Aspect in the Astrological Chart
0 Degrees Parallel 18 Degrees 30 Degrees
33 Degrees 36 Degrees 40 Degrees 45 Degrees 51 Degrees 60 Degrees 72 Degrees 90 Degrees 103 Degrees 108 Degrees 120 Degrees
135 Degrees144 Degree 150 Degrees
154 Degrees 180 Degrees
The aspects link the planets, points and angles in any astrological chart creating an indivisible bond between them. They consist of the angular division of a circle, 360 degrees, into different sized 'pieces of pie'. Some of the divisions form stronger links than others, although the vital point is that they are linked at all.
One way of viewing the aspects in the chart is to consider the planets connected to each other all guests at a banquet. How would Venus enjoy a feast with Eros? How would Saturn? Would he dive in or nibble the edges when linked to Mars? (Or would Saturn simply loss his appetite altogether?) Each planet has a different orientation towards the experience of life. Each will taste, digest, assimilate or reject that experience in different ways. No aspect (or planet or transit) is 'good' or 'bad'. They simply have unique and sometimes contrasting ways of being.
Aspects are like table legs. Pick one up and they all will follow. If there is a natal grand cross between Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter , only one planet need be activated to wake them all. In this example, if you assert yourself against a threatening situation (Mars) you will automatically awaken the containment or authority of Saturn, the expansive enthusiasm of Jupiter and Venus’s desire to create harmony. You can not do one without the others when they link by aspect, even if that means expressing one and relegating everything else to the unconscious. (the bottom of the ice berg.)
This sheds light on the effects of any unaspected planets in the chart. If Mars is unaspected, the act of assertion may evoke nothing but the aggression itself. It may function in isolation because it has no links with the other bodies. Once awakened, it may be hard to integrate any self or external control (Saturn), any arbitration or diplomacy (Venus), or any sense of meaning or purpose (Jupiter). The pure and raw Mars energy may be one big event all to itself with nothing to modify the energy in any way. Not that it's a bad thing! Think of the sports potential!
The nature of the aspect, whether it be a trine, square, inconjunct or opposition, holds some significance yet it is more important to first established if there is a connection of any kind, and what that connection may represent. If the Moon (feelings) aspects Mars (drive), it will feel quite different from the Moon in aspects to Neptune (spiritual longing). It matters little if the aspect is a so called “soft” one or a “hard” one. There are differences certainly, yet the primary signification of the planets being connected to each other remains unchanged. This holds true especially with the transits of the outer planets. A sextile from transiting Pluto can coincide with every bit as profound an experience as a square or opposition. It matters more that one is being “touched” by the gods and less from what angle that god is doing the touching.
The conjunction and opposition can have the most consequential relevance in the natal chart, although the “lesser” aspects should be considered and evaluated as well, right down to a noville. The best degree of orb to use depends on each chart and individual experience. This can be based on what works best and what brings the most consistent and reliable results. A larger orb may be preferable for the conjunctions and oppositions, perhaps up to 10 or even 12 degrees when involving the Sun or Moon, with progressively tighter orbs for the square, trine, and tighter still for the sextile and inconjuncts. The minor aspects would usually want orbs of no greater than 2 degrees, the parallel being 1 degree to exact. The most important consideration to keep in mind is that if a planet, acts like it is in aspect to another planet, even if the orb is wide, then it is! Results speak louder than rules! Be flexible and intuitive.
The 0 Degree Conjunct or Parallel
The Conjunction is an aspect involving two planets or points that are from 0 to a few degrees apart, sometimes up to ten or twelve. They are on top of each other, as it were, in the same place. The Parallel aspect is formed between two planets with the same declination or distance north or south of the ecliptic. If the planets are both North or both South of the ecliptic, the aspect is read as a conjunction. If they are the same declination but one is North and one is South, then they are read as a 180 degree opposition. The parallel magnifies the intensity of any other aspect between the two planets.
A planet in conjunction, or parallel, with another planet or angle in the natal chart represents an innate commingling of the qualities of the bodies involved. It brings them together in such a way that it may be difficult to distinguish one from the other. They become like Siamese twins, distinct in themselves yet forever jointed. The ease with which the planets involved accomplish the joining will determine the effect of each individual conjunction. Sun in Libra conjunct or parallel to Venus represents a natural affinity reinforcing the Libra Sun’s qualities of poise, artistic appreciation and objective evaluation. That same Libra Sun conjunct or parallel Pluto is a different story. Pluto’s propensity to drag everything is touches down into the sordid bowels of the underworld makes the Libra Sun, at a very minimum, squirm. Their needs are different, their orientation contrary and their desires incongruous. The most important way to understand a conjunction is to look closely at what it is bringing together.
