Venus-Pluto: Lovely, Dark And Deep


I have a random request: Can you do an article about Venus-Pluto? (Question brought to by my upcoming transit Venus conjunct natal Pluto. But we also have that wild Thanksgiving T-square with Jupiter-Pluto-Uranus which has Venus conjunct Pluto exact. So it could be of general interest too right?) But it seems like it always brings so much angst…and not much else. ~ bomega


This was a question asked by a reader in the comments section just before Mercury retrograde in Virgo, which is why I didn’t respond right away. We do have a Venus-Pluto conjunction coming up in time for Thanksgiving, and it’s Scorpio season, so why not take a look at Plutonic love? [Read more…]

Synastry Vs. Composite Charts: The Destiny Of Your Relationship


“Hi Clarissa, I noticed on your astrology readings page that you prefer composite charts for relationships more than synastry charts. Can you explain why?” ~ Heidi 


This was a recent email question posed to me after someone read that on my consultation page that I think synastry charts between two people are a bit overrated, and that I prefer looking at composite charts for relationships. Sometimes these things are dependent on the astrologer and their unique experience; no two astrologers will see eye to eye on everything. I do think synastry is overrated. Reason being: we have synastry with everyone. Synastry just describes how something in your chart fits in with another person’s chart. You have synastry with your boss, your coworkers, your hair stylist, the wait staff at restaurants. If you read my blog and love me, you’ve got great synastry with me. If you hate me and feel compelled to write me a long email telling me so, you’ve got synastry there too. (Also, too much time on your hands.)


A composite chart, in my opinion and from my experience, better describes the dynamics that brought two people into a relationship. You have synastry with everyone, and a good portion of them will have similar synastry charts as the person you’re in love with. So, what drew you two together specifically? Synastry can describe chemistry, composite can take it one step further and describe destiny, or the deeper feeling of fate that brings a relationship together.


A 9th house emphasis in a composite chart can show two people brought together by shared beliefs, and show a relationship that falls apart if people do not know exactly what the other person believes in or if beliefs change. A 10th house emphasis in a composite can show a couple that can turn the relationship into a business, or help each others’ status. It can also show they think of each other as status symbols that raise their individual profile first, and think of them as a person second. An 11th house emphasis can show the couple remains friends when the romance has faded, which is a benefit in any romantic partnership. It can also show they think of each other as “just friends” and it never goes to a deeper level. A 4th house composite emphasis can show a couple brought together or destroyed by views on heritage, family, and residence. An 8th house emphasis can show that the couple is brought together for the common purpose of emotional and psychological exploration; how that ends depends on how well equipped each partner is for such an intense journey.


The ascendant of the composite chart is a good indicator of how other people view the two people in a relationship. It can explain why some people are very happy despite public fighting and arguments, or why two people who appear perfect in the eyes of loved ones have nothing but struggles behind closed doors.


Do you prefer synastry or composite charts for relationships? Which one and why? What has been your personal experience of the houses in composite charts? Let us know in the comments below!


No, Your Astrology Sign Hasn’t Changed

astrology new signs zodiac change

Astrology clock, Prague


Once again, there’s a bunch of stories being floated around (like this one) about how everyone’s star sign is different and wrong, astrology is completely ignorant of astronomy and therefore inaccurate, and of course how us astrologers and astrology lovers are just ignorant of all science of any kind. Bunch of low IQ knuckle draggers, we are! I don’t think many of my readers believe the stories being circulated about how astrological Sun signs are no longer accurate, since my readers tend to be more astrology literate (and more literate in general) but I have seen questions about this showing up in my blog dashboard coming from search engines, so I figure it’s as great a time as any to clarify:


Your astrology sign has not changed and will never change.


The reason behind these stories claiming everyone’s zodiac sign is different than what astrologers are telling people, and that there’s a 13th sign called Ophiucus that astrologers aren’t telling the population about, is because NASA and other astronomical organizations will occasionally send out news of changes in the location of constellations. The constellations do move. What astronomers don’t ever trouble themselves to clarify when they trash astrology publicly is that the constellations do not figure into astrological zodiac signs. The zodiac signs share their names with the constellations, but yes astrologers do know the difference.


Astrology uses a 360 degree circle divided into 12 separate signs of 30 degrees each. The starting point of the circle is based not on the starting point of constellations but the beginning of the March equinox, since the astrological zodiac is based on an Earth view relationship to the Sun. Just as your wall calendar is divided into 12 segments based on our relationship to the Sun. The starting point at the March equinox is known as “the Aries point” which is zero degrees of the astrological sign Aries. This has never changed and will never change and it’s not because astrologers are ignorant of astronomy (in 2016?! puh-leez) but because we use a different system of measurement. The static astrological system of measurement used by astrologers just shares the names of the moving astronomical constellations, that’s all.


You’re still the sign you think you are, ok?


