Before getting into the "brass tacks" of the composite chart-what it is and how it works-it is important to lay the groundwork for exactly why it works. This is not required for immediate practical application of the technique, but when in-depth analysis is necessary and decisions of judgment need to be made in any specific chart, it will be essential to refer back to this stable groundwork for reliable answers. So, this chapter may seem a little on the theoretical side. You may for the moment skip to the next to get on with the meat and potatoes of composite methodology, but you will find that you will have to come back here in the end for the basic recipe.
Proposing a physical basis for astrology, and thus a structure in which to thoroughly ground the composite chart, is a tall order. Where will it come from? For centuries astrologers have suggested various explanations of how and why the planets might have an effect on earthly events, but there has yet to be an explanation that will satisfy all the parties concerned, from the high spiritualist to the hard scientist. Yet, if the effects of astrology are as real as they seem, there must be a description of how they occur that will be satisfactory to all. The problem in the past has lain in the dichotomy of thinking between classical scientific methodology and the more holistic spiritual and humanistic approach to reality. Each has staked out a territory or paradigm of its own and believed it to be mutually exclusive of other approaches; however, the expansion of science and mathematics in the late twentieth century into more rarified areas, such as chaos and complexity theory, has suggested that there are scientific and mathematical models that may explain seemingly mysterious events that were formerly beyond the pale of hard science. Similarly, events which had been previously thought to be entirely religious or spiritual in nature (and thus not subject to concrete description and explanation) are beginning to be seen as simply misunderstood natural events with lawful natural causes. To plant astrology's feet on the ground, so to speak, what is needed is a set of concepts that bridges the gap between hard science and the ineffable, while inclusive of both.
As a result of extensive work with astrologer, mathematician, and historian Robert Schmidt, I believe the necessary pivotal concepts can largely be found in two places: in the visionary but virtually unstudied work, Das Gesetz der Serie (The Law of Seriality), published in 1919 by biologist Paul Kammerer, and in the burgeoning field of fractal geometry and chaos theory. We have published our findings elsewhere on the remarkable paradigm for the organization of everyday reality that Kammerer suggested, a paradigm which has much greater implications than in the field of astrology alone (Matrix Journal no. 1 ; Fortean Studies 1 ). For astrology's purposes, suffice it to say that Kammerer searched for a true order of causality behind regularities apparently due to random causes, while chaos theory and fractal geometry have sought to give apparently irregular phenomena a causal basis. Kammerer's work is conceptually consistent at the deepest level while remaining completely nonmathematical; chaos theory employs elaborate descriptive mathematics, though its own conceptual foundations often seem incoherent. In many ways, these two approaches seem to complement one another, and both have profound implications when applied to astrology and modern science. Indeed, it is possible that what differences they have can be reconciled and united under the umbrella of a greater unified theory which will, as far as we are capable of conceiving at this point in history and time, literally explain everything. Here, in a nutshell, are the pertinent concepts as they bear on astrology.
Since theoretical astrology, such as it has been in the past, so often leans quite heavily on Jungian concepts in general and "acausal synchronicity" in particular, it is important to trace this latter concept to its originator, Paul Kammerer. Jung credits Kammerer with this concept and incorrectly understands him to be proposing a new principle of nature, co-existent with causality and finality, that would explain the apparently random groupings of similar events that we call coincidences, such as runs of luck or the concurrence of planetary patterns and human behavior. In actuality, Kammerer clearly and repeatedly stressed a hitherto unsuspected side of the workings of causality itself, and sought to extend the range of accepted natural law by its means.
When one event follows another event and resembles it without any visibly acting cause, traditional causality teaches us to attribute their individual occurrence to special causes in each case, their concurrence to chance. Kammerer's beautiful and simple idea is that often we should look to the persistence of antecedent conditions instead, the tendency of any given system (a "complex of bodies acted upon by a constellation of forces," as he puts it) to maintain its initial conditions after previous forces have ceased to act upon it, as long as other forces do not intervene. This appears to be merely a restatement of the law of inertia, stepped up to the systems level, but Kammerer asserted that the persistence in a body-complex need not be uniform and rectilinear, as it would be for an isolated body. On the contrary, the initial conditions would usually persist in a nonlinear manner. They would fade in and out in intensity, with the result that their complexity and manifestation would at times be beneath or above the threshold of our ordinary ability to observe them directly. When they resurface to comprise an event similar to the first one, their similar or even identical reappearance would only seem to be due to new and unrelated causes.
