Home » Astrology » The Mystery of Composites

The Mystery of Composites

For a moment, I’m going to be an astrologer, and tell you about composite charts, why they’re important, and what to look for when you read one.

I don’t know how into composites you already are, but before we start, I want to let you know that I don’t use Davison charts, because they are unnecessarily complicated. If you want to rely on the best source for composite basics, definitely read Robert Hand’s Planets in Composite.

Hand came up with the concept of composites back in the  1970s, during the height of the Pluto in Libra transit, when society really began to focus on relationships and what makes them work or not.

This is the wave Hand was riding at the time, and I’d hate to think that his contribution to communication theory will someday be ignored or forgotten. This comment is for those of you who think he is only an astrologer. No. He’s also a therapist who cares about his clients. These are excellent qualities to bring to astrological analysis, it seems to me.

Here’s the peculiarity about composites: they are made up of raw numbers, nothing more. They are the most theoretical chart you will create, since they are not based on one place, or one birth time, but on two places and two birth times (or more; although composites really do start to break down after three people’s information is logged). So what do composites mean, if they are not “about” something definite, but about a “relationship,” rather than two individual people? Well, that’s what we’re here to discuss: what composites mean and the basics of what to look for when reading one.

A frequent mistake people make when they first look at composites is to want the composite to somehow reveal information about both people as individuals. That is not what the composite is intended for, and so if the composite is giving you difficulty, look at the synastry instead, because that’s where information about the two people as individuals will be revealed. A composite is more subtle than synastry in that it requires you to learn how to synthesise the information you’re seeing. A composite sun in the 6th does not mean what sun in the 6th means for an individual, nor does it tell you that one person in the relationship (the man, since in Western tradition the sun symbolises male energy) is a labourer or a Marxist or something; that’s not how this works.

The purpose of the composite is to tell you about how the two people function together, what their relationship means to them, and how their chemistry expresses itself. The composite, handled with delicacy, can tell you more about the mystery surrounding a relationship than anything else, including what the two are willing to tell you (since most people have limits on what they’re willing to reveal, even to me). A composite sun in the 8th, for example, is much more demanding than composite sun in the 3rd or 9th.

Depending on what you already know about astrology, you can begin to guess why, but if you’re feeling lost, any of the water houses (4, 8, 12) are harder for a relationship to express than are air houses or fire houses. Earth houses (2, 6, 10) can be, for most married people, the easiest energy to express, since most people want what earth houses symbolise: possessions, security, worldly success, etc. You know what I mean. Big screen TVs. 3 cars in the garage.

However, water houses are complicated, as befits water in general, so for a relationship chart to contain planets in water houses usually indicates to me that the two people have come together, depending on their maturity level and desire for self-analysis, to make changes in themselves and each other. Water houses are complex, so the changes will be felt rather than seen, for a long time, before they manifest. The composite will show you how the relationship works, how it functions, and what it’s “for.”

Two people rarely come together to have fun (although composite sun in the 5th would beg to differ). Most relationships that lead to life-long commitments (or that last a lifetime) get pretty serious, and there are deeper reasons the people stay together that transcend children, cars, commitments made in churches, or any of the obvious trappings of materialism and conservativism.

So when you first look at a composite, take a look at three or four basic things. The first things I check are the location of the sun, and the rising sign. This helps me establish why the relationship exists (the sun) and its structure, what will keep it together (the ascendent, sign, degree, and cusps).

Sometimes the sun is supported by the ascendent sign, and the ‘rulers’ of each are in aspect, a sign that there is a good chance the relationship has every chance of survival. Supportive influences make me think things like that (file this in the “magical thinking” category, and you’ll understand why composites speak to me).

Next take a look at some details, like, where is Venus? What sign is Venus in? Does Venus aspect Mars? Does Venus aspect the Moon? These are good signs, even if the aspects are tough. I don’t care. Any aspect is better than no aspect at all. Time and time again, charts reveal their wisdom to me, and experience confirms my suspicions, which hint that the malefics the ancients bemoaned are misunderstood.

But that’s another subject for another day. For today, let’s just make sure the basics of the composite are covered: Venus, Moon, Sun, all speaking to one another and preferably in hospitable houses. The houses these planets are located in will tell me a lot about the basic nature of the relationship, whether it’s going to last long-term or not.

Then you can start looking at the aspects, and here, just to give a glossy overview, the more oppositions you have (not squares, oppositions) the harder this relationship is going to be. That’s because two people’s energy is being synthesised in the composite, and the more oppositions you have, the greater the likelihood the two people really just don’t see eye-to-eye.

