Keys to Chart Synthesis
By Hank Friedman
In truth, only by letting each chart "speak to us" and reveal it's messages can we truly synthesize and understand the chart. That's because each chart has its own internal order, its own structure, interrelationships, and dynamics.
By paying attention to important elements of each chart, we can begin to at least start down the road of "hearing the chart" before attempting to speak the chart.
A. The first key to synthesis is the First House.
The Ascendant is the Gate and the Lord of the Ascendant the Gatekeeper, and the residents of the First House those sitting in front of the Gate. As such, everything that influences these three factors affects the person very strongly.
1. Self Expression
The gate controls both the person's self expression and what and how they receive from life. Astrologically speaking, the gate controls what planets get to freely express themselves and what planets do not.
For example, if a person has an Earth sign rising, they often control themselves or hold things in, and as a result, may not express their Fire sign planets as freely or easily. Similarly, a Water sign rising person may feel quite sensitive, and their Fire sign planets may feel disruptive, even to themselves, but since Water is not as in control as Earth is, their Fire sign planets do come out.
An Air sign rising person may, on the other hand, feel uncomfortable with intimacy (Water) or aggression (Fire) depending upon all of the planetary placements. And a Fire sign rising person is likely to express and interact, even to the fear (Water) or frustration (Earth) of their more conservative parts.
A gate that is closed keeps a person separate from life, while a gate that is too open, creates merging and loss of self. Some gates are more receptive, others more expressive. (Note: planets square to the gate can have a strong effect upon the gate, even if it is a source of inner conflict.)
A person with Neptune or Pisces rising, for example, has a very open and boundary-less gate, while a person with Taurus or Capricorn rising or Saturn rising has a gate that has strong boundaries and may be closed. A person with Aquarius or Uranus rising may have a gate that keeps them separate from others some of the time, feeling different or not belonging.
What a person believes about who they are is very compelling even if not accurate. The factors influencing the First House determine what a person believes about themselves. As such, they may over-identify with some planets and signs at the expense of others, literally splitting off from or silencing parts of themselves.
A person with a Fire sign rising may believe that they are extroverted, or should be, even if their primary planets are not. This may give rise to torment, confusion, and lack of realism or self acceptance.
Similarly, a person with Saturn in the First House may believe that caution is the way to be, at the expense of their more creative, adventurous, and expressive planets.
B. The second key to synthesis are focal planets and signatures.
When a planet becomes very strong in a person's chart, or very influential (e.g. aspecting many other planets, especially the Lights), then its themes predominate in the person's life.
What makes a planet strong in a chart are:
1. At an angle (z, c, b) to the Ascendant within 5 degrees . This is the strongest factor of all.
2. Alone in half of the sky (not necessarily by hemisphere), i.e. two houses empty on either side from a planet.
3. Alone in a hemisphere.
4. Aspecting the Sun or Moon or Ascendant within three degrees. (Except combust for Mercury or Venus.)
5. In its sign of exaltation or rulership (but for the outer three planets, I would give different rules: Uranus is strongest in Fire signs, Neptune is strongest in Water signs, and Pluto is strongest in Fire signs).
6. The Moon is strong in a night chart, especially when bright and/or in Water/Earth signs. The Sun is strong in a day chart, especially in Fire signs.
C. Strong Aspects.
Strong aspects indicate the strongest dynamics in a chart, and the places of greatest integration and awareness.
In order for an aspect to be really strong, it should be between exact and 2 degrees orb. (Significantly less strong but still active are aspects from 2+ to 5 degrees orb, getting weaker as the orb gets wider.)
If a planet has no major aspect (conjunct/opposed within 8 degrees, trine/square within 7 degrees, sextile within 4 degrees), then the person often acts as if that part of them doesn't exist, or just loses contact with that part of themselves. That's why an unaspected Sun is so potent an issue, because the person loses track of their core.
On the other hand, if a person has many strong aspects, they are likely to have a lot of energy coursing through them, whether it be emotional (Water trines), athletic (Fire trines or squared to Earth), productive (Earth and/or Fire aspects), or mental (Air or some Mutable aspects).
D. Other Predominant Themes in a Chart, and their synergy.
If a person has many planets in a specific house or sign or aspect or mode (cardinal, fixed, mutable), or trinal house (e.g. Water house), or hemisphere, etc. and there are not strong influences to the contrary, then the themes represented by that predominance are major in the person's life.
More importantly, if different chart themes reinforce each other, the pattern becomes clearer and more certain. E.g. if house themes such as Sun in the Tenth, reinforce sign themes such as many planet in Earth signs, and Saturn is in the First house, then the person is likely to overvalue work at the expense of everything else.
E. Non-Astrological Factors.
It is vital to remember that socialization, economics, education, religion, culture, age, gender, political orientation, health, genetics, and early environmental influences have tremendous effects on the expression of each person's chart.
Opportunities are not equally available to all people, neither are life challenges equally distributed. A person with a learning disability and little education must be approached differently than a person with two Ph Ds.
Astrology is in its infancy with regard to exploring gender differences in the expression of chart elements, but I've found worlds of difference in how factors manifest in a male vs a female chart.
For example, Earth sign men more often veer towards emotional repression, while Earth sign women towards selfless service. Or, an Air sign Moon may often be a crippling factor in a male's chart towards making a commitment to a relationship, but not in a woman's chart.
And cycles, like transits, can only operate within the context of a person's chart and within the context of their life. A strong Jupiter transit may give Bill Gates several more million dollars, but not the average person.
Finally, the chart is the starting point. What a person does with it depends a great deal on both how they are treated by life, and what they are made of, deep down.
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