Updated: Dec 18, 2021
In his book Synthesis & Counseling in Astrology, Noel Tyl describes the importance of analyzing the way that the Sun and Moon blend together in a chart. His work is an extension of the pioneering ideas of Dane Rudhyar, who stressed the value of what he called the “soli-lunar relationship.” This means looking at the Sun and Moon not just as separate bodies and influences, but as a pair that must work together within the chart.
In Tyl’s technique, the Moon takes on the role of the reigning need of the chart, while the Sun becomes the energy available to meet and fulfill that need. A “machine” is created through lunar forms and functions, running on solar fuel. The relationship between these two can be examined broadly with categories like triplicity or quadruplicity (element and mode), but the most important factor is the two signs involved and the phase relationship that results. At its core, this is an analysis of the distribution of Sun through Moon.
This technique fits well with a statement from 4th century astrologer Paul of Alexandria, “[E]verything is administered by the Sun (Helios) and the Moon (Selene), and none of the things existing in the world is produced without the rulership of these stars”. The Sun/Moon blend shows the essential construct within a chart that allows all other things within it to be produced and come into being. The needs of the Moon direct the expressions and energy of the Sun, through the powers of the other planets and into the areas of life shown in the houses.
As presented in Synthesis, the main consideration of the Sun/Moon blend is the mixture of signs. He lists out descriptions for each possible Sun and Moon combo and provides several examples of this technique in action. For our purposes, we will be looking at both the basic sign blend as well as some more nuances that can add details to analysis and understanding.
The first step is just thinking about the general meanings and natures of the two signs involved. For example, if someone has the Sun in Capricorn and the Moon in Leo, how do these two signs get along? What might they have in common? Where could there be miscommunications? This is our first level of analysis. The Sun in Capricorn offers a hardworking, dedicated, if not somewhat dry fuel to the needs for attention, appreciation, and performance of the Moon in Leo. But there is more we can say here.
Beyond the natural meanings of the signs, we can analyze the relationship by the various interactions of sign categories. After all, a zodiac sign can be diurnal or nocturnal, cardinal, fixed, or mutable, fire, earth, air, or water. Each of these categories adds a dimension to the blend of Sun and Moon. In our example above, there is nothing in common between the two placements. The Sun in Capricorn is nocturnal, cardinal, and earth. It responds and reacts with new beginnings and starting over while trying to build something real and tangible. The Moon in Leo is diurnal, fixed, and fire. It actively maintains and adds to passions which have already been initiated, generating more and more desires and potentials.
The lack of common ground can cause a few struggles in what initially seemed like a pleasant combination of big needs and the dedication to meet them. Here, we see that more and more needs are created when one is satisfied. Capricorn fuel must continue to burn and start on new paths in order to maintain the Leo fire burning. Burnout is a potential result, but so are incredible heights of achievement if the effort can be maintained.
Another layer to this interpretation is the aspect/phase relationship of the Sun and Moon. Previous articles have discussed the importance of phase in interpretation. In our example, the Sun is at 17º Capricorn and the Moon is at 3º Leo which places them in the Full Moon phase (196º apart). There is the great potential for realization, for the completion of personal goals, but often through relationship, collaboration, and connection. One is sensitive to the world around them and greatly impacted by it. In a sense, the Full Moon can be summed by the phrase, “you are the company you keep.”
While the Sun and Moon remain in the Full phase, the Moon has actually moved beyond the sign opposite the Sun. This changes the dynamic from the typical polarity of the Full Moon to one where the Sun and Moon are not in direct relationship. Planets 8 signs apart (as Leo is from Capricorn, if both are counted) are averse or not in aspect with each other. The idea can be put simply as a lack of interaction between these two areas of one’s life. So in our example the Moon in Leo has its big desires and needs and the Sun in Capricorn works to fulfill them with its fuel, all without actually connecting with each other. The Sun might fulfill needs Leo doesn’t have or it might feel to the need to start new things when the Moon wants to maintain and continue, or numerous other possibilities. This individual would have to work hard to make sure that they actually work toward things that are fulfilling and meaningful to them.
In summary, the Sun Moon blend is primarily an analysis of the signs of the two planets. Within this analysis is a look at the general natures of the signs involved (the needs of the Moon sign and the fuel of the Sun sign), an examination of their sect, triplicity, and quadruplicity, and a look at both the phase and sign-based aspect between the two luminaries. Within all of this is the basic “functional machine” of the individual. You can find your own needs and desires as well as the kind of energy you have to satisfy them.
If you were curious, our example is the iconic David Bowie who lived many lives over a long career and for a time in the ‘70s had a different character for every new album released. Bowie’s Capricorn Sun worked tirelessly for success, heading in endless different creative directions as any good cardinal placement does. The Moon in Leo was a brilliant performer who desperately wanted love and to fit in, even while standing out (the closeness of the Moon to the Saturn/Pluto conjunction adds some of this, as does the Sun in the 12th house conjunct Mars).
Bowie’s Sun and Moon certainly were not always on the same page, but over time he grew into the role of playing himself, allowing who David Bowie was to be ever-changing and always a performance. This was not always the case, as he suffered from a major burnout in the late ‘70s (from extensive touring, drug use, poor eating habits, and a lacking sense of self among all of his many characters). This is an extreme example of the lacking aspect between the Sun and Moon (as well as their lack of any shared qualities). For a while, it was hard to have these two on the same page and instead they worked separately, fulfilling “needs” without any real fulfillment. But through positive relationships (with Brian Eno, Iggy Pop, and his wife Iman, among others), Bowie was able to bring his personal needs and tireless effort into communion and stepped out of the spotlight for some time in order to do personal and interpersonal development (Sun in 12th house and Moon in 7th house).
Take a look in your chart at the relationship between the Sun and Moon. They offer an introductory yet powerful vision of your life, its potentials, and its pitfalls.