A pair of readers, EZ and JH, asked: what does astrology say about twins? It’s a very good question. So good that I’m not only going to spend some time answering it this week, but I’m awarding the pair a free LIFETIME subscription to the newsletter! Sweet!!!

You don’t have to look very hard into mythology to discover a wealth of material on the human fascination with twins. To a certain degree, that fascination must be rooted in the idea of Other, of the Doppelganger.  On its deepest level, the existence of twins expresses the mystery of human similarity and difference, of self and other, light and shadow, positive and negative. Looking at literature, a quick glance at the plays of that astrological master, William Shakespeare, shows the playwright using the concept of twinning, sometimes literally, as in comedies like “Twelfth Night” or metaphorically as in “Hamlet,” to dramatize the conflicts of his characters or the lack of integration in their identities. (Perhaps that’s not surprising, given that Shakespeare himself was the father of fraternal twins.)

In regards to cinema, the theme of twins comes up occasionally, from the high-concept, bad execution of “Twins” (with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny Devito as the visually unlikely pair) to movies like David Cronenberg’s, “Dead Ringers” with Jeremy Irons putting on a virtuoso performance as a pair of very distrubed twins – both gynecologists –  who go that extra mile in sharing. Not for the squeamish or faint-hearted.

At any rate, twins provide a challenge to astrology. Why are some twins so similar and others so different? Is it possible that the charts of two people – born almost exactly at the same time and in the same place – can reflect what are sometimes large differences in temperament and manner?

This is where the general discrediting of astrology reveals its drawbacks. In this case, to know whether and how astrology could shed some insight on the topic would require a rigorous collection of data. Charts of living twins would have to be gathered. There would have to be some type of baseline assessment of personality. There would have to be a blind reading by an astrologer of the charts for subtle differences. And finally, there would have to be a comparison between what the astrologer found and the baseline assessment. Until somebody steps forward with funding for that kind of research, let me give you some observations from my experience.

The charts of twins can be looked at in a couple of different ways. The best case scenario – and it’s rare – is when the twins are born rather far apart in time, much more than the usual 20 minutes, although even that short amount of time can be astrologically significant. Look carefully at the two charts below, superimposed upon each other; they are fraternal twins, a brother and sister:

Look at the large circle I’ve drawn on the left side of the chart. What has happened is that the younger twin was born 1 hour and 45 minutes later, resulting in a change of both the ascendant AND the sign of the Moon.  In her chart, we see detached Aquarius rising and a sensitive Pisces Moon. In his chart, we see Aries rising and an Aries Moon, a very self-directed and potentially selfish placement. The older of the two, the sister, had asked me to look at the charts and render an opinion. The following is a condensed version of my thoughts:

“Temperamentally, the two of you are very different. What I mean by that is that your styles of relating are dissimilar. Your brother is likely to run hot, very direct, bossy and impulsive, while you are likely to be more low key, more sensitive, less brash and more detached in your interaction with the world. In essence, your speeds are different and that is the primary differentiation between you. As I have often heard of the “bond” between twins, I have no doubt there’s a strong connection, but in regards to the foundation of your personalities, the chart suggests that you move through and into the world in a very different manner.”

Her answer, in full, is as follows:

“That’s very interesting, because while I love my brother and would do anything for him, I’ve never really felt comfortable with him. There’s been so much made about us being twins and sharing this bond that you refer to, and we do. But I also really feel our difference and in some ways feel our difference more than our similarity. Thanks for your perspective. It confirms something that I’ve felt for a long time and to be honest it makes me feel better because I’ve always, always wondered why I have these mixed feelings about someone with whom I am so close.”

Interesting as that is, it does not cover the typical situation where the twins are born closely together and there is no change in the ascendant or the Moon sign. So what happens then? In this case, we use a technique from Vedic (Indian) astrology. And next week, we’ll look at that method in action from the files.

My thanks to CG for giving me permission to use her unusual chart and question.