Aspects In Astrology Describe How The Planets Connect With Each Other
Think of them like a vibe check.
On the most basic level, astrology is about a symbolic relationship between the planets and ourselves. In order to understand that relationship, however, we have to first look at the planets' relationships with one another. Interpreting aspects help you to better understand yourself, your connection to others, and how current energies affect you. So, what are the aspects in astrology, and what can they teach us? It's kind of like therapy; in order to gain a deeper insight into who you are, you first consider your relationship to your parents. Then, to go a little deeper, you look at your parents' relationship with each other and how that helped form your basic understanding of the world and your place in it. Got it?
“Aspects are basically the connection that two planets are making with one another,” Miami-based astrologer Valerie Mesa tells Elite Daily. “It’s how the planets are vibing with one another,” she continues. “Are they in harmony, are they in alignment, is there friction?” Aspects are also often described as the conversation planets are having with each other and their ability to blend energies and work together.
You'll often hear astrologers talk about the aspects when they say things like, "Jupiter is opposing Uranus this week," but that's astrology shorthand. Whenever they talk about planets in astrology, they’re talking about those planets’ positions in the zodiac, which is to say, the sign that planet is in. So when astrologers say "Jupiter is opposing Uranus," what they're really saying is that the sign Jupiter is in (Libra) is in opposition to the sign Uranus is in (Aries, because Libra and Aries are opposites on the zodiac wheel).
When you look at a circle chart, there are lines and angles running between signs and planets — these represent the aspects being made. A line straight across the graph is denoting an opposition, for example. While there are many types of aspects, astrologers typically focus on the major five: trines, sextiles, squares, conjunctions, and oppositions. These are further broken down into two categories, often called “hard” and “soft” aspects. However, professional astrologer Dalanah of the Moon Matters podcast says she prefers the terms “harmonic” and “dynamic” to avoid the negative connotations of dynamic aspects. Though they aren’t comfortable and flowy like harmonic aspects, dynamic aspects teach lessons and ultimately inspire growth.
Why Are Aspects In Astrology Important?
According to Dalanah, there are four main parts of astrology to look at in order to get the full picture. There are the zodiac signs, the planets, houses, and aspects, which “are really the ones that just give so much detail and refine the chart and really make it personal,” she previously told Elite Daily. “It’s really a relationship, and depending on the type of aspect that we’re looking at or analyzing, we can see different relationships or attitudes occurring between the placements that are involved.”
What’s more is that aspects can really remix your birth chart beyond the surface of what planets you have in which sign. Mesa offers the example of having your Mercury (planet of intellect and communication) in Libra. If that’s all you’re looking at, you could surmise that you have a Libra-esque diplomatic and laid back communication style. But the juice is in the aspects. “Let’s say that Mercury in Libra is in opposition with a Mars [aggression] in Aries [act now, think later],” Mesa offers. “That wouldn’t necessarily give [the chart holder] the whole Mercury in Libra title. On the contrary, the Mercury in Libra would have that influence stemming from the Mars.”
Are you getting this now? The aspects are the detailed explanations of the relationships between planets (and the signs they currently reside in), and knowing these details will help you understand the subtle nuances not only of your own birth chart, but of your horoscope and compatibility with others as well. In your birth chart, aspects can help you can better understand yourself, like the Libra Mercury example. With horoscopes, this is really just looking at what the planets are doing at any given time, so aspects here explain the energy of the day or week or year, depending on the planets involved. For synastry, aspects will detail your compatibility with another person and where you might have disagreements, passion, or harmony.
The Five Major Aspects In Astrology
A conjunction is the simplest aspect to picture. It’s when the planets are in the same place, in the same degree of the zodiac wheel (if you’re talking an exact conjunction). “A conjunction means that two planets are right on top of each other,” Dalanah previously told Elite Daily. “The energy is very blended and it’s very strong because you can think of it like two people sitting right next to each other having a conversation.”
It’s easy to imagine that two planets chilling in the same sign would make this a no-brainer harmonic aspect — but not so fast. According to Dalanah, conjunctions are neither harmonic or dynamic — it depends on which planets are involved. Just because they’re in close proximity doesn’t mean they're having a conversation about sunshine and rainbows. Planets are grouped into two categories: benefic and malefic. Benefics are the smooth-sailers, so to speak, while malefics want to push you and can come with more challenges (notice how neither is “good” or “bad”).
For example, if you have a conjunction between your sun and someone else’s sun, in general, there will be an immediate connection in your personalities. However, if you have malefics involved, the chat isn’t so flowy. Say two people have Jupiter (expansion) and Saturn (restriction) conjunct. “You have one person’s sense of expansion being or trying to be restricted by the other person,” Dalanah previously told Elite Daily. The same idea can be applied to your natal chart as well as planetary transits: Conjunctions between benefics can yield a nice rapport between planets, like the sun-moon conjunction during new moons, while malefic conjunctions may impart tension.
An opposition happens when planets are 180 degrees apart and is regarded as a dynamic aspect — which again, doesn’t mean bad. In fact, you want dynamic aspects, or else you wouldn’t have anything pushing you to grow and evolve. Having only harmonic aspects in your birth chart can make things a little too easy, according to Dalanah, and you might not feel like you ever need to get up and do anything. This is also true in relationships, according to to Alice Bell, British Vogue astrologer and host of Astrology and You podcast. “Hard” aspects are very common with couples. “There’s more of a dynamic, a lot of growth going on in the relationship,” she previously told Elite Daily, noting that a balance of both kinds of aspects is ideal.