Squares are different, however; squares don’t lead to breakups in the way oppositions do. Squares lead to irritation and disagreements, but if you learn to value each other’s differences, you can stay together longer with most squares than you can with oppositions.

The next most important thing to look for is the location of Saturn. Saturn’s determined work ethic energy can keep a relationship together forever, even when everything else looks bleak. It can, sadly, keep people together when they are absolutely miserable. It represents what each person owes the other, and this could either be considered their karmic debt (which I happen to think you can see in the entire chart, not just Saturn or the Nodes) or their duty to one another in this lifetime. Saturn also represents how the two will work together (or not) to keep the relationship going. So Saturn’s location and aspects are very important as a window into the longevity and strength of the relationship.

So, to summarise: Sun, ascendent, Venus, Mars, Moon, Saturn. Those are your basics to look for. After that, the key to understanding composites is to think theoretically. Do not think literally. You cannot see each person in the marriage in a composite. If you think like that, you’ll never get this.

Think in terms of a Venn diagram or chemistry. It’s what the two people create together that you’ll see in the composite. You know how when they say the whole is greater than the sum of its parts? This is what the composite symbolises, the energy that is more than the individuals on their own.

venn

Does a composite represent what happens when you lose your individuality and are subsumed by the needs of the relationship? Yes. I’m sorry to break this to you, but most relationships of maturity and depth will require you to make a fair amount of self-sacrifice (this is the theory behind why Saturn is exalted in Libra, because relationships are our ultimate teacher). The goal is for you to become more than you were, so that doesn’t seem like a bad trade. If you ever feel like you are becoming someone you don’t want to be, for god’s sake, get out. Life is way too short to put up with that nonsense. There are far too many starfish in the sea to live with the wrong person forever and ever.

If you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to ask. This is my area of interest, and I know how complicated composites can be to interpret.

27 thoughts on “The Mystery of Composites

  1. Hi Alison, i would like to know your opinion about a Sun Saturn square in a composite chart. Saturn rules the 7th house and is situated in the 7th composite house, Sun in Aries on 10th. Both have in their natal charts Sune trine Saturn and in both natal charts Saturn rules the 7th house (capricorn). Thank you.

    • I’d need to see signs and degrees to give you something accurate. But in general, any time you see Saturn involved, and then Saturn involved in a square relationship to the Sun, you’re talking about a fair amount of work. This sounds, very broadly, like a classically “difficult” relationship. Not that the two people are necessarily unhappy, just that there might be a lot of work involved. The “work” can take many forms. Perhaps the two are each working very hard at their individual careers; perhaps they are both very concerned with getting ahead and “making it” in the material world. Perhaps they are both older, or are putting off having children, or may never have children.

      There are many iterations Saturn can take, but it does sound like a very Saturnic relationship, in that apparently Saturn is a common theme in their various charts. For most people, Saturn either is a force that binds them together in a mutual sense that “we have to make this work,” or it becomes such hard work that one or both give up, because it’s just too difficult. Again, however, I’d have to see the entire chart to know what kind of difficulties they’re most likely up against.

  2. Hi! Thank you for this great article!
    My partner and I have our composite Moon in the 7th! Also, our composite Sun is in the 10th, but 1 degree away from the 11th! Do these sound like good placements for marriage?
    Also, our composite Pluto is opposite our composite Sun, Mercury, and Venus. I am wondering if, because we are both natally highly Plutonian people (8th house and strong Pluto aspects), does this automatically mean break-up, or if we can handle the intensity, could it be a deeply intimate aspect?
    Thank you so much! I look forward to hearing from you!

  3. I forgot to mention, we also have composite Pluto RIGHT on the 5th house cusp! Is this a strong Pluto theme? And again, is it powerful, destructive, or can be it be transforming and bonding? I would love to know your opinion! Thank you so much!

  4. The person in question and myself have in our composite: Vertex (21 degrees virgo) conjunct descendent in 7th and conjunct venus (21 degrees) in 7th. Venus conjunct sun (27 degrees virgo), . . . sun conjunct mercury(6 degrees libra) . . . mercury conjunct jupiter (10 degrees libra) all in the 7th house. Venus square mars (23 degrees sag in 10th house). Moon is 0 degrees Aries in the 2nd house. Pisces rising 18 degrees. Any input is appreciated!! So confusing! :-/

    • That composite moon will have had certain planets in Aries transiting over it in the past year or so, both Uranus and Jupiter, which is a combination that would prove fairly confusing, it seems to me. My experience with a full 7th house in the composite is that the entire focus of the relationship is how do the two relate to one another… that might sound obvious, except that other house composites are not about how the two people relate to one another, they’re more focused on the issues of the other houses. The 7th is uniquely about ‘the’ relationship. It can actually be one of the more intense composite houses to get in the relationship lottery wheel that is astrology, since most people do not naturally spend all their time thinking about relating. So if you find yourself spending an awful lot of time trying to dissect and analyze the machine-tool parts of this particular relationship to find out how they all fit together, and do they fit together, that’s the nature of a dominant 7th house composite.

