Flowing Chart Interpretation
“Most people would succeed in small things, if they were not troubled with great ambitions.”
The key to achieving effective ‘flow’ when performing a chart interpretation lies in good preparation combined with symbolic intuition. This involves merging with the chart and communicating the blend of symbols in effective language. The preparation process has several phases that together can take about an hour. It is essential to doing professional astrology. Of course, you cannot always do this kind of in-depth preparation for everyone you meet on the street who wants you to tell them about their chart. However, when you do it regularly for clients and friends, then you will be that much more prepared to do spontaneous interpretations in public. That will lead to more people to inspire, because once you have shared a little bit about someone’s chart they will be more inclined to call and schedule an appointment for a full interpretation if you are interested in becoming a professional astrologer.
What are the keys to quality chart preparation? After printing the chart out with a good astrology program like Solar Fire or Kepler, I like to include the classical chart, the modern chart, an aspect grid and a list of transits and progressions for the coming year. It is helpful to print out the transits and progressions around the natal chart as well. I sit down and let these charts and their symbolism penetrate my mind.
Astrology is celestial poetic art form, a craft that invokes the power of the spoken word linked with intuition and the science of heavenly configurations. For years, I used to render the chart artistically by drawing it out by hand using a ruler, protractor, pen and colored pencils. The act of drawing the symbols out and coloring the signs by element acts as a kind of meditation on the chart, and this deepens your interpretative vision. I received flashes of insight from the cosmic muse about important facets to focus on as I performed this ritual. In the latter part of my career as an astrologer I moved from hand-drawn charts to printouts to digital pdf files emailed to the client. My soul began missing those drawings, so I began offering them again.
After I have the chart sitting there on my desk, printed or drawn out, I start by warming up to the chart. I look at the Sun, Moon and Ascendent plus the guiding planet of the Rising Sign. I look for major aspects and configurations. I look at the Lunar Nodes and the Mode-Element balance. I look for angular planets and aspects to inner planets from outer planets. The key is to get familiar with the chart symbols.
By the time I’ve completed my inspiring introduction and educational statement about what astrology is and is not, the client is ready to dive into the deep end of the pool of chart interpretation. Before interpreting the Sun, I usually do an overview of Chart Pattern, Dispositorship Pattern, and Orientation combined with the Element-Mode Balance for the whole chart. After that, I begin working through the seven classical planets using the traditional chart. I like to start with the simplicity of the classical chart to see what the ancient astrologers saw and then add the modern planets and mathematical points like the Nodes later as the oracular orchestration rises.
With each planet, I include at least one statement pertaining to the following twelve steps at some point during the interpretation. It is easy to keep flowing through the chart on your own, but if the client is present I will occasionally stop to clarify or reframe certain aspects of the interpretation if I sense confusion. But mostly clients sit there with a look of surprise accompanied by sudden gasps of confirmation and inspiration as the oracular information washes against the shores of their souls. These are the twelve subjects of possible interpretation that can illuminate meaning in the life of the client.
Elements & Modes
Qualities & Dignities
1.) Poetic Statement: After covering the preliminary introductory topics like chart Orientation and Patterns I like to dive right into the first planet and get things flowing. I tell them that since the Sun is the center of the solar system it symbolizes the center of being and is a great place to start. Then I deliver a spicy, poetic statement of being combining the Sun with an archetypal sign image or three plus a setting or field of life experience defined by house position. For instance, if someone had the Sun in Leo in the 8th house, I might point to the chart and say “With the Sun in Leo in the 8th house you walk the path of the performer in the field of eternal mystery, change and detachment.” That usually perks them right up! As an astrologer, you are a storyteller of destiny.
2.) Elements & Modes: At the beginning of the session, while covering the preliminary topics like Chart Patterns, I will cover the Element-Mode Balance of the whole chart using the formula given below. However, when considering the Element and Mode of a particular planet it is important to relate the information to the function of the planet. For instance, since the Sun symbolizes one’s vital life force, the Element can be described as the type of fuel that drives the engine of consciousness while the Mode can be described as the pattern of activity that best facilitates the shining of the Sun. With the Moon’s Element, you would say something like, “Your soul finds emotional contentment and inner peace through a daily dose of the Fire Element, which symbolizes action, adventure and the expression of identity.”
3.) Qualities & Dignities: Each planet has a specific Quality that it emits in the sign and house it occupies. For instance, Jupiter is hot and moist so it tends to raise energy and make connections. It is always helpful to visualize the planets in this way, even if the planet is a shapeshifter like Mercury, Ceres or Pluto that can express any quality at different moments. In terms of Dignity, a planet is always connected to the fields of life experience that have its associated sign or signs on the cusp. The energy of that planet will invariably make its way back to the houses it guides. This should be considered in addition to the house it occupies.
