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What is Human Design? Learn How to Read Your Human Design Chart

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Learn how to read your Human Design chart, with everything you need to know about its different components, and an explanation of all the terminology.

Learn How to Read Your Human Design Chart

What is Human Design? How to read your Human Design chart | Woman in silhouette, sitting in window reading a book.

Strap in, because this is going to be a bumper post. Here’s what we’re going to cover:

  • Human Design chart meanings – a glossary of terms
  • What is Human Design philosophy?
  • What are the origins of Human Design?
  • How does Human Design work?
  • Where to get your free Human Design chart
  • How to read your Human Design chart
  • Human Design chart interpretation

And, as always…

  • What does the science say?

That might not seem like many questions, but there’s a lot of information involved with answering each of them.

So, why not grab yourself a coffee, and let’s get started…

Human Design Chart Meanings – A Glossary of Terms

Before we get into explanations, first I’ll go over some of the terminology you’ll come across further down and as you navigate this site. 

The following list is in alphabetical order:

This refers to the arrows you may see beside some of the numbers in your personality and design lines on your Human Design bodygraph. (Don’t worry – these terms are also covered below!)

What are… auras?

An energy field extending outwards from the body by approximately six feet, with the ability to communicate information about our identity and traits to those around us. 

Auras behave differently, according to our energy type.

Note: energy type is also known as aura type.

What is… authority?

The way in which each different aura type is designed to make a correct decision. 

Note: there’s a hierarchy of defined energy centers to determine your authority.

Authority is governed by which of your energy centers are defined, and depending on your type, you may have inner authority or outer authority. The variations include:

  • Emotional authority
  • Sacral authority
  • Splenic authority
  • Ego authority
  • G Center authority
  • Environmental authority
  • Lunar authority

Note: when you have multiple defined centers, there’s a hierarchy for determining your authority.

What is a… body graph / chart?

A body graph or body chart is the visual representation of your genetic design, and the blueprint of who you were born to be and what your role on earth is.

Your own chart is calculated using your birth date, time, and place, with the positions of the planets at that time and three months prior determining the energy / information with which your body is imprinted.

What are… centers?

Each center is represented on a body graph by a geometrical shape.

There are nine energy centers in Human Design:

  • Head center (pressure center)
  • Ajna center (awareness center)
  • Throat center (manifestation center)
  • G center (identity center)
  • Heart center (motor center)
  • Spleen center (awareness center)
  • Solar Plexus center (awareness and motor center)
  • Sacral center (motor center)
  • Root center (pressure and motor center)

These are based around the seven chakras of the Hindu system, with two additional centers (the G center and the Solar Plexus).

Each center is represented on a body graph by a geometrical shape and may be coloured (defined) or white (open / undefined). The definition of your centers determines your aura type.

The chakras are the seven original energy centers in the Hindu chakra system.

What are… channels?

Channels are the pathways between the gates located in our energy centers. They may be defined (creating definition) or undefined.

Conditioning refers to the customs and cultural behaviours we adopt in life which often run contrary to our design. Conditioning effectively blocks us from embracing our authentic selves and living in alignment with our true nature and life purpose.

If you examine a body graph, you’ll notice it looks a lot like a circuitboard, with three circuits (Individual, Tribal, Collective) and six sub-circuits.

These circuits are known as circuitry.

De-conditioning is the process of consciously letting go of society’s imposed expectations.

What is… definition?

Definition indicates a reliable source of consistent energy and may relate to gates, channels, and centers. In gates and channels it’s indicated by black or red fill, and in centers by red, yellow, green, or brown.

Open centers have no defined gates at all.

Definition is created by two defined gates at either end of a channel, and a defined channel also creates definition in each adjoining center.

Note: undefined white centers are those with no defined channels, but which may have defined gates. In contrast, open centers have no defined gates at all.

What is the… design line?

The red numbers on the lefthand side of a body chart are known as the design line. It represents unconscious traits.

Also known as the body line because it symbolises the physical body, these numbers correspond to the position of each planet 88 days prior to the moment of your birth time. 

The tiny downward facing red or black triangles beside some numbers and planets within the design and personality lines of a body graph.

Detriments indicate planets in a sign opposite its domicile rulership. Essentially, the nature of planets in detriment symbolise a frequency of energy that is diminished / not in alignment with an expected theme in the collective, or is incomplete / requires more work.

