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Author Topic:   Practical Synastry---Fascinating article!
DainBramaged
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posted March 10, 2008 01:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DainBramaged     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just wanted to share something that has truly touched me! It's just so sensible, and I think it is great advice for anyone living in this century.

Go here: http://www.stevenforrest.com/lovehandles.html

It's quite wonderful, I must warn you. Definitely worth reading the entire thing! Yes, it even gets BETTER towards the end...so keep reading

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DainBramaged
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posted March 10, 2008 01:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DainBramaged     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Also wanted to share the book the love relationship formula, which I also found very interesting for learning more about synastry, how it works, and what the best and worst kind of synastry really is:
http://books.google.com/books?id=xOVaLriazCQC&pg=PA49&lpg=PA49&dq=moon+neptune+synastry&source=web&ots=NeAz8g7jsW&sig=ONDJH-kcWGE5HDq6ySxcipXicbA&hl=en#PPA37,M1

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DainBramaged
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posted March 10, 2008 11:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DainBramaged     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here is another nice article which helps one to understand synastry (and some natal aspects, too) a little better. I love the stuff on the 8th and 2nd house cusp rulers :P
http://www.isarastrology.com/content/view/30/40/

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Taurus80
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posted March 11, 2008 01:05 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Taurus80     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks! I'm reading some now

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Love
Knowflake

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From: Canada
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posted March 11, 2008 01:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Love     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've read that article and I think it's one that everyone who studies astrology should definitely read.

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scorpiofrancesca
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posted March 11, 2008 01:18 AM           Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you dainbramaged. This confronted alot of things haunting me and actually made me tear up.

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Geocosmic Valentine
Newflake

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posted March 11, 2008 01:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Geocosmic Valentine     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes, it's a great article. He wrote it for The Mountain Astrologer magazine in 2000. It's been posted on this forum many times and I don't think you can post it too many times. He's just brings so much sanity to the art of consultation, he takes the doom and gloom out of astrology and for that he deserves a reward.

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Glaucus
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posted March 11, 2008 01:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Glaucus     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

I have SKYMATES written by him and his wife

I am thinking about getting SKYMATES 2 which is about the Composite chart.....it doesn't talk about aspects. only signs and house placements. Aspects have affinities with the signs and house,and so maybe looking at the zodiac signs and house placements can give clues to how the aspect works.

for instance, Venus in Pisces and Neptune in 7th house could give insight into Venus-Neptune aspects

Moon in Capricorn,Saturn in 4th could give insight into Moon-Saturn aspects

Sun in Scorpio,Sun in 8th could give insight into Sun-Pluto aspects

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LeoCat
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posted March 11, 2008 02:32 AM           Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Who on earth designed the website for the first link? Apparently, they didn't want anyone to be able to read it.

Thanks DrainBamaged!

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Azalaksh
Knowflake

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From: New Brighton, MN, USA
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posted March 11, 2008 01:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Azalaksh     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
LeoCat ~

There's something wrong with the background at the website.....

So, moving right along, "I'm gonna Saturnize you!!" :-D

This article contains my all-time favorite Astro-quote which I've posted at this board a nauseating number of times ;-))

to wit:

To me, in the realities of the astrological counselling room, there are
two immutable premises:

There is no manner of astrological interaction between two people that
is so inherently sweet that enough selfishness, confusion about sex, or
immaturity cannot turn it sour.

There is no manner of astrological interaction between two people that
is so inherently bitter that enough patience, devotion, and humility can
not only make it last, but make it something precious to both people.

Here's the article ~

LOVE HANDLES: Practical Synastry in Action
by Steven Forrest

This article first appeared in The Mountain Astrologer, Jun-Jul 2000.

When is the following declaration the saddest, bitterest thing you've
ever heard? "I will always be your friend."
Sweet words, most of the time. Real friendship is precious. But most of
us have felt that terrible sting--the word "friend" when it comes out of
the mouth of someone with whom we are in love in a romantic, mating way.
Being downgraded to "friend" means rejection. Something upon which we
have staked a big piece of our lives is taken away. We know it and our
lover knows it too.

