What Conjunction, Trine, Square, Opposition, And Sextile Mean In Astrology & Birth Charts
Astrology studies the movement of and relationships between the planets and other celestial bodies — and, of course, how they influence us Earth babies and our daily lives. If you're an avid astrology addict (or even just consistent in reading your daily horoscope on the train every morning), you've almost certainly come across words like "trine" or "square" in the description of planets and how they're affecting us. These transiting relationships are called aspects, and the major aspects in astrology are super important when it comes to understanding exactly how the movement of planets in the sky affects us.
So, what are aspects in astrology? As you know, each planet has their own unique "personality" and set of qualities and regions of our life that they rule over. But the way they affect us has to do with what sign they're located in at any given time, as well as the relationships they're currently in with other important planets and celestial bodies. These relationships are known as aspects, and they're represented by the angles planets form with each other on the zodiac wheel. I know the word "angles" takes me back to high school geometry in the worst way, but we can handle a little math for the sake of astrology, right? So here's the deal: Each aspect is associated with an angle on the zodiac wheel. "The major aspects are 0° (conjunction), 60° (sextile), 90° (square), 120° (trine), and 180° (opposition)," explained Astro Library on its site. You can see these degrees visually represented on an astrological wheel.
Aspects are essential when it comes to interpreting astrology, as they can totally change the influence and meaning of a planetary placement. "When planets are in aspect to each other, their interpretations must be blended according to the nature of the aspect," continued Astro Library. Are two planets cozying up to one another in a harmonious conjunction? Are they fighting with each other in a harsh-feeling square? For example, even though Venus is the ~planet of love~ and associated with positive qualities, if it's in difficult aspect with another planet, like Saturn for example, it could cause some upset in our love lives instead of bestowing us with its pure Venusian goodness.
Of the five major aspects, some are considered hard aspects, or angles that bring about more difficulty and discord. Those are opposition and square. The easy aspects (sometimes known as soft aspects) are sextile and trine, and are considered to be gentler, and more positive and auspicious. A conjunction isn't generally aligned with either category, considering the strong potential for it to go in either direction depending on the planets involved. But remember, none of this is written in stone: You can certainly have a helpful square or an unproductive trine. It's all in the details, so we can't over-generalize too much.
While there are many different aspects that planets can find themselves in at any given time (not to mention so many more factors to consider with each aspect than could ever fit in a single article), these five biggies are a really good place to start. Bustle spoke with astrologer Lisa Stardust and she chimed in about the must-know major aspects in astrology, too. You know your sun, moon, and rising signs; you know about the twelve astrological houses, and now you're about to know all about major aspects, too. Happy stargazing!
"[A] conjunction [is] when two different planets link up together in the same sign," explains Stardust to Bustle. This hyper-focused aspect, which obviously occurs when two planets are zero degrees apart, blends the qualities of the two (or more) planets and makes their combined energy in the particular sign they're sharing extra intense and expressed. If the qualities of the planets involved work well together and are generally positive, it's a great aspect, full of potential for high-energy and action. But if the planets don't get along so well or bring heavier, more negative vibes, then being trapped in the same lil' sign together can cause some discord or amplify the dark feels.
This easy aspect is fun, full of good vibes, and undoubtedly positive. "Sextile [is] a friendly and flirty aspect, between signs that are 60 degrees apart," Stardust tells Bustle. "Usually [they occur] between Fire and Air Signs, and Earth and Water Signs." In most cases, a sextile means the sun in shining, the birds are chirping, and the situations at hand are happy ones. It's a nice break from the stress that other transits can bring and can offer a nice opportunity to chill. The thing about the sextile aspect, though, is that while it is certainly a harmonious one, it's not the most action-oriented, so don't expect it to bring the energy for major shift.
Trines, formed by a 120° angle on the chart, are generally considered the best and most auspicious aspect of them all, bringing luck, harmony, major synchronicity, and potential for positive changes. "The simplest way to understand a trine is understanding the elements. A trine occurs when planets in the same element (fire, earth, air, and water) aspect each other," Stardust tells Bustle. "It’s a soft aspect, like a gentle breeze." So if you look at the zodiac wheel, all the signs of a single element are placed 120° apart, hence why planets trine each other will always share an element. When planets are working within the signs of the same element, it's bound to make things easier to work with. "Trines are positive aspects that produce a positive outcome," continues Stardust. "The only issue is that they can be a little lazy in achieving their goals." The easy-like-Sunday-morning, good-vibes-only flow of a trine can sometimes result in the energy being a little too at ease and so not taking enough initiative is one thing to look out for. Trines are to be taken advantage of!
Get ready for a lil' bit of drama, because just like the shape itself, a square aspect is chock-full of hard angles and sharp corners, so caution is advised. "A square is an intense aspect, which often dictates action," explains Stardust to Bustle. "Contrary to their reputation, squares are not necessarily bad. They just show that work will be involved in producing the favored outcome." Considered one of the decidedly hard aspects at 90°, a square is bound to produce tension. But this aspect simply illuminates a stressy situation that can be resolved with compromise and effort. By putting in the work and resisting the urge to be stubborn, the square aspect can be an opportunity to find a resolution to an issue — even if it's challenging to do so.
Lastly, let's talk oppositions, which — you guessed it — occur when planets are fully opposite each other on the zodiac wheel (angling at 180°). "An opposition occurs when two planets are in opposing signs, meaning they are found on opposite sides of the axis," explains Stardust. With a whole zodiac wheel between them, opposing planets are as far apart in the chart as can be — and feeling so far away and foreign, this aspect can make it difficult for them to come together in harmony. Their wants, needs, and ideas may feel just as opposing as their placement, as each planet will be influenced by an opposite zodiac sign. That said, it's not all bad. Opposites can attract, so by seeking a balance of the planets' energies and trying to work symbiotically, we can make an opposition run smoothly.