My attempt to simplify things a little
using EJ's numbering
1) Natal is master foto/blueprint and THE most important
2) progressed charts need only referred to couple of times a year and diary notes made of any aspects to the most important being --sun, moon and any other make by hard aspect to natal planets and Angles.
3) Transits are the most commonly used divination method but keep in mind they act as 'background influences' unless or until they make a mathamatical aspect to the Angles Asc/Desc & MC/IC and planets inside the chart.
These transits then 'set off' the natal aspects appertaining to which planet is being aspected. The most important being from mars onwards ie: jupiter, saturn, uranus, neptune & pluto. External events look at angles, internal events are inside the chart not involving the angles
The sun,moon,venus,mercury are all very quickly moving and their influences are fleeting. Remember when a major transit is operating, always look to see what/when Mars (the ignition key) will activate a turning point.
4) Solar returns can be read as stand alone, but you will gain more information if used in conjunction with natal. Watch if any natal planets are touching Angles of SR and what house SR Asc falls in will be the major house theme for next 12months. Solar returns MC and Asc can be moved like solar arcs 1' per day approx for timing of events. SR are all about potential, like the natal -- but we don't always fulfill that potential due to circumstances beyond our control.
theortically EJ has the right order but I would question the interpretations of composites and davision's cos some members here who specialises reads composites as if they were davison charts.
1) In composites I disregard planetary sign placements and instead focus on houses where the planets fall and on aspects. The composite Sun is the most important.
2) Aspects that occur in both natals and in the composite/davison will be psychological issues that need to be worked on in the relationship.
3) Aspects that occur in the composite but not in the natals are issues rising within the relationship that have not been dealt with before by either party.
4) In Davison the main difference is to look at sign placement, whilst ignore sign placement in the composite. Also look for sign strength and weakness, mutual reception, sole dispositors.
5) In both ‘composites’ and ‘Davisons’, look for midpoints that are conjoined by planets in either natal. In composites, these relationships seem to be referring to psychological issues, while in ‘Davidsons’, the midpoint relationships tend to refer to forces acting on the couple from outside the relationship.
6) Try putting your natal planets around the outside of either chart, to see who relates best to this relationship and who is gaining the most. This can be rather revealing
7) Also remember you can use transits over both these charts and again Angles are very sensitive points
Composites v Davison charts
If you go to www.astro.com click on free horoscopes, go to Interactive horoscopes, go down to Astroclick partner, that will bring up a composite chart and when you put the mouse over a planet will bring up a pop up box with the interpretation......
But you do need both times of birth to be accurate though.. enjoy.
Composites describe the relationship, not either one of you, but what you came together to learn or to do and how the 'pair of you' function when together....
http://books.google.com/books?id=dUulSwQoEC4C&pg=PR16&dq=robert+hand+compo sites&ei=r8HRSsXNEJvmygSIsP3eCQ#v=onepage&q=&f=fal se
The Book ---Planets in Composite: Analyzing Human Relationships By Robert Hand-- is greatly recommended
“The composite doesn't seem to describe what either person feels about the other. In this way it is very different from synastry, which describes the chemistry between two people in terms of how they affect each other.The composite chart is like a child, a third entity which carries the genetic imprints of both parents but combines these imprints in an entirely new way and exists independently of either of them”
“Composites have their own laws and energies, and these have nothing to do with whether we are "well matched" with someone. A composite in itself will not tell us about compatibility. That is what synastry is for. The composite won't reveal whether the relationship is "good" or "bad" in terms of the chemistry between two people. The composite says to us, "If you choose to enter this relationship, here is its meaning and pattern of destiny”
“For example, the composite Ascendant can indicate the circumstances surrounding the first meeting or the beginning of the relationship. It can also point to how a couple initiates things together (such as projects). Similarly, the end of a relationship can be depicted by the composite twelfth house. Once a relationship kicks in (moves beyond the initial stages), the composite Sun becomes more apparent. If a commitment to each other happens, the seventh and eighth houses come more clearly into focus. As such, the conditions surrounding the planets and houses in the composite chart can show us different stages of development of the relationship over time.”
click on link to read full article
Davison chart v Composite chart
“Important point! Both of these charts are for the two of you as a couple. They show things that will tend to happen in the relationship as well as how you act towards the outside world when you are together. They have no effect when you are apart”
If you are not sure about midpoints and want to simple calculate a pair try here...
How to calculate midpoints http://www.cafeastrology.com/sunmoonmidpointrelationship.html
Free online midpoint calculator
Of greatest significance are the midpoints between the Sun and the Moon, and between the Ascendant and Midheaven. These of course are the indicators of the major things of life in general.
The orb has to be very tight 1’ or max 1’30” to be effective though