Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Composite houses and the 4 clusters

Composite Houses: The First Quadrant

It seems to me that the biggest trip-up in interpreting composite charts stems from not understanding the meaning of the composite houses, including the angles.  While they are, in fact, very similar to natal houses and angles, in interpretation they are somewhat different and have variations that need to be recognized.  For example, one of the biggest mistakes is to turn to the seventh house to see how healthy (and/or romantic) the partnership might be.  For some reason, we naturally incline to that house for all of our information about the give and take in a partnership–and it’s understandable, given the Libran bent of the seventh.  But think about it logically–if the Ascendant represents the “I” of the relationship, what does the seventh represent?  And if the seventh house in the natal can contain the Shadow of the psyche, our unconscious projections, where do you think the seventh house of a composite is taking us?

So, before going any further with composites, I think it’s a good idea for us to review composite houses and the areas of experience they represent in a composite chart.  It makes sense to know the general shape of a thing before adding in the details.

I’ll begin, of course,  with the Ascendant and the first quadrant of the chart.  We understand what the Ascendant represents in a natal chart.  It’s the degree on the horizon at the time of birth, the place where earth and sky meet.  All of the angles are symbolic of the vortex created when spirit whorls with matter.  The Ascendant is the conscious “I”, the vehicle we use to negotiate the world, our point of first reference.  It is marked by the time and place of birth–but how does this work in a composite chart?  How can two entities meet in the middle?

The composite Ascendant, including the composite first house, is the strongest point in the composite chart.  Anything that hits it affects us deeply, because it is the very identity of who we are as a couple and, in fact whether we are a couple.   Do we feel as if we belong together?  Are we a good fit?  Does this feel like a natural partnership?  Strong, unsullied aspects to the Ascendant, or strong positive planets in the first house, like the Sun, Moon, or Jupiter, are going to give us a sense of belonging together.  (Squares to these planets are telling us that we may have to work for it.)  I’ve seen couples with strong first house composites overcome many things that would tear other couples apart, because their sense of what the partnership is to them is so strong.  No question that they would stay together.  This is also true, in a larger sense, for the composite chart in general.  I’ve seen many cases where the inter-aspects between charts are terrible, the two should drive one another insane. But the composite chart is so strong and positive that the relationship thrives.  Sure, they annoy one another.  To them, it’s just part of who they are together.  The sense of ‘we,’ of ‘us’ is never tainted.

The Ascendant and first house of a composite can also be a dangerous place, because when threats come to the partnership in terms of outer planet transits or difficult progressions, the entire relationship can undergo a major crisis.  This is true of any of the composite angles, but particularly the Ascendant, on which the whole thing hangs.  Outer planet transits often are a wake up call saying, “We aren’t who we thought we were.”  These are most often the times when relationships need to change to survive.

The first house can also show us indicators of one-person ‘relationships,’ cases of fascination or obsession or just simple old unrequited love.  Usually, the person who is hooked by the relationship has a planet (or more) conjuncting the Ascendant of the composite chart very tightly.  If it’s the Sun, or Venus, that person values the relationship intensely, and it holds great meaning for their self-development, whether it lasts or not.  You will usually see conjunctions between the natal chart and the composite Moon, Venus or Saturn as well.  We can get into real difficulty when a person’s Venus/Neptune natal square falls on the angles of the composite, or Mars/Pluto.  The relationship will become a focal point for the person working out this natal dilemma, and will fuel the fires of deception, disillusionment, longing and ego-oriented desire.  The other ‘partner’ , the one who isn’t interested, will likely not have anything touching the composite in this intense way.

The second house in the composite, the Taurus house, has to do with our sense of resources and ownership.  A good second house will enhance our feelings of security and belonging when we are together.  If well-aspected, the material side of our lives will flow easily.  We most likely will agree on the way our money should be spent and how much we should pay for car insurance.  On a deeper level, the second house will reveal whether or not we perceive our relationship as a resource–whether we value and cherish it.  If we have an emphasis there, we may be able to do things together, to make things happen together, that we could never do alone.  Well-placed planets in the second house boost our resourcefulness together–but if there is too much of an emphasis on the second, we may incline to be materialistic and not see the forest for the trees if we begin to have spiritual and/or psychological differences that challenge the partnership.  Hard aspects to the second, or difficult planets there, may mean that we have to work for our stability and security.  Jupiter there might be lucky, but a challenged Jupiter might reveal that, together, we fuel the flames of overdoing things in all areas, and losses may be involved.  Our second house contains what we believe is ‘ours’–on all levels.   If Venus is there, for example, we may have a talent for togetherness and value our time together.  Good aspects will cause things to flow towards us–difficult ones will make us aware that we can’t take anything for granted where the partnership is concerned.

