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The Basics of Astrology
Planetary Patterns in Astrology
Astrologers have started to pay attention to the structure of the natal chart, strictly from the perspective of the distribution of planets around the Zodiac for over thirty years, which means quite recently as compared to the history of astrology.
Indeed, astrologers noticed that the charts with a high concentration of planets, and thus of energy, did not translate into the same types of personalities as the charts having a balanced distribution of planets, or those displaying other distinctive distributions. Don't forget to take a look at the article Astrological Figures and Composed Aspects which completes this page.
They observed that chart patterns seemed to have a meaning of their own that was unrelated to other usual factors, i.e. the meaning of planets in house and in sign, dignities, stellium, rulerships, aspects, etc.
Many case studies were carried out in the '70s and the '80s. As a result, the interpretation of certain classical patterns started to become available in recently published astrology handbooks.
Besides, if we take the example of a chart with all the planets concentrated within two or three signs only, which is extremely rare, it seems quite clear and logical that the pattern may endow the chart owner with an extraordinary high density of strengths in the fields corresponding to the places where the planets are posited. Consequently, there may be a complete deficiency in other fields. Somehow, such concentrations infer that the native's characteristics are very typical and emphasized. Conversely, a chart with scattered planets is more likely to describe a Jack-of-all trades personality, who is rather a generalist with less skills than a specialist.
Of course, no hierarchy was, and cannot be established at this level. As with all the other interpretations, the purpose of the exercise is to underline the characteristics that are specific to each pattern in order to flesh out the description of the natal chart, similarly to the assessment of the population of the hemispheres and the quadrants, the interpretation of which dates back to much more ancient times.
In approximately fifteen years, several chart patterns have been classified:
The SPLASH, paradoxically very rare, displays planets fairly regularly scattered around the Zodiac. Its opposite is easily identified as
the BUNDLE, or the WEDGE, with all the planets gathered in approximately 120 degrees,
the BOWL, with all the planets posited in a single hemisphere,
the BUCKET, or the FUNNEL, with all the planets posited in one part of the Zodiac, with the exception of one planet or a conjunction of planets on the opposite side and isolated,
the SEE-SAW, with two stellium completely separated from each other, but co-existing with each other,
the LOCOMOTIVE, which is actually a chart with all the planets gathered on a large part of the Zodiac (quite the contrary of the BUNDLE), and where there is an empty space of 120 degrees,
the TRIPOD, resembling the SEE-SAW, but with a planet or a conjunction of planets clearly separated from the two other groups. Its influence makes the see-saw keep changing from side to the other, depending on the planets involved,
the FAN, similar to the BUNDLE with planets very tightly gathered, but with a planet or a conjunction of planets on the opposite side.
Let's not forget to mention the unclassifiable patterns of the ASSYMETRIC type, with the planets unequally spread and no clear shape.
In this article, upon the requests expressed by many visitors of our site, we go over the different drawings of the chart, also known as planetary patterns.
N.B.: in the examples of celebrities we give below, when the time of birth is unknown, the Ascendant and the house cusps are arbitrary. Nonetheless, the geometrical shape remains totally valid because the four angles, and particularly the Ascendant and the Midheaven, are not taken into account for the construction of the said geometrical figure.
As indicated by its name, this planetary pattern displays an even scattering of the ten planets throughout the Zodiac (from Mercury to Pluto, and the luminaries, namely the Sun and the Moon). There is continuity in the planets' distribution. The maximum distance between any two planets is of three signs, or 90 degrees.
Contrary to what one may believe, paradoxically enough, this pattern is one of the rarest.
It heralds a potential for varied centres of interest. The native can shift from one field to another with flexibility and relevance, with the capacity to land on his feet in any given situation. It is as if this pattern inferred a " Mercury dominant " effect since Mercury is well-known for being a real chameleon. When a natal chart is already marked by a Mercury dominant, this influence is even more strengthened. As we are broaching the dominant sign topic, it is obvious that Geminis must be mentioned since they are known for their natural capacity to hop from one subject to another, and to get interested in nearly everything.