What is… energy in Human Design?

In the Human Design system, everything starts and finishes with life force energy, the source of which is primarily our defined energy centers.

The tiny upward facing red or black triangles beside some numbers and planets within the design and personality lines of a body graph.

Exaltations indicate planets which have the effect of domicile ownership. Essentially, the nature of planets in exaltation symbolise an elevated frequency of energy.

What is the… false self?

When we are not living in alignment with our design, we experience the false self theme. This varies according to aura type, and indicates that a person needs to focus on living their strategy and authority.

What are… gates?

Gates are located in our energy centers and stretch halfway across the channels which connect our energy centers. They may be defined (creating definition) or undefined.

Refers to the genetic coding we are imprinted with at birth, according to the Human Design system.

A system developed from Human Design, and with which traditional Human Design has been integrated, to become Integral Human Design.

The symbols used in Human Design to signify planets.

The six lines of the I Ching, one of the ancient principles that forms Human Design, are known as a hexagram.

What is… Human Design?

A New-Age system developed by founder Ra Uru Hu, synthesising the following principles:

  • Astrology
  • Numerology
  • The I Ching
  • The chakra system
  • Kabbalah
  • Quantum physics

Covered in more depth below.

An ancient Chinese divination text on which (alongside other philosophies) Human Design is based.

Refers to the transfer of information from neutrinos as they pass through the body at birth.

The incarnation cross can be seen as a cross on Human Design mandalas where the personality sun / earth and design sun / earth lines cross.

The incarnation cross is a role or function we each naturally come to inhabit when living correctly to our full expression.

An approach developed from the fusion of traditional Human Design and the Gene Keys system.

According to Human Design, we each have a bio-magnet, known as a Magnetic Monopole, positioned within our sternum and driving the trajectory of our lives.

Electrically neutral particles with a tiny mass which are said to imprint information on every human being at the time of birth. This information is represented on your Human Design body graph. 

An alternative term for the false self theme.

What is the… personality line?

The black numbers on the righthand side of a bodygraph are known as the personality line and represents conscious personality attributes.

The personality line corresponds to the position of each planet at the date and time of actual birth.

Refers to the planets, as well as the sun, moon, north node, and south node, denoted by glyphs or symbols.

What are… profiles?

There are 12 profiles in the Human Design system, made up from combinations of the six profile lines.

Alongside your energy type, your profile can provide additional insight into your design.

What is the… rave I Ching?

A graphic illustration made up of a body chart combined with several of the systems Human Design was developed upon. It comprises:

  • I Ching
  • Zodiac
  • Sephirot fo the Kabbalah
  • Hexagrams
  • Chakras

An alternative term for the rave I Ching.

The pseudonym of Alan Robert Krakower, who founded Human Design, following a mystical experience in 1987. 

The feeling experienced when living in alignment with your strategy and authority. Signature varies according to energy type.

What is… strategy?

The correct way for each type to interact with external stimulus and use their energy most effectively. These are:

  • Manifestor – to inform
  • Generator – wait to respond
  • Manifesting Generator – wait for a response, and inform
  • Projector – wait for an invitation
  • Reflector – wait a lunar cycle (full cycle of the moon)

Relate to hexagrams which consist of six lines, with the bottom three known as the lower trigram, and the top three as the upper trigram.

What is a… type in Human Design?

There are four or five different types (also known as aura types or energy types) in Human Design.

When strategy and authority are followed and people are living correctly, humanity exists in perfect symbiosis.

There are four main types and one sub-type known as:

Human Design types are determined by definition within a body chart, which is calculated using the birth data of an individual.

According to Human Design, there are specific sets of roles to fulfil – a life theme, if you will – and guides to live by for each different type, and when followed humanity exists in perfect symbiosis. These rules can be further broken down and nuanced when examined alongside profile and defined gates.

What is Human Design Philosophy?

Here’s the longer version…

In Human-Centered Design, your Human Design chart (aka bodygraph) is calculated using your birth information to produce a unique map detailing your inherent skills and talents. It also identifies your potential and vulnerabilities.

Human design chart.
Human design chart.

The BodyGraph is uniquely coded, and understanding it essentially means understanding yourself, your own makeup, and how to negotiate the world in a way that reflects self-acceptance and authenticity.

