As the planets revolve around the Sun, two or more of them may form certain angles that combine their influences into something more significant. These angles are known as aspects. They show the astrologer a connection between two (or more) planets in a birth chart.
There are five major aspects – conjunction, sextile, square, trine, and opposition. They are the most used in astrological work, although the inconjunct aspect (of 150°) is also commonly used. Several other angles can offer deeper analysis of a person’s horoscope as well.
Soft & Hard Aspects
You may have heard of two different types of aspects: soft and hard, referring to the intensity of each aspect. Generally, sextiles and trines are considered “soft” aspects, whereas the conjunction, square, and opposition are considered “hard” aspects. This doesn’t necessarily mean all sextiles and trines are smooth sailing or all conjunctions, squares and oppositions are rough patches; ultimately it depends on the planets involved and the consciousness of the individual.
Orbs of Influence
It is rare to see all planets in a horoscope making exact degrees; often they are 2° or more above or below the threshold. Astrologers allow for this deviance by giving each aspect an orb. An orb is the degree limit for an aspect to be considered valid. Typically, orbs are no larger than 6° for each aspect. For example, two planets that are 85° (5° less than 90°) apart will be considered squaring each other by most astrologers. However, conjunctions and oppositions may have an orb up to 8-10°, especially if dealing with the luminaries (i.e. Sun and Moon).
It must be said that the closer planets are to the aspect degree, the more powerful their interaction will be seen and felt in an individual’s life.
Orb allowances will vary with each astrologer you encounter. Most accept the 6° limit; others may factor in the sign only when interpreting aspects. As you become more familiar with astrology yourself, be open to using many differently-sized orbs in your own readings.
Conjunction – 0° (Orb 8-10°)
A conjunction of planets indicates an emphasis on the sign they are located in. Conjunctions are direct, affecting you on an outer and obvious level. Two planets mix a cocktail of both of their influences and slide it down the bar. The influence can be favorable or unfavorable depending on the planets involved.
When inner planets conjunct to outer planets, the results tend to be quite unfavorable.
A group of three or more planets and points in a sign or house is known as a stellium. Stelliums greatly emphasize the sign and house they are placed in. When you experience difficulty with stellium placements, look towards the opposite sign and house for remedies.
Sextile – 60° (Orb 5-6°)
Sextiles are soft aspects, meaning they do not spike any tension in your life. Instead they create an ease in understanding between the two (or more) planets involved. It allows planets to cooperate and achieve an objective, typically involving a skill or talent.
Unlike trines, you won’t auto-receive the benefits from the sextiles in your chart. You must consciously activate them in order to see any results.
Square – 90° (Orb 5-6°)
Squares indicate potential, action and decision. If you have a square in your natal chart, the influence of one planet pushes you to act on the other planet. Therefore, this aspect suggests potential for action borne from irritation or tension.
Cardinal squares show quick action; fixed squares show slow and deliberate action; mutable squares are variable, depending a great extent on the influences of others.
A T-square or T-cross involves three planets where two of the planets are in opposition. External pressure from the two opposing planet plays on the third planet connected to both via the squares. For remedy, you can turn to the sign or house that is opposite to this third planet.
A grand cross or grand square involves four planets with two pairs in opposition. Because of the enormous tension this formation can cause, these natives are pushed to take action in life. As such, they continuously find life to be unsatisfying in some manner, which proceeds to continually push them to take action.
Trine – 120° (Orb 5-6°)
Everybody wants trines in their horoscope. Trines are generally favorable. They permit easy interaction between two planets that flows naturally and gracefully. There is little to no difficulty tapping into their natural skills.
Equally as such, there is no compulsion whatsoever to take advantage of your talents due to lack of stress or tension. Trines may also contribute to a tendency to choose the line of least resistance, resting on your laurels.
Trines go with the natural flow of things. They indicate creativity, natural talent, the ability to express the planetary energies easily, and a pleasurable life.
Flow and Ease
Resting on One’s Laurels
A grand trine involves three planets at about 120° apart from each other. Because each planet is in a matching element, they can combine their influences effortlessly for you. This can indicate a true ease in navigating situations related to the planets, houses and signs of the formation. However, too many grand trine formations can mean no irritation in your life, meaning there is little motivation to growth and improve yourself.
Opposition – 180° (Orb 8-10°)
Oppositions develop perspective and awareness. They always seem to involve interactions with others, as opposite planets are seven houses away from each other.
Another manifestation is an eternal balancing act between the influences of the two planets. These people may seek outside themselves for answers, but ultimately they must go within to reconcile the polarity internally.
Reconciliation of the opposing forces is usually achieved through awareness and understanding of the signs, houses and the planets involved.
Quincunx/Inconjunt – 150° (Orb 2-3°)
Lack of Perspective
When two planets form an angle of 150°, they enter into each other’s blind spot. The signs involved are totally unrelated to one another; thus it becomes harder to integrate these forces consciously.
The inconjunct demands a change of attitude, a change of habit pattern and a need to adjust to conditions indicated by the planets and houses.
Because these energies are tough to integrate, awkwardness regarding the planets and houses grows. People with this aspect may also ignore the problem altogether, tired of constantly adjusting just to be disappointed in the end.
The aspects help astrologers understand how the planets are interacting with one another. Aspects are important in every use of astrology, from natal chart readings to horary, to mundane readings, and especially synastry charts. Best to start learning them now!
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