Aspects are the angles formed between pairs or more of planets, and they tell us about how the planets concerned form a relationship.
Sometimes, the planetary aspects in a birth chart form particular patterns, and these are what we call major aspect patterns or major aspect configurations. Each of these forms a distinctive shape within the birth chart, and each has a particular significance in terms of the challenge or opportunity it offers to the individual. Some also have a spiritual or karmic significance – in astrology, symbolism is vitally important, so it’s perhaps no surprise to note that shapes and patterns have important symbolism too.
What are the Major Aspect Patterns in Astrology?
There are a number of patterns considered to be significant in a birth chart, each with their own type of interpretation. The ones we will deal with here are:
- Grand Cross
- Grand Trine
- Mystic Rectangle
- Grand Sextile
Let’s look at each of these in turn:
What is a Stellium in Astrology?
A stellium is a group of three or more planets found in one sign or one house in the natal chart.
As you may know, the planets all orbit the Sun at different speeds, and sometimes they catch up with one another in what look like small groups from here on earth. When this happens, the birth chart may have this small cluster of planets relatively close together, which magnifies the influence of that sign or that house in the astrological interpretation.
It’s very common to have the Sun, Mercury and Venus all in the same sign or house, because these three planets never far apart in the heavens.
With other groups of planets, however, the qualities of that sign or the affairs of that house will be dominant in the astrological chart. That means the individual will exhibit plenty of positives, but also the negatives of the sign or house concerned.
Sometimes, a stellium can even overshadow the Sun sign, particularly if the Sun is in a relatively passive sign such as Virgo or Pisces and the stellium is in a forthright sign like Aries or Leo. If this happens, the individual may feel somewhat lost at times, as if they are struggling to assert their identity. Their challenge is to accept two very different sides to their own nature, and to try to reconcile the two in whatever way they find most comfortable.
What is a T-Square in Astrology?
A T-square is when two planets are in opposition to one another and there is a third planet making a square aspect to both of them.
Despite both the opposition and the square traditionally being considered as negative aspects, modern astrology considers them energizing and full of potential. There is a lot of tension where a T-square occurs in a natal chart, but the individual planet concerned is the focal planet – the one forming the square to both of the others – is the key to overcoming that tension.
T-squares are relatively common in an astrology chart and many people have several. They can be very invigorating and positive if handled correctly.
A T-square usually falls in signs of the same quality: cardinal, fixed or mutable. A cardinal T-square represents highly ambitious energy. Individual with a cardinal T-square will be highly motivated to resolve the tension in their chart, and in fact doing so could be the making of them. Many people with cardinal T-squares find a way to integrate these energies in their chart and in doing so discover new talents and abilities which can lead to a highly successful career.
Mutable T-squares are very pliable and changeable. These T-squares can be slippery to get hold of and deal with, because just as the individual concerned thinks they’ve figured it out, something changes. Fixed T-squares, on the other hand, can be particularly challenging precisely because nothing changes. However, these fixed T-squares do teach tenacity and perseverance, which can bring great benefits to a chart.
What is a Grand Cross in Astrology?
A grand cross is when there are four planets at approximately 90-degree intervals around the natal chart. This creates a square pattern across the whole chart, with two pairs of planets in opposition – it’s these that form the ‘cross’.
A grand cross is quite a rare aspect pattern, and a powerful one. Typically, all of the planets involved are in the same astrological ‘quality’ - fixed, mutable or cardinal. This kind of aspect pattern tends to manifest as a life full of challenges for the individual concerned. The quality involved will tell us much about how the person will cope. A fixed grand cross will be met with stubborn resistance by the individual, who may refuse to adapt in any way; a cardinal grand cross person will be forever trying to fix things, while a mutable grand cross person will adapt to their circumstances, but possibly a little too well, with too little resistance.
What is a Grand Trine in Astrology?
A grand trine is an aspect pattern which involves three or more planets, each in trine aspect to the other two. This forms a large triangle across the center of the birth chart. The three or more planets are of the same element: fire, earth, air or water.
Trines are typically thought of as easy aspects and they are indeed generally harmonious. A grand trine, however, is not necessarily the blessing you might think. This aspect pattern can bring laziness and too much laissez-faire into the chart, which leads to wasted potential.
If the individual concerned has led a relatively easy life, they may fall into the trap of taking everything for granted. It’s important with a grand trine to keep challenging oneself and to keep moving beyond the comfort zone.
