Finding the right person for you requires a very subtle alchemy; the composite chart is a way to understand that alchemy, as it is a way to see into the purpose, energy, and expression, of a relationship.
The composite chart, unlike a natal or mundane chart, is not a chart determined by time of birth or time of an event. Instead, the composite chart represents a blending of two people’s natal charts, devised either through the Midpoint method (the method I have always used) or the ‘reference place’ method, which bases the final (numerically-derived) outcome on the locations of each person’s birth.
As I explained in post The Mystery of Composites, Hand’s Planets in Composite is the place to begin if you want to get down to bedrock on the concepts involved. I have not yet seen a more recently created book that I would start with before Planets in Composite.
As far as I know (and I could be wrong about this), Hand does not use the reference point method. If you have questions about the reference point method, be sure to let me know, but I have found that it is much less accurate, since it heavily weights the importance of the birth location of each person instead of finding the midpoint of the numbers involved in the birth data.
Before we go further, it should go without saying that absolute accuracy is crucial if you want to receive meaningful results (from any chart), but I’ll say it anyway.
THE COMPOSITE CHART
The purpose of the composite Sun in the composite chart is to show you how (and to some extent, where) the relationship came into being; at what goal its underlying energy is aimed, and how that energy will be expressed. For example, a 12th house composite Sun has a very different energy at its core than a 1st house composite Sun.
The goals and aims are necessarily different, and understandably so, when you consider the elemental differences between a Cadent water house and a Cardinal (and therefore angular) Fire house.
The Sun can also, no pun intended, illuminate the purpose of the relationship, but it’s been my experience that “purpose” seems to be modified heavily by the Nodal axis. The Sun in its particular house can tell me what the two will accomplish together, but keep in mind that when it comes to purpose and “the point of it all,” every piece of the chart is important.
In the composite, the expression of a planet is modified by the nature of the house it falls in, aspects made to the planet in question, and, most importantly, the characters of each individual as shown by their birth charts. Then you must combine that with the energy between the two charts, as seen in the synastry.
A 1st house Sun (whether natal or composite) might want to blaze a path across the heavens (ruled as the 1st house is by Fire, since it’s the ‘Aries house’) but will be restricted (or permitted) in this desire by a number of factors, which I hope will become clear as we progress through this series.
When working with composite charts, it’s helpful to refer back to the original birth charts from time to time, to see if there are any planets or houses that show up in one or the other person’s chart that are also mirrored in the composite.
This can show you that one person is more affected by the strange magic that is a relationship, or is at least more sensitive to that particular point in the composite. I frequently am asked whether the two people are individually represented in the composite, and if one planet or the other in aspect represents one person more than the other?
I usually answer that the composite is a blend or synergy of the two energies, rather than that one person or the other, although I think there are definitely times when one person’s natal sets them up to be more sensitive to a planet or house position, and then you might see an imbalance in who’s more affected by what (that you might not necessarily see in the synastry). We’ll talk more about this when we get to comparisons between synastry and the composite.
COMPOSITE 1ST HOUSE SUN
Keywords: “Dynamism” and “Setting a Precedent”
I used the above image of the solar barge quite deliberately to illustrate the importance of the Sun in the 1st house, particularly the sense of energy, power and movement solar energy has in an Aries-ruled fire house. Visualize the potent force of Spring, when new buds shoot from the earth; that growth, fragile as it seems at first, nonetheless takes a tremendous amount of energy, an energy we’ve associated with the warming rays of the sun for millennia.
Sun-worship is most likely the oldest form of worship early humans engaged in. The metaphorical connections between the life-giving solar force and the life force itself seem obvious, making it easy to associate the sun and its power with human vitality.
The easiest way to see the way this energy works in human relationships is to notice when one of your planets (particularly the Sun) falls in your partner’s 1st house. The two people are unusually attracted to each other, because the vitality of solar energy when posited at the sensitive personal angle of the Ascendent cannot be denied. The undeniable excitement fuels the relationship, long-lived or not.
I have written at length about the nature of the 1st house in the natal chart. To some extent, one can extrapolate from that kind of broad information and apply the principles to the overall idea of the 1st house in general. However, there are ways in which composites function differently than the natal, of course, the most obvious being that the composite chart does not represent one person. Instead, it represents a blending of energies of two people, and that can be a difficult concept to grasp until you live it.
