The Astrology of Relating

by Hank Friedman

Among the common questions that people bring to astrologers are, "when will I meet a partner?", "who is compatible with me" and/or "how should I deal with my relationship?". If we take too simple an approach, we will not take into account enough factors to assess these questions accurately.

After all, there are several things to consider when assessing love potentials: each person, their individual cycles, and the quality of their interaction.

1. Both parties own relationship patterns.

Astrological charts can reveal what a person needs in a partner, what their level of commitment is, the nature of their sex drive, whether they want someone similar or dissimilar to themselves, etc. All of these can help greatly in evaluating whether two people will function well together. E.g. if a client gives you the chart of a potential partner which indicates an attraction to those who are foreign, and client is of the same culture, then further explorations into their compatibility is unnecessary.

2. The unfolding cycles of both parties.

There are cycles that indicate windows of openness to relationship, and others that indicate "cloudy weather" not at all ideal for starting a relationship. Unless the nature of time, for each person, is taken into account, wise guidance about moving forward in a relationship cannot be done.

3. The interaction between the two charts.

The aspects between two people's charts is the most accurate method of assessing the nature and quality of two peoples' interaction. No other method (composite charts, kuta analysis) even comes close. Therefore, one must look at these astrological interactions, using tight orbs, in order to assess how two people will relate to each other.

It might seem that one can ask the question: "Are we soulmates?"

But what if the timing is wrong for either person?

Or if one person has personal relationship karma that prevents any soulmate relationship from happening?

Or if either person is drawn to the wrong people, e.g. people who are attracted to those like their opposite-sex parent, in order to work out childhood issues?

Here's an example of a full compatibility assessment:

[Note: in actual work, I would of course go into much greater detail than this short article permits, especially in the third section.]

Tom Hanks met Rita Wilson in 1981 at the end of his first marriage, they fell in love and began dating in 1985, and married on April 20, 1988. They developed a very deep and lasting relationship (both standing by his first wife during her decline and death from cancer).

To analyze their charts, let's go through each step:

1. Each person's relationship patterns.

The Western Approach:

In Rita's Western chart, there are no planets in either the 7th or 1st houses, but in what I call the "We houses" (the houses of one-to-one inter-relationship, houses 5, 6, 7, & 8) she has two planets, the Moon and Uranus in Leo in the 8th house (note that I use the Equal House System for all of my Western astrological work).

I interpret this to mean that she has the ability to make a strong commitment (loyal Leo), is very independent (Uranus conjunct Moon in a Fire sign), is passionate in relationship, and very strong willed (the Moon is tightly square to her Sun/Neptune conjunction -- all in fixed signs). The trine from Saturn to the Moon stabilizes and tempers her intense autonomy.

In Tom's Western chart, again the 7th and 1st houses are empty, and the only planet he has in his We houses is Mars in Pisces in the 6th house. Mars is greatly softened by being in Pisces, while still being passionate. Additionally, his Mars is setting and a bucket handle (both of which makes it focal and gives it strength), so he's much more able to be direct with his partner than most people with a Piscean Mars. Mars has an exact trine with the Sun in Cancer, meaning that he identifies with and places much importance in his ability to empathize and nurture others, and will do so with his partner.

The relative absence of planets in his We houses means that he is likely to put a lot of energy into endeavors other than his relationship.

Are their individual relationship patterns compatible?

For one, the independence in both charts bodes well, as long as they both make time for each other. Neither is looking for a "glommer" (clinging partner) in relationship. Their shared passionate natures also looks good. And the fact that Tom's only planet in a We house is in a Yin sign probably will help him flow with and accept his partner's strong Yang (fire sign) relationship nature.

Additionally, and here we almost get into interaspects, his own Moon and Uranus in Leo can synchronize with and "burn with" her Leo Moon and Uranus, giving even more rapport, as will the fact that they both have bucket-handle Mars in Pisces and can therefore both be quite empathic and caring.

So yes, their individual patterns and natures, as assessed by Western methods, indicate a sufficient degree of compatibility.

The Vedic Approach.

Rita's Vedic chart reveals very different relationship patterns from her Western chart --but not necessarily contradictory. Think of both methods, used in combination, as painting a picture with more depth and detail.

Her Saturn in the 1st house -- aspecting the 7th house -- indicates a disinclination to be in relationship (and she was married for the first time at age 31) and the need for the relationship to be "spacious", i.e. with room for her autonomy, if it is to last.

