Some synthesise a chart. Some delineate it. Some judge it. At first glance it seems that all three are doing the same thing and that one is saying the same thing with different words, but looked at closely, each reflects an entirely different approach. Approaches which reflect not only the world view of the astrologer but can also be distinctly opposite from one another.
The word synthesis implies the bringing together of two or more parts to form a new complexer whole. This approach treats each astrological factor as a building block. Each building block is brought together to form a block of interpretation, which are then combined to form yet greater blocks. When all the blocks are combined the chart has been synthesized. Interpretation is complete. This is the preferred method for astrology software as it is easily programmable. Each astrological factor must be given equal weight and to a certain extent certain qualities become interchangeable. Simplification is the rule as only then is a flexible combination possible. The astrological factors used here are any number of sensitive points, signs, houses and aspects which help glue the factors together. If the elements and qualities are included they are usually catalogued and weighted. (5 sensitive points in air signs, 9 in water, 3 in earth, 2 in fire, 12 cardinal, 2 fixed, 5 mutable, etc.)
Delineation. The word suggests many things, all of which revolve around representation. It can be the laying out of a route or line of interpretation. It can also be seen as drawing the individual elements of a chart into a picture. A depiction. Delineation requires more activity than synthesis as an attempt is made to see the chart as more individual and less schematic. Here the emphasis is on a step-by-step strategy of making a chart understandable by putting all the bits and pieces together. And here some form of tool is required. This is the outline and the keyword. The route is drawn and each astrological factor is lined up with the next. First in the form of keywords and then filled out with more detail. Here too the aspect pays a very important role in linking all the elements of a chart together. Patterns are looked for and elaborated on.
Both synthesis and delineation are generally applied to birth charts.
Judgement. The word itself is for the modern ear filled with foreboding. It somehow sounds archaic in this context. It does not have the pleasant neutral almost scientific ring that synthesis or delineation have. To judge a chart means to look at each individual astrological factor and to weigh it against other factors and from there reach a conclusion. Here, the astrological factors are ‘testimonies’. They either support or reject a particular proposition that is put to the chart. The chart has a monumental quality. It is not a combination of bits and pieces but is approached as a unity that is then examined from any number of different standpoints. Aspects, which are important to the first two approaches are also important but not central. Instead other factors, virtually unknown in chart synthesis or delineation, are considered. For example reception and disposition of planets and their position, or strength and weakness in the form of essential and accidental dignity or debility. The imagery of law is entirely appropriate. Only the law considered by the astrologer is seen as that law central to all of existence. It is not possible to build up a system of interchangeable building blocks nor to use a system of keywords to understand a chart. Instead the astrologer must first learn the basic ‘laws’ and then through practice see how they unfold in each individual chart. His understanding, and ability to judge, is a measure of experience. Certain testimonies are immediately familiar, others are learned along the way. For example Antiscia or Sect or even the position of a certain 1st Magnitude fixed star may not be important in every chart, but in certain circumstances they may bring just the testimony to make a chart understandable.
Dear reader. How do you approach a chart? What chart type are you?