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Planetary Aspects

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Subject: Planetary Aspects
By Glaucus
Planetary Aspects are some of the most insightful and specific sources
of information in a person's chart. For a person who is trying to get
a good grasp on planets, signs, and houses, apects can appear to be
the straw that will break the camel's back. And yet, anyone who has
studied Astrology in depth will tell you that they are worth the extra
effort. The information offered by a knowledge of aspects is really
pretty amazing.

Just what are aspects in the first place? Basically, aspects are
geometry in action. For those of you who never thought geometry could
possibly have a practical application in life, aspects offer just such
a practical application. Don't worry! There won't be any Pythagorean
Theorems here!  And there won't be any quizzes either!

All you really have to remember are a couple of basic geometric shapes
like squares, triangles, and hexagons. If you have your chart handy,
take a look at it. What you have is a circle cut into 12 segments like
a pie, and a few glyphs which represent planets sprinkled around the
outer edge of the pie, I mean circle. That circle can be broken up
into 360 degrees, as can any circle. Imagine dividing that circle into
4 pieces of exactly the same size.  Divide 360 by 4 (the number of
sides in a square), and you find that 1/4 of a circle is 90
degrees. This is the number of degrees in a Square aspect. This means
that if 2 planets in a person's chart are approximately 90 degrees
apart, they are in a square aspect. The following table will give you
the number of degrees in the 5 major aspects:

     Conjunction      0 degrees
     Sextile         60
     Square          90
     Trine          120
     Opposition     180

There are other aspects but these 5 are the most basic in meaning as
well as the ones with the strongest effects. It is very seldom that a
person will have an EXACT aspect in their chart, that is, 2 planets
which are separated by the EXACT number of degrees specified. The
amount of variation that is allowed for any particular aspect, or ORB,
is a matter of much discussion and disagreement among
Astrologers. Some Astrologers use wide, or large orbs, and others are
more conservative, allowing only narrow orbs when they consider the
nature of an aspect. There are also many factors that might expand
orshrink an orb for a particular aspect. In other words, it isn't
really possible to say exactly what number of degrees a person should
consider when determining an aspect. As far as the aspects above are
concerned, a good approximation of an allowable orb to use for the
Conjunction, Square, Opposition and Trine would be 8 degrees. The
average orb for a sextile, would be 5 degrees. In other words, using
the square as an example, if two planets fall between 82 and 98
degrees apart from one another, you would consider them to be in a
square aspect. As I hope I have made perfectly clear, these are only
guidelines and can be modified depending on conditions.

When considering the meaning of an aspect one must consider the nature
of the planets involved as well as the aspect that they make to each
other. For example, a square aspect between the Sun and Mars will mean
something entirely different than a square between the Moon and
Mars. Before one can determine the meanings of a particular aspect,
one must really understand the meanings of each of the planets
individually. It is as if the two planets involved are the subject and
direct object of a sentence, while the aspect is the verb. So let's
get to the verbs.

In a person's chart, 2 or more planets in conjunction will all be
clustered together, as if they were children playing musical chairs
and all trying to sit in the same chair at the same time. A
conjunction is a true blending of the energies of the planets
involved. It is as if you took 2 buckets of different colors of paint
and dumped them together and mixed them well.  While a conjunction is
usually considered to be a positive aspect, there is a certain
nebulous quality associated with it. It is not always easy for a
person with a conjunction to recognize the qualities of the
conjunction because the affects are so innate that the person who has
them, fails to recognize them. It's as if the person with the
conjunction is colorblind, and until they come to understand that
their perception is in fact different than that of other people, they
have no concept that there is anything peculiar or special about the
way they see or experience reality. With the conjunction, more than
any of the other apects, it depends on the nature of the two (or more)
planets involved whether the overall affect of the conjunction is
"positive" or "negative". Using the buckets of paint analogy above, it
depends on the 2 (or more) colors involved whether you come up with a
beautiful shade of blue or a loud garish dayglo orange or perhaps a
rather boring brown.

