Contact any astrologer and the first thing you’ll learn is that there are three things she or he will need to know in order to create a recognizable and accurate portrait of who you are – and how you might best use the skill sets you were born with.
“Specifically, the astrologer needs to know where you were born on what date. Usually, that’s the easy part. Less easy is pinpointing the exact time of birth,” says French Canadian mathematician and research astrologer Vincent Godbout.
He says an accurate birth time is important because it determines the correct placements for the Sun, Moon, and planets but more importantly the astrological houses around the horoscope wheel. Of special import are the signs rising on the eastern horizon (the ascendant) and culminating overhead (the midheaven).
The correct time of birth is critical because it establishes timing for the cyclical patterns and alignments that will predictably unfold into the future. Astrologers “read” the symbolic significance of these planetary alignments and share what they learn with clients, he says.
Rectification is the process astrologers use to determine the correct time of birth when this information is uncertain or unknown. Godbout describes a new automated software system he believes has the potential to revolutionize the way astrologers rectify individual birth charts in the future.
Getting the birth time right can prove dicey even when the astrologer is working with a seemingly valid birth certificate with the time of birth duly noted in the proper place on the form. There still may be inaccuracies, he points out.
“We often see rounding errors with these documents. The delivery team may not get around to signing, dating and recording the time of birth until several minutes have elapsed after baby’s actual arrival time. And it’s not uncommon for civil servants to round the times they are given,” Godbout says.
“Also, in the delivery room, it’s not uncommon for birth times to be rounded to the nearest hour or half-hour. This may not seem like much to the casual observer but the extra minutes, one way or another, can dramatically change the horoscope’s dynamics,” he said.
When rectifying a birth chart astrologers typically look at major events that have already occurred in the client’s life. The idea is to check out how these events are reflected in the natal birth chart. The fact that an event (a wedding, the death of a parent, etc.) occurred when it did should be indicated or foreshadowed in the birth chart.
Godbout says a lot of time-consuming sleuthing can be involved in reconciling and adjusting the birth time so the rectified chart more reasonably lines up with known historical events in someone’s life.
A Different Approach
A former teacher of mathematics and statistics, Godbout began working with astrology in 1976. In the current decade he created the Mastro Expert software program with Francois Rouleau to help astrologers better interpret astrological birth charts.
Mastro Expert produces a comprehensive list of descriptive keywords that describe individual personality traits or characteristics based solely on astrological indications at the time, date and place of birth. When combined with an analytical tool he calls the Semantic Proximity Estimator, Godbout says it’s possible to rectify a birth chart based solely on an analysis of individual personality traits.
“The personality portraits done by our astrological expert system are so precise we can use them to rectify a birth chart without using events,” he said.
When rectifying a birth chart Mastro Expert creates 1,440 separate birth charts or profiles, one for every minute of the 24-hour day. Each of these profiles present as a comprehensive list of descriptive keywords. And each isbased on specific astrological influences or indications, such as where planets reside in the birth chart and how they’re aligned with each other (at what angles).
Godbout says a description of the subject’s personality with a list of keywords also is entered into the system. The Proximity Estimator analyzes the extent to which keywords on this list say similar things to words generated by the 1,440 other profiles. The system provides numerical scores to rank how well words on these lists compare.
Brahms’ Astrological Lullaby
Astrologers are often called upon to deal with birth times that may be off for variety of reasons. Godbout uses the example of a chart rectified for classical music composer Johannes Brahms.
The composer was born on May 7, 1883 in Hamburg, Germany. His birth time was listed as 3:30 a.m. in a Gauquelin file of French nobilities. But the chart didn’t work, Godbout explained.
“An analysis of Brahms personality traits and characteristics should have at least one occurrence of the words art and music prominently displayed with a relatively high score for such a great musician. But for the 3:30 a.m. time neither word scored high on the Mastro Expert-generated list of descriptive keywords, not even when midpoints were considered. Clearly the birth time was wrong,” he said.
Godbout used Mastro Expert to check out the timing and found a 3:45 a.m. birth time to be more realistic. Had Brahms actually been born at the 3:30 a.m. time, the composer would have probably chosen something else to do with his life. However, because he was born 15 minutes later at 3:45 a.m., his birth chart for this time more accurately describes and supports the ambitions and musical talents that defined him.
Not everyone has a published biography or, like Brahms, such clear and strong characteristics that must necessarily appear in an accurate personality portrait. When rectifying birth charts for these individuals the first step in the process involves getting to know them better. For Godbout, the rectification process begins with a questionnaire that asks respondents to grade their responses to a series of descriptive keywords on a five-point scale.
The questionnaire is generated and scored by Mastro Expert, and its length is predicated on the amount of birth time uncertainty that exists. Sometimes the parameters are closer; for example, when rectifying a recorded hospital birth time. Or the astrologer may be working with a birth time as it is remembered by the birth mother or another well-meaning relative or family friend.
As the computer pours through the mountain of data produced for the 1440 charts the emerging profiles start to perceptively change as the fast-moving Moon, and even faster moving chart angles, advance around the horoscope wheel. As they advance, the system produces and scores separate lists of character traits for every minute of the day.
Sequential progress is displayed on a curve that visually shows peaks and valleys rising and falling throughout the day. Mastro Expert presents all 1,440 possibilities in a graph that charts progress over the 24-hour period.
What About Pablo?
The research astrologer provides another example of the process in action, this time for the renowned painter Pablo Picasso whose reported birth time was 11:15 p.m. In this example (below) the most likely solution is shown by a peak at 11:23 p.m., which comes in first position among all the possibilities and is only eight minutes later than the reported time.
Click on graph above for greater clarity.
Godbout notes that the rectification system totally relies on the ability of Mastro Expert to produce accurate birth charts. The system relies on the insights of leading U.S., U.K., and Canadian astrologers and was put to the test in a matching experiment designed to determine if the software produced plausible personality profiles. Godbout compared 42 celebrity profiles produced by Mastro Expert with descriptive keywords for the same celebrities extracted from biographical sketches that published in Le Monde, a French newspaper.
“In an experiment like this there can be a lot of entropy (degradation). The published biographies are written by different people and character traits can be missed. Also, the Mastro Expert software depends on accurate birth data and errors do occur.
“But we were able to report statistically impressive results. Odds that the positive results we observed occurred by chance were calculated at about four in ten million which encouraged us to look at other possible applications for the technology,“ he said.