Let’s talk about Astrological aspects! Be sure to have a copy of your birth chart analysis on hand to see what aspects you have in your chart and how they affect you with the included cheat sheet at the end of this article. Don't have your birth chart? There are many options available on-line to receive a basic free birth chart.
What is an Aspect?
You may be pretty familiar with planetary relationships in signs and houses. Even more important than these relationships are the planets’ relationships with each other! (Especially when we get into synastry and aspect patterns for compatibility.)
The planets represent the different parts of us that reside in our psyche. So how they interact with each other has a major impact on our personality and our well-being. Astrologers call these planetary relationships aspects. Aspects are determined by a very simple method, geometric angles (0°, 60°, 90°, 120°, 150° and 180°) that the planets form with one another. When 2 planets are at a specific distance from one another they are said to form an astrological aspect.
There are 5 major aspects. They are considered the most important by many astrologers. They are conjunctions 0°, sextiles 60°, squares 90°, trines 120°, and oppositions 180°. There are also minor and grand aspects. We will be sticking with the 5 major aspects, and I’ll touch a little on minor and grand aspects. Lucky for us we have computer programs to do the math and make it easy. However, it’s still a good idea to double check the math because even computers make mistakes. Let’s start by going through each major aspect.
A conjunction is usually considered a positive aspect or relationship. When a planet is conjunct, it just means it is right next to another planet. So, an astrology conjunction is a 0° connection. Most of the time this plays out where we have multiple planets in the same sign. So, we have a really heavy focus on that area of life (depending on which house it falls into) and the energy is all working together towards the same thing. The energy flows freely here and has a strong electric charge. A conjunction is the most powerful of all aspects.
Now, if you have planets conjunct (next to each other) in different signs, it’s more like they are chained together. Since each sign is a reaction of the sign that came before it, they do not get along. One is masculine and one is feminine. Their qualities (cardinal, fixed, mutable) are different. This tells us they will have a different way to reach the same goal, they operate differently. This means they may be fighting each other on their way to that goal. This is not a happy relationship.
Meet Tom, Tom’s Sun and Mars are in the sign of Aries. The Sun shows who Tom is at his core. Mars shows s us his aggressive side and how he reacts to stress, how he gets angry, and how fast he does. Aries is cardinal fire, so it moves quickly already, but with Mars holding hands with Toms’ Sun let’s just say he is extra Aries! He most likely will not stay still… ever. He will be short tempered, sharp, moving fast from one point to another. This aspect would give him a strong personality and a pretty quick temper. Poor Tom! No poor Toms wife!
In the next scenario Toms Sun is still in Aries but his Mars is in the sign of Taurus, they are sitting right on the cusp (where the energies meet). They are still conjunct; they are still holding hands, but they are not happy about it. Aries gets mad that Taurus is slowing him way down and I would imagine that would lead to a lot of internal conflict for Tom… Ok now poor Tom!
Aries doesn’t think… they are not made to think. Aries is made to DO! Let’s be grateful for that. Without Aries energy there would be no military, no police officers or firemen that are willing to run into dangerous situations to save our lives. Thanks Tom! Taurus energy moves way too slow for Aries. Taurus wants to take his time and make sure he’s making the right decisions and taking the right next steps. Aries just does and figures it out as he goes.
That is how a conjunction works. Easy right!?
A sextile in astrology is when two planets are 60° apart or 2 signs. A sextile is considered a positive or easy aspect, but we need to work for it. Sextiles show us opportunities. If acted on, these opportunities can produce talents and positive benefits. If you do not exert any effort or initiative, these aspects can quickly become passive and lazy. It is a very strong bond, and one that works even better if it’s nurtured and encouraged. They inspire each other. They produce new ideas and opportunities that flow smoothly between different aspects of a person’s life.
In a sextile both planets will be in the same polarity so they will either both be masculine, or both be feminine. The energy flows beautifully here. It has a strong current, not as strong as a conjunction but definitely in second place. This is a sextile meaning in astrology.
In our next example we will talk about Toms wife, Jane. Jane has her Moon Sextile with her Venus. Without even looking at the signs they are in we can tell a lot about Jane. The moon represents her emotions, her deep subconscious needs, her instincts. Venus represents relationships, love, and what Jane finds beautiful. Both are feminine planets so they get along quite well. Right off the bat we know Jane is very feminine. She would most likely come across as soft and gentle, she would be in touch with her divine feminine. Jane would be charming and popular, and lucky in relationships.
