Astro 101: Introduction to Aspects

by Storm Cestavani on 05/14/2016

aspects

Are you ready to step a bit deeper into Astrology?

If so, I got your hookup!

Let’s review what we have learned so far:

  • Astronomy
  • Basic Jungian Psychology
  • Gender
  • Orientation
  • Elements and Signs
  • Houses

Now, before we get started on the planets (they are next), I want to spend a blog post on aspects.

What is an aspect?  (GEEK ALERT)

First, you need to imagine a circle – in this case, the horoscope, which is a circle (360 degrees) that is divided by 12 and creates the signs you know and love.   These twelve signs are 30 degrees each.  (For the math geeks…30X12 = 360)

Next, you need to remember that planets are constantly in motion and move around the signs based on their speed.  The Sun moves at about 1 degree per day, so it moves around the entire zodiac every year.   The Moon moves faster than the Sun and moves through every single sign in about 28 ½ days.  However, the outer planets (Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto) move very slowly and can spend many years in a sign.  Hence, the further away from the Sun a planet is, the longer it takes to go around the Sun.  It is generally accepted that the further a planet is out, it will tend to dominate or color the aspect, but you need to keep both in mind while doing an interpretation.

In this blog post, I am going to focus on the major aspects that I use regularly in charts.  There are many minor aspects, but I feel that they provide nuance to planets, but add little to the discussion.  I may do another post on them in the future.  So, you won’t see any dociles, reptiles, or imbeciles (these aren’t really minor aspects) here.

The Conjunction:

This is the most powerful aspect in a chart and it corresponds to the circle being divided by 1.  In astrology, the conjunction reflects a marriage between two planets.   This means that these two planets are wedded together through the course of a lifetime and these two planets will forever be intertwined together.  In some cases, these two planets get along and in other cases their energies are so incompatible that it can cause great difficulties if it is not managed and worked out later in life.

For example, the Sun conjunct Mars is a very powerful and dynamic aspect which gives enormous drive and ambition.  These two fiery planets highly compatible.   However, Venus conjoined with Saturn reflects feelings of inadequacy and often struggles through relationships because of deep insecurities.

One thing to note about conjunctions is that the energy is very pure because the division is by 1.  Therefore, all potentials and possibilities of the aspect lie within the conjunction.  I personally use very large orbs and I suggest using 8-10 degrees for a conjunction and you should pay close attention to them because they can often take over an entire chart because their energy is so strong.

The Opposition: 

In the mystical kabbalah, the number ‘2’ is associated with the beginning of fragmentation.  The potential of the 1 has now been divided into 2 and reflects a pair of opposites and although these opposites are very much alike they represent two different sides of the same coin.

Here is a list of the opposing signs:

Aries – Libra
Taurus – Scorpio
Gemini – Sagittarius
Cancer – Capricorn
Leo – Aquarius
Virgo – Pisces

These pairs are similar in modality and gender, but oppositions in regards to how they express these energies.  So, within this aspect, there is tension, uncertainty and often doubt.

Let me give you an example – Aries has to do with individual development.  It is the sign of ‘me’.  Whereas, it’s opposing sign which is Libra, has to do with relationships.  Taurus has to do with resources, but its opposite sign Scorpio has to do with joint resources.  So, there is a natural disharmony within this aspect that needs to be reconciled and you have to find a way to give life to both sides of the aspect.

In the natural horoscope (this signifies starting with Aries and working our way around to Pisces), oppositions strongly influence relationships (because it evokes a natural 1st house – 7th house relationship).  You will often see one side of the opposition projected onto relationships and our partners carry the parts we do not carry for us until we integrate the opposition.   Essentially, the opposition is an aspect of conflict and it can evoke struggles and enormous tension within the horoscope.

