Introduction to Synastry

By Margaret Penner Choinski

“…for I tell you father,

I am as peremptory as she is proud-minded;

and where two raging fires meet together

They do consume the thing that feeds their fury:

Though little fire grows great with little wind,

Yet extreme gusts will blow out fire and all:

So I to her and so she yields to me;

For I am rough and woo not like a babe.”

                                 -William Shakespeare[1]

      Understanding the synastry existing between people calls on the astrologer to build the picture bit by bit, starting at the beginning.

It is not only a matter of sign compatibility.

One natal chart alone contains many threads of potential personal and free expression. Brought together with another, the threads can become a jumble of (sometimes contradictory) potentialities. Robert Hand wryly observes that when doing synastry the astrologer is faced with the enormous task of sorting out who is doing what to whom, and how.

     The best way to begin is to consider each natal chart separately. It is best that this is done before making any attempt to explain their inter-dynamics.

     Each chart is assessed as to the capability for relationships. Before we even begin to ask, “Where is the love?” (or friendship/affection/disaffection etc.) we might instead pare it back to “the skeleton of the character:”[3] the Sun, Moon, and Ascendant.

Where are the needs, the potential insecurities? (Moon)

In what direction is the client headed in order to fulfill their core individualism and free will? (Sun)

How does the native view the world and orientate himself toward it? (Ascendant)

     The Sun is important to note, as the urge to continue our personal journey (as our Sun describes it) does not end with one’s pairing with another. A Sun will make its push forward regardless of obstacles. The synastry between Sun signs really begins with the person’s need to individuate and how easy-going or hard-nosed they will be in this quest.

     The Moon is the archetypal inner child in the chart. Its sign and aspects reflect the emotional nature in all its moods. The Moon also shows the urge to mother, in what realm and in what way. Regardless of whether a person thinks they have shrugged off this “weak” part of themselves at adulthood, the Moon is ever a player between partners.

     The Ascendant is our basic filter through which we understand our world, and handily it is the most obvious indication to others as to our primary motivation. But if our Ascendant expresses energies that are not backed up by the rest of the chart---a watery sign as the only water in the chart, for example---then we might find ourselves constantly misunderstood. Perhaps we might even be accused of deliberately misrepresenting ourselves.

     Planets on or near an angle will show themselves strongly as part of our personality, as will those planets that are in their rulership or exaltation. Cadent planets, especially those “lost” in the 12th House, unaspected, in partile conjunction to other planets, intercepted, in detriment or fall, part of an aspect pattern---these all colour the condition, and so the pure expression of the planet’s archetypal energies. These are all influences that can lie behind the “Primal Triad”[4] and are potential “shadows” for us to deal with as the relationship unfolds. Time reveals truth; in time the “details” of oneself emerge for the Other. This brings us to the 7th House of marriage, where the “sphere where we learn greater co-operation with others,” [5] is brought into the picture.

     In synastry, the 7th House cusp represents the balance to our Ascendant. As befits the mystic reasoning behind astrology, “the others” we are drawn to and tend to attract, carry an intrinsic benefit to us: as yin is to yang, male to female, yes to no---those who resonate with our Descendant offer us the perfectly opposing complement to our basic view of all life.[6] It is as if they draw from us the very things that we cannot see within ourselves.

     This is not like a 12th House blindness, where our parts residing there are like a trickster’s post-it note stuck on our backs. What we find so hard to accept about the 7th House (and what it says about us) is in our sensation of being totally separate from everyone else.

     When I look at you, I see someone who is not me. Thus this has been called the House of the “not-self”[7] and in living through the pleasure and pain others can bring, we learn through understanding others how best to relate ourselves. Since 7th House planets represent qualities we lack or don’t acknowledge in ourselves, the partner compensates, and so we feel “completed” by their proximity in our lives. It follows that the opposition aspect itself is a numerical manifestation of “me here relating to you there.” Ronald Davison states, “A rising planet denotes a quality that we wish to demonstrate to the world that we possess. A setting planet represents a quality that we are asking the world to supply us with.” [8] Accordingly, the “open enemies” of the 7th House damage us, when they are able to capitalize on our obvious vulnerabilities. [9]

     Venus signifies romance, with challenging aspects reflecting difficulty communicating love and one’s sense of self-value. By extension this would affect one’s admiration for the Other, as we can only love another as we love ourselves.

      Mars in relationships shows how one desires, how sexuality is expressed, and what one is looking for in a sexual relationship. The Sun, Moon, Venus and Mars are the female/male archetypes (or anima/animus if you wish) and as such how well they blend together in the chart, says a lot about how comfortable the native will be once challenged by a relationship of any significant length. The elements convey the style with which a person freely relates him or herself.

     Of note in the natal chart is the lack of any particular element, or modality. What is lacking is frequently sought in the Other.

     In synastry it is not unusual to have aspects flying all over the place and between the two charts. In order to peer through this seeming chaos, it is advisable to isolate the main aspects pertaining to the client’s needs.   But it is important to remember that compatibility is decided by the two people involved, not by any horoscope.

Copyright: Margaret Penner Choinski

                  Earth Elephant Astrology


[1] Shakespeare, William, from The Taming of the Shrew

[2] Hand, Robert, in his Foreward to John Townley’s Composite Charts, Llewellyn Publications, 2000, p.xvi

[3] Forrest, Steven, The Inner Sky, ACS Publications, 1988, p.217 Together the Sun, Moon, and Ascendant form what Forrest calls the “Primal Triad.”

[4] Forrest, p.217

[5] Sasportas, Howard, The Twelve Houses, Thorsons, 1985, p.75

[6] Forrest, Steven and Jodie, Skymates, ACS Publications, 1989. p.46-47

[7] Sasportas, p.71

[8] Davison, Ronald, Synastry: Understanding Human Relations Through Astrology, Aurora Press, 1983, p.12

[9] Davison, p.31-32

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