Examples of celebrities with a SPLASH chart
THE BUNDLE or THE WEDGE
This planetary pattern is the opposite of the previous one. All the planets are gathered in a small portion of the Zodiac measuring 140 degrees at the maximum. With such a concentration of energies in the same area, the native is likely to be a specialist in the fields indicated by the house(s) that are most tenanted by the bundle, and according to the usual interpretation criteria.
Although the native's talents and assets are truly unique, powerful and specialized, in other areas of life, he is likely to be lost, rejected and marginalized. The happy conclusion for the owners of this type of chart is to live their passion without fear because it is the only way for them to achieve harmony and fulfilment. The direct confrontation with other types of experience, which are unsuitable for them, would only result in enduring inhibitions.
Examples of celebrities with a BUNDLE chart
In this planetary pattern, all the planets are gathered in a portion measuring a maximum of 240 degrees, i.e. the whole Zodiac minus four signs.
In this pattern, possibly the most frequent one in asymmetric charts, two planets are emphasized: the planet leading the locomotive in the natural order of the signs (counterclockwise), which plays the role of the leader and somehow pulls the personality. Its assessment is carried out according to the sign and the house where it is posited, as well as its dignities and its aspects. The other emphasized planet is the last planet of the locomotive, or trailing planet. Its energy is expressed in less powerful and more passive ways.
The native's energy is potentially more intense here than in the splash pattern, but the empty part may bring about problems. The evolution challenge is to try to fully integrate the weak areas in order to benefit from the additional strength provided by the concentration of energy, particularly by the leading planet, instead of undergoing its drawbacks. If we were to make an analogy with a sign, Aries would best fit the locomotive pattern, with its strong personality that is subjected to the goal of the moment, but that could also shift from high energy to deep despondency, always for a short time...
Examples of celebrities with a LOCOMOTIVE chart
All the planets are gathered within a hemisphere, or bowl, i.e. 180 degrees, or a wide half of the circle (up to a maximum of 190 degrees).
Which such a pattern, relatively frequently found, the native usually has very characteristic and marked features, and he is deeply aware of his assets. The concentration of planets in a single hemisphere, or a half of the chart, may yield an abundance of energy, although less than that provided by the bundle or wedge pattern. Nevertheless, there is an acute awareness that the other half of the bowl is missing.
Most often, the native wants to make up for this lack, symbolized by the central part of the void (the empty part of the bowl opposite the tenanted part). Like in the locomotive pattern, the principle of leading planet and " cannonball " planet is also found here, although it is expressed less strongly.
The peculiarities of the bowl pattern are quite varied, and its consequences on the native's personality can be classified into eight categories, depending on the orientation of the bowl in terms of the four directions, North, South, East, West, and the combinations of two directions: North-East, North-West, South-West, and South-East.
The interpretations depend on the hemispheres and quadrants' usual meaning: the North, with the IC or Imum Coeli as focus at the bottom of the chart, indicates a rich and prevailing inner life that is not very visible from the outside. The South, with the MC or Medium Coeli as focus, heralds a destiny with many achievements, most likely a remarkable and public one. The East suggests that the character is strong and uncompromising. The native does not pay too much attention to what others may think and moves ahead according to his nature. The West indicates that other people are always of utmost importance and play an essential role in the native's decision-taking process. To interpret the last four combined directions, it is necessary to pair off the above descriptions.
Examples of celebrities with a BOWL chart
The interpretation of the hemispheres requires caution as case studies have shown the necessity to put their meaning into perspective. Thus, as an example, when assessing the natal chart of Alain Richard, a former French Minister for Defence, the bundle pattern with all the planets posited in the Northern hemisphere would indicate a typical introverted person. Actually, his public life was under the medias' scrutiny, even though it did not last long, and his job as a Minister would suggest that his Southern hemisphere was particularly highlighted! Therefore, how to get out of this apparent contradiction?
