Aspects in astrology deal with the relationships between the planets. In modern astrology, the aspects are all degree based, and there are what are called major aspects (conjunction, sextile, square, trine,opposition) and a large number of minor aspects based on different numbers of degrees between planets.
Traditional astrology views aspects differently.
Aspects in traditional astrology are about whether or not planets can ‘see’ each other, and the primary relationships are not degree based but sign based.
For instance, any planet in Aries would be in a trine relationship with any planet in Leo, since the two signs are 120 degrees apart, or the side of a triangle.
Traditional astrology uses only the major aspects, and each are based on dividing up the 360 degree, 12 sign circle in, 2 (opposition), 3 (trine), 4 (square), or 6 (sextile). Planets in those signs are said to aspect or ‘see’ each other, meaning they have a relationship and can communicate. (Strictly speaking a conjunction is not an aspect, since it is not a seeing but a joining.)
Equally important, planets that are either one sign (30 degrees) or five signs (150 degrees) apart, cannot see each other. They have no aspect. This is described as being in aversion, meaning something like turned away from each other. The term inconjunct originally meant the same thing, but is now used as the name of a specific degree aspect, 150 degrees away. I think of it as, the aspect that isn’t an aspect, since it is between planets that can’t see each other and can’t relate.
Here’s where it gets fun.
The system of aspects was based on Greek optical theory. They had two different ideas on how vision was possible.
One, called extromission, thought of vision being possible because the eyes sent out beams of light or energy, and those beams striking an object made it vislble.
The other was a theory of vision based on sympathy. You could perceive things that you had a sympathy or affinity with, and could not perceive things where there was no sympathy. So, in traditional astrology, those signs that have nothing in common, no sympathetic tie, do not see each other.
In a modern scientific model of vision, neither of those theories make sense anymore. We now ‘know’ that is not how vision takes place.
But wait… let’s think about those two older theories for a minute.
There is extromission, vision being caused by the eye sending out energy to the perceived object. Have you ever had the experience of feeling someone staring at your back, and turning around and seeing them? Or, of watching someone from outside of their vision, and having them turn around and spot you? Many people have, and that is an experience that tends to confirm extromission.
There is also vision as related to sympathy, that you perceive things you have sympathy with or resonate with. I think there is a psychological truth to that. You will tend to perceive things that are ‘on your radar’, that you are thinking about at the time, or that are important to you. Things that have no significance to you, that you have nothing in common with, will tend to be ‘off your radar’, you will tend to not notice them.
So there is a psychological truth to both of these old Greek optical theories on how vision is possible. They are worth re-considering.