Relationships – Synastry – Who are You? Who am I? How Do We Affect One Another?

by Marilyn Muir, LPMAFA

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No man is an island. Most humans crave association with and feedback from other humans. Of course there will always be the exception to the rule. However, our society has no idea what to think of or what to do with those who do not relate well or with specifically anti-social types. Some form of relationship is necessary to even the staunchest “loner” due to day-to-day living requirements. We usually think of person-to-person relationships, but there are other forms. I have a number of people in my life who relate better to animals than people. I have met incredibly smart people who seem to be absent social skills. This is accommodated because of their contribution to society, but is not necessarily understood or appreciated by those who have relatively normal relationship skills  (whatever normal is). An example…

Once upon a time, many years ago, I picked up an astrological speaker at the airport and went to dinner with him prior to a group meeting. Imagine my chagrin when he arrived disheveled, a true space cadet, and got more of his dinner on his clothing than in his mouth. I was horrified in the restaurant. I cleaned him up as best I could, tucked in his shirt and tried to help him make the transition from disheveled to reasonable for the meeting. I prayed that the club members would not lynch me for scheduling him as speaker and dutifully took him to the meeting. After all, he was a famous author. He was introduced to the group and began his presentation, stumbling through the first few words while I held my head in my hands. I was watching him intently and I saw the most amazing transformation take place. Something shifted in his eyes. He straightened up, stood tall, and transformed into the “eagerly anticipated author”. At the end of his long, absolutely wonderful astrological presentation, his eyes shifted again and my disheveled dinner companion again occupied his body.

What was that all about, I mused? I realized immediately that his brilliance was worth whatever effort it took on my part and that I would have been willing to do whatever social graces were necessary to help him inform and educate his audience so competently. I read much later that something similar was observed about Albert Einstein. He was not great on social graces, but what a mind the man possessed. There are people lacking in social skills, perhaps too wounded to function or not educated by those whose job it was to prepare them for a life that requires relating. These and other examples fall into “the exception rather than the rule” category. The particular lack of social skills could become a handicap to them for living within a society with high relating expectations.

Individuals In a previous article I wrote about the importance of first reading each individual natal sky map in the relationship to learn about each person’s individual strengths, weaknesses, foibles, talents and relational needs, as well as their ability to give in a relationship. At best, any relationship is dependent on the give and take that is involved and, of course, balance is ideal. If we have a relationship that is ridiculously skewed between giving and taking, that relationship will run into trouble quickly. For an astrologer to be able to define each person as his/her own self without the influence of any other person gives a clean view into their relating ability. To have the opportunity for a clean and uncluttered look at an individual is a gift to the astrologer while attempting to identify the possibility of relationship. It is fairly easy to zero in on the key issues for each individual as well, those areas of life that are of paramount importance to each of us.

Stage two would be to compare two natal maps to see the dynamic that develops between the two maps. This technique is called synastry, which comes from the Greek word synastria, meaning similarity of stars. In our usage, it is an astrological technique for relationship charting. Astrologers seek out and compare the similarity and potential for interaction between the two individuals as represented by their natal wheels. Please remain aware that the potential of anything can always be modified by the free will choices we make.

Ideally, you would perform synastry on a relationship twice, once from each individual perspective. This comparison would provide you with both sides of “here is who I am” and “this is how I am affected by the addition of this additional energy”. How many marriage counselors or therapists have such a tool at their disposal? Yes, they can perform individual plus couple counseling, but they do not start with the advantage of a map of those individualities and their potential for interaction. Sky maps are really handy when traveling the relationship route. Such comparison and combination become of particular importance when an individual’s key issues are triggered. Is the second person in the relationship a trigger to or an asset for those key issues?  

This synergistic comparison provides the nitty-gritty of a relationship, the detail. How do we map this synastry? Two natal sky maps laid side-by-side comparing one to the other should start the flow of information. You would look at common factors such as Sun to Sun, Mars to Mars, etc. plus you look at cross factors such as Mars to Moon or Mercury to Ascendant between the two maps to mention a couple of possibilities. Stay with the major aspects initially: conjunction, opposition, square, trine, and sextile. As your skills develop, you may choose to add in additional “minor” aspects.

A list of natal “hits” or connections (aspects) from one map to the other should isolate the truly important issues. The beauty of it is that you would only have to construct such a comparative aspect list once for each pairing. However, as previously mentioned, it would be good to list the aspects from each person’s perspective, i.e., a Venus/Sun conjunction between the charts: #1 Sun on #2 Venus would provide one perspective, #2 Venus on #1 Sun would provide the other perspective. As you practice this technique you will see that the reading of each aspect would differ from one perspective to the other. Reading both perspectives will give a truer picture of that relationship.

