Marc Edmund Jones describes 7 different chart formations in his book “The Essentials of Astrological Analysis.” The information given here follows his basic plan with modifications, especially when it comes to detailing exactly what the limits of a specific formation are. Jones was somewhat more vague on this than I am.
Chart formations are a good way of getting an overall idea of a chart before looking at any other specifics. Formation has to do with the general pattern of planets as a whole as they are situated in the wheel. Sometimes it is quite easy to take a glance at a chart and see immediately what the chart formation is. At other times when has to do some more exact measuring to determine what the formation is.
Chart formation is determined by the gaps that exist between planets, with a gap of 60 degrees or more being significant. Any space in a chart that is less than 60 degrees and contains no planets is not considered to be a gap. Of course it IS a gap – just not one big enough to be considered a MAJOR GAP. From here on in this essay when I say GAP I mean a space of AT LEAST 60 DEGREES of space in where there are no planets.
Also, in chart formation we are only considering the seven traditional planets plus Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. We are NOT taking into consideration Chiron, any of the asteroids, the Moon’s nodes, Part of fortune, or any other point in the chart.
The first formation I shall speak of is called the SPLASH type. This is a type that is actually rarely found. The SPLASH formation occurs when there are no gaps whatsoever. If we follow this definition to the letter we will indeed encounter a SPLASH chart very infrequently. Here I do hedge a little and say that there might be one gap, but if there is, it should not be over 90 degrees. If it is, then the chart actually falls into a different type of formation, as we shall see later.
The SPLASH formation is into a lot of different things, and tends to live a variegated life. This person is the opposite of a specialist. I always symbolically think of this type as a movie director, for a movie director needs to think of actors, plot, lighting, costumes. Makeup, camera angle, etc. In other words, since movies are about life, anything and everything might be involved with the making of a movie. The SPLASH type scatters energies.
Before going any farther I would like to say that one of the most important points I want to make in my work as an astrologer is that to be a good astrologer one must cleanse one’s perceptions of taken-for-granted biases. For instance, we tend to think of scattering energies as a bad thing – and it is not – at least not in every context. A SPLASH type of person might make a very good administrator, because they could be into every aspect of, say the manufacturing, marketing, and sales of an item, together with personal relations, hiring workers, and maybe fixing the toilet when it get stopped up. In some contexts, scattered energies can be just what is needed. If a person with a SPLASH chart tries to focus or limit their energies and involvements too much, they will not be happy. Of course, for the sake of survival, they need to be encouraged to focus on something enough be gain enough skill and expertise to make money at it, but whenever possible, they need to be allow to spread themselves as broadly as the planets are spread in their chart.
Another great occupation for a SPLASH type might be a writer, for obviously a SPLASH type is a gatherer of experience, and as a writer would probably range very widely in this process of gathering things to write about.
The next formation is the SPLAY type. The SPLAY chart pattern is formed when there are THREE GAPS. What these gaps do is divide the chart into three different groups of planets.
One thing we can say about the splay chart is that they tend to have their own unique way of doing things, are will not feel happy or fulfilled until they place themselves in a situation where they are free to discover how they want to go about performing their work. The SPLAY type is also a natural artist who is trying, in whatever they do to engineer something unique and which has on it their personal stamp. This type tends to be more attuned to subjective experience – their inner life and their emotions, than to the outer world. Almost always the SPLAY type will be an INTERESTING person, due to their unique approach to life.
The next formation is known as the SEE-SAW type. This is actually the chart formation you will encounter the most frequently as you look at chart. It is formed when there are just two gaps in the chart, dividing the planets into two distinct groups. It does not matter what the size of these groups are – they could be divided evenly, five and five, or they might be divided two and eight. If they are divided with nine planets on one side and one on the other, then you do not have a SEE-SAW type – you have a bucket, which we will talk of later.
Also, you need to know that it doesn’t matter whether or not these two groups of planets are across the chart from each other — just so long as there are two gaps. One of these gaps could potentially be as much as 210 or more degrees, with the other gap being say only about 60. This is just a hypothetical example to show you that the SEE-SAW could be very skewed. The point of the formation is that it has these two groups, and NOT whether or not they’re directly across the chart from each other.
The SEE-SAW type is a person who has two basic areas of interest in their life, and who is trying to balance these two areas with each other to produce harmony. The SEE-SAW individual can have a hard time making up their mind, for they tend to often be pulled in two different directions at once. If you want to know more about what these two areas of life have to do with, you can look at the houses occupied by the two different groups of planets. Sometimes these two different groups will be divided from each other by the horizon line (1st house/7th house axis) or by the Midheaven/Nadir line (10th house 4th house axis). If this is the case it actually makes the interpretation of the chart somewhat easier, for then the divisions within the person’s life are between purely self-oriented involvements on the one hand and more interactive, relational involvements on the other (in the case of the dividing line being the 1st house/7th house axis), or between their strictly private life and their life out in the world (in the case of the dividing line being the 10th house/4th house axis).
In the next blog I will tell you of the other 4 chart formations. For now I’m going to snuggle up with my kindle and read Gertrude Stein’s “Three Lives.” Soon I plan to do an interpretation of her chart for you. Stay warm, everyone. I hope the New Year will hold many wonderful surprises for all of you.