In astrology, an aspect is an angle the planets make to each other in the horoscope, and also to the ascendant, midheaven, descendant and nadir. The aspects are measured by the angular distance along the ecliptic in degrees and minutes of celestial longitude between two points, as viewed from the earth. They indicate focal points in the horoscope where the energies involved are given extra emphasis. The astrological aspects are said to influence affairs on Earth according to millennia of astrological tradition.
As an example, if an astrologer creates a horoscope showing the apparent positions of the heavenly bodies at the times of a person's birth (a natal chart), and the apparent distance between Mars and Venus is 92°, the chart is said to have the aspect "Venus square Mars" with an orb of 2° (i.e., it is 2° away from being an exact square; a square is a 90° aspect). The more exact that an aspect is, the more important it is said to be according to astrological precedent and tradition. The difference between the exact aspect and the actual aspect is called the orb.
To the ancients, certain aspects and certain planets
were either good (benefic
) or bad (malefic
). Modern usage is different, with less emphasis placed on simple divisions.
Modern approaches to astrological aspects, grounded more on current research rather than historical references, are more in alignment with research on astrological harmonics, of which John Addey was a major proponent in England (and which Johannes Kepler set forth in his book Harmonice Mundi in 1619). In routine practice, the German schools of Uranian astrology and its derivative Cosmobiology have taken a wholly empirical approach to the aspects, largely divorced from traditional assumptions, and based on extensive research. In the process, they have come to conclusions different from traditional astrologers about the power and effect of the various types of aspects. Among the Uranians, the term 'aspect' is even sometimes avoided, to divorce traditional beliefs from current observations.
The research of Françoise and Michel Gauquelin on the significance of planetary configuration in the astrological chart showed strong signs that the semisquare and sesquiquadrate, "minor" aspects according historical assumptions, might in fact be relatively "major". Many of these valuable realizations have been lost in a recent wave of return to traditional astrological beliefs.
A list of traditional aspects below presents their angular values and a recommended orb for each aspect -- the orbs are subject of controversy even today.
With the introduction of the manifold midpoints used in Cosmobiology and the many "formula" points of Uranian/Hamburg Astrology, most modern Astrologers, now, use much narrower orbs for aspects than what were common prior 1970.
The traditional major aspects are sometimes called Ptolemaic aspects
since they were defined and used by Ptolemy
in the 1st Century, AD. These aspects are the conjunction (approx. 0-10°), sextile (60°), square (90°), trine (120°), and opposition (180°). It is important to note that different astrologers and separate astrological systems/traditional utilize differing orbs
(the degree of separation between exactitude) when calculating and using the aspects, though almost all use a larger orb for a conjunction when compared to the other aspects. The major aspects are those that can be used to divide 360 evenly and are divisible by 10 (with the exception of the semi-sextile).
- See also Cazimi, Combust
(abrv. Con) is an angle of approximately 0-10°. An orb
of approximately 10° is usually considered a conjunction, however if neither the Sun or Moon is involved, some consider the conjunction to be a separation (orb) of only about 0±08°. This is said to be the most powerful aspect, intensifying the effects of the involved planets mutually — and being a major point in the chart. The planets will act together to outside stimulus and act on each other. The essential feature of a conjunction is that each planet brings out a characteristic in accord with its own nature out of the other planet. This may probably be difficult to achieve without the aid of the other planet. This process, however, will also cause each planet involved to lose some of its true characteristics. For example, a person with a conjunction of Mercury
and the Moon
will find it easy to talk (Mercury
) about his or her feelings (Moon
) and rationalize them. However, due to their intellectual approach to emotions, it follows that their feelings also lose some depth, therefore, these people cannot handle heavy emotional demands. On the other hand, the involvement of the emotions (Moon
) in the rational thinking process (Mercury
) makes it easy for the person to think and communicate with sensitivity and consideration. This ability can, however, take away some of the objectivity (Mercury
) from the thinking process due to biases from loyalties, emotional attachments, and so on (Moon
Whether the union is to be regarded as "positive" or "negative" depends upon what planets are involved: Venus, Jupiter and the Sun, in any possible combination, is considered the most favourable scenario (and all three actually met on November 9–10, 1970, for example), while the most unfavourable configurations involve Mars, Saturn, and/or the Moon (with all three conjoining on March 10 in that same year). If the planets are under stress from other configurations, then the conjunction will be said to intensify the stress. When a planet is in very close conjunction to the Sun it is referred to as cazimi; when a planet is moderately close to Sun, it is said to be combust. The Sun and Moon are in conjunction monthly during the New Moon.
