Thanks to astrology, we can turn to the cosmos for guidance on pretty much anything, from compatibility to your power color to the best self-care for your zodiac sign — or even what style of wedding band to rock. And while horoscopes will likely always serve their purpose, there’s a new self-knowledge system that’s giving astrology a run for its money: human design.
For those unfamiliar, human design essentially pulls from different methods, including astrology, the Chinese I’Ching, and the Hindu chakra system, explains Emma Dunwoody, a master coach and host of The Human Design Podcast. Erin Claire Jones, a human design guide and teacher, says the technique uses a person’s time, date, and place of birth to create their personal chart, which “shows how we’re each uniquely wired to operate and thrive in our work, relationships, and life.” Put differently, Dunwoody describes it as our life’s roadmap, “like a treasure map to access our personal greatness.”
In short, your human design chart can help you better understand yourself, Jones says, including how to create aligned opportunities, make the best decisions for you, where you’re most sensitive to other people’s energy, your natural strengths, environments you thrive in, and signposts to help keep you on track.
Dunwoody adds that all the information human design provides helps us overcome challenges, bust through fears, grow, create more ease and less resistance in our lives, and most importantly, provides the freedom to be our most authentic selves. “[It] is all about setting people free and giving them permission to be themselves and trust that their authentic expression of life is important, not just for themselves, but for the greater global community and the planet itself,” she says.
And if you notice similarities between astrology and human design, it’s because astrology is one component of it. For instance, both use a person’s time, date, and place of birth to create individualized charts and reveal information about ourselves. One of the biggest differences between the two systems, however, is that human design goes a bit deeper than astrology. “Human design provides a greater degree of specificity by incorporating multiple other ancient wisdoms and modern sciences, [such as the Chinese I’Ching and the Hindu chakra system],” Dunwoody says. “These modalities combined provide a more nuanced and detailed look into our personality traits.”
Furthermore, compared to astrology, Dunwoody says human design divulges information in a way that is simple, understandable, and easy to implement into our lives. For example, learning about your human design energy type (more on that below) alone, which is just one piece of information human design can reveal, is enough to create big changes in your life when applied.
The 5 Human Design Energy Types
When you’re first dipping your toes into Human Design, experts suggest learning about your energy type. “Your human design type is how you energetically interact with life, with others, and the universe,” Dunwoody explains. In other words, your type, Jones says, shows you how to use your energy in the most aligned way in all areas of life, and there are five types: generators, manifesting generators, projectors, manifestors, and reflectors.
To learn your energy type, pull up your human design chart using online software (such as those found on Jones’ and Dunwoody’s websites). Then find your specific category below to learn more about what it says about you and how you are meant to navigate life.
“Manifestors are natural disruptors, innovators, and initiators,” Jones says. “Their gift is bringing new ideas, movements, and ways of doing things into the world. They can often see the future and where things are going before others do.” In other words, natural-born manifestors are meant to shake things up. Famous examples include Adele, Maya Angelou, and Gloria Steinem.
To live in alignment with their energy type, Jones says manifestors thrive and make the most impact when they have freedom and autonomy and do things on their terms, in their way. And they are meant to honor their creative bursts and rest in between rather than maintain a consistent, productive pace. Adele is a great example of this, as she’s known for stepping into the spotlight for a period of time while she launches a new album or goes on tour and then disappears for some time while she refuels her creative cup.
A Generator’s life theme is to do the things that light them up, Dunwoody says, which in turn lights up the people around them too. Case in point: famous generators such as Beyoncé, Oprah Winfrey, and Megan Markle. When Generators are doing something they love and are passionate about, you can’t help feeling lit up, too (hello, Queen B’s Renaissance world tour).
Contrary to Manifestors who need rest in between creative bursts, Generators are actually energized by doing the things they love, which explains why they have the capacity to go, go, go. This seemingly endless energy, Jones says, is what enables them to bring ideas to life. So if you’re a Generator, focusing on doing more of what lights you up is a surefire way to elevate not just your life but the lives of those around you too.
Just like generators, when a manifesting generator is lit up by what they’re doing, people can’t help but be around their buzzing, excited energy. The biggest difference is their gift of speed to bring ideas to life and their multi-passionate nature. “They are designed to do more than one thing at a time and be a multi-passionate, non-linear being,” Dunwoody says. Examples of this specific category include multi-hyphens like Jessica Alba and Angelina Jolie who are both famous for finding their calling in different careers and life missions.
It’s important to note that manifesting generators feel limited by just one path, Jones adds. It’s in their nature to try things and then move on to other things. To thrive as a manifesting generator, Jones notes they must have the freedom to change direction and reinvent themselves as they go, both in their career and in life.
“Projectors are natural guides, leaders, advisors, and teachers,” Jones says. They are not meant to work hard or get lots of things done consistently as their energy ebbs and flows. Instead, a projector’s superpower is their big-picture thinking, and perspective and ability to notice where things can be more efficient. “They are adept at seeing things in new and different ways,” she says. “They feel good to be around because they make people feel deeply recognized and seen.” Some famous projectors throughout history include Princess Diana, Marilyn Monroe, and Salvador Dali.
As their name suggests, a reflector’s power is their ability to reflect the natures and environments of those around them. “They are incredibly sensitive to energies of other people and of the collective, and they act as a mirror that reflects back what's happening inside another person or the world,” Dunwoody explains. Although this particular category is more rare than the others (less than 1% of the population fall into it), celebrities like Sandra Bullock and former first lady Rosalyn Carter are among the few famous reflectors.
Jones adds that this environment-sensitive type are innately wise and objective and can intuit what’s not working and see how things can be improved. And, reflectors are naturally fluid in how they express themselves. So to find success as a reflector, Jones says it’s essential that they allow themselves to explore life and tap into all their different potential expressions.