Here is another example:

Let’s say you have a very earthy chart, which would reflect a tendency to need things solid and secure.  Reliability is very important to you, as is dependability.  In your chart you have Venus in Taurus opposed to Uranus in Scorpio.  Your natural inclination is to claim Venus (since she is earthy and in an earthy sign) and project Uranus onto your relationships.  So, although you value relationship structure and do not like change, you will invariably find change and unpredictability in your personal relationships and in your relationships with the outer world.

You feel stable, but everything else feels chaotic and a bit unpredictable. It becomes necessary to eventually bring these two poles together in a way that gives you meaning and eventually allows you to contain anxieties that might occur because of the opposition.  In the case of Venus oppose Uranus, often there is a difficulty holding onto relationships because once you try to structure them, the partner often needs freedom.  This can be very stressful and it requires you to look at your own ambivalence in relationships (after all this is your Venus-Uranus aspect) and to face the fact that ultimately, sooner or later, everything changes and nothing is permanent.  If you are doing shadow work, then oppositions are important and need to be examined closely.

I use 8-10 degrees for an opposition.

The Trine: 

Are you really good at something?  I am.  I am great at studying and putting things together that are often difficult for others.  I can see things quickly that other people do not notice or often ignore.  Some people would say this is a gift, but I think it’s more Mercury in trine to Saturn.

Trines are the result of dividing a circle by the number three and is considered an aspect of harmony and ease.  Psychologically speaking, a trine reflects a part of the psyche that the ego can easily manage.  However, the difficulty with this aspect is that it often lacks the tension necessary, for growth and can create laziness if it isn’t actively pushed or challenged.

Trines are also considered lucky.  If we look at the natural horoscope trines involve elemental similarities and gender identification.

Here are the groupings:

Aries – Leo – Sagittarius
Taurus – Virgo – Capricorn
Gemini – Libra – Aquarius
Cancer – Scorpio – Pisces

Let’s use the aspect that I presented earlier from my chart – Mercury in Virgo trine Saturn in Taurus.

As you can see this is an earth trine and is concerned with what is real and practical.   Mercury is concerned with how we understand life and perceive the world and Saturn is disciplined and critical.  In the ease of the trine, these two planets work together harmoniously.  So, you get an individual who carefully and methodically looks at life and circumstances that are presented to them, analyzing it wholly in order to come to a conclusion because the powers of the mind are disciplined and tend to not stray into the world of fantasy and possibility.  Mercury trine Saturn is concerned with what “is” rather than what could be.

The difficulty with Mercury trine Saturn is that it can sometimes ignore opportunities because it is so focused on the ‘now’ and the big picture can often be ignored because it is too much of a risk or a gamble.  This can often leave you trapped in duties and responsibilities and joy and happiness are often sacrificed for the bottom line.

I use an 8-degree orb for trines.

The Square:

Brace yourself!  It’s about to get real.  When you divide the zodiacal circle by four, you get an aspect that is known as a square.  Out of all the aspects, it is probably the most difficult to experience and the hardest to integrate because the planets involved in a square have little in common with each other.

Here are your squares:

Aries = Cancer + Capricorn
Taurus = Leo + Aquarius
Gemini = Virgo + Pisces
Cancer = Aries + Libra
Leo = Taurus + Scorpio
Virgo = Gemini + Sagittarius
Libra = Cancer + Capricorn
Scorpio = Leo + Aquarius
Sagittarius = Virgo + Pisces
Capricorn = Aries + Libra
Aquarius = Taurus + Scorpio
Pisces = Gemini + Sagittarius

The square is a high tension part of the chart and the planets involved usually reflect areas in your life where problems are likely to occur because the planets tend to be at war with one another throughout your life.  However, because this aspect is so intense, it’s an area where tremendous potential can occur because it makes us determined and restless.

In many ways, the square is the exact opposite of the trine.  Trines are extremely easy aspect that tend to become lazy because they are rarely challenged, but square are extremely difficult and often provide tremendous drive and motivation.

