Five Common Misconceptions in Synastry

Synastry Studies by Dawn Bodrogi

Sometimes I think that astrology is one giant game of telephone that stretches from the past to the present. We think we hear what’s being said, but the messages get garbled along the way, until we no longer know what the meaning is. Sometimes what is being said is no longer relevant. Sometimes we lose important bits of information along the way. These days, the internet has a very loud voice, and bad information is often taken as blind truth. Sometimes, in our quest for instant answers, we ignore the subtlety of interpretation that was once demanded of anyone who practiced astrology and seriously studied synastry. We like things in black and white, but the truth tends to lie in the shades of gray.

Here, for better or worse, are some of the most common misconceptions that float around relationship astrology, in no particular order:

Misconception #1: The ‘Other’ Is Always Represented by the Seventh House

People are always surprised to learn that there are other houses that are concerned with partnership and the way we exchange energy with others. We’re all guilty of it—we find someone we fall for, and we immediately look to the Seventh House for answers. They’re our soul mate, right? The one who will deliver us from our own shadow. Well, no, not always. Liz Greene has famously said that it’s a Seventh House relationship when two people are arguing about who takes out the garbage. She meant it tongue in cheek (I think) and I wouldn’t go that far, but a Seventh House partnership is a committed partnership. We don’t go around messing with people’s shadows for nothing. If a relationship is not ‘serious,’ if one or the other partners is not committed to it, you must also look at the Fifth House.

We need to rethink the Fifth House as a partnership house. We tend to think of it these days as creative expression, or personal expression, and ignore the sexual connotations of that Leonine area. The king is there to spread his seed, and we all spread the seeds of ourselves in the Fifth. The Fifth House is where we learn how to partner, and we learn how to play. We have fun. We take chances (the Fifth House also rules gambling). We want to test ourselves, to see how far we can go. A packed Fifth House can indicate someone who is more inclined to just have fun in relationships. The Fifth House is where we kick up our heels after being doused in the emotional Fourth House, and often conflicts between the Fourth and Fifth Houses in a chart show conflicts between settling down and having a good time. (This also has to do with the primary conflict inherent in the relationship between the Moon [Fourth House] and the Sun [Fifth House].)

Women tend to dive into the Seventh House more readily, are often more ready to face the shadow and are much more knowledgeable about what that entails. (This has to do with the esoteric meanings of Aries and Libra—we’ll get into that some other day.) But if, as they say, he’s not that into you, you need to explore his Fifth House thoroughly and see if there are any conflicts between the Fifth House and his Seventh or Eighth. If there are, he may be more inclined to play than to commit.

A Seventh House relationship is more about give-and-take. It’s often the case where one partner’s Seventh is activated by the chart comparison and the other’s is not—one is ripe for commitment and the other is just passing through. If his Seventh is stimulated and he is still avoiding you, he may not be ready to face the depth of the integration of that Seventh House. Not yet, anyway. If the ruler of the Fifth House plays a dominant part in his chart and is not tied to relationship planets, he may be less the marrying kind than you think. The Eleventh House, opposite the Fifth, is also involved. If the Eleventh House is very active in his chart, he may be less the fiery visionary you imagine by your side, and more the kind that likes to keep things on a friendship level.

Misconception #2: Beware of Hard Aspects

We’ve all been guilty of this. Certainly all of us do it when we first begin astrology. (And I’m willing to bet that 90 percent of us got involved with astrology because we wanted to find out about a relationship.) We find the chart of our loved one, compare it to ours, and thrill with every conjunction, trine, or sextile (if we’re desperate) that we find there. It’s Kismet, certainly. It’s fated bliss.

Well, surprise, folks. A conjunction is considered a hard aspect. And sometimes they’re not pretty. Sometimes they’re wild and unpredictable and conflicted, tiny little volcanoes waiting to explode and do a lot of damage. They’re impulsive and a bit willful, much like Aries, and, far from blending peacefully, they can like a good fight. It depends on the planets involved. Sure, a Sun/Moon or Moon/Venus conjunction may roll along nicely, but that Mars/Pluto or even Mercury/Saturn may really trip up a relationship. You can’t assume a conjunction will always work smoothly. But it will always be strong. It will provide stimulation, which we all need in order to grow within a relationship.

