I’m currently taking a course at Kepler College on astrological rectification: the process of using various techniques to pin down an exact birth time. Having an exact time is absolutely critical for accurate astrology readings, especially predictive forecasts.
A few minutes of difference doesn’t seem like a big deal – that’s what my mom said a few days ago after I had been pestering her all week about various important dates in her life. (I’m trying to pin down her time, which appears rounded-off to the nearest hour.)
But even a few minutes can completely change your natal chart. If the Ascendant degree was about to change signs around the time of your birth, even one minute can be the difference between being a Taurus rising and a Gemini rising, for example.
Even if you are reasonably confident about your rising sign, because there’s a good buffer of time on either side where the Ascendant stays in the same sign, a few minutes can really mess up forecasts. One minute can throw off predictions by a whole year or more – not super helpful when you’re trying to get a feel for what’s coming up!
Though we are much more likely to have exact birth times nowadays, there are still many factors that can make the recorded birth time off by a few minutes or more. Hospital clocks can be wrong. During delivery, caring for mother and baby takes priority, so the time is often recorded a little after the fact – especially if there are complications.
In the past, it was common to record a rounded-off birth time. Certain states have had quirky, confusing rules around recording birth times. In Illinois, for example, state law required all birth times to be recorded in CST until July 1, 1959, except during WWII when CWT was recorded officially. But this law was not always observed.
Similarly, Indiana has an incredibly complex set of time zone rules, with 345 (!) variations. As a general rule, the CST portions of Indiana observe daylight time in the summer, while the EST portions do not. The exceptions are in 1969 and 1970, when the entire state observed daylight time. Madness.
In Canada, we don’t record birth times at all, to my eternal consternation. There are some exceptions, such as in Alberta between 1986 and 2012 when times were recorded. But every province has its own set of rules governing vital statistics and the vast majority do not record birth times officially.
Lots of other countries are similar in that they don’t record birth times. Others, like China, commonly record times in the Chinese Lunar Calendar system, instead of the solar calendar.
For all of these reasons (and probably a few others I haven’t thought of yet), it’s good practice to be suspicious of literally every birth time you come across – even those with an AA or A Rodden rating. It’s a great way to activate your inner obsessive.
Luckily, there are some quick ways to test birth times, and with any luck the AA rated ones turn out to actually be correct. (But not always!)
Because I’m Canadian and unknown birth times are so common here, I realized a while ago that I needed to learn rectification. When I started doing client consultations a few months ago, I immediately had a few clients who didn’t have an exact time, so I prioritized it as a skill to learn this year.
Part of me wishes I didn’t have to, because it’s super complex. My mind is already spinning after only one week of class. Rectification requires SO MUCH WORK nudging charts forward and backwards by one minute at a time, counting and recounting degrees, squinting at arcs and progressions, then throwing it all out and starting over.
I’m not ready to write about my specific method of rectification, because I’m still learning it! However, I thought some of my readers might be curious to learn more, so I wanted to share some tips on the very first step you should do before starting rectification: do absolutely everything you can to find some documentation or clue about your birth time.
You should always start with requesting your long-form birth certificate. In the US, this should have an exact time. (It might not actually be accurate, for reasons discussed above, but it’s a place to start.) In Canada, it probably won’t have a time but it doesn’t hurt to try, on the odd chance you get lucky.
Next, try to find other documents that might have your birth time or clues about when it might be. Baby books are often good places to start. Moms will often include the exact time or even a rounded time, and sometimes other details or items like hospital ID bracelets that might have a time. (My grandmother’s baby book also has locks of her hair, which is cool and a bit creepy, though unfortunately not helpful for rectification.) Personal journals and diaries are also good sources, though people might not be willing to let you poke around in those!
You can also check for birth announcements in local newspapers, church baptism records, or the family bible – some families record birth information of family members in these.
I got lucky with my birth time, as my mom recorded it in my baby book. I also had a little ornament/keepsake thingy which had my name, date of birth and birth time on it. So, do some digging into old family paperwork, documents, mementos and such, because you just might get lucky. And don’t stop when you find just one source – keep checking a few others, because if you can find a few different sources that all corroborate the same time, you can be reassured that your time is likely accurate. Your astrologer will be grateful. (Including your inner astrologer, if that applies!)
Once you’ve dug up as many documents as possible, you should ask your mother, father and/or other relatives who were around at the time of your birth, and see if anyone remembers when it happened. Now, obviously this can be super subjective and different people might very well give conflicting information. Or they might not remember it at all. However, even narrowing it down to something like “it was day” or “it was after dinner” or “it was in the middle of the night” can be a decent place to start. Better than nothing, anyway!
I’ll write more about rectification in the future. The Kepler class is quite rigorous, so with any luck, I’ll get my rectification chops in good working order very soon.