Law for Interpreting Aspects

My favorite law for interpreting aspects is:

The planets in the signs represent the basic urges toward expression and needs for fulfillment, but the aspects reveal the actual state of the energy flow and thus how much personal effort is needed in order to express a particular urge or to fulfill a particular need.

In other words, a particular aspect does not tell us if a person will experience or achieve something specific; but it does tell us how much effort will be required, in a relative sense, to achieve a given result. This is an interpretive guideline that is worth studying in depth and remembering. It is absolutely crucial to understand this law if one is going to interpret aspects accurately and subtly.

The Major Aspects

Here are some guidelines for the interpretation of the major aspects:*

CONJUNCTION (0°): Any conjunction in an individual chart should be regarded as important, since it indicates an intense merging and interaction of two life energies. The most powerful of all conjunctions are those involving one of the "personal planets" (Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, and Mars) or the Ascendant. Such conjunctions always characterize particularly strong modes of energy flow and personal expression (by planet and sign) and dominant emphases in the person's life (by house). The keynote of the conjunction is action and self-projection.

SEMI-SEXTILE (30°): This is traditionally considered a minor aspect, but at times it can be more noticeable even than the conjunction, depending upon the planets involved and the other aspects to the two planets. Planets in semi-sextile are constantly interacting and building on the energy of each other. They do not usually generate the stress of a square and are in fact usually gentler in effect than the quincunx, but they are persistent and almost always in evidence if the aspect is quite close.

SEXTILE (60°): The sextile seems to be an aspect of openness to the new: new people, new ideas, new attitudes; and it symbolizes the potential for making new connections with either people or ideas that can ultimately lead to new learning. This aspect usually involves signs of harmonious elements, and thus compatible energies. The sextile shows an area of life where one can cultivate not only a new level of understanding but also a greater degree of objectivity which can lead to a feeling of great freedom. It indicates an automatic, natural attunement and sometimes a definite skill.

*I consider all multiples of 30° to be "major" aspects, in contrast to most astrological textbooks, which treat the semi-sextile and quincunx as minor aspects. In many people, a semi-sextile or quincunx may be more obvious or active than a trine.

SQUARE (90°): The square usually involves planets in inharmonious elements and thus calls forth significant effort in order to integrate such divergent energies. Any close square involving one of the personal planets represents a major life challenge. A square aspect shows where energy must be released, usually through action of a definite sort, in order that a new structure may be built. Many astrologers have written that the square aspect has the nature of Saturn: it represents what you have to deal with. Another Saturnian feature related to the square is fear, for we are often afraid of dealing with whatever is symbolized by the squares in our charts. Fearing challenge restricts the energy available to deal effectively with whatever problem is at hand.

TRINE (120°): A trine aspect represents an easy flow of energy into established channels of expression. One does not need to build a new structure or to make marked adjustments in one's life in order to utilize this energy creatively. The planets involved in the trine reveal dimensions of life and specific energies which are naturally integrated and which flow together harmoniously. (Note that trines are commonly between signs of the same element, which is the basis for the harmony of energies.) Such an aspect often shows a way of being, however, rather than a way of doing; one often takes for granted the abilities and talents shown by the trine and thus sometimes does not feel challenged to make the effort required to use the energy constructively.

QUINCUNX (or INCONJUNCT) (150°): This aspect indicates a strong flow of energy between those dimensions of life symbolized by the planets involved, but the individual may feel that the experience of those energies is too compulsive or consistently annoying. It is difficult to remain aware of both energies simultaneously, and one usually has to make a conscious, concerted effort to do so. Note that the quincunx aspect usually involves signs that are not only of inharmonious elements but also of different modalities. (E.g., a quincunx between planets in Gemini and Capricorn involves mutable Air and cardinal Earth— quite a dissimilarity but potentially a combination of deep understanding and practical skill.) It is important to be aware of both energies, because it often seems that the expression of each of the two factors involved is dependent upon the other. Thus, if one is not conscious of both energies, one of them may interfere with the other, causing a problem because the energies are not well integrated. Dealing with this aspect effectively requires discrimination in subtly adjusting one's approach to those areas of life rather than trying to force a solution.

OPPOSITION (180°): The opposition, particularly since it usually involves planets in harmonious elements, indicates a degree of over-stimulation in the person's energy field which often manifests as a feeling of being caught in the middle of completely opposite tendencies. This is usually felt most directly as a constant challenge in the area of personal relationships. There is often a marked lack of objectivity since the individual tends to engage in' 'projection'' of different sides of his or her nature onto others; and thus there is some difficulty in distinguishing what is yours and what is somebody else's. Having an opposition in one's chart is similar to being stretched between two contrasting, sometimes contradictory tendencies. Opposite signs are similar in many ways and in fact complementary, but there is no denying that they are also totally opposed in many ways.

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