Like human beings, relationships need fuel for the fire. We’re taught to believe that if all else is compatible (whatever that may mean in astrological terms), then all we need is a good dose of Saturn ‘glue’ to keep us together. Not so. Of course, Saturn is good for a relationship, it gives us something to work towards, something to learn together. But a lot of times we aren’t ready for Saturn; we haven’t got to the point in our own lives where we can use him constructively yet (usually after the first Saturn return). What then?

That’s when our hard aspects kick in. Hard aspects between charts provide the stimulus for growth between two people. They cause us to challenge our assumptions, and see the world (and our planets) in new ways. When we’re younger, we assume that everyone is like us (or our families); once we get into our mid- to late-twenties, we learn that isn’t true and we want to see what else is out there. Hard aspects between charts push us to open our eyes and our heart. Hard aspects from another’s chart to Mercury will shake up our assumptions and thought patterns. Hard aspects to Venus teach us lessons about how we express love and whether or not that love is communicated in a way the other person understands. This stimulation might be uncomfortable, but it’s always compelling.

An overabundance of trines, sextiles, and easy conjunctions will leave a relationship with nowhere to go. Boredom, complacency, and taking one another for granted are usually the result. Keep those squares, oppositions, and sesquiquadrates (135 degrees) coming.

Misconception #3: Good Venus/Mars Connections Tell Us Everything We Need to Know About Our Sex Lives

Surprise again, but Venus/Mars is not the “be all and end all” of sex, and their position in the charts is not as crucial as some think. First of all, it’s not the hottest aspect. I think I’d take Moon/Mars over Venus/Mars anytime, or Mars/Pluto if you like a little danger. Even Saturn is sexier sometimes (at least at first) when he really desires something and masquerades as his younger self. (The Moon represents need in our charts, but Saturn is about how we get those needs fulfilled in the real world. If Saturn needs you for some reason it will move hell and high water to get to you.)

Our Venus explains the way we express and receive love. It represents what we value. Mars is about action, how we do things in the world, how we go about getting what Venus desires. Venus is receptive and Mars aggressive. When the two are in sync, by sign or element, this inward and outward flow is very peaceful. The waters are calm. I want you, you want me, you love me in a way I understand. It’s all very pleasant—but it isn’t going to overcome so-called ‘issues’ in the chart.

Like, even though my emotionally possessive Venus in Cancer is in sync with your sensitive Mars in Cancer, I may have a Mars/Uranus conjunction in my natal chart that makes me feel strangled if I’m held too tightly. Or, we have a Venus/Mars trine, but he has Pluto on the Descendant with Mars squaring and may not realize, yet, that he can’t be comfortable in a relationship unless he’s calling all the shots, in bed and otherwise. The most important thing we need to do in synastry is analyze the individual charts first for their capacity for love and caring exchange. If there are problems with sexual relating within the natal chart, especially with problematic Eighth House issues, no positive Venus/Mars aspect will be able to transcend this difficulty in the long term.

Misconception #4: Composite Charts Tell Us How We Relate to One Another

This is wrong from the get-go. Composite charts are not about the exchange of energy between us. They’re about the energy, the aura, the charisma that we give off together. This is very subtle territory. A composite chart is not about what happens when your Pluto sits on my Moon and makes me cry. A composite chart will show us a different dynamic.

If we have a Moon/Pluto conjunction in our composite chart, our feelings together will be intense and transformative, and have a great effect on the house that the conjunction falls in. How we use our emotional drive as a couple will be of concern. If it’s in our Fifth House in the composite, we may be passionate about our children. If it’s in the Tenth House, our work and our status in the world will be important to us, and together we may be emotionally driven to accomplish. In the Eighth, our primary emotional focus may be via our sex life. But the way I treat you and you treat me is for the inter-aspects alone. Also, you cannot have a composite chart unless you have a real relationship. You can draw one up, of course, but it only exists in the world of potential, of what might be.

