This is the 6th section of a primer on astrology, a multifaceted discipline that I utilize in developing characters and creating timelines. This primer is meant to give readers a basic understanding of the components of an astrological chart.
Aspect patterns can be identified when distinct geometrical shapes are formed by a combination of aspects. While some aspect patterns are rarely seen, such as the Kite, others, such as the T-Square, are more common. This section covers the major aspect patterns. Some exceptionally rare combinations, including the finger of Yod, the pentagram, and the cradle, were omitted.
Catch up on previous astrology blogs
When two astrological points form both an opposition to each other and a square to a third astrological point, it is called a T-Square. The name refers to the T shape formed on the astrological chart when this configuration is present. This is a relatively common configuration and may even show up multiple times in a single chart.
It is an indicator of both remarkable stress and remarkable potential. The astrological points of a T-Square are constantly vying for control, making this a challenging pattern to master. To maximize the potential of the T-Square the chart holder must learn to balance all three points, a difficult but rewarding task.
In most cases, attention is naturally placed on the focal planet (the planet that is square the other two). The empty spot directly opposite that focal point is frequently referred to as the empty leg. The chart holder may feel as if something is missing related to the house it would have been located in. The secret to balancing a T-Square for many people is to exemplify the sign represented on that empty leg.
T-squares are connected by modality, so all three points will have astrological signs with the same modality. A chart holder who either ignores or focuses too heavily on one leg of their chart will be unbalanced The modality of the T-Square will further define its influence.
Note: This is typically true but not always. There are some cases, usually with planets that are on the cusp of two signs, where a T-square may have another modality included, or a grand trine may have one point in a different element. The patterns in these unusual charts should not be discounted—but they may not be quite as intense as their counterparts.
The fixed signs—Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius—are determined and uncompromising. Seeing a fixed T-Square in the chart indicates an individual who exemplifies these traits. The chart holder may become stubborn and inflexible when the elements of their personality are out of balance. When balanced, these individuals display the will to persist and succeed in even the most difficult of circumstances.
A chart with a T-Square in the cardinal signs—Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn—indicates someone who epitomizes the dynamic and driven nature of this modality. This pattern may indicate a tendency to start more things than they finish and can be expressed as competitiveness or impatience. Individuals with this pattern can also be exceptionally resourceful and enterprising, as they continually seek ways to move forward.
The mutable signs—Gemini, Pisces, Sagittarius, and Virgo—are heavily influenced by outside forces, and this is especially apparent when dealing with an individual with a T-Square in mutable signs. When thrown out of balance, someone with a mutable T-Square may be indecisive, anxious, or undisciplined. When balanced, a mutable T-Square shows exceptional adaptability and the capacity to master and integrate multiple disciplines.
Four planets aligning in tense squares with one another forms a cross in the chart known as a grand cross. The planets that are involved in a grand cross will all be the same modality, but each will have a different element. While T-squares are fairly common, their cousin the Grand Cross is much rarer and can have a greater impact.
Like the T-squares, the conflict between the planets involved indicates a great deal of internal conflict for the chart holder. With patience and introspection, this pattern can yield incredible intensity and power to whichever parts of the chart they affect.
Because the level of cooperation required for these planets to work together is formidable, individuals with this pattern often benefit for exploring the different sides of their personality. A clear understanding of each of the elements and how they interact will help any individual better balance the different parts of their personality but is especially important for those with a grand cross in their chart.
As each of the points of the cross is at odds, there is a danger of the chart holder being brought to a standstill in life. This will be expressed in the areas of their lives indicated by the planets and houses involved. How a standstill manifests is influenced by the modality of the grand cross. For those with a grand cross in fixed signs, this may look like stubbornness and stagnation, while a chart holder with a grand cross in cardinal signs is more likely to overextend themselves until they collapse. Individuals with mutable grand crosses may end up tripping over themselves, so indecisive that they become ineffectual.
A grand trine occurs when three planets, all in different modalities of the same element, create an equilateral triangle. It is a relatively rare pattern, though more grand trines occur when two slowly moving planets are trine one another. When Saturn was trine Jupiter through much of 2008-2009, for instance, there would have been higher than average chance for a baby to be born with a grand trine.
This extremely harmonious pattern is also referred to as a golden triangle, due to the ease that it adds to the chart. In fact, it is the ease of this pattern that is also its biggest downfall. While all three signs work well together, they don’t always instigate as much personal growth as the more challenging aspect patterns and can sometimes lead to a life of complacency.
Grand trines encompass all three signs in an element. How the trine is expressed for the individual will be greatly influenced by which element is represented. A grand trine in fire signs exemplifies the confidence and dynamic activity of fire, while a grand trine in water will be exceptionally intuitive and emotionally in tune. A grand trine in air signs grants the chart holder a quick mind and extreme adaptability, but one in earth signs will grant them a practical and tenacious nature.
A kite is a variation on the grand trine in which two planets that are already part of a grand trine also both form a sextile to a fourth planet. It creates a kite-like shape in the chart, with the top of the kite represented by that fourth planet. The opposition to the third point of the grand trine adds tension and focus to the chart. Although a grand trine may suggest someone who struggles with motivation, those with a kite formation are typically more driven individuals.
A mystic rectangle is formed when two pairs of oppositions are also sextile to one another. The pattern includes not only two oppositions and two sextiles, but two trines as well. There are typically no squares in a mystic rectangle, as there is in a T-Square or grand cross.
This rare configuration is considered to be a positive but somewhat weak influence. The oppositions indicate points of tension for the chart holder—areas of their lives that are often difficult to balance, but also provide motivation. The sextile and trine connections, however, reveal the capacity to more effectively find and keep that balance. This frequently results in the stability to thrive even in difficult times.
When three planets are in the same sign or house they form an aspect pattern known as a stellium. This often indicates an area of concentrated focus in the chart. Where that focus is directed is usually shown by the house or houses the stellium affects and how the focus manifests itself is represented by the planets involved. Stelliums that involve personal planets are often more intense than those that involve only outer planets.