Before you start rethinking, well, everything—no, your entire life hasn't been a lie. Or at least, not a total lie.
Here's the truth: You have **two** major astrological charts that factor into who you are and what happens in your life. If you're astrologically-inclined (and, okay, low-key obsessed), you've probably already seen your natal chart—on multiple occasions. That chart "is determined by the date, time and place of your birth," says Linda Joyce, professional astrologer and author of The Star Within. Translation: When you check your zodiac sign's horoscope, that's based on your natal chart.
But that's only half the story—the other half is your progressed chart. Think of your birth chart as an astrological "snapshot of the moment you were born" and your progressed chart as "a roadmap to understanding how your evolving self is currently interacting with your environment," explains Narayana Montúfar senior astrologer at Horoscope.com and Astrology.com
Hold up, does that mean your zodiac sign changes every year?
Nope, more like every 30 years. (So you've got some time to process all this, thank G.) "There are 30 degrees in each sign, and the progressed sun only moves less than a degree per year, so this change is really slow-moving," explains Montúfar.
While you might be tempted to add "changing zodiac sign" to the list of reasons why you're dreading the big 3-0 (which, btw, you shouldn't—you're about to be "flirty and thriving"!), it's not that simple. The year your progressed sun sign changes depends on the exact day you were born because, well, what doesn't in astrology?
Basically, if you were born during the first few days in your sign (e.g. March 21-23 for Aries), "your Sun would not change signs until you were almost thirty," explains Joyce. But "if you were born at the end of the sign, your sun would change signs when you were very young," she adds.
That means if you were born on April 18 to 19, your sun sign moved from Aries into Taurus in early childhood (and might explain some of the temper tantrums you had as a toddler, just saying...). Consequently, it won't change again until your early to mid-30s.
If you want to find out exactly when and in which signs you'll feel a perspective shift, you can easily find out if where you are in your progressed chart online. But you probably won't be able to interpret what your progressed chart means on your own—so your best bet is to get a full chart reading from a professional astrologer.
What happens when your zodiac sign changes?
Buckle up, folks, because sh*t starts to go down when you're in the 29th degree of your sun sign. "There are a lot of changes... your values, your focus, your core self is somewhat manifesting in a different way for you," Montúfar says. "It becomes really apparent around the last degree of 29, and the first degree of the new sign, and it will just be getting deeper and deeper."
That said, don't expect to become a new person overnight. "When a planet changes signs, it takes on new energy. It doesn’t change the core of who you are, but it gives you 'new eyes' to see the world," Joyce explains. "...You get to experience yourself in new ways. It gives you greater understanding of others and more opportunities to express yourself."
In other words, it's the astrological equivalent of a #TransformationTuesday. You've been making these gradual changes in your values and ideas over time, Montúfar explains. Then, once you get to a point of moving signs "something happens in the outer world that triggers it, and then, all of a sudden, there's a big change there."
How should you prepare for a zodiac sign change?
Short answer: Embrace it.
"When your progressed Sun has entered a new sign, you are being called to embody the positive traits of that sign in order to remain centred and happy," says Montúfar. "If you listen, life can open up in a completely new direction." If you miss the proverbial boat, you may find yourself feeling lost.
Of course, letting go of something you've held near and dear to your heart for so long can be hard (no matter what Marie Kondo would have you believe), but the sooner you do, the better off you'll be.
"If you’re strong and stubborn, [the adjustment] will take you longer because you don’t give up on what you believe is true very easily," explains Joyce. "When you’re on the right path, that’s wonderful, but if you’re doing things that impede or hurt you, you’re in trouble... Often the thing you are holding on to is what helped you survive as a child. Now, however, it is holding you back."
Does that mean you should ditch your natal chart for the newer model? Nope—both charts are important and work well together, says Joyce. In fact, she adds, your natal chart still reigns supreme because it's "a blueprint of your potential." But—emphasis on "potential"—it’s up to you to make it work, she adds.
Btw, that's exactly why most astrologers use both charts, Joyce and Montúfar say. That way, you can see where you were and what you're evolving toward, according to Joyce. "The chart is a living entity; it is always moving and evolving and that helps you learn and grow," she adds.
How many times can your zodiac sign change in your life?
In the average person's lifetime, you'll go through three signs, according to Montúfar. So, if you were born a Libra, your progressed signs will likely move to Scorpio, then Sagittarius. But, because that transition takes about 30 years per sign, you can expect to spend a few years in what she calls "limbo."
"When the progressed sun is around 14 to 16 degrees— the middle of a sign—everything kind of goes into a standstill, just because all the changes from one sign to another already happened in the first 12 to 13 degrees," Montúfar explains. "So, it's gonna be three years of limbo... During those years, you pretty much just need to chill." (Not getting that job promotion? Give it a degree or two.)
Ultimately, once you know how your zodiac sign changes over time, you're better equipped to understand yourself and face whatever the universe throws at you (cough cough, Mercury in retrograde) head on.
This article originally appeared on Women's Health US.