Her Mars in the 4th house -- also aspecting the 7th house by Vedic methods -- indicates the ability to make a commitment in marriage, and is a classical Kuja Dosha pattern (Mars influencing the 7th house) which further indicates that she would be more successful in relationship after the age at which Mars matures (at age 28).

Venus becomes the primary significator of spouse and marriage because it is the 7th lord as well as the universal significator for both. Venus is in its weakest sign (Virgo) but fortunately the dispositor of its sign Virgo, Mercury, is with Venus, and is exalted in Virgo, creating a Neecha Bhagha yoga (i.e. which greatly ameliorates the weakness). As a result, both her spouse and her own relationship patterns may be very sensitive, but this sensitivity can paradoxically enable her to have a great relationship and wonderful partner.

Tom's Vedic chart shows powerful commitment patterns (a strong Jupiter aspecting the 7th house from the 1st house, and Mars in the 7th house). The fact that he too has Kuja Dosha enables their personal feistiness in relating to go over well with each other, and neither will be overwhelmed by the intensity of their partner.

Tom's 7th lord, Saturn in Scorpio, is in a Parivartana Yoga (mutual reception, i.e. swapping signs/houses) with Mars in Aquarius, giving both planets greater strength and augmenting Saturn's relationship with the 7th house. The additional retrograde strength of Saturn indicates that Tom will have a partner who is powerful in her own right.

Are these Vedic personal relationship patterns compatible? Certainly the influence of Saturn in both charts on relationship -- we both need space-- as well as Mars -- we are both intense -- create a commonality of approach that is both understandable and even needed by each of them, but more importantly, the fact that both can make a strong commitment to relationship is of inordinate value to both of them.

That's one of the reasons that their marriage has been so long lasting in a sub-culture (Motion Pictures) where relationship longevity is very rare.

2. Both parties unfolding cycles.

The Western Approach

When Rita met Tom, she had the progressed Moon transiting her 7th house, which is a likely time for meeting a spouse. The year that she started dating Tom, 1985, was one of the most pivotal years in her life, because she was experiencing Pluto conjunct Sun (Pluto-Sun transits are the most transformative of all transits) and Pluto square Moon, and to add further intensity, Uranus semisquare Sun. On their wedding day, Saturn was exactly transiting her Ascendant, with Uranus nearby. Of great interest is that what I consider to be the premier marriage progression (Venus/Sun progressed-to-natal conjunction, either way) was just about to happen a few months later.

When Tom met Rita, the primary transits were to Venus (Neptune opposed Venus and Pluto trine Venus), but when he started dating her, his transits and progressions weren't particularly noteworthy,

Tom, on their wedding day, however, was experiencing the aforementioned life-changing Pluto square Sun, as well as the karmically binding Saturn conjunct Node.

It may very well be that Rita's cycles were both clearer and more indicative of a relationship because she was single when they met and started dating, and Tom was married. Tom had to let go of his marriage in order to develop a relationship with Rita.

The Vedic Approach

When Rita met Tom, she was in her Mercury dasha, and Mercury is beautifully placed in the Navamsha chart (the divisional chart indicative of marriage conditions). She both dated and married Tom during her Ketu dasha, and Ketu is also excellently placed in her Navamsha, and its dispositor is strong (one always inspects the dispositor in evaluating Rahu and Ketu). The fact that Ketu is the only planet occupying her 7th house in her birth chart further substantiates the divine timing of her marriage.

Tom met Rita, started dating her, and married her all shortly after the onset of his Venus dasha. Venus is very powerful in Tom's natal chart, in the 10th house in its own sign and retrograde (i.e. doubly strong), and forms a Malavya Pancha Maha Purusha yoga (essentially indicating a Super-Venus).

In his Navamsha, Venus' retrograde strength prevails, and Venus is well-placed again in the 10th house.*

Therefore, by Vedic methods, it is very clear that both of them met, dated, and married under excellent "cosmic weather" for relationship. (And since the Vedic proverb is, if you begin something during good conditions, it is likely to prevail, their marriage has lasted a very long time.)

3. The interaction between the charts.

The Western Approach.

As I have stated above, the most important Western method of ascertaining compatibility, by far, is the evaluation of the interaspects between the two charts. In an actual session, I would delineate all of the major interaspects in much more detail than I can do here.

