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The Problem of Twins in Natal Astrology

Twins in Astrology

Episode 167 of the podcast features a discussion between Chris Brennan and Adam Elenbaas about the problem of twins in natal astrology, and how astrologers deal with the birth charts or horoscopes of two people who were born at the same time.

The premise of natal astrology is that the alignment of the planets at the moment a person is born have something significant to say about a person’s character and future, but this premise then naturally raises the question of what about people who were born around the same time?

This comes up most commonly in the horoscopes of twins who are born to the same parents within a few minutes of each other, although the question is also applicable to time twins, who are people that were born around the same time to different parents.

During the course of this episode we discuss this issue and try to explore some possible solutions, both from a technical and a philosophical perspective.

Below you will find the show notes, followed by links to download or stream the recording of this episode of the podcast.

Twins Show Notes and Episode Outline

Here are the show notes, which provides an outline of most of the major points we touched on during the course of the episode:

  • One of the most common and longstanding critiques against natal astrology.
    • Variations of the criticism have been in circulation for over 2000 years.
  • We will address philosophical, conceptual, and technical points related to this issue.
  • Defining the basic parameters of the twins criticism:
  • Natal astrology was developed in Mesopotamia by the 5th century BCE.
    • Premise is that alignment of planets at birth indicates future of native.
    • Naturally raises the question of what about people born at the same time?
      • Twins who are born close together from the same mother.
        • Twins look the same, but have different lives.
      • Time twins, who are born to separate parents but around the same time.
  • This has been a longstanding critique of natal astrology for the past 2000 years.
    • Earliest surviving criticism is Cicero (1st century BCE).
      • “the fact that men who were born at the very same instant, are unlike in character, career, and in destiny, makes it very clear that the time of birth has nothing to do in determining man’s course in life”.
    • Saint Augustine had a similar criticism but went into more detail.
  • Ptolemy may have tried to respond to some of the earlier critiques.
    • Ptolemy says that astrology is not the only factor, but you also have to take other factors into account in order to understand the context of the chart.
      • Gender, race, geography, whether the chart of a turtle, etc.
  • Nigidius Figulus was said to have responded with the potters wheel analogy.
    • Point is that sometimes even what seem like small changes make difference
    • Ascendant and Midheaven move relatively rapidly.
  • Important to discern whether the chart really is exactly the same or not first.
    • Even two people born close together in time may not have exactly the same chart
  • Technical answers to this issue based on chart changes:
    • Sometimes a few minute time difference leads to major changes.
    • What are some of these major changes?
      • Ascendant can change signs
        • Changes ruler of the Ascendant
        • Changes all of the houses in whole sign & equal houses
      • Midheaven and other angles can change signs
      • Planets becoming more or less angular.
      • Sect
      • Moon can change signs
      • Aspects can perfect, move from applying to separating.
        • Enclosures can begin or end
    • Sometimes only small changes happen in a few minutes.
      • Ascendant, Midheaven, other angles change degrees quickly
      • Lots/Arabic Parts change degrees and signs rapidly
      • Midpoints change degrees rapidly
      • Subdivisions of zodiacal signs become relevant here.
        • Subdivision charts and harmonics.
        • Twelfth parts, bounds/terms, decans, etc.
          • Indians use navamshas and other subdivisions
    • Vedic answer based on 3rd and 11th houses
      • Younger siblings assigned to 3rd house, older siblings 11th house
      • Therefore the order of the birth could matter, and change the chart.
      • This then affects the derived houses potentially as well.
    • Timing techniques
      • Earlier or later degrees can change activation of timing techniques
        • Progressions, transits, time-lords change.
    • Division of the chart
      • Some astrologers report that twins will divide the chart.
      • Each appropriating certain features
      • As part of defining themselves as distinct individuals from each other.
      • Liz Greene and Steven Forrest both mention this.
      • CB: I wonder if this is a conscious/subconscious choice, or if it is just a matter of small changes in time shifting subdivisions.
        • Modern astrologers could be mistaking it as a choice.
  • Philosophical and conceptual answers to the question:
    • The context of the chart matters.
      • Is it the chart of a human, a business, a turtle, etc.?
      • The situation the person is born into matters.
        • Relevant in terms of time twins.
          • Male versus female, ethnicity, etc.
          • Gets into something deeper about nature of astrology.
    • Astrology is archetypally predictive
      • Each placement has a range of possible meanings
      • Placement may manifest in ways that are different but archetypally similar.
        • Mars in 10th: athlete versus military.
    • Synastry
      • Each person we come into contact with is like a transit
      • Two people can’t be in the same place at same time.
      • Therefore they will interact w/ different people, have different experiences
      • These synastry relationships will unlock different parts of the chart
      • In some instances this will be positive, in some negative.
      • True of romantic relationships, but also family members.
      • Previous episode on synastry
    • Relocational astrology
      • Premise is that different locations shift emphasis of the chart.
      • Different parts may be emphasized more or less
      • If the two people live in different places.
      • Previous episode on relocational astrology
    • Free will and choices
      • Two people with similar predispositions may make different choices
      • To what extent is the chart representative of the soul versus a mask of predispositions that the soul has adopted in a given lifetime?
      • In Hermeticism ascent/descent of the soul gives it certain properties that are then given back after death.
    • Variables: In reality there are so many operative variables that the astrologer can’t take all of them into account.
    • Triangulation process that acts like a cheat sheet.

