One of the more confusing issues in astrology is how synastry and composite charts work together. Sometimes, they just don’t seem to support each other. The synastry between you and another may be fabulous, but the composite chart is a nightmare. Or the synastry is underwhelming, but the composite chart works beautifully. You’d think the energies would always be similar. But then, you’d be overlooking the complexity that makes astrology such a nuanced art.
First, it helps to understand the difference between synastry and composite charts. Synastry describes the effect you and your partner have on each other. It is a comparison of two charts that analyzes the contacts between your planets/angles and your partner’s planets/angles. This is the initial energy that pulls two people together (or keeps them apart); it’s often analyzed during the initial stages of a relationship. The composite chart is the combined energies between two people. It describes the relationship itself, and is most appropriate to analyze once a relationship has actually gotten off the ground. The composite chart describes the relationship’s potential for longevity (or not).
Certain synastric themes can be repeated in the composite chart. For example, Ted has Mars/Saturn sitting together (in Aries) and they conjunct Liz’s Mars. She experiences him as controlling (his Saturn on her Mars), and is frustrated by his Saturn induced hesitation about being sexually aggressive. Ted finds her pushy and challenging (her Mars conjunct his Saturn/Mars). In their composite chart, these issues appear as composite Mars conjunct Saturn. They both experience the stop/go energy together. They may always be somewhat dissatisfied with their sex life.
But sometimes, issues that come up in the composite chart are brand new. You can have the most promising synastry with a new partner, but this promise falls flat in the composite. Maybe you both have intense Scorpio Moons. When you first meet, you feel that you’re both on the same page; you both have the need to lose yourselves in each other. But as the relationship progresses, there seems to be an emotional disconnect; it’s as if you can’t quite “feel” each other. Looking at the composite chart, you discover that the composite Moon is unaspected (it makes no connections to any other composite planets). There is an emotional blind spot between you.
[ad]The technical explanation is that the composite chart is the result of midpoints between each pair of natal planets (and house cusps). The mathematical midpoint between your Scorpio Moon (2 degrees Scorpio) and your partner’s Scorpio Moon (28 degrees Scorpio) would give you a composite Scorpio Moon of 15 degrees Scorpio. But it’s entirely possible, depending on the midpoints of all the other planetary pairs, for that composite Moon to make no other aspects. The initial Scorpio bonding that drew you together is still there, but you can’t quite get close to each other, no matter how much you want to.
Here’s another example: Stan’s Uranus in Leo forms a liberating trine to Beth’s Sun in Sagittarius, and her Uranus in Virgo trines his Sun in Taurus. They both gently encourage each other to be themselves, without pushing the issue. But the composite chart has a highly strung, anxiety-producing Sun/Uranus opposition. When they’re together, they have trouble staying together, and they get on each other’s nerves. The midpoint between Beth’s Sun and Stan’s Sun places the composite Sun (in Pisces) opposite the composite Uranus (in Virgo). Maybe all that liberating energy in their synastry is too much of a good thing for a long term union.
The idea of composite midpoints can be difficult to grasp (in relation to synastry). So I’ll borrow a quote from John Townley, the astrologer who introduced the idea of composite charts. Keeping in mind that each composite planet is the midpoint between two natal planets, he states (in his book “Composite Charts”) that composite planets are a “… phase shifting point where one person (usually unknowingly) hands the ball to the other with a mutual shift of energy …” It’s at this “point” where unexpected relationship issues can be revealed.
Bur if you’re getting hung up on the idea of midpoints, keep this fact about composite charts in mind, instead; the longer two people stay together, the stronger the composite energies become. When you are looking at the fate of a relationship, the composite chart is the deciding factor. Remember this, and you’ll understand the importance of the composite chart.
This doesn’t mean that challenging composite aspects are dealbreakers, (every composite chart has challenging aspects). But dealing with them is not the same as addressing synastry issues, because it requires the input of both partners. In other words, you may be dedicated to working on the issue, but if your partner isn’t, there’s not much you can do. Also, a challenging composite issue will always be active. You can find workarounds, but an unaspected composite Moon (for example) will always give two partners the sense that they don’t quite connect on a deep level. The best way to deal is to work with the chart as a whole; look to the supportive composite aspects for help. In the case of an unaspected Moon, see if the composite Mercury (how you communicate with each other) is receiving strong, positive aspects from other composite planets. Then you can talk things out, even if you don’t always connect on an emotional level.
On a brighter note, sometimes difficult synastry can result in a strong composite chart. This is the couple that seems totally ill-suited to each other yet somehow makes their relationship work. For example, here’s a classic “incompatible aspect”: Stella’s Moon in Leo squares Rob’s Sun in Taurus. Emotionally, she may be far too demanding for him. And his Moon in Gemini opposes her Sun in Sagittarius. But the resulting composite chart (depending on the degrees their natal Sun and Moon are in) could end up with a harmonious trine between the composite Pisces Sun and Cancer Moon. The tense synastric square and opposition (predominantly Fire and Air, with a touch of Earth) translate to a harmonious, watery trine. Sagittarius and Gemini are on the same axis (they balance each other out) and maybe Stella’s emotional demands are just what Rob needs to push him out of his rut (while his earthy Taurus Sun grounds her). The midpoints between their Suns and Moons result in domestic harmony. And just as challenging composite aspects build strength over time, so do positive ones.
The composite chart is what you get when you mix two synastry charts together. Sometimes, expected flavors will dominate. But other times, you get a brand new taste. It may be a delightful surprise, or you may not like the flavor at all. But that will be the flavor of your relationship, for better or worse.
“Composite Charts: The Astrology Of Relationships” by John Townley