Since totally isolated systems exist nowhere on Earth, Kammerer took his line of thinking one step further. When other forces do intervene, the formal aspect of the initial conditions-their temporal and spatial organization-would not simply be dispersed, but would be transformed into self-similar configurations that branch out into larger or smaller forms, or would even be seemingly absorbed into the background as part of a more highly ordered structure, only to resurface later as close reflections of the original (or sometimes, again, even the original itself), well after the track of the original had been lost to view. This would account for repetitions of events that are more distantly similar-in many cases they are just transformations of the original conditions where we are unaware of the intermediate links. Again, we need not invoke any new set of causes to account for the coincidence, only Kammerer's ambitious generalizations of the law of inertia and the application of it to whole systems and their parts, not just to isolated bodies.
Although he gave an elaborate, almost Mendelian, taxonomic explanation of how these interactions should work that would explain most of the strange occurrences we attribute to extreme coincidence, Kammerer admitted that it was impossible for him to trace the elaborate detail these transforming flow-lines of causality would follow. Nevertheless, in theory, form or information put into the environment should mesh and fold over repeatedly, and yet come back again nearly whole at various points at more or less the same time.
Kammerer's theory would, of course, explain all sorts of anomalies if true, but it ran into something that would have made it completely unacceptable to scientists in 1919-the second law of thermodynamics, which states that order tends to decay irreversibly into disorder. Nonconservative systems (i.e., most of the systems we meet in daily life) decay into randomness (through friction, heat loss, and interaction with other systems) and that's that. Sooner or later, randomness takes over and the universe grinds to a halt-a conclusion which seemed to be justified from the observations of the time. As far as anyone had seen, once turbulence and randomness occurred in a system, it was, by itself, irreversible.
The recent observations that have led to modern chaos theory have noted quite the opposite result, however. Systems that have apparently, in the classical sense, become random show a high degree of order when looked at by this new set of methods. Moreover, systems which seemingly become totally random (untraceable even by chaos theory methods), often come back as a whole or in fractal permutations of their original order when pursued further. In large part, chaos theorists, with the indispensable computer tools that enabled them to do this work, brought to earth what Kammerer had theorized half a century before. The only person of Kammerer's time to touch on this was Henri Poincaré, whose topological transform work displayed this long-term foldover and resurfacing tendency of form and information, much referenced now but largely ignored in his own time.
Kammerer also envisioned a related extension of the law of causality that he thought of as a law of "imitation." Any two proximate bodies or body-complexes tend to become increasingly like one another through an equalization of their energies. This is not only true of their formal and material aspects. Any two oscillating systems also tend to interact and imitate one another in their periodic or "serial" character, growing closer together in their temporal organization over time, with the less regularly periodic tending to assimilate to the more strongly periodic (just as larger gravitational bodies tend to increasingly control the motion of smaller bodies).
This is the phenomenon called mode-locking or phase-locking, long known to science but still not well explained. It was noted as early as the seventeenth century by the Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens (inventor of the pendulum clock) when he found that a room full of new clocks, if left alone for a time, always ended up in perfect lock-step, no matter how out of sync they originally were. This same phenomenon is found in orbiting bodies whose period of revolution is a multiple of their period of rotation (the Moon always presents the same face to Earth, as does increasingly Mercury to the Sun, for instance), and in the behavior of various waves (quartz crystals and radio waves, certain ocean and tide wave configurations, and even coordinated firefly flashing). Although a variety of transfer mechanisms may be invoked in each specific instance (sound waves through the walls for clocks, gravitational tidal pressure for the Moon), the principle seems to hold-stronger, more regularly periodic systems tend to bring smaller, less regular ones into line.
The novelty of Kammerer's understanding of these phenomena lies in the way that he saw an inertial principle in phase-locking: eventually, the periodicity that the lesser system takes on from its surroundings will become persistent; it will retain its new periodic character as something endemic even after its link with the larger system is broken.
By putting together his general principle of systemic inertia and his special understanding of mode-locking, Kammerer began to make sense of a host of anomalistic phenomena: biological evolution (why it goes in spurts); gambling (beginner's luck, or runs of luck); geology and mineralogy (crystal formation); medicine (epidemic patterns); and even history (why major ideas surface together, or how wars evolve). Kammerer only alluded to the possibility that his theories could supply a scientific basis for astrology, but here are how his principles might be applicable.
