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The Basics of Astrology
Astrological Aspects, Their Orb and Meaning
In astrology, an aspect is defined by the angular distance between two planets. The nature of the aspect depends on the number of degrees separating the two planets.
Aspects are of utmost importance in assessing the natal chart because they help in identifying the nature of the relationship, whether hard or soft, between the energies released by the planets involved, which constitutes all the complexity and richness of the personality.
Aspects express themselves more or less strongly according to their importance, or lack of. Moreover, angles between planets never exactly match the standard definition of aspects. Thus, the exactness of the aspect, referred to as "orb" in astrology, is to be considered. If the orb is tight (almost exact aspect), the aspect is more powerful. If the planets are linked by a wide orb aspect, their influence is less strong. Each aspect is allowed a different orb, and traditionally, some astrology schools assign them slightly differing coefficients.
In natal charts, usually accepted orbs (exactness of aspect) are 9 to 10 degrees for oppositions and conjunctions, 7 to 9 degrees for trines and squares, 4 to 6 degrees for sextiles, 2 degrees for quincunxes and sesqui-squares, around 1 degree for semi-sextiles and semi-squares, and often 0.5 to 1 degree for quintiles and their family (semi-quintiles and bi-quintiles).
Much smaller orbs are used in forecasting and synastry works because these techniques require that aspects be more exact if they are to be efficient.
In our programs, we take 11 aspects: the Conjunction, the Opposition, the Trine, the Sextile, the Square, the Semi-Sextile, the Semi-Square, the Sesqui-Square, the Quincunx, the Quintile, and the Bi-Quintile.
With the search by astrological aspects tool, you can find hundreds of thousands examples of aspects, available in the horoscopes of the Astrotheme Database.
Orbs used for natal charts
We do not apply extra weighting to differentiate among personal planets, trans-saturnian planets, etc. because we think that many visitors are interested in seeing all the aspects and that differences are not significant. A wider orb is given to luminaries, i.e. the Sun and the Moon, and 0.3 degree is added for all aspects (the orb is wider by 18 minutes when the Sun or the Moon is involved, and by 36 minutes for Sun-Moon aspects).
Regarding the fictitious points that are the lunar nodes and Lilith, the orb is limited to 3 degrees on the sky map display, whatever the aspect.
Orbs used for compatibility charts
Orbs used for transits charts
In the forecasts based on transits, we take into account major aspects only (conjunction, opposition, trine, square, and sextile). We give an extra orb of 0.1 degree (6 minutes) to the transiting luminaries.
Here are the major aspects that may be found:
As indicated by its name, it is formed when two planets are on the same degree, or when they are very close to each other. The conjunction takes a positive or negative influence, depending on the other aspects formed. It can also be neutral. It may also depend on the nature of the two planets involved. Its function is to combine and blend the characteristics of the planets' energies.
The aspect connects two planets posited 180 degrees apart, and thus, in two complementary signs. Such planets are said to be in opposition. They are in contradiction with each other and try to gain the upper hand on the other one, which results in the native's being psychologically torn between the two poles of the opposition. Traditionally, it is considered a negative aspect since it brings about tensions, but it allows to evolve if one strives to master its contrasts. At maturity, it is possible to turn the tension into an asset and strength by harmoniously blending the characteristics of the two planets so connected.
It is formed when two planets are posited in signs belonging to the same element, and thus compatible. Such planets support each other and create a feeling of well-being and easiness since they are in harmony with each other. It is an aspect of good luck and psychological comfort. However, it favours self-indulgence and passivity. Indeed, too much easiness is no incentive to effort...As indicated by its name, it is formed when two planets are on the same degree, or when they are very close to each other.
It is formed when two planets are posited 60 degrees apart. Like the trine, it is beneficial and is a factor of harmony between the planets involved. However, its effects are more concrete than with the trine and are expressed more outwardly. In practice, this aspect is considered the aspect of communication par excellence. The planets involved perfectly and actively exchange their energies.
It is formed when two planets are 90 degrees apart. Like the opposition, it is an aspect of tension, with the planets in constant conflict, and the native strongly feeling their struggle. In order to overcome them, he must continuously fight against the difficulties set by their energies. The aspect endows with strength and the ability to overcome a great many hurdles in life, provided that the person has much courage and tenacity. Leaders and people with exceptional destinies often have many squares in their natal chart. Squares prevent them from keeping still and prompt them to continuously move ahead, create, and evolve, since immobility is difficult to bear when such constant tensions crop up. The square is the most interesting aspect, even though it is obviously desirable to also have a few soft aspects such as sextiles and trines.
There are also minor aspects. They are less important than the major aspects, but they help to fine-tune the chart analysis.
They are the semi-sextile, the semi-square, the sesqui-square, the quincunx, the quintile, the bi-quintile etc.).
The semi-sextile is a 30 degree-aspect considered rather harmonious. Actually, it proves quite delicate because two adjacent signs are always very different from each other, and you can have fun checking them out.
