04 Jul

Writing Tools: Synastry

Synastry is a comparison of two or more astrological charts to evaluate their interaction. I’m not going to debate anyone about the wisdom of relying on such measures in real life, but it can be a cool writing tool if you need character inspiration or affirmation that you’re on the right track.

When you pick fifty random character traits from a list, it’s easy to see which are in obvious conflict and which are in obvious harmony, and the rest are floating around adding nothing to the story but color (also known as wasting everyone’s time). If you play around with birth charts and synastry, they tell their own mini-story that can suggest subtle conflicts and harmonies, both within a character and between characters, that may not have been apparent with a simple selection of traits. (Emphasis on suggest because it’s foolish to be a slave to any writing tool. Unless your poor judgment is legendary, your discretion is the best tool you have. Use it.)

I don’t do this with every story, but Lex and Gin have such different personalities, I worried at one point that there was just no way they could work it out. Looking for either confirmation that I should trash the story or suggestions for how to fix it, I turned to good ol’ Café Astrology. Lex and Gin were already fully characterized by that point, so I plugged in birthdates for them individually until I got results more or less consistent with their personalities. Then I dumped the winners into the synastry mixer to hear the verdict.

I really expected the results to be “Yikes! Keep these people away from each other!” While there are some rough spots, as in any real relationship, the overall outlook is encouraging, far from the hopeless mess I thought I’d created.

Here are my notes from the results and how I used them.

Overview of the Couple: Fascination and misunderstanding. He’s here-and-now; she’s thinking of the future. She helps him with financial responsibility. He may find her too serious at times, but she can enjoy his fun and become less stuffy as a result. He’s forthright and likely to initiate relationship; she’s more cautious but has a core of strength, won’t be bossed or led by him forever. She’s a challenge to him, and he loves a challenge.

A lot of their differences complement and support each other rather than forming insurmountable obstacles. The part about him teaching Gin to have fun speaks to me. Lex has self-regulation problems and truly appreciates a tug on his collar that keeps him from jumping off a cliff. As long as he remains challenged/stimulated/fascinated and she doesn’t mind holding the checkbook, they have a lot to offer each other.

Lex did initiate a relationship, but it was Gin who decided when it became a pantsless one, Gin who decided it had to end the first time, and Gin who invites him back into her life five years later. He leads, but she steers.

Square His Sun/Her Neptune (Challenging): He might end up feeling used or frustrated. Deceptions, lies, and promises of a future that exists only in imagination. Inability to see one another clearly and projection of wonderful qualities onto the partner. Might be difficult for her to live up to expectations. May back off or feel overwhelmed. Try not to add pressure of living up to fantasy.

Lex has had Gin on a pedestal since before they met. His plan was Step 1: Meet the Girl. Step 2: ??? Step 3: Live happily ever after. He was always in denial that he has issues, she has issues, and their issues multiply when they’re together. He thought he could make it work with the power of pure stubbornness and turning a blind eye to their challenges. Even now, he talks about her in terms of being “tough” and “a survivor” because if she’s not impervious to pain, she’s vulnerable, and he doesn’t feel strong enough to support her if she’s not invincible because he can barely support himself.

Gin had a powerful connection to Lex, the deepest she’d felt since the death of her twin. She was desperate to hold onto that, and it led her to codependent behavior. She knew his addiction was making him sick but let him continue to believe he was hiding it from her rather than confront him and risk driving him away. Her fantasy that this could continue forever was shattered when he physically couldn’t take it anymore. Rather than let her loving enabling kill him, she gave him up. He’s since gotten better, reinforcing her belief that being with her was at least part of the problem and she’s unhealthy for him.

Something they need to work on in this story is seeing each other for what they really are, flaws and all, and acting accordingly.

Sextile His Sun/Her Venus (Positive): It’s about like as well as love. Schedule leisure time together as a reminder how much they enjoy each other’s company, tastes, and interests. Go well together, love each other, feel good, happy, radiant together. Much attraction. Charm each other. Gloss over problems to keep the peace sometimes.

Every single point here, I already had. They have tremendous creative respect for each other. They were Just Friends™ for a year before they got naked. They do genuinely like each other, which is my catnip.

Trine His Sun/Her Uranus (Positive): He will be enriched by her. Discovery of new world, original and full of change. Go well together, but she may resist marriage on a formal level. Relationship works better when not formalized, simply for her sense of freedom.