The opposition actually has a motivating effect on people. Think of it as the love/hate aspect. When you meet someone you love and know deeply, they can often grate on you. The key is finding a common goal that makes both planets happy. With oppositions, the planets could not be further apart, and they are essentially in a stare-down of stubbornness with each other. They have completely opposing perspectives and aren’t interested in hearing each other out. It’s very much a collision of wills.
If there's opposition between two people, the tension can lead to positive results if both parties are willing to communicate and work with each other, as oppositions often provide each person with what the other is missing. In a natal chart, having an opposition between two planets can be whatever you make of it, but ultimately if internal conflicts are overcome, it works to benefit the individual in a massive way.
Oppositions occurring between two planets in real time could have people feeling a sort of intensity or uneasiness depending on which planets are showing down. For example, when the sun and the moon oppose each other, there’s a full moon. “That is a call for balance, but is also why we feel so heavy or uncomfortable, or that emotional intensity whenever there’s a full moon because the sun, our ego, is sitting directly across from the moon, which is our inner world,” Mesa previously told Elite Daily.
Another dynamic aspect, a square brings the tension. While an opposition can be seen as a direct combative energy between two enemies on either side, a square is like the planets square dancing around each other, avoiding getting too close. Their energies never line up because when one moves, the other does too. “Squares feel very gritty, like sandpaper,” offers Dalanah. They’re “very uncomfortable,” she adds.
A square results when two planets are in signs that are 90 degrees apart and share the same modality (cardinal, mutable, or fixed) but nothing else. They may both be security-craving fixed signs, for example, but the way one achieves that security makes no sense to the other and vice versa. “There’s often tension between those two planets,” Bell previously told Elite Daily, “which isn’t necessarily bad because you need tension to spur growth.”
Squares lead you to the breaking point, as the problems they bring up continue to resurface until you are forced to address them. These problems come from two completely different energies attempting to move in two different directions with the same amount of force. Let's say someone's Mars is square Venus in their birth chart; this person's sexual desires (i.e. spontaneity and independence) would run completely contradictory to what they need in a relationship (i.e. stability and family).
With couples, squares are extremely common, according to Bell. Often the signs will attract signs of the same modality, which is a formula for growth, introspection, and also sexual tension.
When you have squares forming with transits, there can be taut energy with the planets involved. For example, squares to the moon can have you feeling at odds with your emotions for a day or so, while squares between slow-moving celestial giants like Saturn (restriction) and Uranus (liberation) can indicate a longer-term period of global hardships and revolution.
A trine forms when two planets exist four signs apart, or 120 degrees, putting them in the same element. It's a harmonic aspect — in fact, it's probably the most harmonious aspect you can have. When two planets are trine, they are operating with the same agenda and are familiar with each other’s energy. It doesn’t take effort to understand each other here.
Trines can also indicate what you’re naturally good at and may take for granted, which is why they can also be notoriously unmotivating. Why try to fix what’s not broken? “Whenever there is a trine, despite it being so harmonious, it’s almost like you’re given that hall pass, but you still have to work with it,” Mesa previously told Elite Daily. “The doors are open, but it’s up to you to walk through that door.” The energy for each planet in a trine is easily accessible, in other words, because there’s no block at the “door” like there is in dynamic aspects.
The planets involved in a trine work together and flow with each other in a complementary way. If the moon is trine the sun, for example, you might just have a smooth, melodious day. Or if your Venus is trine another person's Mars, for instance, your sex life will be smooth sailing because your planet of love, beauty, and sensuality naturally understands and vibes with their planet of passion. Wherever you have trines in your natal chart can indicate an innate strength you have — for example, Mercury and the moon could indicate a natural ease when it comes to communicating your emotions.
The sextile occurs when two planets are two signs, or 60 degrees, apart. This is another harmonic aspect, though it’s not as in-your-face easy as a trine. It’s a subtle, happy little aspect. The energy a sextile brings to two planets is one of ease and cooperation. It's not exactly the strongest of aspects, but it's a friendly one. Two planets that might be completely different energetically are able to cooperate more easily when they're engaged in a sextile. As Dalanah previously put it, a sextile is like a nice chill time at a party where you’re going to have a good time, whereas a trine is a rager with a keg stand and everyone’s stoked about it.
When it comes to compatibility, sextiles point to where you and someone else innately get along with no fuss. The energies just work and might even fly under the radar because while they’re cooperative, they’re not loud about it. “It’s one of those things that you’re like, ‘It’s really nice that we have that,’” Dalanah previously told Elite Daily.
Within your own chart, a sextile shows where two planets can easily work together. For example, a trine with your sun and moon can indicate that your inner and outer worlds are in harmony and understand each other. When sextiles form between planets on a given day, there is easy, opportunistic energy happening, especially when Mercury, Venus, or Mars are at play, according to Mesa.
There are more aspects than these, but the major five are the most noticeable. Next time you take a look at the planets, analyzing the aspects will take all the black-and-white out of your interpretations, and you'll have a more nuanced, layered analysis of the energies at play. It'll be one that's just as layered and nuanced as your personality in life.
Valeria Mesa, professional astrologer, soul coach, and writer
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