The Quintile and Bi-Quintile
The quintile is a very positive aspect which is formed when two planets are 72 degrees apart. It is of a spiritual nature, and when its exactness (the orb) is narrow (less than half a degree, preferably), it plays out as powerfully as a sextile or a trine, and with an even stronger impact. The quintile family also includes the semi-quintile (36 degrees) and the bi-quintile (144 degrees), which are soft aspects too, with the difference that they are generally less used.
The Semi-Square and Sesqui-Square
The semi-square (45 degrees) and the sesqui-square (135 degrees) are minor aspects of tension like the square, and as such, they make the native move ahead and evolve, but in a less intense way than the square.
The Quincunx or Inconjunct
Lastly, there is the quincunx (sometimes named inconjunct), where planets are 150 degrees apart, a very interesting aspect which takes its nature from both the trine and the square. It unites two energies of different elements and modalities, blends their characteristics, and offers their assets to the native, but on condition that on the one hand, he accepts to put up the required efforts, and on the other hand, that the planets involved are not of opposite nature, and preferably, that they are complementary (Mars and Venus, Mercury and Uranus, the Sun and the Moon, etc.).
The aspects in chart comparisons or Synastry
In our compatibility reports for example, we use ALL the aspects mentioned here, i.e. eleven astrological aspects which are all processed in view of the final assessment of the couple's compatibility indexes and planetary dominants. Kindly take note of the following pieces of information:
Tensions play out differently in a natal chart than in a compatibility analysis between two charts.
So, in synastry work (the relationship between two persons), oppositions are considered complementarity in most cases when the involved planets are not of a contrary nature (Mars/Saturn, Moon/Mars, Venus/Saturn, for instance).
A panoply of harmonious and clashing pairs of planets is thus created, and is used to carry out the calculations of compatibility indexes.
Regarding squares and sesqui-squares, it is obvious that there are tensions, and as with any tension, they manifest themselves as attractions at the beginning. Over time, tensions become difficult to deal with for both partners.
Finally the quincunx or inconjunct (150 degrees between two objects) is a very interesting aspect, which derives from both the nature of the trine and the square; it combines two energies which will then be able to mix their characteristics to bring to the subject their assets, but on condition that the latter agrees to make an effort necessary for this, but also that the involved planets are of non contradictory natures and complementary (Mars and Venus, Mercury and Uranus, Sun and Moon etc.) The aspect becomes in this case slightly positive, only for the synastry, according to the couple of objects concerned.
For example, an inconjunct Saturn Moon or Mars Moon will remain negative (interaspect of tension), but two Ascendants or two Suns may be considered beneficial, with weighting and caution. Astrotheme compatibility reports manage all these cases, and according to this pair of objects, the inconjunct is interpreted as an aspect of conciliation or tension, depending on the case: it is normal and on purpose.
Regarding multiple aspects, it is obvious that the most delicate challenge is to be able to properly deal with harmonious conjunctions which are also connected with tensions: the couple tends to get closer and idealises everything, but some sort of incomprehension may settle in a fatalistic way and drive the partners apart in spite of themselves, because of unexplained misunderstandings, since tensions do not allow them the time to do so.
There is quite a rare case, that of a planet which makes no aspect to any other planet. It is referred to as unaspected planet. Aspects to angles must not be taken into account for this peculiarity. Astrologers do not totally agree among themselves regarding the type of relevant aspects to be considered. Purists accept only the five major aspects (conjunction, opposition, trine, square, and sextile), whereas proponents of a looser rule take into account nine aspects (the five major aspects, but also the semi-sextile, the quincunx, the sesqui-square, and the semi-square), and in between, those who use seven aspects and exclude the sesqui-square and the semi-square. Usually, the quintile and the bi-quintile are left out because they are too minor aspects.
How is an unaspected planet interpreted? Most astrologers agree that a planet left to its own devices and having no link with the rest of the natal chart is an unbridled energy which has no outlet or diversion mechanism and can manifests in all its pureness and strength, especially when it receives a major transit, similarly to a wild horse reacting to its instinct only. Being unaspected does not constitute a personality facet strictly speaking, but it may be the cause of significant differences in the planet's expression as compared to its "regular" nature. For instance, a person with an unaspected Venus (one of the rarest case with only 1,5% of people, since the Sun, Mercury, and Venus are never very far from one another), may be abnormally affectionate, smiling, adorable, and seductive, in fits and starts. Someone with an unaspected Mars may at time turn into a quarrelsome or short-tempered warrior or an overly active entrepreneur whenever his Mars is hit by an important transit, and so forth for the ten planets of the natal chart. This configuration enables to explain a few unusual behaviours which elude the classical analysis of the natal chart.
A general remark: the nature of the planet indicates whether the fact of being unaspected is most likely to be a danger or an asset. It is usually considered that an unaspected Mars, Saturn, or Pluto is rather a danger when it starts to come into play. On the contrary, Jupiter and Venus are regarded as assets. Concerning Uranus and Neptune, they can yield the best as well as the worse, depending on the rest of the chart. As for the Sun, the Moon, and Mercury, the fact that they are unaspected is deemed rather positive, even though there is a danger of pride with the Sun, of laziness or passivity with the Moon, and of scattering or nervousness with Mercury.