Like oppositions, squares tend to influence our relationships.  If you count 3 signs over from Aries (30 degrees per sign X 3 = 90 degrees, which is a square) you come to the sign of Cancer and if you do it again in reverse, you come to the sign of Capricorn or the 4th/10th house axis, which I have taught previously has a lot to do with our parents, early childhood, and how this leads to our formation as individual or our relationship to the world.  So, squares usually reflect long term issues from childhood that have an enormous effect on our personality.

Let’s work with the example of Mars in square to Saturn:

Mars and Saturn are not the best of friends.  Mars likes to act and can be extremely frustrated when he is restricted.  He builds up steam and often picks a fight when he does not get what he wants.  Saturn is the epitome of restriction and limitation.  Together you can see how this can be difficult – every time Mars wants to act, Saturn frustrates him.

This aspect tension can usually be found in early childhood in which our ability to get what we want is often denied.  This can build up to feelings of inadequacy, vulnerability, and often being predisposed to failing.  As a result, it can create an atmosphere of aloofness which can alienate those around us that could help us get what we want, but are less likely to do so because we appear cold and detached.

In some cases, Mars square Saturn can overcompensate by becoming extremely ambitious and determined and will expend enormous energy to achieve something.  In other cases, Mars square Saturn will simply give up.  This is a constant cycle that on one level or another, will constantly arise for the Mars-Saturn native.

In order to work with this aspect effectively, Mars square Saturn needs to be more approachable and accommodating with others.  This will allow him to feel support by those around him and be able to receive assistance in helping him achieve his goals.  Further, he needs to try to slow down and be patient and perhaps succeed at things one-step at a time.  This helps to develop self-confidence and self-worth.

I tend to use large orbs with squares.  8-10 degrees is recommended.

The Sextile:

We arrive at the last of the major aspects.  The sextile is formed by dividing a circle by the number 6 and coming up with an angle of 60 degrees.

The sextile is considered a harmonious aspect and many astrologers consider it a weak trine.  However, unlike the innate luck attributed to trines, sextiles need to be worked on in order for their potential to be realized.

The difficulty with the sextile is that it is a mental aspect because it is connected to the 3rd and 11th house or Gemini and Aquarius.  Sextiles can easily get trapped in thoughts and ideas and may have difficulties taking advantage of the aspect by giving it form. So, sextiles can be considered opportunities, but they are not innate.

Signs in Sextile:

Aries = Gemini + Aquarius
Taurus = Cancer + Pisces
Gemini = Aries + Leo
Cancer = Taurus + Virgo
Leo = Gemini + Libra
Virgo = Cancer + Scorpio
Libra = Leo + Sagittarius
Scorpio = Virgo + Capricorn
Sagittarius = Libra + Aquarius
Capricorn = Scorpio + Pisces
Aquarius = Aries + Sagittarius
Pisces = Taurus + Capricorn

Let’s work with an example – Mercury sextile Mars.

Mercury is the planet of communication and Mars is the planet that gives us drive and determination.  When you combine these two archetypes together, you get a very active mind and excellent communication skills.  People that have this aspect usually latch on to things quickly and your ability to observe things around you is heightened.

Mercury sextile Mars also makes you an amazing negotiator, and your ability to compose arguments that get your point across clearly and precisely, gives you an edge in business matters.  However, you have to manage knee-jerk reactions because Mars has little self-control – especially if your opinions are challenged.  This aspect values freedom of thought and freedom of expression and is willing to fight for them.  So, you will often find people with this aspect gifted with a silver tongue, which can be biting at times.

As I said earlier, sextiles are not as easy as trines.  People that have Mercury sextile Mars will often have to work at it for the aspect to express itself optimally, but on a more positive note, it also does not tend to become lazy.  In essence, it is developed over time and once developed provides the native with opportunities that otherwise would not be available.

You can find out the aspects in your own chart for free by clicking here.   I have also prepared a tutorial on how to read a computerized chart to help you with your astrological journey.

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