True friendship is a rare and wonderful thing; I don't mean to belittle
it. We share interests; we celebrate each other's victories and
commiserate in failure and pain. We share values and assumptions.
Unspoken understandings abound. Like good jazz players, we even
interrupt each other at exactly the right, comfortable moments. You can
feel that kind of friendship instantly. You meet someone at a party and
there's an instantaneous sense of being on the same page. Everything a
friend does is all right.

Compare that kind of easy-going friendship to the turbulence and
emotional complexity of a sane, grown-up sexual relationship. They're
not opposites, but they certainly feel different. We get to our teens
and we know the distinction like we know the difference between kissing
grandma and kissing in the back seat.

We don't want erotic contact with everyone we "like;" we usually don't
desire our friends-and if those fires get kindled, we sense we're about
to muddy the water in a serious way. On the other hand, when our lover
says, "I will always be your friend," we know what's really being said:
I don't want to sleep with you anymore. I don't want to gaze into your
eyes. I want you close but not that close. Goodbye.

So, we are talking about two very different kinds of love: friendship
and mating. They sometimes overlap, but knowing the difference helps us
keep our lives sorted out. Enter astrology. That happy, easy, schmoozing
feeling we get with congenial strangers-what are its astrological
correlates? Basically it boils down to easy interaspects: trines,
sextiles, certain specific conjunctions. The term "interaspects"
originated, as far as I know, with Ken and Joan Negus. Obviously enough,
it refers to aspects between two charts-my Venus trines your Sun. It's a
useful word and will undoubtedly become part of the basic semantics of
astrological practice. Joan is gone now, but her work will live on in
that term.

In determining astrological harmony between people, let's add another
piece to the puzzle: the Seventh House. If my planets, especially softer
ones, fall in your Seventh House, there's usually a friendly connection
felt between us. And another: Venus-if there are strong, easy Venus
contacts between us, we'll probably like each other on sight.
Naturally most of what we've inherited in the astrological traditions
of synastry idealizes harmony between people. The reflexive bottom line
is the more easy interaspects, the better. And of course the harder
aspects-squares and oppositions-are seen in the opposite way: if you're
an Aries you should marry a Sagittarian or a Leo (the trines) and avoid
the Capricorns and Cancers (the squares). But those easy interaspects
correlate with friendship a lot more than they correlate with passion.
Nowadays people often leave relationships because of a lack of that
basic heat in the blood. How many of your friends have withdrawn from a
sexual bond because "something was missing?" About a zillion, right? And
how often do think you might have heard those words in Kansas in 1910? A
lot less frequently.

Times change, and astrologers must sometimes get their noses out of
their musty books and pay some attention to the changing world. The
realities of what I call marriage in this article are morphing rapidly;
our skills must keep up if we are to serve our clients well and relate
effectively to their realities and to their values. My intention in
these pages is to share some of the techniques and attitudes that have
proven most fruitful and relevant for me in the modern astrological
relationship counselling context-and to warn you away from some
planetary lore that has outlived its usefulness.

A moment ago I said "what I will call marriage" because I want to honor
a couple of facts: first, God made a lot of gay folks, and I honor their
commitments and name them "marriages" in this article. Second, among
heterosexuals, not everyone is equally serious about filling out the
government paperwork about their relationship status. When I say
"marriage" from now on, I just mean a committed, open-ended sexual bond
that has lasted for more than a few dozen consecutive weekends, and
which both people pray lasts many more.

One of the true paradigm shifts happening in our culture is that
marriage is becoming optional. It wasn't always that way. Throughout
much of human history, we were agricultural, farm-bound people. If our
marriage was a little unsatisfying, the option of getting an apartment
across town wasn't nearly as viable as it is today. A man who left his
farm would become a bandit or a beggar; the woman who did the same, a
beggar or a prostitute. I oversimplify, of course...but not by much. In
a nutshell, throughout much of human history, marriage could be equated
with survival. An astrologer asked to evaluate a potential marriage
would be working within the constraints of that basic assumption:
divorce might mean death.