The largest "proximate" bodies of concern to us on Earth are the Sun, the Moon, and the other planets. Although their direct gravitational influence on individuals on Earth at any one moment is minuscule (as scientific debunkers of astrology are so quick to point out), their effects on our planet as a whole are considerable, to the extent of perturbing its very orbit through space. Thus, the entire planet is subject to a series of strong, regularly repeating cycles or waves of gravitational pressure which should, under Kammerer's principles, tend to mode-lock other large systems on Earth (tides, weather, geological cycles, etc.). These systems, over the eons, continue to mode-lock downward to smaller systems. These cycles are not experienced as a single homogeneous unit, but singly by planet, depending upon the nearest associated frequencies (just as different crystals lock on to different radio wavelengths). Over millions of years, multiple series of integrated systems are set up and continually reinforced.
According to the second law of thermodynamics, these smaller systems would tend to decay quickly because of friction, heat loss into space, and so on, but if patterns and information, as suggested by Kammerer and by chaos theory, are not lost but only diverge into related forms, the entire system and its parts, no matter how detailed, would evolve directly in tandem (fueled by the pressures of proximate planetary bodies). The original gravitational rhythm of each planet upon Earth would devolve into a multiplicity of lesser systems originally associated with its frequency (somewhat like a harmonic overtone series, but more pervasive), all of which interact into diversity but continually resurface in forms closer to the original and in sync with it and each other. Thus, "synchronicity" is indeed a cause-and-effect situation, but over time rather than space. One might say that when a planet, such as Mars, returns to a given place in its orbit, Earth-based systems receive the effect from that event as a reinforcement of a pulse developed over eons rather than just as a particular transit-the time of the current transit indicates the synchronization of a particular set of Mars-related systems that will reinforce smaller systems with its step-down effects. Naturally, under such a plan the effects of an individual transit would not always be instantaneous and exact, but would be varying and approximate according to the developments of the stepdown systems-the very inexact sort of reliability which is so often observed in astrology and which so befuddles astrologers and comforts debunkers. It may, in fact, be a key to how the whole system actually works.
Imagine that you're lying in a tub of warm water. If you move your hands gently from side to side, not much happens for a while, but before long, the water begins to roll from side to side, in time with your hands (and, mathematically, in resonance with the dimensions and volume of the tub). If you then relax your hands, the resonance built up will move them right along with the system. If you remove your hands entirely, inertial resonance will cause the water to continue to slosh about for a good amount of time. The initial cause is gone, but its main effects still persist in its absence. How much more powerful are the subtleties of a planetary system built up over billions of years with its major players still in the game?
This approach would certainly allow for a profound cumulative influence of other planetary bodies upon even the smallest of systems on Earth, both living and inanimate. What about a natal horoscope-how does it explain that? What happens at birth that provides a basis for these systems to interact with you throughout your life? The answer is found in Kammerer's theory of "persistence" or in plain old inertia. At the time of birth (the first breath, in fact) the child becomes an independent system, a constellation of elements and forces that tends to maintain the fabric of its initial conditions. Moreover, since life systems are recursive (feedback systems that maintain themselves), the subsequent development of that system is greatly more resistant to change than that of a nonrecursive system (such as a whirlpool). In fact, this resistance to change would apply to any other system that is recursive, or that at least tends to maintain itself, such as a ship, a country, or a corporation, for which horoscopes are also commonly used. Naturally, transits are simply times when planetary forces overlap the initially established set of conditions and so may affect that recursive system. (Furthermore, it can easily be seen from this perspective that otherwise mysteriously invoked astrological techniques for various forms of progressions are simply another way to view transits and their future implications through a single fractal transform-of a day equaling a year, for instance-an approach that would be logical under either chaos theory or Kammerer's point of view.)
A further corollary of Kammerer's view of systemic inertia that is implicit, though not specifically stated in his work, is that the longer a system remains intact, the greater its persistence. Thus, planets, which have maintained their relatively stable orbits for a very long time, have a quality of persistence disproportionate to their mass. This concept was also proposed, though never proved, by Einstein. A commonsense explanation for this might be that time is the fourth dimension of a system or an object. The longer that a recursive system exists, the larger it gets, at least as measured in the temporal dimension. At the seemingly trivial level, everyone knows that the longer a bureaucracy (or a personal habit) persists, the harder it is to dislodge. The implications of this upon composite charts are quite profound, as they seem to pick up strength and inertia the longer the relationships which formed them persist.
