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The Llewellyn Encyclopedia

Astrological Aspects

This article was written by Llewellyn George on May 31, 2002
posted under Astrology

There is an angle between every two planets in the horoscope which is measured in degrees. When the angle produces a significant interaction between two or more planets, they are said to be "in aspect." The angles which give rise to the "major aspects" are produced by dividing a circle by
units of two and three (just as the zodiac is produced by such a division). These aspects are
The conjunction (zero degrees)
The sextile (30 degrees)
The square (90 degrees0
The trine (120 degrees)
The opposition (180 degrees)


In order for two planets to be in aspect to each other they must be within a certain distance of the exact angle division. This is called the "orb" of the aspect. Generally planets must be within five to twelve degrees of a perfect aspect for the effect to be noticeable. The larger orbs are reserved for the Sun, Moon, and for conjunctions and oppositions. The smaller orbs are allowed for Mercury, Venus and Mars, and for the less powerful aspects.

Additional aspects, often called minor aspects include the following:
Semi-sextile (30 degrees)
Semi-square (45 degrees)
Sesqui-quadrate (135 degrees)
Quincunx (150 degrees)

Aspects are either considered favorable or unfavorable, according to how harmoniously the two planets in the aspect function together. The favorable aspects are in the group of aspects that divide the circle by three, while the unfavorable are those that divide the circle by two. Of course, from a higher perspective one could not say that particular aspects were better or worse. It is merely a question of how these aspects are felt by the average person.

How the Main Aspects Work
Conjunction relates to beginnings and endings of cycles, and therefore indicates prominence.

Square produces a "fight" between planets, with each one wanting to control and direct the behavior of the other.

Opposition indicates a stand-off where it is impossible for two planets to function simultaneously. There is not a fight here, but an inability for the two to function at
the same time.

Trine harmonizes the functioning of different planets so that they sympathize with each other. When one is called forth to work, the other can aid it.

Sextiles are based on a division by three and two, and indicate a sympathetic partnership between planets which, however, may demand some conscious attunement in order to function.

Quincunx works in a way which is quite different from the square or opposition. The influence is
more subtle, but often more powerful than these or any other aspects. It creates a feeling of opposition, yet requires synthesis.


How the Parts of the Chart Work Together
The signs are the "organs" of our physical and psychological bodies. The planets, by placement channel the energy of the signs they occupy. The aspects show the interaction between the planets. The horoscope reveals how the personality relates to the environment surrounding it and to the spiritual elements which constitute its internal self, but not the spiritual character of that inner self per se. The components of astrology are based on the laws and truths of creation. They were placed by the Creator God in our environment to show the truths and laws of creation. We were place in our environment to learn these things.

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