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Astrological Aspects

The arrangement of the planets around the apparent circle of the sky means that they form angular relationships with each other, which are called aspects. The most obvious of these is the conjunction, where the two (or more) planets involved are next to one another. If their positions are exactly aligned with respect to the Zodiac, the conjunction is exact, but some leeway (called orb) is usually allowed, with the strength of the conjunction weakening as the distance increases, until it is no longer considered to be in effect. Generally with the conjunction and the major aspects (see below) an orb of up to eight degrees is used, and with the lesser aspects a smaller orb. Many astrologers allow greater leeway when the planets are closing towards an aspect (applying) than when they are separating from one. It is worth remembering that the apparent diameter of the full Moon or the disc of the Sun in the sky is about half a degree, while the two horns of Taurus or the lower two stars of the Plough or Big Dipper (the bottom of the saucepan) are about eight degrees apart.

The major aspects have a long history, while the minor ones are of more recent development, one of the greatest theoreticians and innovators being Johannes Kepler. The quintile is a twentieth-century development, as are others not mentioned here, including septiles, noviles and deciles, filling gaps in the division of the circle.

NameAngleDivision bySymbolSignificance
Conjunction 1Conjunctionblending, fusion of energies
Opposition 180° 2Oppositiontension, dynamism
Trine 120° 3Trineharmonious flow
Square 90° 4Squaretension, blockage
Sextile 60° 6Sextileharmonious flow
Semi-square 45° 8Semi-squaretension
Sesquiquadrate 135° 8x3Sesquiquadratetension
Semi-sextile 30° 12Semi-sextilestress, neutral
Quincunx 150° 12x5Quincunxstress
Quintile 72° 5Quintilecreative flow
Bi-quintile 144° 5x2Bi-quintilecreative flow

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Text and original images copyright © Neil Mann.