We’ve distorted the meaning of the word “essential” in popular language to mean something that is absolutely necessary. In truth, the meaning is the opposite—if something is essential or “of the essence” it is something that can never be taken away or distorted. It has nothing to do with need.
I think of the world “essence” when I deal with the Sun in all forms of astrology. Renaissance astrologers referred to the Sun as the “heart” of the chart, without which the chart could have no warmth or light or definition. The Sun is also a consolidating energy, as anyone who has ever seen it working in transits and progressions can testify. A transit or progression can sit there, inactive, for months, and then things blow when the transiting Sun hits the relevant points. (I give an assignment to my beginning students which asks them to watch for transits of the Sun and Mars over natal, progressed, and transiting aspects of their own charts. You learn about astrology very quickly that way.)
What Does the Sun Represent?
Now, I’m the first one to admit that the Sun is not an easy thing to define within the dynamics of the chart. It’s the essence, the lifeblood, but what does it represent? The Moon is readily defined, though she has her hidden meanings. We know about Mars and Venus, Mercury and Jupiter. We have a good idea about Saturn’s issues and we’ve learned not to mess with the outer planets. But what do we know of the Sun?
We often think the Sun is related to “I,” to identity. We say, “I am a Virgo” or an Aries, but aside from defining a birth month, what does that mean? Furthermore, the “I” is ever-evolving. I’m sure not one of us defines ourselves the same way we did five years ago.
The Sun’s Function
[ad]I like to think that the Sun has a dual function in the chart, and one of them is to portray the essence of the human being. It represents that eternally creative life force which is our core Self, in its truest expression. The evolving “I,” the one that evokes and embraces change, is represented by the progressed Ascendant as it moves through time. We are both eternal and evolving through the experience of our material reality.
The Sun’s second function is as creator, and as the consolidating force in life. The Sun is the engine of the chart, moving it forward, creating, with the Moon, the experiences we need for our own evolution. The Sun brings things together in our lives, triggers them off, much the way it works on transits and progressions. When the Sun touches another planet, we become aware of that planet and are primed to learn our lessons regarding the function and meaning of that planet in our lives.
I tend to think that there is nothing malefic about the Sun. Even if it is connected with the darkest pile-up of planets you can imagine, the Sun’s presence there would be hopeful, because there is always the possibility of light and awareness. With a hard aspect, the awareness might be hard to come by, but the possibility would be there, unlike the flat-out darkness and destruction that might exist if the Sun were absent. If we have the Sun attached to an outer planet, that Sun is trying to help us learn about life through Uranian or Neptunian or Plutonian eyes, and to understand that those forces exist within us and are meant to be used consciously.
The Sun in Synastry
In synastry, I never worry about hard aspects between the individual Suns. All that means is that two people have very different ways of processing experience, and may come to different conclusions about shared experience. But it carries none of the discomfort and emotional alienation that can happen when the two Moons are at crossroads, for example. With the Sun, the stimulation that occurs with hard aspects can be very creative, and cause us to seek out new ways of interacting and solving problems.
The Sun can be a great mentor, too—if the Sun is attached to any planet, its life-weaving creative power may cause us to draw people who represent those planets into our lives, to show us the way. Sun/Jupiter will be lucky with teachers or spiritual guides; Sun/Pluto may draw from both sides of the legal divide to learn its lessons; Sun/Neptune may draw the artistic or the helpless, or even those who spend time on or in the water. In all cases, it’s the Sun bringing awareness of the planet, not the planet acting on the Sun. The Sun is the center, and includes the whole of potential. As the essence, it cannot be manipulated or maneuvered.
A Virgo will always count her change before she gets on the bus. An Aries may knock you down as you both call for a cab, then give it to you once he’s realized his mistake. But expecting these instinctive impulses to change is insanity. They are both processing life, getting there, the only way they know how. The house will show the area of life experience this force is most readily expressed in, but the essence will not change.
The Essence of Relating: The Composite Sun
The composite chart is a thing of beauty, when read correctly. The Sun in a composite chart represents the essence, the creative drive, that is the outcome of two energies joining forces. By house and sign, it will show the essential purpose of a relationship and what it is meant to illustrate to the two beings involved in it. Aspects to the Sun will illustrate the major developmental challenges two people will experience within this lifetime.
The Sun in Composite Houses
Composite Sun in the First House: A lucky place for the Sun to be, as it tells us that this is a couple whose energy will pour easily and naturally into the relationship itself. It’s a strong signature, and one that is likely to weather the typical storms of partnership. These people are very much wrapped up in ‘we’ and ‘us’ and are usually happier gaining identity from the partnership. They usually share a strong feeling that they are meant to be together. They usually portray a united front to others and are very clear about where they are going as a team.
Life together is seen as an adventure, and there is a great deal of strength gained from this. The challenge is to learn to be inclusive as a couple, and to balance the work and home life with other partnership needs.
