It’s nice to be back. Today we’re beginning a series on interpreting composite charts.
Of all of the misconceptions regarding synastry (and there are many) one of the most striking to me is the misinterpretation of composite charts. I know students who were perfectly capable of reading a natal chart, who, when faced with a composite, missed the boat entirely. There are many reasons for this, but the main one stems from confusion about what the composite chart actually IS. We have to think conceptually about composites. We say, offhand and casually, ‘oh, it’s the chart of the relationship itself,’ but what does that mean, exactly? That particular description has always struck me as being more than a little vague.
First of all, you have to ask yourself, can a relationship have a chart? Is there an actual beginning where it becomes a relationship? And how do I time that? Some astrologers ignore the composites and stick to the chart of the first meeting, if a time and place is known. I like comparing progressed charts for the meeting time. All these techniques are valid, and will tell you a great deal about the flavour of a relationship, where a relationship may be going and how long it may last. But composite charts are something else entirely.
When two people come together and exchange energy in any way, shape or form, a third thing is created. This is a deeply metaphysical principle that is reflected in tantric philosophy. That third thing which is created can be, if used correctly, a map towards transcendence, towards releasing the inherent conflict and resistance between two living entities. Used well, a composite chart is a powerful tool, a guide to partnering through spirit. But first we have to figure out what it’s telling us.
The two main popular forms of composite charts are, as most of us know, the midpoint composite and the Davison composite. (Please note that it’s called the Davison and not the Davidson chart.) The midpoint chart is the one we are most familiar with. It takes the midpoint of each planet or point in the chart and finds the midpoint between the two–Sun to Sun, Mars to Mars, Saturn to Saturn, etc.. As anyone who has worked with them knows, midpoints are powerful. The midpoint between any two entities is where the rubber meets the road–there is a flash, an energy point that is attractive, magnetic, that creates experience according to the expression (or expressions) involved. Midpoints are about essence. It is also where the two entities can resolve their differences, where they can merge. And lastly, the midpoint shows action; it reveals where the blended energies will take form. What we end up with is a chart that is it’s own entity. It reveals, not the interaction between two people (i.e. my Pluto conjunct your Moon makes you cry) but the action of the relationship itself (our composite Pluto conjunct our composite Moon reveals an emotionally tense, perhaps fraught, relationship where power plays and emotional manipulation from both parties may be the norm). The good news about midpoint composites is that, with work and the cooperation of both parties, all difficulties are resolvable. Our composite Moon/Pluto conjunction may lead us to explore the deeper side of our interaction, which may lead to cleansing us of he manipulative behaviour that emerges when we’re together. Our relationship may never be a walk in the park emotionally, but our desire to dig may lead both of us to our soul-path via Pluto’s action on our essential awareness. The first Moon/Pluto pairing, with the conjunction between the charts, will have a much harder time of it because one person’s Moon will be fighting another person’s Pluto, and vice versa. (Conjunctions are not the happy, stable things many assume them to be.)
The Davison chart is a midpoint chart in time and space. We say that a lot, too, without explaining it. Davison discovered that if you calculate the exact point in time and the exact point in space between any two birth charts, the resulting chart was a powerful tool. It’s a midpoint chart that is not theoretical, but anchored in real space and real time. If you were born in 1950 and I was born in 1960, our Davison chart would occur in 1955. The chart is calculated from the adjusted birth time and place. (The birthplace may end up in the middle of the ocean; it doesn’t matter.) Is this also a chart of the relationship? Yes, it is. Is it different from the midpoint chart? Some say no, just work with them and pick your preference. I say yes, they are different, for a good reason.
The midpoint chart is a powerful map of an energetic pattern–our hotspots as a couple. It’s our charisma, our union, who we are when we are together. It is inner-oriented, focused around the pure expression of the energy that occurs when our two like planets meet. The Davison, like all time/space charts, is anchored not in pure expression, but in physical reality. It describes who we are together within our particular life circumstances. Therefore the Davison chart is expressed through the physical reality of our lives. It sees our relationship being acted upon by circumstances, places, other entities/beings involved in the partnership. It has a life of its own, and can be progressed the way any normal chart is progressed, because it has a real time and a real place to anchor it. (Progressed midpoint charts consist of taking the two individual progressed charts and making a midpoint chart from them.) Now here comes the big question, which is more valid? I say both, and I use them both, in different circumstances, depending on the questions being asked of the partnership.
Since the Davison reflects the physical here and now (it’s still a theoretical chart, but it’s grounded in mundane reality) I prefer to use it for physical here and now questions. Mother-in-law issues, or kids driving you both crazy? Davison. Is a move going to affect our relationship? Davison. A third party invading our relationship? Davison to get the picture, and the midpoint chart to figure out why. We feel as if we’re coming apart at the seams, everything is dissolving. Midpoint. We’ve headed into a good patch in our relationship, how long will it last? Midpoint (and Davison if there are specific causes for the good vibes–new job, etc.).
Both charts are highly sensitive to transits (both the actual composites and progressed composites). And both charts are extremely revealing when you put the natal charts around the composite in a biwheel to see how each person reacts to the relationship dynamic (more on this later). Putting a triwheel in place with transits and one of the natal charts will give you an instant, clear picture of one person’s experience of the relationship, and show you how the transit affects both the individual and the partnership.
But again, we must first interpret the composite chart itself. This can get complicated, because sometimes the two composites look very much alike, sometimes they’re flipped, and sometimes one looks nothing like the other. This is not as confusing as it seems, and we will get to that next time. The most confusing thing in composites is in the subtle difference between natal houses and composite houses, and we will explore more of this next time.