The following principles can be helpful: in charts with an emphasis on the Northern hemisphere, when all the planets are well integrated, the emphasis does not preclude the possibility of a career in the limelight. Nevertheless, the inner life remains powerful and is most likely to influence the native's priorities. In addition, it is probable that to his close friends, he comes across as a quite secretive person, not too keen on outings, forefronts, and extraverted boisterous manifestations. Would you imagine Alain Richard as Mike Jagger or Johnny Hallyday, performing on a musical scene?
On Alain Richard's chart, two factors suggest that the Northern hemisphere effect is offset. Firstly, the positions of the Moon and of Mars in Gemini indicate a talkative tendency and an extremely sharp sense of repartee, which counterbalances the generally introspective nature. Secondly, the concentration of planets in bundle patterns yields more potency than in bowl patterns, which may result in the willingness to roll up his sleeves… at least for a limited period, even though it does not match his true nature.
Furthermore, the interpretation of the whole chart must be carried out thoroughly, along with a careful assessment of the Jupiter-Neptune conjunction on the 6th house cusp, in trine with the Moon, etc. The Jupiter-Neptune conjunction might be one of the elements explaining that Alain Richard did experience an eventful public life in spite of his impressive Northern hemisphere...
The purpose of the above example was to warn against making broad generalisations about the interpretation of any factor considered separately from the other factors of the natal chart.
Examples of celebrities with a BUNDLE in the Northern hemisphere
THE BUCKET or THE FUNNEL
In this quite frequent pattern, like in the preceding pattern, all the planets are gathered in one hemisphere, i.e. within a maximum of 190 degrees, but with a planet or a conjunction of planets posited apart from the main group. A minimum distance of 30 degrees, and preferably of 60 degrees, must separate the isolated planet/conjunction from the main group. In this bucket pattern as in the bowl pattern, the concentration of energy is also very high, with a leading planet and a trailing planet (always taken in the natural order of signs, i.e. Aries, Taurus, etc. through Pisces). The concentrated energy is released through the isolated planet, also known as the Apex, which channels the entire dynamism of the chart and constitutes the native's privileged focal point. Its meaning depends on the usual factors such as signs, houses, dignities, aspects and rulerships. The energy available here is more powerful than in the bowl pattern, and if the native chooses his assets properly, he will gain many more means than the native who has a bowl pattern.
If we were to make an analogy with a sign, a part of Scorpio would best fit the bucket pattern, with its deep, intense, and passionate personality capable of running its life with a nearly superhuman and relentless determination.
Examples of celebrities with a BUCKET chart
In this pattern, the planets are split up into two distinct groups and separated by at least two signs, i.e. 60 degrees. There must be a minimum of two planets opposing each other, one from each group, so that the said groups face each other.
See-saw patterns are extremely rare. As a matter of fact, the native is constantly torn between one group or the other. The personality is characterized by a duality that is quite difficult to solve in the beginning because the decision-making process is necessarily tainted by hesitancy, and striking a balance proves quite gruelling. In most cases, as the native matures, the integration of the two separated parts is achieved gradually and more easily if Saturn is strong. Ultimately, the see-saw pattern offers the rich fullness of the two opposite and complementary ends of the personality.
If we were to make an analogy with a sign, Libra would best fit the See-saw pattern, with its irresolute personality, its concern about choosing between a compromise and one of the two possibilities corresponding to the two ends of the See-saw.
Examples of celebrities with a SEE-SAW chart
There are two different kinds of definitions for the tripod pattern according to their different authors, a strict definition and a broader one. The first one describes the tripod as a see-saw type pattern, with a planet or conjunction of planets separated from the two groups by at least two signs (60 degrees). The second broader definition allows a third group composed of two or three planets in addition to the two main groups. In that case, the mini-group has the effect of the isolated planet described in the strict definition.
The instability is stronger in the tripod pattern than in the see-saw pattern. Mastering the tripod is generally quicker because the native is exposed to unsteadiness much earlier in life and learns how to make use of the third group, or isolated planet, in order to get rid of - let's say to integrate - the duality of the personality that is intrinsically linked to the presence of the two main groups.
