A Short Course in Natal Chart Interpretation
Working with the Zodiacal signs, aspects, and configurations
In this paper, I am collecting up some considerations which will add substance to the interpretation of a natal chart, once the Principal Theme has been established. They are a miscellany of basic interpretive tools, which I have chosen, subjectively perhaps, because, basic or not, I had to come to understand them a lot better than I did to be able use them well. That enhanced understanding came via client work over a period of some years, and I would like to share what I learned in case it can be of help to you.
The selection includes:
- The decanates of the signs
- Working with conjunctions and oppositions
- Stellium, Yod and T-square configurations
- The Part of Fortune
- Moon in H12 and Sun in H8
1. The Decanates
In Orthodox Astrology, there several different ways of dealing with assigning rulers to the decanates. I tried each out in turn without being convinced of their value in practical horoscopy. This changed when I recognized a correspondence between the decantates and the Areas of Consciousness discussed in Paper 3.
The emphasis of the first decanate of every sign is reflected in the Area of Personal consciousness. Individuals with the majority of planets in the first decanate of signs will be drawn to express themselves in the outer world and pursue conventional goals in order to become more grounded and personally effective. Typically, they will be motivated by money and recognition.
The emphasis of the second decantes is reflected in the Area of Relating Consciousness In lives with this emphasis the focus is upon relating and developing a greater awareness of others as individuals in their own right, and then finding a balance between self and other. Everything said about this Area of Consciousness in Paper 3 applies to the second decanates of all signs.
The emphasis of the third decanate is reflected in the Area of Universal Consciousness. Individuals with this emphasis will be concerned with the larger picture and with the matter of how to fit their individuality into it. Everything said about this Area of Consciousness in Paper 3 applies to the third decanates of all signs.
The decanates held by the Sun, Moon Ascendant and the Ruling Planet are, of course, particularly significant, and to this short list I would add ruler of H5 (significator of creativity). For example, if the sign Pisces is on the cusp of H5, we know that service to others will be the choice of creative expression in the mature years of that individual If Neptune, the ruler of Pisces is the first decante of a sign the individual is likely to be drawn to physical ways of being of service in connection with the house and sign occupied by Neptune; if it is in the second decanate to counselling or teaching work; if it is in the Third it is likely to be through ideas and mental activity which open up new well possibilities for the human family.
The same principal applies to the rulers (significators) of all other houses.
In my experience, there is likely to be a clear emphasis in a chart upon one particular decanate which will set the tone of a life; but a reverse logic also applies: those planets which are not in conformity with the majority will need particular attention because their expression requires a different kind of emphasis.
As always, this information needs to be connected up with the Principal Theme.
2. Conjunctions and Oppositions
i. Conjunctions - Unity
What, eventually, I learned about conjunctions is that the faster moving planet in the aspect acquiesces to the influence of the slower, and they exist in a state of unity, even if the slower moving planet is Saturn or an outer planet. For example, if Venus rules the Ascendent and Saturn rules H4 (and is therefore the significator of the mother/home, then the child will accept the strictness of the parent, and later in life, the child’s own way of dealing with life will bear the stamp of the mother’s adherence of the importance of discipline, thrift and restraint.
The conjunctions do not challenge; they comply. Thus the conjunction sets up situations that are different in nature from those which Saturn in any other stressful relationship with the Sun, Moon or inner plane brings about. Square and opposition aspects from Saturn are challenging but conjunctions are compliant.
This is particularly significant when Sun is conjunct Saturn. I have found this aspect frequently in the charts of children with very successful and dynamic fathers, the achievements of whom they do not presume to be able to match. The quality of acquiescence inherent in the conjunction means they probably won’t even try. The child is accepting of the father’s superior experience and ability, to the point of being overwhelmed and stymied by it.
Yet, importantly, there is unlikely be physical coercion or undue influence from an over-bearing parent. Initially, influenced by older Astrology books, I assumed that this would be the case. In fact, the child simply accepts himself to be a ‘lesser being’, which is a very significant dynamic and hard for the Astrologer to challenge because it is an ingrained part of the child’s mind set, and, significantly, there are no ‘baddies’ involved. The essence of the problem is the relationship that the child has made his father’s success, not any obstacles put in his way by the father himself. Interestingly, the father is likely to have no idea that he has this effect upon the child because he assumes he has set an example simply of how to be an achiever, and has taken care not to influence the child’s choices so that he is free to choose his own path. Yet the child never leaves the starting block with any confidence or true sense of direction
Another scenario with Sun conjunct Saturn would feature a father who ‘flattered’ the young child by treating him or her like an adult, and failed to give any real parental guidance.
Although, I am focusing upon Saturn here, the compliance aspect to any other slower moving planet in a conjunction. When, for example, Pluto conjuncts the Sun or Moon, the child acquiesces to the destructive and transformative energy of Pluto in the life and will take initiatives to move on/ away from what is familiar, without any sense of this being aberrant situation. With his own Plutonian disposition, s/he may take take a new direction, but remains a chip off the old block
ii. Oppositions – over coming Duality; conflict into Unity
Potentially, the opposition is a blessing and gift but it will operate as a block and obstruction in our early years as it indicates two principles quite divorced from each other in consciousness and in life. (Bi-polar conditions are likely to involve the opposition of Sun and Moon. The individual’s life pivot first round one pole and then the other. The values and intent are thereby confused and conflicting.)