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Misconception #5: All Planets Are Equal

Early on in our astrological learning, we compare charts via lists of aspects—endless lists that mark every sesquiquadrate and semi-sextile to every planet, asteroid, and point between the charts. We see a quality in the relationship and use these remote connections to back up our theories, even though we may not fully know what these aspects mean. But in the end, all we end up doing is confusing ourselves. It’s hard to see through the astrological forest, and we lose our way.

It’s important to prioritize the planets, to give them weighting. Those are the ones that are most likely to raise their heads in a relationship. The Sun and Moon are always important. So are angle rulers. So is the dispositor of the Sun. Venus, Mars, Saturn—what’s happening with them? If the basic relationship planets are not connecting, no aspect of Mercury/Jupiter or Vertex/Chiron is going to matter. Also, some planets are not important within a chart.

Your planets might have a dozen contacts with my Pluto, but if Pluto is not a very active planet in my chart, it won’t matter much. Oh, sure there may be intensity, but if my journey is not basically a Plutonian one, I may not perceive that I need your energy in my life. One-sided relationships often occur with this dynamic. If I’m a Plutonian and your chart excites my Pluto in a number of ways, I may crave our contact, but the non-Plutonian may want to shake me off as soon as possible. This dynamic often occurs with all three of the outer planets.

Synastry studies can yield great insight into your relationships—if you know where to look. Don’t fall prey to these common misconceptions about relationship astrology. Instead, consider all the important information, and open your eyes to the bigger picture, for a deeper understanding of yourself and your relationships.

Do you agree that these are all “misconceptions?” Or do you stand by these “truths?” Let us know in comments below.

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About Dawn Bodrogi

Dawn Bodrogi has studied astrology since the age of twelve, and has been a practicing astrologer for over twenty years with a special emphasis on synastry. Her studies in Jungian psychology, alchemy, and Buddhist philosophy inform her work. Her upcoming book, The Inner Wheel, takes a new look at interpreting secondary progressions. You can see more of Dawn’s work at her blog, The Inner Wheel: Living with Astrology.

Comments

  1. Great article, thank you!

    I agree these are common misconceptions, mostly because I’ve got carried away by them in the past a number of times, only to find that the reality is something else, later. And they’re what you find most often when you search on the internet.

    I’d be happy to read more on your take on synastry, seems so well grounded.

    Mo

  2. Eme Kah says:

    “The most important thing we need to do in synastry is analyze the individual charts first for their capacity for love and caring exchange. If there are problems with sexual relating within the natal chart, especially with problematic Eighth House issues, no positive Venus/Mars aspect will be able to transcend this difficulty in the long term.”

    Okay. So how about those of us with very afflicted Venuses? I mean, my Venus is besieged by very nasty squares, without a single trine or sextile or anything nice. The best I can say about it is that it’s in the 12th house. If we look at individual charts, and we have all kinds of nasty aspects to that Venus, is there any hope? I am asking more along general lines than about my own chart in particular. Although, I guess an answer to that question would likely be more along the lines of a whole post.

  3. Great post. I agree that we look at way too many inconsequential things in synastry, losing the real story for all the subplots… In one of the most brief, intense friendships I ever had (and sometimes these are as important as love relationships in our lives, something I think synastry also often overlooks) we had Saturn (his) conjunct Chiron (mine) in Taurus. He left the relationship without any explanation, leaving me pretty hurt and confused, and wondering at my own motivations, which maybe weren’t as clear as I’d wished them to be. We had other close conjunctions that added to the compulsive quality of the friendship (his descendent conjunct my Moon, my Pluto conjunct his Venus), but I wonder about that Saturn conjunct Chiron. Do you have any thoughts on how they interact?

  4. Thanks, Mo. My site, The Inner Wheel, has an entire library of articles I’ve written regarding synastry. I look forward to seeing you there.

