Learning to read a chart is like learning to read. Like most astrologers, when I started learning astrology, my first step was to learn the astrological language.
The major components of the astrological language are planets, signs, houses and aspects. To meaningfully delineate a chart, you need to understand the meanings of these symbols, and then combine them and synthesize their significations.
Each of the four major components of the astrological language has basic keywords associated with it. These keywords combine to create astrological sentences that follow the conventions of grammatical structure. In a sense, the planet is the ‘who’, the sign is the ‘how’, and the house is the ‘where’. These sentences will form meaningful statements when combined in proper sequence.
As an example, a person’s Sun is in Scorpio in the 10th house. Combining the meanings for the Sun, Scorpio and 10th house, you can say that part of this person’s life purpose (Sun) is for intense involvement and deep transformation (Scorpio) in his quest for public reputation and career growth (10th house). This person’s Sun is ruling his 3rd house (Leo is on the cusp of his 3rd house), you need to take the interpretation of a planet one step further by integrating the meaning of the house that it rules. Therefore you can add to say that, his communication through speech or writing plays a central role in the realization of his life purpose.