Composite Sun in the Second House: With the Sun in the second house, we value what we have together. We may be together for the express purpose of sharing our talents with one another and with the world. We may be a natural team that has something definite to do together. Our great strength is in our shared values and the way we express them. We may be keen on acquisition and on broadening and extending our shared resources. If we’re lucky, we have a sense that the world is ours for the taking, as long as we keep our heads and watch our pennies. We may also have a passion for nurturing and taking care of our Earth’s natural resources. We will enjoy making a contribution to our lives together, and with others—no matter if it is of the body, mind, or spirit.
On the whole, the Sun here is practical, and wants to accomplish something concrete with the relationship. Challenges can come through conflicts regarding creative pursuits or organizations, groups, and peers. There is a need to join personal resources with the resources of others—to share.
Composite Sun in the Third House: Our lives will be about making connections, whether spiritual, mental or physical. We may be the couple who talks constantly, who make a point of keeping in touch all day with one another, and who are constantly darting in and out of the neighbors’ and cousins’ houses. Or this may be a relationship that works primarily on the intellectual plane, where the exchange of ideas is the utmost priority. There may be an emphasis on movement itself, and the acquisition of knowledge. There is usually great curiosity about the way the world is put together, and there may be an emphasis on travel and discovery. They may be a force in the local environment or community.
Challenges come when one or the other partner wants to break through and experience the greater world “out there,” when the need for information and contact stretches into a search for meaning. Conflicts can come from the work environment and/or health issues.
Composite Sun in the Fourth House: The emphasis may be on home and family, and the laying down of roots, but it may also be that the relationship is inner-directed and needs a respite from the world at large. There may be a tendency to want to stay in rather than socialize, and it’s the indicator of a couple whose individuals find a great deal of comfort with, and in, one another.
Challenges come from the outside world—career issues, other people invading the “sacred space”—or from the need of each partner to individuate. Composite Sun in the Fourth House is one of the easier placements for traditional relationships, not so much for same sex couples or other relationships outside the mainstream. There may be periods of cyclical withdrawal.
Composite Sun in the Fifth House: This is the “fun” couple who may be together just for the sake of having a good time. This is a very dynamic, expressive couple, and you won’t see them hiding their light under a bushel. They may pursue creative fields together, or the emphasis may be on procreation—many couples whose main focus is raising children have the Sun in composite fifth.
Challenges may come when they can’t get a handle on just what it is they have to contribute to their world, and they may have difficulties making themselves understood well enough to fit in with others. Another challenge is in learning that they can’t do what they want to all the time—there are rules and boundaries which must be respected in order to fit into society in some way. There may be challenges that come from sharing their value system with others who may not agree with them or understand them.
The Composite Sun in the Sixth House: An interesting placement for a composite Sun. The emphasis here is on balance, on wholeness and healing. The Sixth House can be a crisis house, and those couples with composite Sun in the Sixth may be prone to experiencing one challenge after another in their lives.
The challenge comes from needing to integrate the inner and the outer worlds of the relationship. They may seem like one thing to others, and another in private. They may feel like scapegoats, put upon and oppressed by others, or they may have trouble establishing meaning in the life they’ve created for themselves. There may be an emptiness until some kind of spiritual focus enters their lives and provides context for their existence.
On the other hand, couples with this configuration often have an emphasis on work and service—the challenge then is in finding the right type of vehicle for their actions. However, they may focus solely on just “getting it right” as a couple and defining their lives for themselves.
The Composite Sun in the Seventh House: Usually, this placement goes one of two ways. Either the couple is very out there and passionate about connecting with others in some way (usually very warm and charming together) and/or they spend their time trying to figure out who they are by finding out who they are not (defining themselves against those who surround them). Depending on the Sun, they may be aggressive in determining their territory.
With the Seventh House emphasis, they may spend a lot of time inadvertently falling into the shadow side of the partnership—coming up against behavior which may be undermining the partnership in some way. The Sun’s light will go a long way towards working out the kinks in the relationship shadow, allowing them to become progressively closer and stronger over time. They need to find out who they really are together—outside of family ties and outside of what society expects their role to be.
The Composite Sun in the Eighth House: Couples with the composite Sun in the Eighth House will experience profound inner transformation together, either through intimacy or through experiences which will challenge the very existence of the partnership. They may be brought back from the brink many times in many ways—there may be outer influences on the partnership, there may be challenges to financial stability, there may be profound psychological changes in store for one or both parties. These are the couples who may lose themselves in the throes of partnership, and then find out that they are not who they thought they were.
Challenges also come from trying to maintain an individuality whilst engaging fully in the deepest intimacy. There is a possibility that they are enticed by what is occult and considered taboo, all in the interest of tearing down unneeded boundaries to redefine the landscape. It may become difficult when one or both parties become uncomfortable with the constant intensity and prefer something more sanctioned by the group/society, or when individual creativity and self-expression becomes an issue. Children, also, may be problematic—the demands of raising children getting in the way of the kind of deep psychological transformation this position requires.
