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Understanding Aspects In Astrology + What They Mean For Your Birth Chart

Sarah Regan
mbg Spirituality & Relationships Writer By Sarah Regan
mbg Spirituality & Relationships Writer
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Writer, and a registered yoga instructor. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from SUNY Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.
The Most & Least Lucky Aspects To Have On Your Zodiac Chart, From Astrologers
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Upon first glance at your birth chart, you may find yourself wondering, What are all those lines? The subsequent angles those lines create are known as "aspects," and they're important factors to your own astrological makeup. Here's what to know about aspects, plus how to understand them in your own birth chart, according to astrologers.

The planetary aspects of astrology.

The five major aspects in astrology are conjunctions, sextiles, squares, trines, and oppositions. We'll get into what each means later on, but essentially, an aspect represents a relationship between two planets' positions relative to each other (i.e., Sun conjunct Venus).

As astrologer and author of Queer Cosmos Colin Bedell explains to mbg, "Each relationship of an aspect talks to a particular theme—some that feel a little bit more tension, which can provide some opportunity for growth, and then other aspects can have a little bit more ease, which may offer some complementing energy."

We can identify these aspects within our own charts, but on a daily basis, the planets in the sky are always forming aspects, affecting the energy of the day. Aspects are also important when thinking about astrological compatibility between two people.

"The benefit of understanding aspects, even just a little, is that you may be able to have compassion for your squares, oppositions, and conjunctions (and the impact they have in your life)," astrologer Kayse Budd, M.D., explains, adding, "With knowledge, you can attempt to make peace with the way you are. Awareness allows you to highlight your strengths and work through your weaknesses."

With that in mind, here's a primer on the five major aspects you'll see on a chart and what they represent:

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Conjunctions.

A conjunction happens when two planets align with each other in the same sign (unless they are very near a cusp, the midway between two signs), close to the same degree, Budd explains, adding that exact conjunctions are the strongest.

When planets are conjunct, their energies blend, amplifying the themes associated with those planets and the sign they're in. "This is very important, as it can change the overall impact of that planet in a person's chart and life," Budd notes.

For example, if a person has Venus next to their sun, she says, this significantly influences their personality. "An Aries person, for example, with Venus next to their sun will be profoundly different than an Aries who has Mars next to their sun (or no planets next to their sun)," she adds.

While conjunctions are usually thought of as favorable, it can depend on the planets involved, according to Budd, who notes that conjunctions involving Venus or Jupiter are likely more beneficial than those involving Mars or Saturn, for instance. "But all conjunctions, even the challenging ones, serve a purpose in the life of a soul. They help us grow, they help us learn, and they give us certain traits and skills that are uniquely valuable to our journeys here," she tells mbg.

Sextiles.

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Sextiles occur when planets are 60 degrees (aka two signs) apart. "Because the signs two signs away from each other are complementary and 'get along,' sextiles are considered favorable connections," Budd explains, adding that the energies work harmoniously together. (The complementary signs are earth and water signs, or fire and air signs.)

"The signs and planets involved in sextiles usually reveal their positive energies or positive sides to each other and can be used synergistically," she notes. Mars involved in a sextile, for example, will usually give action, courage, and initiative to the other planet involved in the sextile, she adds.

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Squares.

Squares are often considered the most difficult, uncomfortable, or challenging aspect in astrology. They form when planets are 90 degrees (three signs) apart. The energies will clash because not only are the elements incompatible (water and air, for example), but the signs will also be under the same "modality" (cardinal, fixed, or mutable), so there can be some competition there.

As an example, someone could have Venus on their ascendant (rising sign). "This is a very favorable placement, but if it is squaring Saturn or Mars, it will behave completely differently than if it was forming a trine to Jupiter," Budd offers as an example.

"Squares will often result in the planets in question showing their challenging or shadow sides rather than their easy, favorable sides to each other," she explains. "The result is that squares create resistance, frustration, and conflict, [with] the more negative or dominant planet in the square usually exerting the more obvious influence."

