Planets form angles to one another as they move through the heavens. These angles are called aspects. If two planets are 90 degrees apart, they form a square. If they’re 180 degrees apart, they’re in opposition. Planets in varying degrees of aspect have twenty-four hour communication going on.
Depending on the angle of the aspect, the planets will relay different information and influence. An “exact” aspect will always be the strongest, however when a planet is “applying” (moving toward exact) or “separating” (moving away from exact), they can still have greater and lesser influences.
The particular angle that separates any two planets describes the nature of their conversation. Astrologers use six angles most often, each of which produces a different type of relationship or “conversation” between the planets they join. Let’s go over the meaning of each aspect.
Conjunction (0 degrees – Blending)
Conjunction is the most powerful aspect and combines two planets in a single force. The strongest blend of energies represented by the two planets.
When someone tells you that two things are operating “in conjunction,” it means they’re operating together. This holds true with planets, as well. Two (or more) planets conjoined are a team. Some planets pair up more easily than other – Venus and the Moon, for example, since both are feminine and receptive, or the Sun and Mars, since both are pretty feisty by nature. Planets in conjunction are usually sharing a house in your chart.
Sextile (60 degrees – Flowing – Easy)
Sextile is a strong harmonious aspect, but less powerful than the trine. The planetary energies flow together, open into new possibilities, new connections.
The sextile links planets in compatible elements. That is, planets in sextile are either in fire and air signs or in earth and water signs. Since these pairs of elements get along well, the sextile encourages an active exchange between the two planets involved, so these two parts of you will be eager to work together.
Square (90 degrees – Dynamic – Difficult)
Square is strong, but less powerful than opposition, and creates friction between planets. The planetary energies conflict; internal and creative tensions bring rich rewards through effort over time.
The square puts planets at cross-purposes. There’s friction between them and they never allow each other to stop moving. You can see squares operating in someone who’s fidgety or constantly restless. Although they’re uncomfortable and even aggravating at times, your squares point to places where tremendous growth is possible.
Trine (120 degrees – Flowing – Easy)
Trine is the most powerful harmonious aspect, bringing the planets together in an easy combination. The planetary energies flow smoothly; the connection is easy and beneficial.
Trines are usually formed between planets of the same element, so they understand each other. They show an ease of communication not found in any of the other aspects, and they’re traditionally thought of as “favorable.” Of course, there is a downside to trines. Planets in this relationship as=re so comfortable that they can often get lazy and spoiled. (Sometimes they get so comfy they’re boring.) Planets in trine show urges or needs that automatically support each other. The catch is that you’ve got to get them moving.
Quincunx or Inconjunct (150 degrees – Dynamic – Difficult)
The planetary energies do not flow smoothly, one or the other predominates; discrimination must be employed.
This aspect joins two signs that don’t share a quality, element, or gender, and it’s very difficult for them to communicate with each other. It’s as if two strangers who don’t speak each others language are trying to tell each other a story in a noisy room. It’s frustrating. For that reason, this aspect has always been considered to require an adjustment in the way the two planets are used. Planets in quincunx can often feel pushed, forced, or obligated to perform. They seem to correspond to health issue.
Opposition (180 degrees – Dynamic – Difficult)
Opposition is extremely powerful and places the planets in conflict with each other, producing difficulties, but increasing the range of possibilities open to the individual. The planetary energies are polarized; outer events stimulate their interaction; integration is the challenge.
When two forces are in opposition, they’re working against each other. They have the same mission and goal, but their techniques are very different. It’s as if the two are standing across from one another with their arms folded, involved in a debate, neigh44er willing to concede an inch. They can only break out of their standoff by first becoming aware of one another and then compromising. This aspect is the least difficult of the traditionally known “hard” aspects because planets “at odds” with one another can come to some sort of compromise.
Semi-square, sesquiquadrate and quincunx are all minor tense aspects. Psychologically their effect may be seen as a very weak version of the square. Some astrologers give ‘them additional importance in predicting events.
Semi-Square (45 degrees – Dynamic (Difficult)
The planetary energies conflict in determined subtle tension; calmness is required.
Sesquiquadrate (135 degrees – Dynamic – Difficult)
The planetary energies conflict in determined subtle tension; control is required.
Semi-sextile is the only minor harmonious aspect, and psychologically is a weak version of the sextile.
Semi-Sextile (30 Degrees – Dynamic – Difficult)
The planetary energies attract each other, require effort, allow entry of new information.
When three or more planets are connected to each other by aspect, they form a pattern with a meaning of its own.
Two planets in opposition are both in square to a third planet. This brings tension and sharp, pressing problems, the result of which may be great energy and consequently a better than average chance of success throughout life.
