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Composite Charts, with Originator John Townley

Composite Charts, with Originator John Townley

Episode 128 features an interview with astrologer John Townley about composite charts, and his work in developing and promoting the technique starting in the early 1970s.

John was the first person to publish a book on the subject in 1973, and is generally recognized as having popularized the technique.

During the course of the interview we discuss his background in astrology, how the concept of composite charts was first developed, and what some of the implications of the technique are.

You can find out more information about John’s work on his website:


Below you will find the show notes, which contain an outline of some of the points that we touched on in the discussion, followed by links to download or stream the recording of this episode of the podcast at the bottom of the page.

Show Notes

  • Introducing John, and talking about his early life and career.
    • Born August 17, 1945, 1:51 AM EWT, Washington, DC
    • Background and training in astrology.
  • The Composite Chart (1973)
    • Published during his Saturn return.
  • Composite Charts: The Astrology of Relationships (2000, Llewellyn)
  • Prior to the 1970s synastry was the only game in town for relationship analysis.
    • Synastry goes back to 1st and 2nd century, Dorotheus and Ptolemy, at least.
  • Origins of midpoint theory/technique in early 20th century astrology.
    • Came out of the Hamburg School in Germany in the 1920s.
    • For some reason Ebertin attributes it to Bonatti, but it is not clear why.
    • Understanding how and why midpoints work is key.
  • Synastry compares the positions in two natal charts to each other.
    • Composite chart creates a third chart for the relationship as an entity.
    • What do two people create when they come together?
    • Composite chart uses intra-chart midpoints for the same planet, eg. Venus-Venus
  • Composite as not a real chart that exists, but an artifact.
    • Not technically a horoscope or chart at all, in the strict sense.
    • Does not reflect an actual chart with a time and location.
    • An extrapolation from two charts.
    • John calls it a “mathematical construct of mutual midpoints.”
  • Davison chart as a midpoint in time versus composite midpoint in space.
    • Davidson creates a chart for a location and date halfway between the natals.
    • Ronald Davison (1914-1985)
    • First introduced Davison chart in synastry book in 1977.
    • Very late in his career, thus probably not central to his work.
    • Maybe “off-the-cuff response to the sudden burst of interest in composite charts”
      • John calls this part of the “why not” approach that many partook in at the time, including himself in his first volume on composites.
  • Advocates a physical basis for astrology.
  • Work on Paul Kammerer and the concept of seriality.


A full transcript of this episode is available: Episode 128 transcript

Listen to This Episode

You can either play this episode of the podcast directly from the website or download it as an MP3 to your computer by using the buttons below:

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  • Thank you for this excellent podcast. Like many other astrologers, I have begun using whole sign houses in my natal work, with good results. However, I find that with composite charts, I seem to be getting results that make more sense by using a quadrant based house system. What house system do you, or others who viewed this podcast, use?

  • thanks chris and john.. i enjoyed this podcast where a number of interesting ideas were discussed.. the topic of ebertin acknowledging bonati was interesting, as i was unaware of that.. i have made a parallel with arabic parts and midpoints, but generally no one seems interested in seeing the parallels in this. david cochrane did an article related to this topic too fwiw..
    in answer to jeffery grove – hi jeff.. i don’t base too much on the signs or houses in connection to composite charts, but maybe others do.. i mostly look at the chart and think whole signs/houses when i do.. maybe someone else will be more definitive for you..

    • Thanks, James,
      I have an old copy of Rob Hand’s book, Planets in Composite. In his example charts, he uses quadrant houses, which often do align fairly close to whole sign houses. Since composite chart analysis seems somewhat cook bookish to me, I still rely on comparing natal chart’s moons, ascendants, and planets, etc.

  • Fairly new listener and found your interview with Townley insightful, honest and enlightening, such as the point of many planets in the 6-12th house composite may prove difficult. Just ended a relationship with that configuration. So many hidden issues emerged over time. Thanks you so much for such a fine interview!

  • I think it would take a lot of statistics and interviewing to determine that whole sections of the population should not be considered partnership material because they have planets in the 6th and 12th houses. There is a whole generation with Pluto in Leo for example. If they have a Virgo ASC they are suddenly to be avoided? I can think of far worse things than this to be wary of.

  • Truly thought provoking in many many ways. Not only about composite charts but also about the need for basic theory about why astrology works and how we suffer until we can come up with one that is verifiable. Thank you Chris and John.