One of the most asked questions any astrologer can receive is the “am I compatible with this person if my sun is in ____ and their sun is in ____.” It can be quite infuriating because compatibility analyses extend beyond placements, especially sun placements—its nuanced and even just receiving a compatibility analyses isn’t the end all be all. When assessing compatibility I typically use the handy method of synastry. Some will recommend composite because under composite the relationship is seen as one entity while synastry is assessing how one person’s energy can mesh with other(s). However, while relationships can solidify as one unit our values and perspectives are still individualized. Synastry is really helpful when getting to the crux of conflicts and where exactly they can arise. So how does synastry work? It typically consists of having an inner wheel and one or more outer wheels. The inner and outer wheel(s) are separate charts to correspond to all the parties involved in the relationship. Having the charts on top of one another allows us to visually see where someone’s planets fall into their partner(s) houses and the aspects that are being made to each other. Get comfortable looking at a synastry overlay:
This synastry example includes the standard inner and outer wheel. Typically the color differentiation is meant for reading along purposes and to tell who’s is who. So, what are the main things to look out for in a synastry? And more importantly, how do we determine red flags? Well first, I want to brief you with this: not all squares or oppositions are bad. The most fulfilling relationships are the ones that offer obstacle and tension, while also providing directive energy (usually in the form of trines and sextiles). Working with synastry requires working with symbolism and knowing the manifestations aspected planets can bring.
Indications of a “good” synastry
I use “good” very loosely because the assessment of a good synastry is more multilayered but from previous client work, I noticed fulfilling synastries have a focus within the 5th and 7th houses. The fifth house is all about pleasure; things that make us feel good. When planets are placed here, people can unlock the creative potential, optimism, and heightened expressions of their partner(s). There is a child-like energy shared between the parties that when it comes to hanging out with each other it feels more lively and natural. The seventh house is a typical focus of synastry because this is the house of partnerships and romance. It’s the house of relatability. Planets placed in the 7th house will show a connection and the motivations behind those connections. For example, if person A’s moon was placed in person B’s seventh house then this could indicate that person A’s connection to person B is heavily motivated by an emotional connection, one that is very intimate and vulnerable. If Mars was placed here, then it would reveal that the connection is based on pushing the other, wanting to claim ownership of the other or motivate the other. Looking at the chart example above, Person B (red) has several planets falling in Person’s A (blue) seventh house. These planets include Mars, Saturn, and Pluto. Person B’s Mars is also conjuncting to Person’s A Venus. Mars and Venus conjunctions are usually positive indicators in synastry, especially within the seventh house because Mars is drive and conviction--its very physical while Venus is social fulfillment and values. When blended it produces almost an automatic attraction especially in sign of Leo where shyness is not very emphasized. So, interpreting a Mars and Venus conjunct in the seventh house in Leo would be: an immediate attraction that’s very straight forward and bold. However, we can’t stop right there because we have other planetary forces falling into this house. Pluto and Saturn in the seventh house is usually interpreted as “cautionary tales.” However, Saturn is disciplinary and also binding in synastry. There’s a purpose behind this relationship, particularly the Saturn person has a purpose or lesson to give to the house person
and this can be very tricky. Remember, Saturn is reality and it often is able to dictate the reality of others. The Saturn person can either positively or negatively define the house person’s reality. Positively, the house person will grow within in a particular area. Negatively, the house person will be psychologically impotent (March&McEvers, p.117). Looking back at our example, Person’s B Saturn seems to be conjuncting Person’s A Venus. So in translation: Person B can teach Person A social adaptation, and the realism behind romance that abandons aesthetics and fairytales. With Saturn conjunction Mercury, Person B can teach Person A a more rigorous and trained reasoning system and give them structure that can be applied through their day to day lives. Pluto in synastry is also binding but unlike Saturn contacts, Pluto runs deep. Person’s B’s Pluto falling into Person A’s seventh house would suggest Person B has an innate understanding of Person A which allows them to get closer and vulnerable with each other. However, Pluto contacts in synastry is very similar to Saturn contacts in synastry which is: they can be tricky. While these planets can solidify relationships in certain areas they can also make them fall apart. Most outer planet contacts in synastry can be unpleasant because they make you work for the relationship. Both Saturn and Pluto can be overly dictatorial and exhausting.
