Ok, so you’re reading an article by one of your favorite astrologers (in other words, me), and you love everything that she’s saying (thank you, I try) because her descriptions are so wise and on point (they really are) yet also cheeky, caustic, and slightly poetic (it’s a gift) — except she keeps mentioning these things called aspects. While this astrologer is amazing (stop, you’re making me blush), the words she’s using– square, conjunct, sextile, trine, opposition –kinda sound like something from your 9th grade Geometry class, and you want to know what f**k she’s talking about.
Don’t you worry ‘bout a thing, I got you covered. I’m decoding all that Geometry lingo, which is better known as the major aspects in astrology.
The technical definition of an aspect is as follows: “an angle the planets make to each other in the horoscope, also to the ascendant, midheaven, descendant, lower midheaven, and other points of astrological interest.” (Props to Wikipedia!)” And if you’re confused by this verbiage, here’s a better way to understand what the f**k aspects are and how they work.
Think of the horoscope as a theatrical play. The planets are the characters in that play, and the aspects are the characters’ dialogue. Some characters speak to one another in a soft, friendly, easygoing manner; while other actors don’t ever cross paths or, if they do, they’re harsh, tense, and discordant.
Planetary aspects can be all of these things: soft, easygoing, tense, discordant, and nonexistent. What determines the nature and existence of an aspect is the degree in which the planets are transiting or placed in the horoscope, which is a 360° circle of the zodiac. This circle is divided into twelve 30°sections.
Whew. Ok, now that we know the basic function of the astrological aspects, we can learn about the most common types, otherwise known as major aspects.
- Conjunction ☌ — A conjunction blends and intensifies the energies of the planets and the signs in which they are placed. Conjunctions are like having different characters in a play saying the same lines. They speak the same language, you know?
- Trine ⧍— A soft and smooth aspect, trines allow a harmonious flow of energy between planets. Their dialogue is easygoing, sympathetic, and usually quite upbeat.
- Sextile ⚹ — A soft yet stimulating aspect, sextiles allow planetary energies to flow in promising ways. The exchange of dialogue is productive and encouraging, with little disharmony or misunderstanding.
- Square ▧– Arguably the hardest aspect, the square creates seemingly irreconcilable conflict, as the planets want two different things. However, there’s immense potential for progress if the tension is overcome.
- Opposition ☍— Another hard aspect, oppositions mean the energies of the signs and planets are polarized or divided and are in need of balance and blending. The exchange is like an old married couple who are always bickering, but can eventually agree if they both compromise.
In Aspects and Personality, Karen Hamaker-Zondag describes aspects as astrological links that can “assist and stimulate or hinder and dampen” the interaction between planets, (4). These links are geometric angles that show us the distance between planets. The closer the angle, the more intense the aspect. To determine how close or how far an angle is from being exact, astrologers use what’s called an orb, which can vary anywhere from 0° to 1°’, depending on the astrologer. (I use 0-5°.)
So, if you’re reading in one of my incredibly astute astrology articles that mentions a Full Moon square Mars, you’ll know that Mars is no further than 5° from the Moon. The same rule applies to planets transiting your chart: if they are within 0-5° of your natal planets, they will be making an aspect!
Here are the degrees of each aspect:
- Conjunction — 0° occurs when planets are in the same sign. The planets occupy the same place in the horoscope.
- Trine — 120°, occurs when planets are in the same element, but in different signs. These are the signs that create 120° trine aspect to each other:
- Aries, Leo, Sagittarius
- Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn
- Gemini, Libra, Aquarius
- Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces
- Sextile — 60° occurs when planets are compatible but in different elements and signs. These are the signs that create a 60° sextile to each other:
- Aries, Gemini
- Taurus, Cancer
- Gemini, Leo
- Cancer, Virgo
- Leo, Libra
- Virgo, Scorpio
- Libra, Sagittarius
- Sagittarius, Aquarius
- Scorpio, Capricorn
- Capricorn, Pisces
- Aquarius, Aries
- Pisces, Taurus
- Square — 90° occurs when planets are in incompatible elements but in the same mode. These are the signs that create a 90° square each other:
- Aries, Cancer, Capricorn
- Taurus, Leo, Aquarius
- Gemini, Pisces, Virgo
- Cancer, Libra, Aries
- Leo, Scorpio, Taurus
- Virgo, Sagittarius, Gemini
- Libra, Capricorn, Cancer
- Scorpio, Aquarius, Leo
- Sagittarius, Pisces, Virgo,
- Capricorn, Aries, Libra
- Aquarius, Taurus, Scorpio
- Pisces, Gemini, Sagittarius
- Opposition — 180° occurs when planets are in the same mode and compatible elements. These are the signs that have an 180° opposition to each other:
- Aries & Libra
- Taurus & Scorpio
- Gemini & Sagittarius
- Cancer & Capricorn
- Leo & Aquarius
- Virgo & Pisces
And there you have it, Cosmic Cannibal’s guide to the major astrological aspects. Now you don’t have to wonder what the f**k I’m talking about anymore!