Like Sun Sign Astrology, Birth Times are Too Convenient.
Any astrologer worth their salt will try to wrangle a birth time out of you. Rightfully from a motivational standpoint, too. Whatever I am about to poo-poo against regarding the role of birth times in astrological calculations, using them as a centerpoint has never resulted in anything ever totally sucking when it comes to building someone's astrological profile.
Something at scale works when a chart is calculated around the time of birth, which is lucky considering birth is for all human material purposes, a symbolic start to life. Let's agree that it's what probably attracted astrologers to it in the first place. The physical birth is convenient, dramatic, and, well, you certainly don't have a person to analyze until one can be held in another person's hands. It kind of works at multiple levels.
Birth times give classical psychologically-centerd astrological practices a solid handle, but establishing one is frought with the potential for error, as is, as you may be forgiven to wonder, any agreement on the very definition for the start of life -- the thing that a birth chart is supposed to well reflect in said analysis.
Over the decades I have come to care less and less for a concrete declaration of the birth time. Taking my very own self as an example, I am all too aware of how easy it is for bad birth times to circulate as quickly as fake news by the supposed authorities. Doctors and nurses might as well be the CNN and FOX News of political commentary.
It's Like Day and Night
I am the perfect example.
I was "born" at 8:30 AM June 5, 1966. This time is the clear recounting of my mother who gave the blow by blow of the event on that glorious (cough) morning. But, if you had listened to the stupid-head doctors and nurses who stamped the head of my incubator with a birth card, I was born at 8:30 PM.
Here's the very card, complete with a pitch for me to purchase Pet Milk, (welcome to your new earthly capitalist culture you lucky bastard!).
Mom said day, docs wrote night. It's a contradiction. Now go buy some Pet Milk!
You can click on the picture to really see the contradiction I've highlighted.
Let's hope they at least noted which meds I required accurately between themselves, although it might explain a lot of things about myself if not.
Thus the implication for my own astrology chart is a whopping 180 degrees depending on who I believe. I am either the eccentric non-affiliating crank which I conclude myself to be (11th House Sun), or the football-loving hedonistic lover of followers and tribal inclusion the PM version of chart renders (5th House Sun).
I will say that while it was the lifetime corroboration by other relatives who remember, the personality outcome alone rather settles it. The person who drew up that Pet Milk card was either up too late or just plain hoped that a change of record might amount to a last-ditch effort to avoid me turning into the Uranian 11th house weirdo I would go on to be.
But let's say that it's the attending medical staff who were right and my mother and everyone else who were somehow wrong. In interpreting my own chart, which could be the chart of any subject for any astrologer, the amount of contorting it would take to make the noted energies fit my very learned understanding of the adjectives, would be astronomical. Astrologically speaking my red and blues would look different than any other astrologer's red and blues.
Which unfortunately is an outcome that our obsession with birth times as astrologers rather leaves us with.
Isn't Everyone's Birth Time the Time of the Big Bang Anyway?
Human error not withstanding, maybe it doesn't even matter. And again, I throw myself out as the perfect example.
I was a premature birth by approximately 2 months. I was a serious medical case. My very survival was so questionable that the traditional birth announcement in any of the local newspapers was skipped out of what I assume was sensitivity (I looked for it once and after scouring all the editions of the day using one of those microfilm machines at the local library, nada - not on the day, week, or month after).
And in lore, yes, I in fact did die before the next day. Twice. Granted we are talking about the same docs who believed I was born at night who reported this grim news to my mother the next morning ("Janet, we managed to save him!" was mom's remembered quote), or, the word of my mother, who on her own tended to be a sort of exaggerationist throughout her life, what with her Sagittarius Moon and all. But even with that accounted for, then, I probably at least died once. And okay, if not at all physically, look, there's a birth card stuck to my cradle imploring me to buy Pet Milk, so if nothing else, I probably died at least a little on the inside.
The question begged by the apparent battle I waged against the universe on whether to exist or not, and which I clearly lost -- fucking universe -- is what actually counts as "birth" anyway? Was I born the first time that I was born, or was it one of the two other times that I found life?
And I suppose to avoid driving my readers crazy, no, you don't even need the weird story of my particular birth to have long established this question in your own noggin'. If you're a thinker of any sort at all, this question of what constitutes a birth should have bothered you at the outset.