Overlaps between the natal 1st house and the composite have to do with the idea and force of beginnings, of the concept of ‘the new’, or being the first at something (and therefore setting an example for others, for good or ill). The nature of the 1st house is to be a pioneer, to beat a path that others can follow, and therefore to be considered a leader. A relationship can do this, just like a person can.
As we shall see in the charts below, the Sun conjunct an Aries Ascendent (ruled by Mars), and to a slightly lesser extent, in the 1st house but not conjunct the Ascendent, layers Fire energy upon Fire. This is an extremely dynamic and and even powerful couple, depending upon other factors in the chart.
Fiery behaviors in the 1st house are obvious, not subtle, and are therefore highly influential. The force of not only Aries, but its ruler Mars, combines with the Fire nature of this Cardinal house to make it impossible to miss this couple when they walk into a room. Perhaps they are outrageous or fun-loving or seem younger than their years. The couple might appear to have incredible stamina, health, or joie de vivre, where they just seem happy to be alive. The life force might seem unusually strong in this couple.
1st house Sun behaviors are visible and influential to the outside world. The 1st house composite Sun sets an example for others, and even if the two are not famous, this couple is forceful, direct, and impressive in some way.
THE FIRST FIRST LADY AND PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, MARTHA AND GEORGE WASHINGTON
At the ripe old age of 26, Martha Dandrige Custis was a recent widow, a landowner, who “capably ran” the five plantations left to her after her first husband’s demise. I learned all of this when I researched Martha’s nodal axis (10th house North Node in Capricorn).
After her husband’s death, Martha was wooed by two men. George Washington wasn’t as wealthy as his rival, even though he had inherited the plantation, Mount Vernon. Yet there is documentation that he and Martha were very physically attracted to each other, which I’d absolutely expect if planets of his or hers fell into each other’s 1st house or other fire-related houses . . . and they do.
With his 29˚ Pisces Venus falling in her first house, within 3˚ of her 26˚ Pisces Ascendent, he won her heart. Her 15˚ Taurus Venus fell within 3˚ of his 18˚ Taurus Ascendent (but in the 12th house). Each person’s affection for the other would be extremely noticeable, with that much planetary energy occurring at the Ascendent.
A composite represents the life the couple co-creates and becomes renowned for. The Washingtons shared a Mars/Aries ‘martial’ existence, the exigencies of which required both of them to participate in the difficulties of the Revolutionary War.
Not every couple with a 1st house composite Sun will also have Aries on the Ascendent, of course. Their Mars-ruled Ascendent of the composite tells us a lot about how their relationship evolved, emphasizing Mars in the composite (and bringing into question how each dealt with Mars in their natal chart, which I will discuss below).
From the beginning, their marriage was dominated by George’s military career, but Martha was not a stay-at-home wife content to let her husband do all the heavy lifting. The intense Yod in their composite chart involves Moon, Jupiter, and Venus/Mercury conjunct at the ASC. The Sun is pulled in too, but it is farther away with a 7˚ separation.
I believe this means that the Venus/Mercury/Moon Yod dominates the chart and tells us that no matter what stress tried to pull these two apart, they found ways to cope and most importantly, to use the positive energy of the Venus, Moon and Mercury.
Yods tells us there was a great deal of stress and upset in their lives, and a great deal of adaptation demanded of them, and of course they were surrounded by the Revolutionary War which affected them in ways it would not touch just anyone. Also, Martha’s two living children from her first marriage died after they’d grown into their 20s. Their ‘road to the Whitehouse’ was far more bloody and grim than that of most presidents and First ladies’, and perhaps that makes sense, with Mars/Ares, god of War, ruling the composite chart.
I think it helped them, though, that the ruler of the chart, Mars, was in trine to the Ascendent and the Sun in the 1st house. That kind of aspect strengthens the chart and therefore gives the relationship strength to fight off the forces that might otherwise pull two people apart.
While General Washington organized battles, appealed for money, and reassigned men to new posts, Mrs. Washington followed her husband on these campaigns, living with him for months at a time in the camp. She nursed the men, and brought them food and comfort when they were sick, cold, or even dying.
