A star chart can be thought of as an opera: the ascendant sets the stage, while the planets act as the main players. But what of those chaotic lines in between, linking the planets? Welcome to the world of aspects, which indicate supportive or challenging relationships among your key archetypes. Consider these the duets and set pieces of the show. Often, these lines form their own geometric arrangements, consisting of triangles, crosses, cradles and other spectacular formations. But what do these shapes mean for you and your chart? Consult our comprehensive guide to aspect patterns, below.
Sure, the placement of planets in signs and houses offers you plenty of information. But by understanding how your planets are interacting with one another, you’ll really delve into the great narrative arcs of your chart.
At 60° apart, two nearby planets offer each other gentle support. Consider it a lift from a nearby friend. Usually, they’ll be in complementary elements, i.e. water and earth, fire, and air.
At 90° apart, two planets clash at a hard angle. They’ll usually be in the same sign modality (Cardinal refers to Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn; Fixed girlies include Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius; Mutable is Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces), at three signs apart. Consider this a backseat driver placement, as one planet calls out the other, forcing it to take command, compromise, or give up at the wheel.
At 120° apart, two planets, usually of the same element (Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius are fire; Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn are earth; Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius are air; Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces are water) team-up, arming each-other with wisdom, knowledge, and back-up.
Oppositions: At 180° apart, two planets, likely in the same modality, go off. This is a classic, archetypal showdown in Cloud City. It may lead to a deadlock, or force the growth required to fulfill your destiny.
HOW DO ASPECT PATTERNS WORK?
Most charts will have multiple aspects, and when they converge and connect, we see beautiful shapes take form. These complex geometric formations help bring the central crises and characteristics of your chart to realization. In some cases, they’ll force catharsis through carnage; in others, they’ll reveal where your greatest power (and blindness) is concentrated.
There are many known aspect patterns, and some which have yet to be named. More important than any learned value is what you see. What do these shapes evoke for you? Do you see harmony, stagnation, climax, or conflict? What do they unite in your chart? What do they make you feel? Use our guide as a launchpoint, but don’t be afraid to come up with your own meaning.
The Sextile Pattern is a common-occurring arrangement. Two trining planets both sextile a third, forming a nice, harmonious triangle. That central planet will be bolstered, strengthened, and supported by its two wingmen.
A Trapeze, or Cradle, puts sextile patterns to use as part of a bigger story. This time, two planets oppose each other. The two planets in opposition are trined and supported by two others. Imagine the opposing planets as the wide end of a trapezoid, and the supportive planets as the shorter base. The trined and sextiled planets lift up the two planets in opposition, facilitating some sort of interchange, dialogue, and inevitable understanding between them. Whatever opposition is at the center of this will likely be intense, definitive, and ever-raging. By recruiting the supporting planets, you can move beyond the old story.
When three planets trine one another, all from within the same element, they form a Grand Trine. Not everyone feels fully aligned with the element of their sun sign, but those with a grand trine act as absolute elemental emissaries. One who possesses a grand fire trine is well-armed for creation, conflict, and action. They may also be short-sighted, anxious, and apoplectic. Grand earth trines promise strength, solidity, and the force to stick one’s landing every time. But with so much earth activation, change of any kind will likely feel devastating. A grand water trine is tapped into the empathic and intuitive on an elevated level. If they repress their subtle body, they’re in for a world of pain; and once they’ve tapped into it, they may be too sensitive for the quotidian awfulness of things. Finally, a grand air trine blasts open the doors of the mind and its faculties…which may make it difficult to come down to earth.
The next evolution of a grand trine is a Kite formation, which adds a pleasing sextile pattern to the end of the pyramid. Now, the trine has a natural direction, made by an opposition from the top of the sextile pattern to the peak of the grand trine. This opposition points the chart towards some higher purpose. Your gifts are put to use, to shape whichever planet tops the kite. More commonly we see this arrangement cut in half. With a Sail, an opposition is bolstered by a third planet, trining and sextiling the opponents. This helps break up the fight, or give it some constructive momentum.
Count on T-Squares to show up in the charts of those who have persevered, triumphed, and become legends: think Tina Turner, Oprah Winfrey and Princess Diana). This time, we encounter a pyramid made entirely of challenging aspects: two planets oppose each other, and then both square a third. The planets in opposition may be locked in place, unyielding and stagnated. But the third planet acts as the peak of the volcano, the pressure release valve, or explosive climax to the crisis. T-Squares force a confrontation, catharsis, and, hopefully, a resolution. With this placement, there is a way through. It will be worth it, but it won’t be easy.
A Grand Square unites four squaring planets. A Grand Cross unites two pairs of opposing planets. These two promise overwhelming contradiction, insecurity, and volatility. Just when you think one part of your life is safe, the big bad wolf will come to blow it down. These placements will find balance with age, as one learns to master their limits and understand the extremes which could level them. In these arrangements, all involved planets act as climactic players in the saga, which is to say: every conflicting aspect of your life and persona is necessary to your ultimate liberation. By trying to prize one aspect and shove the other into the closet, you only invite a demon to bust through the door. Integration is your assignment, and it’s not one which can be completed in a day.
Count on Yods, known majestically as the “Finger of God” to ramp up the drama. This time, two planets in a sextile both form quincunx aspects — in which they clash with another planet at a 150° angle. Essentially, it’s two well-aligned planets pointing sharply to the uncomfortable “chosen one.” A fatalistic quality pervades the proceedings here, as one receives a clear assignment about where to direct their gifts and drives.
The beautiful Mystic Rectangle is made of two oppositions, with support from two trines and two sextiles. This formation binds four corners of one’s chart together, creating a dialogue between the personal and the global, the internal and the spiritual. Those with mystic triangles must put their talents to the immediate service of the higher collective. By coming to inner harmony, they then act as balancers, or emissaries, for the forces in the world around them.