One of the important components that astrologers consider when looking at an astrological chart is what is called the “aspects.” In plain English, the aspects are essentially the angular relationship of one planet to another. Through observation, astrologers have found that when planets sit at various angles to one another, this creates a relationship between the planets.
Primarily the Astrological aspects that we look at are those that are multiples of 30 degrees. Or another way of looking at this is to take the 360 degrees of a circle and divide it by various integers ranging from 1 to 12. Some aspects are considered favorable, others stressful. They are also classified according to what are called the major aspects, which are the conjunction, the trine, the square and the opposition and then the minor aspects, such as the sextile, semi-sextile, and inconjunct or quincunx.Astrological aspect
Astrologers allow a specified orb for these aspects to be in play, with the variance depending on how strong the aspect is as well as the planets involved. If the sun or moon are involved in an aspect, the orb can be a bit larger, due to the strength of those two planets. Some astrologers also give Jupiter a wider orb since it is so large.
Astrology: What are Aspects?
The Major Astrology Aspects
The Conjunction. When two planets are anywhere from 0-10 degrees apart from one another, this cis alled a conjunction. Very simply, the energies of the two planets are merged together, so it’s as if they are fused together. If the nature of the two planets are compatible with each other, this is a favorable aspect. But if they are polar opposites of each other, this can be challenging. Probably the most difficult planet to have conjunct another would be Saturn, since Saturn has a tendency to inhibit or restrict the output of the planets surrounding it.
It is commonly thought that if a planet is too close to the sun, the sun can burn out the energy of the other planet, thereby robbing that other planet of its ability to express itself. Of particular significance is the aspect called cazimi, which is when a planet is within 17 minutes of the sun and therefore at the heart of the sun.
The Stellium: When more than two planets are conjunct each other, this is called a stellium. It’s as though all the planets involved are joined together, essentially acting as one. If one of these planets is triggered by a transit or a progression, each of the planets involved in the stellium will be similarly impacted. Think of it as a train going down the tracks. If a part of the train gets hit, the cars in front as well as in back that are hooked together, will all feel the impact.
The Trine: This aspect occurs when two planets are 120 degrees apart. It is derived by dividing the 360 degrees of the circle by three, therefore giving the trinity. This is arguably the most favorable of all aspects and assures a smooth flow of energy between the planets involved. It imparts ease and harmony and sometimes a sense of luck. The action is fluid and the natures of the planets involved find it easy to work together. If two planets are at the same degree but in two different signs of the same element, they are in trine to one another. The orb for this aspect is 8 degrees.
The Grand Trine: This aspect occurs when there are three planets each in trine to one another. If you were to draw a line connecting each one, it would create a triangle. This is considered to be extremely favorable and confers many a blessing upon the native whose chart contains this aspect. The person may be very talented in his or her field, with their talents coming very easily to them. It’s as if they were born to do what they are gifted to do and can manifest their talents with considerable ease. It is important, however, that the native that possesses this sort of aspect does not take this gift for granted. They must be careful not to “kill the goose that laid the golden egg.”
The Square: This aspect occurs when two planets sit 90 degrees apart from one another. Two planets at the same degree but in two signs of the same quality, (cardinal, fixed or mutable) are in square to each other. This is a difficult aspect because the nature of the signs are in conflict with each other. They work at cross purposes and therefore have difficulty satisfying the needs of both signs. There is the sense that if one part of the personality is being satisfied, that it essentially excludes the possibility that other sides can also be satisfied as well. Generally the stresses are more internal versus external. In other words, these are conflicts within the person themselves, rather than a conflict that arises between the native and someone else. So it’s more like the person with this aspect has such divergent needs within their own personality that they feel like they are working against themselves. It can create stress or tension and stands in the way of making things happen with ease. The orb for this aspect is 8 degrees.