Besides the fifth and seventh houses, I typically find that overlays with the 1st and 4th tend to also be really promising. Person A has a few planets falling into Person B’s first house, including the sun. Sun overlay in the first house is always a good indication of being comfortable with each other which tends to formulate into a very expressive and authentic relationship. Put it this way: you both get a really good sense of each other’s personality and it creates a familiarity. Familiarity is also a common theme behind fourth house overlays. Person A and Person B have a Moon conjunction Venus in the fourth house which I would interpret this as two people who are able to cultivate a non-discriminate space for each other which can lead to very fulfilling and authentic conversations with one another. Positive (directive) contacts with moon and venus typically manifest as each person within the relationship providing a good support system for the other(s) involved. I also find these to be quite prominent in platonic relationships as well.
“Red Flags” in Synastry
Let me just say: red flags are completely subjective. However, I wanted to provide a bit of a roadmap, interpretations from my own insights and what you can potentially look out for when conducting your own synastry analyses.
Harsh Mercury Aspects
Mercury isn’t as sexy as Venus by any means but as our communication energy Mercury is by far one of the most important. Harsh mercury aspects in a relationship can easily erupt in disagreements, heavy arguments, and poor communication skills. Certain aspects can make communication dry such as conversations that don’t go anywhere or a lack of honesty that makes such a relationship insincere. For example, having a mercury square to another person’s mercury can make the task of listening difficult. Mercury is strongly attached to our egos, it’s where we want people to hear us and with both mercuries squaring each individual in the relationship is trying to be heard but no one is making the effort to listen. Mercury that harshly aspect to an outer planet can also create volatile confrontations or trouble grasping the other person’s viewpoint. For example, someone’s mercury that squares to another person’s Jupiter or Neptune can create issues with understanding the reality of the situation: either details are ignored or they’re diluted. Be aware of this because gaslighting can occur.
Venus Square Mars
Most would assume Venus-Mars adds a lot of attraction and sexuality into the relationship; however, the disharmony between venus and mars can create an overwhelming turbulence in a relationship. With aspects like these, neither planet is overpowering the other but rather its a tug of war situation. Venus is concerned about social cues, presenting an image that’s peaceful and filled with little to no controversies. Mars, on the other hand, wants an authentic relationship--it wants rawness, honesty and most importantly, its very straight forward. Working with previous clients, I notice that the Venus person often rejects the Mars person as they are too forward or brute to fit into a curated image of a relationship. In some ways, the Mars person can be too “awkward” or not compromising enough to worry about social standards; therefore, there’s a complete misalignment with values. Venus often sends Mars packing but Mars wants more and they can be rather combative with this task. Now, this is not to say every harsh Venus and Mars aspect will result in ashes but its important when having this in a synastry that the people involved establish boundaries and by doing that it requires disputes. More than likely Venus does not show full rage in front of Mars especially when Martian range can completely over power but by doing this you get an idea how your anger might match up to someone else’s. Lessons needed to be learned: Venus needs to accommodate its own accommodations while Mars needs to embody boundaries that are set within the relationship.