The versatility is stronger here than in the see-saw pattern. The native has a greater scope of action and handles the tripod's energy more easily thanks to the isolated planet or the third group, which plays out as the "wild card", and at the same time retains a higher level of concentrated energy than in the Splash pattern.
Examples of celebrities with a TRIPOD chart
This pattern is actually a bucket with the difference that the cluster of planets has a higher concentration (narrower geographical distribution). In the bucket pattern, the width of the cluster can be up to 190 or 200 degrees, whereas the fan allows a width of 120 to 140 degrees only. Actually, the fan is a bundle pattern with an isolated planet, or a conjunction of planets, clearly separated from the cluster.
The duality between the isolated element and the cluster is so strong that it is very understandable that the isolated element takes an importance that is even stronger than in the bucket pattern. The APEX (the name of the isolated planet or conjunction) becomes not only the point through which the native can channel the energy provided by the cluster, but it is also a tool. It seems that, as the apex becomes the dominant of the cluster, it also becomes an integral part of it.
This sort of pattern is strongly characterized. It is relatively rare and usually translates into outstanding personalities or destinies, if the Southern hemisphere is very highlighted.
Examples of celebrities with a FAN chart
THE ASYMMETRICAL PATTERNS
They are impossible to classify. They resemble the splash pattern, although they translate into more typical and less generalist characters. The native is often a real chameleon.
They are quite frequent, although not as much as the locomotive pattern.
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With the famous Celestar, you can access the detailed natal chart of all the celebrities who were mentioned as our examples. You can also discover many other figures and planetary patterns. In addition, you can check celebrities' photos and popularity statistics, as well as the compatibilities of those thousands of famous people in our database, which is updated every day.
With the Planets and Celebrities page, you will find celebrities with planets in a particular sign or house, or houses - Placidus domification system - in a particular sign, and also use the Advanced Search, a powerful tool to use 3 simultaneous criteria for example to search famous people among more more than 50,000 with good affinity with you.
With the Dominant Planets page, you will find more than 50,000 celebrities celebrities of the site Astrotheme which are classified by astrological criteria of distributions and dominant planets.
ASPECT FIGURES OR COMPOSED ASPECTS
This article has covered the planetary patterns in natal charts, and not the figures formed by composed aspects. The latter constitute equally important factors that will be addressed in an additional article, very soon.
The meaning of the twelve major and minor aspects formed by two planets are known, at least their broad outlines: the conjunction (0 degree), the semi-sextile (30 degrees), the semi-quintile (36 degrees), the semi-square (45 degrees), the sextile (60 degrees), the quintile (72 degrees), the square (90 degrees), the trine (120 degrees), the sesqui-square (135 degrees), the bi-quintile (144 degrees), the quincunx, or inconjunct (150 degrees), and the opposition (180 degrees).
These aspects may have a positive or negative influence depending on several criteria such as the nature of the analysis. For instance, in synastry, planets in opposition are very often beneficial (except in certain cases, owing to the nature of the planets involved) because they are complementary, whereas in natal charts, they indicate that their positive influence can be expressed only after a few ordeals have been overcome. Other criteria are the emphasis on the fixed, cardinal or mutable signs, the tie with other elements of the chart, etc.
Of course, more complex aspects can be formed by more than two planets.
The four basic aspect figures are the T-Square (2 planets opposing each other and forming 2 squares with a third planet), the Yod or Finger of God (involving 3 planets, 2 of which are in sextile and both form a quincunx with the third one), the Grand Trine or triple trine (3 planets or groups of planets forming an equilateral triangle), and the Grand Square (involving 4 planets forming 2 oppositions and a double T-Square, or a perfect square with 4 angles of 90 degrees).
In addition, there are other interesting figures :
the stellium (the Zodiac divided by 1), the hammer and the hourglass (division by 2), the cradle, the mystical rectangle and the kite (division by 3), but also the arrow (division by 4), as well as the trapeze and less usual figures such as the envelope, the butterfly and the Star of David, or Seal of Solomon.
We deal with all these aspect figures in our article Astrological Figures and Composed Aspects.