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Astrological Aspects

Your astrology map is a complicated combination of planets, houses, and signs. It is also a combination of relationships, or aspects. There are several common aspects that can be operative within your birth or progressed chart. Some have a benevolent effect, while others produce challenge and tension between the planets in your star chart.

The Aspects are really angular separations. Every planet has an angular separation with another, but astrologers pay particular attention to specific ones. The conjunction of two planets ( when two planets are next to each other) is said to fuse the qualities of each planet. The Opposition, when they are 180 degrees away is somewhat self-explanatory. Planets do not have to be exactly 180 degrees away to be in opposition. An Orb is usually allowed of a few degrees either side of the exact aspect. Generally the smaller the orb the more powerful the aspect is said to be.

Benevolent Aspects

Conjunction (0 degrees with 5 to 8 degree orb): Merging and interaction of energies

Planet X gives prominence to planet Y. The house ruled by the sign where the planets are situated takes on the nature of both X and Y. X and Y unite in partnership. X and Y lose their individual identities and merge into one, like lovers.

A conjunction is an intense mingling of planetary energies, a unity that sometimes provides a energy source for constructive change and growth, yet may also catalyze a volatile, explosive energy. These energies are provided for your use in personal growth as well as giving you powerful tools to effect change in your life.

Conjunctions are active expressions influencing you in the areas of your life (house) where the aspect occurs. While the compulsive activity may not be apparent to you, others will feel its manifestation directly. Conjunctions have a dynamic quality and signify patterns of action. The arena for this expression is not limited to the physical world, but also relates to the psychological and emotional planes as well.

"Planets in conjunction are always united. Their energies are merged, blended and always act together. . . . When [the conjunction is] exact, it's rather like having two bells struck simultaneously: it's difficult to differentiate the sound of either one. In the same way, planets in conjunction tend to have problems in `seeing' each other. In fact, if the conjunction is an exact one the two planets often don't appear to the individual to have separate identities. The differentiation may be seen by others but to the person concerned the two energies may appear as if they were one, almost as if a new planet had been formed. Thus planets in conjunction can have difficulties in separating and objectifying each other. . . . It is interesting to remember that at New Moon when the Sun and Moon are in conjunction one cannot actually see the Moon and this gives us a clue to this `blind spot' quality of the conjunction. People whose charts are dominated by conjunctions . . . tend to be very self-driven and self-motivated individuals. They don't tend to look outside of themselves for self-definition or validation and therefore are less prone to self-doubt. Again, it's as if they look at themselves without the aid of a mirror. Clearly, this is a difficult task as we tend to define the self through meeting and interacting with others. Imagine an artist trying to paint a self-portrait having never seen their face in a mirror or photograph. I suspect the picture would differ greatly from the usual artist/sitter portraits and probably would not describe a very good likeness. At any rate, it would be a very subjective likeness, for the mirror, sitter or photograph allows the possibility of greater objectivity."
- Sue Tompkins, Aspects of Astrology

Trine (120 degrees with a 6 to 7 degree orb): Ease, harmony

X expands Y by adding its traits to Y's expression. X facilitates Y's actions. X and Y together bring abundance.

Trines can be highly benevolent by the blending of planetary energies in a positive way, inspiring ideas and pointing the way toward expansive growth. They are also the best solutions to the challenges posed by both squares and oppositions. Trines can also be not so beneficial by being the path of least resistance: do you take the easy way out? Or do you make use of these energies to help meet the obstacles posed by the difficult aspects in your chart?

The trine configuration links planets residing in signs that are congenial to each other and of the same element. So that even discordant relationships between planets, such as Sun to Saturn, are rendered less difficult and their energies combine more easily. However, after all is said, you could suffer from too many trines in your chart. In a sense you face a major challenge in your life, since you experience no major inner conflicts, obstacles, you could very well not have enough fight to achieve a position or goal. In most charts a singular square or opposition, even quincunx (inconjunct) can offset the trines, giving you the ambition or drive to go out and fight.

A trine signals that the energies linked do not resist or conflict in any way. They are in a state of equilibrium to one another. Whenever one chooses to act according to the nature of the energies combined by a trine, there is ease of action and lack of difficulty . When trines do signify events, they are events in which one is passive. Things seem to fall into one's lap and work out of their own accord. . . . The principal drawback of a trine is its' passivity. Whenever you are challenged by the environment to make a change or adjustment, the energy may be lacking.

"As the self is able constructively to respond to this incarnation of purpose and meaning, one not only displays the faculty of vision and understanding (often-used keywords for the trine), but also *experiences ideas*. On this basis, the self actually begins to transform the outer world and all the relationships in which it has accepted to participate. . . . However, as the self seeks to meet the outer world (or its companion) in terms of ideas and mental vision, the inertia of the whole universe resists the transforming thoughts."
- Rael and Rudhyar

Like Jupiter, trines provide a protective influence. Benefits that come without effort and without any activity on the part of the person concerned. They are the results of constructive service, and harmonious actions in other lifetimes. We earn everything that happens, benevolent or challenging. Trine aspects are the good we have given out returning to us."

Sextile (60 degrees with a 4 to 5 degree orb): Ease with effort, openness to the new

X refines Y. X and Y maintain a state of harmony. X cooperates with Y. X and Y act as partners.