The third house in the composite chart is much more important than it’s given credit for.  It’s a bit difficult to get a handle on the third house because it represents so many things, but if you think in the largest, widest terms possible, they’re all related.  The third house is about connecting.  It’s like a baby naturally reaching out to connect with what is nearby, what it can grasp.  Take that further, and it’s about the mind reaching out to make connections, to understand its environment.  And it represents the environment itself, the mundane circumstances of our lives.  Which is why, in classic astrology, it represents our neighbors, our close relations, our brothers and sisters (who are just there, like the furniture, we have no choice about it).  The third house is everything around us, all those things we just accept.  In a much larger sense, and given the mental connotations of the third, it’s about how we get around, both physically and mentally–it’s about the way we think and act when we are at ‘home’ with our selves.  All those things we don’t have to think about because they’re just ‘there.’

The third house can describe a couple’s mindset about their environment–and how they move within it, as a couple.  It can also describe the things that concern them on a day to day basis–not in a philosophical sense, but the sense of where they put their awareness, where they spend their mental time.  It can also describe how they move about together–are they a stay-put type, hardly going out (Saturn) or do they rush around like the proverbial chicken with its head chopped off (Uranus).   Are they articulate and conversational (Mercury/Sun) or vague and unforthcoming (Mercury/Neptune).  If an outer planet is in the third, they may, as a couple, feel that their status quo is continually threatened.  Saturn there may cause them to be very serious about their calendar, always planning and organizing things well ahead of time.  The describes how we interact with life on a day to day basis–are we always challenging things (Mars) or happy taking it easy (Venus)?   A person who doesn’t like surprises and disruption will be very uncomfortable in a relationship where the composite third house is emphasized in a disruptive way (a Mars/Uranus conjunction, for example).  There may also be disruptions with siblings, neighbors and an unfortunate tendency for electrical appliances to break down or explode (not kidding here–I know a couple of couples with this type of aspect who have a hard time controlling their electrical flow.)

The third house is important in a composite because it describes the kind of things we need to think about in the partnership, and what occupies a great deal of our attention and time together.  This may be very different from our long term goals and plans and our very philosophy of life as a couple, which are shown in our composite ninth house.  But the third house, on the whole, is not a house that involves a lot of conscious awareness–we deal with what we need to deal with, and that’s that.  The fourth house is where we really start acting as a unit (or not) and are forced to define the partnership in terms of others.

Composite Houses: The Second Quadrant

As we’ve said, the first quadrant of the composite chart is largely about our identity as a couple, our definition of our ‘couple-ness’, how we act,  what we own (both spiritually and materially) and how we communicate as a unit, including the way we react to our immediate environment, including our neighbors and cousins and siblings and anyone else who drops by.  All three first quadrant houses are largely instinctive.  The way we identify as a couple, our sense of what’s ours, and our way of connecting with others is mostly spontaneous.  Once we get into the second quadrant, we start talking about the things that we put into place, the things that we may plan for ourselves.  It isn’t that these houses stop being instinctive, but that they add another layer of awareness as the houses progress.  We can be aware of our contribution as a couple  in houses four, five and six the way we never were in the first three.