      It’s not quite the same kind of energy as the analysis of the 8th house, which has more to do with breaking down the relationship through analysis so as to recreate it in another form. The 7th is much more intellectual in its approach, whereas the 8th is definitely more subtle and beneath the surface, with a lot more angst and emotion (not all of it expressed directly). Although Sun in the composite 7th is supposed to be one of the “best” composite Suns, in my experience, it can be quite a challenge, since it requires so much more work than the other house composite Suns. If you want a Sun composite you rarely have to work at (although when you do, it feels really onerous and annoying) I’d choose Sun in the 5th, which is a relationship about chillaxing, not working on relationships all day long.

      Another thing is that I would rarely endorse a relationship that’s got the unfortunate misfortune of showing up with Saturn in the 12th house of the composite… that usually seems to lead to problems you’re unaware of until you finally can’t ignore them anymore. Quite often, when the two get to know each other better, they find out something about the other they’d either not noticed or managed to ignore, which ends up being more than one person or the other can tolerate or understand. The 12th in composite charts seems to represent the ‘secrets’ being kept from each other, which are often something as simple as the differences in personality types, that ultimately end up surfacing over time (and when you find out how serious the differences are, you have to decide what you’re going to do about them). Or they could be something quite serious; an illness, addiction, relationships on the side, etc., any of which will end up eating the relationship away from the inside. It’s hard to know for sure; I’d have to see how that Saturn is aspected, and what sign is on the cusp of the 12th house, etc., to give a more specific opinion.

  5. sir,
    Please tell me, if i have composite Sun within the last three degree of composite 6th house then whether it will give result as in composite 7th house or not ??

    • I’m not a “sir,” but I will tell you that in my opinion, the convention of ‘pushing’ the planet (or planetary object) into the next house is misguided and has caused a lot of confusion. It goes back to William Lilly, as far as I understand it (but someone should please correct me if I am wrong) and I’ve never seen its worth. A planet is either in its house or it isn’t. Having said that, I have seen some rather dramatic effects when a planet is literally posited on a house cusp, and in fact, when you have a transiting planet ‘move’ from one house to the next, its emergence on the house cusp can be a liminal moment, when one is faced with making a major transition from one way of life to the next.

  6. Curious about aspects in the composite and if you’d interpret them differently than in an individual chart. Specifically, my partner and I (together 3 years and very emotionally open, happy and harmonious) have a number of seemingly stress-creating aspects. For instance, Saturn in scorpio/7 squaring our moon in Leo/4.

    Ordinarily, I’d read moon-saturn as emotional restriction. On the other hand, we certainly do a lot of emotional work together (without a saturnian sense of burden though).

    Any thoughts you have would be much appreciated. Trying to make sense of this composite thing.

    • You have to keep in mind a couple of things when you look at the composite chart (in relationship to the relationship, so to speak). One is that many, many relationships survive with the most hideous aspects in the composite chart. How do they do this? Well, some of them, like you, are probably more relationship-savvy to begin with; their problems are not about the classic issues you’d associate with Moon in aspect to Saturn. On an individual level, in their natals, each individual is already mature enough and sensitive enough not to push at the dynamics of a difficult square (it helps, for example, if your natal Moon is not inordinately stressed; this makes it easier to be and act like the kind, sensitive, caring person you have to be to remain in a long-term relationship without killing the other person).

      Then too keep in mind that the composite aspects might not come into play (particularly when Saturn is involved) for many years. A transit to the composite, or a transit to the natal, might trigger off something you hadn’t prepared for. There might come a time of emotional loss that you haven’t yet encountered; not trying to ‘scare’ you, just saying that unless you’ve been together for a lifetime already, there are many twists and turns one cannot see coming. There’s only so much you can plan for.

      But mostly I think the best piece of ‘advice’ those who have been married a very long time have to share with the rest of the world is that they stay together largely because they ignore or overlook the other person’s faults. If all you ever do is focus on the negative, that’s what you’ll see.

      It does sound to me, from what you’re saying, however, that it’s possible you each know how to mitigate the effects of a Saturn/Moon square in the composite. The 4th to the 7th square, in natural Cardinal houses, tends to be rather business-like about the problems involved. Saturn in Scorpio can, when expressed with maturity, be a good control on Moon in Leo’s excesses.