The Opposition: This aspect occurs when two planets sit 180 degrees apart from one another. Just as it sounds, the impact of this aspect arises because two sides of the native’s personality are looking for two totally differing goals. The native may feel a sense of frustration that they have needs or goals which seem to require an unworkable compromise. The frustration can also arise because of a perception that others are standing in the way of the native achieving their own goals. An example of an opposition could be as follows: a person is highly independent and loves the whole idea of being able to call their own shots and not having to answer to other people. At the same time, they may be in a relationship, which therefore requires them to bend or compromise in order to maintain the relationship. So they feel as though they are trapped in the relationship, because by being in it, it therefore impedes their ability to be the sole decision maker and to be able to maintain their sense of independence. They could project their frustration onto the other person in the relationship, as if the other person is solely responsible for the native’s inability to be independent, when in fact the native is the one, themselves, who has consciously committed themselves to the relationship in the first place. The orb for this aspect is 8-10 degrees.
The Grand Square: This configuration occurs when there are four planets each in square to each other, thereby creating four squares as well as two oppositions. This is arguably the most difficult of the all the possible alignments within a chart. The native may feel as though they are damned if they do, and damned if they don’t. If they plant a seed in one direction, there is a sense that there is an inherent impediment to the seed having any chance of sprouting and coming to life. The person may feel as though they are hitting their head up against a brick wall.
The difficulty of this influence can range, depending on the quality of the signs in which the grand square is posited. A grand square in fixed signs could be viewed as the most difficult, because there seems to be no way out. There is a the sense that you’re chasing your own tail. An example would be a person who is starting out in life with no job experience and are looking to get a job. Whatever job they apply for, they are told that they need experience in order to get a job. How do you get experience under your belt if no one is willing to give you a chance to prove yourself and allow you to at least get your foot in the door?
The cardinal grand square is somewhat less difficult because the native at least has the breathing room to plant a seed. It may not be planted in the most fertile of soils and may therefore undergo significant challenges for the seed to come to fruition, but at least the seed does get planted. Its strength will be severely tested to see if the seed is hardy enough to overcome obstacles that will inhibit its growth. But, if indeed it is hardy, it will find a way to survive and overcome the odds.
The mutable grand square is the least stressful, potentially speaking, because the greatest challenge tends to lie in the dilemma of choice. There are so many different options or possibilities as to how and where the seeds are planted, so many divergent talents that can be applied, that the challenge lies in deciding which options are most workable. And then once the decision is made, the next challenge that arises is that of following up and following through with the chosen path. There is a danger of being too dispersed or too distracted.
The T-Square: This configuration occurs when there are three squares connected to each other but the fourth sign that would create the grand square is empty. It is sort of like a three legged table which one missing leg on the fourth corner. This aspect is challenging because, like the grand square, there is a perception that there is no way out. However, a saving grace can be found in pinpointing that empty point. Very often it is possible to overcome the trials and tribulations of this aspect by activating that missing point. Like the table with the missing leg, once that missing point is realized, it can ease the challenges posed by the active three squares.
The Minor Astrology Aspects:
The Sextile: This is a 60 degree aspect and occurs when there are planets at the same degree and two signs apart. It is half of a trine and therefore is considered a favorable aspect, but is not as powerful as the trine, itself. This aspect imparts talents which are available to the native, but it requires that the native be fully cognizant of them and is willing to take action to put them into motion. The talents won’t materialize as easily as they would with a trine so the native can’t really rest on their laurels. It imparts a high degree of curiosity, a quick mind and an ability to work with diverse aspects of information, as well as a keen ability to communicate ideas to others. It also gives the native strong socializing skills, with an ability to integrate themselves into various groups settings and view fellow human beings with a strong sense of objectivity. The orb is 2 degrees.
The Semi-Sextile: This is a 30 degree aspect and occurs when two planets are in the same degree and one sign apart. It is therefore half of a sextile. It imparts a sense of value and appreciation, pragmatic strengths, as well as subtle psychic talents that can be utilized when appreciated as such. The orb is 1 degree.
The Inconjunct or Quincunx: This is a 150 degree aspect and occurs when two planets are in the same degree and five signs apart. Some astrologers, including this author, view this is as more than a minor aspect. It is classically considered to be an aspect of adjustment as well as one that can indicate health issues. Lessons of selflessness are found under this aspect and encourage the native to be of service to others without any expectation of reward. It can also be an aspect which imparts lessons associated with joining forces with others and recognizing how one’s talents can merge with others to create a stronger potential than if one were to simply strike out on their own. In most schools of thought the orb is 6 degrees.
What are Aspects in Astrology?
Organization of Professional Astrologers