(abrv. SXt or Sex) is an angle of 60° (1/6 of the 360° ecliptic
, or 1/2 of a trine [120°]). A separation (orb) of 60±04° is considered a sextile. The sextile has been traditionally said to be similar in influence to the trine, but of less significance. It indicates ease of communication between the two elements involved, with compatibility and harmony between them, but only provides opportunity, requiring effort to gain its benefits. See information on the semisextile
(abrv. SQr or Squ) is an angle of 90° (1/4 of the 360° ecliptic, or 1/2 of an opposition [180°]). An orb
of somewhere between 5° and 10° is usually allowed. As with the trine and the sextile, in the square, it is usually the outer or superior planet
that has an effect on the inner or inferior
one. Basically, the square's energy is similar to that of a trine but it is intensified to such an extent that the energy is said to be stressful. For example, Mercury trine Saturn
indicates practicality and prudence with thoughts and communication, concentrating on practical matters. It is also indicative of caution in planning and other mental tasks. However, the square between those planets indicates mental restraint, excessive censoring of communication and overemphasis on trivial details. It also indicates pessimism and a stilted and fearful approach to life. The square is said to indicate strain, tension, frustration, inhibitions, disruption and inner conflict. However, it can become a source of energy and activation to a person determined to overcome limitations, presenting challenges to achievement and an opportunity to develop strength of character. See the information on the semisquare
below. The square is also sometimes known as the quartile
(abrv. Tri) is an angle of 120° (1/3 of the 360° ecliptic). A separation (orb) of 120±04° is considered a trine. The trine indicates harmony, and ease of expression, with the two elements reinforcing each other. The trine is a source of artistic and creative talent, which is innate. The trine has been traditionally assumed to be extremely beneficial, providing ease even if undeserved, but it can be a 'line of least resistance' to a person of weak character. Too many trines are said to make a person weak and unable to cope with adversity. Complacency can also prove to be a problem. Due to the harmony bestowed by the trine, the person may not feel the need to develop the gifts given by this aspect, thus it follows that the person has no need to satisfy a need and supply what is lacking because it is already satisfied from the time of his or her birth.
(abrv. Opp) is an angle of 180° (1/2 of the 360° ecliptic). An orb
of somewhere between 5° and 10° is usually allowed. Oppositions are said to be the second most powerful aspect. The opposition is indicative of tension, conflict and confrontation, due to the polarity between the two elements involved. Stress arises when one is used over the other, causing an imbalance; but the opposition can work well if the two parts of the aspect are made to complement each other in a synthesis. They are looked on less negatively than in the past, though the opposition is still considered a difficult aspect. The Sun and Moon are in opposition monthly during the Full Moon
The traditional minor aspects, introduced by the famed astronomer/astrologer Johannes Kepler in the 16th Century AD, were long considered to be of relatively secondary importance, although many modern astrologers are not in agreement with this. These included the quincunx (150°), semisquare (45°), sesquiquadrate (135°), semisextile (30°), quintile (72°), and biquintile (144°).
More progressive research-oriented schools like Cosmobiology or Uranian astrology (Hamburg School of Astrology) consider the semisquare and sesquiquadrate to be relatively "major" aspects while the traditional sextile (60°) and trine (120°) are thought to be relatively "minor" in influence — this based on current research rather than historical documents or beliefs. Astrologers using Cosmobiology and Uranian/Hamburg Astrology work with many more minor aspects than were used prior to 1970, i.e. multiples of 15° (15°, 75°, 105°, & 165°) and multiples of 22.5° (22.5°, 67.5°, 112.5°, & 157.5°).
The sextile and quincunx (inconjunct) are considered as the 'border' aspects in-between major and minor ones. Most of the astrologers consider the sextile (60°) as major aspect, while a quite a noticeable group uses the quincunx aspect (150°) as major, while only a very small minority considers the inconjunct (30°) as a major aspect. All major aspects, along with these three 'border' aspects, are called the 'Ptolemaic aspects'.
Quincunx — major/minor aspect
(or inconjunct, abrv. Inc) is an angle of 150°, which is five-twelfths of the 360° ecliptic. A separation of 150±2° is considered a quincunx. The quincunx is said to be of moderate but somewhat unpredictable influence, bringing strain. It indicates difficulty and stress, due to incompatible elements being forced together. It can mean an area of self neglect in a person's life (especially health), or obligations being forced on a person. This aspect is also sometimes called the inconjunct
, though this usage is technically incorrect.
