Synastry in Astrology, Relationships and Compatibility

Historical Perspective

There appears to have been little or no emphasis in Hellenistic astrology for compatibility or relationship issues by comparing chart nativities as is the case in modern synastry. In fact, I have never seen a single case where this was done, but this does not necessarily mean that it never happened. We simply do not know because of the scarcity of birth charts surviving the period. However, there is emphasis on the natal chart with such indicators as the lot of marriage, and other indications of how the native gets along with others in general (lot of being away from home, house of enemies, etc). It does seem likely though that the culture of the time did not give women enough status for the happiness of the couple to be an important issue. It seems that marriage had a more functional purpose in ensuring survival and that feelings were secondary. For this reason, there is very little direct precedent to fall back on. However, there is plenty of theory and groundwork to be able to reconstruct modern astrological synastry with an eye toward Hellenistic methods.

About two decades ago, another method for looking at a relationship was invented by John Townley / Robert Hand by creating a composite chart by which one could view the relationship as a separate entity in itself. While one could probably use a fusion of hellensitic methods with a technique such as this, I believe that it is premature to try to do this at this time. For one thing, when you combine charts in this manner, you lose specific information about what each individual contributes to the relationship and the position or role of each individual within the relationship. The other thing is that the arabic parts / greek lots may not be usable in theory because the composite chart is not one of a birth.

The delineations below will primarily focus on aspects between planets in your birth chart and planets in the other's birth chart. Both the medieval and Hellenistic traditions would have made a distinction between directionality of the aspect (sinister and dexter) or whether they be from signs that are hearing and seeing, commanding and obeying, like engirding, etc... but this is beyond the scope of this work and would unduly complicate matters; though I may make a reference to some of these possibilities when they occur to me, but not systematically. However, I do recommend that the aspects be read from the perspective of the sign rather than the planet. For instance a planet in Aries is in trine to a planet in Sagittarius regardless of the actual degree positions of the two planets because Aries is in trine to Sagittarius. This is because the planet expresses itself in that sign position through it's essential dignity (or lack thereof) in testifying to the cosmic soul about the natives activities. For the same reason, a planet at 1 degree Taurus is not trine a planet at 29 degrees Leo, even though they are 118 degrees apart, but rather this is considered to be a very weak square. It is important to note that the Greeks did not use orbs. This was a later innovation by the Arabs which got translated into the medieval tradition. The only way in which the degree is to be considered is in judging how strong an influence it is on the relationship. A close aspect within 3 degrees is very noticable while an aspect that is wide by nearly 30 degrees may tend to be a minor issue. Only the Ptolemaic aspects and conjunctions will be delineated along with the aversions. An aversion is the same thing as what a modern astrologer calls an inconjunct or quincunx (in signs 30 or 150 degrees apart). Aversions are useful because they show a lack of acknowledgement, which often means a lack of relationship.


Preliminary Judgements

Before comparing birth charts, it is important to have a thorough understanding of how the native reacts to each of the energies involved in their own natal configuration. For instance, if someone has a debilitated Moon in square to Saturn, then their feelings of insecurity and unloveability are going to affect any relationship they get involved with. While a trine from Jupiter or Venus from the other person's chart to the Moon in the first chart may help ease some of these insecurities, it may come at a cost to the Venus/Jupiter individual thereby putting strain on the relationship.

It is a good idea to find the signatures of the charts involved to see what the overall elemental composition of each is before hand. You should take the sign positions of the Sun through Pluto (excluding the asteriods) and sum them according to their element. For instance, if one person has a predominance of air (4 or more planets in air signs) in the chart and they lack water or earth, then they may be inclined to get involved with those who have those qualities that the native lacks in order to restore balance. Relationships that have an excess of any elemental quality based upon the 2 charts will generally have a lack as well. If the relationship lacks fire, then if it is a lasting relationship, it will tend to get stuck in a routine. If it lacks water, then the expression of feelings or emotions may not be present. If it lacks air, then communication may be lacking. If it lacks earth, then they may not be able to produce anything of substance together or their relationship tends to be chaotic and unsettled.

It is also important to realize that the Sun, Moon and Ascendant are the most important points to consider in a relationship. They seem to have greater weight, and favorable conditions from these 3 between the two people involved will tend to override any negative indicators by the other planets. It is common place to see that lasting and important relationships are usually the ones where these 3 (or the majority) indicators exchange places. For instance, if your Moon sign is the other's Sun sign, and the other person's Moon sign is your Ascendant, or any combination of these, etc... I do not delineate the 3 transcendental planets (Uranus, Neptune and Pluto) here because this article will be extensively long as it is. They are also frequently impersonal in nature so many times there isn't much information to be gained. It is also the case that if 2 people are roughly the same age then an aspect between an inner planet and the other person's outer planet, is an aspect that exists in the first chart natally. For instance if your Venus is conjunct someone else's Uranus and you are the same age then you have Venus conjunct Uranus. In this case the relationship gains added excitement because you are an eclectic individual with unusual tastes in art, etc...

If you are not familiar with the symbols below then hover the mouse button over the symbol for a hint. The conjunction is when 2 planets or points are in the same sign. The sextile is when they are 2 signs apart (for instance, Leo and Libra). The square is when they are 3 signs apart (for instance Leo and Scorpio) and the trine is 4 signs apart (for instance Leo and Sagittarius) and the opposition is 6 signs apart (for instance Leo and Aquarius). The semi-sextile is one sign apart (for instance Leo and Virgo) and the quincunx is 5 signs apart (for instance Leo and Capricorn). These last two are also called aversions by the ancients.


© 2001 Curtis Manwaring







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