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 itwe 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 Librawe’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 notone 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
[ad]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 pleasantbut 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 aspectsendless 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, Saturnwhat’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 relationshipsif 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.