Is an Aspect Good or Bad?
One question I’m always asked as a professional astrologer is if a certain aspect in a chart is “good” or “bad”?
Whilst understandably disconcerting, the idea that there are good or bad patterns in a birth chart is a hang-up from the murky old days of astrology when life was understood in more absolute terms, and demons lurked behind many doors.
Dualistic ideas like heaven and hell, mind and body, male and female are being replaced with more progressive points of view that remind us – Living is a series of choices amongst a spectrum of potential outcomes.
In our modern era of personal development and conscious growth, there is no such thing as good or bad. Instead, there are are different ways of experiencing the same thing. Whether you perceive what happens as “good or bad” will essentially have a lot to do with you!
This is not to say that all things are equal. Astrology still upholds the idea that principles govern the world we live in and that striving to evolve is worth far more than settling for the easiest outcome.
With that said, let’s talk about the idea of aspects being “hard” or “soft”, “good or “bad”.
The most important thing you need to know is there is no such thing as a “good or bad aspect” in your chart.
Sure, some patterns are more challenging than others, and some features of your chart might not be what you would wish for, but hey – without challenge you can’t grow!
Like other astrological terms you may have encountered words like good and bad, hard and soft describe modes of expression. They are less about value judgements and more about nuance. One way to understand the complexity of life is to use apparently contradictory terms in order to describe a spectrum of experience existing in between.
Thinking along these lines, some aspects will work in soft (functional / flowing) ways, and others in hard (dysfunctional / challenging) ways. It is very useful to start to get used to the idea of looking at the planets in your chart as functional/dysfunctional as opposed to being good or bad, hard or easy.
If you find a pattern in your chart that seems to be dysfunctional, you can set about working on ways to change it. This is a much better than believing that you were born under a “bad star” that somehow dictates your fate!
Conversely, thinking that a good aspect in your chart will chase all your hardships away is just asking for trouble. Lots of people born with a Sun Moon trine for example waste the opportunities this could bring.
In the end, the planets don’t make you do anything. They just suggest the foundations of your personality and its up to you to make the most of things
The Five Major Aspects
As we discovered, the theory of aspects is derived from the interrelationship between planets as they appear in different signs, or the division of the circle of the Zodiac into geometric systems.
Another way of thinking about this is with the idea of “glances” – planets that are traditionally in aspect are said to be able to “behold” or glance at each other.
The ancient system of aspects was built on the notion that the planetary gods could see and therefore relate to each other in certain positions, and not see or influence each other in others.
There are therefore 5 traditional, major or Ptolemaic (after the astrologer Ptolemy) aspects that are used in Western astrology, and their influence is thought to the greatest.
As you will learn there are also other “minor” aspects which are commonly used today. But for now, we will focus on what are called the major aspects
There are 5 major aspects
Conjunction. 0-10 deg apart Same Sign Unify
Opposition. 180 deg apart Opposing Sign Oppose/Contrast
Trine. 120 deg apart Same element Blend
Square. 90 deg apart Same Quality Challenge/Frustrate
Sextile. 60 deg apart Same Polarity Harmonize
As you think about the aspects in your chart, it is useful to imagine real characters, people or situations you might know.
So an aspect between a planet in Aries versus one in Cancer might be imagined as a feisty, direct and self-starting character like a five year old wanting to run outside and play (Aries) versus a caring, protective and equally action-oriented character like Mum trying to put a jumper on before her child runs out (Cancer) and how they might interact.
Good Or Bad Aspects?
In essence, planets that are in easy aspect to each other will be in signs of the same element or polarity.
So a planet in Aries will have an easier relationship if it is in aspect to another planet in Gemini (yang) Leo (fire) Sagittarius (fire) or Aquarius (yang). The exception to this rule involves a planet in aspect to another planets in opposing signs (in this case Libra). You can learn more about how an opposition works here.
Similarly, planets that are in hard or challenging aspect to each other will be in the same quality.
So a planet in Aries will be in a hard aspect to another planet in Cancer, Libra or Capricorn. The easiest way we can think of this is to imagine that planets in the same quality have a similar agenda (Cardinal) but seek to go about expressing that agenda in different ways.
An Aries planet will want to take action in direct and assertive ways, whereas a planet in Cancer will want to take action in nurturing and supportive ways.
These two ways of being may not necessarily blend, and normally one planetary character will then try to dominate the other, just as two people in an argument will jostle for the superior position.
Learning to know “who is on top” takes practice and intuition, which will come in time. But we can make very clear and precise statements about a person’s temperament when we learn to blend various sign/planet/house energies through the system of aspects, identifying which planetary characters are most vocal or significant in the cosmic moment that the horoscope signifies.
If you are just starting out with astrology it is easy to become confused and potentially overwhelmed.
It can seem very confusing to bring everything together but if you look at the logic behind what you are doing, then aspects simply bring together everything you have learned about yourself so far.
As Clare Martin (Mapping The Psyche, Vol.1) says –
Aspects are about relationships. They are dynamic. They bring various chart factors – planets, Nodes, signs, angles and houses – into an active relationship with each other. But aspects are more than that – they are also beautiful, because they remind us that the birth chart is yet another expression of the sacred geometry that has always been a central feature in the mystery traditions. There is something inherently magical and fascinating and deeply satisfying about the shapes and patterns formed by mathematical division and proportion, and they can be found everywhere in nature, art, architecture, music and, of course, in the human psyche.
Part One of our 2023 overview looked at the influence of Pluto in Aquarius and the transit of Jupiter through a new cycle of the Zodiac. We also explored ways to manage your mental and physical wellbeing through tuning into the monthly rhythms of the lunar cycle.
Here we look more closely at Saturn’s influence and what Pluto in Aquarius might mean, plus a personal focus on your Saturn cycle based on your Rising Sign
A New Jupiter Cycle Kicks Off – One of the bigger generational patterns to shift gear in 2023 is the journey of Jupiter through Aries and then Taurus. Because Aries is the first sign of the Zodiac, when Jupiter transits here (once every 12 years) we can think of it as the step up to the next level in an evolving cycle.
I’m a professional astrologer, coach, and Ayurvedic consultant, originally from Australia but now travelling the world. At Stars Like You, the focus is on happiness. We publish great astrology articles, as well as well-researched pieces on nutrition, wellness and Ayurveda drawn from years of clinical experience.