When you take a look at the birth chart, it seems confusing at first. It is full of blue and red lines that don’t make sense immediately. However, once your eyes get used to deciphering them, they tell the exciting story of the birth chart. If you want to understand your horoscope, learning about the aspects is something you can greatly benefit from.
The lines connecting the planets show how the planets interact with each other, if they support each other or there is a conflict between them. These lines are called aspects in astrology, and they are a fundamental part of a horoscope.
If you want to know what an astrological aspect exactly is, you can define it as the angle between two planets as seen from the Earth. The planets are located at a specific number of degrees away from each other. Aspects can include other celestial bodies like the asteroids too, or mathematical points like the lunar nodes. All of them are significant.
House cusps can also form aspects in astrology. Pay extra attention to aspects to the ascendant and the Midheaven. These connections are very important because of the personal nature of the houses. For example, you can have your Venus sextile your ascendant or your Moon trine your Midheaven.
Aspects can be hard or soft, applying or separating, and they can also be categorized as minor or major aspects.
Hard and Soft Aspects in Astrology
Aspects in astrology generally belong to the group of hard aspects (most astrology softwares marks them with red color) or soft aspects (these are usually blue in the chart). Hard aspects represent challenges. The energy flow between the two planets in a hard aspect to each other is very irritating. Soft aspects, on the other hand, show and easy flow of energy. The two planets work together harmoniously. Soft aspects represent talents and opportunities that are easy to seize.
It is important to keep in mind that how a certain aspect manifests depends on many factors. Over time, you can learn to utilize a hard aspect constructively, while easy aspects can cause problems too. Soft aspects are easier to deal with, but in some cases, they can have a destructive effect, so it is important to always analyze them in the context of the rest of the horoscope.
Too many soft aspects indicate that you have it easy in life and without the effort required by the hard aspects, it is hard to make the most out of your horoscope.
Major Aspects in Astrology
Major aspects are also called Ptolemaic aspects. They were used by Ptolemy, a Greek mathematician and astronomer who lived in the 1st century AD. The five major aspects are discussed in his work Tetrabiblos.
In this article, we will focus on the major aspects only. There are five of these aspects in astrology:
Generally speaking, these aspects are the most important in astrology (although some minor aspects for example the quincunx should not be neglected either).
Major aspects can be harmonious or challenging. The sextile and trine signal harmony and ease, while the square and opposition belong to the group of hard aspects. Whether is the conjunction harmonious depends on the nature of the planets in question.
Some astrologers don’t consider the conjunction an aspect because technically it is not one, however, everybody agrees that conjunctions are extremely important in astrology. Here, the planets are so close to each other that their energies completely merge. This can be favorable or troublesome, depending on the nature of the planets.
Conjunctions are among the most powerful aspects, especially of the orb is small. Two planets are conjunct when the degree between them is 0. Both planets take place on the same degree of the same sign in a chart. Most astrologers allow has the largest orb (degree of separation between exactitude) for the conjunction, around 8 degrees.
If the planets that are conjunct have completely different energy, it can be challenging to deal with the conjunction. For example, Venus conjunct Saturn is not an easy placement. Here, the restrictive nature of Saturn ‘freezes’, or at least inhibits the ability of Venus to be loved. In case the planets harmonize with each other, the conjunction can be an asset. For example, Venus conjunct Mercury helps the chart owner express their affection in an eloquent manner, and also communicate with tact and kindness.
Planets conjunct the Sun are particularly important. If a planet is located less than 5 degrees away from the Sun, it is combusted. The intense energy of the Sun is said to damage a planet close to it. However, if a planet is located less than 17 minutes from the Sun, we are talking about cazimi conjunctions. In this case, the planet becomes stronger and it completely merges with the Sun.
What does it mean if multiple planets form a conjunction? This is called a stellium in astrology. A stellium is one of the most complex patterns, because here, more planets have to learn how to work together. They have to do everything with each other as their energies blend.
Meaning of the Square Aspect in Astrology
The division of the circle by four, the square consists of two planets 90 degrees or three signs apart. The signs are of the same modality but of conflicting elements.
Squares represent frustration, irritation, tension. It is perhaps the hardest aspect in astrology, and it requires continuous effort. There is a constant tension that can’t really be eased, only kept under control. The square is one of the dynamic aspects in astrology, forcing you to take action.