Although the ease of this relationship can always seem like a good thing, let’s remember nothing is all good or all bad. So, what’s the downside? The disadvantage is that the energy can flow too easily. We don’t experience that drive or uncomfortable feeling that usually pushes us to do something. This is where doing the work comes in. Jane has lots of ideas but doesn’t follow through with them. Sextiles lack the motivation we need to get us moving. However, it is still a pleasant force because it causes no disruption. Unlock the sextiles and do the work. I promise it will be worth it!
A trine is a 120° aspect. When two planets are trine, they are 120° apart on your chart or 4 signs. A trine between two planets means there is almost no resistance there. In a trine the planets are of the same element. Elements in astrology are fire, earth, air, and water. They are working towards the same thing and want the same outcome. You may find a lot of fortune where there are trines in your chart.
Tom’s brother Larry has Mercury trine Jupiter. Jupiter is the planet of luck, growth, and expansion. Mercury is how you think, learn, and teach. Larry not only has great knowledge and understanding, he also has luck when it comes to expressing himself. He will have no internal conflicts or struggles when it comes to making decisions or saying the right thing.
The trine planetary aspect allows energy to flow easily back and forth. As a matter of fact, it can be too easy because it happens so quickly. Larry will have natural good luck. A lot of opportunities come his way. He even gets pretty used to having luck on his side. Larry ends up taking it for granted and instead has a lot of wasted talents (he’s got more than one trine).
So, Larry’s sun and mercury are conjunct, with means Larry also has his Sun trine Jupiter. This means his personality will be bigger than life! He would still have all that luck but with Jupiter’s mutable energy and all that fire he will most likely never stay still, never stop questioning things, like where do we come from, and why are we here. He will bounce from thing to thing with all of the excitement of Tigger from Winnie the Pooh! Yikes, am I dating myself? … moving on.
To be successful we need to manage this energy in the right way so that we don’t become lazy and just expect good things to keep happening with little or no effort. The best thing here is to never to fully depend on your good fortunes. Always strive to develop your skills. The more you build your work ethic, the more luck you will have!
An Astrology opposition happens when two planets are 180° apart, or 6 signs. Oppositions are planets that are opposite each other in astrology. Oppositions create tension or friction that need to be balanced. They are considered negative aspects, but balancing them helps us to grow, evolve, and mature.
An opposition creates a tug of war internally. Both planets will share the same polarity (masculine or feminine), they will share the same quality (cardinal, fixed, or mutable), their elements will even be compatible (fire to air or earth to water). They face the world in the same way, but their priorities are different.
Opposing signs have more in common then we initially think, but they are forever at odds to decide which is the best solution to the problem at hand. When we can give equal time and value to both sides we will come into a state of balance and integration. It’s all about compromise and finding fairness.
For example, Jane has Mars opposite Saturn in her chart. Mars wants to move quickly and can be rather impatient, and Saturn is cautious and wants to carefully plan before each move. They are absolutely in conflict, but they don’t have to be. They have the ability to compromise and be objective about the other’s position. If they can do that they will come to a place of balance and so will Jane. Her life will not feel so hard.
Each planet can benefit from the other’s strengths. Maybe Saturn is teaching Mars to pause and think before making a move. Mars teaches Saturn to quickly take advantage of opportunities before they disappear. If they can respect each other Jane will live in harmony with this challenging opposition, and so will Tom! As the saying goes, happy wife, happy life. At first Jane struggles with this, but as she stays mindful of her inner dialog, she is quickly able to find this balance. Both planets can grow and develop and in turn so does Jane. Checking your chart for oppositions will help you to see how much effort you will need in creating a compromise between these 2 forces of your personality.
The square aspect in astrology is a 90° angle formed by two planets. So, when two planets fall 90°, or 3 signs apart in your chart they form a square. Squares are the hardest aspect in astrology. They create a lot of tension and can even block the flow of energy. We feel the squares, they struggle to express themselves.
Even though this is a difficult aspect, squares have a hidden gift for us. The discomfort caused by squares creates the opportunity for the greatest productivity. When we are uncomfortable, we want to do something about it. It is not an easy effort, as each planet becomes stressed. They will not want to compromise. This creates an internal conflict within the psyche. But both have to put in the effort to meet the other halfway.
When a square is present, they will have the same quality (cardinal, fixed, mutable). You may think this is a good thing, however, imagine two cardinal energies in a fight. Think of two Aries men battling it out. Lots of tension!
