It seems to me that the biggest trip-up in interpreting composite charts stems from not understanding the meaning of the composite houses, including the angles. While they are, in fact, very similar to natal houses and angles, in interpretation they are somewhat different and have variations that need to be recognized. For example, one of the biggest mistakes is to turn to the seventh house to see how healthy (and/or romantic) the partnership might be. For some reason, we naturally incline to that house for all of our information about the give and take in a partnership–and it’s understandable, given the Libran bent of the seventh. But think about it logically–if the Ascendant represents the “I” of the relationship, what does the seventh represent? And if the seventh house in the natal can contain the Shadow of the psyche, our unconscious projections, where do you think the seventh house of a composite is taking us?
So, before going any further with composites, I think it’s a good idea for us to review composite houses and the areas of experience they represent in a composite chart. It makes sense to know the general shape of a thing before adding in the details.
I’ll begin, of course, with the Ascendant and the first quadrant of the chart. We understand what the Ascendant represents in a natal chart. It’s the degree on the horizon at the time of birth, the place where earth and sky meet. All of the angles are symbolic of the vortex created when spirit whorls with matter. The Ascendant is the conscious “I”, the vehicle we use to negotiate the world, our point of first reference. It is marked by the time and place of birth–but how does this work in a composite chart? How can two entities meet in the middle?
The composite Ascendant, including the composite first house, is the strongest point in the composite chart. Anything that hits it affects us deeply, because it is the very identity of who we are as a couple and, in fact whether we are a couple. Do we feel as if we belong together? Are we a good fit? Does this feel like a natural partnership? Strong, unsullied aspects to the Ascendant, or strong positive planets in the first house, like the Sun, Moon, or Jupiter, are going to give us a sense of belonging together. (Squares to these planets are telling us that we may have to work for it.) I’ve seen couples with strong first house composites overcome many things that would tear other couples apart, because their sense of what the partnership is to them is so strong. No question that they would stay together. This is also true, in a larger sense, for the composite chart in general. I’ve seen many cases where the inter-aspects between charts are terrible, the two should drive one another insane. But the composite chart is so strong and positive that the relationship thrives. Sure, they annoy one another. To them, it’s just part of who they are together. The sense of ‘we,’ of ‘us’ is never tainted.
The Ascendant and first house of a composite can also be a dangerous place, because when threats come to the partnership in terms of outer planet transits or difficult progressions, the entire relationship can undergo a major crisis. This is true of any of the composite angles, but particularly the Ascendant, on which the whole thing hangs. Outer planet transits often are a wake up call saying, “We aren’t who we thought we were.” These are most often the times when relationships need to change to survive.
The first house can also show us indicators of one-person ‘relationships,’ cases of fascination or obsession or just simple old unrequited love. Usually, the person who is hooked by the relationship has a planet (or more) conjuncting the Ascendant of the composite chart very tightly. If it’s the Sun, or Venus, that person values the relationship intensely, and it holds great meaning for their self-development, whether it lasts or not. You will usually see conjunctions between the natal chart and the composite Moon, Venus or Saturn as well. We can get into real difficulty when a person’s Venus/Neptune natal square falls on the angles of the composite, or Mars/Pluto. The relationship will become a focal point for the person working out this natal dilemma, and will fuel the fires of deception, disillusionment, longing and ego-oriented desire. The other ‘partner’ , the one who isn’t interested, will likely not have anything touching the composite in this intense way.
The second house in the composite, the Taurus house, has to do with our sense of resources and ownership. A good second house will enhance our feelings of security and belonging when we are together. If well-aspected, the material side of our lives will flow easily. We most likely will agree on the way our money should be spent and how much we should pay for car insurance. On a deeper level, the second house will reveal whether or not we perceive our relationship as a resource–whether we value and cherish it. If we have an emphasis there, we may be able to do things together, to make things happen together, that we could never do alone. Well-placed planets in the second house boost our resourcefulness together–but if there is too much of an emphasis on the second, we may incline to be materialistic and not see the forest for the trees if we begin to have spiritual and/or psychological differences that challenge the partnership. Hard aspects to the second, or difficult planets there, may mean that we have to work for our stability and security. Jupiter there might be lucky, but a challenged Jupiter might reveal that, together, we fuel the flames of overdoing things in all areas, and losses may be involved. Our second house contains what we believe is ‘ours’–on all levels. If Venus is there, for example, we may have a talent for togetherness and value our time together. Good aspects will cause things to flow towards us–difficult ones will make us aware that we can’t take anything for granted where the partnership is concerned.
The third house in the composite chart is much more important than it’s given credit for. It’s a bit difficult to get a handle on the third house because it represents so many things, but if you think in the largest, widest terms possible, they’re all related. The third house is about connecting. It’s like a baby naturally reaching out to connect with what is nearby, what it can grasp. Take that further, and it’s about the mind reaching out to make connections, to understand its environment. And it represents the environment itself, the mundane circumstances of our lives. Which is why, in classic astrology, it represents our neighbors, our close relations, our brothers and sisters (who are just there, like the furniture, we have no choice about it). The third house is everything around us, all those things we just accept. In a much larger sense, and given the mental connotations of the third, it’s about how we get around, both physically and mentally–it’s about the way we think and act when we are at ‘home’ with our selves. All those things we don’t have to think about because they’re just ‘there.’
The third house can describe a couple’s mindset about their environment–and how they move within it, as a couple. It can also describe the things that concern them on a day to day basis–not in a philosophical sense, but the sense of where they put their awareness, where they spend their mental time. It can also describe how they move about together–are they a stay-put type, hardly going out (Saturn) or do they rush around like the proverbial chicken with its head chopped off (Uranus). Are they articulate and conversational (Mercury/Sun) or vague and unforthcoming (Mercury/Neptune). If an outer planet is in the third, they may, as a couple, feel that their status quo is continually threatened. Saturn there may cause them to be very serious about their calendar, always planning and organizing things well ahead of time. The describes how we interact with life on a day to day basis–are we always challenging things (Mars) or happy taking it easy (Venus)? A person who doesn’t like surprises and disruption will be very uncomfortable in a relationship where the composite third house is emphasized in a disruptive way (a Mars/Uranus conjunction, for example). There may also be disruptions with siblings, neighbors and an unfortunate tendency for electrical appliances to break down or explode (not kidding here–I know a couple of couples with this type of aspect who have a hard time controlling their electrical flow.)
The third house is important in a composite because it describes the kind of things we need to think about in the partnership, and what occupies a great deal of our attention and time together. This may be very different from our long term goals and plans and our very philosophy of life as a couple, which are shown in our composite ninth house. But the third house, on the whole, is not a house that involves a lot of conscious awareness–we deal with what we need to deal with, and that’s that. The fourth house is where we really start acting as a unit (or not) and are forced to define the partnership in terms of others.
Next time, houses Four, Five and Six.
Painting above, Yin Yang is by Paula Manning-Lewis and is used with her kind permission. For more of her work, please click on the illustration.