Lately I’ve decided to take on a more general approach when discussing aspects in the natal chart. The reason behind is that, regardless of the aspects linking two planets, the archetypes remain.
Now the application greatly depends on several things (such as the rulers in the chart, the overall aspects, the energies, dominants), but one of the greatest distinctions is the nature of the aspect linking two planets.
There is a huge misunderstanding when discussing the aspects in the natal chart; which is square=bad and trine=good. There is no good or bad aspect, and I’m not saying this out of pure coyness, I’m saying this because it’s fundamentally true and seeing things from another point of view tends to build an alternative reality.
There are plenty of examples of people with squares doing just fine and people with trine doing not so fine. The main different between a “bad” and a “good” aspect, is that the “bad” one is accompanied with conflicts, crises, challenges. Sure, if given the chance, you’d rather take the quiet path rather than the tumultuous one, but you’re not given the chance and now that you have a square or any other aspect, we’d be better off discussing it objectively and see how to deal with it right?
The aspects below are the one I consider, at the moment, major aspects. I included the orbs I usually use to “qualify” an aspect.
Conjunction (0° - 7° apart): When two planets are conjunct, their energy are blended and often create a third one, mixed with the two planets. When you see a conjunction you need to determine which planet has the upper hand (by the nature of the planets, by their position is house and sign). For example, if your Pluto is conjunct your Venus; bulldozer Pluto definitely has the upper hand on soft Venus. If you have a Sun-Mars conjunction, if it’s in the 1st House Mars is prominent, if it’s in the 5th Sun has the upper hand. This helps when trying to understand an aspect. The conjunction is in my opinion a packed source of energy; powerful, it generates lots of action and events in our life.
Sextile (60° - 65° apart): The sextile linking two planets indicates that the two planets are working together harmoniously; but they aren’t sweating much. I think of it as a very psychological aspect, having the capacity to reflect, having the capacity to build intellectually, having awareness. When triggered by transit you do get positive outcomes. I’d call the sextile a “bridge” type of energy.
Square (90° - 97° apart): The square is a crisis, a block on the road. It can be internal (incapacity to release something, to understand something, to work on something, lack of awareness of something), or it can be external (being forcefully removed, blocked, stopped, challenged, crossed). Now in real life, what happens if something really doesn’t work, if someone blocks you or forces you to do something? It produces a reaction. Often the first reaction is a shock, anger, sadness, and incomprehension; but afterwards comes the strength; you’re forced to find a solution to your problem and from there comes growth. Now if you don’t have squares in your chart, you’ll sure get some in transits.
Now if you’re not self-aware, if you persist in not understanding the nature of the events happening to you, their reasons, their meaning, and if you don’t take actions, you get stuck in the “shock” phase and you miss out on the “growth” phase. It really is up to everyone to take on the lessons they’re given, that is where free will comes into play.
Trine (120° - 125° apart): The trine produces plenty of positive energy, luck, gifts, and easiness. With the trine you understand intellectually how to work with the two planets and you’re able to use it in the physical world. It’s like being born in a loving, stable and supporting family. You grow up as a kid with everything you need to have a great happy life; it’s great, it’s wonderful. Sometimes though we find people that had such easiness in their life that, instead of taking advantage of this lucky starter pack, they end up resting on their assets, becoming lazy about it, wasting away their significant advantage. Trines can go either way, depending on the whole chart and the free will. Having a few square help giving enough energy to pursue and grow (same goes for synastry, lack of challenging aspects is a lack of energy).
Quincunx (150° - 153° apart): The quincunx brings a lot of awkwardness and internal struggle within the person. I see this aspect as purely psychological; you feel as if two parts of you are completely different and incompatible, you’re conflicted and you tend to dissociate yourself, compartment your life in order to fulfill all parts of you that can’t seem to get along with each other. You send mixed signals to the people around you because you are profoundly mixed inside. Several quincunxes in the natal chart can feel really hard, as if you were broken in several parts that you struggle putting back together. You’re learning flexibility, adaptability.
Opposition (180° - 187° apart): With the opposition you feel pulled between two poles, two needs, and you may find it hard to find the middle ground, the harmonic point that allows to bring those two opposite energies together. An opposition is a challenging aspect but there is lots of opportunities here as well for growth and compromise. This is the reason why oppositions work so well in synastry: You can be different (even within yourself) and still smooth things out by finding a middle ground. If you don’t do the work, if you stay rather unaware of yourself, your flaws, your needs for growth, an opposition can be erratic and challenging for yourself. You’re learning cooperation.
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