According to Human Design, we each have a bio-magnet, known as a Magnetic Monopole, positioned within our sternum and controlling the trajectory of our lives. This magnet attracts our conscious and unconscious design; unlike a traditional magnet, it never repels.

Using our personalised design to help navigate us, we’re able to comfortably live in alignment with our true purpose.

Each human being’s Magnetic Monopole is also attracted to a unique fractal geometric line. The Magnetic Monopole moves us along that unique fractal line, driving our life course.

Using the information you glean from your personal chart, you’re equipped with practical techniques to help steer your decisions and choices, to effectively improve your life experience.

How? By resisting the expectations placed upon us or that we place upon ourselves through conditioning. Using our personalised design to help navigate us, we’re able to comfortably live in alignment with our true purpose. 

What Are the Origins of Human Design?

Human design centre mythology is a system combining several holistic principles, including the I Ching, Vedic philosophy, Hindu-Brahmin chakra system, Kabbalah, astrology, and quantum physics.

The concept was developed by Alan Robert Krakower who released a book called The Human Design System in 1992, under the pseudonym Ra Uru Hu. He wrote the book following a spiritual experience in 1987, and dedicated his life to sharing his vision. 

How Does Human Design Work?

A fundamental element of the theory behind Human Design is based around neutrinos, an aspect of quantum physics.

Neutrinos leave an imprint of information as they pass through the human body at birth.

Neutrinos are electrically neutral particles with a tiny mass. The majority of neutrinos are produced by the sun, and each second about 65 billion solar neutrinos pass through every square centimetre of the Earth facing the sun. 

Neutrinos typically pass through other matter undetected. In the context of Human Design, it’s suggested that they leave an imprint of information within the body as they do so.

This information determines your unique Human Design chart, and is represented on your bodygraph, within energy centers.

Where to Get Your Free Human Design Chart

There are several different places you can obtain a completely free Human Design body graph so you can start learning about your type and applying the information too your own design.

The complete mandala can be quite overwhelming; I recommend focusing on the body graph initially.

Each website uses the same software, so any of them is perfectly fine to use. Just Google free Human Design test or chart, and you’ll find plenty of options.

How to Read Your Human Design Chart – A Comprehensive Guide

If you’re a beginner, while it’s worth having access to your complete mandala and understanding what you’re looking at, they can be quite overwhelming and therefore I’d recommend focusing on the body graph initially.

Energy Centers and Your Type

First, take a look at the geometric shapes inside of the diagram. These are the energy hubs, or centers.

The way in which these are coloured (defined) or open (white), is what ultimately determines your aura type, and this is where to start when it comes to learning about your design.

Note: I’m explaining where to find certain elements of data because it’s helpful to be armed with this information moving forwards. However you don’t need to be able to ‘read’ the chart to obtain this detail, as it will be presented to you alongside the diagram, with some other key pieces of information.

Read more about energy centers.

Gates and Channels

Each line consists of two gates, meeting midway between the adjoining energy centers.

Next, notice the lines joining the energy centers. These are the gates and channels.

Some are black (conscious gates), some red (unconscious gates), some both, and some are completely white. 

Each line consists of two gates, meeting midway between the adjoining energy centers. A defined gate connected to an undefined gate looks like a line coloured halfway. Both gates together form a channel.

Where both gates are filled with colour, a defined channel is created, which also has the effect of creating definition within each of the connecting energy centers. 

Design and Personality Lines

The characteristics represented by the red design line are fundamentally part of who you are.

You’ll notice that there’s are two columns of numbers and symbols on either side of the diagram. The red column on the left is called the design line, and the black column on the right is the personality line.

The red numbers represent the position of the planets 88 days prior to birth and are also known as the body line. The numbers specify which gate each planet was in, and this is the crucial information that influences your unconscious traits.

These are characteristics you may not be aware of in yourself, but are fundamentally part of who you are.

The black numbers correspond to the gate each planet was in at the moment of your birth. This is the information which influences your conscious attributes.

Profiles

You can also find your profile numbers from looking at the top numbers in these lines.

We always read the black personality line first, taking the second number after the decimal, followed by the red design line, also taking the number after the decimal.

Read more about profiles.

Human Design Chart Interpretation

Interpreting your design is something that can be done yourself with lots of research, or you can hire a Human Design expert for a professional Human Design chart reading.

