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Chart Shapes

Planet placement in the natal chart

Athen Chimenti

12 May 2024

Curved Branch with Buds

Chart shapes is a lesser-used but highly accurate way of reading a natal chart. It takes into account the overall positions of the planets in the chart as a whole. These configurations offer a holistic view into the person's overall personality and life energy. In this article, we will uncover the symbolism and implications of each chart shape to provide an all-encompassing perspective of the natal chart.

It's recommended to only use the major planets for determining the chart shape, as well as excluding angles like the Ascendant and Nodes. Otherwise too many points can clutter the chart and make the pattern more obscure. To calculate your chart shape, you can use our sidereal birth chart calculator.

The Locomotive Pattern: Driving Life's Momentum

Snow-Covered Alpine Train

The locomotive pattern forms when planets occupy roughly two-thirds of the chart, leaving a wide gap that resembles an empty field. This configuration suggests a life driven by a strong sense of purpose and direction. The leading planet, just ahead of the empty space, acts as the "engine" of one's life, defining the primary focus or motivation. Individuals with this chart shape are often self-starters, filled with a dynamic energy that propels them towards their goals. They may, however, experience feelings of imbalance or intense pressure to act, as if constantly being pushed by an unseen force. For instance, if the leading planet is Mars in Gemini, the individual might channel their life's energy into diverse projects or communicative endeavors.

The Bowl Pattern: Containing Personal Energy

Golden Tibetan Singing Bowl

When all the planets in a natal chart are confined within half of the astrological wheel, it forms the bowl pattern. This shape indicates a self-contained personality with a focused and introspective nature. People with a bowl chart shape tend to be highly self-reliant, often feeling as though they carry their own universe within them. Their challenges often revolve around overcoming a sense of limitation or isolation, learning to reach out across the chart's empty half to integrate external influences.

The rim planets, which start and end the cluster of planets, serve as filters through which all experiences are processed. Consider a person with the rim planets as Saturn and the Moon; they might process experiences through a lens of emotional security and rigorous discipline.

The Bucket Pattern: Channeling Focus

Old Rusty Bucket in a Wooded Area

The bucket chart shape is characterized by all planets grouped within two-thirds of the wheel, except for one lone planet opposite the cluster. This outlier planet, known as the handle, channels and focuses the energies of the entire chart, much like a fulcrum or a control lever. This configuration endows an individual with a specific area of life that becomes a central point of emphasis or a dominant theme. For example, a bucket handle in the 10th house might indicate a career-driven individual, where professional achievements and public status define much of their life's narrative.

The Splash Pattern: Diverse Interests

Water Droplet Creating Ripples in Water

In the splash pattern, planets are scattered evenly around the entire zodiac, suggesting a multifaceted personality with a wide range of interests and abilities. Individuals with this chart shape are typically versatile and adaptable, able to draw on a broad spectrum of talents. The challenge for them lies in finding focus and depth, as their energies are dispersed across so many areas. These individuals thrive in environments that allow them to wear multiple hats, and they often possess an innate curiosity about the world. An example might be someone with unique combinations such as Mercury in Scorpio combined with Jupiter in Aquarius, indicating a blend of investigative depth and a visionary outlook. Combining this with other planets scattered across the chart and you have a varied individual with very different interests and personality characteristics, all seeking expression.

The Splay Pattern: Asserting Independence

Sphynx in front of Pyramid

The splay pattern features three or more planets grouped in a trine formation, showing three distinct clusters in the chart. This shape speaks to a strong, independent streak in an individual, with the focal clusters acting as power bases. Each cluster represents a stronghold of talent or interest, giving these individuals the ability to operate autonomously in various life areas. The challenge for splay pattern individuals is to integrate these disparate parts into a cohesive whole, ensuring that their independence does not lead to fragmentation of efforts or relationships. For example, a cluster involving the Sun, Venus, and Mercury in Leo could signify a strong focus on creative expression and personal charisma.

The See-Saw Pattern: Navigating Dualities

Seesaw made of logs

With planets distributed across two opposite sides of the chart, the see-saw pattern creates a dynamic of tension and balance. This configuration often reflects a life that swings between two polarities, which can manifest in personal traits, relationships, or external circumstances. Individuals with this pattern may find themselves constantly negotiating opposites, striving to find harmony in conflict or balance in extremes. This perpetual dance can lead to great diplomatic skills, as well as an inherent understanding of negotiation and partnership dynamics. An individual with a cluster of planets in the 1st house and another in the 7th house might struggle to balance personal identity with partnership dynamics.

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