4.) Spiritual Principle: Every Zodiac sign stands for a spiritual principle of universal consciousness. What are the ultimate lessons one is trying to learn through the lens of the given planet. These principles along with various quotes from the Tao are given in the Sun Interpretation of Tao of Astrology section but can be used with any planet.
5.) Archetypal Imagery: At this stage, I usually describe the five phases of the evolution of the archetype based on the Wu Xing evolutionary pattern. When a person can learn to express their archetypes at all five levels they can then choose the perfect one to ‘play’ during any situation that arises. At this stage I may choose to bring in the Titans and Titanesses associated with the signs as well, just to add some primeval Greek mythological spice to the interpretation.
6.) Emotional Expression: Each Zodiac sign emits a base or core emotion that affects and charges the planets. In addition, the harmonious and shadow behavioral traits come into play. It is often helpful to illuminate some of these traits as listed in this chapter under Sun interpretations. It is also helpful to point out that the goal is not to avoid, repress or stifle the negative expressions, but to become familiar with and face the shadow sides of our characters so the dark stuff cannot control our actions from a place of unconsciousness. Some situations in life require that we express our darkness, and it is good to be okay with your darkness mixed with your light. Nobody is perfect in this realm, but everybody is a fascinating blend of emotional colors and textures.
7.) Mental Expression: Every Zodiac sign symbolizes both a mentation and a universal plot motif. Considering the blend of the planetary functions in consciousness with these core ideals and stories can be highly illuminating for people to understand why they are the way they are and want what they want. We are all a marvelous blend of stories and our lives lived express how we play these motifs out.
8.) Physical Expression: Each planet has to do with a holistic body system. The Moon has to do with the Digestive System while Venus is associated with the Endocrine System. If the Moon and Venus share a tense aspect, such as a square or quincunx, then there might be problems between digestion and the flow of hormones through the Endocrine System. The health of the individual is always important to consider in this way. The house and signs align in their meanings through the bodily parts and instinctual functions. Therefore, the instinctual nature and functions of the body are expressed through the houses in a vibrant way. They are the fields of life experience centered in the physical realm, but also integrating the mental, emotional, archetypal and spiritual dimensions of being. For the most part, this is the stage where you invite the themes and imagery of the planet’s house position into the interpretation, and consider the invisible trails of Dispositorships behind the scenes.
9.) Polarities: Each planet by its position in the chart polarizes with the opposite sign and house and has an indirect influence on them. The opposite point 180 degrees across the chart reflects the planet’s position as viewed through the school of Earth at the center of the chart and therefore defines the core lessons that need to be learned and integrated. For a planet in Aries that is impulsive, the opposite sign of Libra asks that we learn to think before acting. A planet in the 7th House of Companionships and Cooperation is going to have a marked influence on the 1st House of Self-Expression and Actualization based on how we utilize its energy and potential in relationships. The Sun also needs to be considered in its polarity relationship with the Moon, bringing understanding to the birth lunar phase and the general relationship between them. Venus/Mars, Jupiter/Saturn and Uranus/Neptune form further polarities that can be revealing in terms of their influence on character by their relationships in the chart structure. The gist of this stage of any interpretation is to consider the polarity relationships a planet may have.
10.) Aspects: Aspects are the glue the that brings the astro-psychology of the individual into sharp focus. You could do an entire interpretation on the aspect patterns alone and it would be a grand revelation for the client. When planets form aspects they also form powerful psychological drives within us that govern behavior and set the agenda of our desires. The same goes for mythic aspects between the seven traditional planets and the mythological archetypes and stories that emerge and need to be communicated. Aspects are a three-for-one deal because you can apply their wisdom to the angular relationships occurring in transits/progressions as well as between charts in synastry.
11.) Evolutions: Once you have considered the natal implications of a planet, it is wise to ascertain its current influence through the quality of time it is shaping based on its current transits and/or progressions. For inner planets, they present the most dynamic life shifts through the progressions and act as mere triggers through their transits for the powerful movements of the planets form Jupiter out to Pluto. Altogether, these chart evolutions should describe the specific challenges and opportunities available during the periods indicated. When doing the Quest of Changes interpretation quest, the entire reading may consist of describing these evolutions over a yearly period.
12.) Synastry: No one is an island. We are all living in a field of cultural and social dynamics that shape our lives. At this final stage or astrological analysis we can begin to understand the patterns of our relationships by studying the configurations of our charts and the fascinating dynamics that exist between our charts and the charts of those we enjoy partnerships with. I have witnessed couples on the threshold of bitter divorce fall in love again during a synastry session. Sometimes understanding can alleviate most of our difficulties and allow us to stop blaming others for our misery that was created through ignorance. Once we apply the principles of astrology to intimacy during the Quest of Harmony, life itself takes on a vivid new dimension of enlightenment and playfulness. Relationships are regenerated and restored as sacred vessels of our growth and empowerment. Our relationships to places on the earth are also important and can be explored through astrocartography.