“Of friendly dispositions and the opposite, some are great and long lasting sympathies and enmities, but others are occasional friendships, abruptly broken off.”(Hephaistio of Thebes – Apotelesmatics, Book II, p.71, Schmidt trans., Published by the Golden Hind Press, 1998)

I began to write this article a couple of months ago, and then leaved it for a while in order to get a little bit more experience on this very complex subject of human relationships and the way in which astrology gives answers to the subject.

In meanwhile I had some synastry readings which helped me to test the workability of the methods presented in the writings of the old masters.
People are often asking me to recommend some good traditional astrology book on Synastry, but as many of us now, there is no special book written on this subject in the works we have translated into English language. We have only chapters and hints here and there, which, if looked in right way, can be very helpful.

Synastry is very popular branche of astrology nowadays. We live in romantic world and romantic age, where most selled movies are the one with romantic content in it. This is not something new. Songs and dramas about Love were written in all the ages. In some age more secretly then the other, but the Love was here present in the secret affairs of the noble castles, writings which are very interesting to read today from this perspective.

Now, this article is not related to Love Synastry, but to Synastry of General Friendship among people.

I get interested in particular chapter at Hephaistio, in which he [as in most part of his work] relies on Ptolemy. I read those two chapters (in Ptolemy and Hephaistio) and then read Aristotle (because Ptolemy’s approach is on great deal based on Aristotle’s writings on Friendship in his Nicomachean Ethics) but some things were still not so clear to me. So I left the ‘article’ to stay aside for a while.

Some day ago I throw a look into Umar al-Tabari’s “Three Books on Nativities” in which he has chapter on “Friends” and I noticed that he quotes again, Ptolemy, with some additional hints which were helpful to me to understand the whole idea behind this synastry approach of Ptolemy and Hephaistio.

Three kinds of Friendship (and Enmity)

There are therefore three kinds of friendship, equal in number to the things that are lovable; for with respect to each there is a mutual and recognized love, and those who love each other wish well to each other in that respect in which they love one another. Now those who love each other for their utility do not love each other for themselves but in virtue of some good which they get from each other. So too with those who love for the sake of pleasure; it is not for their character that men love ready-witted people, but because they find them pleasant.
Perfect friendship is the friendship of men who are good, and alike in virtue; for these wish well alike to each other qua good, and they are good themselves. (Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics, Book 8, chapter 3, translated by W. D. Ross1999 kitchener).

In his exposure Ptolemy is following Aristotle and his philosophizing on friendship which can be found in Nichomachean Ethics, Book 8, chapter 3.
Aristotle says that there exist three kind of friendship. The one is the friendship out of need and this is the kind of friendship which is obvious in the older people, when they live together out of some need to help each other or not to be alone for example. The second type is out of pleasure and this can be often found in young people who are amorously falling in love but this is non-constant and this often changes into some other emotion. The best kind of friendship according to Aristotle is the friendship which is due to goodness, connectedness through virtue. The both people are lovers of the Good..


Another Friendship-Enmity relationship between Ferdinand I and Suleiman Magnificent.
The famous ‘Friendship’-Enmity relationship between Ferdinand I and Suleiman Magnificent.

“And since there are three kinds of friendship and enmity – for these kinds obtain through mutual preference or through need or through pleasure and pain” (Ptolemy p.29)

Ptolemy says that whenever all of the places are mutually familiarized, this brings friendship composed of all (3) kinds just the same as when they are non familiarized would bring enmity. Well, this word “familiarized” needs explanation.
Now, Ptolemy discusses the familiarity (oikeioo) in three different ways [according to Schmidt]:
Planets that are in classical aspect.
Planets that are in commanding/obeying relationship
Planets that see each other (see chapter 14-17 in book I Tetrabiblos).

But whenever the places of the Lights alone are familiarized one among other, this is a friendship through preference.

Hephaistio says “when the lights alone are the same”, which probably means that the lights are in the same sign.

