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by Astrologer Gary Brand

John McCain's birth chart John McCain's birth chart based upon the time on his birth certificate.

John McCain's chart based on a time given by his mother What John McCain's chart would have looked like if he had been born at 11:00 AM, one of the two times of birth given by his mother.

hy is your birth time so important?  Because it defines the areas of life through which many components of your personality manifest.  Some astrological services are very sensitive to time of birth.  These include the birth chart analysis and intensive focused analyses, the accuracy of which are directly related to the accuracy of your time of birth.  Other services are either unavailable (such as a solar return or a career analysis) or they will be missing important components (as is the case with relocation and relationship analyses) if your birth time is unknown or only an approximation.  For detailed, complete, and in-depth astrological work, it is worth the effort to find your recorded time of birth.

If you have an approximate time that you think you were born, it is important to verify that time.  The reason for verification is illustrated by the case of a client who said she was told by her mother (who is now deceased) that she was born between 11:00 PM and midnight of June 11th.  When she found her birth certificate it stated that her actual time of birth was 12:02 AM on June 11th.  If Gary had used an approximate time of 11:30 PM for her instead of her actual birth time of 12:02 AM, her chart would have been in error by almost 24 hours!  Ironically, the houses do not change much with an almost 24-hour difference like this but the position of the Moon does change significantly.  When the difference between an approximate, estimated, or inaccurate time and your actual time of birth varies by as much as an hour or more, all of the signs that rule or are associated with the houses in your birth chart can change, as well as the houses in which the planets are posited.  A high profile case in point is Senator John McCain's birth chart (shown above left).  On different occasions before the 2008 presidential election, his mother had given his birth time as 9:00 AM or 11:00 AM (the chart for the 11:00 time is shown at left).  However, in December 2008, Gary received an e-mail from a colleague that included a photocopy of McCain's birth certificate as an attachment.  McCain's actual birth time of 6:25 PM is more than 7 hours later than the times his mother gave, which is another example of the fact that mothers don't always accurately remember when their children were born.  McCain's birth chart is substantially different (compare the two charts on the left) because all of the planets are in completely different houses than they would be if he had been born at either of the times that his mother gave and the Moon had changed signs.  Such substantial differences meant that either of the times given by his mother would have resulted in numerous inaccurate interpretations of his chart.

If you were born in a hospital after the mid-1930's in a U.S. city of 100,000 population or more, your time of birth was probably recorded.  However, not all versions of birth certificates include time of birth.  Such is the case when birth information is transcribed onto an abbreviated form, called a "short form," on which your birth time is not included, even though it may have been recorded.  Do not assume that the time was not recorded if the version you have is missing your time of birth unless it is a photocopy of the original record.  Most states now require that time of birth be recorded on birth certificates.

Whether you were born in a big city, a small town, or in a rural area, in most cases you may obtain your birth record from the Bureau of Vital Statistics at the city hall or the county seat of your city or county of birth.  This is often a good source of your time of birth because most local records like this include birth time.  You can usually obtain their phone number from an Internet search for the Bureau of Vital Statistics (or search for Birth Records) and the name of your city, town, or county of birth.  If you call the local Bureau of Vital Statistics and talk to a sympathetic person who is willing to look up your birth record, you might obtain your time of birth over the phone for free.  If they insist on sending your record by mail, make sure that your time of birth is on the record before you request it.  Ordering your record from this source may take less time than ordering from the state Bureau of Vital Statistics (see the next paragraph).

The Bureau of Vital Statistics in each of the 50 states, where complete birth records that usually include time of birth, are collected and stored is the most reliable source of your birth time.  If you are lucky and your timing is right, you may be able to obtain your time of birth from such a Bureau over the phone.  If they won't give it to you over the phone, you can order a photocopy of your birth record called a "certified copy," "full copy," or "long form."  Unfortunately, it is usually 3-5 weeks from when you order your birth certificate until you receive it.  If you want to order such a photocopy, do an Internet search for the Bureau of Vital Statistics in the state where you were born to obtain their address, ordering information, and their current fee.  To ensure that the copy you order has your time of birth, write a letter requesting it rather than ordering it over the Internet because you can state in the letter that you want the copy only if your time of birth is included on it (unless you want it for other reasons).

