There are so many factors to consider, when reviewing a horoscope. The beginning astrologer can peer at one for hours, even days, trying to make sense of all the information.
Chart synthesis is the skill that separates the professional from the amateur astrologer. The professional astrologer learns to be efficient. We can’t afford to spend hours peering at a chart before a consultation.
Professionals can learn a lot, just from a glance at a birth chart. Consider the chart above. A professional would notice — in an instant — that all of the planets except one are in the northern hemisphere. The one planet in the southern hemisphere is very close to the northern hemisphere. This would definitely qualify as a chart with a Northern hemisphere emphasis.
While is it relatively rare to have all the planets confined to one hemisphere, it does happen. When it does, it tells the professional a lot. It tells me that there is very likely a lot of “unfinished business” between the “Paolo” and his parents. This would an important topic to discuss during a consultation.
My mentor, Noel Tyl, discusses hemisphere emphasis at length. For good reason! When a particular hemisphere is emphasized, we’re already well on our way to synthesizing the information in the birth chart. This is critical! There is so much information in a birth chart, it’s overwhelming! We must synthesize. Summarize. Plus, some of the information is almost always contradictory.
The best approach to chart synthesis is to look for repeated themes. We have more confidence when the same interpretations show up multiple times.
Let’s quickly walk through the hemispheres of the horoscope and what a preponderance of planets there means to the experienced astrologer:
- East (Houses 10 through 3). The planets are centered on the Ascendant (the Rising Sign). We feel a sense of protectionism with identity and self-worth. Life will center on ego-justification. A pronounced defensiveness.
- West (Houses 4 through 9). The planets are centered on the Descendant. Here we shift to a focus on others. So much so, that the person feels compelled to give themselves away. To leave themselves behind.
- North (Houses 1 through 6). The planets are centered on the Imum Coeli (the IC). This is the development time from the moment when life begins. This pattern calls attention to “unfinished business” in the family dynamics.
- South (Houses 7 through 12). The planets are centered on the Midheaven. We get a sense that the individual was victimized. Pushed around or controlled by circumstances in the world.
Even rarer is an emphasis on a particular quadrant of the horoscope. When we find this, we combine the themes from the individual hemispheres.
Let’s consider for just a moment the North-East quadrant (planets in houses 1 – 3 of the birth chart). We combine a sense of deep-seated defensiveness with “unfinished business” from the parents while growing up. As a professional astrologer, I’m already primed to have a discussion about why all the defensiveness? What experience with their family was it, that compels them to feel so defensive?
Another trick to hemisphere emphasis is to “flip” retrograde planets from the hemisphere where they appear to the opposite hemisphere.
Here we see the birth chart for “Joe.” Note that four of the planets are retrograde. They “flip” from the South-East quadrant to the North-West quadrant.
Here we have an individual who very likely gives himself away to satisfy others because of some “unfinished business” from his early life. We’re prepared for an interesting discussion with the client, and all that with just a glance at the birth chart!