So, the Ptolemy’s version of “Familiarized” [or at least, our understanding of it] would give lights in square as bringing friendship, and only the unmitigated aversion enmity which is not so logical to me. I think that Hephaistio is right here saying that the Lights should be in the same sign.
Ptolemy says that this is “the best and most unfailing kind”, “and enmity by preference is the worst and without trust”.

Similarly, the familiarized Lot of Fortune places (or in the same sign according to Hephaistio), denotes friendship through need.

The places of Ascendants through pleasure and pain (friendship of pleasure and enmity which leads to pain).

Now we must not to be confused. The authoritative places [Lights, Ascendant and LOF] which are in the same sign will show the nature of the friendship, but whether a friendship exist or not will be judged according to whether all these or most of them “exchange places”.


So, this is how far I got in my previous attempt to clarify the subject. Now, after reading Umar, some things became more clear, or even more confusing as you will see in a minute 🙂

Umar says:

“Ptolemy, however, says that friendship and enmities come to be in three ways: either it is necessary that a man esteem his associate on account of the concord of the spirits which he has [with him], or on account of profit, or because joy or sorrow will conjoin them”. (Umar al-Tabari: Three books on Nativities, translated by Benjamin N. Dykes, PhD).

So Umar says that there are 3 kinds of Friendship (according to Ptolemy:

1. Friendship based on account of the same spirit of both persons.
[this would be Aristotle’s Friendship based on Virtue, or Ptolemey’s friendship based on “mutual preference”].

2. Firendship based on profit.
[this would be Aristotle’s friendship based on utility, and Ptolemey’s “through need”].

3. Friendship based on joy and sorrow.
[this would be the same as Aristotle’s “of the sake of “pleasure” and Ptolemey’s “through pleasure and pain”].

Umar explains that the first one is friendship based on the same spirit, and this is shown by having the Lights [Sun and Moon] in same sign or they are “corss-changed”, that is, the Sun of the one person is with the Moon of the other or vice versa. Also, sextile and trine aspects among them are good indication of such friendship.

Umar says that in this way, the persons esteem each other “naturally” and adds that this is so if especially fortune planets aspects the configuration and bad planets are turned away.

So, we can assume here that Ptolemy’ by “Familiarized” means Lights in good aspect [that is, conjunction, sextile and trine].

The second type of friendship is that one which connects people through profit and gain.
Those are [according to Umar] people who have Lot of Fortune in same sign, same triplicity [which would make them in trine relationship] or in sextile. These nativities will be joined to profit together.

Again we see clearly that Umar excludes squares and oppositions. Umar also says that if fortunes aspects this configuration, their profit will be from the same matter, but also if malefics aspects, their sorrow will be from the same matter.

Third kind of friendship is that of joining together on account of joy and sorrow.
Now Umar lived in very religious time, where on pleasure was looked as something which needs to be overcome or not to be taken so lightly and whole-heartedly; so can we assume that by “joy” here he means “pleasure”? Is sexual union based merely on body needs this kinds of friendship? Having in mind that Ascendants are taken into consideration, I think we can assume that.
So, if Ascendants of both persons are in the same sign, or aspect each one with trine or sextile, this joins people through pleasure and pain, that is, joy and sorrow.

Now going back to Hephaistio, we read that in the beginning of his chapter he speaks about long-lasting friendships and friendships abruptly broken off.
Hephaistio says that if Lights, Ascendants and Lot of Fortune [here he generalizes about the all the kinds of friendships] “exchange places” they make friendships that nothing can brake. But if these aspect each other by square or opposition, they make greatest enmity and long-lasting oppositions.

But then he says something interesting:

If they are in triangular or hexagonal [configurations], they make the sympathies lesser, as there occurs occasional breaking off and pettinesses in friendships whenever the malefics transit the configuration, but truces and restitutions in enmities in accordance with the ingresses of the benefics to the figures [p.72]

I have found this to be of great practical value. These words and the power of knowledge of the real synastry can save you valuable friendships if you are wise enough to retrieve yourself from particular relationship when Malefics are joining the configurations by transit, or to just be aware of the “bad times”. Though, sometimes if something is promised in the birth chart, even if you hide yourself, the other person will find you to actualize what is already promised 😉

Next, Hephaistio says that if Lights are in same signs, this brings friendship through preference, and if they are in inharmonious aspect, the enmity is voluntary without trust.

