Introduction to Relationship Astrology 3:
Composite Charts; Familiarity; Transits
– written by Philip Graves, January 31st, 2003
– reformatted for WordPress, 9th June, 2016
5. Composite Charts
Now we are going to consider the astrological factors in the chart for the two people merged together as though one, which is called their Composite Chart. These factors indicate qualities of the relationship itself that are experienced equally and evenly by both individuals, as though they were thinking, feeling and behaving as the single entity that is their relationship.
These factors, like synastric factors, are entirely subjective, bearing no ostensible relation to the objective similarity or compatibility of the two individuals involved; but they differ from synastric factors in that where factors in the Composite Chart are concerned the subjectivity is equally shared by both partners and does not link into their respective birth charts at all.
The composite chart is as though an autonomous entity into which the two individuals are subsumed on an experiential level. It is particularly active when close relationships are formed, often to the degree that the individuals’ senses of their separate identity take second place to it; but it has influence upon all relationships of whatever nature, including business, family, friendship and even enmity.
Think of every human individual as a complex biological and physical organism with its own unique astrological blueprint from birth that charges it up vibrationally in different areas of its nature (corresponding with the luminaries, planets, nodes and angles) in different ways (the signs and houses).
Everyone shares the same characteristic set of charged astrological factors (the luminaries and planets), but each factor is subject to a variation on its typical pattern of charge in accordance with the influence of the zodiacal sign and degree it occupied at birth.
When two people’s astrologically conditioned outwardly radiated personal fields, on whatever physical or metaphysical planes may apply, meet, then a third field, the composite field, takes form on the basis of the averages or midpoints of the variant patterns of charge for each like pair of factors in the two individual personal fields.
Thus, the composite field features the characteristic generic blueprints for the radiation or charge patterns of each of the luminaries, planets and Moon’s Nodes; but the variations on these patterns for each such factor in the composite chart are determined by the nearer midpoint (the average by the closer of the two possible connecting routes around the zodiac) between its zodiacal positions in the two individual birthcharts.
For example, if the first person has Venus at 19º Pisces and the second has Venus at 23º Cancer, the 19º Pisces variation on the characteristic Venus blueprint manifest in the first person’s outwardly radiated field meets with the 23º Cancer variation in that of the second person; and the two variations average out in one corresponding with 21º Taurus, which is their nearer midpoint around the zodiac. The two people’s composite field thus takes form with a variation in the characteristic Venus charge blueprint corresponding to the influence of the zodiacal position 21º Taurus.
By the same logic, the composite field is characterised by its own variations of the charges for all the other planets, as well as for the Sun, Moon and Moon’s Nodes. All this information can be represented in an astrological chart for the composite field resembling a birth chart, the composite chart.
Once the sign and degree placements of these factors have been established, the aspects between them should be calculated. Interplanetary aspects in the composite chart have a critical bearing upon the energies of the relationship itself as determined by the two people’s composite field. The composite chart sign placements are of considerably lesser importance, and were even considered by Robert Hand to be possibly a mere ‘abstraction’.
The composite field also has its own variant form of the plane of energies corresponding with the twelve house cusps and houses. According to John Townley, the pioneering and authoritative developer of the composite chart as an analytical technique in the past thirty years, the zodiacal signs and degrees occupied by the house cusps in the composite chart should be calculated in exactly the same way as those occupied by the luminaries, nodes and planets.
That is to say, the nearer midpoints of the like pairs of cusps in the respective birth charts, starting with the Ascendant (1st house cusp) and continuing around in the usual anticlockwise direction through the zodiac, form the sign and degree placements of the house cusps in the composite chart.
Since occasionally the nearer midpoint of one of the later house cusps may fall on the opposite side of the zodiac from where it would be required if to remain in ordered sequence with the rest of the nearer midpoints around the zodiac, Townley recommends that in such circumstances the further midpoint is taken for the stray cusp – which will automatically entail that the further midpoint is also taken for the cusp of its opposing house.
Once all the composite house cusps have been determined, draw up a vertical list of their positions by zodiacal sign and degree, ideally to the nearest decimal point of a degree. Then fit alongside it the positions of the composite Sun, Moon, planets and Moon’s Nodes that you calculated earlier, according to the houses in this framework into which each falls. This then gives you a further set of significant influences in the composite chart to interpret.
Whereas the interplanetary aspects in the composite chart describe the energies of the relationship, the house placements in the composite chart describe the areas of manifestation in which each planetary principle will be expressed as a characteristic feature of the relationship.
The guidelines listed for interpreting the synastric house placements and interplanetary aspects in Part 2 of this article can be similarly applied to identifying the influences introduced by the composite field of the two individuals, as described by the composite chart.
The main difference is that the composite chart influences affect both individuals in the relationship equally, and operate autonomously as opposed to being tied into birth chart configurations for each individual. They describe the nature of the relationship as an entity in itself, whereas the synastric aspects and house placements describe the potentialities of the two individuals as distinct, separate people for experiencing and interacting with each other.
A composite chart with personal and benefic planets in the 1st, 3rd, 5th or 7th houses, conjunctions and trines involving the benefics and luminaries, and positive Mars linkages to the Moon and / or Venus, if allowed to express itself, may produce a wonderfully positive and rewarding feel to a relationship.
Composite personal planets and benefics in the more practical houses (2nd, 4th, 6th and 10th) can be very helpful in building real-world compatibility, material sharing and domesticity into relationships.
However, difficult synastric connections may at any time relegate the composite chart to the subconscious background, as the individuals find from the vantage points of their own separate identities obstacles impeding or dissuading their merging and togetherness.