Where marriage could be equated with survival, there was naturally a
great premium placed on "harmony"-at whatever cost it might come in
terms of magic, passion, and even communication. Anything, including
honesty, that might upset the apple cart was feared...and that was a
reasonable attitude when separation was potentially life-threatening.
All that mattered was that the two people would not press each others'
buttons in any ways that could endanger that life-preserving stability.
Culturally, we're just coming out from under the thumb of those beliefs.
Harmony has obvious attractions, but let's look as penetratingly as we
can at its dark side. Those "good" aspects we're trained to value can
get awfully sleepy. When we are in harmony with someone, there may be a
lot of unconscious collusion in terms of lies upon which we agree...two
drunks deciding whether they're sober enough to make it to the 7-11 for
another six- pack before it closes might be in perfect harmony with each
other! There are trines and sextiles in action for you! Just as the
drunks are about to get into their car and possibly kill themselves or
someone else, a friend appears, realizes what's happening, swipes their
car keys and tosses them out on the darkened lawn. It's a nasty
situation; lots of curses and maledictions-and very possibly lives
saved. Welcome to the "bad" aspects...a worthless, misleading term we
astrologers really need to dump.

A single person is a perfectly viable creature nowadays. Marriage is
difficult. Why bother with it? Even our sexual needs can be met in a
variety of other ways, generally without serious recriminations in the
modern world. Nowadays, unless we are severely constrained by practical
considerations or in severe need of psychotherapy, we tend not to
choose to remain in a relationship in which "something is missing."
So what does it take for "something" to be present? In a nutshell, what
it takes is a lot of the astrological mechanisms the traditional
approaches teach us to fear, loathe, and avoid: "bad" aspects, lots of
Pluto action, major Eighth House components.

Go back in your memory banks and think of a relationship that didn't
work out. It was passionate, intense, and full of sacred sexuality. You
were sure your life would unfold on a loftier level from that first kiss
onward; you were destined to be together. And six months later: poof.
Any trouble relating to this tale? I didn't think so. Now analyze that
relationship from a traditional astrological point of view. Almost
guaranteed, you can do an effective post- mortem...."Ah, yes. Look at
that. Her nasty, psychotic Pluto was square my poor, innocent Venus,"
et cetera. A close analysis of the configuration will yield a very
precise understanding of what went wrong-but it will lie to you with
great authority too! It entirely ignores the higher evolutionary
possibilities implied in that configuration. Even more dramatically,
that kind of astrological analysis fails miserably in accounting for
that feeling of sacred passion, however transitory it might have been.
If your Pluto squares my Venus, you probably have the capacity to see
right through any smarmy Venus games I might play. Maybe my sweet
manipulations don't work with you; maybe my feather-smoothing diplomacy
is as transparent as window glass. Maybe, with you, I just can't hide.
Maybe you confront me about that...and of course, as a result, maybe I
feel that you are "always on my case," that you've "appointed yourself
my psychologist," that your "need for power and control" squelches my
sexuality-all the usual interpretations of the configuration. And maybe
the truth behind those words sinks our romantic ship, just as the
fortuneteller would predict. But maybe, just maybe, I listen to you. You
plutonify my Venus, bringing up into my conscious awareness certain
slippery, defensive games I play. Maybe I have grace enough in myself,
and trust you enough, to let that humble realization happen. Maybe I
become a better person for it.

Maybe what I am really saying is that my soul grows because of your
impact on me.

"Something is missing." What does that mean? Lots of people would
immediately think about sexual passion. They're right. But what sustains
sexual passion? Lord knows it's easy enough to turn it on! But lasting
passion-there's the Holy Grail. My premise, based on my experience
counselling modern people, is that sexual passion is a function of
spiritual passion, at least after the first few weeks. What's the
half-life of hormones? Not long. And spiritual passion is sustained by
shared spiritual growth, which in turn is more a function of the ways we
press each other to grow (hard aspects) than it is a function of the
ways we quietly collude in denial, sleepiness, and endless television
(easy aspects).