Another very reliable place to obtain your birth time is from the hospital where you were born.  Most hospitals keep birth records indefinitely but such records are not always immediately accessible.  You can request your time of birth over the phone but hospital staff may not be willing or able to quickly locate your record - often such records are stored in an off-site warehouse.  In rare cases, birth records have been destroyed by fire or flood or the hospital no longer exists.

If you are unable to find your time of birth on government or hospital records, look for any written record your family has.  These include baby books, diaries, family Bibles, letters, birth announcements, and engraved or embroidered keepsakes such as baby spoons.  If you cannot find a written record, your mother is the next best source.  Keep in mind that not all mothers have clear memories of such details after 30 or more years, especially if you have several siblings.  The above example of Senator John McCain's mother is a case in point.  If your mother says that your time of birth was on the hour or half-hour, it is probably not an exact time.  Less than 20% of my clients rely solely on their mother's memory for their time of birth but a time from your mother, if she is definite, is probably accurate or close.

If you were born at home or somewhere other than a hospital, it is unlikely that your time of birth is on your birth certificate.  Even if there is a time on the certificate, it is suspect because it may have been recorded long after your birth.  However, such a time is better than none at all, especially if a relative or a keepsake confirms it.

There is one remaining good source of your time of birth if you are unable to locate a documented time:  your memory of your birth!
Using regression, a powerful memory recall technique, a regressionist or hypnotist can take you back in time to the moment of your birth and ask you what time it is or to look at a clock!  Even though you couldn't tell time as a newborn and your vision may not have been sharp, you can still describe where the big and little hands of the clock in the delivery room were.  Gary has used this method several times with clients who had no idea what time of day they were born and it has quite successfully yielded a birth chart that accurately described detailed personality traits.

Your birth chart cannot be calculated if you are unable to find a time of birth.  Instead, Gary will generate and interpret what is called a solar chart.  Although this type of chart lacks important personality details, it still contains much useful information.  General time frames like "early morning" or "afternoon" don't qualify as a time of birth so Gary must still resort to using a solar chart in such cases.  However, some astrologers specialize in a technique called "rectification," which often results in an accurate chart (if you know a general time frame) or what is sometimes called a "workable chart" if you have no idea what time of day or even a general time frame when you were born.  This is usually an expensive option of last resort.

Do an Internet search for the Bureau of Vital Statistics in the state where you were born to obtain their address, ordering information, and their current fee.
    When writing for your birth certificate:
  • Type or print your request.

  • Specify that you want a full or certified photocopy or long form of your birth record THAT INCLUDES YOUR TIME OF BIRTH.  DO NOT ORDER A CUMPUTER-GENERATED CERTIFICATION OR ORDER A COPY OF YOUR BIRTH RECORD ON-LINE because it will probably NOT include your time of birth.  If you are ordering the certified photocopy ONLY to obtain your time of birth, specify that you want the photocopy ONLY IF IT SPECIFIES YOUR TIME OF BIRTH.  Otherwise, ask them to return your payment.  Even if you can order a certified photocopy of your birth certificate on-line, you cannot specify that you want it only if it includes your time of birth.

  • State your full name at birth, your sex and your parents' full names, including your mother's maiden surname.

  • Include the month, day and year of your birth, the city or town, and the county where you were born.

  • If you were born in a hospital and know its name, include that also.
  • If they ask you to explain the reason for your request, say that you don't have a certified photocopy of your birth record.
  • Some states require a copy of your valid, current, picture ID.
Do not expect to receive your birth certificate for 3-5 weeks unless they tell you otherwise!  However, some states have "rush" options for an additional fee.  Remember, the wait is worth it if you discover your exact time of birth!
Good Timing and Location are Keys to Success

Gary Brand, Traditional Astrologer
Tallahassee, Florida

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