Composite Sun in the Ninth House: A Ninth House composite Sun is a relationship that is built on mutual goals, dreams, and visions. The purpose of the relationship is to explore as far as possible and break old rules about the way the world should be. They are more interested in what unifies us than what separates us, and the composite Sun in the fiery Ninth can be endlessly stimulating and forward-moving. They will break conventions and break rules without a second thought, and base their lives on a perpetual search for meaning and higher purpose.
The drawback to composite Sun in the Ninth may be the search for searching’s sake, with a lack of willingness to commit to the partnership in the fear of tying it down and holding back its potential. The couples who live together for years and still have a terror of marriage are often Ninth House types, who feel much more comfortable with a window open in the room. Challenges come because life may not always be as stimulating as these relationships require, and the hard work that comes with grounding ideals in the real world may be tedious enough to weaken the partnership.
Composite Sun in the Tenth House: The composite Sun in the Tenth House is another one of those “easy” placements for composite Sun, because the Sun is very happy up there and prominent in its noon position. If the Sun is right on the M.C., these couples may be prominent in their society or in their field. The Tenth House represents our status in the world, and with composite Sun there we are very happy being seen as a couple, and willing to take our place as leaders in the community. Usually, there are few external challenges, unless family loyalty conflicts with the natural flow of the partnership. Others see us as a couple very easily, and are often shocked if there are any difficulties brewing under the surface.
Usually the challenges come from a lack of real emotional honesty and intimacy—in the pursuit of an externally oriented life, we may lose what emotional grounding we once had. We also may lose sight of who we really are, believing in our own public mask. Some couples may find that there is too much emphasis on work and status, and not enough on the emotional glue and intimate experience that holds the relationship together.
Composite Sun in the Eleventh House: The composite Sun in the eleventh house can be a very friendly placement. This may be the very social couple who are surrounded by friends and are extremely active in all kinds of group activities. They also may be the crusaders on the block, the ones passing out the Amnesty International leaflets and asking you to sign petitions. As opposed to the Ninth House Sun couple, who are more interested in structured study of more established spiritual systems, the Eleventh House couple may be involved in diverse New Age explorations and alternative lifestyles.
The focus of the Eleventh House is on how things should be rather than what is, and they may run into problems when the reality of their lifestyle does not match their dreams and/or ambitions. They may be so busy with common causes that they ignore individual needs, and may not be realistic about what they really have to contribute as a couple. They may be shocked to find out, after years of friendship and “getting along,” that the relationship did not provide the depth and intimacy that one or both parties may need.
Composite Sun in the Twelfth House: Many people are wary of the Twelfth House—the infamous “House of Self-Undoing” in old astrology. The Twelfth House governs places of seclusion and introspection: hospitals, prisons, monasteries. Understanding this is the key to its function. Those places, unpleasant though they may seem to us in our “freedom above all” culture, represent places where we must retreat in order to become whole again, in order to heal. When we have a Twelfth House emphasis, and particularly when the Sun is there, there is something that needs to be fixed, adjusted. And that something in the Twelfth House is our alignment with our true fate or destiny: that thing that we were born to do.
Couples with a composite Twelfth House share a specific karma that needs realignment; something is out of kilter and needs to be put right again. Twelfth House couples often have a specific thing that needs to be accomplished. They may stand as representatives of an archetype for others in their community, large or small. They may have sacrifices of one kind or another asked of them throughout their lives. They may have to give up their small plans for themselves to take on a bigger role. Most of all, they will be asked to walk their talk as far as their beliefs are concerned. The Twelfth House couple may be more inclined to turn to spirituality than either partner would have done so alone.
Troubles come when perfectionism makes “walking the talk” impossible. They may have a hard time harnessing their beliefs to their actions, and may think nothing is worth the effort. More than any other solar composite position, there is a tendency for these couples to break up and move on once the specific lesson is learned, and they have fixed what was meant to be fixed in the way they express themselves in their daily lives. There also is a tendency for Twelfth House Sun couples to wallow in their discomfort, or choose escapist behavior, rather than make the effort to change.
I am a big fan of the Sun (and the Moon), and am often saddened to see that they are no longer considered “sexy” in the astrological lexicon. Captivated by each minor aspect to each minor point in the chart, we often don’t spend as much time as we should interpreting the lights and their function in the chart. But as we gloss over the lights and jump to the Vertex and/or aspects to Chiron, we are missing, in fact, the essence of the chart. We are missing what the chart feels like from the inside. To reveal the true essence of your relationships—and who you are within your relationships—composite Sun placement is the key.
How does the Sun function in your composite chart? Let us know in comments below.