Watch the Video Version of This Episode of the Podcast

Here is the video version of this episode on the astrology of twins:


A full transcript of this episode is available: Episode 167 transcript

Listen to the Audio Version of This Episode

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  • I have a twin, and the recent lunar eclipse activated our chart by conjunction at our MC/Moon conjunction. It looks like the influence is playing out in my career and in the context of her house/home. The lunar eclipse at the same degree 19 years ago played out quite similarly in my career, but it was a reversal of fortune for my sister but still to do with her home. I thought you’d like that little anecdote 🙂

  • There are studies of twins and their order of birth. According to childbirth educator Robin Elise Weiss, PhD:
    “The average time between the birth of the first and second baby is generally about 17 minutes. However, as long as the monitor shows the second baby is doing well there’s no great need to speed things along. Sometimes during this phase of waiting, you will have an ultrasound to confirm the position of the second twin and your practitioner will decide how it is best to deliver him or her.”
    If the average time between twin births is 17 minutes, there would be about a 4 degree change on the MC and a corresponding change on the Ascendant, depending on location and time of year. Predictive techniques like primary directions assign one year to each degree on the MC, so that predicted events for the twins, even if similar, would on average be spaced 4 years apart and occur in different developmental periods of the person’s life.

  • In the 1990’s, I used AOL to find 40 people born on the same day as me and invited them to a listserv group. I got about 7 to participate, but I couldn’t get them to talk about subjective experience. I think I was the only one with a day chart. We degenerated to the point of just sending birthday cards every year.

  • Uranian Astrology uses Midpoint trees. Midpoints to Asc & MC are as personal as it gets; using a 1½ deg orb often gives twins very different Midpoint axes

  • Hi Chris, in my opinion this discussion is fundamental for any astrologer to build up a philosophical framework upon which to base their astrology. There was one crucial instance that I hoped you’d discuss that never came up was the occurrence of CONJOINED TWINS WITH DIFFERENT PERSONALITIES.

    I watched a programme on TV some years ago describing conjoined twins where they shared much of their torso but had separate head and shoulders; and right from a young age it was apparent that one was very extravert and the other introvert. So they were both born at the SAME time and place, but had different personalities, likely before nurture got to work on their differing facial appearance and hence differing responses from parents, though that’s a factor that can’t be completely ruled out.

    Looking at it biologically, we know that genes and resources in the womb switch on various genes. These are the main players in determining personality before ‘nurture’ goes to work. Therefore, regardless of astrology, we have people born with the same genes and resources in the womb switching on/off certain genes. So it makes sense to me that differences in personality at birth have much to do with resources available in the womb; ergo, the notion that makes most sense to me is a ‘shared chart’ of twins/triplets, etc., (conjoined, identical or fraternal) with varying strength of planets shared between them.

    So where does astrology come into all this? And what benefit does the ‘selfish gene’ get from astrology?
    After all, the organism has plenty of tools to create different personalities:
    1. genes;
    2. the resources available in the womb;
    3. and post-birth, social interaction.