When we examine Rita and Tom's interaspects, we apply a very important principle: Since people do want to get along, when a planet in a person's chart has a positive aspect to any planet in the other person's chart (or to the Ascendant), that planet will feel comfortable (because it has a friend).

Remarkably, every single planet in Rita's chart meets this criteria (using 3 degree orbs) and all planets in Tom's chart except Pluto also meets this criteria. In other words, every planet in her chart has a friend in his chart, and vice versa (except his Pluto). Astrologers with experience in chart comparison will understand that this is a rare occurrence and indicates an exceptional degree of compatibility.

[Note: for those Western astrologers who place great credence in Composite charting, Rita and Tom's composite chart is very problematic, and not at all representative of their compatibility.]

The Vedic Approach.

(Note: While I revere Vedic astrology for many purposes, I do not find its compatibility methods on par with Western astrology.)

If we use the oft-applied Kuta method, which examines the compatibility between both of their Moons by Nakshatra, the result is very poor. Out of a possible 36 points, they only get 12. Vedic astrologers relying on this method would discourage them from getting married, and they would be wrong. My teacher, and some of the other Vedic astrologers in the U.S., counsel not to over-rely on the Kuta method as it reveals only a part of the compatibility picture.

If we apply a Tajika compatibility method, we do get better results. (Tajika is a school of Vedic astrology much closer to Western astrology in flavor).

Using the Tajika method, we examine the compatibility of the signs occupied by both Suns, both Moons, both Venuses, and both Ascendants, and since 3 out of the planetary 4 pairs are in compatible signs, compatibility is indeed indicated.

* End Note: The fact that Venus in the Navamsha is in Virgo (its weakest sign) in Tom's chart is of much less importance because the house placement of the dasha lord, and its exceptional strength in the natal chart both prevail as much more important considerations. [However, as my Vedic guru Hart de Fouw always emphasizes, the strength and weakness of a planet will always both manifest, and the weakness of Venus in the Navamsha undoubtedly manifested during its dasa in the health crises and death of Tom's first wife.]


In summary, whether you employ Western astrology, Vedic astrology, or both, to be really accurate in relationship analysis, you need to take into account each person's own relationship themes, each person's timing (the cycles they are journeying through), and the inter-relationship between the two charts. To leave any of these out is to do an incomplete evaluation.

I hope this article is helpful to you.


The importance of having the exact birth times for chart comparisons

One day, a client who was scheduled for a chart comparison called me three times, each time changing her partner's birth time (but not birth day or place). As I did each of the calculations over, I watched the compatibility go from good to bad to good again, all with one birth date!

It affirmed what I always knew, that one cannot assess compatibility with any real accuracy unless one knows both partners' birth times. Without accurate birth times, you have to ignore the Moon and Rising Sign, all of the house positions of the planets, all of the house rulers, and all of the transits to the Moon and angles, and all of the dashas.

Some might argue that there is still good information to be gleaned by the other factors, and they would be right. Some very significant clashes or harmonies between the two charts would show up. But still, too much would be missing to really be able to rely on the evaluation. (E.g. each individual's relationship patterns would be impossible to ascertain. )

On a related note, Vedic astrology -- and the famous Renaissance astrologer J.B. Morin -- affirm a fundamental truth: That the planets in the 7th house (or in the opposite 1st house), and the ruler of the 7th house are much more accurate descriptors of a relationship than the universal significator Venus. These factors change throughout each day, and that's what makes them more specific and more accurate predictors. [When Venus, however, is lord of the 7th house, or in the 1st or 7th houses, it becomes the major significator of relationship.]

Vedic astrologers would also include as important relationship significators any planets that aspect the 7th house using Vedic rules (e.g. Mars in the 12th or 4th, Saturn in the 10th or 5th, and Jupiter in the 3rd or 11th, using Sidereal Whole Sign Houses.), and they would also look at planets with or aspecting the 7th lord.

As I have said in previous articles, one of the main reasons why astrology gained a poor reputation was because astrologers had wrong or no birth times, and could not produce accurate descriptions or predictions. If we want to preserve astrology's value, we must use precise birth times. (I even published an article in the ISAR journal on Astrological Techniques and Uncertain Birth Times, and revised it for this website.)

[I must end this article with a tribute to my Vedic guru Hart de Fouw, without whom I would still be lost in the Vedic astrological wilderness.]

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