Astrological Aspects: The Basics Explained

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So…you’re relatively new to astrology. You know your sun sign and have recently learned about your moon sign and ascendant. You might have started delving into your individual planetary placements, and are now even discovering the astrological houses.

Another essential building block in your Astrological education which will serve you well, is becoming familiar with astrological aspects.

 Simply defined, aspects are planetary relationships.  You take two planets, hook them up and see how they get along. The synthesizing of this information brings  more flavor, detail and intricacy to our astrological interpretations.

A general astrological rule is : there are no isolated factorsSigns, planets and houses are always relating to one another in the context of an individual chart

I often comment that planetary relationships are very similar to interpersonal ones. Sometimes we come into contact with another person and we couldn’t ask for an interaction that’s more smooth and effortless.

There are also exchanges that aren’t nearly as comfortable. Maybe we’re forced to talk to a group of strangers that we have very little in common with. Or, we have such different perspectives that it creates an environment filled with tension.  The aforementioned describes the theory behind how aspects work.

How flowing, or challenging the planetary dynamics are is symbolized by the angular relationship.

In the larger sense, there are no “good” and “bad” aspects. The energy is neutral. This is not to say that every planetary interaction will be smooth sailing.  However, when two or more planets make contact with one another at a certain degree, the response and how you choose to utilize those combinations is largely up to you.

For example: At work, you might have a challenging relationship with your supervisor, because he/she is very demanding, precise and doesn’t tolerate any excuses. Is this bad? You may think so initially. However,  it’s quite possible that because of this interaction, you might find that you’ve become more adept, better organized and equipped to handle more responsibility.

Conversely, the receptionist in your building may be one of the most pleasant people who you’ve ever known. You can talk to him/her hours on end. There’s never a shortage of topics to discuss. Seems “good”, right? However, one day you might come to the conclusion that all of this talk never pushed you to do any productive work. Nice and easy, but no growth or results. Yet another clue to the workings of aspects.

There are both major and minor aspects. For the purpose of this discussion, I have chosen to concentrate on the majors: the conjunctionoppositionsquaretrine and sextile.

The Conjunction- 0 Degrees

conjunction is a planetary relationship where the planets are usually right “on top” of one another. Either at the exact degree or only a few degrees apartThey’re usually in the same sign.

Using an example from my chart, I have my Sun in Sagittarius at 28 degrees. My Sagittarius Ascendant is also at 28 degrees. There is virtually no separation between the two. Therefore, this is a conjunction.

It’s like two people holding hands in an elevator. Or, that couple you know ,who you always mention their names togetherThe energy is inseparable.  A conjunction blends planetary expressions. In your chart, this can be a point where you shine because of the intensification of focus.

The Opposition- 180 Degrees

The opposition symbolizes and tug of war, or an internal division.

In most cases, oppositions, which are symbolized by planets that areseparated by an angle of 180 degrees, occur between opposing, orcomplimentary signs within the zodiac. An example would be if one had the sun in Scorpio and the moon in Taurus. With this arrangement in their chart, they would have a sun-moon opposition. One can also have out of sign oppositions in their chart if the particular degrees allow.

Think about people who are literally on opposing sides of an issue in a meeting room. Apply the same scenario to your psyche.

Successful navigation of this aspect calls for negotiation and bridge building on both sidesThe principles which are represented by the opposing planets must be integrated. If not, they run the risk of being fragmented and operating as lone rangers within the individuals mental framework.

The Square- 90 Degrees

In traditional astrology, a square is referred to as an aspect of tension. A ninety degree angle between planets that is symbolic of crisis. 

Unfortunately, some astrological writing has convinced us to run for the hills if we have squares in our charts. It’s all doom and gloom as if we’ve lost even before we’ve started. Other practitioners are certainly welcome to their opinion, but here’s this astrologer’s take on it:

Tension is : the act or action of being stretched.

Crisis is: an unstable or crucial time or state of affairs in which a decisive change is impending. 

The planets and signs involved in a square aspect call for the ability to adjust to constantly changing circumstances. Successful navigation of a square  provides strength, power and elasticity in regard to the planetary principles and sign expressions included.

Now…..I’m not going to get Pollyanna on you, put Bobby McFerrin on repeat, and tell you “don’t worry, be happy.” That everything will be just fine.

The fact is: it will not be just fine if we’re unwilling to confront the issuesput forth the effort. Or,try to resist, rather than work with the changes that are inherent within this aspect.

Squares are extremely dynamic. They push us and serve as an impetus for growth.

Working with squares, we must realize that everything that feels goodmay not necessarily be beneficial for us, and just because something is uncomfortable doesn’t mean it’s harmful.

Walter Payton, one of the greatest running backs in NFL history, had an infamous off-season work out. He ran up a hill, which later became to be known as “Payton’s Hill”, just outside Chicago. Payton would sprint up this hill, which was around 92 feet for as many as 20 repetitions.

Most of us know the rest of the story.

The Trine- 120 Degrees

Trines are aspects of flow and ease. The planetary energies which relate at an 120 degree angle have an innate smoothness. Trines symbolize natural talents and gifts which are our possession.

The key in handling this aspect is to know that these gifts exist and to consciously refine and strengthen them. 

One of the potential downfalls of trines is to fall back on them. To become so complacent that you think no further effort is required. Let us all remember that even the most efficient running engine requires maintenance. If this does not happen, it may break down at the most inopportune time.

The Sextile- 60 Degrees

Many astrologers refer to the sextile as a mini-trine. The message behind the aspect is similar, except a trine possesses greater strength. A sextile is an aspect of potential and opportunity. The trine is what IS. The sextile is what COULD BE, providing we’re willing to take the necessary steps to plant and water the seed, so it grows healthily to optimum level.

With a sextile, there are a host of quality ingredients laid out before us. What we must do now is work to find the perfect combination. To cultivate more of the principles and energies symbolized by the planets and signs involved.

As a whole, each of our birth charts is filled with possibilitiesHowever, the chart itself, promises nothing. Is we’re to utilize the contents of our birth chart based on a realistic assessment of our lives, it’s essential that we’re committed to doing the necessary work to make what’s possible ACTUAL.

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