What Does “Aspect” Even Mean In Astrology?

The first time you see a birth chart, it can look more like something that was made with a spirograph than a legitimate indicator of your true spiritual essence. But, those funky, angular shapes can tell you just as much about your astrological identity as where the moon or any of the planets happen to fall on the wheel of the Zodiac. As a group, these are known as "aspects," meaning the angles made between two planets, and each configuration comes with its own significance.

Luckily, you don't need a protractor to identify which aspects are in your chart. All you need to do is count the number of signs that separate the two planets you're looking at.

According to the Astrotwins, aspects where two planets are an even number of signs apart are known as "soft," while those that describe planets separated by an odd number of signs are "hard." These categories can help us understand which aspects might present more of a challenge to us, as opposed to an opportunity.

The aspect known as "conjunct," where two planets are in the same sign, is considered soft, as well. Conjunct heavenly bodies tend to mix their respective energies together to make a potent cosmic cocktail. For example, Mercury conjunct Venus foretells of easy communication and free expression of your emotions.

In addition to conjunct, there are four other major aspects in astrology. Ahead, we discuss their meanings and how to recognize them if they appear in your chart.

Sextile
Two signs apart

Much like conjuncts, sextiles are relatively harmonious angles, thanks to the way the four elements of the Zodiac appear on birth charts. Sextiled planets will be in either a water sign and an earth sign, or a fire and an air sign. Even if the two planets rule very different areas of your life, they're connected by the chemistry between the signs in which they're placed. They work together in such a way that you might not really feel their influence in your everyday life, but rest assured that sextiled planets are still playing an active role in your life.
Square
Three signs apart

This "hard" aspect spells conflict between the two planets. Astrologer Annie Heese writes that squared planets tend to work against each other, as if they have opposing agendas for your life. This certainly doesn't encourage free-flowing energy and progress — rather, a square in your chart indicates where you must put in a little extra effort to see results. For example, having chatty Mercury square imaginative Neptune suggests that you have an unconventional, even abstract, communication style and tend to be preoccupied with long-term creative projects that allow you plenty of alone time. Both Mercury and Neptune's influences are there and felt, but they don't exactly mesh well.
Trine
Four signs apart

Trine, yet another "soft" aspect, gives the two planets in question a little breathing room. The distance between them simultaneously keeps tensions low and guarantees that they're placed in signs of the same element. Trined planets feed off each other's energy, creating a dynamic that Heese writes is "supportive," while the Astrotwins call it downright lucky. And the effects of a trine in your chart are very easy to observe. Having the moon trine Venus, for instance, suggests you exude an air of positivity, and love to play the role of the mediator.
Opposition
Six signs apart

Two planets in opposition appear directly across from each other on the wheel of the Zodiac. Although this can be another source of tension in your chart, the Astrotwins write that this aspect can create a sense of balance, too. A commonly cited compatibility theory states that signs separated by six are each others' counterpoints, and this idea can be applied to opposed planets, too. If you find that Mars opposes Saturn in your chart, you probably are very tenacious and hardworking, if a little single-minded.