Human Design 101: What This Mind-Bending Chart Can Tell You
People love to analyze and categorize their personalities—hence the reason tools like horoscopes and Myers-Briggs inventories are so popular. Human design is another modality that can help us better decipher who we truly are. Similar to astrology, the lesser-known discipline uses your birth information to create a unique chart that can give you insight into your life, purpose, and more.
Intrigued? Here's what human design is all about, plus how to get a reading and what to look out for in your chart.
The history of human design.
The history of human design is interesting, to say the least. It was founded by a Canadian man named Ra Uru Hu (born Alan Robert Krakower), after he had a mystical experience in the late '80s. He described hearing a voice of supreme intelligence and receiving information from this voice over the course of eight days and nights.
That information would become human design as it is known today. He wrote of his experience in a book titled Rave I'Ching and spent the rest of his life sharing what he had learned. Since then, the practice has clearly resonated with many people, as it continues to get more attention around the world.
How to get a reading & what you'll need.
You don't need much information to calculate your human design chart: Just your birthday, your birth time, and the location of your birth.
According to human design expert Nikki Brafman, this birth information is like a snapshot of the cosmos at the moment you were born and three months before that when your brain is developing in utero. "Human design composites those two and layers them on top of each other and then looks at how [their] energy interacts," she explains.
Once you have your chart pulled up, you can analyze it on your own or seek out a professional reading. When you're just starting off, human design can introduce a lot of concepts at once, so working with a pro might be helpful. "A reader can translate it into more actionable items," Brafman notes, adding, "every reader has a different style, so find one that's right for you."
What you learn during a reading.
Again, this will depend on who's reading your chart. Typically, though, Brafman says you'll likely hear about all of the following aspects of human design:
Your energy type:
We'll go into more detail in a bit, but there are four (or five, depending how you look at it) main "energy types" in human design, "almost like a sun sign," according to Brafman. They are:
- Generators/Manifesting Generators
Your type can give you insight into how you best use your energy, what your life theme is (whether it's working toward success, peace, etc.), what your "not-self theme" is (those things that don't mesh with your energy), and much more.
Your strengths and weaknesses:
When you start to decode the human design jargon and learn more about your energy type, you're able to better identify your own strengths and weaknesses, Brafman says. And often, she adds, if something doesn't resonate, it's a sign that aspect of yourself may have been conditioned out of you.
How you make decisions:
In human design, there's something called the "inner authority," Brafman explains, or your decision-making principle. "It's the way you're guided," she notes, adding, "Some people are meant to make quick decisions, some are meant to take their time, some listen to their intuition, and so on."
Your role in this life:
Human design also has 12 different "profiles," or numerical combinations, that clue us into the role we're meant to play in this world, Brafman says. You may be a 6/2, for example, with your role being "the role model hermit" who shares their wisdom; Or, 3/5, "the experiential hectic," whose role is to, well, experience!
"As we layer on each and every level [in human design]," Brafman adds, "we become not one of five, or 35—we become one of an infinite amount of different combinations and see ourselves as truly unique beings."
The four energy types in human design.
Generators and Manifesting generators represent 70% of people in the world, Brafman tells mbg. "They are the sort of workhorses, the 'go-go-go' people," she says. Each energy type has a particular strategy for directing their energy, and Generators' is to respond to things. "As generators," she notes, "they respond to things like gaps in the market or inequities in the world. They're propelling the world forward with their work and energy, and they access that energy by doing things that light them up."
Things that don't light them up, on the other hand, deplete that energy reserve. And as far as the difference between Generators and Manifesting Generators, Generators "tend to have an area of expertise, where Manifesting Generators like to have a wide, jack-of-all-trades style of being," she notes.
Their life theme is satisfaction, which will be achieved by "continually responding to things that are a 'yes' for them," she explains.
Projectors represent 20% of the world's population, and they're often our wisdom keepers and guides, according to Brafman. "They have this intense sampling energy where they sample the energies and auras of everyone around them," she notes.
"They're amazing leaders because they can curate situations based on the energy of the situation," she says—the caveat being that they're susceptible to giving unsolicited advice. They're better off waiting for an invitation to weigh in. When they're invited in to understand someone or someone asks for their knowledge, projectors can really shine.
"A Projector's work is to wait for recognition," Brafman adds, and "in the meantime, elevate themselves and share things so people can understand what they're all about." The life theme for Projectors is success.
Manifestors are here to "get the ball rolling, to initiate, and to back off and let other people take over," Brafman says. They make up less than 10% of people in the world and are known for working in deep bursts followed by deep rest. "They might be able to outrun a Generator or Manifesting Generator," she adds, "but they can't keep that pace."
This can result in a lot of burnout for Manifestors, as well as depression and shame when they can't keep up with the demands of a consistent schedule. "Their energy is like a slingshot," Brafman adds. "They pull back and then they catapult forward."
The Manifestor's strategy is to inform, and the life theme of Manifestors is finding peace, which Brafman defines as a place where their initiations can start to roll freely.
Lastly, we have Reflectors, which make up under 1% of the population. "Reflectors have no consistent and reliable energy for their own—they basically just reflect the energy of their environment," Brafman tells mbg. This makes them intimate, energetic empaths, able to feel whatever is happening around them. The health of a Reflector is typically very indicative of whatever environment they're in.
Their strategy actually requires a bit of patience; it's called "waiting a lunar cycle." "They're supposed to wait those 28 days before making a decision," Brafman says, "to collect a lot of data on multiple environments," because it can be so difficult not to simply absorb whatever their current environment is telling them.
The life theme for Reflectors is surprise. "Ideally," she adds, "a reflector would always be in an environment that would continue to surprise [them], bring them joy, and help them understand the area that they're in."
What to look out for on your chart.
Whether you're giving yourself a DIY reading or you're consulting with a human design expert, there are a few things Brafman says you'll definitely want to consider looking out for or asking about:
Your energy type.
Energy types, of course, are worth looking into, as they encompass everything from your life theme to your inner authority—which is another important term to look out for, by the way.
Your inner authority.
Generators, for example, have a "sacral authority," which can also be thought of as a "gut reaction." So, when Brafman describes doing things that "are a yes" it's quite literally all about what your gut tells you. (If it's not a full-bodied, feel-it-in-your gut yes, it's probably a no.) Other types may have an emotional authority, an ego authority, or a lunar cycle authority.
Profiles, or your role in this life, are also good to pay attention to, as it covers who you think you are, along with the innate design of your physical body, and how they work together.
And again, as Brafman adds, as you're digging through your chart, take notice of the qualities that perhaps don't sound totally right. "In human design, I think the best nuggets are when things don't resonate because it means we've been conditioned out of a natural state of being—so we can get curious as to why," she says.
The bottom line.
If you're curious about human design, or you just have to map your chart to see if it resonates, set up an appointment with a practitioner or give it a try yourself—making sure to pay extra attention to your energy type, inner authority, and profile.
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, a registered yoga instructor, and an avid astrologer and tarot reader. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from State University of New York at Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.