For people just starting to learn astrology, planetary aspects can be one of the more difficult topics to pick up on. The topic contains a lot of nuance in terms of specific planet relationships. In addition, one needs to know both the signs and planets fairly well before they can start to make inferences on how the planets are affecting one another.
Aspects are considered to be the relationships between planets. Does the energy between Saturn and Venus get along? Perhaps the vibrations clash. Maybe they are indifferent to each other. Aspects give us information about energetic interactions and how the energy of a planet may be dampened or increased by the others.
As an introductory article I will only cover the five major aspects. They are:
- Conjunction: 0 Degree difference (between two planets)
- Sextile: 60 Degree difference
- Square: 90 Degree difference
- Trine: 120 Degree difference
- Opposition: 180 Degree difference
There are two things I believe will be helpful before we go deeper.
First, each aspect has what is called an Orb of Influence. The orb allows for there to be a range of degrees in which an aspect can form. A rule of thumb is the orb is never wider than eight degrees on either side. However, depending on what charting software you use, some more powerful aspects may have a slightly larger orb.
Although, what is important to know is the larger the orb, the weaker the aspects. A trine aspect (strong, positive) which forms at 128 degrees, would barely qualify. It is still important for drawing conclusions about the chart, but would not be as potent as a 122 degree trine aspect.
The second is a tip for quick chart reading. Each house is 30 degrees. Knowing this, we can quickly scan aspects by the number of houses which separate them. Six houses for opposition, four houses for trine, three for square, etc. On many programs the aspects are listed on a table separate from the chart so this will keep you from having to flip back and forth.
Let’s dive deeper into the aspects!
A conjunction is when two planets are in the same sign. It is often considered the most influential aspect. So is it good or bad? Well that depends on the chart. I think of a conjunct as an intensifier, which also makes it quite unique. If the other aspects the planet has are positive, then the conjunct is positive. If the other aspects are negative, then it makes them more negative.
Another way to think about it is if two planets are in the same sign, then they more fully embodied that sign. Someone with three planets in Gemini will be more true to the qualities of Gemini. Now whether those qualities are positive or not, that usually depends on their level of emotional and spiritual maturity, i.e evolved or unevolved.
The next aspect is sextile and occurs at 60 degrees, or two houses apart. Sextile is considered a positive influence with moderate strength. The individual may need to develop their skill set when a sextile influence is present, yet they will have a natural predisposition to doing so.
The aspected planets will also denote what the skill set is. So if Jupiter and Mars are sextile, one can infer the individual will be predisposed for material success because of masculine traits they carry. This is a very broad interpretation however, and the more aspects we know, the signs, and the houses all enable us to get a more detailed understanding of the individual.
Third on the list is the square (90 degrees) and is our first inherently negative aspect. Planets which are squared to one another dislike each other. It is a moderately strong, negative, aspect. It usually shows us where there are opportunities for growth. While it is a negative aspect, it isn’t a death sentence. An individual can oftentimes overcome the squared aspects with diligence and persistence. One might think of them as the lessons your soul came here to learn.
Then we have the trine aspect (120 degrees) and as mentioned earlier, it is a strong and positive influence. Trine aspects show us where a person is naturally talented. They are gifted areas the individual can use to succeed in life, but more importantly, assist in learning the lessons the soul came to learn.
A skilled communicator may struggle in romantic relationships. Part of their journey may be using their gift of speech to work out problems with those closest to them. The growth might entail learning to become vulnerable. Unfortunately, a trine simply shows what a person is skilled in. It is possible a master manipulator would have a trine mercury placement showing they have strong intellect and communicative skills.
Lastly, we come to the opposition aspect (180 degrees). This is a strong, negative relationship between planets. When planets are in opposition their energies clash. They may feel torn between two desires. You could think of these as karmic lessons, or areas of growth your soul ignored in past lives. They typically are areas we struggle in a great deal. If one persistently applies themselves, they can still be overcome. It is my personal belief, anyone can accomplish anything they desire with proper application.
As you can see, planetary aspects give us a lot more information about the individual’s life progression than simply looking at the planets or signs individually. A great deal can be learned just from knowing all the planet placements. However, aspects (and house placements) are how astrologers are able to make accurate predictions about a person’s behavior beyond just the broad and generalized interpretations. In addition, aspects help in Mundane astrology to predict societal and environmental phenomena. Cool stuff!
I hope this article helped you to deepen your understanding of astrology. Perhaps it gave you more insight into your own chart too. Now to be a successful astrologer, go out and read some charts! If you have questions or want to learn a specific topic, make sure to check out my book a lesson tab for one-on-one help or check out some of my other articles. Don’t forget to link up with me on social media for updates on new content!
To all my fellows, may your seeking be fruitful and your findings bountiful!