This kind of mutuality of behaviors is part of what the composite represents, since the composite shows the higher potential of what two people can be when they work together. The composite (representing ‘the whole’) is the chart that shows how two people are greater than the sum of their parts (the ‘parts’ are shown in the synastry).
The Washingtons also spent many years in the public eye, which was apparently uncomfortable for both of them, as both of them wished for nothing more than privacy, and yet were not granted that privacy, even after George Washington’s presidency ended and they retired to Mount Vernon.
On April 30, 1789, standing on the balcony of Federal Hall on Wall Street in New York, Washington took the oath of office as the first President of the United States. After this, the couple became increasingly aware of the need to set certain precedents of behavior.
“As the first of every thing in our situation will serve to establish a Precedent,” he wrote James Madison, “it is devoutly wished on my part, that these precedents may be fixed on true principles.”
Both Washington and Martha were renowned for their desire for privacy, and yet they found themselves immersed in public life, very much against their wishes. George’s chart is not exceptionally ‘martial’ or Arian in nature, with Taurus and therefore Venus ruling the chart. Mars is conjunct his Descendant, though, and is in trine to ruling-planet Venus in the 11th.
Both Martha and George wrote or spoke about their involvement in the revolution as a way of fulfilling a sense of duty, and George’s Moon is in dutiful Capricorn in the idealistic and searching 9th house, which is always looking for a cause worthy of making a commitment to.
Creating the Enlightenment ideal of a ‘more perfect union’ and then manifesting it would have been captivating for someone with 26˚ Sagittarius North Node (3rd decan Sagittarius is particularly willing to explore and expose myths and mysteries), I suspect, particularly with that node falling in the 8th house.
As I have discussed before about the nature of the 8/2 axis, there is a call to exploring the depths of one’s personal ‘cave’ in these houses that would be irresistible for a 9th house Moon, a type always in search of a higher purpose or mission. They tend to love the idea of ‘the quest,’ and cannot resist the call to adventure, particularly if it seems to lead somewhere noble.
Due to the death of George’s father, this youngest son of a relatively wealthy landowning family could not finish his education. Eventually work as a surveyor was found for him, and, as befits his peace-loving Venus-ruled chart (with earth-sign Ascendent and Moon), he pursued this path until he was drawn into service during the French and Indian War, fighting on the side of the colonial British.
Interestingly, George’s Moon falls exactly on the U.S. Sibley chart’s 2nd house cusp at 16˚ Capricorn, indicating that his emotional needs coincided with the need to make the idea of an independent America a manifest reality. Martha’s extremely energetic and lively Sun/Mars conjunction in Gemini falls exactly on the nation’s 3rd house cusp. I find that exact conjunctions to a cusp are markers of someone who will fulfill the purpose of that house almost as though they were born to be slotted in to this particular need, role, or function. This is true whether the conjunction is between two people, or for a person and his or her country.
APPLYING THE NATAL AND SYNASTRY TO THE COMPOSITE
One of the steps we take when we attempt to understand the composite and what it says about the relationship is to see how the natal charts and synastry apply to the composite chart. What falls where can show you a lot about how the relationship affects each person separately. It’s one thing to focus on the composite and say ‘this is how two people function’ together, but what does each bring to the composite?
First, let’s look at natal Mars in each chart and see how that planet might shape the need or desire to find a partner who helps them express that, as seen by having a Mars-ruled composite (going on the theory that in the case of friendships, lovers, and especially marriage partners, we select people based on something we need to develop or express in ourselves—this might or might not be true of siblings or family relationships, depending on the extent you believe in reincarnation).
Mars is strong in George’s chart, in that it is conjunct the Descendent, making it angular, but it’s in Scorpio and in the 7th house, neither of which demands overt Aries-like expression, but instead appreciates behaviors and actions that are subtle or even discreet and probably more intellectual, or at the very least thought-out or to some extent planned. 7th house planets are so concerned with others that the native becomes political in response, and George’s 11th house gentle, determined, and socially-aware Pisces Sun would augment this.
Aspects in his chart from Mars to other planets are mostly ‘easy’, but there’s tremendous irritability and excitability possible when Mars is quintile Mercury in Aquarius, which falls close to the Midheaven or MC in the 10th house.