(abrv. SSq) is an angle of 45° (1/2 of a square [90°]). A separation of 45±2° is considered a semisquare. This aspect is considered a weaker version of the square and indicates somewhat difficult circumstance. It is sometimes known as the octile
The sesquiquadrate (abrv. Ses) is an angle of 135° (a square [90°] + a semisquare [45°]). A separation of 135±2° is considered a sesquiquadrate; it indicates somewhat stressful conditions. it is considered similar in influence to the semisquare. The sesquiquadrate is sometimes called a sesquisquare
, and/or trioctile
The semi-sextile (abrv. SSx) is an angle of 30° (1/2 of a sextile [60°]). A separation of 30±2° is considered a semisextile. This aspect signifies a weak strain connected with making decisions, and indicates an area of life where a conscious effort to be positive will have to be made. Alternate names include confinis
(abrv. QNt or Qui) is an angle of 72°, i.e. the angle for a regular pentagon
. A separation of 72±2° is considered a quintile. This aspect is considered somewhat similar to a semisextile (moderately beneficial), but effort is not needed to reap its benefits. Indicates talent and vaguely fortunate circumstances.
(abrv. BQt or BQn) is an angle of 144° (a quintile [72°] x 2 = 144°). A separation of 144±2° is considered a biquintile. This is considered similar to a quintile.
Additional aspects used, though not commonly, in astrology.
These aspects are based on the division of the circle of the zodiac by seven.
The septile (abrv. Sep) is an angle of 51.428571°, one-seventh of the circle of the zodiac. It is supposed to be aspected to have irrational relations between its constituent components but confer the hidden underlying nature and deeper destiny of them
The biseptile (abrv. BSp) is an angle of 102.857143°. This aspect is considered the externalized septile.
The triseptile (abrv. TSp) is an angle of 154.285714°.
These aspects are based on the division of the circle of the zodiac by nine.
The novile (abrv. Nov), also known as a nonagon
, is an angle of 40°, one-ninth of the circle of the zodiac. The novile is said to represent a constriction between the aspects that can be unlocked and used as a catalyst to self-enhancement.
The binovile (abrv. BNv) is an angle of 80°.
The quadnovile (abrv. QNv), also known as a quadrinovile
, is an angle of 160°.
These aspects are based on the division of the circle of the zodiac by ten and are related to the 5th-harmonic aspects (the quintile and biquintile).
The semiquintile (abrv. SQn), also known as a decile
, is an angle of 36°, one-tenth of the circle of the zodiac. This aspect is said to impart ability to help others
The sesquiquintile, or tridecile
, is an angle of 108°, which is supposed to confer a social creativity or the need for withdrawal and introspection needed for external originality. This aspect is also known as the quintile-and-a-half
The semi-decile (abrv. SD), or vigintile
, is an angle of 18°, one-twentieth of the circle of the zodiac, or half a decile.
These aspects are based on the division of the circle of the zodiac by eleven.
The undecim (abrv. Und), also known as the undecimal
, is one-eleventh of the zodiac circle or an angle of 32.727272°; in addition there are biundecim (65.454544°), triundecim (98.181816°), quadriundecim (130.90908°) and quinqueundecim (163.63636°). The undecim is said to be associated with social consciousness and the ability to reach beyond oneself for help.
These aspects are based on the division of the zodiac by fourteen and are related to the 7th-harmonic aspects (septile, biseptile and triseptile). They are said to have a sense of empowerment about them arising from the correct use of structure.
The semiseptile (which has also been called quattuordecimal
) is an angle of 25.714286°, one-fourteenth of the circle of the zodiac, or half a septile. It is said to have to do with giving up what one has completed in order to move on to the next cycle of activity.
The tresemiseptile is an angle of 77.142858°, three-fourteenths of the circle of the zodiac.
The quinsemiseptile is an angle of 128.57143°, five-fourteenths of the circle of the zodiac.
These aspects are based on the division of the circle of the zodiac by sixteen and are related to the 8th-harmonic aspects (semisquare and sesquiquadrate). All are considered "hard" or "stress" aspects. Many Uranian astrologers use only the semioctile and its multiple aspects, including the sesquioctile and 112.5° and 157.5° aspects, claiming that they are not "minor."
The semioctile is an angle of 22.5°, one-sixteenth of the circle of the zodiac.
The sesquioctile is an angle of 67.5°.
These aspects are based on the division of the circle of the zodiac by twenty-four. Some Hamburg School astrologers consider multiples of the quattuorvigintile, including the squile, squine, and quindecile, aspects.
The quattuorvigintile is an angle of 15°, one-24th of the zodiac circle.
The squile is an angle of 75°, considered a hybrid between a square and a sextile.
The squine is an angle of 105°, considered a hybrid between a square and a trine.
The quindecile (also known as the johndro
) is an angle of 165°. It is supposed to be associated with an unrelenting headstrong determination, with disruption and upheaval.
) are two other aspects, which refer to degrees of declination
above or below the ecliptic
. They are considered strong influences, though not much research has gone into studying these particular aspects.
- Parallel: same degree± 1-degree 12-minutes of arc. This is similar to a conjunction, but usually provides benefits.
- Contraparallel: opposite degree± 1-degree 12-minute of arc. Said to be similar to the opposition, but weaker.
References and further reading