Planetary Aspects

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As we discussed earlier, the Babylonians began studying astrology primarily to help them accurately predict which days were going to be historic or significant. But after they began to study astrology, the Babylonians became much more ambitious. They wanted to be able to predict not just whether certain days were going to be historic, but also precisely and exactly why the day would be. For example, would a particular day be a day of peace or of war? And what would be the destiny of a person born on that day?

The Babylonians studied astrology for thousands of years to try to discern the answers to such questions, but they never did fully achieve their goal. As we mentioned, it was impossible for them to do so because they did not know about Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto-and they did not know about Chiron. You simply cannot accurately predict what will happen without knowing about these planets. But while the Babylonian astrologers were trying to achieve their goal, they did succeed in discovering PLANETARY ASPECTS. A planetary aspect is a meaningful alignment of just two planets. Let us explain the details of how they are formed.

We all know that the planets are constantly moving around and around in the Earth sky. After thousands of years of observation and looking for celestial signs, the Babylonians discovered that whenever any two planets were aligned in the sky in such a way that the angle between them was any one of seven specific angles, then the chance of an uncommon event occurring was very high. The Babylonians called the alignments of two such planets a planetary aspect. Modern astrologers simplify the term, and we often just call them ASPECTS. An aspect occurs whenever any two planets are aligned in the Earth sky at any of the following seven angles:

0 degrees 30 degrees 60 degrees 90 degrees 120 degrees 150 degrees 180 degrees called a conjunction called a semi-sextile called a sextile called a square called a trine called a quincunx called an opposition

Figure 4A at the end of this chapter is intended to help you understand how aspects are formed. Please look at this figure and note that the circle is marked off at each of the above seven different angles, from 0 degrees to 180 degrees. As the planets move around in the sky, if any two planets are positioned so that the angle of their alignment is any of these seven angles, then the two planets form what astrologers call a planetary aspect The angle is measured by drawing a line from the Earth to each of the planets, then measuring the angle of these two lines. When measuring the angle between two planets in a circle, there are always two possible angles; the sum of both of these angles always equals 360 degrees. When measuring the angle of an aspect, astrologers always use the smaller angle. Therefore, there is never an aspect greater than 180 degrees because astrologers always use the smaller angle.

The seven angles that can create aspects were very special to the Babylonians, and they are called ASPECT-ANGLES. Since every one of them is divisible by the number 30, we sometimes refer to them collectively as 30-DEGREE-TYPE ANGLES. To the Babylonian astrologers, whenever two planets were aligned at any of the above seven aspect-angles, a planetary aspect was formed, and that was a celestial sign that an uncommon event would occur.

Planetary aspects are so important that we want to make certain you understand them, so we will explain them again. Bear in mind that the planets are constantly moving around and around in the sky. As they move, the angle of alignment between any two planets will change. A planetary aspect occurs whenever any two planets are aligned in the sky such that they are both in the same degree of the same zodiac constellation (sign), or the two planets are in the same degree of any two different zodiac constellations. When two planets are aligned in this manner, they MATCH DEGREES, meaning that the two planets are in the same degree of the constellations (or signs), and form a planetary aspect. Planetary aspects are the simplest type of Planetary Geometry. Intricate Planetary Geometry is comprised of several individual aspects.

The Planetary Geometry created by a single aspect is just a line connecting the two planets. To get this line, we simply draw a line between the two planets that form an aspect, just as we drew lines in the charts with Grand Trines or T-squares in the last chapter. For example, every line in Figure 4B represents a planetary aspect and connects the planets that form the aspect.

The Babylonians discovered that whenever two planets matched degrees (formed an aspect), it was consequential, and an uncommon event would probably occur. The uncommon event would not be as important as when several planets formed a symmetrical pattern, such as a Grand Trine. Therefore, when planets matched degrees, it was viewed as a sort of MINI-SIGN as opposed to a celestial sign. The Babylonians chose to call these mini-signs by the term planetary aspect The discovery of planetary aspects was monumental because it led the Babylonians to another discovery. They found out that when there was a planetary aspect formed in the sky, they could sometimes predict what would happen depending on which two planets formed the aspect. They found out that different types of things happened during planetary aspects, and the type of thing that happened was dependent on which two planets formed the aspect. This led to their next discovery, called PLANETARY SYMBOLISMS.

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