The strange case of Synastry

I can’t recall how many times my Astro - friends asked me, what’s my sign, my Asc or my other planetary placements. Some of them are still running in reaction to my answers but this is not what concerns this article. These conversations are often funny as astrological stereotypes come into play sooner or later. But there is an aspect of these popular beliefs that might be, under conditions, dangerous and very misleading. And this is when they are taken seriously.

The danger that stereotypes hide, as in all cases, is that they over generalize characteristics and try to largely categorize people by fitting them into little boxes. Such views are also misleading because they provide easy and over simplified answers - hence creating a super simplified image of how Astrology works. Being simple and being simplified are of course two very different things. One of the basic principles in Astrology is that every chart, thus every person, is unique; a principal that by itself abolishes generalities and any kind of stereotypes that may have been created on any level, whether they concern Sun-signs, planetary placements or aspects. This is the primal point of this article.

Stereotypes, even astrological ones, are met in daily basis: “You’re a woman, so you must look like a model, get married and have 10 kids.” “You’re a man so you must become a millionaire and act like Rambo”. “You’re a Scorpio, so you are mysterious and desirable. You’re a Libra: of course you love harmony and it’s impossible to make a decision. You’re a Leo? You are the best ever”. And next usually comes something like: “You’re a Scorpio/Capricorn etc so you couldn’t possibly get along with a Leo /Gemini etc” (and so on) “BUT your Moon/Venus…is in X sign/aspect to X planet in X sign, so you might get along after all”.

The summary for the reader’s information is: it would be unusual to get along with anybody and you should be getting along with everybody. Confused, yet?

I think it is obvious that there is something really wrong with the above suggestions. And how come a match made in stereotype heaven, ends up in divorce? The answer is simple: They have nothing to do with reality, or astrology.

Human relationships are complicated. They are complicated because two different personalities must be attracted to each other and get along at the same time. Nature’s law is that opposites attract; but if they have nothing in common, they will not get along. So, opposites, as the astrological aspect of Opposition shows, would be attracted, but with conflict, often called passion, and only for a brief period of time. On the other hand if someone tried to get two magnets of same electric charge to get together he’d hit a wall: they won’t be attracted to each other no matter what anybody does. This might be the point where the phrase “impossible relationships” was generated. Same things are not attracted to each other and opposites do not last long. It seems that there is no astrological or even philosophical answer to this puzzle.

The truth is that while I’m unable (or reluctant) to give a plausible philosophical answer to relationship matters, there is a most useful astrological tool called Synastry that can provide insight and advise. Synastry, (Syn+Astra, means putting “Stars” together) is the study of the relationship between people.

Synastry as mentioned at the beginning of this article, is also often applied in a simplified way, that sometimes all it concludes is stereotypes and the comparison of positions and aspects between two natal charts.

Traditionally though, Synastry was a finely worked study which included exotic stuff(!), like for instance the study of Temperament and Manner of the natives and its objective was to find the circumstance that would create a balance between the necessary attraction (differences) and similarities. Furthermore this was done in ways that would give the opportunity to each member of the relationship to grow and evolve.

Do it like … yellow-blue Macaw parrot! 

Those colorful Macaw Parrots mate for life. I am not aware of how they are able to distinguish their perfect mates among all the others. It seems they might know things we neglect. They are considered to be very smart; perhaps we can be taught something important by them. But since speaking Parrot-ish is not yet one of my abilities, I will try to briefly give a picture of the way Synastry is handled traditionally on initial level and a few personal thoughts on the matter.

The first step is to check the natal charts separately. If we are unaware of each person’s nature and needs we are missing the most important part of Synastry: it takes two to tango. The Traditional study of a natal chart begins with the assessment of Temperament. You can read more about this matter in “The Real Astrology”, chapter 11* and about the assessment in “The Real Astrology Applied”, chapter 5*.

Temperament is the basis of a nativity. This is the ground upon which the individual personality will manifest. There are 4 temperaments:

*Sanguine - the airy type, which is Hot and Moist. 
*Choleric - the fiery type, which is Hot and Dry.
*Melancholic - the earthy type, which is Cold and Dry.
*Phlegmatic - the watery type, which is Cold and Moist.

Some of these types have one quality in common, for example Sanguine and Choleric are both hot, while Melancholic and Phlegmatic share the Cold part. Some of them have opposite qualities: nothing in common.

For the sake of our coveted balance research, let’s make an experiment: what will happen if you throw water (cold and moist) to a fire (hot and dry)? Water will take the fire out. And the water will evaporate. This is an example of opposites that attract. This attraction is the manifestation of the need for balance. And this is why they do not last, because they can’t properly mix, they somehow take each other out.

Experiment number 2: throw a bucket of water into water. What do you have then? Lots of water as suspected. No reaction, nothing that would imply the existence of any action- utter lack of attraction.

Until now we have seen that exact opposites may attract and produce action, but they cancel each other out, while the exact same elements do not react at all.

That leaves us with the elements that share one of their qualities, so they have something common to glue them together and they have the other quality opposite so that they may be attracted and react. A sanguine and a phlegmatic would share the moist part for instance and have the hot/cold attraction. Then, we must check how each native’s Temperament works itself out – which will be different for every chart- the Manner and the elements in each chart and so on.

Complicating things again. 

Now that things became clearer I thought it was time to complicate them again! Even when we’ve checked those important factors, there still seems (to me) that something important is missing. After intense meditation on the matter and an increasing headache, I’ve come also to consider the importance of what “key” planets happen to like in a chart.

