Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Five Aspects

I have a confession to make: I don’t believe in the minor aspects. Any of them. I don’t mean to offend but anytime I hear someone saying, “Hey, I’ve got Venus biquintile Neptune”, a part of me just rolls my eyes a bit. I don’t believe they’re important and ever since I began studying astrology, I never have. They always sounded to me like they were made up or just pulled out of a hat of weirdly named aspects at random.

The thing that bugs me about these minor aspects is that no one can ever explain what they meant. If someone sat me down and really broke down what a septile or a quintile meant, they might make a believer out of me. But, no one can. The best someone can do is say that a quintile is the “creativity” aspect or something. Really? If that’s the case, any aspect can be the creativity aspect because any aspect could be used creatively.

What I love about astrology is its clarity. Yes, it’s a mystical, complex study and there will always be parts of it that we don’t fully understand, particularly with subjects like the 8th House or the 12th House. But, it still follows a clear, rigorous, logical system that has always made it completely sensible to me. Astrology skeptics don’t understand this until we convert them. But, what good are we doing if we just keep spouting off random aspects without being able to explain them?

I see each aspect as a kind of relationship between the two placements. And you need to know what’s going on in a relationship to make it work. Now the five major aspects – the conjunction, square, opposition, sextile, and trine – clearly describe this relationship. Is it an endless drama? Is it smooth sailing? Is it maybe too much of a good thing? That makes every placement like a player in the soap opera called your birth chart and you know whether they’re making love or fighting through the aspects. The major aspects, that is.

So, let’s just do a bit of elementary astrology and go through all of these.

Conjunction – the placements are merged and dependent
With the conjunction, these two placements really rely on each other. Their relationship is very dependent. It’s like an addictive intimacy between these two; they can’t get enough of each other! And like that co-dependent couple, it’s hard to tell where one ends and the other begins, which can be as difficult as it is positive. Conjunctions in a birth chart can give you noticeable talents and innate skills. But, they can also cause you to overdo the expression of that aspect. It’s tough to separate the functions of the two placements involved in a conjunction. They never want to break-up and can hardly handle time apart but this is also why they work so well together. 

Opposition – the placements are battling for power
The opposition is a real struggle for dominance. Both placements want control in the relationship and it’s like one can’t get the control it wants without totally dominating the other. It’s as if one placement has to tell the other to shut up and let them take over everything for a while. And then the other one gets revenge for being so repressed by making the other one shut up and take a backseat. And it just goes back and forth. Oppositions in a birth chart are crazy-making for this reason because you feel like you have to decide between being one or the other. The challenge here is to learn how to be both, finding balance by giving both placements equal power and expression.

Square – the placements don’t make each other happy
A square is like when two people just don’t know how to communicate or see eye-to-eye. But, unlike with the opposition, one’s not dominating or overpowering the other. In fact, both placements are being really passive-aggressive about their frustrations. And like a relationship between two passive-aggressive people, a square aspect in your birth chart can simmer and simmer until all of that unhappiness comes exploding out. Therefore, it’s important to immediately address and overcome the frustrations in this relationship. Both placements in a square need to be heard, to be directly communicated, and to compromise a bit of their own happiness to make the other happy.

Trine – the placements really encourage each other
With a trine in your birth chart, these two placements push each other to be their best and express themselves to the fullest. The aspect is expressed with gusto and easygoing spirit, like two close friends hitting the town together and having a good time. It’s a relationship of both placements having a huge amount in common. However, that doesn’t always necessarily equal a good thing. Trines can also go over-the-top, if you let them, as the bad habits of one placement can go uncorrected by the other placement, which shares many similar bad habits. Since trines feel so effortless and natural, that lack of effort may lead to lack of awareness.

Sextile – the placements understand and respect each other
Unlike with a trine, sextiles in a birth chart are not likely to get excessive. They’re kept in check because there are often just enough differences between the placements for them to not have the same weaknesses. But, they are also similar enough to get along really well and get each other. This is a relationship where the placements complement each other just enough to work. And without being dependent on or out-of-control with each other, they can give one another some space and freedom. Sextile aspects can sort of be turned on and off. However, this can also make them a bit calculated as well as expressed as a means to an end, instead of just for expression’s sake.

I don’t believe sextiles and trines are all good, then, or that squares and oppositions are curses. Squares and oppositions can often actually produce gold, if the person is willing to work on themselves. The skills of those aspects are hard-earned. The talents of sextiles and trines can just come in the snap of a finger, which may even make you take them for granted. Yet, there is a flow and an ease to these aspects that is a beautiful thing. Conjunctions, like I said, can go either way. They’re amazing and really give you an edge. But, they can also be sort of an Achilles’ heel, if you let them, because the fusion of those two placements is so natural that you don’t know how to separate the two functions.

The only other aspect I’d include in an interpretation besides those five is the inconjunct (quincunx). But, I’d say it’d have to be a very tight orb, in order for you to really feel that thing of the two placements just being from totally different worlds. While a conjunction is a swinging back and forth that eventually balances out, a quincunx may never fully balance out, which is alright if you accept the strangeness of it.

Still, I rarely consider that aspect. Basically, if it’s not a conjunction, square, opposition, sextile, or trine, in my opinion, it doesn’t make that much of a difference.


  1. What orbs would you recommend for the different aspects. There are so many views on the orbs to be considered depending upon the aspect as well as the planet/luminary involved, that it becomes very confusing to really determine if the aspect should be considered or not.
    Also would you differentiate between an applying aspect vis-a-vis a seperating aspect. Would that difference be of significance ?