      And finally, yes, I do interpret composites differently than natals, in the sense that you do not “feel”, on an individual level, the Moon position of the composite; rather, it represents how you both “do” emotions in the relationship. Given that Moon in Leo is a grandiose place to have composite Moon, but perhaps neither of you feels particularly grandiose in your regular lives, the Saturn in Scorpio might be the indicator that that Moon is not necessarily how you two want to be seen or how you think of yourselves. Moon in Leo in a composite is very lovey-dovey in public; perhaps the two of you are naturally more restrained, symbolized by the Saturn square?

      The real problem with interpretation is that there are infinite variables when you don’t know the rest of the chart and/or the people involved. This is why when you consult an astrologer, you really do have to tell us everything you can think of about your situation, rather than keep cards up your sleeve (so to speak) because without context, almost any permutation of Saturn square Moon (plus signs, plus houses) is possible. I can tell you what the tendencies might be, but I can’t give you specifics. :-)

      Thanks very much for reading!

  7. Hi Alison,
    Very much enjoyed your article. Synastry and composite astrology is so fascinating! Sounds like you don’t use Davidson’s but do you ever use a progressed composite? Can something challenging in the natal composite (like Saturn in 12th?) which I have with a few folks I really like – sigh- can that be improved by a progressed composite or by relocation or is the dynamic just always there? Also is Saturn square Uranus the kiss of death? Ugh…the rest of the chart (and synastry) seems pretty good. :(
    Also, any main asteroids or Arabic Parts you like to use?

    Thanks for sharing!

  8. Can you please tell me what exactly composite means when you say there is a composite sun in the 6th house? I read stuff like this in many places and want to follow what you are saying but cannot for the life of me, find a definition as to what this means. Can you please define this?

    • First of all, you will need to know what a composite chart is: it is a combination of the data from two (and sometimes three, but not more) people’s charts that makes the midpoint between each planet the primary piece of information you’ll use (Sun in Cancer in Chart A combined with (added to) Sun in Leo in Chart B, when added together and divided by two creates a midpoint between the two, probably in middle or late Cancer).

      Now, that means that the composite represents a mathematical ‘mean’ or midpoint between the two signs/planets involved, and all you’re doing is finding the average or midpoint to determine the composite sign. You will end up with one planet to represent the two people’s combined planetary strengths or numbers.

      Each sign in the equation is given a numbered value beginning with 0 (Aries), going all the way to 360 (Pisces), so that all 360 degrees of the chart are represented.

      Now, logically, if there are 360 degrees in the chart, and I’m a Cancer (which I am) my Sun falls not only at 22 degrees Cancer, it also has a numbered value added from 0 (for the sake of finding midpoints in composite charts) of 144 total degrees (which is my Sun degree plus the amount of degrees from 0 Aries to get to my natal Sun position in Cancer; each sign representing a segment of 30 degrees).

      The entire chart, therefore, comes with each degree of your Sun (and Moon, and then each and every subsequent planet) having its own designated degree plus its distance from 0 degrees Aries. Then you take the two planets in question and average out the median point between them by adding the two together and dividing by two to determine their midpoint.

      Fortunately, computer programs do this for you now. But really, in essence, all a composite chart represents is the midpoints between each of the two signs/planets involved (for every single planet). This is why I say the composite is a purely mathematical chart; it is therefore entirely theoretical. It does not represent two “people,” in any real sense; it’s about potential as envisioned through a process of rather ancient techniques of how the chart has, for a very long time, been “about” numbers. It’s only “real” and psychological when you begin to interpret all the information (including decanates, etc.).

      If you want to really understand at least part of this process, the fastest way to do so is to buy Rob Hand’s book Planets in Composite. That’s where I learned it. I hope I haven’t confused the daylights out of you, but I’m also writing this for anyone else who might have wondered about this who might also be an advanced astrology student. :-) Thanks for reading!

      • Hooray!!! Thank you so much for taking the time to explain this!
        I was pretty off in my interpretation so this makes a bit more sense and I am going to get the book per your suggestion.
        Can I ask though, is this different than a combined chart such as those provided with compatibility reports? Where one person is on the inside ring and the other is on the outer wheel? (How is that even decided – who is on the inside?) Is the point of that one to see the aspects between the planets and emphasis’s in different houses? Or can you see the composites within that as well?
        I was reading about stelliums with those type of charts and initially thought maybe a composite would be when you see the same planets appearing in the same house together under the same sign within a few degrees of each other. I.e. two Venuses in Taurus in the 1st house.
        I definitely want to have a better understanding of astrology and have been trying to understand this in my own chart (which feels like a karmically loaded life – but i am not seeing the positive in this) and how charts with other people can be informative as well.
        Thank you!