Let’s say Tom has his moon square mercury. As we know, mercury is the planet of ideas and thoughts, and the moon rules our emotions. Tom has a really tough time communicating his feelings and emotions, as mercury will have a hard time in the deep, emotional seas of the moon. Now we understand why they fight so much! He can’t communicate his feelings.
Poor Tom also has mercury squared Saturn. This means it’s challenging for Tom to get his thoughts together and definitely harder to express them. He thinks he knows exactly what he’s going to say, then opens his mouth and something very different comes out. It’s very frustrating for Tom… and his wife Jane. Tom will need to work extra hard to make this easier, he will need to practice a lot and he will probably make mistakes as he goes. Remember this is Tom’s natural state, so it’s kind of like his auto pilot response. He needs to stay mindful and persistent. The journey will be rough, but he will be rewarded in the end.
Now that we have been through the major astrological aspects let’s touch a bit on minor aspects. I am going to focus on one that I use often. There are lots of minor aspects, but we should find what works for us and stick with those, or your journey in astrology will be quite overwhelming. Consider starting with the 5 major aspects then exploring one new one at a time to see what works for you.
A quincunx aspect in astrology is what happens when 2 planets are 150° apart, or 5 signs.
This is known as an “irritating” aspect. It causes irritation between two parts of your personality. This aspect is between a trine and an opposition, and we are crossing polarities (masculine and feminine) here. It’s not really bad, but it can be annoying. Two parts of your psyche are out of sync with each other. The purpose of a quincunx is to create transformation through analyzing, adjusting, and fine tuning the personality functions.
I am going to introduce two large aspects I feel are important in astrology. The first is a stellium and the second is the grand trine. I always get excited when I see these show up on a chart because you don’t see them every day!
A stellium is a massive concentration of energy in one sign or house of your chart. You must have 3 or more planets all conjunct with each other (0° apart) in order to have a stellium. This will indicate a strong character emphasis of the sign or house it’s in. If you have a stellium it will be a dominating force that will shape your life, choices, and your future.
Grand trines can be like hitting the birth chart lotto! A grand trine is when you have 3 trines all connected to make one big triangle. So, since we know all about trines and how happy they can be we already know this is considered a happy aspect. The energy works well together. Depending on what signs they appear in on your chart and what planets are involved, a grand trine will show an ease of life due to a heightened set of talents, but in different areas of life (the houses involved). Grand trines will most often be in the same element.
We can’t talk about aspects without talking about orbs. When we look at aspects, we leave a little wiggle room. The planets don’t have to be exactly on the degree to form an aspect. An orb tells us how far in degree they can be off and still be in aspect. Here is a list of orb sizes, and you will choose the biggest orb for the planets involved.
So, if I’m looking at an aspect between Saturn and the moon, I will use an 8° orb.
So, give yourself that wiggle room when you are checking your chart for aspects. Below is a cheat sheet to guide you along.
Your Cheat Sheet
Aspects Meanings and Potential For:
Conjunct - 0°, blends with/ intensified strength through unification
Sextile - 60°, productively combines with/ building a new talent
Square - 90°, produces stress and tension/ productivity through focus of energy
Trine - 120°-easily combines with/ creative expression
Quincunx -150°- contradicts, creates annoyance/ transformation through adjustment
Opposition - 180°-creates tension that must be balanced/integration through balance
Planets - Positive and Negative Influences
Sun - Purposeful, independent, creative, self-assured / self-centered, dominating
Moon - nurturing, intuitive, sensitive / overemotional, moody, restless
Mercury - curious, communicative, clever / nervous, indecisive, worrisome, poor communication
Venus - artistic, cooperative, social, refined / self-indulgent, vain, over sensuous
Mars - energetic, courageous, decisive, assertive / aggressive, impulsive, non-cooperative
Jupiter - optimistic, expansive, open-minded, exploring / excessive, dramatic, pompous
Saturn - Reliable, disciplined, patient / fearful, inhibited, pessimistic, depressed
Examples of Specific Aspects:
Sun trine Mercury = your purposeful, independence, and creativity, easily combines with and has potential for creative expression in communication.
Jupiter conjunct Venus = optimistic and expansive, blends with and intensifies strength through unification with artistic cooperation. So, we grow and expand through what we find beautiful, and we are creative.
My hope is that this helps you know yourself deeper and helps you to unlock all of the gifts in your chart! Have fun with this and see how you can make it work! Happy aspecting!