Which aspects provide which kind of energy? Easy aspects provide easy experience and difficult aspects become a red flag. Why? Sooner or later these flagged aspects will provide stress, but those issues may take time and experience to develop. In the first blush of a relationship we are all on our best behavior, looking for the best, acting our best, invested in making the relationship work. This ideal behavior is not realistic and cannot be kept up for a lifetime. Sooner or later we will revert to type, to our natural way of being or of handling issues. That which was so right at the beginning may change as we relax into normalcy. This alteration is particularly true of aspects in wider orb.

For a standard orb for comparison between two charts, I would stay within five degrees. Closer aspects show up sooner in a relationship, wider aspects may take more time to develop, but they are still valid. What if a key issue was fine in the early blush of the relationship but promises trouble later in the relationship? It is really difficult to rain on someone’s parade during that first blush when they want you as an astrologer to validate their relationship. They come to you for a reading on the relationship, but they do have a personal agenda. You as an astrologer must be fair if you are providing relational information on which people might base critical decisions. You cannot play Pollyanna and just leave out the bad stuff. Pointing to a potential source of trouble can allow the relationship to focus on the positive side of an issue to prevent or minimize trouble. Would you rather spend your time on prevention and cure or allow something beautiful to die of an inherent flaw that was visible but ignored? The time spent on preservation and prevention would satisfy the promise of such a flaw in a positive and productive way. Note also if the connections are of prime importance because they hit key issues within the maps.

Computer charting and the aspect grids provided are an aid to any astrologer. It will depend on which method gives you the most significant information flow, that which you generate by handling the chart personally or that which is generated by a computer. For myself I prefer the hands-on approach. This may come from habits developed pre-computer generated charts. This technique allows you to see the individualities and the interaction between the individualities. We may affect one another or we may infect one another. It seems to me that would be an important consideration.

Another application of synastry would be to create a bi-wheel or overlay of the wheels to provide a visual aid to how those connections affect the physical issues or experience of each individual in the relationship. The person placed in the inside natal wheel would act as receiver of those connections and the person on the outside of the wheel would be seen as the activator or catalyst of such activation. The inner wheel (person one) provides the house cusp layout. The placements from the second person are inserted into the outer wheel as they fit within the house cusps of the first person. A second bi-wheel with person two as the center wheel and person one as the overlay provides the alternative perspective. The dynamic for each influence is mapped from one side, which gives one perspective and then is mapped from the other side to give the alternative perspective. Fancy that… the overlays offer the astrologer both viewpoints without specific input from the individuals involved and is free of bias until and unless bias is added (and you should be able to control that).

In addition, the bi-wheel overlay takes you deeply into house matters to illustrate where such connections affect physical reality. This is another layer to consider as you work to understand the dynamics of the relationship. This house overlay technique provides clues to the effects each makes on the physical arenas of life.

Progressions An additional layer to your understanding and reading would come from use of the progressed maps for both individuals. The natal map is of the potential of an individual… who they are at their core level. Life for any individual has moved far beyond that first indrawn breath. The individual has grown, developed and experienced and is forever changed by that growth and experience. Progressed maps can give the current view of each person and generate new and important information that can then be applied to the relational question. The same procedures as previously described for natal would be followed for these progressing maps. It is important to remember that progressing charts are temporary in nature. They are maps of the journey itself as each journey continues and are in constant flux with the Moon changing most rapidly. Using progressions, you are reading a growing and experiential, yet temporary map.

More than two? Throughout this article I have stayed with the concept of two individuals in a relationship as it was necessary to keep the explanation as simple as possible. It is possible to do this work for more than two in a relationship but it does get increasingly difficult as you add people and you can drown in detail. For an amateur or beginner, stay with two-person synastry until you develop the skill to go further. I have been at this for over 35 years, and I would still find it difficult to do more than a two in a relationship.

The relationship itself Synastry offers the reading between individuals in great detail, but is not about the relationship itself. Synastry’s meaning stays with the individuals involved in the relationship and is about their personal perspective. To read the relationship we must combine those individuals to map the relationship as a distinct entity in its own right. That further work is called composite and/or relationship charting and both will be the subject of future articles.

Recommended reading:

“Relationships – An Astrological Look at Possibilities”

“Composites – What is the Potential of Any Relationship?”

“Relationship Chart – What You See is What You Get”

Published on EZine online May, 2010, republished with slight editing.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.