    1. Hi, Viveka. I'm sort of confused about the last part of your question. But, for orbs, I'd say a maximum of 8 degrees for a conjunction (it can go up to 9, if involves the Sun, Moon, or one of the angles), 8 degrees for an opposition, 7 degrees for a trine, 4 degrees for a square, 3 (maybe 4) degrees for a sextile.

  2. Thanks for the article. Very informative. My sun is in opposition with my mars. So I need to find balance between these 2. Especially since the combination of this 2 would make me a winner (this is according to your sun-mars article). Now if only I can find out how create/find the balance for this 2 and harness it's awesome effect. But i hope in achieving the balance for this aspect would not make me someone who is hardset on winning and miss out on the important things.

  3. Well, i´m not an astrologer by i read different sources and books cause interest me...

    One of the things i don´t understand is the use o the house systems. As is see it, when you´re born, the houses, signs, aspects already were there. Your birth shouldn´t define the beginning of the cusp of a house by the sign degree you´re born. For instance when i enter a house with 30 doors, it happens that i chosen to enter - born - by a given door - ascendant, degree - o that house - rising sign. The sign was already there i only chose the degree. The degree . ascendant - would be important to assess other details like rulerships, i think.
    So, it seems to me that whole sign house system is the one that makes sense. The house cusp already had a zero degree of the rising sign and was already rising when i was born, it a happens that i was born a specific degree.

    Other thing, is the aspects. Some astrologers look the math of the aspects and orb of it, and regardless of being in elements and modalities that goes against the astrological principles always try to rationalize the conjunction Sun in libra at 29º and Pluto in Scorpio at 2º as being equal to Sun in libra at 29º and pluto in libra at 27º, when, i think you will agree, in the zodiacal wheel every next sign is the negation of the previous sign.

    Just a thought...

    1. Hey, well, we'll have to agree to disagree on both points.

      The whole house system has always confused me. I feel like everything in astrology started with Placidus and someone just decided to create the whole house system one day to rebel against the norm. Haha, because it really doesn't even make sense! Degrees define the Rising sign, for sure. If I was born at 7:20 PM, instead of 6:24 PM, I'd be an Aquarius Rising. Because my Capricorn Rising is at 18 degrees; already half-way through Capricorn. So, how do house degrees not matter?

      Also, there are many placements I have that, just through my life experience and self-awareness, I know cannot be in the next house. My Leo Sun is definitely a 7th House Sun, even though Cancer rules my 7th. And no way are my Virgo planets in the 9th, instead of the 8th. I just don't feel that.

      Also, understand that neighboring signs are not as different as they seem. Each sign is an evolution into the next one. In the latter degrees, it's wrapping up all of the "tasks" of that sign and ready to change into the next one. In the early degrees, it's still learning how to do these things.

      So, through your example, a Libra Sun at 29 degrees conjunct a Scorpio Pluto at 2 degrees does make sense. The Sun has come or is coming to fully understand how to commit to a happy relationship (Libra) and is ready to move into diving deeper into the more complex areas of this relationship, which Pluto gives it the impetus to do.

      Out-of-sign aspects are a little wonky and do manifest differently than in-sign ones. But, the numbers are important. If you want to throw out the math entirely, how would you even be able to calculate an aspect? Like I said in this article, astrology is not entirely mystical. There is an essential logic to it and when people try to ignore that logic (and I think Placidus is way more logical than whole houses, actually), they kind of defeat some of the purpose of it all.

  4. I don't think I ever really understood conjunctions until now. Co-dependents? I can see that. My Mars-Jupiter has gotten me into trouble more than once.

    I've been feeling my oppositions my whole life. I have four in my personal planets and the tightest major aspect in my chart is Sun opp Moon (in the same signs as my nodal axis too). Crazy-making is definitely right. It's like you never really know who you are, nor do the people around you. Your Saturn in Virgo stresses you like crazy and you feel like you're trying so hard, but it also feels like everyone thinks you're a slob because of Venus in Pisces (and you ARE a slob, haha). You try to commit to one planet approach and it never feels quite right, like you're hopping on one leg and there's an anxiety that you'll fall on your face. For a long time I thought I had to find a fixed medium between the two planets and stay THERE, and ... yeah, nope. Deliberate see-sawing works better. I let one planet have its say for a while, then I let the other take over (and possibly do some cleanup). In a way, my opposite planets are learning to rely on each other in a way that's rather satisfying - it's like one 'deepens' the other in a way that lends it more maturity or refinement, and I don't need to get perfectionistic about either side anymore. I feel much more sane and less exhausted with this approach. But it's still easy to get carried away with any of my opp planets. I also seem to have more trouble with the ones that are in fixed signs. Those kids don't want to take turns :(

    As for minor aspects, I haven't paid much attention to them, but there's at least one I can identify with - a Moon-Pluto quintile. When I first read about that, it was like a long-missing puzzle piece clicked. I'd always felt like there was an invisible Moon-Pluto connection in my chart that I wasn't seeing - not as extreme as the usual Moon-Pluto aspects I've read about, but it's there, assuming I haven't mistaken some other aspect of my chart for it ;)

    Question: would your description of an aspect dynamic differ if it's between an angle and a planet? I can't grasp that an angle 'affects' a planet the way another planet would.