While squares are challenging aspects, it's still important to acknowledge and work with them. As Budd says, they offer us an opportunity to bring our shadows into the light in order to heal.

Trines.

Trines are formed by planets that are 120 degrees (four signs) apart. Signs that are four signs apart are always the same element, which makes trines a more favorable and harmonious aspect. Budd notes they work together "even better than sextiles."

Having Venus (the planet of love) trine with Jupiter (the planet of luck), for example, could indicate you'll be lucky in love in your life.

There is also the possibility of having a "grand trine," which occurs when you have three planets forming an equilateral triangle on your chart. "If you have one planet in each sign in an element (within 120 +/- 10 degrees of each other), you have a grand trine, which is a major blessing and allows energy to flow easily between the three planets," Budd tells mbg. This results in "notable gifts" in these individuals, with the nature of those gifts being dependent on the planets and signs in question.

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Oppositions.

And last but not least, we have oppositions, which are formed when planets are 180 degrees apart. (You'll see they sit directly across from each other on your chart.) Budd notes this is generally considered a challenging aspect, though she personally finds them "a little easier" than the square. 

Oppositions can results in "seesaw" energy within someone's personality, Budd explains. "They may swing from one extreme to another, which can be uncomfortable or frustrating, but it is really pretty natural when people have multiple oppositions in their charts," she says.

Opposite signs do, however, exhibit elemental compatibility. "Earth signs are opposite water signs, and fire signs are opposite air signs. This is one reason I think oppositions are a bit easier to manage than squares." Budd explains, adding the key to managing an opposition is to tap into the elemental compatibility of the two planets.

Reading your birth chart.

In order to understand your birth chart, the main astrological concepts you'll want a handle on are the themes and energies associated with the 12 zodiac signs, the planets, the houses, and the aspects. Below you'll find quick refreshers on the planets and houses, and then we'll get into how to put it all together.

The planets:
  • Sun: Sense of self, identity, individuality
  • Moon: Inner world, intuition, emotions
  • Mercury: Communication, information, thought processes
  • Venus: Relationships, love, pleasure
  • Mars: Energy, action, aggression, sex
  • Jupiter: Luck, expansion, abundance
  • Saturn: Structure, discipline, maturity
  • Uranus: Innovation, change, future-oriented
  • Neptune: Subconscious, dreams, creativity
  • Pluto: Spirituality, death and rebirth, transformation
The houses:
  • 1st house: Beginnings, identity, outward appearance
  • 2nd house: Stability, money, self-worth
  • 3rd house: Communication, thinking, community
  • 4th house: Home, security, family
  • 5th house: Expression, creativity, fertility
  • 6th house: Health, organization, self-care
  • 7th house: Relationships, partnership (both romantic and business-oriented)
  • 8th house: Death and rebirth, sex, inner depths
  • 9th house: Expansion, growth, wisdom
  • 10th house: Legacy, status, achievement (also known as the "midheaven" or MC)
  • 11th house: Originality, collective efforts, friendship
  • 12th house: Endings, subconscious, surrender

Once you've identified your placements, you can start to look at the aspects that are formed. You can do this within your own chart, on a daily basis based on where the planets are that day, and when comparing your chart to someone else's in relationship astrology (aka synastry).

As modern mystic and author of Astrology SOS Imani Quinn previously explained to mbg, one way to interpret your birth chart and the aspects in it is to figure out whether the themes of the planets in question "work" together. For example, Venus and Mercury conjunct in Taurus, in the seventh house, would indicate an ease when it comes to partnership and expressing emotions.

Of course, it never hurts to get a professional chart reading if you're just getting started, so there's no room for misinterpretation. There are also resources online and through mobile apps that offer in-depth explanations for different aspects. Nevertheless, understanding these main concepts is a great place to get started.

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The bottom line.

If just knowing your sun sign isn't cutting it anymore, understanding the aspects in your chart will give you an even deeper understanding of your birth chart and, subsequently, yourself. And when you understand how those aspects influence your strengths and weaknesses, you'll be better equipped to work with them rather than against them.

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