No matter how knowledgeable we are about astrology, natal chart analysis can still present a challenge – however, understanding chart shapes could make all the difference. Chart Shapes: The Code to Interpretation pinpoints an effective route into the astrological labyrinth using a concept pioneered by Marc Edmund Jones then followed by Robert Jansky in the last century.
Each chart shape has its own central theme: a Locomotive shape has its starting point with the leading planet which may be in any house or sign, a See-Saw shape begins with the core opposition, a Wedge with the confining trine. Not all charts fit neatly into one of the idealised patterns, and those that take a little coaxing are still a revelation in interpretation. Sometimes it is the planet that stands outside the idealised shape that reveals the core of the personality.
With a multitude of worked case histories, this fascinating and accessible book is suitable for all levels.
Pioneered by Marc Edmund Jones and further developed by Robert Jansky, ‘chart shapes’ is a modern interpretive technique rendered through traditional approaches in Wanda Sellar’s latest book.
For many consultant astrologers, first glance at the planetary arrangement in a horoscope provides an immediate impression of the client through the emergence of a pattern – this may serve as a starting point for development before in-depth analysis of planetary condition, placement, aspects, etc. In my own practice, initial chart shape insights into character tend to be confirmed in the delineation. But of course, there’s always the awkward chart – the one that frustratingly seems
shapeless or a fusion of two or three patterns. Even Solar
Fire and other programs sometimes give up on the maverick
horoscope and offer no suggested shape. Never fear, Wanda is here. Her excellent book has come to our rescue. As she writes at the start, “If a chart looks as if it might belong to two shapes, there are designated degrees for separating groups of planets”.
She examines the seven designated shapes and their many
variations – such as the Splash, Bowl, See-Saw, Locomotive and Splay. She also has a priceless chapter on mixed or irregular shapes – you soon get the feeling that this book could be the first in a series. Horoscopes are as unique as their natives and we treat anything in astrology as a mechanical ‘template’ at our peril. An industry of discovered new patterns surely awaits exploitation.
The reader is led through the methodical process of chart
shape analysis: the rules of judgement and the significance of boundary planets are explained (should midpoints, for example, play a part in identifying a shape?). And I had not considered that each chart shape is associated with a planet – my own natal chart is a Splay, and this is associated with the Sun. News to me but no longer.
A 10-point summary of chart shape rules (such as affecting
trailing planets, singletons and empty spaces) is invaluable and easy to follow (if not always easy to practise).
No book such as this would be complete without celebrity
chart examples. In ‘The Bucket Shape and its Variations’ chapter, George Michael’s horoscope is examined: his singleton Neptune is the ‘handle’ of the bowl-part of the Bucket, marked the ‘High Focus Planet’. Mars and Saturn on the boundary of the bowl-part describe the depression and torment the singer endured, as if the two malefics are closing in on his Neptune that occupies the empty space of the chart – the planet in itself is an indicator of solo or pioneering creativity. Sellar’s interpretations are subtle
and nuanced, loaded with wisdom and sensitivity.
Each of the shapes has its positive and challenging traits (amply described). And an Appendix at the back of the book usefully defines astrological terms – helping to make the title accessible to students. Blessed with lucidity and good sense, Chart Shapes has much to offer even the most seasoned astrologer.
Victor Olliver – The Astrological Journal
Wanda Sellar has written an easy to read but comprehensive book, which is packed full of valuable information and practical insights. Chart Shapes does not have a specific target audience; therefore it will not only appeal to budding students alike, who wish to convey their knowledge through conventional and alternative means, but it will be alluring to those who wish to further enhance their overall knowledge of interpretation at the foundational level of astrology. Chart Shapes is a well written book, with coherent and well-informed information within its pages. Clearly the author demonstrates her first hand expertise on this relatively unfamiliar theme – a theme that demands more interest and perhaps curiosity.
There are many well documented and intriguing case studies outlined throughout the book. I was particularly interested in reading about the inventor and scientist Humphrey Davy, and the fictional writer Agatha Christie, and how their chart shapes became the driving force in their lives – influencing all of their achievements. Wanda’s explanations of all the variations of chart shapes, which are evident throughout all of the case studies, are executed with great precision.
This is s fascinating subject that presses you into wanting to know more. And Chart Shapes definitely stirs your interest further. Personally, I have always known that my chart shape is the bucket; however it wasn’t until I read this book that I actually discovered I have a variation of the bucket, notably the sling, which brings further into perspective some of the aspects that are the driving forces behind my day-to-day personality.
Chart Shapes also contains a beautifully-defined and clear explanation of the key elements that are evident throughout the book; and indeed that are used in all genres of astrology. If this Index has been specifically designed in mind for the amateur, then this concluding segment is worth the price of the book alone.
Overall, this is a timely publication, and one that displays the author’s wealth of knowledge. And, within its pages there is no doubt something that will appeal to everyone who reads it. Chart Shapes is a book that definitely heightens the practice of traditional astrology and all of the disciplines that are connected to, and enhanced by it. Therefore, it is a book that I would highly recommend to all astrologers (both professional and amateur alike), and in particular I feel it would appeal to the medical and natural practitioners who are versed in astrology.
Alan Richards-Wheatcroft, medical and evolutionary astrologer.