I really want to emphasize that what I mean by "shared spiritual
growth" has little to do with sharing belief-systems or philosophies,
and it has zero to do with any kind of airy "Flight- into-Light."
Relationships based on that bank of sand last about a month, and then
the two lovers piously declare that "their work together is now
finished." What I am talking about is the gutsy, humbling work of
revealing-intentionally or otherwise-all our warts and wounds, and
slowly unravelling them together...slowly becoming saner and wiser
together. Without that shared journey, without that deeper nakedness,
spiritual passion does not exist, and sexual passion dissipates no
matter how fiery and irresistible it may have been initially. "Something
is missing."

Let's keep our feet on the ground, though. If you are in a committed
relationship, how many "growth experiences" do you actually want to face
in any given week? Common sense: soul-growth is exhausting work, and a
little goes a long way. We need some trines and sextiles and happy
conjunctions between us, just to be able to deal with everyday reality
together.

Now, stretch it out a little: how many growth experiences are
appropriate in a given year? A given decade? Do you really want perfect,
silent, nothing-happening peace forever with your partner? "Pass the
remote control, honey." Remember: that kind of peace comes at the price
of sleepiness, collusion, and shared blindness-unless you are already
doing excellent work with lepers.

To me, in the realities of the astrological counselling room, there are
two immutable premises:
There is no manner of astrological interaction between two people that
is so inherently sweet that enough selfishness, confusion about sex, or
immaturity cannot turn it sour.
There is no manner of astrological interaction between two people that
is so inherently bitter that enough patience, devotion, and humility can
not only make it last, but make it something precious to both people.

Underneath those overriding principles, what I like to see when two
people are contemplating a commitment is a lot of basic harmony and
agreement-especially some significant conjunctions, trines, and sextiles
among those three absolute building blocks in the astrological chart:
The Sun, the Moon, and the Ascendent. That really helps people "get
along." Let me quickly add that I don't mind seeing some significant
squares, oppositions, quincunxes or sesquiquadrates among those three
either-that's just grist for the evolutionary mill. We need some of
both-sleepy peace and lively tension.

One observation that would scare me at this very fundamental stage of
analysis would be no major, Ptolemaic aspects among the two sets of
Suns, Moons and Ascendents. The old horary dictum "No aspects, no
action" applies quite reliably in synastry work, especially there in
the "primal triad." Lots of different kinds of relationships work, but I
can't think of a deeper challenge than a lack of Ptolemaic interaspects
among those three points. That would be a lot like sleeping with
somebody from another planet. It represents not so much conflict as a
lack of communication, engagement, and energy.

Moving out beyond Sun, Moon and Ascendant and considering all the
various planetary aspects, I would say that a good rule of thumb in
synastry is the more aspects there are between two people, the more
"glue" holds the relationship together, for good or for ill. I am
referring here to aspects in general, not just the traditional "good"
ones. Even the harder aspects are "glue"-just a more demanding, more
passionate kind. My sense is that when we interact socially with people
with whom we just don't have much going on aspectually, we tend mostly
to make pleasant tribal mouth noises and quickly move on to more
interesting fields of energy. If we wind up in bed, or worse, with
someone like that, it's the triumph of the illusions created by simple
lust or psychological projection over attention to our own hearts,
souls, and senses. Mostly, though, those relationships simply don't
occur. Ram Dass commented that our sexual centers of perception divide
the world into "the desirable," the "competition for those who are
desirable," and the "irrelevant." People with whom we don't have much
aspectual interaction are basically the "irrelevant," even if they are
easy to look at.