In all opposition aspects, regardless of the planets involved there is contradiction and counterproductive activity until the faster moving planet in the opposition provides a focal point for the slower moving planet, which then commandeers the faster planet and lends it its power, and in some cases, give an exceptional expression of its energy principle.
In my experience, this tends not to happen before the middle years and before significant lifestyle decisions which will encourage the two planets to work together e.g., a qualitative change in the nature of the individual’s work, partnership status, or even country of residence. The houses of the planets involved will indicate this, but be aware that the changes required will not be trivial in their nature or scale. For there to be reconciliation, attention has to be placed upon the faster moving planet and the house it occupies so that an individual can find or create a form to act as an effective receptacleinto which the energy of the slower moving planet can flow.
An astrological reading can be very helpful in the matter of setting up the unifying conditions.
3. The Configurations
I have chosen the Stellium, T-Square and Yod and because, in their working, they are the most dynamic, and all three underwrite the balancing out of energies which is part of the moving on opportunity built into every life. There is no ignoring or overlooking these configurations because they will play out anyway, with or without our conscious cooperation. Better then that we make sure they are connected up to the Principal Theme It will not be difficult to do this because there is internal logic in a chart.
In the case of the Stellium (which, technically, is 4 or more planets in the same sign) the sheer weight of its collective planetary influence will flag up a certain Area of Consciousness and often just one house within it. Whatever the Principal Theme, that house/ Area of consciousness must be incorporated. It cannot be ignored because channeled through the fastest moving planet, it will be syphoning off so much energy. There will be something extreme going on in charts with a Stellium, and these individuals are not easy people with whom to coexist, but do not doubt that there is something purposeful built into the design of the life. Look at the Moon, the symbol of the past, to see if you can see why there should be this need to blast an individual’s consciousness onto a new trajectory.
The T-Square is much more common natal charts than a Stellium, and is associated with highly successful people, because they are propelled by the configuration’s dynamic into the empty quarter (the house opposite the focal planet or planets of the configuration), as if they have the wind behind them. Again, it is important to ensure that this house representing the empty quarter is connected up with the Principal Theme, and made useful to it. As with so many energetic situations with which Astrology deals, in our younger years, especially when we are full of inauthentic aims, the T Square with its opposition and two squares can be very hard to manage and uncomfortable to live with. It is not until we cooperate with the move into the empty quarter where we can find reconciliation that we begin to appreciate its benefits.
In the case of the Yod or Finger of God, there is one planetary energy, that of the focal planet, that needs regeneration, and when it is regenerated then it stands to be able to give a very powerful and effective expression. Yet this may not happen until later life. The planets which will bring it into line eventually exist in sextile aspect to each other, and so they will be functioning well. Look to see which houses are involved because, jointly, they will provide the means for the for the regeneration.
A focal planet in a Yod is different from a retrograde planet which does not necessarily receive any help, and of itself, draws back from a conventional expression of its energy. The focal planet of a yod does not hold back from anything and, prior to regeneration, its expression can be wayward and inappropriate, especially in the house in which it is located. In what way is it inappropriate? Why the need for regeneration? These matters should be considered alongside the Principal Theme, because eventually it is required to work as part of it.
Our young Prince George has a large amount of retrograde planets. He will struggle with the duties of kingship if they come his way, but his sister in the wings, firing on all 5 cylinders already. She’s an H11 child and a force of nature. Think Queen Boadicea! She’ll save the day, if there is a day still to save, and George will welcome it
4. The Part of Fortune
Traditionally, the Part of Fortune, which is one of many Arabic parts, has been viewed as the place of material good fortune.
I do not consider that I am doing any damage to this traditional understanding by adding another dimension. The Part of Fortune indicates the desire which has driven us back into incarnation, the unresolved or unexperienced opportunity which has impressed awareness strongly enough to propel it back into the Three Worlds for more experience within it.
By house position, it indicates the area of life and aspect of being which will continue to fascinate us and draw us towards it. I have noticed that people will rarely volunteer that this is what truly matters to them, probably because there are a host of other things which have also become important to them and more directly formative of their present circumstances. But the fact remains that we will feel unfulfilled until we have had the experience we yearn for and which the Part of Fortune symbolises, and it remains the underlying motive behind many of the choices we make.
It is important not to be judgemental in this matter, for example taking the view, should the position of the Part of Fortune indicate money (H2) or fame (H10), that these are not a very creditable things. This kind of thinking just isn’t adequate. Our lives are bigger and more embracing than contemporary value systems.
I recommend that the Part of Fortune for daylight hours be used in horoscopy. (There is usually a setting for this on a software programme). The Part of Fortune calculated for the night hours his its place in Horary Astrology.
5. Sun in H8 - Regeneration of the desire nature / Moon in H12 – Making a clean break with the past
I deal with these topics in the recording
A Short Course in Natal Chart Interpretation