As you get to know more about the signs and planets it is now time to start to integrate the information through what is called aspects. In astrology aspects are the mathematical relationships between planets. The particular composition of planets will create a unique blueprint in each person’s chart!
What are Aspects?
Aspects are all contained within the 360 degree circle of the chart. They are calculated by the amount of degrees between the particular planets. Aspects can be compared to roads on a map as they link particular planets together. Sometimes the route between destinations is clear and easy while at other times you need to take twists and turns in order to get to the other side..
Each aspect has a symbolic meaning and opportunity for interpretation! Depending on the degrees between planets will determine what type of aspect it is. In addition, we need to take into account which planets are involved in each aspect pattern. This will lend even further detail into the energy or vibration of the configuration. Aspects are on a scale of 30 degrees each moving from 0 through 180 degrees.
Can Aspects be Good or Bad?
It comes up often in astrology that some aspects are “good” and others are “bad.” It is important to remember that everything in astrology is symbolic and nothing inherently contains negative or positive energy. We are the ones that infuse these symbols with meaning. Some parts of life are meant to be challenging or bring things into our awareness. Aspects can be symbolic of the lessons life we face in order to learn things more deeply but also can signify when things come easier to us. The chart is very personal and unique to you, your relationship to the planetary patterns and aspects will be subjective, variable, and evolve with you over your lifetime.
Navigating the Aspects
Now that you have an idea of what the aspects are, we are going to look at each type and possible implications for reading them in your chart.. Depending on what planets are involved in the aspect pattern will largely determine the way the energy is represented in your life. For example, if Mars and the Sun are next to each other in the chart, it will have a very different flavor than if Venus and Neptune are next to each other. Lets get started!
The conjunction is one of the most powerful aspects in astrology. This is when two planets are next to or very near each other. They can be in the same sign or one planet could be slightly over the border into the next sign (Note: Read about orbs near the end of the article). The conjunction represents two planets combining energy. This connection can be intense and create a focal point in your chart. Having two planets working in tandem initiates a need for unity and compromise.
The “agendas” of each planet needs to be taken into account to better understand the nature of the particular conjunction. Will these two planets work together for example or do they have competing interests? If these planets were characters in a theatre performance of your life how would they be when acting in the same scene? Knowing the meaning of each planet will allow you to play around with what the aspect pattern means for you!
The Semisextile is a lesser used aspect, but not any less valuable! This is used when planets are 30 degrees apart in the chart. So you may have the Moon at 15 degrees Leo and just about 30 degrees over in the next sign you have Mercury at 15 degrees in Virgo. This would be considered a Semsextile. One way to recognize this aspect is to notice if the planets are in signs right next to each other.
The vibration of this aspect is one of needing to integrate different energies. Bringing attention to the needs of each of the planets involved in the configuration is paramount. Typically one planet will be more easily expressed than the other one with the goal being to shed light on the deeper meaning behind the planet that faces more challenges in being expressed in your life.
The Sextile is when two planets are 60 degrees apart or have one sign between them. This aspect is often viewed as one of ease and harmony. The planets in this configuration are meant to compliment and build each other up. This aspect helps show what talents can be developed in your life with added effort and dedication! Depending on which planets are involved in the Sextile can speak to your natural abilities, and energies you enjoy working with the most.
The square is one of the most prominent aspects in a natal chart. This is when planets are in a 90 degree relationship or have 2 signs between them, creating a square effect. You may come across information stating that the square may create some conflicting energies and challenging life lessons. This is due to the sense of urgency and heightened emotions often surrounding the square.
The beauty of the square is the potential that exists within it. The underlying force in this aspect is one of motivation. When two planets are in a square to each other, a deep inner drive seems to be created that pushes you forward towards achieving your goals and desires. An increase in intense energy can happen around squares, but this is your opportunity to face life’s challenges head on, build character, and strengthen your inner spirit!
When planets are in a trine they are 120 degrees away from each other or have 3 signs between them. This aspect is associated with harmony and ease. When planets are in a trine configuration they often work well together, creating energy that blends well, allowing each one to be expressed equally.
When you have a trine in your natal chart this can indicate that the energies of those planets are naturally present or easily accessible by you. Trines can sometimes create an energy of comfort that keeps the planetary energy from being pushed to greater experiences of evolution and learning. They can feel like a breath of fresh air in your life, the parts that put less pressure on you to perform or succeed.
Often an overlooked aspect, the Quincunx is a treasure trove of information in your chart! When planets are in this configuration they have 4 signs between them. The meaning of this aspect is illuminating and requires some adjustment on our part! We are working with planets placed in very different signs with different elements and modalities, they could not be more different.
This aspect creates a great opportunity to heal misunderstanding or hurt. The Quincunx is like a portal into deeper psychological aspects of yourself that are juxtaposed within you. Planets in this configuration are asking to be recognized and integrated into your being, giving you a more complete sense of self and understanding.
The opposition is the last possible aspect in the chart as this is when planets are at their peak distance from each other. The main theme surrounding this aspect is awareness. There is tension created between the two planets that are opposite one another. An opposition allows us to work with ideas of duality; yin/yang, relationships, male/female, etc. With this aspect we start to realize that there are ideas and experiences outside of our own perspective and being.
The opposite is like a scale, with planets on either side. You will notice throughout life that the scale will tip one way or the other depending on which planet’s energy you are expressing more dominantly at the time. Balancing these energies can create very powerful alliances in your life.
A Quick Note on Orbs
As you may have noticed the planets do not always fall exactly within these degree patterns. It is rare that you will find two planets exactly 180 degrees apart or exactly 90 degrees from each other. There is why we use something called orbs! Orbs are the buffer zones used on either side of a planet to approximate if it is in aspect to another planet. For example, if planets are 85 degrees from each other as opposed to 90 degrees, they are still considered to be in a square aspect to each other. In general an orb of 7 degrees on either side of a planet is used but this can be highly variable depending on the person interpreting the chart. Each astrologer comes up with their own “buffer zones” for determining aspects.
Putting It All Together
Are you still with us? Great! The best way to learn aspects is to start to look for patterns within your chart. You can have 3 planets clumped in one area all in a conjunction with each other or you may have planets spread out throughout your chart creating multiple squares and oppositions. You can also look at the Nodes, Mid Heaven, and Ascendent within these configurations as well! The aspects lead you from one planet to the next providing depth and complexity to the reading of unique road map of your birth chart.