    My suggestion is a social one:
    I believe that between three people who all have Mars on the Ascendant, for instance, one may be assertive, another quite aggressive, and another a psychopath; all dependent on the level of mars-energy (call it testosterone, if you like) present due to the pre-birth process. The astrological effects apply to all three, but have different outcomes, due to the level of their genetic/epigenetic predispositions.

    But humans are social animals that have to live in a community, and I believe that astrology works on a collective/communal level. It’s known that prior to birth, the imminent neonate signals to the brain that it’s about to emerge; so IT decides on its time of birth (in a natural birth). As the Gauquelins have shown, the position of planets at certain geomagnetically-crucial points in their diurnal cycle at (natural) birth give emphasis to certain personality traits associated with them. I believe this has SOCIAL purpose, by spreading risk …

    In a community, if a certain personality trait was to dominate, it could have disastrous effects on that community.
    For instance, if a whole community were to go down to a shark-infested bay, and because everyone of them had a strongly emphasised Mars due to genetic/epigenetic AND astrological positioning; they all might be reckless and go into the water for a swim and all be eaten, with nobody surviving to warn the rest of the community that this was not the best of actions to take. Whereas, if the astrological spreading-effect goes some way to help reduce the risk, then only a certain proportion of that community will be reckless, and therefore eaten. As a consequence, the story of the awful event will be passed down the generations and help people avoid the shark-infested bay.

    So in this scenario, astrology has a ‘trait dispersal’ effect, spreading the actuation of personality traits across the community, helping social animals to survive.
    That’s my hypothesis, anyway.

    On a side-note:
    Do the Gauquelin results that only work with natural births mean that those who have induced births have to find their Asc–Dsc and MC–IC axes by reverse-engineering? Or, do the Angles at their actual birth-time fail at emphasisng traits, but still work regarding houses and forecasting? Perhaps a topic for another day?

    A great and interesting topic, Chris. Well done for discussing it together with your guest.

  • hi cris,
    you may also consider discussing the concept of pne ( pre natal epoch) which is the chart for the time of conception. i have sent you my detailed observations on your email. pease check and revert.

  • Hey I haven’t listened in yet and perhaps you already said this so please forgive me if it is redundant:
    In classical Indian divination an astrologer was also typically a palmist, face reader, and dealt heavily with omens at the very least. So a simple way to approach the charts of twins is to make use of and note the differences in the palm and face and to utilize omens to discern the major differences between the people. This omenology also be effected with Tarot, Runes or I Ching. Tiny subtleties will make a huge difference in a case where the charts are very very similar and scarcely different and the people are the same gender etc. There are of course cases of twins who have the same major events in their lives at the same time, even a case where two twins, separated at birth found that they had each married and divorced a woman of the same name . . .
    So if one utilizes other divinatory systems alongside astrology, not just for twins but in all readings, a lot comes out that was difficult to assess in the chart alone. In fact I would argue that with events and anything if it is in the palm/face it has a stronger testimony than if it is just in the chart alone, and this does not make astrology inferior, it just suggests that the strength of astrology lies in other places. Finally the name and its meaning and the numerology behind the name will also make a big difference and such things will help to reveal how the charts behave differently etc.

  • I just did a twin reading this week. The twins were born 11 minutes apart, so very similar charts. Only the ascendant and midheaven degrees differed. The twins were eager to see if their charts indicated their subtle differences. I had success using the Bonatti triplicity lord technique to inform the slight differences between the two! The 1st trip lord of the third house represented the “older” twin, and the 3rd trip lord of the third house described the “younger” twin. The planets were Venus and Mars, respectively. The technique was right on! The Mars twin was more outspoken and extroverted, while the Venus twin reported that they were more of an introvert and had receptive qualities. I originally learned about this technique from Jenn Zahrt. Many thanks to you, Chris, Acyuta, and Dr Z for this great podcast episode and for illuminating the trip lord technique!

  • My identical twin sister and I (born 9 minutes apart) are intrigued by astrology. We are 59 yrs old — very similar in so many ways, and also have our distinct differences. If there are folks in the community looking for twin ‘subjects’ for study/analysis of sorts, we would be open to this…