Lex never drank around Gin, which was his first baby step toward sobriety. Though he had no expectation of reconciliation, the thought he clung to during the darkest parts of rehab was proving to her he could do better. His “new world” is sobriety. He would have drunk himself into an early grave by now if not for her influence, so he’s been enriched, at the very least, with continued life.

Gin’s aversion to marriage may not make it into the book, but she grew up in Hollywood and views it as a gross publicity stunt. She’d rather have a relationship on its own terms than let the rest of the world define and consume it.

Trine His Mercury/Her Jupiter (Positive): Ideal couple. Prosperous. Happy. Intellectual understanding. Great confidence in each other.

Nothing to add here!

Opposition Her Mars/His Saturn (Challenging): Must both be committed to happiness to make this work. Important to not stop, thwart, restrict each other.

To take it a step further, it’s important to encourage and challenge each other. Restriction can also take the form of allowing people to limit themselves. Sometimes the most loving thing to do is push.

Trine Her Mars/His Jupiter (Positive): Excellent aspect. Boost each other’s confidence. Fill each other with enthusiasm. Make plans together that are realistic enough to fulfill.

This is the evolution of the fantasy problem above. Once they start seeing each other as they really are, they can build a future they can actually have rather than one made of wishful thinking.

Trine His Venus/Her Jupiter (Positive): Completely successful. Happy to be alive and together. Pleasant home. Total confidence in each other. Intellectual understanding. Similar tastes. Strong desire to make each other happy. Enjoy each other’s company immensely. Put each other in a happy mood. Make each other laugh. Feel very open, loose, jovial together. Forgiveness and graciousness.

Now they’re just rubbing it in.

Forgiveness is a big deal in this story. They have a past, and neither of them came out of it unscathed. Each thinks they inflicted exponentially more damage than they received and feels unworthy of forgiveness. Meanwhile, it’s already been bestowed and they need to forgive themselves for the past and get beyond the guilt so they can live in this nauseatingly perfect present.

Opposition Her Venus/His Mars (Challenging): Love based on physical understanding. Passionate but with all its negative sides—possessive, jealous, aggressive. There can be a lot of hurt feelings and confrontations. Sexual attraction particularly strong in the beginning, but disagreements can hurt sex life.

I kept the sexual intensity but left the jealousy and aggression in the dumpster where it belongs, even for their backstory. I just can’t deal with that particular form of toxicity. I only want to write happy sex.

Wait. That’s not entirely accurate. Drunk Lex used to call Gin and ask her who she was fucking while he was gone, so although he was good sober, some ugly stuff bobbed to the surface on a tide of booze. This was part of their mutually unhealthy cycle—he’d drunk dial during a blackout and see the evidence on his phone in the morning, but she never said anything about it so he wouldn’t feel attacked and leave her, which let him believe he pulled off a convincing performance as Sober Lex. It’s just coming out now, five years later, as they’re negotiating their new relationship and analyzing everything that went wrong in the past to ensure it doesn’t happen in the future.

Upon further reflection, I’m not sure that scene made it into the final book, so if the above paragraph confuses you, NEVER MIND! I call it Dark Tower Dementia—after going through almost-but-not-quite-the-same story a hundred times, the most recent details get a little blurry around the edges.

Trine Her Mercury/His Venus (Positive): Few clouds on intellectual level. Good intellectual understanding. Pleasure in being together and exchanging ideas. Together, come up with unique and creative ideas and solutions.

Excellent tidings for their professional collaboration! Furthermore, intellectually stimulating people are also great for work done apart, boosting energy and providing insightful feedback, so these two are going to be on fire for their solo projects, too.

Trine His Mars/Her Uranus (Positive): Favorable union. Link originality to initiative and decision-making. Encourage one another to be inventive and open to new possibilities. Sexual connection stays dynamic, fresh, and exciting.

They’re both plenty creative. Lex is made of drive. Gin puts more thought into decisions. As a team, they have it all. He pushes her to take chances out of her cautious box, and she suggests he hold off on charging ahead until he considers a second, potentially better option. When they meet in the middle, they have lots of fun without loss of life, limb, and financial security.

And again with the sex being flames. We get it. Sheesh.

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