This coming together includes out of sign aspects, as long as the orbs are not too wide. Venus in 3 degrees of Gemini conjunct Eros in 28 degrees of Taurus adds to the complexity of the configuration. Venus and Eros may have similar aims and objectives and work strongly together in conjunction yet the frisky and knowledge seeking archetype of Gemini may get bored and impatient with the deliberate and indulgent sign of Taurus making this conjunction more challenging than it first appears.
In Horary astrology, both the conjunction and the parallel are aspects of action. They indicate energy and response and their effect is empowered, for better or worse, because the energies are combined. In the cardinal signs, the conjunction or parallel indicates immediate action or response. There is an urgent quality to the bodies involved. In the fixed signs, the action is more measured and sustaining. In the mutable signs, the action may be scatters, whimsical or diverse in its intent.
The opposition (or contra-paralle by declination) indicates a contrast of needs, values and drives. Traditionally it represents separation, conflict and the disparity of divergent needs. The objectivity implied in an opposition is the formation of a cooperative partnership, the uniting in some equitable way of two opposites. The path to that objective, however, often leads through a battlefield of vicious differentiation.
The strife of an opposition is not necessarily active because the planets themselves are in conflict but because the signs usually are. It is a positional dilemma. Unless the planets are in an out of sign opposition, they are in diametrically opposite signs complete with their contrasting drives.
In Horary astrology, planets in opposition are “separated” indicating “distance” between their goals and purpose. They do not work naturally to bring opposing forces together and only do so through conflict and contradiction. They may represent two individuals whose desires or purposes are at odds, or two options that stand out more fore their contrast than their commonality.
The mechanism of projection comes into its own in the opposition aspect. The ambiguous quality of the aspect can easily create a division so strong that the only solution is to get someone else to act out one of the extremes. This is exemplified in relationships where one person wants freedom (Uranus) and the other wants closeness (Venus), or where one partner is a boisterous extrovert (Jupiter) and the other a dower conservative (Saturn). One or both parties may have a Venus/Uranus opposition or a close Jupiter/Saturn opposition, or other aspect, and be unable to come to terms with the dichotomy in any way other than “divide and project”.
The projection of an opposition is a natural first step towards integrating the divergent needs. Getting our oppositions out in the open in this way validates both needs, even if vicariously. Once we begin to own both perspectives, the sought for co-operation of the opposition can come into play.
The square aspect has attracted consistently rotten press over the millenniums, acquiring adjectives like “trouble making”, “unfortunate”, “evil” and “vile”. In Horary astrology the square indicates difficulties, loss, set backs and prohibitive costs. Modern texts smooth over the delineation somewhat with euphemistic adjectives like “obstacles, resistance and blocks”. Any way you slice it, at first glance the square means hard work.
It would be surprising to find an astrologer that could catalogue the joys of a Moon in square aspect to Saturn. What could possibly be advantageous about a struggle to secure basic needs like love, nurturing and emotional safety? There is a certain challenge in painting a happy face on the side of a square. Not may will believe it.
However, without conflict and struggle, a story becomes boring. Characters are not provoked or stretched and they never grow into heroes or heroines. Without squares, there is no contrast, no sitting on the edge of the seat, waiting in anticipation for the next action. In fact, one probably never learns to sit up at all. A constant flow of nurturing, met needs and facilitation can result in an unmotivated blob. Squares are the goads that push the hero into her quest and keep her growing and changing. They are part of what makes us feel accomplished and wise.
Squares symbolize conflict partially because of their distance from each other. In the 90 degree aspect, planets are usually in the same modality. They all have a common means of motion, but what they are moving towards is totally different.
The cardinal signs all move with a sense of action and initiation. What they want to initiate, however, is not the same thing at all. Aries takes action that leads to self awareness, self will and triumph. Cancer, 90 degrees from Aries, takes action that leads to emotional union, shared pain and merging. Libra, 90 degrees from Cancer, takes action that leads to shared beauty, intellectual values and social pleasure. Capricorn, 90 degrees away from Libra, takes action that leads to greater authority, responsibility and achievement. And back to Aries, 90 degrees from Capricorn, who could care less about responsibility and the limits it entails.
Squares imply meaningful conflicts and contrasts requiring effort and introspection to resolve. Usually they are difficult to ignore. They generally grab our attention in trickster-like ways, yet can be beneficial, creative and fertile.
These angles were not in general use in ancient times and take a fairly new position in the ranks of aspects. They connect planets or angles together in ways that imply change and adjustment through struggle. Many authors suggest they be read as somewhat watered down squares, agreeing that they indicate anxiety and some measure of instability. Both the semi-square and the sesquiquadrate can imply harsh and sharp reactions, which can be a brand of excitement. Resistance to both planets involved is not uncommon. The situations associated with these aspects require deliberate action and persistence. Again, more insight will come from considering the nature of the planets combined.
