Synastry Studies: Prioritizing Aspects

I can understand, when a relationship is in the throes of newness and one party seeks to explain things via astrology, how it is very human to seek out the unique, the unusual and the rare. This is just human nature–when we first fall in love, there is a need to put a stamp on the relationship. Our love is special, one of a kind, unlike the hordes of others who are, no doubt, falling in love every day. We are unusual beings in an unusual situation–of course we are, we certainly feel that way. And no one has felt quite this way before…

And in a way, that’s true. Because each being is unique, and bringing two unique beings together creates something unique to the two of them. I read once that it takes something like 37 thousand years for a chart to recreate the basic positions of a natal chart. That means 37 thousand years before anyone with our natal positions exists again. What are the odds when you multiply that in synastry?

However, it does make me a bit frustrated when these passionate lovers seek to understand their attachment to one another not by basic astrology, but by the ever-more-refined esoteric planets and aspects. No, we’re not obsessed with one another because we have a Pluto/Venus conjunction–we’re obsessed because we have a quindecile between Venus and Mars. There is a disturbing egocentric thrust to all this–no, we’re too good for the basic aspects, our love can be explained only by the most rarefied connections.

There are many folks who do synastry and don’t even count the personal planets for much anymore–as if we’ve somehow abandoned our connections to the real world and now are forced to communicate and connect only in the most esoteric language, from other planes of existence. These people couldn’t possibly have to deal with something as mundane as the maturity required of a Saturn/Sun aspect, or the delicate communication skills needed with Mercury/Neptune. A lot of times, the folks who go the esoteric route have a very fragile grasp on the fundamentals of our art–they really don’t understand the main planets and positions that well or that deeply, so they go off into territories where there is so little research that they can just make it up as they go along, and no one will contradict them.

It smacks of desperation. When I see people reaching for the most obscure aspects and positions, I think either they don’t want to acknowledge what they see in the natal, or they don’t know how to interpret it properly or deeply, and have to go looking for something else to explain things whose origins they don’t understand. Do many people talk about the fear behind Saturn? No, and yet it comes up often between charts. Or the releasing quality of Jupiter or the total, bewitching obsession of Neptune (which is quite unlike the total obsession of Pluto)? No, and yet these things are common in relationship inter-aspects. There is enough to interpret with the personal planets between charts, without even approaching the outer planets or Chiron.

Our personal planets are the tools we use day to day. They are the things we identify with “I”, the energies and expressions we most easily access. Take the outer planets away from the chart, and you still have a valid chart that very accurately, perhaps more accurately, describes life as we live it from the inside. I do an exercise with my progressions students where I take away the outer planets of a chart (sometimes leaving them kicking and screaming) and, using old rulerships, ask them to rethink the chart, because this is the way we experience our chart from the inside, on a day to day basis. We feel our outer planets a lot less than we admit–other people see them in our behaviour and our patterns, but we don’t access or acknowledge them on a day to day basis. The outer planets are too ‘big’ for us to grasp, and that’s why they cause so much trouble. When we have Venus/Neptune, all we feel is the longing of a thwarted Venus. Mercury/Uranus feels the quickness of its connections, and also the pain of not being able to fully express that connection properly in this world. With Moon/Pluto, we feel the emotional upheaval of the Moon, but Pluto in and of itself is not accessible to us, it comes from the outside. (This is a subtle point, but an important one in understanding how we experience outer planet energies.) The outer planets always rip away something external of whatever they touch and force us to go inwards to fill the ensuing gap. What we lose in material dimensions we gain in spiritual ones.

I’m not dismissing the valiant efforts that are going into understanding the meaning of the more recent aspects and positions (and certainly the asteroids fall into this category). I spend a good part of my own time investigating these things and backing them up with solid examples. What good is our art if we don’t bring it forward? But I’m against using whatever is new to skip a step in understanding the deeper elements of what is already known, and I’m seeing a lot of that lately. I’m seeing a number of people jumping into quindeciles, when they don’t even properly understand what a square or a sextile means, and how it can operate in a chart (squares can be obsessive; did you know that?). I’m seeing a lot of people reaching for quintiles and septiles between charts, when we don’t even have a clear sense of how they behave within a chart.

I realize that I’m sounding a bit fogey-ish here, and that I’m ignoring the impulsive thrust of inspiration in terms of the new. What I’m calling for is not an abandonment or curtailing of the quest for the new, but a respect for the basic foundations of chart interpretation. Without that, we quickly get lost. New information is invalid without the backing of the numerical principles of the art, and in the end, the personal planets will always win out. Always. Our personal planets are the tools we use to negotiate reality. Perhaps, in some other dimension, we’re closer to Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, and our quintiles, septiles and noviles. But I haven’t got there yet. If you have, give me a call.

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