Planetary Combination picks up where Planetary Strength left off, explaining how the planetary influences combine in aspects and configurations to paint a picture of a person and his or her life. Descriptions of planetary configurations such as grand trines, grand squares, T-squares, wedges, fans, rectangles, kites, and trapezoids provide overall schematics of people’s psychological dynamics. Then, detailed interpretations for the conjunctions, sextiles/trines, squares, oppositions, parallels/contraparallels, and mutual receptions between the individual planets enable the practitioner to see clearly how these dynamics work out in a particular horoscope.
An illuminating chapter on planetary conjunctions with the Moon’s nodes reveals the underlying karmic influences at work. An indispensable reference you’ll consult every time you read a chart.
To the surprise of virtually no one who has actually studied astrology, many of the predictions made by competent astrologers actually come true. Whether forecasting for clients, diagnosing a medical condition, foreseeing a stock-market reversal, or predicting the winner of a presidential contest, some astrologers have a knack for knowing what comes next. How they do it is a controversial topic, since very few astrologers exactly agree on what are the most appropriate techniques and methods.
Bob Makransky follows the dictum that “character is destiny” in Planetary Combination, a detailed reference that allows the astrologer to make predictions based on what is revealed in the natal horoscope. While this book is nominally a series of explanations about aspects between the traditional planets, the degree of character description for each planetary pair is extraordinarily precise. An entire personality is captured within these aspects.
Let’s say you have a Moon-Mars square. Each of the planets is given a keyword to start the interpretation. The Moon corresponds to “assurance,” and odds with Accomplishment makes for unfulfilled expectations and dashed hopes….The people you trust let you down, dreams turn into mirages which recede as you approach them, the simplest walkovers turn into baffling ntanglements.”
Now there is nothing softened or mitigated in these statements, and they’re not easy to read if you have this aspect. Psychological astrologers would be aghast at these kinds of interpretations, since they allow no room for growth.
What happens when one planetary combination conflicts with another? Makransky explains this in his introduction when he says we each have a set of sub-personalities that emerge under different circumstances or when we’re with different people. So if the person with the Moon-Mars square also has her Sun trine Jupiter, we find that “[w]hen Purpose is bolstered by Understanding, patient forbearance is the rule. You are laidback and accepting, with a hail-fellow-well-met alacrity.”
Character as destiny is also seen in the configurations that three or more planets make, such as a Grand Trine or a T-square.
In the same way that the author provides highly detailed character sketches for each planetary duo, he gives the same attention to configurations. In addition to the most common shapes, he also provides several pages on shapes that are not found in any other astrology text. These include the Wedge, the Fan, the Grand Sextile, the Basket, and several others. These shapes carry definitive character traits. For example, if you have a wedge, where a third planet harmoniously bridges two planets in opposition, you “are confident, cool, and cheeky; with a facility of making yourself right at home wherever you find yourself….yourself….You are never disconcerted, but take things in your stride.
An unusually terse and bold reference, Planetary Combination transcends psychological mumbo-jumbo to give you the bare-naked reality of the adult Western psyche.
Aspects should be studied only after the student has a good grasp of the meaning of the 12 signs and the 10 planets. The aspects show us how the different planets relate to each other - their angular relationship. This shows us how the person is “wired up” this life. How the energy flows between the planets. There are many who say that regardless of angular separation, EVERY planet forms some kind of aspect with every other planet. And, there’s some truth to this. Happily, the author sticks with the main aspects - the major aspects - the conjunction, opposition, square, trine and sextile. Some aspects are considered stressful, some are harmonious, some are neutral. All of this has to be factored in when interpreting a Horoscope.
This is one of the best books on aspects out there. He not only deals with aspects themselves, but goes deep into chart morphology. It is one thing to analyze aspects and quite another to look at the “pictures” - the forms - that the aspects make. Sometimes we will see a perfect square (formed by at least 4 planets); sometimes the planets will form a perfect triangle; sometimes (but rare) they will form a 6 pointed star - two grand trines interlaced; sometimes they will form a hexagon (a grand sextile - also very rare.)
Sometimes we will see a picture of a bucket, a bowl or a bundle. These pictures - or forms - are telling us important things about the native. He deals with all these forms and a lot more - some we’ve never heard of. There are “bow ties”, “kites”, “rectangles” “trapezoids”, “wedges” and all kinds of other combinations
of these forms. Each has a story to tell. Each as meaning. (It is good to have a grasp of sacred geometry as you analyze these forms.) This is the language of the heavens.
Most books on aspects deal with the aspects of longitude. But he also includes aspects of latitude - the parallels and contra-parallels. He has an interesting discussion of orbs, values (strengths of an aspect) and mutual receptions.
A student would have to read many books from many authors to get the information that is given here. It saves a lot of time.
As always with Bob Makransky’s work, the book is interesting and well written, but not for a beginner or casual reader. Definitely not beach reading material, but fascinating nevertheless - especially for a serious student.
His interpretations of the aspects are given in “cook book” style. But there is much to be said for the “cook book”. It is never meant to be followed slavishly but to jog one’s own intuition.
Joseph Polansky Diamond Fire Magazine