Perspective: What I am writing about here, as I have said, is my own
experience in the counselling room. I've seen countless
astrologically-harmonious couples separate, and I've seen some marriages
last lifetimes where a fortuneteller might have been very pessimistic
about their prospects. But people self-select for astrological counsel;
they are not the general population. I suppose that if I were trying to
come up with statistical paradigms for predicting simple stability, and
nothing more, in marriage across the human spectrum, I'd go with the
old way of thinking: give me tons of trines and sextiles, tons of
harmony. Then they can sit peacefully in front of the television
together, maybe for decades, and not bother each other very much. But
for the kinds of human beings who actually help me pay my bills, that
kind of sleepy collusion is not what they're after. These are generally
more dynamic, growth-oriented people-or they wouldn't be there in my
office! Demonstrably, they'll intervene in their own lives, and they'll
often leave relationships that aren't going anywhere. With these kinds
of people, I focus a lot of attention on the harder interaspects between
them. I try to be realistic; I tell them that there are ways they may
never understand each other. I emphasize that this kind of frustration
isn't so bad-if they handle it right, it will keep them alert. I only
offer to try to help untangle the tangled lines of misunderstanding.
I'll try to get Jill to honor the evolutionary reasons behind Jack's
need for periodic emotional withdrawl; I'll support Jack in respecting
Jill's need to probe into his inner life. I'll try to generate a kind of
objective compassion in each toward the other. But I'll never try to get
either to compromise their basic natures-that I would frame as a crime
against the human spirit.

Even with the easier aspects, I try not to be passive. "Oh this is
beautiful" may be an encouraging remark, but it doesn't go very far in
terms of specific helpfulness. Say Jill has Jupiter in Sagittarius in
her Ninth House. It trines Jack's Fifth House Aries Sun. Everything else
being equal, there is a fair degree of adventuresomeness in each of
them. They'll sense their energetic harmony ten seconds after they meet;
they'll smile-unconsciously anticipating that potential trip to India
they'll take together in nine years.

Now, maybe eight years later they come to me for a synastry reading. My
job is to remind them to book that trip to India! Maybe in the swamp of
daily life, they got bogged down in the short view and forgot about it.
They've neglected what feeds them as a couple. They need a little
reminder about how journeys and shared adventures nourish the good stuff
that's at the heart of their purpose together.
The point is that even the "easy" aspects require care and feeding if
they are going to develop into everything they can be-remember: their
dark side is sleepiness. The treasure may be in the back yard, but they
still have to dig it up.

I've been speaking categorically of "easy" and "hard" aspects.
Basically, by "easy" I mean trines and sextiles. By "hard," I mean
squares and oppositions. We'll speak of the minor aspects in a moment,
but right now we need to reckon with the single most important aspect of
all: the conjunction. It follows its own separate set of laws, and it
doesn't fit readily into an "easy" or "hard" box the way the others do.

Here's a good way to conceptualize it:
Some planets naturally feel "soft:" The Moon, Venus, Jupiter, Neptune.
Some naturally feel "hard:" The Sun, Mars, Saturn, Uranus, Pluto.
Mercury, as usual, seems to be its own special case. Sometimes it feels
"hard," especially when it's contacting a hard planet. Other times it
feels "soft," especially when linked to a softer planet.

Now, with conjunctions, the rule is simple. Conjunctions between a hard
and a soft planet are "hard," while conjunctions between two "soft"
planets or two "hard" ones are easy. It's pretty intuitive really. The
Moon likes Neptune-if your Moon conjuncts my Neptune, that generally
feels easy and comfortable...just remember that "easy" doesn't mean
"good." We could collude like crazy on our emotional illusions until the
romantic card castle fell down. But we could also feel a flowing,
natural spiritual rapport, an easy Moon-Neptune feeling of knowing each
other psychically and psychologically, even without words. Real or
illusory, it feels good.

Parallel interactions happen when your Mars conjuncts my Uranus. That's
"hard to hard," and while the fireworks can be spectacular, there's a
kind of gritty comrades-in-arms feeling that arises. Mars and Uranus
understand each pretty well; their rough edges get along. We "fight
well," which is a precious skill in the real world of grown-up intimacy.
If my Moon aligns with your Mars-"soft to hard"-that's a different
kettle of fish. My sensitivities and emotional needs (Moon) are exposed
to all your jagged edges (Mars.) Now, maybe that does them a world of
good! Maybe you press me, wittingly or unwittingly, to be more assertive
about what I want and need. You are martializing my Moon. From an
evolutionary perspective, it may be a very beautiful thing, and it's the
astrologer's task to emphasize and support that possibility. But
Mars-Moon interaspects still often don't feel very good. Maybe I project
onto you the idea that you are "the heavy," while you project onto me
the idea that I am "a wimp." Maybe, according to you, I'm always
"overreacting," while, according to me, you are always "arguing" or
"teasing."