Conversely, strongly positive synastry may bring the composite chart into sharp and clear focus, but harsh aspects between or taking in the malefics (Mars, Saturn, Uranus, and Pluto) in the composite chart can spoil the experience of the relationship itself, prompting the individuals to withdraw from it again and return to admiring each other from a safe and respectful difference.
6. Familiarity Considerations
People tend to be attracted and attractive to others who at an objective level are similar to those with whom they have had enduring associations before, including parents and siblings especially, and also ex-loves to whom they were close! It is as though one projects outwardly the memory of one’s connections to everyone with whom one has close ties, and thus attracts and is attracted to similar people.
The attractive power of a possible mate or even good friend is strongly potentiated by this person having major astrological sign placements in common with one’s parents and siblings. Understanding will seem to be deeper, and love at some unconscious level may be automatic.
Where the relationship with the family member sharing a major sign placement of the person met was not so good, whether because of the effects of the sign placement concerned or for disconnected reasons, there is a real danger that the learned patterns of relating to the family member will be projected onto the newly met person quite inappropriately, as though the person is serving as an outlet for the perpetuation of this family relating problem. Sometimes such an experience can however breed new understanding and tolerance of the family member for whom they were previously lacking.
7. Transient Influences
Relationships, like individuals, are not constant, but subject to the ever-changing influences of passing astrological trends impacting upon them and upon each individual involved.
Difficult transits (connections made by the planets in their current real-time positions in the zodiac) to the birth chart of either individual will often alter this individual’s perceptions and outward projections, the transiting planets linking in to his or her birth chart and altering both how he or she comes across to other people and how he or she perceives any emotional situation and life in general.
Conjunctions or hard aspects by transit of Saturn or Uranus to (or from) the Sun, Moon, Venus or Moon’s Nodes, or to the 1st, 5th or 7th houses, can cause for example, depending on the malefic planet implicated, slumps in self-confidence, vitality and personal effectiveness (Saturn-Sun), dampenings of emotional connections (Saturn-Moon, Saturn-Venus or Saturn transiting the 5th house), and separations (Saturn or Uranus in aspect to the Moon or Venus; or Uranus transiting the 5th or 7th house).
Hard transits to or from Mars may cause arguments. Neptune’s involvement may cause unclear communication, false assurances and promises, and distorted perception leading to regrettable decisions to be made in connection with any relationship situation, including its seeking, entry, development, or even abandonment.
Ordinary transits made by the Moon to the birth chart in everyday life have a very significant passing influence on people’s moods and outward projections, which affect all their interactions at that time.
Conversely, other transits can bring joy and harmony and greater confidence and effectiveness when it comes to communication and approaches made in relationships.
Sometimes it is said that the transits to one’s birth chart under which a relationship began will affect the entire course of the relationship.
In addition to transits to the individuals’ natal planets and houses, consider the temporary influences of aspects within their progressed charts, aspects between their progressed and natal planets, and transits to their progressed planets, using the day-for-a-year substitution technique known as secondary progression. Calculate the progressed positions of the planets in each person’s chart by moving them forward from their positions at birth to their positions one day later for every completed year of life (using the ephemeris).
Beyond the effects of transient planetary influences to the birth chart of each individual, when the individuals become closer and their energies merge more, their composite field takes stronger form, and is more clearly subject to the influences of transits to it. In accordance with their particular nature, such transits can variously signify positive and happy times, and more awkward patches in the relationship. They may also coincide variously with times when the relationship forms or takes a step forward in its development with agreements and binding decisions made; and times of temporary separations and even the final dissolution of the association – again, according to the particular transits ongoing.
8. Progressed Synastry
Consider also progressed synastry. Work out the aspects and house overlays between the progressed planets in one chart and the radical (natal) placements in the other, and vice versa, and take all these influences into account as an additional set of factors affecting the relationship at the current stage of these individuals’ lives. Changes in progressed synastry can strengthen or weaken relationships over time.
There are so many factors in synastry and the composite chart combined that there will always be multiple difficult links. Whether or not the experiencing of the effects of any of these separately or all of them combined together is fatal to the desire of either or both individuals to pursue and develop the relationship ultimately depends upon the individuals concerned as assessors of what they want and perceive the relationship as providing, and what they are prepared to tolerate in order to have it. If the positive potentials of the interaction continue to allure them persuasively enough despite the negatives, they may learn to live with and work round the latter. There is little ultimately in synastry or the composite chart that definitively determines whether or not two individuals will inter-relate to differing degrees. There is plenty that will make it harder or easier, more off-putting and challenging, or more enticing, appealing and rewarding, if they do; but the decision rests with individual freedom of will.
Relationship astrology is a very useful tool for describing and identifying causes of the characteristics of relationships and potential relationships, and all the subjective feelings associated with them. It has a valuable role to play in facilitating learning and understanding in anyone affected by all the conditions and qualities of his or her interaction with another person. But it does and should not dictate decisions to be made regarding relationship choices. Intuition is always a more subtle and complete assessment of personal truths, however subjective they may be, than any form of astrological analysis and exposure of their causes.
If astrological analysis of relationship situations can help to resolve problems through understanding them and seeing how the subjective factors in synastry and the composite chart mould and distort perceptions, then it is to be thanked. But ultimately there is no substitute in relationship situations for listening to and responding to one’s feelings, since however much it may be true that these feelings are caused by purely subjective factors, they are the feelings that one is going to have to live with if one pursues and maintains the relationship concerned.
Conversely, in some circumstances it transpires that although the synastry and composite chart are very strong and positive in many or even most respects, when it comes to the individuals’ objective compatibility (as assessed by their birth charts) there are serious limitations in real understanding, and on a practical level the relationship can therefore become very problematic and destructive, even while experientially it feels wonderful.