Laura Asks:

“What significance does the pattern of one’s astrological chart convey? Mine forms a ‘bucket’ pattern.”

Kevin Answers:


Chart patterns are said to relate to one’s temperament, and are used by many astrologers to form an external context for the deeper dynamics of the planets, signs, houses, and aspects. Chart patterns look at the overall placement of planets in the chart as a group (or series of groups).

Chart patterns were first introduced in 1941 by Marc Edmund Jones, in his book, Guide to Horoscope Interpretation. Robert Jansky has an excellent book called Planetary Patterns that teaches each of the different types in greater depth. (All of Jansky’s books, or at least all of them that I have copies of, seemed to be more or less self-published, although the “imprint” is “Astro-Analytics Publications” in Van Nuys California. I doubt any of them are currently in print, but if you happen to come across one in a used bookstore or a fellow astrologer’s library, they’re well worth reading.)

I’ll give brief descriptions of the major patterns shortly. First, though, I want to offer my own, personal approach to chart patterns. I personally don’t work with chart patterns, at least not in the structured way that Jones and Jansky propose. While I do feel that looking at a person’s temperament is an essential part of forming a synthesized and organic interpretation of a birth chart, I generally limit my observations to hemispheric and quadrant emphasis, and elemental balances. One thing that chart patterns do emphasize that is worth noting is when a planet is brought into “high focus” (to use Jansky’s term) by dint of being the sole planet in a given hemisphere (a singleton), or the focus of an aspect pattern.

One of the reasons that I don’t put much stock in chart patterns is that it’s so difficult to say with any certainty what pattern any given chart represents. The rules are very nebulous, and the interpretations, to my thinking, are too generic to matter.

The Bowl

The Bowl pattern involves all 10 planets in the chart being contained within 180 degrees. The two outer planets are opposing each other, and become focal planets of the pattern.

The Bucket

The Bucket pattern involves having 9 planets in the chart being contained within 180 degrees, with a rim opposition (as with the Bowl pattern). The 10th planet, is somewhere in the open area on the other side of the chart and forms the “handle” of the bucket. This planet is the “high focus” planet.

The Hour-Glass or See-Saw

All of the planets are contained within two sets of oppositions, forming an hour-glass shape. Any planet outside of these boundaries is “high focus.”

Wedge or Bundle

All of the planets are contained within 120°. In this pattern, there can be no aspects greater than a Trine.


The opposite of the Wedge or Bundle: in this pattern, there is an empty trine (120°) in the chart, and all of the planets are contained (ideally, more or less evenly spaced) in the other 240°.


When the planets are situated around the chart with less than 120° of empty space, we have a Splash pattern.

Tripod or Splay

The planets are clustered around three points in the chart, ideally, three points trine each other, leaving three areas of open space in the chart.

I was going to see if I could come up with some very short descriptions of what each of these patterns is supposed to mean, but decided against it. I don’t work with them myself, so I have nothing useful to add about them, and all that I would be doing would be repeating what Jones and Jansky have to say about chart patterns. And, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m just not terribly impressed with their usefulness as tools. If you want to know more about chart patterns, I will have to refer you to any of the books by Marc Edmund Jones—they’re easy to find in most used bookstores, and some may even still be in print.

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