Say a native has Lord of Asc, Venus in Pisces (watery mutable sign). That native really loves Jupiter and Venus stuff and hates Mercury stuff. Suppose Jupiter is also in Pisces. That native will really like people and things that “act out” these planets in the way they are expressed in his natal chart. So in a simple case he might be attracted to someone that acts out his Lord 1 Jupiter in Taurus for instance or a Jupiter/Venus conjunction, or a Jupiter/Venus mutual reception and so on. He’ll spontaneously dislike people that act out Mercurial qualities.

However there is the possibility for “attraction due to misinterpretation”: Suppose a native is a Melancholic with 5 out of 7 planets in airy signs and no planets in earthy signs. He acts out his temperament in an airy way and this is how people perceive him.

Experiment time again: You think you’ve made the perfect match based solely on Temperament (and that’s where we’re bound to fail), say a Sanguine with a Phlegmatic. You put your guinea pigs in a room and shut the door. You anxiously wait to see the marriage proposal! Nevertheless, after a few glances at each other and the typical “nice to meet you” nothing happens: Sanguine subject keeps talking and writing to its i-phone, while Phlegmatic one is too shy to talk, so it keeps staring at its shoes – a fine pair of shoes indeed- and finally decides to have a beer- or a dozen of them. So, you end up scratching your head wondering what went wrong!

Intermezzo: Psyche’s mission impossible. 

There was a story written about Psyche (Soul) and Eros (Cupid, love) –Eros being of course Aphrodite’s (Venus) son. For those unfamiliar with it, the story goes like this:

Venus is jealous of Psyche (Soul), a beautiful mortal woman and so she commands her son Eros to make her fall in love with the ugliest guy ever. Unfortunately for Eros, he gets himself pierced by his own golden arrow.

So, he takes Miss Soul to a cave and visits her every night in the dark, demanding her promise that she’d never try to open the lights and see his face. And for awhile they are the happiest couple on Earth. Of course the story is full of drama, so the Soul’s sisters are also jealous of her and push her into opening the lights while Eros is asleep, in order to see his face. He wakes up and hurt as he was because Soul betrayed his trust, he leaves her. But he still loves her.

Aphrodite does not want this marriage anyway, so she demands of the Soul to achieve some of the most outrageous, impossible, missions in order to allow her to be again with Eros. Fortunately the Soul finds allies on the way that help her and Eros is always nearby to assist her even though she doesn’t know it. She manages to overcome the last mission, a short journey to the underworld -which of course isn’t the best place for a weekend escape from the city – with a box full of Beauty that is to be delivered to Venus. However, in a self destructive moment she thinks she needs more Beauty to win Eros back and she opens it. As you probably suspect the content had nothing to do with Beauty. Eternal sleep (death) covers her eyes. Lucky for her, Eros removes the veil of sleep from her eyes, she comes back to life and the King among gods, Jupiter, provides the happy end: he makes Psyche (the Soul) immortal and allows the loving couple to marry.

You’re probably wondering by now, what’s the connection of this story to Synastry matters.

Love cannot be seen or measured. Our Souls cannot be seen or measured. There are things out there that cannot be perceived with our senses or through our knowledge, or measured and analyzed by our computers. If our Soul’s deepest desire is to unite with Love for eternity, then we must also be willing to achieve our personal missions on the way to it – trying to control our self destructive tendencies. Love on the other hand is the one thing that can make the Soul “see” again, unveiling the true nature of its purpose, of beauty and life, teaching the Soul how through love it could achieve immortality.

Consequently, Synastry seen as that happy occasion of souls fulfilling themselves in true beauty and harmony in immortality is far beyond what physical eyes can see or understand. When we take a look at a natal chart or at the relationship of this chart with another, we are obliged to remember that behind the symbols lay human beings -and within them Souls, searching for their own “Eros” in this material world.

Talking about Souls, I cannot but recall the term “Theosis”. Theosis means to become deified, to become god by grace. If that is our ultimate goal as Souls, then, like in the story above, through Love, we can come closer to that goal.

As Mr. Shakespeare put it “Golden lads and girls all must, As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.", because material or external beauty, are destined to turn into dust. And then, “Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind”, the true beauty lies within and Souls are enabled to see it through Love’s mind.

Love ‘sees’ with the Mind and the Soul with the Heart. The combination of two might be the ultimate Synastry.

Back to the play 

Standing in front of our test tube, with two individuals that refuse to react, still wondering if our guinea pigs gave us wrong birth data, or the system is contaminated by some kind of nasty virus which destroys our plans to find the way to the perfect Synastry.

It is with this failed experiment that we come to the last important point of this article: never underestimate those unidentified factors of Love and timing; timing, which is a part of a larger picture, which Man cannot perceive. While the chemistry, the brain function and even Temperament may be known, what causes one to Love remains a mystery. Timing on the other hand is everything - what someone would love at one moment, may be something he’d just ignore or dislike at another.

I do believe that any attempt to analyze such things would only destroy them –and that would be a pity as the whole point of mysteries in Life is to make us stand in awe before them and appreciate their existence, not to write scientific essays about them in an attempt to rationalize things that were only meant to be felt in our heart.

If I were to write another closer to this article, it would probably be that there are so many different combinations and possibilities in Synastry matters as many are the people. Consequently we should be very careful in this study and especially to our judgements.

However there will be no closer on this one; it is a work in progress, as the study of our Soul functions – especially in its interaction with another- is never ending.

* both books written by John Frawley