Mercury blends with anything-best to apply our "easy aspect" logic to
any interaspectual conjunctions involving Mercury.

I spoke of you martializing my Moon. Earlier I used an example of you
plutonifying my Venus. My wife, Jodie Forrest, and I introduced this
language in 1989 in our book Skymates: The Astrology of Love, Sex, and
Intimacy. The words sound funny, but we've found them to be useful tools
for conceptualizing the actual energy-transactions that occur in a
relationship. The key is to realize that any interaspect is a two-way
street: you do something to me and I do something back to you. If your
Sun makes any aspect to my Moon-a classic and common synastry
connection-then you solarize my Moon while I lunarize your Sun. You
press my emotional needs into active expression, while I nourish and
support your pride, self-image, and confidence. Skymates, by the way, is
currently out of print, but between the Bantam edition and the ACS
edition, there are a lot of them around. Jodie and I are currently
re-writing the book and hope to have a new edition out by the middle of
2001.

These "martializing" or "plutonifying" energetic transactions apply
regardless of the specific nature of the interaspect-it doesn't matter
if it's a square or a trine; mercurialization is still mercurialization.
The only difference is that if it's an easy aspect, then we both like
the process, while if it's a hard aspect we feel more stressed by it-and
maybe more passionate and alert about each other in the long run.
Always, regardless of the technical interactions between the charts, we
must recognize that, from an astrological perspective, any relationship
can potentially be made to work. My feeling is that once a couple is
committed to trying, the astrologer should be committed to helping them.
I feel ill and ashamed for us all when I hear clients tell me something
like, "the other astrologer told us our marriage was basically
impossible." Still, if I had to pick an "ideal," I'd lean toward a lot
of major Ptolemaic aspects, with an emphasis on Sun-Moon-Ascendent
contacts. I'd put them in a mix of about two-thirds "easy"
interaspectual transactions and one- third "hard" ones. That provides
plenty of the basic glue that holds people together, plus, through the
easy aspects, a real sense of friendship and comfort-and enough
evolutionary rocket fuel to keep a sense of "process" alive. That's the
gift of the harder aspects. In the world we seem to be entering, that's
the formula that works most often in my experience.

Jodie and I went into a lot more detail about all this in Skymates, but
here are some key concepts for the various interaspectual transactions.
A couple of caveats: In all these thumbnail sketches, I'm leaving out
the specific context of the planets in each person's birthchart, which
is the eternal curse of any "cookbook" approach. To save space, I'm also
blithely neglecting the darker possibilities, and focussing on the
higher intentions of the interaspect.

If I solarize a planet in your chart, then I press it to emerge
energetically, vividly, and actively in your life.

If I lunarize a planet in your chart, then I nourish and support it,
and render it moodier and more aware of its needs.

If I mercurialize a planet in your chart, then I press it to speak, to
stretch, to gather more information, to think about itself, and to
articulate its nature.

If I venusify a planet in your chart, then I warm it, seduce it, and
induce in it a desire to connect with me and exchange energy with me. I
may also "civilize" it, and encourage it to beautify itself.

If I martialize a planet in your chart, then I press it toward courage
and assertiveness, also bringing out whatever anger or frustration it
may contain.

If I jovialize a planet in your chart, then I encourage and support it,
cheerleading it on toward wider horizons, a willingness to take risks,
and more faith in itself.

If I saturnize a planet in your chart, then I invite it to mature and
to face reality squarely. I ask it to discipline itself, to make hard
choices decisively, and to bring its intentions into concrete
manifestation.

If I uranize a planet in your chart, then I press it toward
individuation, toward rebellion against "tribal" mythology, and toward
free-spirited experimentation.