A few years back, the very astute traditional astrologer Deborah Houlding did a full writeup for Astrodienst clarifying the confusion, if you are looking for an in-depth explanation I recommend reading the highlighted link. Per Houlding’s article:


“Why is the zodiac divided into twelve equal divisions, rather than any other number of equal or unequal divisions? For the same reason that there are twelve calendar months in a year. The zodiac is a circle which maps out the Sun’s position throughout the year… Hence the zodiac adopts the general template that is used in all calendars: there are four major divisions, defined in the zodiac by four equal quarters separated by 90°, which determine where the ecliptic intersects with the equator to create the astronomical commencement of the four seasons…


The zodiac is a very elegant combination of astronomical and calendrical principles. Although the correlation of zodiac degrees and days in a year is not precise, the use of the zodiac as a reference system that monitors planetary movements and interactions, or considers the impact of seasonal changes, remains perfectly valid. The system has a great depth of philosophical reasoning built into its design, partly because the period in which its development began to aid mathematical astronomy occurred at the time that philosophers, such as Pythagoras, were exploring the mystical nature of shapes and geometrical relationships, and generating metaphysical theories on why numerical arrangements could determine qualities as well as quantities…”


Memorize Houlding’s explanations for the next time some science-ier than thou smartass tries to puff themselves up by ridiculing astrology lovers.



Weirdo Book Reviews: The Book Of Retrogrades by John McCormick

astrology retrogrades in charts Venus Mercury mars

L: Cover of “The Book Of Retrogrades” by John McCormick. R: Photo by Nom Pourflickr.


“What does it mean if I have Mercury/Venus/Mars retrograde in my birth chart?” is a fairly common question among people trying to learn astrology. I’ve been asked to answer this question by several readers in the past, and since I aim to please I will oblige. Since Mercury is still retrograde in Virgo, I’ll stick with last month’s theme of killing two birds with one stone and also do a book review/recommendation: this time it’s John McCormick’s The Book Of Retrogrades.

[Read more…]

Weirdo Book Reviews: Interpreting The Eclipses By Robert Carl Jansky

L: Cover of "Interpreting The Eclipses". R: Photo by Amy Shore.

L: Cover of “Interpreting The Eclipses”. R: Photo by Amy Shore.


“Eclipses. I know this is a very vast topic, but maybe eclipses of certain notable events? How eclipses stir things up, examples of. Why some are ‘duds’ or seem so. Interesting how they can be re-stimulated when a planet conjuncts that eclipse point, too–time frame for that happening.” – Nancy


Back in February, I posted an article asking for readers to submit questions that they’d like to see answered here on Viva Combusta! I answered nearly all of them shortly thereafter except this one. It was past eclipse season by the time I started working on the writeup, so I decided to wait until the next eclipse season, which is upon us this September. Since we’ve also got Mercury in its domicile Virgo emphasizing effective use of our words, I want to kill two birds with one stone by also doing my second installment of book reviews and recommendations. This time it’s Robert Carl Jansky’s classic Interpreting The Eclipses.

[Read more…]

Wanna Seduce Aries? Seduce Their Mars Sign First!

Vintage Laverda motorcycle postcard

Vintage Laverda motorcycle postcard


The question of how to appeal to Aries – the sign of high vitality and low attention span – was brought up recently in a consultation with a client. I felt it was worthy of its own explanation in a post. A lot of people read those by-the-numbers formulaic astrology instructions on how to seduce this or that Sun or rising sign, with mixed results. Probably the very last sign you’d want to try such an approach with is Aries. It’s a common mistake to think that Aquarius is the most individualistic sign of the zodiac; that title actually belongs to Aries. Arise is the first sign of the zodiac and as such identifies closely with its ego and desires much the same way as a child does: purely and instinctively and immediately. Aries likes to think of itself as being as unique as a single snowflake (regardless of how true that might actually be), so approaching them as if they can be neatly summarized, as if you already know something about them, is the very last thing any of them want.


A better attempt of understanding how the Aries ego and energy is expressed, and how to pique their curiosity enough to want to pursue/be pursued, is to look at their Mars sign. You may think that passion for everyone is shown by their Mars; that’s true, but more true for Aries. As the ruling planet of individualistic, independent Aries, Mars colors each Aries persons approach to romance and seduction. Looking at the sign and house that Mars is in as well as the aspects it makes in the Aries persons birth chart will provide you with a lot of information about what gets them excited. Not all Aries want to pursue or be pursued in aggressive, Mars-y ways; their love style may not be obvious and it’s better to find out what they really want than to assume.


A small basic sampling of Aries through their Mars sign:

[Read more…]

Reviewing “Earth Based Astrology” With Mercury Retrograde in Taurus


Taurus is a fixed earth sign, so with Mercury retrograde in Taurus there is a focus on bringing everything back down to earth. We’re still in an ongoing mutable T-square between Jupiter in Virgo, Saturn Rx in Sagittarius and Neptune in Pisces, which is creating a lot of moments of doubt, existential crises, losing faith and so on. Everything we thought we knew, the old reliable we could depend on, are shapeshifting into something we can’t fully make out just yet. But, the information gathering process that informs our bigger belief systems is filtered now through Mercury working it’s way backwards through the decidedly no-nonsense, realistic sign of the Bull.