As earlier described, the composite chart is a horoscope made up of the mutual midpoints between the natal charts of two persons-the composite Sun is located at the midpoint between the two natal Suns, the composite Moon is at the midpoint between the two natal Moons, and so on. What results is a new, mathematically produced horoscope that literally describes the interface between the two personalities: the shoreline, as it were, where one leaves off and the other begins. Like any coastline, it may be even and easygoing at one point and convoluted and forbidding at another. Like any shore, it is subject to fair and stormy weather.
This astrological "weather" consists of the repeating transits of the planets and the lights that, as in the case of physical coastlines, have literally created the shape of the coastline from the beginning (figure 1). It is a mathematical phenomenon, described by the numbers that are used to construct the composite chart that combines two personalities. For instance, we know each person experiences regular daily, monthly, and yearly transits to his or her natal Sun, giving that point a rising and falling rhythm. The composite Sun is precisely the point at which these rhythms shift over from one person to the other, and shift from relative increase to decrease and vice versa, one to another. It is really a critical, phase-shifting point where one person (usually unknowingly) hands the ball to the other with a mutual shift of energy and responsibility. It is a point of mutual empowerment, the swing point where one gives over to the other at the most primal level. As the transits roll by, the individual solar rhythms continually pass over and reinforce this transfer point, establishing a separate, mutual rhythm unique to the relationship. This happens not only to the two individual's natal Suns, but to all their other natal bodies as well; when you assemble all the points, you begin to describe their composite shoreline.
This physical and mathematical combination takes on a life of its own that may be quite different from that of the two individuals from which it has sprung. Two persons who both have easy aspects between the lights may find they have a composite Sun-Moon square which may be quite difficult to deal with-difficult in ways with which the two are natally quite unfamiliar and that makes them wonder just what is going on. Conversely, persons who may have quite a struggle by themselves in certain areas may find that the relationship by itself seems to magically free them to function better than either could alone. It is here that the relationship does indeed become revealed as more than the sum of its parts.
Since the composite chart and, by extension, the relationship itself, is created by the combination of repetitive individual cycles and their mutual exchange, the longer two people are together, the stronger and more complete the effect of the composite chart is as it ingrains itself and achieves a momentum of its own. Essentially, this chart is the center point where Kammerer's "imitation effect" pushes the relationship over time. As it solidifies, the cumulative effect of persistence, or systemic inertia, grows and strengthens. This makes good aspects more reliable and makes bad habits repeat themselves, and very much contributes to the long-term strengths and weaknesses of a relationship. Since both strengths and problems in most relationships tend to sustain themselves at an unconscious level, and are thus often difficult to control or change, the composite chart becomes a matchless tool for throwing light on the workings of the relationship and opening it to conscious development and growth. It is probably the first thing both partners should look at when establishing a relationship, because the composite is a template for the future and is as much a prediction of how things must become as how they are when they begin. Partners should continually refer to it as time goes by. They can become much more in control of how their relationship develops and will be less likely to be carried away by circumstances outside of their understanding.
It is said that some marriages or partnerships were meant to be and others are not. Composite charts most certainly indicate this immediately. The use of composite charts at the beginning of a relationship gives both partners a kind of control they previously would not have had. It enables them to alter and repair, to some extent, that which should otherwise have been avoided and to maximize benefits that might otherwise have been taken for granted. It enables both partners, if they are willing to take individual responsibility, to not be controlled by the strange third party that a relationship itself becomes, but to step in and out of it to their mutual advantage. This is actually quite a modern, revolutionary idea, particularly where marriages are concerned.
In the past, both partners were deemed to be lifelong slaves in a marriage, however it worked out. More recently the message has become: if it doesn't work out, divorce (even if there is something worth saving, throw the baby out with the bath water).
Yet, there may be a third approach, facilitated by the composite chart and the phenomenon it represents. This new view of relationship recognizes that any two persons are dealing with a powerful but manipulatable third party-the relationship itself. The knowledge that a relationship is made up by the interaction of the two of them, allows both to slip in and out of parts of the relationship and become individuals when it is better to do so and to ride the power of the relationship when both will benefit. Just as the composite chart itself describes the subtleties of mutual empowerment, the use of the technique further empowers those involved individually and allows them greater control over their lives. In astrology, as elsewhere, knowledge is power: blind fate is the child of ignorance, and destiny is an afterthought of what you should have considered (and acted upon) in the first place.