What are the key things to figure out when reading a birth chart?

There are far too many possible interpretations of any birth chart. To decide on the most probable interpretations, we have to sort things out. The two most important things to sort out are, “what planets are most prominent in the chart?” and “how negative or positive is each planet in this chart?”

A Level 1 astrology student asked me a few questions about this. Level 1 teaches what the fundamental astrological components symbolize, but in teaching that I frequently give examples of how the information can be used in an interpretive scenario. So, I often use words like “prominent Jupiter” or “positive Mars” and this student wanted to find out more.

Question 1: How do you determine if a planet is prominent?

I’ll teach you exactly how to do that in Level 3. For now here are some quick tips…

More ṣaḍ-bāla = more prominence (Vedic Astrology software can always tell you ṣaḍ-bāla. Many of them calculate the varga dignities incorrectly 66% of the time, but at least you get some ṣaḍ-bāla number from them. Kāla does it correctly, imo, if you set that “friendship and enmity is determined from the birth chart, not individual varga charts” in the calculation options.)

Aspecting/conjoining the Asc, 1L, Moon and Sun adds prominence. You have to calculate the aspect by percentage, not the shortcut way that people often do (“venus aspects the 7th house from herself” for example, instead of “Venus aspects 180° from herself”)

Aligning with the Asc, Moon, and Sun adds prominence. (Because it allows the planet to more strongly influence house cusps – using fixed, wholesign cusps)

Being placed in a certain house adds prominence (10, 1, 4, 7, 9, 5 in descending order). The fewer the planets in prominent houses, the greater the share of prominence to the planet(s) that are in those prominent houses.

Owning certain houses adds prominence (same as above).

Question 2: How do you determine if it is negative or positive?

Again, I’ll teach exactly how to do it in the Level 3 courses. But for now, here is the outline:

By looking at dignity, but not just the dignity of the main chart… the degree specific dignity, which exposes a planet to various signs in various contexts. There is a formula for averaging all these dignities out – the whole system is called varga-viṁṣopaka.

Also factor in the malefic/benefic inherent nature of the planet.

Also factor in the houses owned by the planet (owning trines or angles boosts positivity, owning trik houses reduces it)

Question 3: Are there some indicators on a computer program (I have Kala) I could look at before fully understanding everything?

All Vedic Astrology software should give you Ṣaḍ-bāla and Varga-viṁṣopaka. You can use ṣaḍ-bala plus your eyeballs for a rough estimate of prominence. Or you can even just use your eyeballs. You can use varga-vimṣopaka for a rough estimate of positivity.