Syzygy Asks:

“Robert Hand’s ‘Planets in Composite’ doesn’t interpret composite planets in the Zodiac signs because, as he says, he is not sure if composite signs matter or not. What do you think? What is your own experience? Doesn’t the Ascendant of the composite chart say something? Or any other placement for that matter?”

Kevin Answers:

Syzygy,

Although I rarely sit down and delineate a composite chart, so I don’t have a terribly solid base of personal experience on which to base my opinions, I tend to agree with Rob Hand on this—and I do need to point out that since I originally addressed your question online, I have changed my position. Composite charts are basically midpoint charts: that is, two charts are taken together, and a third chart is created from the midpoints of the planetary pairs of the two charts. In general, the near midpoint is used; however, as this can occasionally result in an impossible chart (i.e., Mercury or Venus being too far from the Sun), at times the opposite midpoint is used for Mercury and Venus.

Composite charts are a relatively new convention; they do seem to “work” in many circumstances, but frankly, the jury is still out as to exactly how valid they are in the first place, and how to work with them. Composite charts are used almost exclusively when analyzing relationships, and the composite chart is thought to be the chart of the relationship itself: in other words, the composite chart reflects the fundamental nature of the relationship as a separate entity from the two individuals that make up the relationship.

Because the Composite Chart is a Midpoint Chart, it’s not possible to be “positive” of the sign placement of any of the planets. The most that you can do is to be sure of the sign axis.

In general, when working with midpoints, the sign and house position is not taken into consideration. Most midpoint work is done using the 90-degree dial which ignores the individual signs and houses entirely and operates entirely based on hard aspects. Each point on the 90-degree dial is actually 4 points on the 360 wheel, so when working with midpoints, both the direct and the opposite midpoint are combined, along with the two points that square the midpoint axis. Midpoints between two planets can be “triggered” at any of the 4 points: the direct (or near) midpoint, the opposite (far) midpoint, and also at the two points squaring the midpoints. Considering the Composite Chart is a midpoint chart, this is a pretty compelling argument to ignore the signs.

Midpoint Composite charts aren’t the only type of composite chart, however. While the midpoint chart averages the longitudinal positions of the planets, the Davidson Relationship Chart averages the charts in time, producing an actual chart for an actual date and time (the average of the birth dates) and an actual location (the average of the birth locations). Granted, the location may well be somewhere in the middle of an ocean somewhere, but nevertheless, it’s a “true” chart, and a technique that many astrologers swear by. In this type of chart, I feel confident in saying that the sign and house positions of the planets are quite essential and in fact integral to the nature of the chart. I just can’t say that about the midpoint composite charts.

Personally, when I have to work with a composite chart, I do look at the planetary positions; I also look at transits, progressions and directions to the composite chart; what I don’t usually do, however, is spend too much time interpreting the composite chart itself. If I were pressed to do so, I’d probably work entirely with the midpoints, and use the 90-degree dial.

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