Energetic Astrology: Aspects, Or, The Many Ways We Interact
Earth spins and revolves and the universe expands and the movement of breath in and out of the body means that we humans exist in the ever-changing pulse of expansion and contraction and so too are never not in motion. We may appear still, but we are never, ever still, as energy moves and balance requires perpetual adjustment. There’s so much talk about energy and the myriad ways that it supposedly moves that sometimes I get a little sick of the vagaries of the word energy and at this point I’ll mention that last week was the most work-intensive, demanding, mentally-activated week of, perhaps, my life. Read: What the fuck. During the five or six days of intense focus, concentration, and forward momentum via deadlines, personal projects, emails, planning, on and on — my mood fluctuated between amazement at my seemingly superhuman powers and lazer-focus numbed-out, if that’s a mood. In short, I was unaware of my mood, the moon, my emotions, physical body, because I was in the muck of getting these various projects done. Something had to give and something gave.
After the contraction comes release (Venus) and my body reminded me that it’s impossible to stay in lazer-beam-concentration-mode forever (Mars). I walked my dog, looked at the pink trees, remembered to pay attention to my breath, looked at photographs of my grandparents (recently deceased) and cried. I cried for no particular reason and every possible reason and once I began, my body continued as if it didn’t even need me and so I released, gave up, stayed with the heaves and tears because where else was I going to go?
This is all to say that the intelligence of energy move us, moves through us, in dynamic ways and the mind can’t fool it. I wanted to keep working but I could not. The body wants, nay demands, different kinds of attention and it forces us to embody them if we resist. You know how you find yourself leaning in to some people — physically, when they speak — and you just want to be closer and closer? Other people, you retract from. And with still others, you neither lean in nor retract back. This is some energetic intel and it’s neither inherently positive or negative (that’s where the mind comes in).
Enter astrology and its myriad aspects, geometries, energetic movements, and archetypal teachings. I study astrology in part because of its specificity of language and this whole preceding story is to say that I want to begin to decode for you, in my own language and astrological terms, what we call aspects in astrology. It can feel like another language because it is and as such, adds another layer of understanding, nuance, and intrigue to the daily life stuff, an inventory of ancient names for our leanings to and fro.
An aspect refers to an angle that two or more planets form in the sky, translated into an astrological chart. In other terms, aspects are relationships between planets (and also other points in the chart, such as the midheaven). Certain friendships feel differently than other friendships. Likewise, certain rooms, relationships, mornings, altitudes, cups of coffee, feel differently than others and it can be difficult to bring these differing feelings down to Earth, to ascribe meaning to the myriad ways we come together and move apart. Sometimes it shows up as a bodily feeling — a stomach flutter or an ache in the chest, a strange tingle at the back of the head. Other times it’s emotional and we call it love or adoration and still other times it’s disdain, envy, annoyance, or more likely, some combination of many of these descriptors.
Just as we learn more from certain people than from others, and just as certain relationships are easier and other relationships demanding — the aspects, or the ways in which the planets interact with each other in an astrological chart, tells a nuanced story of potential — potential for ease, growth, hardship, physical and emotional intensity, softness, and everything in between. You don’t need to have a firm understanding of the aspects to get something out of an astrological reading or to understand the energy of your birth chart, just like you don’t need to mentally grasp the reasons you feel at ease with someone and contracted around someone else, or perhaps that same person but at a different point in time. Using language to contain and elevate the energetics of astrology can help us understand ourselves, the planets, and some of the whys and ways we interact, come together, and separate. Contact. Release. Yes, we know that “it’s all energy.” But the aspects tell us how much, what kind, and what we can do with it. I’ll go over the major aspects of astrology here. There are medium and minor ones too, for another day.
The zero degree angle. You know when something is so close you can’t see it? A conjunction refers to two planets acting as a team. They are together and their energies blend. In a natal chart, if you have two planets in conjunction, it might be difficult for you to distinguish their energies. I think of a conjunction as that intimate and wonderful time in a partnership where you get so close that you can be totally yourself with your partner. The shadow side of this phase is that you perhaps stop noticing them in the same way, as you’re immune to some of the specifics that originally drew you in. When someone is across from you (opposition) you can see them clearly. When someone is right next to you, or zero degrees away from you, you start to mesh. Conjunctions can be beneficial when we’re aware of them, as we can use this coziness for good. When unaware, it can show up as complacency.
The sexile happens when planets are 60 degrees apart. It’s a more energized version of a trine (below). Sextiles indicate ease, natural talent, and positive ways to use the energies. The sextile is pure potential, as the planets are inspiring and spurring each other on, instead of holding each other back. It’s like a team mentality — a collective flow.
A trine is a flow-state that happens when three planets form a 120 degree angle with each other. Trines show up as second nature, natural abilities, talents that are so ingrained in us that other people recognize them, though we ourselves may not. Trines typically show up with planets in the same element i.e. a water trine, fire trine, earth trine, or air trine. Trines are aspects of ourselves that we’ve accepted and integrated unconsciously. They can be a blind spot or a detriment if you don’t harness or use them. When harnessed, they’re that total flow state of ease and pleasure.
Squares are tense, hard aspects. Squares are similar to oppositions (below) but are more demanding and in fact require some kind of action. Planets squaring each other in a natal chart indicate a crisis of some kind, a call to action. While this may sound negative, it can actually give way to insight, increased meaning, and serious wisdom. Think about someone who has been through a ton of awful shit but is fully aware of it. When you keep your eyes open in the underworld, the above-ground world seems bright and so, you glow. The square energy can be damaging when not harnessed and used for motivation. Real life example: When I started having seizures at the age of 19, I was in a crisis state (I also have lots of squares in my chart) and I let the energy bulldoze me for a while, operating from a place of fear. When I realized I could harness this excess electricity and use it for intuitive capabilities (work in progress), while also getting curious about epilepsy and seizures and stepping into this harsh energy, I was motivated and spurred to lifelong action. Don’t fear the square. Likewise, the people who we feel this square with — this tension — often help us grow and see our own flaws.
Two planetary energies are opposed or separated from each other, i.e. the two celestial bodies appear opposite each other from our POV on Earth. When you divide a circle into two parts, you still need both parts to make the whole. Opposition is polarity is conversation, as in the north and south poles. They lie opposite each other but are always in conversation and you can’t have one without the other. Together, they create our magnetism. In a chart, two opposing planets are 180 degrees from each other (and the closer to 180, the more intense). Likewise, a planet that’s in transition could be opposing your moon, for instance. This is the love that burns, not the love that soothes. There’s a lot to be gained from harnessing oppositions and so step into it.