A grand fire trine comes with an inherent sense of privilege and perhaps a certain touch of arrogance too. For these individuals, much of their own creative potential can be wasted because they don’t feel the need to bother themselves with such things. A grand water trine, on the other hand, brings exceptional empathy and spiritual insight, but this individual is sometimes too easily led and therefore fails to make the most of their gifts.
Those with a grand trine in the earth signs are typically talented at organization and structure, and they find it easy to maintain the status quo. This apparently peaceful and balanced life does however mean that these people get easily bored and stuck in a rut. For those with an grand air trine, the challenge is to get close to others and to get down and dirty with real emotions – these individuals are often highly intellectually gifted, but very emotionally detached.
What is a Yod in Astrology?
Also known as ‘the finger of god’, a yod is an astrological aspect pattern which looks like a small triangle. It is formed by two planets being in sextile aspect to each other, both of which are also in quincunx aspect to a third planet.
The yod is a kind of crisis point in the astrological chart, but one which requires a shift of consciousness in order for it to be addressed. The point of the triangle signifies something which must be sacrificed if the individual is to move forwards, particularly in their spiritual growth.
It’s important to note that this sacrifice is voluntary. The individual can choose not to make the relevant sacrifice if they wish, but should they do so, they are likely to find themselves unfulfilled in some way, or not quite meeting their karmic challenge.
What is a Mystic Rectangle in Astrology?
A mystic rectangle occurs in the birth chart when two pairs of opposition planets are in sextile aspect to one another, forming a rectangle across the center of the chart.
This is a very positive aspect patterns, which brings the four planets concerned into balance and harmony with each other. Examination of the mystic rectangle can tell us about areas where the individual’s calling may lie, or where their talents can best be used. This aspect pattern is also a source of strength and support through difficult life challenges, as all four planets can work together in a supportive manner.
The planets involved in a mystic rectangle will typically be paired in either fire and air signs, which is masculine energy, or earth and water signs, which is feminine energy. This is relevant when the mystic rectangle is considered as a spiritual aspect – the energies revealed by this aspect pattern can be used by the individual to live out their spiritual purpose on this earth during this lifetime. The four planets and signs involved can show what one’s higher path may be and how to meet life’s challenges with the most spiritual possible response.
What is a Kite in Astrology?
A kite aspect pattern occurs when two planets which are already forming part of a grand trine also form a sextile to a fourth planet – creating a kite like shape in the chart, with the fourth planet being the head of the kite.
We’ve seen that a grand trine can be a pleasant but ultimately not very productive aspect patterns. When a fourth planet comes into the mix, however, in a kite formation, then there is a point of tension and focus to the grand trine, which helps that individual manifest the blessings of the grand trine in a manner associated with the tension point.
However, the kite aspect is also sometimes thought to indicate fate or destiny, in the sense that it’s the default position for this individual. Unless efforts are made to work with the kite’s energies positively and constructively, then the most negative effects of the kite may play out unchallenged and unaltered.
What is a Grand Sextile in Astrology?
A grand sextile occurs in the natal chart when six planets around the chart are sextile each other. This very rare aspect pattern by default incorporates two grand trines and it forms a hexagon pattern around the chart. It also includes the six sextiles and three oppositions, so it’s a real mix of energy. This aspect pattern has huge creative potential, especially since sextiles are associated with our natural talents. Any individual with a grand sextile in their natal chart would be very gifted in one field or another and would perhaps emerge as a leading figure in their field.
A grand sextile’s planets are typically in either fire and air signs – masculine oriented energy – or earth and water signs, which is feminine oriented energy. Although a blessing for the individual concerned, grand sextile energy is also very easily scattered and wasted. If the grand sextile occurs in fire and air signs, the challenge for the individual will be to listen to others often enough and to accept wise counsel when appropriate. Rushing ahead and doing their own thing will not bring out their true potential. When the grand sextile is in water and earth signs, the individual concerned may need more impetus, more get up and go, more oomph – somewhere, motivation is lacking, and this person relies on others to kickstart their incredible talents.
A Reminder about Elements and Qualities
When interpreting any major aspect configuration in a natal chart, elements and qualities play a key role. Getting to grips with so many competing energies is challenging for an astrologer, but astrological elements and qualities are a key signal as to how those energies will play out.
For example, the planets in a grand trine are typically all in the same element, so that element’s expression would be key in directing the grand trine energies. Similarly, all of the planets involved in a grand cross will typically be in the same quality, and this will be important in ascertaining how the grand cross will manifest itself.