An author whose launch I attended some time back urged me to keep in touch so warmly that, after reading her book, I called what seems to have been her bluff (because, hey, you don’t have to be dazzled by someone’s work to enjoy his/her company). For when we met over coffee, the debut author seemed cooler than formerly. In vain, I sought to instigate a stimulating exchange. Who were her favourite authors? A mental blank ensued but she soon recalled a small PC assortment. After we’d discussed her work (process rather than content), I mentioned the POD publication of one of my novels. Oops: conversation stopper. She asked merely, ‘Was it reviewed anywhere?’ – the way an employer might ask for references – and registered no response to the news that I blog, showing curiosity only on hearing I’d been an astrologer.
Engaged now, with personal issues at stake, she asked: Does astrology work for relationships? Whatever that means. Mightn’t her fiction, through omissions no less than concrete details, reveal as much to perceptive readers as a birth chart does to me? But I didn’t say that; she might not have believed it.
Twice in my life, I’ve seen a man’s birth chart before we two became an item (at no other time can one pretend to be objective; even decades after a break-up, memories still colour interpretation). In the first case, I dwelt on the juicy aspects (angles) between us (as you do). But so what if synastry (chart comparison) shows we’re not wholly unsuited?* Synastry also shows I’m more compatible with, say, Woody Allen. Had I viewed the chart of case #1 with the detachment I lacked when still young, I’d soon have seen that #1 is gregarious (I’m a hermit), outgoing (I’m introverted), dead conventional (I’m eccentric), combative (I crave peace and quiet) and pragmatic (I’m… well, let’s just say the best of Pre-Raphaelite art enchants me).
Synastry is to relationship what map is to journey: a static approximation of terrain that can strike one in diverse ways, depending on transient factors like weather, time of day, emotional state, and a knack (or not) for adaptation… To predict outcomes, you’d need to plot transits (the sky now) to each person’s birth chart. But before you project too far ahead, how well do you understand this other? Are you throwing yourself into a process without much thought of content, needing this other to fill your gaps, fit your specifications, make you happy, before taking time to discover who/how they might be, independent of you? The culture we’re shaping, and which shapes us, has commodified even love.
The logic of commodification that drives our secular, capitalist system tells us, 24/7, through a growing range of media, that we’re incomplete but the missing piece can be purchased – most cards accepted – in the form of a new, improved product, service or person (‘person’, like ‘holiday’ but of potentially longer duration, referring to a unique blend of product and service). We aren’t encouraged to understand ourselves in any but simplistic terms; too much self-knowledge might endanger our relevance as shoppers.
Such a culture can grasp astrology only in its most debased guise: prediction as insurance policy rather than guide to the innermost psyche (to know thyself, as the inscription at Delphi advised, would seem like a prerequisite for shared harmony). Though most of us wouldn’t know planets from stars (even if we could see them from where we are without urban lighting depriving us of natural darkness), we can feed our natal data (and that of endless prospective partners) into a computer that’ll generate reams of interpretations generic enough to fuel idle assumptions.
A while ago, I received a request for a synastry reading on two newish lovers, from someone who’d done some preliminary research but sought more detail (or confirmation?). One drawback with DIY chart comparison programs beloved of amateurs is that they interpret all aspects with orbs of up to several degrees. This means that at least some listed aspects involving planets the naked eye can’t see will apply to all humans (and animals) born within, say, a five-year period. (Ergo a sane rule of thumb is to limit your orb to 1º max, or 2º if both planets forming an aspect lie on this side of Saturn. Otherwise, synastry can mess with your head in a way that makes ignorance preferable.) If some astrologers use wide orbs, it’s often because they lean towards the intuitive end of a spectrum that includes science. Wide orbs suffice for the same reason that some psychics read palms or cards; their point of departure – numbers, tea-leaves, avian entrails – is arbitrary.
It’s not uncommon to find signifiers of violence or abuse in a birth chart (we’re only human – the most destructive, exploitative f***ers ever to walk the Earth). Each one of us has the potential to be both victim and perpetrator. But – as in the fields of, say, sport, sales or healing – some have more or less potential than others. From a non-linear viewpoint, time’s tides can bring hidden contents (or discontent) to light. If someone wired for volcanic rage is entering a tantrum-prone phase, even awesome synastry can’t insure against fallout. But what someone says or believes they want isn’t always borne out by their unconscious.
The second time I saw the birth chart of a future partner (who did seem familiar for a stranger), I’d learned enough to consider his nature and needs as distinct from mine, and to recognise we’d both struck gold re timing. (Synastry clinched it.)
* See below for a sample of pre-programmed synastry (courtesy of Solar Fire Gold) applied to the natal charts of a former world leader (a paranoiac quoted as saying, ‘Today, we’re not sure who the “they” are, but we know they’re there’) and me:
Blogger’s Jupiter Trine George’s Moon
Orb 6°35′ Separating
This is a positive combination for any relationship enabling George and Blogger to overcome any obstacles in life and embrace the happiness of the present moment. George and Blogger enjoy each other’s company and feel a certain zest for life when together. They share a need for fun-filled adventures and the capability of achieving their goals. George and Blogger feel that the world is their oyster that is ready to explore together. This can include holidays in far-away places, adventure travel and also encompasses any activity that expands their minds and views of life. This is a meeting of higher-minds. George feels that Blogger expands his horizons. George feels safe and appreciated in this relationship. Blogger knows that George is a comrade in arms when it comes to fun and adventure. Blogger feels that he is truly appreciated for his generosity and optimism. Together George and Blogger can conquer the world. Nothing seems too far-fetched. This combination augurs well for a long lasting and happy relationship.