This post is originally from late April, 2011… I’ve changed most of the text to reflect our current sky but if you’re trying to learn and you’d like to read more / see more examples, you can read the original post here. Happy Stars!
17 November 2011
“Aspects” are the way planets communicate with each other, they describe what kind of contacts the planets are making to each other up above. Aspects are an epic part of what determines the weather going on up in the sky. Some aspects are considered “soft” (read: enabling) and some are considered “hard” (read: challenging).
The easiest aspects to understand are the conjunction, and the opposition. A conjunction is when two planets are very close together in a chart. Right now, Mercury and Venus are “conjunct” in Sagittarius.
There are thirty degrees to every sign. Think of it like time: there are 60 minutes to an hour, just like there are 30 “minutes” (degrees) to every sign. Right now Venus is at 19 degrees of Sagittarius, just ahead of Mercury, at 17 degrees. (Sagittarius is the 9th sign, so think of it like Mercury is at 9:17 and Venus just ahead at 9:19). This conjunction would only be “exact” if they were both at 9:17 or 9:19, but it’s close enough (2 degrees) to have an effect.
Traditionally, a conjunction is considered a “hard” aspect. But it really depends on the planets involved. When two planets are in the same spot in a chart, their energies blend. Take Venus and Mercury: Venus attracts; Mercury communicates. A conjunction between the two could manifest as everything from lots of talk or Gossip (Mercury) about the love stuff (Venus), to meeting (Mercury) someone you’re attracted to (Venus). Since this conjunction is in Sagittarius, that energy is also involved: it’s blunt to the point of honesty and possibly a bit loud and obnoxious but ultimately, it’s all about the experience, L-I-V-I-N.
The most frequent conjunction is the New Moon, which happens at least once a month, when the Sun and the Moon merge in the sky. The next New Moon is also in Sagittarius, at 2 degrees (9:02) late this Thanksgiving night (10:10 pm pst).
An opposition is when two planets are on opposite ends of the chart. Right now, the Moon is in Leo, the sign directly across from Aquarius. The Moon is at 15 degrees of Leo, Neptune at 28 degrees Aquarius. But the Moon moves fast, and will be at 28 degrees Leo by late tomorrow morning (11:06 am pst). At that point, the opposition between the Moon in Leo and Neptune in Aquarius will be exact.
Again, oppositions are considered hard aspects, but it really depends on the planets involved. The Moon moves so fast that it can make several aspects during the course of one day. The Moon brings emotions, it’s “moody”. Neptune is daydreams and movies and escapism. These two actually play quite well off of each other, although it might not be the best weather for gettin’ things done. It’s much better for creative stuff and taking a step back to fantasize. But don’t forget how quickly the Moon moves on. Any aspect involving the transiting Moon is pretty much a passing emotion).
The most frequent opposition is the Full Moon, which happens at least once a month, when the Sun and Moon are on opposite sides of the zodiac. So the Full Moon in Leo always happens when the Sun is in Aquarius.
The soft aspects are the “Trine” and the “Sextile”. A Trine is when planets are 120 degrees apart. An easier way to picture this is by remembering the Elements: Fire signs trine Fire signs, Earth signs trine Earth, etc. Trines are enabling; they work easily together like BFFs. That’s why Leo is supposed to get along great with Aries and Sagittarius: Aries and Sagittarius are the other fire signs. It’s as simple as that.
Right now the Mars is in Virgo, an Earth sign, and Pluto is in Capricorn, another Earth sign. Mars is at 3 degrees Virgo and Pluto is at 5 degrees Capricorn. Again, just like with Venus and Mercury, they are technically trine, but the aspect won’t be exact until early next Wednesday morning, when Mars catches up to Pluto at the end of the 5th degree.
Again, this is traditionally considered a soft, or an “easy” aspect, but it can have negative consequences as well. Mars is energy and Jupiter is expansion. Mars trine Jupiter could energize the lucky stuff, but it could also exacerbate (Jupiter) anger or violence (Mars). With astrology, you have to watch to see how things will manifest.
A Sextile is when two planets are 60 degrees apart. Again, look to the Elements: Water and Earth signs are in sextile aspect to each other, as are Fire and Air signs. So again, that’s why Taurus and Cancer are traditionally “compatible” in all the literature that you read: Taurus is Earth, Cancer is Water, they’re sextile.
Sextiles are not as strong as trines, but they do bring opportunity, if you look for it. Remember our current Moon in Leo? That’s a Fire sign, so it’s opposite one Air sign (Aquarius) and trine the other two (Gemini and Libra). Saturn is currently at the 24th degree of Libra, so the Moon will be sextiling Saturn when it too reaches the 24th degree of Leo, the sign it’s in. That’s early tomorrow morning (4:28 am pst), just a few hours before the Moon’s opposition with Neptune at the 28th degree.
The last of the major hard aspects is called a Square. Squares are 90 degrees apart. An easier way to picture the square is by remembering the Qualities. Each Quality includes four signs (one of each element). Those four signs together form their own square:
Look just to the left of where Noon would be on a clock - that’s Venus in Capricorn, the CardinalEarth sign. Directly opposite that is Neptune in Cancer, the Cardinal Water sign. To the left, at 9:00 is Jupiter in Aries, the Cardinal Fire sign and directly across, Uranus in Libra, the Cardinal Air sign. The Cardinal signs are: Aries / Libra / Cancer and Capricorn.
Cardinal signs Square (or oppose) the other Cardinal signs, Fixed signs Square (or oppose) Fixed signs, and Mutable signs Square (or oppose) Mutable signs. So that’s why your very most basic astrology would say that Aquarius and Scorpio aren’t compatible: they’re both stubborn, fixed signs. It absolutely never means any relationship is doomed. (Remember too, that that’s just the Sun they’re talking about, and we all have a whole lot more to our charts!)
Squares are like corners: they force things. You get backed into a corner, so something has to change. Let’s get back to the Moon in Leo, the Fixed Fire sign. It’s loosely opposing Neptune in Aquarius, the Fixed Air sign, but also loosely squaring Jupiter in Taurus, the Fixed Earth sign. (Remember, the Moon is at 15 degrees. Right now Jupiter is at 2 degrees - so this square is now separating and was exact when the Moon was also at 2 degrees, yesterday afternoon (1:33 pm pst).
The Moon is the mood and Jupiter is buoyant and optimistic - so even a square between the two is usually all about glass half full. There’s another super important, long term square going on in the sky right now, between the planets Uranus in Aries (the Cardinal Fire sign) and Pluto in Capricorn (the Cardinal Earth sign). That’s going to be going on for (seriously) at least the next three years. If you read this blog, or any blog that has anything at all to do with astrology, you’ll be hearing about it left and right. More on that square is here.
Still with me?
There are lots of other “minor” aspects that can be looked at (the quincunx, the semi-sextile, and on and on), but these are the best place to start. If you’re new to Astrology, don’t feel like you need to memorize every one of these this instant. Now that you’ve gotten a bit more familiar with what an “aspect” actually is, a few more things will start to fall in to place!
By all means let me know if you have any questions.
Be well out there y’all,