An aspect is the precise distance between any two points in a horoscope. Usually aspects are formed between two planets, although aspects between any one planet and the angles (Ascendant, Descendant, MC and IC) are also considered. The more exact that an aspect is, the more important it is said to be according to astrological precedent and tradition. The difference between the exact aspect and the actual aspect is called the orb. The astrological aspects are noted in the central circle of the natal chart, where the different colours and symbols distinguish between the different aspects.
The aspects are used to establish how the planets combine to stimulate and moderate each other’s influence. They are divided into two categories, major or minor, and harmonious or tense. Generally, major aspects are much more powerful than the minor; but there are certain astrologers who place a greater than usual emphasis upon the minor aspects.
The tense aspects cause friction between the planets involved. This friction brings difficulties and problems, which may be psychological, environmental or a combination of the two. In coping with these problems many people experience failure, but some will be driven to overcome their difficulties and in the process develop their astrological potential. The harmonious aspects bring an easy relationship between the planets involved. They provide a helpful environment for innate abilities which the individual may take for granted, but fail to develop fully.
Each type of aspect, therefore, has two faces. The tense aspects bring difficulties which can result in great achievement, while the harmonious aspects bring easy conditions which can lead to wasted opportunities. It is preferable to have a balance of tense and harmonious aspects. Individuals with only harmonious aspects may have plenty of potential but no drive to develop it, while those with only tense aspects may lack the faith and optimism to overcome difficulties.
A sextile is an angle of 60°. A separation (orb) of 60±04° is considered a sextile. The sextile has been traditionally said to be similar in influence to the trine, but of less significance. It indicates ease of communication between the two elements involved, with compatibility and harmony between them, but only provides opportunity, requiring effort to gain its benefits. See information on the semi-sextile below.
A square (abrv. SQr or Squ) is an angle of 90° (1/4 of the 360° ecliptic, or 1/2 of an opposition [180°]). An orb of somewhere between 5° and 10° is usually allowed. As with the trine and the sextile, in the square, it is usually the outer or superior planet that has an effect on the inner or inferior one. Basically, the square’s energy is similar to that of a trine but it is intensified to such an extent that the energy is said to be stressful. For example, Mercury square Saturn indicates practicality and prudence with thoughts and communication, concentrating on practical matters. It is also indicative of caution in planning and other mental tasks. However, the square between those planets indicates mental restraint, excessive censoring of communication and overemphasis on trivial details. It also indicates pessimism and a stilted and fearful approach to life. The square is said to indicate strain, tension, frustration, inhibitions, disruption and inner conflict. However, it can become a source of energy and activation to a person determined to overcome limitations, presenting challenges to achievement and an opportunity to develop strength of character. See the information on the semi-square and sesquiquadrate below. The square is also sometimes known as the quartile.
A trine (abrv. Tri) is an angle of 120° (1/3 of the 360° ecliptic). A separation (orb) of 120±04° is considered a trine. The trine indicates harmony, and ease of expression, with the two elements reinforcing each other. The trine is a source of artistic and creative talent, which is innate. The trine has been traditionally assumed to be extremely beneficial, providing ease even if undeserved, but it can be a ‘line of least resistance’ to a person of weak character. Too many trines are said to make a person weak and unable to cope with adversity. Complacency can also prove to be a problem. Due to the harmony bestowed by the trine, the person may not feel the need to develop the gifts given by this aspect, thus it follows that the person has no need to satisfy a need and supply what is lacking because it is already satisfied from the time of his or her birth. The essential meaning of the trine is momentum. It thus indicates situations or conditions which continue as they are without much input of energy and that tend to build upon themselves. It shows accumulation or accretion,continuance, balance, increase, self-perpetuation and stability. Although the trine is generally considered a “soft” or “good” aspect, if the two planets involved are both malefic by nature, or are planets poorly conditioned in the horoscope under consideration, the aspect may indicate rather uncomfortable conditions which persist and build on themselves. The aspect is purely personal in nature, and shows a person as he acts independently of the world in pure self-expression. It is therefore said to indicate natural talent.
An opposition (abrv. Opp) is an angle of 180° (1/2 of the 360° ecliptic). An orb of somewhere between 5° and 10° is usually allowed. Oppositions are said to be the second most powerful aspect. It resembles the conjunction although the difference between them is that the opposition causes exaggeration as it is not unifying like the conjunction but instead exalted. So the fact that the opposition creates a dynamic and exalted energy between the planets involved isn’t as clearly negative as for instance the square, but it can be indicative of tension, conflict or confrontation, due to the between the two signs involved if not channeled constructively. If channeled constructively however the individual may use it as a creative and energetic power source. The Sun and Moon are in opposition monthly during the full moon.