The trine has a reputation for good fortune, ease of action and absence of difficulty. It has been dubbed the aspect of creativity and spiritual expansion, bringing happiness and pleasure. Its symbol, the equilateral triangle, lends itself to harmony, balance and contentment. The planets involved are of the same element, unless they make an out of sign aspect, indicating a flow of energy free from blocks.
Ancient texts claim the trine is always good, requiring hardly any effort and bringing beneficial results. It may be important to note here that the Boston Strangler’s chart was chalk full of trines, not a square or opposition to be seen. It is evident that he gained a great deal of pleasure from the activities that made him so infamous. It is also evident that the trine aspect is not always all it’s cracked up to be in terms of “creativity” and “spirituality”, at least not in a conventional sense.
The trine seems to indicate acceptance, whether that be between the Moon and Venus or the Moon and Pluto. The planets are in a comfortable relationship to each other and follow the line of least resistance. This may indicate the least resistance to the perfection of a belief or philosophy, or the least resistance to what others might see as destructive or anti-social. It helps to remember that astrology is not trapped within a cultural paradigm. It's outside the box. It also makes not judgments. The quality of the aspects are not 'good or bad' but expressions of energy, just as it is.
The popular key word for the sextile is “opportunity”. This is based on the positive nature of the aspect that usually involves signs that are in the same polarity, earth and water or fire and air. Sextiles also require us to be alert. An opportunity may arise between planets in sextile although we have to make some effort to grasp that moment when it appears.
Horary astrology indicates the sextile brings easy occasions that are more recognizable to the native if angular houses are involved. A sextile from the cadent houses point towards procrastination or hesitation when quick action is required.
The sextile links planets to each other in a generally compatible way that suggests cooperation and empathy. Again, the nature of the planets involved must be considered as well as the individuals unique way of expressing them together.
If Mars is in a sextile aspect to Pluto, it does not automatically imply that one has transformed their primitive assertive drives in such a way that they are strong yet sensitive. It may just as likely indicate that when they feel assertive or takes action (Mars) they also feel the power of the primeval world move through them in an obsessive wave of destructive revenge (Pluto). It is important to acknowledge the power of the sextile to bring planets together for a single purpose or cause.
Robert Hand points out that ancient astrologers identified both the semisextile and the quincunx as “inconjunct” aspects because they both divide the circle by 12, 1\12 and 5\12 respectively. The important point to note is that these once considered minor aspects show themselves repeatedly to reside among the ranks of the majors. They effectively link planets together in signs of different polarity, element and modality and general orientation. It’s a bit like fingers on a chalk board. The combination can make you cringe.
Some writers attribute adjectives such as “friendly” and “harmonious” to the semisextile, seeing it as a watered down sextile. Others associate both the semisextile and the quincunx with the strain and unease of a square. Again the best approach is to evaluate the aspect based on what two planets are being connected and how easy or challenging is it to accommodate for their needs and drives in the signs they are in.
These aspects are not too easy to spot at a glance as they do not correspond in degrees. The signs are often in the same modality for the Quintile, and the bi-quintile usually in signs that would be quincunx. These more obscure aspects have been associated with creative energy and talent. They can indicate energy of a “specialized” nature that must be developed and aimed into creative directions. They can bring together needs and drives that may not harmonize initially. Acknowledging the divergent needs of the planets involved is the first step to integration.
These divisions of the circle by degrees of one tenth are attributed with the penchant of coinciding with tangible events. The indication is that results follow in the wake of planets combined in this way. Deciles are also reported to indicate special gifts that may or may not be quickly appreciated. There seems to be a power in the contacts that must be consciously and deliberately employed.
These are divisions of the circle by seven and, perhaps because they do not divide evenly, are considered somewhat irrational in their expression. They are hard to spot in a chart and probably need to be found with the aid of a computer printout or protractor. Hand relates them to emotional difficulties as well as creative inspiration.
Dennis Elwell associates the septile with a delightful sense of fascination, inspiration and enchantment. He says the planets involved combine to attract situations, places or people that captivate the imagination creating a useful springboard towards greater creativity and enthusiasm. Regardless of the planets involved, the septile is considered by some to have “romantic” qualities, describing people or situations that ignite the affectations.
The novile divides the circle by ninths and is little used in western astrology. Some sidereal astrologers in the West do use a chart based on the nine series for consideration and elaboration of sexual attraction. AdZe suggests the novile aspect, or 80 and 160 degree binovil and quadranovile, is associated with charismatic charm, mystical force and ceremony as related to the ninth house. It is up to the reader to determine if this aspect is valid in their experience.
This aspect divides the circle by one eleventh, 32.43’70”, and is said to indicate psychic gifts.
Kim Falconer lives in Byron Bay with two gorgeous black cats. She runs an astrology forum and alternative science site‚ trains with a sword and is working on the Quantum Encryption trilogy, the follow up to Quantum Enchantment.