Now what I take this to be, is that the enmity is based also on the basic opposite nature of these two. The enmity is based on the opposite spirit of the two, so they just hate each other on account of their differences, that is, as someone would often say: “I hate him but I do not know why, I just do”.

So, this is ‘voluntary enmity’ not out of need nor profit. They just hate each other.

Lots of Fortune in inharmonious aspects suggest enmity through need.

Ascendants in inharmonious aspects, enmity is out of pleasure and pain.

Now, Hephaistio adds that if all the significations said above are somehow commingled [which you would often find true in analyzing synastry charts] you would judge commingling of the influences on friendship and on enmity as well.



In the inner wheel is the chart of Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor [1503 – 1564] to whom Gauricus wrote the famous three annual charts  predicting to him that he will win over his enemy Suleiman the Magnificent [1494 – 1566] whose chart is on the outer wheel.

First we will look at the lights.We see Suleiman’s Sun is in Ferdinand’s Ascendant, while Suleiman’s Moon is making square to the configuration.
Ferdinand’s Sun and Suleiman’s Moon [ruler of ascendant] are in opposition with Suleiman’s Mars conjuncting Ferdinand’s Moon, while Ferdinand’s Mars [ruler of the nativity] is conjuncting Suleiman’s Moon [ruler of his nativity].

We can see quite an enmity here.
Ferdinand’s Mars ruler of nativity in his 4th [defending his own lend] conjuncts Suleiman’s Moon in his eight which brings to Suleiman fear of death, anxiety and etc.

Their “relationship” was with truces and wars. In first place Ferdinand applied to Suleiman for support in the conflicts inside of the Hungary Kingdom. But later Suleiman would come with great troops to conquer the capital city: Siege of Vienna and will be defeated by Ferdinand just as famous Gauricus predicted in his analysis.

We can see that their Lot of Fortune is in sextile relationship, which according to Hephaistio, brings only temporal truce, and that one in regard to Profit.

But Mars of the one on the Moon of the other, and the Sun – Moon opposition, is quite a testimony for enmity.

So, looking at the chart with these testimonies, we can predict something of the sort:

“There will be great enmity and opposition between these two people [look also at Suleiman’s Saturn ruler of 7th with Ferdinand’s Sun]. But there will also be a times when their enmity will be turned in to truce due to mutual profit and benefit”.

Suleiman signed a peace treaty with Ferdinand I that divided the country. Under these terms Ferdinand, ruled part of Hungary while Joan Zapoya, a puppet of Suleiman, ruled the rest.

Suleiman’s 4th falls in Ferdinand’s 12th and Ferdinand’s 4th in Suleiman’s 8th which connects Land with enmity, death and fear.

Next Hephaistio advises us to look at the Lot of Eros in delineation of friendship.
Lot of Eros of Ferdinand falls in Sagittarius and Saturn and Mars of Suleiman makes both square to it.

There are other interesting examples which I want to share, but I am out of time now, so will leave that for some other post in the future.


Try to apply these principles and you will see that there is truth in them [as in most of the methods of the old masters]. See the interconnection of planets and their rulership in each chart. Which agenda touches the agenda of the other chart. Once you know the particular benefits and vices of certain friendship or enmity, apply the predictive techniques to wisely escape (if that’s possible) certain problems and complications. Synastry can be as I said, very wise tool when applied to our relationships. Playing around with it on the charts of people you know, can reveal to you many great truths of your relationship destiny.


Hephaistio of Thebes – Apotelesmatics, Book II, p.71, Schmidt trans., Published by the Golden Hind Press, 1998

Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle, translated by W. D. Ross 1999 kitchener

Claudius Ptolemy – Tetrabiblos Book IV, translated & annotated by Robert H. Schmidt, The Golden Hind Press 1998.

Umar al-Tabari: Three Books of Nativities, translated & edited by Benjamin N. Dykes PhD, The Cazimi Press, Minneapolis Minnesota, 2010.

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