For those who really want to settle down, the fourth house in the composite is where its at.  I have seen terrible synastries overcome tremendous odds by having a packed fourth house.  For those people, building a life, a home, a base of operation was their modus operendi, and, with the intensity inherent in this cardinal house, nothing got in the way of that.  When a house is packed in a composite chart, the people involved pour their energy into that area of life.  It’s easier when the house represents something solid, like the fourth house with its emphasis on home and family and roots, because there is something for the composite energy to hang itself on.  It’s more difficult if something like the 12th house is emphasized; all that energy pouring into a house whose task is to dissolve and resolve, to tap a higher power.  Tricky, that one.  But the fourth, yes, home, family, roots, all those comforting things, the meatloaf and mashed potatoes of the zodiacal houses…

Well, no, not really.  At first, yes.  All of the water houses lure us in with promises of comfort and understanding.  When our composite has a packed fourth house we may buy a home and have kids right away, because we want to be a part of something, put our roots down in the world.  But the composite fourth house represents something bigger than roots and belonging.  It has to do with our conscious awareness of ourselves as a couple.

It’s different from the first house, because the first house is instinctive; the first house is about our initial way of being with one another, what happens when two become one.  We have no control over the energy we give off in the first house.  Any planets there define our togetherness to others, and are something others see right away, but we have little influence over them.  In the fourth house, we come to understand ourselves as a unit.  We are aware of ourselves as a couple and make conscious actions and contributions as a couple.  It’s an important house, because if we are not aware of working together, we may begin to work separately.  If we have outer planets on the composite IC, we may have difficulty establishing our roots–we may love one another intensely, we may try to build a life together, but may have to fight tsunamis and earthquakes, and storms before we can establish our emotional roots.  That’s another keyword for the composite house–emotions.  What we feel together might be tender or it might be stormy, but the composite fourth will show us the status of our deepest, most intimate points.  The eighth house will describe our sexual intimacy, and the 12th our sense of spiritual oneness, but the fourth is where the intimacy is, and the sign on its cusp will tell us a lot about whether or not we let other people in.  Scorpio or Pluto there can feel vulnerable, and hide our relationship from the outside world.  Gemini will incline us to open our doors.  If our sense of rootedness is secure, then the fourth house can show us our greatest strengths as a couple.  Couples with a packed fourth house know that they  feel stronger together than they ever did apart.  This is because the fourth house represents the seat of personal power–the thing that we know can never be taken away from us.  In a composite chart, it’s our bottom line as a couple, where we stand together, shoulder to shoulder, to face the world.

People tend to get all happy and smiley-faced around the fifth house.  Why shouldn’t they, in the domain of sunny Leo?  Think of all the fifth house represents–creativity, personal expression, children, chance-taking, play.  When we are fully grounded in the fourth house, the fifth house takes care of itself, which is one of the esoteric truths of astrology and has to do with the yin/yang function of the Moon and the Sun and their respective houses–the Moon comes before the Sun for a reason. (More of this another day.) Who wouldn’t want the fifth house emphasized?

Couples who have the fifth house emphasized in the composite often put a great deal of energy and effort into their children.  An outer planet there can indicate troubles conceiving, or the children become a disruption to the unity of the relationship.  Depending on the planets, there may be creative work to be done together.  I’ve seen the composite Sun appear in the composite fifth many, many times when two people come together to pour their energy into some creative project.  The two people naturally express themselves as a unit.  John Lennon and Paul McCartney not only had their composite Moon in the fifth, but the ruler of the composite fifth, Venus, was conjunct the composite Ascendant. 

However, emphasis on the composite fifth may mean that the relationship is more about play than it is about settling down.  We enjoy one another, but it may not be permanent.  Longevity would be illustrated elsewhere in the chart.  If there are squares between the fifth house and the eighth house, there may be issues around sexual fidelity and intimacy.  Conflicts between the fifth and second houses may indicate that our values are in conflict with our natural ways of expressing ourselves in the world (or we just overdo everything, especially when it comes to tapping our bank account).  We may encourage one another to take too many chances, or not take the relationship seriously enough, only to see it disintegrate through neglect or through assuming too much.

The sixth house, on the whole, is a highly misunderstood house, both in natal interpretation and in composite.  In basic astrology, it covers health, service, the mundane tasks of our daily routines, and pets (or anyone else dependent on us for livelihood, hence, servants).  That’s a lot of ground to cover, most of it a dogs dinner of rulership.  I’m going to be covering the sixth house in detail, soon, in another article, but there is a common link between all these things that comes out especially clearly in composite charts.