If I neptunify a planet in your chart, then I enchant and mesmerize it,
softening it and filling it with inspiration, spiritual renewal, and
imaginative imagery.

If I plutonify a planet in your chart, then I trigger the emergence of
unconscious or wounded material connected with it, challenging it to
grow and to implement the soul's healing intentions.

This language also helps codify our understanding of House
Transpositions as well. If, for example, my Neptune falls in your Tenth
House, I'll have a neptunifying impact upon your career. That may be a
big deal, or a very minor part of the picture, depending on two factors:
a) the strength of my natal Neptune, and b) the importance of career to
you, as reflected in your birthchart. The interaction would also be
strengthened enormously if my Neptune made some serious aspects to your
natal planets, especially a conjunction with a Tenth House planet of
yours, or a vigorous aspect to the ruler of your Midheaven.

Some people get touchy about the term "minor aspects." I can see why;
those aspects can be powerful, especially the quincunx. I concentrate
more on the major Ptolemaic aspects in my actual work, though. They
carry so much energy. My time with a couple is limited so I want to
focus on the most important issues, which are generally indicated not
only more by major than by minor aspects, by also by only the closest
major aspects. I won't even have time to speak of all the squares and
sextiles, so I tend not to bother much in practice with the
semi-squares, bi- noviles, and sesquiquadrates. That doesn't mean
they're not interesting and useful; they just don't fit very well into
the context of a one-shot, two-hour session, which is how I work most of
the time. If you are drawn to work with the minors, generally I'd say
treat them as "hard" aspects and these guidelines should translate
effectively.

Classically, the Seventh House is the "House of Marriage." A very
common correlate of relationship is to see one person's planets,
especially the Sun, Moon, or Ascendent, falling in the other person's
Seventh House. It's important not to be overly caught up in the dying
notions of "malefic" or "benefic" planets in this regard-my Saturn
falling in your Seventh House doesn't necessarily mean I'll be cold or
distant, or that I will abandon you. It might mean I'll offer you a
serious, mature, growth-oriented commitment. It really depends upon how
consciously I am responding to my own Saturn issues, and you can't ever
see that in a birthchart. Similarly, while my Venus falling in your
Seventh House can certainly suggest a wonderfully tender and romantic
connection, it can also mean that I'll manipulate and seduce you.
Even though the Seventh House is still reflexively associated with
relationship by most astrologers, all the other Houses are
relevant-we're talking about a connection between two human wholenesses,
after all. Still, I'd encourage you to pay particular attention to the
Eighth House, especially between people who are moving into the newer
styles of intimacy where the richness and spiritual relevance of the
connection means more than blind endurance. The Seventh House really
refers to partnerships in general and the grease it takes to keep them
afloat. The Eighth brings in the Plutonian themes of deep, shared inner
work and psychological intensity. It's also more connected with the
bonding dimensions of sexuality than any other House-if you have a
planet there in your own natal chart it will very reliably describe the
kinds of people with whom you are likely to have the deepest and most
compellingly instinctual sense that you are "supposed to be together."
It's about those elusive sexual terms-chemistry and electricity-which no
one can satisfactorily define but which everyone recognizes, usually
from across a crowded room.

The Fifth House is often trivialized as the "House of Love Affairs."
Planets there in your natal chart actually correlate with people in
your life with whom there is a feeling of "business that needs to be
finished." It's easiest for me to make sense of that perception in
evolutionary, reincarnational terms. If you have Neptune in your natal
Fifth House, you may really need to claim something back from a person
who is an unreliable visionary romantic (Neptune). You may need to
release him or just let her go, and that of course is sometimes easier
said than done. It's unfinished business from the karmic past, in my
view. With Mercury there in your birthchart, the person with whom you've
got the unfinished business may be a very good talker. With Mars,
someone whose anger is unresolved. You probably get the idea-just think
of the darker, more seductive possibilities connected with each planet,
and you'll be on the right track.