Astrologers you will find upon the Googling or Quora of it generally take astrological birth to begin at the time of the first breath. But you don't have to roam far to find those who figure it's the time that the head crowns, or, believe it or not in a strange application of horary astrology, whatever time everyone first agrees on (so my errant doctor really could have called the shot if I bought into that).
But whatever basis an astrologer chooses to settle on, it's all really just folly anyway right? Remember, we don't undertand the mechanics of astrology so we can't say for sure what correlates the position of the planets to the creation of a unique personality. As I said at the beginning of this entry, we only know that the given birth time works well enough.
The truth is that there may not even be a uniform application of astrological traits confined to any single event at all. Rather, they may soft-sink over a period of a few minutes or hours or maybe even days (though in a second I'll tell you why I personally dismiss days).
And some astrologers feel we are looking at it wrong to being with: It's the astrology that sparks the push from the womb in the first place, jarring mommy's inner guts to act, so the influences aren't there to "bind to". The birth itself is the byproduct that they have kicked in already. Let that one sink in for a minute. It's a neat idea until you consider Cesareans.
One thing that I personally can say for sure, the human/astrology merge occurs at a pace no faster than the motion of the Moon through its degrees. I say this because I believe the Moon sign to be so potent -- the most important unique personality indicator for anyone -- that any contradiction of the observed personality between the position of the Moon and that which would be established by a recorded birth time, would be too obvious in cases where a cusp is crossed or in consideration of aspects to other planets.
Very roughly speaking the Moon crosses a single sign (30 degrees) every 2 days or 48 hours. About a half a degree a minute but not quite, and not quite always 2 days. There is some serious variance here buddy.
Astrologers themselves wouldn't believe in astrology if that gap were very wide over the observable history of the craft since patterns in the personalities most of us have come to agree on wouldn't be visible. So, as I see it, we can pretty much bet that however the mechanics work, the "influences of the stars" occur readily within 1 or 2 hours of whichever marker you choose. And this means that the "birth time", which encompasses that complex series of events, fits, most of the time.
Let's Just Deal With It
But finally, let's just say that the whole question introduces too much speculation for anyone to be comfortable with. In your possible individual case, maybe you're even one of those people born through events and circumstances too traumatic for anecdotal or formal birth time recording. You don't get served your plate of astrology. Or, if you think it's all bunk, this hazy foundation should be the nail in the advocate's coffin.
Not quite. As I said early on, being one of those astrologers bothered so much by the ambiguity, I've weaned off insisting knowledge of the birth time for meaningful analysis. How do I and so many other astrologers who have come to feel the same way get away with it? It's easy, we rely on astrology. Duuuuh.
In my variant case, I center the Moon as the most important influence. Knowledge of its precise location can be off at least far more liberally for general personality analysis, though if it's off too much, I'm going to take a hand to rectification and suggest a different time to my subject. Others might try the same or use the same trick using the rising sign (which moves through entire signs in only two hours), but in my world the Moon is even more important than the rising sign and far more tangible. If someone put a gun to your head and demanded the astrology from you, you'll be able to spew enough of it out to save your life.
And then there is the ever finer solution of incorporating synastry. Normally you want birth times when comparing the charts between people every bit as much as you might want them for the individual. But the interaction of individual birth charts creates such unique patterns of influences you don't need that precision. What might be lost in clarity by not having a birth time is well made up for by the careful consideration of how one's general planets (and most crucially that Moon!) mesh with those of their parents, teachers, colleagues, supervisors, lovers, children, and so on and so on.
As an example, a dominant father whose Mars conjoins the soft-spoken Virgo Moon of his daughter is going to create a daughter over the period of developmental relevance who is far more energized and aggressive (in a Virgo Moon sort of way to be sure) than the same woman who lacks that persistent influence in her life. To have spotted this dynamic, you don't need anyone's precise time.
Astrologers can, and perhaps should, I can see many argue, rely on those sorts of analytical inputs over one's birth time and hence birth chart anyway.
None of this is to say that by dismissing the importance of an accurate birth time or tossing out the birth chart altogether, something huge and signficant isn't being lost in the process. Indeed, the richest astrological interpretations actually are. What I'm telling you is that an accurate birth time is mostly inaccurately believed of anyone, kind of irrelevant (to within 2 hours anyway) until we know why astrology works; and, perhaps eclipsed by the forces of other astrological perspectives such as those existing in our day to day relationships with others.
You can still have great if not greater astrology without it.