Further, two angular planets in aspect to each other indicate the individual is fundamentally discontent in such a way that foments change. Mercury and Mars tells us that it was completely understandable that Washington would not always be happy as a surveyor (a job that only provisionally requires intellectual forcefulness).
George’s Mars aspects his natal Venus quite nicely by trine (within 6˚). That trine, of course, was felt by Martha, because any aspects to George’s Venus affect Martha’s first house (see above). So any love he felt or expressed for her was at least partially fuelled by Mars in the 7th, which gives a strong desire for partnership. He would, most likely, have been a fairly passionate suitor.
Of real interest to me about Martha’s natal chart, given the focus on Mars, is the almost exact Sun/Mars Gemini conjunction at the IC (Imum Coeli) in the 3rd house. That indicates that her communicative and intellectual skills were particularly strong.
Sun augmented by Mars in the 3rd makes the individual sensitive to all forms of information; the native picks up subtle signals that less subtle people would miss. Gemini is usually sensitive to unspoken currents in a way that even water signs don’t necessarily ‘hear,’ but this would be even more true when the energy is layered like this.
This can make the individual a great companion in politics, because it can take two people to work a room effectively. Even so, it is somewhat harder for a woman, particularly of Martha’s era, to fully express her own desires without opposition.
Her strengths and abilities are used where they’re allowed by character and society, but so from all the evidence, it does seem she was incredibly energetic, and certainly not a shrinking violet, in spite of Saturn so close to the Ascendent (which tends to act as a brake on any spontaneous or outgoing behaviors or actions).
Martha’s Sun/Mars conjunction falls in George’s 2nd house (while Martha’s Neptune at 15˚ Gemini falls exactly on George’s 2nd house cusp). One partner’s planets falling in the other’s first quadrant (houses 1, 2, and 3) are thought to be highly personal and hard to ignore, and the 2nd house in particular is involved in sexual relationships, since it is the house of the body (amongst other things).
Tension for Martha came from the division between her strong need for a private life (4th house South Node) and the realities of being almost constantly on display due to their role as First Family of the United States (10th house North Node). She wrote a letter to a niece at one point stating that her life as the First Lady was akin to being held a prisoner, so it’s clear that she was not always happy, no matter how much robust health enjoyed.
Her nodal axis falls within a few degrees of the composite MC/IC, reinforcing the problem for her, meaning the nature of the marriage was to exacerbate the issue she was learning to cope with, how to be able to retain her privacy and at the same time be part of the outside world.
George, on the other hand, has his adventurous North Node in Sagittarius and inquisitive Gemini South node falling along the 3/9 axis of the composite chart, and is encouraged by this marriage to fulfill his own destiny. His North Node falling in the composite’s 9th house helps pull him out of the introspection of his natal 8th house North Node, and into the potential of Sagittarius on the North Node. The 9th fulfills this better than the 8th, in my opinion.
It is so interesting that the Washingtons attained the height of the Presidency just as each were about to experience their second Saturn return. Transiting Saturn was within 9˚ of George’s natal Venus/Saturn conjunction, and was approximately 12˚ from Martha’s natal Saturn when George took office as the first president of the United States. Just when they had hoped they would be able to retire and return to Mount Vernon, their work and prominent social roles intensified.
Saturn transits tend to trigger or elicit Saturnian behaviors in the native, if they are capable of those behaviors, that is. I think we can that both Martha and George shared Capricornian and Saturnian themes; her nodal axis with Capricorn on the North Node falls within 8˚ of George’s natal Moon, while his Venus/Saturn conjunction falling across his 11th/12th house cusp echoes Martha’s self-denying Saturn in the 1st house opposition to Moon in the 6th within one degree of the Descendent.
For each, their angular planets brought a tremendous amount of determination and desire for change, but they combined that with responsibility for others’ welfare and an energy that allowed them to work as hard as any couple has ever had to work for a good cause, that of the new republic they helped create.
I think the Washingtons are a perfect example of the 1st house composite Sun relationship; they initiated protocols that most, if not all, presidents and the First Family have followed to this day. They helped to bring the Western democratic experiment into being and like good parents, nurtured it while it was a fledgling enterprise.
No matter the flaws they might have had as mere mortals, they fulfilled the function of their composite 1st house as initiators and progenitors of a social and political system of belief based on their highest values and hopes for their new country, America.