An aspect is an angular relationship between planets that indicates that their significations are connected in some way. Generally speaking, aspects are classified as harmonious, inharmonious, or neutral. The most commonly used aspects are those called the major aspects: the trine (120º), the sextile (60º), the square (90º), the opposition (180º), and the conjunction (0º). The trine and sextile are considered harmonious or supportive, while the opposition and square are considered inharmionious. The conjunction is considered neutral in itself; it may have a positive or negative connotation depending on the planets involved and their house placement.
Aspects need not be exact to be considered present; a certain amount of leeway, called the orb of the aspect, is allowed. For the aspects listed above, an orb of 6-8º is usually allowed. So planets that are 54º-66º apart in ecliptic longitude are considered to be in sextile aspect to one another, although an exact aspect is usually considered more meaningful.
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This is said to be the most powerful and harmonious aspect, intensifying the effects of the involved planets. If the planets are afflicted, then the conjunction will be said to intensify this affliction. If one of the bodies is the sun or moon, a separation of 0±10° is considered a conjunction. If neither the sun or moon is involved, a conjunction is a separation of 0±8°.
Oppositions are said to be the second most powerful aspect and are often seen as “disharmonious”. However, they are looked on less negatively than in the past, providing challenges in life, but also providing an integrating link, like a backbone. Overall, an opposition between two planets creates tension, which can have positive or negative results.
The square is said to indicate strain, tension, and energy, presenting challenges to achievement and an opportunity to develop strength of character. In this aspect, planets tend to be "blocked," since it is akin to having two connected forces struggling to move in different directions. A common manifestation is having multiple needs that are mutually exclusive.
The trine is said to be extremely beneficial, providing ease (even if undeserved). Too many trines are said to make a person unable to cope with adversity. In this aspect, the best qualities of the planets are magnified and this is often where a person will see their greatest "natural" talents.
The sextile is said to be similar in influence to the trine, but only provides opportunity, requiring effort to reap its benefits.
Disharmonious. This aspect is considered a weaker version of the square.
Disharmonious. Similar to a semisquare.
This is considered a weaker version of the sextile.
The quincunx is said to be of moderate but somewhat unpredictable influence, bringing strain.
This is considered similar to a semisextile, but effort is not needed to reap its benefits.
Here is a description.
The ancient use of aspects
The idea of aspects in ancient astrology was somewhat different than in the modern application. Aspects were counted by sign rather than by exact degree, so a planet in Leo might be considered to form a trine with any planet in Sagittarius or Aries. It would never be considered to form a trine with a planet in Capricorn, even if the actual angle between the two planets were within the orb allowed by modern astrologers (for example, 29º Leo to 1º Capricorn would be well within orb at 122º).
Aspects were also classified by their direction. An aspect measured forward through the zodiac was called a "left" aspect (so, for example, Leo to Sagittarius would be a "left trine"), and an aspect in the other direction was called a "right" aspect (Leo to Aries would be a "right trine"). In Indian or Vedic astrology, each planet makes only some of the possible aspects. For example, Saturn only makes conjunctions, oppositions, left sextiles, and right squares.
An aspect that is exact is called perfect. An aspect that is within orb and getting closer to perfection is called applying, and one that is within orb and in the process of moving further from perfection is called departing, or separating. An aspect between planets in the same degree of their respective signs is called a partile aspect (for example, two planets in 18º01' Leo and 18º59' Sagittarius are in partile trine. Two planets in 18º01' Leo and 17º59' Sagittarius are not, even though they are closer to being perfect). Aspects that fall in the "wrong" sign by virtue of their orb (such as the Leo/Capricorn example given above) are sometimes called occult or hidden aspects. Applying and partile aspects are sometimes considered stronger than departing or hidden aspects.
- Astro.com. (2005). The Aspects (http://www.astro.com/astrology/in_aspect_e.htm). Retrieved on 03/16/05.
- Wikipedia. (2005). Astrological aspect (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astrological_aspect). Retrieved on 03/16/05.