Like the trine, only of lesser intensity the sextile is a bringer of opportunities. Unlike a trine, however, the sextile cannot ensure good fortune, the energy is weak so that you must conscientiously go out of your way to work on realizing the potentially positive effects into your life. They point the way towards identifying the opportunities in your life, and also reveal the best way to develop and apply these opportunities. The planets, and or houses are in a harmonious relationship to each other allowing the energy flows to move smoothly. This is not a dynamic angle, but a passive one.

There is a Venusian feeling to this aspect. The sextile is an aspect of enjoyment, pleasure and intellectual valuing. . Sextiles have also been linked to rhythm and repetition and thus with dancers and musicians. The sextile is an aspect of harmony and planets linked by this kind of contact tend to co-operate with each other. However, again, this is a rather passive aspect, so that even co-operation takes some degree of effort.

Challenging Aspects

Square (90 degrees with a 6 to 7 degree orb) -- Conflict, inharmonious, challenging.

X disrupts and confronts Y's expression. X unsettles Y, sometimes bringing sudden change.

Squares add energy to your chart that drive you to grow by presenting you with challenges and tests. They present frustrations and obstacles and force you to adjust your efforts. You may sense internal tension building when you are at cross-purposes with yourself. Sometimes you will experience these as burdens to bear, and at other times as confrontations. The choice is yours - either you curse your fate or you rise to meet the challenge.

This aspect indicates major changes in the houses where the aspecting planets reside. A square compels you to prove yourself by presenting events that challenge your basic convictions. These convictions relate to the dictums of the signs where the aspect occurs. The basic nature of a square is one of two energetic expressions (as indicated by the signs involved) manifesting at cross purposes, which blocks the full expression of either planet.

As with the opposition this aspect bestows great energy when you are able to resolve the conflict. The ability to alternate between the two, or to meld the two into one expression is the best approach to resolving the problems that crop up from this aspect.The square is Uranian in nature.

Quincunx (150 degrees, with 1 or 2 degrees orb) Revisions, Dilemmas to solve

Quincunxes blend planetary energies by posing dilemmas and forcing the need for revision, which in causes a certain amount of tension and friction. Oftentimes it's not enough to really command your conscious attention, but somewhere in the back of your mind you're still working on it. Their resolutions often point the way to unconventional breakthroughs in perception.

Opposition (180 degrees with 7 to 8 degree orb): Conflict in recognizing the other, the not-self

Planet Y reflects planet X. X and Y complement one another. Planet X causes planet Y to vacillate between expressing its own nature and reflecting the nature of X. Planet Y increases planet X's consciousness of itself.

Next to the conjunction, this is the second most powerful aspect in any chart. It represents opposing energies which confront each other and pull you in opposite directions. If you allow yourself to look objectively, you find that each end of these planetary aspects are two sides of the same coin, and there lies the answer to successfully using this aspect. You can reach a complementary balance that provides opportunities for deeper self-awareness. A reevaluation of the energies involved leads to a equilibrium of inner perspective.

The square is considered a hard angle causing events that have life long effects. Like the conjunction, this is an extremely high energetic vibration that often creates tension and stress within you. Where this aspect occurs, the signs and houses involved are areas of extreme importance to you, and are areas where major events play out their drama repetitively. Your lesson with this configuration is to take hold of that part of your personality that attracts these events and analyze what is being shown to you. In order for this energetic vibration to resolve itself positively, you have to skillfully work the problem through to a solution. For those of you who have a large amount of oppositions in your chart, it is an indication that you have chosen this lifetime to be a path of evolution in which the risks are as great as the rewards.

Hand describes the opposition as:



"The symbolism of the opposition aspect is very much what one would expect: polarity, strife, conflict, and so on, but also partnership and cooperation, as well as consciousness itself.... Whatever energies are linked by the opposition, they are combined in such a way that they produce instability and change through conflict. If one examines the conflict, it is seen to arise between an aspect of oneself that has been projected outward and an aspect of oneself that is experienced inwardly. Put more concretely, the opposition signifies a conflict between an external factor and an internal one, and the external factor is the result of an inward energy that one does not as yet understand to be within the self. . . . It should be clear, especially in the case of the individual who finds others disruptive, that the disruptive person, entity, or situation is being used by the individual's subconscious as a mirror to confront an aspect of himself which he then tries to make conscious. Thus the opposition aspect has, through such confrontation, the potential to increase the level of consciousness. . . . The goal is a state of perfect equilibrium between the two energies involved in the opposition: it represents the aspect's partnership and cooperation side."

Oppositions in the chart want opposite but related things. The secret in dealing with an opposition is to become aware of and use both sides of it. Give each side "it's turn" for attention and work.

Invariably, we become aware of and relate to one half of an opposition before we become conscious of the other half. Usually the planet we accept is the one which is more in keeping with our image of ourselves. The rejected planet is usually the`heavier' one and, in our view, the less socially acceptable planet. The psyche insists upon wholeness and thus insists that the energy of the rejected planet will intrude upon our lives in some way, and will intrude to the extent that we have disowned it. And so we project this energy outward, and end up meeting this "foreign" energy outside of ourselves in another person, group or object and thus, seemingly become a victim of it. We are offered the opportunity of becoming more conscious and owning our rejected planet every time we recognize it in another person or group. We meet it, time and time again, until awareness dawns. This is not unfair, for until we live out all sides of our nature we cannot become whole. In living out just one side of an opposition we are only using half the energy at our disposal, and can not operate in a balanced way.