Not to be hyperbolic, but a PDF changed my life. Well, a PDF and also the person delivering the message in said PDF: Fiona Bicknell — a holistic health coach, human design facilitator, and, at the time, total stranger — who shared it with me one afternoon over Zoom, then proceeded to use it to describe every aspect of my entire personality accurately, and in great detail. The basis of this paradigm-shifting PDF? Human Design.
Over the years, I’ve had astrology readings, taken every personality test under the sun, and even had my palm read in a sketchy-looking room in the back of a nail salon (don’t ask) — but if finding out my Moon was in Sagittarius was self-awareness 101, learning about my Energy, Strategy, and Authority through Human Design was like getting a Ph.D. into my innermost self. After my Human Design reading, I felt like I had words to define the deepest parts of myself I inherently knew — my habits, decision-making processes, leadership style, and the way I moved through the world. The things that make me tick; why I’ve never been able to have a set routine; my go-with-the-flow approach to most things in life. Bicknell — a fashion exec-turned-life coach with a soothing Australian accent — was somehow able to use a 30-page PDF to define these things, allow me to understand them, show kindness to myself for them, and ultimately, learn how to use them to benefit myself and those around me. It was like she had handed me some sort of dummy-proof manual to my innermost being.
For my skeptics, know this: you don’t have to be an astrology aficionado like me to find the Human Design system helpful. If you’ve ever taken a personality test like Myers-Briggs or are just curious about why you are the way you are and how to use this knowledge to live your truth, keep reading.
What Is Human Design?
Human Design was created in the 1980s in the island of Ibiza, though its origins run much deeper. “The system of Human Design brings together a number of ancient divination practices dating back potentially as late as the 10th century BC,” explains Bicknell. “Those systems are The I-Ching, The Hindu Brahmin Chakra system, the Kabbalah, and astrology.” In the ‘80s, a man named Alan Krakower published a book called Rave I'Ching on the subject under the pseudonym Ra Uru Hu, which became the basis for the basic principles of Human Design.
“Human Design is referred to as the 'science of differentiation.’ It is a tool created with the intention of helping us to understand ourselves and others, bringing to light how we each are unique in our ways of operating and moving through the world,” says Bicknell. “It provides us with a map of sorts — a blueprint of our individual operating system — guiding us to create more ease, abundance, and flow in our lives.”
Human Design vs. Astrology
Like astrology, in Human Design you receive a chart based on your birth date, time, and place. But unlike astrology, which shows where the stars were in the sky the second you were born, Human Design gives you a personal body graph to decipher who you truly are, so that you can live your life in a manner that’s in sync to this true self. You can plug in your info at My Human Design or myBodyGraph to receive your body graph, or meet with a Human Design facilitator who can go over your body graph in greater detail (hence, the 30-page PDF Bicknell shared with me).
The latter can feel like deeply personal therapy session, since part of the Human Design process can mean de-conditioning parts of you that are learned from your upbringing or experiences. “It’s a journey of separating your conditioning from your true self, or ‘design,’ in order to facilitate personal growth, allowing each of us to contribute to the collective in the greatest way possible,” Bicknell says.
Also, she notes that because Human Design combines aspects of astrology with other divination practices, the level of detail and number of possible outcomes in your chart grows exponentially. “I can confidently say the number [of unique charts] is at the least in the hundreds of millions, if not billions,” she says. This just means that when you’re getting a Human Design reading, you can trust that it’s unique to you, and only you.
How Human Design Works
The Human Design chart is incredibly intricate, and so detailed that it can take months, even years, to fully process and integrate it into your life. But honestly, I was able to reap so many benefits in just my two-and-a-half-hour initial reading. In a reading, you’ll cover six key properties of your unique body graph, which at first glance looks like an Ikea instruction manual gone wrong, full of arrows, numbers, and lines. Bicknell explains the six aspects below:
- Your Energy Type: “We each fit into one of five defined energy types, providing broad insight into your day-to-day energy — how it operates, how it is impacted, and how to best harness it to create ease and value. The five different energy types are manifestors, projectors, generators, manifesting generators, and reflectors.”
- Your Strategy: “This covers your most aligned approach to creating success for yourself in any endeavor.”
- Your Self + Not Self: “These are your unique indicators of when you are ‘on track’ and ‘off track’ acting as guides to move you through life.”
- Your Authority: “This is your individual decision-making process, the way in which your intuition speaks to you.”
- Your Profile: “This provides insight into your greatest strengths to lean on for creating impact and abundance.”
- Your Variables: “These aspects help to determine the most supportive way to structure your days, tasks, and environments as well as your ideal approach to manifestation.”
Human Design IRL & The Benefits
In case it hasn’t been made clear, the benefits of getting a Human Design reading are endless. Right off the bat, you’ll get a better understanding of how your energy operates, and how to harness it, protect it, and leverage it. For example, I learned that my Energy Type is Projector, which accounts for about 20 percent of the population. According to Human Design, Projectors have a “unique vantage point to the world,” and need more rest than the average person; they work best in short bursts of extreme productivity, followed by longer periods of rest. I used to feel guilty for working like this — why couldn’t I work at a consistent pace like my co-workers? — but Human Design allowed me to see that this is actually how I’m conditioned to operate best. Hearing this was like a giant weight lifted off of my back. Suddenly, I didn’t have to feel guilty anymore over a working style I had been conditioned to believe was wrong.
I also learned that my Authority Type is Spleen — which, OK, sounds slightly ridiculous, but makes more sense if you think about your spleen as your gut. Bicknell says that your spleen is the oldest sense of awareness in the body, tied to an instinctual survival aspect, so anyone with this Authority Type should pay close attention to the moments in their lives when they’re hit with a burst of clarity, or inspiration, and to act on them. Also, that I should lean into practices that help me prioritize stillness and self-awareness, like meditation, so that I can more clearly notice when these moments happen.
My Strategy — the most aligned way to create success for myself — is to be invited, which means the spaces, roles, and dynamics that will generate the most success for me are places where I’m explicitly brought into. In other words, I shouldn’t have to force my authority in roles or situations, but the right ones should come to me naturally (this also happens to be a pattern I’ve seen throughout my entire career).
Obviously, Human Design can be a supremely insightful tool into better understanding your truest self. There were so many more details and learnings from my session with Bicknell I won’t bore you with, but I left with a clarity I’d feel after 10 therapy sessions combined — and so many helpful insights I could apply to my life. More importantly, my Human Design reading allowed me to feel seen, giving words and names to the intricate, hidden parts of myself I’ve struggled to define, and allowing myself to show kindness for them — and for that, my Capricorn Rising and I are grateful.
To book a Human Design reading with Fiona Brickell, head to Porter 11211.