The sixth house is the crossroads of the chart; it’s a mutable house, a Virgo house.  As such, it’s about crisis–the crisis of becoming.  It’s where we consolidate the unit so that it’s strong enough to meet the outside world.  The sixth house is where we’re tested and refined.   It’s where we discover what we’re about. Couples with the sixth house emphasized can lead a life of tests and trials to the relationship that either serve to make it stronger or allow it to fall apart.  If there are afflictions and challenges to the sixth house, it often feels as if they come from ‘out of the blue’, and can feel very Job-like in their intensity.  The question becomes, how strong, how whole, are we as a unit?  Strength comes from working out our priorities as a couple and learning to live on an even keel.  If we fill our lives with mundane details and superficial trivia, and never have a direction or a purpose to our existence, how strong are we?  The sixth house rules health because health requires balance–body, mind and spirit working together.  When the unit is strong, it becomes a vessel for the higher energies of the 12th house, which will use it to bring good into the world, and have our partnership become a living illustration of the way the divine is housed in the ordinary details of life.  Sixth house crises are about becoming the vessel.  If we fail our tests, the higher energies break us, and we may fail our tests and fall apart.

Couples who have the sixth house prominent are often interested in health and well-being; they may also be devoted to expressing the higher energies.  If this is the case, the strength of their convictions will be tested.  In all cases, a composite chart with a prominent sixth house will ask a couple to find devotion in the day to day.  Their work in the world will have to encompass both their thoughts about their environment (3rd) and their visions and beliefs (9th).  In the sixth house, we need to open ourselves to a higher power in order to make sense of life.  The more we let the higher powers influence our decisions, the more successful we will be as carriers of those powers.  The sixth house is about transition–the transition from the meaningless to the meaningful, a place where the the smallest thing can be the most significant.   We find our compassion, because we understand that the smallest and the greatest things in life are one and the same.

Composite Houses: The Third Quadrant

This is the one we’ve all been waiting for, haven’t we?  What is  the role of a relational house in a relational chart?  Our eyes just naturally gravitate there, hoping to find a natural, naturally balanced two-ness in the seventh, or  some sexual redemption and delivery  in the eighth.  And then–what the heck is the ninth house doing there, right after all that melding and merging? 

The three together actually make more sense than we realize.  In this quadrant we have taken our perfected (as much as possible) selves and presented them to ‘other.’  It’s the old one-two-three- of relationships:  we come together in the seventh to see if we click, we merge in the eighth to test our boundaries and redefine ourselves through burning down and returning to ourselves anew, and then, in the ninth, we try to make sense of it all.

These houses describe a quadrant of the natal chart we all know well –but do they express the same things in a composite chart? 

Yes and no.  And it all has to do with the concept of ‘other.’  “Other” to a partnership is a different concept from ‘other’ to a single entity. 

The Seventh House:   The identity of a partnership, or how we define our partnership, belongs to the Ascendant (with the Sun almost tied for second place).   It gives the general tone of who we are when we’re together, alone.  So the seventh house of the composite chart takes us into some complicated territory.  Who acts as partner to the partnership?

On the one hand, the seventh house in a composite can  represent our awareness of who we are as a couple when we are relating to the outside world.  It is our team ‘face.’ When we are dealing with the day to day as a union, we may come from our seventh house.  That dynamic couple you meet at a party, who blow you over with their fiery Aries-style dynamic, may actually have peaceful Libra rising and not see themselves that way at all.  When we have a packed seventh house in a composite, we are very aware of who we are as a couple and what we represent to others.  There is usually a lot of charisma with couples who have a strong seventh house, because our energy isn’t wrapped up in ourselves, it naturally goes out to others, and they respond accordingly.  If we have something fair-faced, like Venus there, or glamourous like Neptune, or electric, like Uranus–others will feel it.  With a prominent Mercury in the seventh, we may be seen as intellectual, or at least, talkative. As with a natal chart, we may not be entirely certain of what we give off as a couple, and the seventh house of a composite is ripe for our composite projections–if we have Mars there, for example, we may be fairly aggressive in doing things our way, and yet it may feel to us that others are oppressive and difficult.