      • The kind of “ringed” chart that compares two separate charts with one other is called synastry (a word which comes from the Greek, “sun-astēr”, which translates to “together-star”, so it came to mean, roughly, ‘combined stars’ or perhaps more accurately, combining stars together).

        Generally speaking, all the synastry/comparison of two separate charts I’ve seen automatically put the first person’s data on the outside (so let’s say you go to a website that creates charts and set up the charts, and then input the data; if yours is the first chart you’re using in the comparison, it will automatically be created to appear on the outside of the rings; the other person’s chart being used in comparison will be on the inside). I suppose there are times when a piece of software will reverse that, but I don’t know which software does what specifically, since I am not omniscient and, in spite of potentially sounding like a know-it-all, do not have all knowledge, although I am having a chip implanted in my brain soon to give me a leg up on the competition. Okay, just teasing. ;-)

        So, just to be clear, there are two basic types of charts one uses in relationship analysis: one is synastry, when you take two entirely separate charts and compare how they affect each other. The other is the composite, where you combine the data from each chart, find the midpoints of each planet, and place that combined data into one chart (not two separate charts, as with synastry).

        A stellium is not automatically related to either a composite or synastry, although it is possible for a composite to have a stellium (of combined planets from the two separate charts as explained above). Mostly, when we talk about stellia though (the plural of stellium) we’re talking about a natal chart. Technically, the only way a stellium is related to synastry is that either, or both charts can contain its own (entirely separate) stellium. The idea of “sharing” a stellium doesn’t happen in synastry. Remember that synastry is always only about two separate charts, with separate information that is not combined like the data that makes up a composite. On rare occasions, you will see two people with two stellia, each in the same sign/s because they were born within hours or days of each other, but that’s not typical, and in any case, is still read as separate information (not combined mathematical data).

        This is the kind of tutoring I offer, by the way, to anyone who’s interested. :-) Basic stuff, advanced stuff, whatever. It’s very hard to describe everything in writing as clearly as it can be described when you’re talking, so not all my answers are really complete.

  9. Thank you for this interesting article. I have been researching about composite charts as I have been trying to make sense of my relationship with some people at work.

    I have been trying to find more articles on aspects between composites to natal in attempts to find out what the relationship means to each of us involved.

    My manager and I have this in our composite – Composite ascendant in libra conjuncts his pluto (also his chart ruler by < 1 deg), conjuncts his venus (1.4 deg) and weakly conjunct his mars (2 deg, all in his 12th house) and opposes my sun in my 7th house in Aries (by 1.5 deg).
    Composite venus squares his natal nodes in virgo (1 deg) and weakly trines his sun. (3-4deg) and squares my ascendant in virgo (3 deg)

    What are the most significant cross aspects to look out for, between composite and natal if the relationship means something more for the people involved? Can you please comment (in a broader sense) on what you make out of the aspects in our composite chart?

    Thanks in advance, as I have been searching without much luck to make sense of these aspects. I find the title of this article "The mystery of composites" to be very appropriate :)

    • Very broadly, when someone’s natal planet conjuncts a composite point in a chart, that relationship (as represented by the energy of the composite) is of great importance for them, for any of a number of reasons. Two degrees is not considered a “weak” conjunction; actually, it’s quite strong. That the composite ASC is conjunct Pluto/Mars/Venus stellium and at the same time opposes your Sun tells me that this is a power-balancing situation for both of you. Power is a large motivator in this situation; how power is expressed, who has it, who controls whom. I cannot tell you what the most significant cross-aspects to be aware of, because I cannot know without context what else is going on that matters here. However, if his Pluto opposes your Sun, that on its own should tell you there’s an issue around power as the core issue of this relationship; not unusual in a work relationship. Pluto in relationship to Sun is never easy in synastry, no matter the aspect. I can sense in your detailed questions that this relationship has its issues, but realistically, that’s the way business relationships go. You ride the situation out until you find some peace in it, or move on. Without more context, that’s all I can assess at this level.

  10. Thank you for your detailed response. You are right. This relationship seems to be ridden with power issues or at least everything seems to end up as a power issue.

    If I decide to look into this further or in detail, how can I seek your services?

  11. Hello,

    I know this article is 4 years old, but I would really appreciate your opinion on a synastry/composite chart of me and my ex boyfriend. Wondering why the relationship is difficult for me to let go of and I guess, if we have a chance of staying together if we get back together?

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