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Lesson 6: Understanding astrology aspects

In astrology, aspects are relationships created between planets, based on their position within 360 degrees of a circle. The planets, as well as the houses and signs where they’re placed, are brought into each others influence, often with one planet dominating the other or modifying its effects.

Astrology aspects are indicated on your chart by lines drawn between some planets. Those marked in red are traditionally considered challenging, while those marked in blue are considered flowing or easy. However in reality all astrology aspects can be beneficial or detrimental depending upon the strength of a person’s character and the manner in which they choose to create themselves. The charts of those who are successful in life and strong in character generally show both ‘difficult’ and ‘easy’ aspects.

The major astrology aspects

The major astrology aspects are as follows. Angular sizes are given exactly. In reality an ‘orb’ of plus or minus several degrees is allowed, depending on the type of aspect and the planets involved.

  • Conjunction – 0 degrees: Any conjunction will be a strong focal point particularly if it involves the Sun, Moon or Ascendant. It will usually create a strengthening effect, especially in the area of life represented by its house placing, but this depends on the nature of the planets involved and occasionally the relationship will cause tension.
  • Opposition – 180 degrees: The two planets are connected to each other by polarity. It is possible that the principle of one planet will complement the other, however in general tension will result. The tension will be exaggerated if another planet (or planets) is square to both ends of the opposition. It will be lessened if another planet (or planets) is trine to one end and sextile to the other. The life lesson of the opposition is to learn to reconcile opposites.
  • Square – 90 degrees: This aspect generally causes conflict between the planets involved and the areas of life represented by the houses they tenant. The effect is increased by formation of a T-square, which is when an opposition is squared at both ends. Conflict is also increased when four or more planets complete a square, which will also form two oppositions. This is called a grand cross. The crosses formed by different qualities differ in effect. With the cardinal cross the native will probably surmount the difficulties due to the tendency of these signs to initiate action; with a fixed cross the native may be inclined to put up with trying circumstances because of the settled nature of the fixed signs (on the other hand he may be stubbornly determined to overcome them); and with a mutable cross the native often adapts to difficult conditions and may try to by-pass the problem rather than struggling with it.
  • Trine – 120 degrees: Generally a very beneficial relationship, especially when three trines form an equilateral triangle, or grand trine. The grand trine will be between planets placed in the same element, e.g. fire, and this will be strongly evident in the person’s life. Good fortune and success in life are generally the result of a grand trine, however it may be detrimental for a person of little will or strength as it allows for laziness.
  • Sextile – 60 degrees: Helpful, though less so than the trine. Positivity or negativity will be emphasised depending on the signs involved.
  • Semi-square – 45 degrees: Partakes in the nature of the square, indicating difficulty but to a lesser degree.

It must be remembered that the working of each aspect is two-way; one planet interacts and reacts with the other. Moreover, the effect of the aspect is further modified by the planets’ sign and house placings, as well as any other aspects formed to them.

When considering an astrology aspect, take note of which planet is stronger. Sometimes this will be obvious (e.g. one planet is the Sun, Ruling Planet or a major dispositor), but often you will have to study the chart carefully. It is important to have a good understanding of which planets in your chart are ‘running the show,’ so to speak. It will then be much easier to grasp the power relationships involved in the aspects and other connections between them.

For more on astrology aspects read this excellent article by Astrodienst.

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Image from the cover of the EP When the Dust Settles by STS9.