The seventh house can represent everyone out there who is close to us and with whom we have to deal on a day to day basis (outside of close relations and family, who are covered by other houses).   In a composite chart,  it’s whoever is ‘out there’ as opposed to ‘in here’  within the relationship.  But in old fashioned terms, the seventh house used to be called the ‘house of open enemies,’ people who confront you and challenge you.  The seventh house can show if a partnership is strong (Saturn there) or if you are subject to invasion from the outside, as when Neptune is on the Desc.  Neptune or Jupiter there can indicate a partnership prone to being broken by third parties.  As a couple, we may want to explore and have no boundaries as far as others are concerned.  We may be generous to the point of fault, or we may be closed and suspicious of others (Pluto in the 7th).   If the seventh house is packed, it may be that a great deal of our energy as a couple is involved with interaction of those we hold dear.  We may be one of those people who are always tied up with others, for better or worse.

It gets complicated when we realize that the seventh can also describe our ideas of ‘other people’s partnerships,’ making us ripe for projecting our partnership issues on to other couples, or it can indicate the shadow side of our own relationship–the thing that can bubble under the surface, undermining us, without us knowing.  This is the most important role for the composite seventh house to play.  Neptune or Pisces there?  Lack of boundaries, drugs and alcohol or a tendency for the partnership to drift and remain undefined may undo us.  Scorpio?  Jealousy, suspicion, possessiveness, power plays, all of the usual Plutonian suspects.  Gemini?  Too much connection (socializing) and not enough commitment (or too much talk and not enough action).  Like the shadow in a natal chart, it sometimes takes time to grasp what the problem really is, because the shadow is elusive and the light ever-changing.  If we have lots of planets on the Descendant or in the 7th, we may be the kind of couple that needs to go out and meet up with others all the time, and are unhappy alone in our homes.  This might be fine for if both people are  inclined that way, but it may be hell for a quiet Cancer or Virgo who just wants to stay home and cocoon with the partner.

The seventh house can also describe our style of give and take with the world.  Are we open and friendly as a couple (Sag) or are we very selective about who we let into our lives (Virgo).  Our Virgo shadow may cause us to be hypercritical of others, when we let ourselves off the hook quite easily (Composite Pisces rising).  The sign on the cusp of the seventh represents what we expect when we reach out.  If Mars is there, we may feel that other couples are sexually motivated, or argumentative, and we may feel aggressive and hostile to others without realizing it.  We may get into fights with the neighbors or the doorman and never understand why we are so besieged.  As with natal seventh houses, it’s easy to project planetary activity there,  far more difficult to own it as a couple, but own it we should because we’re only at the beginning of this quadrant’s journey.  If we are projecting an outer planet, rather than owning those tendencies, our relationship may blow up in our faces without us ever really knowing why.

The 8th House:  The eighth house is the most natural house to experience in a composite.  The entire house is about merged energies, whether they be sexual or financial.  On the surface, it’s about our style of sharing–how we use what we own as a unit.  The eighth house will, to some extent, give a sense of the sexual ‘style’ a couple has, and planets there will describe how we accomplish our merging.  The Sun there will describe a partnership that possibly revolves around sex and inner transformation.  (Or you could go the traditional route and speculate that, depending on other aspects,  it may be all about money, or possibly sex for money).  It can be a deep, intimate, psychologically-directed house, where our most intimate vulnerabilities are exposed, or it can be primarily about how we use our resources.  Note I say ‘use.’  The resources themselves will be shown by the 2nd house, but how we handle what we have belongs in the eighth.  This can get very interesting when we’re not dealing with polarities.  For example, a couple can have Venus in conservative Capricorn in the second, but have Gemini ruling an empty eighth house.  Their nest egg might be solid, but they may tend to spend it on a whim, or may be addicted to buying the latest phones and video games.  They might be the kind of people who value conservative spending but just can’t seem to do it themselves.  If  it were flipped, and Gemini was on the second and Venus in Cap in the eighth, this couple would carefully share their ideas and their connections with the outside world.  They would take care of their Gemini resources, whatever they might be.  This might be the couple who knows everyone on the block and makes sure that the older people across the street get dug out of the snow.  They also might be carefully generous with local charities.

