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family trees

Did You Inherit Your Birth Chart?

Our families are one of the biggest influences on our life, whether we’re from peaceful homes or troubled ones, adopted, interfaith, close, split, together, or anything else. And so our families, for better or for worse, are part of us, and show up in our birth charts in different ways.

Some aspects in a chart describe how you saw your parents’s relationship with each other, some describe our early home life, some reveal which parent influenced you most and how.

There are some aspects in a chart, too, that simply echo our families; these describe ways we are like them (and perhaps are more similar to them than we want to be).

In each other’s orbit

In many relationships, two people will have some similar feature in their charts- part of the attraction is that the other person really gets how they think, or feel, or relate to the world. My own parents split up decades ago, but it wasn’t until I looked at their charts that I understood why they were together so long in the first place.

My own parents share a Virgo signature (Virgo sun/Mercury/ascendant for one, Virgo moon for the other) and each has a strong moon/Saturn conjunction. Two married friends of mine share a (highly unusual) sun/Venus retrograde conjunction. My husband and I share a prominent Mars/Venus square.

There are, of course, many intricate layers in relationships and their charts, but generally a few features stand out in particular; these are often the ones that become hereditary in some way.

Going backward

If you have birthdates for grandparents, great-aunts and uncles, and even great-grandparents, you can trace further back and look for emerging patterns in the family line. Even when there is no birth time (producing a chart without houses), hereditary aspects will emerge. Sometimes seemingly minor patterns are the common thread, so a professional astrologer can be helpful for this part. Don’t forget step-parents and -siblings, and adopted family members, as they will share aspects too.

In families with several siblings, there may be one or two in particular that pick up the “family aspect” and play a bigger role in generational issues. The aren’t necessarily the oldest, but the ones with the strongest echo of the family pattern will become more involved with the family’s intergenerational issues one way or another. This is one reason it is useful to have charts for all family members in a generation, because sometimes only one or two will display the family’s big aspect strongly, while the others will have a weaker signature.

This is correlation, not causation- I’m not saying people are enmeshed in family patterns because of aspects in their charts, only that there is an observable connection between those two things. The aspect indicates the tendency. You still have free will, and can create new patterns through your own efforts!

Going forward

Your own children, or nieces and nephews, will have aspects that reflect their parents as well. The charts of children are about potential, not the developed personalities of adults, so it is important not to limit kids by their family aspects. It is interesting and helpful, though, to see what is significant enough to be passed on, and to continue working on them in your own way.

For example, my family has a strong Plutonian thread and my young niece is no exception. While I cannot know the particular way hers will express itself, and there is no reason to fill my sister’s mind with doom-and-gloom prattle, I can make an effort to be a good role model of the higher expressions of Plutonian energy (healing, insight, willingness to change).

Unto the seventy-seventh generation

There is definitely a thread of family karma that can be traced through astrological family trees… sometimes it’s fairly clear what that is, and sometimes it takes a lot more detective work and picking at things until the true nature of it comes through.

Looking for karmic signatures in charts is one of the most interesting and descriptive ways to do generational work in astrology, because the undercurrents of emotional debt, family atmosphere, and obligation are invariably tied to that root issue. Families that are able to heal the troubled aspect in some way will experience a major shift in the way they relate to each other, instead of staying trapped in the same generational patterns and repeating them over again.

This relates to blended families too. Step-families and adopted family members that play a major karmic role for each other will be reflected in family aspects as well.

Clues along the trail
  • Some aspects that are commonly interlaced between family members:
  • A prominent sign or house (lots of Leo/5th house)
  • The total or near-total absence of certain signs
  • Interlaced signs, rulers, or elements (dad has a lot of Aries, child has a strong Mars or fire element)
  • Rising signs that echo a parent’s sun sign or stellium
  • Rising planets that echo a parent (mom has a lot of Aquarius, child has Uranus rising)
  • Shared chart aspects (sun conjunct Venus, moon in aspect to Pluto, moon on the ascendant, etc.)
  • Related aspects (mom has Mars conjunct Mercury, child has Mars trine Mercury)
  • Shared retrograde patterns (parents and children have the same planet rx, or have several planets rx in general)
  • Shared or opposite lunar nodes (family lineage karma)
  • Planets conjunct or aspecting lunar nodes (karma between family members)
  • No family has all these things, but some will be significant factors.
A quick example

I’ve worked with four generations of charts in my own family, and a few things stand out at different levels.

  • the chart traits that relate to my parents specifically
  • the “family karma” that stretches back further

My parents both have Moon/Saturn conjunctions. My mother has strong Virgo with Mercury rising and a 2nd house Libra/Scorpio stellium; my father has Sun conjunct Pluto in Leo, a strong Mars, and Mercury tucked into the Moon/Saturn aspect.

Throw all that into the cosmic blender…

Meet the parents

I have Leo rising with a strong Mars (hi dad!), and sun conjunct Pluto in Libra (paternal family aspect, with mom’s Libra). My moon is in the 10th house, which relates to Saturn (I “escaped” the moon/Saturn but the house acts as sort of a hangover effect of that). I have a strong Mercury on an angle (hi mom), opposite my moon (more dad) and conjunct Pluto (mom’s a Virgo with Scorpio moon/Saturn).

So I’ve ended up with my own remix of my parents’ major astrological traits, plus others of my own. I have a big 3rd house stellium, which relates to Gemini, siblings, and shorter travels, and neither of my parents have indications for that.

Climbing the tree

The big threads on my mom’s side are moon/Mercury/Saturn/Pluto entanglements; mainly Virgo, Libra, and Scorpio planets, weak or debilitated Mars, strong earth and water signatures, and Cancer-Capricorn lunar nodes. Moon conjunct Saturn in Scorpio is a hereditary trait in my family! We’re intense.

Counting my niece, we have four generations of Pluto tied to Cancer-Capricorn nodes, which reverse each generation. Heavy family karma there, which is its own post. It’s interesting that I have maternal family karma baked into my chart, but inherited reverse aspects (Moon in Taurus instead of Scorpio… no one has Taurus in my family) and things from my dad’s side that neutralize a lot of the weaknesses (lack of fire and Mars energy).

Playing detective

Even if you only have birth dates for your parents, it’s very enlightening to compare your birth chart to theirs. You can get a free copy of your chart here.

Astrological family trees, like any kind of genealogical research, are a long-term project, so don’t be discouraged if patterns don’t emerge clearly at first.

Are there certain aspects, even minor ones, that run in your family? Do you sense a strong common thread that you haven’t uncovered yet?

Last updated on February 18, 2017 at 1:20 pm. Word Count: 1343