When interpreting a T’ Square all the factors involved – planets, signs and houses – must be taken separately and then built up into a picture of the choices, difficulties and solutions which each planet suggests.
When the ‘T’ Square is in:
Cardinal Signs, there is exceptional dynamism and energy;
Fixed Signs, people may be excessively stubborn, fighting personal battles to the bitter end.
Mutable Signs, they may try to solve, or even avoid, the problems associated with the ‘T’ Square by being flexible and adaptable.
Solution to the ‘T’ Square
A: via harmonious Aspects
The tension of the ‘T’ Square can be released or positively expressed through the planet which makes the closest sextile or trine to any of the three planets in the ‘T’ Square. In this example the emotional tension of the Sun-Mars-Saturn ‘T’ Square can be released through the sextile to Jupiter in Cancer.
B. Development of Opposite Characteristics
The tension of the ‘T’ Square focuses on the planet at the apex, in this case Venus, and the part of the chart immediately opposite may also act as a focus for problems. By coping with them the whole situation can be eased and turned to advantage. In this example Venus in the eighth house, squared to Uranus and Saturn, suggests business difficulties. This may bring second house problems – personal financial ones with an inability to handle money. By learning how to deal with these issues, the eighth house problems, and the whole ‘T’ Square, can be helped.
The Grand Cross consists of four planets connected by four squares and two oppositions. In effect this consists of four ‘T’ Squares and, although the process of interpretation is essentially the same as that for a ‘T’ Square, the complexity and possibilities are considerably more varied. This pattern is not necessarily more dynamic than the T’ Square.
When the Grand Cross is in:
Cardinal Signs, problems and difficulties are more likely to result in energetic and assertive behavior.
Fixed Signs, people may hang on to their problems and be exceptionally stubborn and resistant to change.
Mutable Signs, they may be very adaptable but may also exacerbate their problems by evading them.
Three planets are connected by three trines to form a triangle, the Grand Trine, around which planetary influences circulate with ease. This brings a wealth of natural talent indicated by the signs and houses containing the planets, but may require tense aspects to provide the motivation for its expression.
When the Grand Trine is in:
Fire Signs, talents lie in enthusiasm, and the search for new possibilities.
Earth Signs, talents lie in practical work and experience.
Air Signs, talents lie in intellectual work and the communication of ideas.
Water Signs, talents are rooted in sympathy, compassion and intuition.
Also known as the Finger of Fate or the Finger of God, Yod is the name given to two planets in opposition connected to two other planets, one by semi-sextiles and the other by quincunxes. There is a consensus that this pattern is important, but few astrologers make much use of it. The two additional planets provide a choice of paths for the individual to express or discharge the tension of the opposition.
This consists of four planets connected in a rectangle of two squares and two trines, together with two oppositions connecting the opposite planets. Despite the name there is nothing mystical about this pattern. The combination of tense and harmonious aspects produces the best possible potential for the constructive use of natural talents.
The person with a kite pattern may be a ‘high flyer’. All three planets in a grand trine are connected to a fourth planet, one by an opposition and the other two by sextiles. This is useful combination of tense and harmonious aspects in which the two planets connected by trines and sextiles provide outlets for the tension of the opposition.
Opinions differ over the interpretation of unaspected planets. It is best to learn from experience, but the following guidelines are useful. First, the planet may be difficult to express. The principle it represents may be badly integrated with the rest of the personality and may even be neglected. In complete contrast, the lack of aspects may mean that the planet is unrestrained by other planets and therefore assumes an exaggerated importance. Sun unaspected: these people may have a poor sense of self-identity, but may appear to be very egotistical.
Moon unaspected: These people may feel out of touch with their home, family, emotions and roots, but make strenuous efforts to overcome the problem.
Mercury unaspected: These people may find it difficult to express their thoughts, may be quiet, but strive actively to develop intellectual skills.
Venus unaspected: These people may find it difficult to form close relationships, but may make great efforts to be sociable.
Mars unaspected: These people may find it difficult to motivate themselves but may have uncontrollable energy.
Jupiter unaspected: These people may have difficulty in creating opportunities, but spend a lot of energy looking for them.
Saturn unaspected: These people may find it difficult to recognize limitations and cope with difficulties, but may develop strong self-discipline.
Uranus unaspected: These people may have difficulty in expressing their personality, either neglecting or exaggerating it.
Neptune unaspected: These people may have difficulty in giving expression to their imagination and mystical aspirations, but become very dedicated to artistic work or religious activity.
Pluto unaspected: These people may find it difficult to harness emotional energy, and may seek emotional commitment and confrontation.