  5. Hi Eme Kah. If your Venus is beseiged, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t know how to love, but that your primary means of self-development in this life will come through lessons regarding your Venus. This includes issues of self-worth, self-esteem, walking your talk in terms of values, and understanding that you are worthy of love. Heavy Venus can be very down on itself and let other people get away with murder, because their value system should include themselves and no one ever told them that. So they either fall down one of two paths–either they withhold, and don’t express love, or they over-love and over-forgive. The chart will probably reflect the Venus issues in a number of different ways, and provide clues on how to heal this dilemma.

  6. Hi Amy. Venus/Pluto and Moon/Descendant can be extremely intense and intimate (particularly Moon/Descendant, which can be one of the most emotionally bonding aspects of all time). There must have been other indicators of what the problem was beyond Saturn/Chiron, but Saturn/Chiron can sometimes be very painful. When this aspect occurs, both parties feel their own limitations intensely when they are together. Chiron makes Saturn feel inadequate and mundane; it turns away from Chiron’s invitation to climb higher. Saturn causes Chiron to feel that it will never get where it wants to go, that it will never have the experience it needs to get past its issues. Chiron often looks to Saturn as the ‘wise’ partner, the mature one, though it often ends up that Chiron reveals itself to be the one with the wisdom. Chiron sees Saturn’s needs and fears and has a longing to heal them, but Saturn won’t let that happen, because it doesn’t want to be pointed out to be inadequate in the first place. Often, Chiron makes us love people who aren’t ready yet for it’s particular kind of love or intimacy, and Chiron is left abandoned just as it feared, wondering why it all fell apart because it did nothing wrong. usually, the Chiron person is the more spiritually aware, and must deal with the consequences and use the experience to grow.

  7. Eme Kah says:

    Thank you for your response, Dawn!! It is DEAD-on and you haven’t even looked at my chart. I haven’t heard it put so well before.

  8. this is great

  9. Novlady says:

    Phenomenal Post!

    You have validated many points that I have suspected. Reading charts is an art form because you must weave together what is important and I feel that takes comprehensive knowledge of the planets, aspects, etc. AND the chemistry of how this blends with psychological needs and relationship dynamics.

    This article was so great I will have to archive and read over. I have been guilty of examining in detail aspects that are not pivotal to what was at hand (wishful thinking). And, you point about the composite chart only being relevant if there IS a relationship is something I have been learning by observation. I LOVE that you acknowledge the need for harsh aspects and that some planets are not relative in the synastry though they may have significance in your own experience.

    Also, the tips on which factors ARE always meaningful is useful, practical information. Noting the distinction between the personal planets and their effects versus the outer planets and their relevance is so clarifying!
    I really felt this article was written clear and concise.

    Really, truly insightful!

  10. hiza gashira says:

    Interesting take on the Saturn-Chiron contact. Does this only count for the conjunction? And is it possible to ever overcome these issues? It does sound bleak.

    What do you consider active or not active in regards to planets? The number of aspects? House position? Sign? I think of an example where venus squares pluto as only aspect, but it is an angle ruler, pluto on the other hand has a sextile to Saturn as the only other aspect, so it’s not very important? Then again it’s in the 8th house which is an emphasis in that chart, so I would consider the person at least vibing that kind of energy.

  11. Thank you, Nov Lady.

  12. Hi Hiza Gashira. There is potential for healing wherever Chiron is. There may be more of a struggle with a square than there would be with a conjunction, but once Chiron has accepted Saturn’s limitations he is able to transcend them. Acceptance is the key.

    What you’re asking in the second paragraph is impossible to answer within the course of this space, though I appreciate your hunger for knowledge. Planetary weighting, knowing where the emphasis is in a chart, is a delicate business. It also depends on what information you’re trying to extract from the chart. Ultimately, this is something each astrologer must find her way through. Look to whether emphasis ‘piles’ up on any planet–for example, if Saturn is on an angle, squaring the Sun, and the handle of a bucket chart, you know it’s a heavy hitter. Or if someone has a Sun/Jupiter conjunction in the 12th house, Venus square Neptune and an angular Mars in Pisces, you know that Neptune is often calling the shots. There is no one formula or one hard and fast method. It’s a question of experience. .