Harsh Uranus and Neptune aspects
Between Uranus and Neptune I’m not sure which can cause a bigger havoc in a relationship but it’s important to be critical of when someone’s personal planet aspects another’s Uranus or Neptune. Too much focus on these two planets creates a nerve-wrecking energy in a relationship that can be almost explosive. There is always an imbalance of reciprocity with these two planets. Uranus typically creates a dissonance with intimacy. Uranus wants freedom and to be itself. It can view relationships as incompatible with that liberation. Ultimately, Uranus will view relationships as fun and exciting but when it gets “too” personal it often wants out. Also, Uranus in synastry often accounts structures that can be very off center from the norm. For example, if there was a Venus conjunct Uranus in synastry this would mean that the structures of the relationship is very different and therefore, it requires different accommodations, such as different communication styles or even sex. Sometimes, this “different” factor in a relationship can be too much to explore or society at large can work against it. Usually the Venus-Uranus aspect in astrology can relate to relationships that don’t neatly fit into society’s definition of what composes such relationships; ones that are not monogamous or cis-heteronormative. Neptune, on the other hand, dilutes these structures. Love is still seen as non-personal so it creates a lot of disruptions around healthy intimacy. Neptune in synastry focuses on our romanticization and projections of love that is unattainable and worse, deceptive. Neptune in synastry can also tell us where we are conflict avoidant and so, we don’t go through that necessary step of crafting boundaries because we aren’t allowing ourselves to get angry. Neptune lacks social adaptation so it often refuses to follow with the norms set in place and love seen through Neptune’s eyes is very porous and transcendent. Therefore, we might find Neptune aspects to be places of “hurt feelings” that weren’t necessarily intentional but nonetheless, there still needs to be accountability. Let’s use an example: suppose a synastry between two people had a Moon-Neptune aspect. These two planets working either together or against each other tend to absorb energies which means the relationship tends to be ill structured so boundaries are constantly invaded and there is also a lack of commitment. Additionally, the moon person has certain needs that the Neptune person can unintentionally ignore which creates a potential manifestation of volatility in the relationship
Nodes + Soulmates
Nodes in synastry are quite a big topic when it comes to soulmate identification. Let me start by saying this: soulmates are not singular and they are not always the most pleasant experiences. Soulmates have largely been romanticized and bolstered as this big hurrah in one’s romantic journey and there seems to be no separation after that but clearly….that’s not the case. Soulmates can loosely be identified in astrology but if someone were to be your potential soulmate it’s important to not use that as an excuse to be in an unhealthy environments. Yes, it’s true that certain soulmates are not good for us but to grasp this fact we need to dissociate from this romanticization of soulmates. Also, let me say this: soulmates are not abusive. Abusive relationships are not lessons. Point blank. Now, soulmates don’t always work out as nicely as we plan and there is usually a lesson behind these difficult (though, not ABUSIVE) relationships. They make us grow. They make us rediscover what we’ve been trying to uncover this whole time. I’ve noticed that the soulmates we must grow away from are ones that have ties to our south node and Saturn. When we think of the south node we think of the toxins left behind as the north node is the clear air we need to recenter. South node aspects in synastry are not always pleasant. They certainly start off beautifully but as time progresses the relationship doesn’t move anywhere and you might start to think there is more opportunities out there. While north node aspects are the more ideal as they signify growth in relationships the trick is that it requires a lot of work. The relationship may take time to really unfold and it must require dedication and willingness from everyone involved. Relationships like these may feel very vulnerable to breaking apart but it’s forcing to reassess and most of all, revise. Again, these types of conversations don’t include abusive relationships. The concept needs to be treated with sensitivity as the nodes in synastry could defend the containment of abusive relationships and power imbalances. Relationships are meant to be difficult but distinctions between difficult and abusive needs to be rigidly defined.
The temptation of looking up your synastry with someone else is always in the linger but it’s best to wait off. From my own personal experience, computing synastries often leads to projecting personality traits onto someone who can possibly be very complex and it can also lead to entitlement. What I mean by that, if you notice that your synastry with someone else is “good” and you like them dearly you may feel as if you are entitled to a second chance or better closure. You can get egotistical and feel as if you own this person’s time. So advice would be to follow what your heart says and see how the relationship unfolds. I typically use synastry analyses as last resort options or where there is a fickle in a relationship that needs some sort of guidance. It’s a good tool to see where the conflicts have been made and what the next step can be.
article sources: "The Only Way to Learn about Relationships: Synastry Techniques" (1991) by Marion D. March, Joan McEvers