Synastry Studies: The Role of the Houses

Those of you unfamiliar to the blogging world may not know that we get to see what search criteria people enter to arrive at our blog. This can be very interesting. Mostly, as expected with a site like this, it’s a search for some aspect of hardcore astrology, but there is the occasional oddity. Like the other day, when someone was interested in undoing karmic ties. Or after the Tony Perkins piece, when people were searching for things like ‘knives in movies’, and ended up here.

But the most common search seems to be the simplest one: What happens when (choose your planet) falls in (choose your house) of another’s chart?

I’ve already addressed this somewhat in an earlier article in the Synastry Q & A section. That was way back when I began this blog and a lot of you weren’t around then, so perhaps, since so many of you are curious, it’s worth another trip.

The truth is that house position is more important in synastry than we give it credit for. In our own charts, it says a lot about our choice of partner. A woman with the Sun in the 12th house may be attracted to Piscean types; at the very least she will need a partner with a certain amount of introspection (unless she goes down the dark side, has perhaps Pluto involved with the Sun, and gets wrapped up with the low end of the spectrum). A man with a fifth house Moon will be turned on by creative partners, no matter the sign on the cusp–partners who show some of the glam of Leo. It used to be said that the sign gave the planet flavour and the house defined its function, but I’m not so sure it’s that cut and dried. The need for partnership of a seventh house Mars will show itself no matter what is in the rest of the chart. It may get repressed, but it will always be there, whether the sign is as impulsive as Aries or as detached as Aquarius. The house position of any planet in a chart must always be considered. However, flavour and function are not interchangeable. One of my pet peeves in astrology is the tendency to say that they are. Having Mars in the seventh house is decidedly NOT like having Mars in Libra. The sign determines how the planet operates. If that seventh house Mars was in Aries, or Scorpio, it would be nothing like the energy of the diplomatic, airy, polite Libran Mars. Mars in the seventh requires and desires partnership; the Libran Mars likes the exchange and interaction with another, but will focus on putting that energy in whatever house it falls in. The seventh house Aries Mars is interested in fulfilling its impulses to partnership. The seventh house Scorpio Mars is out for conquest and pushing its boundaries in relationship. Not a Libran thing at all.

So saying “what happens when so and so’s Mars falls in my seventh house” is a complicated thing. You have to take the entire Mars under consideration. You have to look at the sign and what aspects it makes in the natal chart, and even after that it is fairly irrelevant unless it’s making strong aspects to your own chart. Sure, someone’s Mars falling in your seventh house may stimulate your urge to merge. It may also stimulate your urge to fight with them, and their aggression may unearth something in yourself that you don’t want to see (the Descendant being what it is: see the articles on The Roving ‘I’). But if that Mars is opposite the Sun in the natal, that person’s Sun would fall in your first house, and completely mitigate the tendency to argue. You will feel more like yourself when you are around them, more complete. The planet-in-house thing will no longer apply. This is the kind of astrology that fragments, rather than synthesizes. It doesn’t give you better information, just more.

So I resist doing ‘cookbook’ descriptions of planets in houses. I think they’re deceitful, because they only give you ‘half truths’ which a little further astrological study will cause you to abandon. They don’t tell you anything important or useful about the relationship or the exchange of energy between people.

But I am going to do a turnaround here and say that the ‘planet in house’ thing is important in one instance: the lights. It is very important to see where someone’s Sun or Moon falls in your chart, because no matter the aspects or the sign, that house will be ‘lit up’ by the other person’s light and cause you to experience much of the relationship through that house. The lights do not operate like planets. They have a unique, integrated energy in and of themselves. They cause things to happen in a way that planets cannot. They create experience and draw experience to them. If you’re wary of your own twelfth house, for example, and don’t want to seek what’s hidden there, don’t get involved with someone whose Sun or Moon falls in your twelfth, because you will inevitably be drawn to twelfth house experiences and twelfth house revelations. This is why the Sun or Moon falling on an angle is so important, and will dominate a synastry. The gateway of the angle becomes a floodgate. (To a lesser extent, this also happens when the lights fall in angular houses.)

Another instance where house position is important is when one person has a stellium (or stellia) that fall in one house in another’s chart. If major planets come together in a natal chart, the issues that the person has with that stellium will fall into a particular house in the other chart, stimulating that house. It’s more intriguing if the natal stellium has an opposition or a square to it, because the conflicts it brings up will certainly end up influencing the house where the stellium falls in both charts. For example, if Chart A has a stellium in the 10th opposed to Neptune in the 4th, and remains confused about not only his position in the world but his basic identity (4th house Neptune), this problem will reflect in different houses in Chart B. If the opposition falls in the 8th and 2nd in Chart B, it may indicate an intense sexual attraction (stellium falling in the eighth) but be undermined by that Neptune falling in the second. Chart A’s lack of emotional grounding may cause Chart B to feel uncertain about it’s own worth, which may lead to difficulties with the sexual exchange.

And finally, yes, it’s good to look where Saturn falls, no matter the aspects, because Saturn is a real life, here and now thing and we will inevitably deal with it in relationships, especially once the wooze of the initial attraction is over. This is where we both help and hinder one another. If your Saturn falls in my fifth house, I may initially feel that you are blocking my expression, but it may turn out that you are teaching me how to actually do something creative and not just dream about it. If your Saturn falls in my 10th, I may resist interference in my work, but you may show me how to discipline myself to achieve what I want. If your Saturn falls in my 7th or 8th houses, I may resist getting involved with you, or think you’re stuffy or boring, but it’s possible that you are the stable, faithful, long term partner I’ve always wanted.

It’s important to remember that each planet in the natal chart tells a story, according to sign, house and aspects, and that story is going to stimulate a reaction in another chart, depending on what houses it falls in. The more important the story in the natal chart, the more influential it will be in the partner’s chart. Rather than putting individual planets in houses, it might be better to put some time into getting a more thorough grounding in the houses and their areas of influence, the functions of the planets, the flavour of the signs and the energy of the basic aspects. If you have that, you can figure it out on your own. It will save a lot of searching.

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