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Composite charts and Davison relationship charts…explained!

Two different ways to combine horoscopes -- one as a shoreline, the other a timespot -- look similar, yet are worlds apart.  

By John Townley, March 20014

Before the early 1970s, the approach to chart comparisons and relationships was simply synastry:  you put one chart on top of the other and noted where they touched or aspected each other. Then came composite charts, constructed of mutual midpoints, which seemed to shed a new dynamic light on the relationship between two horoscopes for reasons not well-understood at the time.

But in the decade following, there arose a flood of artificially-imagined spin-offs, knock-offs, and basically arbitrary hybrids that included multiple composites, composite progressions and directions, composite solar and lunar returns, composites between nations, composites between people and countries or cities, nations, and events, the composite point, time composites, harmonic composites, coalescent charts, all confusingly alternate ways of manipulating two charts to see how they might relate.

By the Millennium, most of these concoctions were winnowed out until really the only regularly-used enrichment to standard synastry is now the original midpoint composite itself. The only close runner-up, still offered in many software programs, is Ronald C. Davison’s time-midpoint chart often called the Davison relationship chart, which can work fairly well, particularly when and where it overlaps the space-midpoint chart, which at least half of it usually does.

Two seminal books from the 1970s, with completely different takes on relationships and personal interaction.

But why would one chart, based on midpoints in space, work so much better (or differently) than another one based in the midpoint in time?  And why do they overlap so strangely? Are they, in fact, totally different animals? It can seem confusing, but when you get down to the physical basics of why they are what they are, there are compelling reasons why one works and the other may not, depending on what you’re asking of it. So here’s a look at each one, using the ever-popular (and well-documented) Brad Pitt (12-18-1963, 6:31 AM, Shawnee, OK) and Angelina Jolie (6-4-1975, 9:09 AM, Los Angeles, CA) as the example duo.

Easiest first, the Davison chart is simply a natal chart cast for the midpoint in time and place between them, which for Brad and Angelina would be September 10, 1969, 6:27 AM local time, on the far Northeast slope of Broom Mountain, NM (deep in the methedrine mountains about 85 miles SW of Albuquerque). It’s hard to find any connection with either person and the date (the NY Mets reached #1, Jimi Hendrix performed in Greenwich Village, a U.S. nuclear test at Grand Valley, CO), and it’s likely neither has ever been to or even heard of Broom Mountain. And, of course, as always with Davison charts, one of them (Jolie) was not even born then, while the other (Pitt) was only five and living far away in Springfield, MO, at the chart’s inception.

If there is any connection with this time chart and either person’s natal chart, it is out there on the astral plane. But that might be appropriate, as Davison was a Theosophist, president of the Theosophical Society’s Astrological Lodge, London, and the Theosophical approach to astrology has been traditionally ethereal to say the least. He rectified all his charts, for instance, based on the obscure (to most astrologers) “prenatal epoch”, a theoretical chart of conception or “soul chart” based on backward extrapolation of the position of the birth Moon and Ascendant, an idea traced back as far as Vettius Valens in the second century and a favorite of the school of esoteric astrologers like Alice Bailey.

Below: Brangelina in Space and Time:



Above: In both composite and Davison charts, Saturn and the outer planets are usually close to the same spot, but everything else varies enormously, depending on how far apart the births are, how the midpoint in time happens to bisect the varying and retrograding planetary cycles. In this case, the Ascendants of both are within a degree (unusually close), Sun and Moon are along the same axes but opposite, Jupiter almost so, and the rest are totally different. Yet, as to interpretation by house and aspect, the two are kind of ghostlike semi-reflections of each other, as is often the case, though one might argue the composite more concretely depicts the Brangelina relationship as it has been publicly known so far, visibly and successfully partner and service-oriented, rather than hidden, acrimonious and troublesome, as the Davison chart would suggest...

Composites use ordinary midpoints between two charts, Davison makes a separate chart between two times.

Some historical context:

This timeline-base “relationship chart” was a child of Davison’s latter years (first presented in 1977’s Synastry: Understanding Human Relationships Through Astrology, his life spanning 1914-85), so it doesn’t appear to be central to his work, but more an off-the-cuff response to the sudden burst of interest in composite/midpoint charts in the air at the time. With all those Germanic space-midpoint charts about, why not a nice English one using time? That “why not?” approach was the genesis of the many speculative charts dealing with relationships that were spawned in the 1970s, including several of my own in my 1973 slim but seminal introductory volume on composites (like the latitude-sensitive composite, the composite point, the group composite, and composite progressions, none of which turned out to actually work). In the end, it turned out there were a lot of good reasons “why not”, once one figured out what a composite chart really is, and isn’t. Nevertheless, perhaps the Davison chart has something to be said for it on the more etheric planes, but its following has become increasingly limited, lacking a compelling raison d’etre or track record.     

    Ronald C. Davison (l.,1914-1985), former president of the Astrological Lodge of the Theosophical Society, London,  editor of The Astrology Magazine, introduced time-midpoint charts five years after John Townley (r.,1945-), former president of the Astrologers’ Guild of America, New York, editor of The Astrological Review, introduced space midpoint composites.                        

The composite chart (of mutual space-midpoints), interestingly, unlike the usually obscurely-located and timed Davison chart, isn’t an actual horoscope at all, in the strictest terms. Its positions coincide with no actual time and location, but are a simple extrapolation from two charts, a mathematical construct of mutual midpoints. So what, in fact, is it, and what does it tell you? Similar to how a graph measures positions in time and space, a composite measures where ongoing transit cycles shift their favor and emphasis from one chart to the other. So, in our diagram above left, if person A has Sun at 15 Gemini, each time the transiting Sun, Moon, or any other planet passes that degree, it tends to emphasize and strengthen (or in the case of malefics, diminish) A’s Sun and its qualities, like a passing spotlight.  And if person B has Sun at 15 Leo, the same happens for B when regularly cycling transits reach that degree. So, the near midpoint (C) at 15 Cancer is the point where the relative varying strength of A becomes equal to B and then B begins to be favored. Later, the process switches at the far midpoint of 15 Capricorn. Take the midpoints of each of A’s and B’s mutual planets (Sun with Sun, Moon with Moon, etc.), put them into a house wheel made up of mutual house cusp midpoints, and that’s your composite chart.  It’s essentially a clever circular snapshot of the timing points of power shifts from one person to another, depicted in a familiar horoscope wheel, packed with information about how transits push and pull the partnership, shaping it along the way.   

Metaphorically, if you look at A as the land and B as the sea, the composite would describe the entire shoreline between the two, where the waves beat and the ongoing weather is made. Some shores are smooth and gentle, easily traversed, some rocky and troublesome, inviting shipwreck.

The space-midpoint composite chart serves as a dynamic shoreline where two charts continually interact, share transits.

This approach has the same historical and physical basis as ordinary midpoints in a natal chart. Although widespread midpoint-usage (and the early conception of composites as well) didn’t flower until the 1920s, the founding concepts of besiegement and translation of light go back to ancient times as tried and true elements of the horoscope. Composites are just a way of applying that same idea to two persons in the same vicinity, instead of two planets in the same nativity.

Interestingly, how and why midpoints of any sort work may be a key to what the natal horoscope itself really is (hint: it’s not you, it’s an evolving web around you, begun at birth), and midpoints in time may shed special light on the reoccurring hazards of regular composites with yourself and others of certain birth years, but that’s a subject for another article…

For even more on composite and synastry, see:

Soul Mates

Composite Charts: They Grow On You

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