In the natal chart, despite their challenging nature, squares can be wonderful. It inspires us to do better, Because of their dynamic nature, this aspect forces you to make an effort. The lack of squares in the birth chart can make you lazy, as you don’t have to fight for anything.
Squares can be interpreted based on the modality of the signs of the planets which can be cardinal, fixed, or mutable. The modality tells in what way the square wants you to take action. Cardinal squares operate in a quick, straightforward way, fixed squares need more time but their effect is rather consistent, while mutable squares depend on other factors.
Opposition in Astrology Meaning
What does the opposition mean, which is another challenging aspect?
People who have oppositions in their charts are able to see things from multiple perspectives. They are good diplomats and they are also good at strategical thinking usually, however, they struggle with creating inner balance.
The opposition aspect is the division of the circle by two. When two planets form an opposition, they are directly across each other, located 180 degrees away from each other. The two planets are six signs apart. While the exact degree varies, the general consensus on the orb for the opposition is approximately 7-8 degrees.
The opposition belongs to the group of negative aspects like the square, however, it works differently.
If you have an opposition in your natal chart, you have to find balance between the two planets. This is not easy because we tend to identify with one of them and integrate the other one. Usually, you go with the planet that is more familiar to you (this requiring less effort). However, the opposition teaches us that real progress happens only when you make an effort. You have to find a way to make the planets work together in a supportive way.
Sextile Meaning in Astrology
Let’s move on to the positive aspects in astrology!
The sextile is the result of dividing the circle by 6. Here, the two planets are 60 degrees apart, which corresponds to the signs. Unless we are talking about an out of sign aspect here, the signs of the planets are of harmonizing elements. This means that the sexilte is an easy aspect in the natal chart. The elements complete each other: water-earth or fire-air.
The allowed orb for the sextile is less than for the previous aspects. Most astrologers allow an orb of approximately 5 degrees. The smaller the orb, the more intense the effect.
The sexilte is not as evident as a trine, which is an aspect with an easier flow of energy. The sextile tends to be dormant. You have to make conscious effort to fully utilize them. This aspect represents an opportunity. Interestingly, people tend to be more aware of their sextiles than the trines.
Meaning of the Trine Aspect in Astrology
The trine is considered the best aspecti n astrology. Here, the planets are in signs that belong to the same element. This means that there are water trines, air trines, fire trines, earth trines in astrology. In this case, the planets are located 4 signs or 120 degrees apart.
The usual orb for a trine is about 7 degrees.
The trine is a talent aspect in astrology. There is an easy flow of energy between the two planets, sometimes so easy that you don’t even notice it. You only notice it when others point it out to you, you are so good at the activities related to the planets in question. Don’t take your trines granted.
How to Analyze an Aspect
In the natal chart, one piece of information is not enough. For a certain aspect to be extra influential, its core theme has to be repeated somewhere else in the horoscope.
The smaller the orb of an aspect the more powerful the aspect is. Astrologers use various orbs, but it is usually below 8 degrees (the orb can vary for different types of aspects). If one of the planets is the Sun, it can be extended by a degree or two, as aspects to the Sun stand out in the natal chart.
Once you know which planets form the aspect, you have to keep investigating. The next step can be finding connection between the planets and the houses. Find which houses these planets rule in the natal chart. For example, if the fifth house begins in Virgo, and you want to learn more about your Mercury in Libra, you know that aspects to your Mercury speak about the life areas linked with the fifth house as well.
The sign of the planet is extremely important. It colors how the aspect manifests. The more favorable the essential dignity, the better the aspect operates, even if it is challenging aspect. For example, a Mars in Aries opposite Saturn in Libra is much easier to deal with than Mars in Libra opposite Saturn in Aries.
If the planets are placed in signs that don’t form an aspect to each other naturally are not considered to form an aspect in traditional astrology. Modern astrology uses out of sign aspects, but in this case, the situation is more complex.
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3 thoughts on “Aspects in Astrology Explained: Conjunction, Trine, Sextile, Opposition and Square Meaning”
Do you apply the 8 degree orb for the aspects to other charts too? Like solar return?
Learning aspects has been difficult for me but I have learned a lot from this website. I love it. Thanks for making it so easy to read.
Hi, sorry for the late reply! I’d say the 8 degree orb is fine for other charts too, maybe up to 5-6 degrees for the sextile.
you have an incredible way of explaining things Thank you for your effort, it has really helped me to have that touch so that what I say to my clients in therapy makes a little more sense.