If a couple has a packed eighth house, there is a need for intimacy and deep exchange within the partnership.  This might be okay for the half of the couple that is more Plutonian or depth-oriented.  If the other partner is more air/fire this may make the relationship difficult–we will feel as if we are struggling to breathe every moment, while the relationship keeps pulling us underwater.  This is true for any of the water houses (4, 8, 12) but is exaggerated in the 8th, which has a thrust to intimacy all its own.  Even for those of us comfortable with transformation, this kind of intensity may not seem right for us at this moment, or with this person.  This composite  house isn’t about the dissolve (that comes in the 12th) but is about our ability to burn to the core of our known selves and come back to ourselves renewed.  When this house is emphasized in a partnership, the fire may just be too hot.  Outer planets or Saturn here may indicate a problem with intimacy within the partnership if fears and defenses are allowed to take over.  The problem here would not be due just to one partner’s reluctance or resistance, but to both people feeling wary of losing emotional ground.  The answer here is to look back on the second house and see what we really gain (and can get hold of) when we are together—something that neither party can obtain alone. 

Composite Houses: The Social Cluster, Houses 9, 10, 11

Cardinal houses initiate, fixed houses consolidate/use, and mutable houses disseminate.  In  this most intimate of quadrants, the seventh house gets things going between two people, the eighth house tests it, burns it down and refines it so that we know what we have together and separately–and then what?  The function of the 9th house is to find greater meaning.  Not piddly little Gemini knowing, but meaning, that which is found by discovering the deeper patterns in life.  And once that meaning is found, the other function of the 9th house is to disseminate that meaning, spread it around.  The 9th house rules shamans, preachers, publishing, the natural laws of metaphysics and the man-made rules of organized religion.  It rules our exploration, our visions and goals, our reaching out towards not only what is, but what may be.  And the reason this is so fundamental to this quadrant is that, without meaning, without purpose, a relationship flounders.  We forget that when we’re in the throes of the seventh and eighth houses, but in the ninth, we must face the truths we have found together and face outwards into the world again.

Have you ever had a deep, intense encounter with a new lover, and then gone out for a walk and found yourself feeling naked and exposed, even though you were behaving perfectly innocently together?  That’s the transition between the eighth and the ninth houses.  In the ninth house, we suddenly realize we are in the world again–that we are of that world. The world is looking at us, expecting something of us.  For couples with an emphasis on the 9th house, being active  in that world, becomes our whole world.  We take what we have discovered or know to be true (together) and bring it out for others to understand and share.

This dissemination of personal truth can take many forms.  It can be spiritual or religious, academic, visionary, political or literary.  F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald had their North Node on the very cusp of the eighth straddling into the ninth, and they embodied a couple whose intimate lives were their literature.  Perhaps most striking of all the examples I’ve seen, John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline have a composite with Scorpio rising, and a tight Sun/Moon conjunction conjunct both Pluto and Mars in the 9th.  (For the role of the Ascendant and the chart ruler(s), flip over to my Sasstrology column.) We remember the ‘Camelot’ years even now, fifty years on, a campaign built on a dream and a vision of the future.  They embodied the United States as a Utopia of endless youth, beauty and wit.  Philosophers, literary figures, and what was then called the intelligentsia sat at their table on a regular basis.  The house of higher learning indeed.  Alas, the inherent violence of this placement played out, and then a nation looked to them to learn how to mourn and find meaning in tragedy.

If a ninth house couple doesn’t fall into the religious, philosophical, literary or intellectual pattern, there can be an emphasis on Sag things–adventure, having fun, sports, exploring.  They may do a lot of travelling or live abroad.  All this is in favour of a couple who do things together to gain a broader perspective of themselves, and to experiment with the way they define their place in the world.  They don’t want to be defined by narrow brush strokes.  Whether they take the high road or the low road doesn’t matter as much as how wide the road is.

Once we discover that definition, we must move from the ninth house to the 10th.  The 10th house emphasized in a composite charts brings along the urge to do your job in the world, to build something together to enhance the community or social structure.  Tenth house couples can be very traditional or be at the forefront of alternative change, but they will be serious about whatever they do.  These are sometimes couples who marry for status; the wealthy man and the trophy wife.  If there is an outer planet there, the relationship may break conventions; Saturn there might be very traditional, straight laced and disciplined.  Uranus on the MC of the composite is something else again. 