Those kinds of transpersonal, karmic themes emerge very clearly in
interaspectual contacts involving the Nodes of the Moon as well.
Reincarnation and the larger metaphysical, evolutionary background
against which the astrological story unfolds is a vast subject, really
too big to fit into the framework of this article. The best books I can
recommend to get you going in that domain are Jeffrey Wolf Green's
classic, Pluto: The Evolutionary Journey of the Soul Through
Relationships, and the new book he and I wrote together, Measuring the
Night: Evolutionary Astrology and the Keys to the Soul, Volume One. By
the way, Volume Two of that work will be available in a few months. It
takes the material even further. While I'm plugging books, I was very
impressed with the groundedness, style, and wisdom of Terry Lamb's
recent synastry book, Born to be Together, which is published by Hay
House.

The Fourth House is one of the most basic-and most neglected-parts of
the synastry puzzle. Most of us learn in our first astrology class that
it's the "House of the Home." We then use it to speak of our physical
dwelling places, our families of origin, and our interior psychological
worlds. All that is valid, but let's not leave out the notion that the
pot of gold at the end of love's rainbow is a stable, happy bond-a sense
of "home," created, proven, maintained, and trusted, with a beloved
partner. That's a Fourth House reality. Planets there in your own chart
indicate your needs and possibly your baggage in that department. If,
for example, you have Venus in the Fourth House, then the kind of home
that will work for you is one permeated by a peaceful, aesthetic
Venusian spirit. That puts some constraints on how satisfied you'll be
living with someone who's got Sun conjunct Uranus in Gemini, square
Mars, and five planets jumping for thermonuclear joy in Sagittarius!
If someone transposes a lot of their own planets into your Fourth
House, he or she is likely to fill you with deep, comfortable feelings
of "family." There's just an inexplicable "familiarity" there. Mutual
Fourth House transpositions are common between people who go the
distance with each other, and that bedrock astrological fact seems to
have disappeared from the more generic synastry textbooks. Probably it's
a casualty of our pan-cultural loss of those precious psychological
crown jewels-our Fourth House sense of community, kinship, and absolute
commitment to each other.

One more comment: of all the relationship Houses, I'd say the Fourth is
probably the most "adult." I say that because it relates to the stage of
relationship where it would be appropriate to consider bringing new life
into the world. In a society where "adult" has come to mean "visible
genitals," we've got some collective healing to do in that department. I
like to think of astrologers as leading rather than following in that
great enterprise.

One final comment: a critical link in the synastry chain is the
composite chart. There are a variety of ways of calculating them. The
one that works best for me is based on the midpoints of the planets:
halfway between my Sun and your Sun is our composite Sun, and so on. I
like to use the latitude of the place where the relationship started,
rather than the current residence of the couple. I'm also very open to
the idea of just taking the midpoints of all the House cusps, which is
another popular technique.

Composite charts are a big subject, and probably rate a separate
article. Basically you interpret them in exactly the same manner as you
would interpret a natal chart, except you remember that you are
discussing the care and feeding of the relationship as a whole.
Sometimes two introverts come together and begin throwing loud parties;
sometimes two extroverts come together and move to a cabin in Alaska.
These are not laws of the universe, only possibilities within the
universe. The Composite chart gets at all that, helping us understand
what kinds of shared experiences help keep the couple vital and
alive-and that might be different from what they need as individuals.
For some deeper perspectives on the Composite chart, I'd encourage you
to find a copy of Jodie's and my Skymates. To dive into the
evolutionary and reincarnational dimensions of the Composite, I'd again
steer you toward Volume Two of Jeffrey Wolf Green's Pluto series.
In closing, I'd like to affirm that the astrologer's task as a
practitioner of synastry isn't to judge anyone's relationships or to
prophesy about their longevity. Our task is to read the symbols
honestly, to speak of love's highest possibilities and encourage the
couple to realize them, all the while warning them about the darker
places that misunderstanding can breed.

After that, we make no disempowering predictions; instead we stand back
in a spirit of respectful, compassionate good will and pray for the
ancient miracle-lasting, living human love...the engine that drives the
evolution of our souls.

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