Squares are the most fundamental of the challenging aspects. 2 planets
in square aspect are in some sort of conflict. Many times a person
with a square aspect will sort of jump back and forth between the
planets involved, manifesting one at one time and the other at another
time, but never seeming to get the 2 working together. Relating the 2
planets to each other is a constant struggle, which is why in the
early days of Astrology, a square was considered to be an
"unfortunate" aspect. This is because often a square will manifest as
a problem which is seemingly without solution. And yet, if a person is
faced with the same problem day after day, they may come up with a
creative solution to that problem, one that makes the best use of the
2 energies and sort of harnesses them together. The fact of the matter
is that a square is a very dynamic aspect, one that spurs a person
onward into motion. A square introduces the concept of resistance, so
that no solution or compromise comes without some degree of struggle
and hopefully GROWTH as well. A square cannot be ignored. It has to be
dealt with effectively or the problem it represents will return again
and again and again. Kind of like the swallows returning to Capistrano
every year, and watch out for those bird droppings!!!!

Oppositions are also dynamic, as are squares, but the energies while
literally pulling in opposite directions seem to be a little easier to
integrate than with the squares. This is like 2 (or more) people
playing tug-of-war only the rope is YOU! Such concepts as polarity,
strife and conflict are matched with other concepts like partnership
and cooperation.  Oppositions are inducers of change because the
person with an opposition is constantly confronted with two
alternatives throughout their life.  Everything involving the 2 (or
more) planets involved in the opposition is an either/or proposition,
but unlike the square, the opposition seems to offer more
opportunities for compromise. The conflict here, perhaps, because it
is actually stronger than the square, is easier to recognize and
perhaps that is why it becomes easier to resolve. Oppositions are
really opposite to conjunctions in that they instill a certain degree
of objectivity and insight that the conjunctions totally lack. Unlike
the conjunctions which are so innate that the person may have trouble
recognizing them, the opposition manifests in such a way that a person
realizes quite early on HOW the opposition is manifesting in their
life. Maybe it's because a person who is being pulled in two
directions at once like a tug-of-war rope, experiences PAIN that makes
it fairly obvious that something is going on.

In traditional Astrology Squares were the bad guys and trines were not
just the good guys, They were the DARLINGS, the cosmic gift, the
wonderful showers of talents and goodness raining from the heavens
like those fabled pennies and OF COURSE the umbrella is indeed upside
down. And LOOK over there, isn't that just the most vivid and
wonderful rainbow you ever did see!!!! And isn't that a pot of gold at
the end? Well forget about these pennies! Well, after that build-up
I'm sure you'll be scouring your chart for trines and even counting
ones that are a little "wide". Come on now!  20 degrees is really
stretching it a bit! The fact of the matter is that as beneficent as
trines can be, they do in fact have a downside as well. The problem
with the great gifts and talents that a trine can bestow, is that
these very talents are often taken for granted and not used and
developed as they might be. Unlike a square or an opposition, a trine
is rather passive by nature, and a person may just never get around to
taking advantage of these great blessings. Trines, nor any other
aspects for that matter, do not occur in a vacuum and often a planet
that trines one planet will also be squaring or opposing another
planet and this usually provides the extra push to develop the latent
talent that the trine represents. Just remember that while you're
gazing lovingly at your trines and counting your multitudinous
blessings, talents that aren't used, aren't really talents at all.

Sextiles are often considered to be "little trines" also beneficial by
nature, but less intensely wonderful than the trine. The sextile
aspect involves dividing a circle into 6 parts, and the number 6
actually is the product of 2 x 3 so that it contains a bit of the
trine and a bit of the opposition in it. It is therefore a little more
dynamic than the trine, and is therefore more easily manifested and
USED by the person who has them.  The sextile connotates a bit of
organization and ability as well as just the raw talent of the
trine. Because there is a bit of a challenge implied in the sextile,
the quality of the sextile lends itself more easily to the concept of
an "Opportunity" rather than an innate talent as with the trine. Using
the "Pennies from Heaven" analogy that I used with the trine above,
the person with the sextile also has their umbrella upside-down, but
the sextile person has a couple of holes in their umbrella, so they
have to concentrate more closely on what they're doing. But a person
who is overly "blessed" with sextiles might have the same sorts of
problems with expressing the talents as a person with many trines

Aspects, then, add a bit of spice to the lives of the planets in our
chart.  Charts usually manifest many types of aspects and while a
difficult square or oppostion may tend to dominate the flavor of what
is going on, but one mustn't focus entirely on the problems and
challenges without giving oneself credit for the talents also
represented. And it never hurts to remember that it takes challenge
and sometimes struggle to manifest one's talents.

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