The MC defines how we fit in to our world.  The Uranus couple, above, will have to find some unique or alternative lifestyle outside the mainstream, or work at bringing Uranian concepts into their communities.  The 10th house couple  has a degree of luck in that the relationship is usually accepted by the outside world, no matter how unusual.  There may be a huge emphasis on either work or ‘good deeds,’ with their standing in the community highly important.  These couples can be caretakers, supervisors, or guardians for their neighborhoods.  Theirs may be the one house on the block that everyone gravitates towards, particularly in times of crisis.

All of this focus on the ‘outside’ can leave these couples vulnerable to crisis from the ‘inside.’  Unless the IC and its ruler is well aspectd, or there are powerful planets in the fourth to ground them, this couple can be all show and no substance.  Or they get along as long as the social expectations are fulfilled, but the minute they become intimate, or assert their individuality, the fragile walls they have built may come tumbling down.  Unless they make true and deep connections to their families, friends, and others around them, they may feel adrift as far as emotions are concerned, as if life has no substance.  In the charts of young couples, this 10th house emphasis can often be seen in arranged marriages and marriages that are based on tribal and cultural values, rather than personal choice.  When the tie is not recognized as genuine, it breaks, and the long road towards individuation opens up for both parties.

Some couples with a heavy 10th house influence, particularly when the Sun is found there, are meant to live a public life.  You see this often with couples who perform together, but there are many other ways this energy can manifest.

People become confused about the differences between the 10th house and the 11th, since both can be community oriented and influenced by service to others.  But think about the difference between Saturn and Uranus, and you start to understand the unique ways each house expresses itself.   Where the 10th house is based on social standards and accepted ways of being in the world, the 11th house is based on affinity and mutual expression.

Eleventh house emphasis in the composite chart is a friendly thing to have.  The couple is oriented towards doing things together, to expressing themselves through joining with others who have mutual values, beliefs and ideals.  Their scope goes way beyond home and family towards the greater outside world.  Their ‘home,’ their ‘family’ consists of the close group they gather around them.  The 11th house, more than any other, is where the ‘one’ stands for the ‘all.’  Planets falling in the 11th in the composite are naturally gravitating towards growth.  They enjoy the buzz of fulfillment through dedication to something outside themselves, something beyond the ego identity of the couple.  While the 5th house describes the kind of play they get into in private, the 11th house describes what kinds of activities they like to do with others.  If the 11th house is emphasized by the sexual planets there, it could mean that they are a very adventurous couple in terms of expressing their sexual selves. 

The 11th house is also the house of social activities and social culture, so an 11th house couple might find solidarity and meaning in pursuing theatre, art, film, music, dance–anything where human beings join together to express themselves.  (The 11th house doesn’t discriminate between high and low culture, either, and they may be just as passionate about baseball games and trivia contests.) 

In the 11th house, we begin taking the steps to joining with the all that happens in the 12th house and Pisces.  In the 11th, this consists of pursuing our visions of what human behaviour should be.  In the 11th, we conceive of a perfect world and try to wake others up to our visions.  It’s the house of the outcast and the rebel, the freethinker, the humanitarian.  The 11th house allows us to step aside and see the limitations of the 10th and try to get beyond them.  Couples with an 11th house emphasis can be crusaders who pursue an ideal.  (The 9th house represents a different type of idealism, the concept of higher thought and higher law.  It’s structured and deals with structured thought and form (structured religion and philosophical systems versus generalized spirituality, which is represented by the 11th house.)  Couples who are very oriented towards the 11th house may find their greatest joy comes from acting on other’s behalf, and belonging to a community that allows their ideals to be expressed.  For these couples, social awareness and individual expression become one. 

On the whole, the 11th house is a place of friendship and mutual enjoyment.  If we don’t become too rigid in our expression, and allow both partners the right to their individuality, it’s a comfortable place to find planets.  It’s only when there are serious squares to the 11th from the 2nd and 8th houses that the communal expression of the 11th house leads to problems with intimacy and ownership.