data by following a true personal experience of this author which proves the popular adage: "Where there is a will, there is a way."
When this writer first became seriously interested in Astrology [circa 1962], he had his natal chart erected and delineated by three different practicing astrologers to satisfy his Virgo skepticism about whether or not there was really anything to this science-art called Astrology.
When the first astrologer asked for the hour of birth, he quoted the time he thought his mother gave as his entry to this planet. He recalled her saying that it was around 8:30 P.M. Since she was deceased, it was not possible to confirm this.
The astrologer erected the natal chart for the proper date, location and 8:30 PM and found that the sign Aries was ascending. An in-person delineation (reading) was done based on this ascendant. While the information was impressive character-wise, it did not at all fit the timing of major events in the life -- changes of residence, education periods, marriage, etc. It was, in fact, "off" from 2 to 3 years. In defense of her reckoning, the astrologer felt, however, that the author's physical appearance definitely was that of Aries rising -- the erect-walking pioneer. But she finally commented that a copy of the birth certificate should be secured to check the accuracy of the birth time.
When the certificate arrived, it showed the time to be 10:00 PM. A second astrologer was consulted and a natal chart prepared for that time. This chart showed the rising sign Taurus -- the businessman. This delineation, like the first, proved to be somewhat accurate except for the timing of events in the life, and some inaccurate personality traits. Again the advice was given that further research into the exact birth time would be necessary before a true chart could be prepared.
A long-distance call went to the office of the physician in attendance at the birth. The doctor, then quite advanced in years, consulted his records and looked up the name. His answer was that the birth time was 10:00 P.M. When questioned, he commented that it was as nearly correct as he could determine and was a good 'guesstimate' since the birth had occurred in the parents' home, not in his office or at a hospital. Where to go from here? It seemed there was no other source to check.
At this juncture, it appeared the birth time could have been anywhere between 8:00 and 10:00 PM, or later. It seemed the only other alternative was to check the matter by asking older brothers and sisters who might have any information.
These efforts proved almost fruitless since the two brothers and two sisters were uncertain of anything except to confirm in every instance that it was before midnight.
A third astrologer was contacted. After meeting with him for a short while, he commented that the sign ascending had to be Gemini because of the manner in which the hands were used while talking, the expression in the eyes, and the matter of this author being left-handed. (It is worthwhile to note this individual had some 30 years experience as an astrologer.) He erected a chart with an estimated birth time of 11:00 PM, which later proved to be almost exact by the timing of major events in the life. For example, he stated that father probably died when this writer was 16 years old. Later checking proved him to be inaccurate by only one week!
For most people this would have been close enough and a satisfactory confirmation of the birth time, but not for a detail-obsessed Virgo. It was just not satisfactory to think there wasn't somebody who knew just when the birth occurred.
Then it was remembered that a neighbor lady had been in attendance at the birth. She was contacted and asked if she knew the time. Her comment was: "Oh, it was very late. We thought you would never decide to be born." She went on to say that it was just a little after 11:00 PM because she had just heard the clock strike eleven.
Later intense rectification proved the birth time to be 11:02 P.M. This does seem to demonstrate that exact birth times can often be determined/confirmed -- even in 'impossible' cases.
Since it may be necessary to question others regarding a time of birth, the following suggestions and comments are offered so information obtained may be more accurate.
It is very important when asking anyone about your (or anyone's) birth time not to 'load' the question. For example: If you ask: "Was I born at 6:15 PM?" they may answer yes if there is uncertainty at all in their mind. They may choose to agree rather than go to the trouble of trying to remember since those who have not yet realized the importance of Astrology in their own and others' lives may think that knowing the actual time of birth is of no particular importance. It is better to ask them to tell you a time rather than your suggesting one.
It is important to realize that while mother is generally right about most things, she may miss on birth times of her children. The fact is that she may not have been too aware of the time at birth. Time is not usually her main concern then. Also, if there is more than one child, it is very easy to confuse birth times after a few years pass.
Fathers are not usually a good source for such information. They seldom concern themselves with such 'family' matters, and they are usually too nervous to pay much attention to minutes during their waits for the blessed event.
You should be able to order (and pay for) an official copy of your birth certificate (US only) here.