  13. Immortal_Angel says:

    WOW!!! that chiron conjunct saturn is so accurate!! I had this with my now ex boyfriend and like Amy I was the chiron but my moon was conjunct his Ascendant!! It was the most intense, beautiful, harmonious relationship I’ve ever experienced and it was my first real relationship… I was so in love with him, I wanted to marry him and everything only to lose him to an interferring third person after 3 years. It left me absolutely devestated… I never ever did anything wrong and the emotional pain I experienced through that I will never ever feel again in my life. When it all fell apart I somehow found it in myself to forgive him and I do consider myself more spiritually advanced to learn the lessons from that. Though I wish with everything I had that I was still with him, but even when the opportunity presented, there was so much damage done that I couldn’t bring myself to do it =( It was almost like the closer we became the more he pushed me away.. he had a history of repeating that pattern in previous relationships, but I do feel as though I almost loved him too much. =( I recently got involved with another man who also has this same chiron/saturn conjunction with me… oh no!! Dawn do you do readings?

  14. [this comment has been deleted by the administrator; please do not post comments primarily in ALLCAPS]

  15. Elenafox says:

    Hi Dawn; great article! In terms of one-sided Plutonian (or outer planet) relationships I was under the impression that it is the outer planet person that tends to have the upper hand and the inner planet person is more likely to ‘crave’ the outer planet person. Would you say that is a misconception? What type of synastry would make the non-Plutonian want to shake the Plutonian off? Thanks!

  16. Loved this article. I’m amazed at how often ppl want to do composite charts with those who they don’t really have a relationship with. I try to explain as gently as I can that to do so is wishful thinking, but ppl don’t want to hear that. They always want to rush to the composite chart. I look at it like this…if you imagine yourself telling the “other” that you did your composite chart on your relationship and (in your imagination) they looked at you like you’ve lost your mind…don’t do a composite chart, because there IS no relationship.

    By the way….I was asked to read a natal chart by a farmer’s market vendor who knew a little something about astrology as well as asked to do a synastry chart for two other couples. I outright told them that I was a beginning astrology student, but they insisted. I’m very very nervous though I won’t touch on anything that I don’t have confidence that I totally understand.

  17. Very informative article!

    I would like to know your thoughts on this match. I really think a THESIS could be written on it:

    ME: HER:
    Sun Gemini – Sun Leo
    Moon Leo – Moon Pisces
    Asc Libra – Asc Aries
    Venus Gem – Venus Leo
    Mars Scorpio – Mars Leo
    Mercury Taurus – Leo
    Jupiter Capri – Jup Gemini
    Saturn Scorpio – Capricorn
    Uranus Sag – Capricorn
    Neptune Cap – Cap
    Pluto Libra – Scorpio

    MAIN ASPECTS:
    Mars conjunct Moon (Leo)
    Venus conjunct Moon (Leo)
    Sun sextile Mercury
    Moon sextile Mercury
    Mars sextile Asc
    Mars quintile Venus
    Sun quincunx Pluto
    Mars squares Mercury
    Venus squares Mercury

    THANKS

  18. I’m fascinated by your analysis of the Saturn Chiron conjunction; this was the prominent aspect in my Draconic Synastry with my now ex-husband. I had a strong feeling that it represented the ultimate soul destiny of our relationship and reading your interpretation just now was like having a fog lifted for me in understanding how. He was the Saturn and always lamented that I somehow made him feel inadequate, as the Chiron I was definitely sticking around in the hope my devotion would see him heal the deep wounds that afflict him one day but, yes, it was just too uncomfortable for him to be confronted with the notion of having issues in the first place. I have since come to accept that my role in his life was never to heal him and I have grown from the experience, just as you predicted!
    In the Draconic synastry of a since relationship I have a set of Chiron conjunctions, mine to his Venus and his to my Jupiter. Chiron is prominent in my Natal chart so the healer has tended to play significant roles in my important relationships and I am again compelled by a feeling that these Draconic conjunctions are pointing somewhere. I wonder what your take is on Chiron conjuncting those planets, as opposed to Saturn?

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