Note: I am not a Human Design reader and I do not offer readings. Instead I offer a huge amount of information here for free. You will also find expensive courses available on other sites. I cannot speak to the extent of the information available in those courses, but my opinion is that the majority of information is available for free on sites like this one.

Human Design Analysis For Beginners

Following I’ve outlined some of the ways Human Design overlaps with proven theories (such as shadow work), personal growth strategies, and scientific concepts. 

I’ve followed up by examining some of its limitations within these contexts.

Human Design and Shadow Work

Undefined centers manifest as unhealthy behaviours.

I mentioned a possible crossover with shadow work, and here’s what I mean:

Let’s focus on an undefined spleen center.

This undefined center is said to manifest as unhealthy behaviours, in pursuit of security (which, from a psychological standpoint, stands up1: we know that there’s a relationship between insecure attachment and substance use disorders).

Supposing your BodyGraph determines that you have an open spleen center. Maybe you cling to a toxic friendship due to insecurity and difficulty in either recognising it as such, or because of the addictive quality of a hot/cold dynamic.

In the context of shadow work, it could be perceived that perhaps you contribute towards the toxicity of the relationship, in a way you’re unable to recognise or accept. (Which might be a healthier attitude, since it takes responsibility for the situation, thereby empowering you to make a healthy change not only in the specific instance of the friendship, but perhaps also by working on the unhealthy quality within yourself.)

Psychological categorisations and conflicting traits within the various centers are fascinating in their soundness.

In this example, the Spleen open center characteristics appear have similarities to an aspect of the shadow self. And this idea of undefined center attributes being aspects of your shadow could be applied to every center.

What Does the Science Say?

Depending on who you ask, the answer to this question will vary. If you’re looking for specific research or studies providing evidence, you will not find it. So the short answer: not really.

The longer answer is that there are elements which have a legitimate scientific basis – but that in itself may be problematic (see below).

Neutrinos are absolutely real, and some of the psychological categorisations and conflicting traits within the various centers are fascinating in their soundness, too.

Why You Should Be Cautious of Human Design Philosophy

As is often the case with New Age philosophies, one theory for the apparent accuracy of Human Design can be explained as the Barnum Effect2: the characterisations are vague and generic enough that they’re widely applicable, and therefore widely accepted.

But there’s a greater reason for caution to be exercised with Human Design (and many other pseudoscientific principles): the appropriation of science as a manipulative tool3.

There are several powerful personal growth strategies underpinning Human Design.

When empirical evidence can be shown, in the form of linked research and studies, you can be confident that what you’re reading is legitimate. But it’s important to remember that the words ‘research has shown’ are effectively meaningless without citation and/or links.

Arguably even more problematic is the use of specific scientific theories (in this case neutrinos), to purportedly shore up Human Design philosophy.

Why the Human Design System is Fascinating

Whether or not you believe in astrology and such, there’s definite value to much of the philosophy of Human Design.

Shadow work aside, there are several other powerful personal growth strategies underpinning Human Design:

Self-awareness4, living in accordance with our values, mindfulness, and reframing5 are all profoundly valuable principles in the pursuit of peace and a meaningful life.

Ultimately, there’s no harm in buying into the concept of Human Design, and there may be elements that could benefit you. However, much of the wisdom is applicable to each of us across the board. And it’s accessible – free of charge – without the requirement (or cost) of a body graph or Human Design reading.

Final Thoughts

So that’s pretty much Human Design explained in a concise (ish!) way. Of course, there’s lots of information to digest and expand on if you’re interested in diving deeper, and you’ll find many links on this page to help you do that.

I hope this thorough Human Design explanation has answered all of your questions, but if you still have more, please don’t hesitate to comment below and I’ll gladly keep this post up to date!

Signature reading Kate, with a heart.

Sources

  1. Schindler A. Attachment and Substance Use Disorders-Theoretical Models, Empirical Evidence, and Implications for Treatment. Front Psychiatry. 2019 Oct 15;10:727. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00727. PMID: 31681039; PMCID: PMC6803532.
  2. Vohs, K. D. (2016, August 1). Barnum Effect; Encyclopedia Britannica.
  3. A Critique of the Human Design System; Morten Tolboll.
  4. Top 11 Benefits of Self-Awareness According to Science; Positive Psychology.
  5. Cognitive Restructuring, Part One. General Strategies, David A. Clark. First published: 20 September 2013. doi: 10.1002/9781118528563.wbcbt02

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