The general location of planets in the chart has long been an important consideration, but it was only in this century that certain patterns were formally identified and labelled, initially by the American astrologer Marc Edmund Jones. Examination of the chart shape forms a very useful part of any basic reading of the horoscope.
In this pattern the planets form two groups on opposite sides of the chart, the groups no less than sixty degrees or two signs apart. As its name suggests, this produces a person who behaves like a 'seesaw', with their life following a pattern of two distinctly contrasting alternatives. The person can find it difficult to integrate these two sharply different parts of their life, which are often in competition with each other. However, success produces the increased sophistication and polished, knowing demeanor of a person who is able to deal with most of life's situations.
In this pattern the planets are grouped together so that they form a 'bundle' within the space of 120 degrees, or the equivalent of three signs of the zodiac. This intense concentration of planets produces a person who is equally intense and unrelenting in pursuit of personal interests. Perspective and understanding of others is limited, and it is difficult for this person to share their lives with anyone. The best course of life for such a person is to enter into enterprises that require deep concentration, persistence and commitment, or to specialise in one area of expertise.
In this pattern the planets are grouped into a 'bowl' of one hemisphere of 180 degrees, or the equivalent of six zodiac signs. The pattern will have particular force if all the planets are contained within one hemisphere. A person with this pattern will be self-contained, and go in search of enterprises that are meaningful, fulfilling and personally relevant. They tend to have a ministerial quality that seeks the right kind of career or vocation that will produce the greatest benefit for themselves and others.
This pattern is similar to the bowl except that one of the planets is in the opposite hemisphere to all the others. This lone planet, or Singleton, serves as a handle, thus creating a 'bucket' form. In the bucket pattern is indicated a desire to become associated with activity in the mainstream of society, so that the person feels they belong. However, what this often means is that the person expects the world to discover their own unique talents, rather than them trying to fit in. They will usually direct their efforts to a single purpose, and strive to achieve objectives rather than act solely for their own self-preservation. The person will probably behave according to the nature of the Singleton planet that forms the handle of the pattern. This planet will exercise a greater influence than normal in the chart, and will be an important part of the dynamic of the person's activities and basic energy.
This pattern is produced when all the planets are contained within 240 degrees or nine signs of the zodiac, so that a whole 120 degrees is completely unoccupied. The planet that rises clockwise following the empty space will significantly influence the life of the person with this pattern, no matter what is indicated by the sun sign. It will act as the 'locomotive' of the natal chart, driving the individual to achieve goals through determined and unrelenting effort, with an exceptional drive and fund of energy at their disposal. Such a person will often be a loner, waiting for the public to discover the truth of what they have been saying all along.
This type of natal chart is noteworthy because of the presence of at least two, but usually three pairs (or conjunctions) of planets randomly distributed in a 'splay' shape around the chart. A person with this pattern will have enormous talent and potential that needs deliberate attention to be developed into worthwhile skills. The person will be an individualist, with no desire for a regimented or highly organized way of life, and they will seek to avoid becoming trapped in routine. However, there is often the difficulty that there is a lack of relevance between the different skill sets, so that the person may not derive the full benefit from them. Such a person needs to concentrate on 'getting their act together'.
As its name suggests this pattern, or rather lack of pattern, occurs when the planets are randomly distributed around the chart in a 'splash'. A person with this pattern will have diversification as their number one asset, with a universal and enriching mental outlook on life. The person will be eager to share their life and resources as universally as possible, wherever the need is greatest. However, as with the splay pattern, there is a danger of the person scattering their energy unproductively.