Very recently I had been having a crisis of faith moment in astrology itself. Doesn’t matter I’ve been doing it for over half my life now; I just had some moments of frustration regarding the nature of astrology itself, which no astrologer has ever been able to properly explain. The best of the best didn’t doubt it worked and stood by its place in our lives, but understanding the why’s and how’s has always been the mystery. It’s sort of like God or love in that no one really knows what the hell it even is. Lots of good guesses, but ultimately comes down to trusting it exists based on experiences rather than anything you can point to as definitive proof. I wrote a post in February asking readers to submit topics they’d like to see covered here; I’ve answered all except the ones asking my philosophy on astrology in general and the behavior of certain bodies. It was something I thought I knew, but once I started to write something on it I’d realize my opinions aren’t as firm as I’d thought. There was a lot of questioning which turned in to a degree of doubt when Mercury went retrograde.


I still am reviewing my opinions and general philosophy, and obviously can’t answer “how does astrology work” any better than the next person can. Mercury retrograde in Taurus did remind me of an idea that resonated with me a long time ago but had forgotten in the busyness of life: the idea that astrology is Earth-based rather than actually something that comes to us from outer space.


This came about when I heard that the British astrologer Jonathan Cainer passed away May 2nd. He was a mostly Sun sign astrologer, so I wasn’t all that familiar with him beyond the debate with Richard Dawkins. After reviewing some of Cainer’s stuff, I was in the mood to look up some old essays of David Roell, an American astrologer who maintained the popular AstroAmerica site, and passed away in 2014. I was disappointed to see that the site is now offline. From memory, Roell was a Gemini rising, Aquarius Sun and as such always had rather unconventional ideas, often uncomfortable ones too. He had as many haters as he did followers, I think. I didn’t agree with his every viewpoint (I’ve never seen two people agree on absolutely everything, anyways), but when his writing was hot he could make my head spin in the best possible way.


It was on Roell’s AstroAmerica site and in his newsletters that I first heard the idea of “Earth based astrology”. Since the site is now offline, I cannot source his own words on the subject, and cannot discern whether the idea was uniquely his or if he took the idea from somewhere else and ran with it. I do remember the quote “the signs of the zodiac are qualities inherent of the Earth itself” and that he theorized that at some point the ancient astrologers projected the zodiac onto the corresponding constellations as a reference and a map showing trigger points for Earth based events.


It made more sense to me, at the time I read it, than any of the other more hippy-dippy explanations did, the ones that say the planets influence us through waves or “vibrations” and such. I do not think the planets exert any force on us at all. The Sun and Moon (which, of course, are not planets in astronomy, but still called planets in astrology per tradition) do exert obvious energy on planet Earth, measurable ones that leave no doubt. But: Mercury? Uranus, Pluto? I have no reason to believe these celestial bodies are anything beyond what astronomers say they are, which appears to be chunks of rock and gas at unfathomable distances from the Earth and not conducive to life. Yet, through my own astrological perspectives over the years I do not question that each planet has a distinct “flavor” associated with it and that very strongly impacts life on Earth in very real ways.


As I write this, Mercury is retrograde in Taurus; the retrograde is only an illusion as seen from Earth, as the planet itself cannot travel in reverse. Yet, I can see all around me the traditional manifestations of a Mercury retrograde: the communication issues, the confusion, the breakdown of machinery and technological gadgets… but, why would Mercury the planet “care” one way or the other that I had my cell phone serviced?


It doesn’t care, because it doesn’t know; not unlike the hands on a clock do not know the time yet their movement triggers alarm bells at certain times relevant to us that we respond to with urgency. Thinking of astrology from an Earth based perspective, the planets would seem to me like hands on a clock in that they do not cause events but instead correspond to them. If we lived as our ancestors did, with no clocks to tell time, we would respond instinctively to the time as determined by the natural cycles of the Sun and Moon. Not just day and night but also the seasons. They do not show signs of life themselves yet there is no question they affect our lives. I do not think it is that far a jump to think the other celestial bodies operate in a similar fashion, except that they do not have the obvious life sustaining qualities of the Sun and Moon. Their movements are like hands on a clock that, when struck, trigger events in our lives according to the individual themes they represent, and according to the combined themes when the aspects to each other (as seen from Earth) are blended. If you’ve been around a large bell clock, like the ones they have in old town centers or churches, you know that when the large bell sounds it does send vibrations which we each feel individually; I don’t think its unrealistic to think the reverberations of planetary movement can be felt within our sphere without the planets themselves directly sending the vibration from space.


The idea of astrology working only within the Earth’s spheres and not beyond still doesn’t explain the how’s or why’s, and I’m thinking it will probably go on as a perpetual unsolvable mystery. I do wonder if thinking of astrology from an Earth based perspective won’t get the ball rolling in the right direction, though. With Mercury retrograde in the very down to earth sign of Taurus, it’s a little bit of astrological food for thought.