There is a certain chemistry that can exist between people where they just naturally hit it off and get along. The same can be true for planets in a natal chart. In astrology, a harmonious relationship is referred to as a “soft aspect.” But what does soft aspect mean, exactly?
In astrology, soft aspects are distinct angles between planets on a birth chart, or between planets in transit, that suggest the two may work in sync. There may be cooperation between the planets, or they may excite and one another. Two major soft aspects are called trines, and sextiles.
If you’re curious about soft aspects in your birth chart and what they may indicate for you, read on to find out how to find them, the types of soft aspects you have, and how they may influence your life.
Soft Aspects Explained
Astrology and geometry are heavily connected. Since the natal chart is a circle, the unit of measurement used in an astrological chart is degrees, just like you learned in school. An angle on a chart that is a specific number of degrees, an angle that is a certain size, is referred to as an aspect in astrology.
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In this article, we are focusing on what are called soft aspects, but there are also angles that are considered hard aspects, meaning that the planets involved struggle to get along with each other. Soft aspects, in contrast, imply a relationship that flows more easily and is harmonious.
Soft aspects sound like astrological gold and they can be incredibly beneficial. But, these agreeable relationships don’t always mean that we can sit back and let the planets do the work for us in the areas of life that they influence. In fact, as you will read later in the article, there may be work to do on our part to ensure our soft aspects help us reach our potential for personal growth.
How to Find Soft Aspects on a Chart
First you must have a copy of your birth chart. To get one, you can go to Astrodienst and have one instantly drawn for you. This is an invaluable site because it’s free and it stores your chart, plus others you would like to have done.
Once you pull up your natal chart in Astrodienst, you will see a chart that looks similar to the screenshot below.
You are immediately met with blue, red, and dotted lines crisscrossing throughout the center of the birth chart. These lines symbolize aspects in your chart. Astrodienst draws the soft aspects in blue and the hard aspects in red. Green and dotted lines are called minor aspects and you will learn more about those later in the article.
In the example birth chart above, you can see that there is a blue line indicating a soft aspect between Jupiter and Saturn. This line implies that there will be harmony between the two planets and that they should be able to work together well. But, once we have more information about what type of soft aspect it is, we can further understand the type of relationship that will exist between Saturn and Jupiter.
But how do we know what type of soft aspect we are looking at? Seasoned astrologers can just tell by looking. Luckily, for the rest of us, Astrodienst supplies this information in a table next to the chart for easy access.
At first, an aspects table can look a bit daunting but is actually easy to use once you know how to. What we are looking for on the table is the soft aspect that exists between Jupiter and Saturn. If you find the column that Jupiter is in, then follow it down until you get to the row that Saturn is in, which happens to be the one right below Jupiter, you will find a blue star-like symbol. This aspect is called a sextile in astrology. I have included a table below to show the symbols and names of the soft aspects in astrology.
*Get more information on how to read aspect tables in our article all about it here.
Soft Aspect Symbols in Astrology
The Major Soft Aspects
Now that you have the information you need to figure out which soft aspects are present in your chart, the next step is to learn what kind of relationship the planets in those soft aspects will have.
The astrology community places more importance on some aspects more than others. The aspects that are considered to be more influential in a natal chart are referred to as “major aspects,” and the ones that are considered to be less substantial are called “minor aspects.” The soft aspects that fall in the major category are the sextile and the trine.
The aspect called the sextile represents a relationship where planets are 60 degrees apart. In a sextile, either one planet will be in an earth sign and the other will be in a water sign, or one planet will be a fire sign and the other air.
Looking at this chart again, you can see that Jupiter and Saturn are sextile and that, indeed, Jupiter is sitting in a water sign, Cancer, and Saturn is in an earth sign, Virgo. They both barely fall into those signs, but they are there nonetheless!
Planets in a sextile are planets that have a high amount of dynamic energy between them. In a sextile, both planets are revved up and ready to take action together.
The planets are pumped up and ready to encourage one another to do their thing. But, they may expend a lot of energy encouraging each other toward no apparent direction. With a sextile, there could be “much ado about nothing.” It could be all high-fives and pats on the back while nothing has actually been accomplished.
In a sextile relationship, the stage has been set for the planets to have a great partnership. The energy, enthusiasm, and potential are there. But the course this union will take may be up to the individual to map out.
In our example chart above, for instance, Jupiter in Cancer is in a sextile with Saturn in Virgo. Jupiter influences this individual to expand opportunities and faith in life through (Cancer) nurturing and caretaking for others, especially their family, experiencing the full spectrum of emotion, and finding stability.
Saturn wants to work set goals and achieve through (Virgo) taking an honest look at the current state of something, analyzing it to see how it could improve it, and working tirelessly toward that vision of perfection.
Jupiter in Cancer may give this individual a feeling that it needs to be hyper-aware of creating a stable and secure life for itself and its loved ones. Mature and responsible Saturn in Virgo thinks this is great and shoots Jupiter some energy and high-fives to keep it up. Saturn in Virgo may inspire this person to set incredibly lofty goals and they may work themselves to the bone to achieve and ensure their security. Clearly, Jupiter in Cancer would love this added security and send more energy and praise Saturn’s way.
Around and around they could go like this in a frenzy, but for what? The result of all of this energy expenditure in this example could be someone who is so rigid and set in their ways in the name of security that they never actually get to Iive their lives.
This could go another direction, but with sextiles, it may take reflection and conscious effort on the part of the individual to do so.
Rather than placing all of their focus on the search for stability, this individual could realize that it is also in Jupiter in Cancer’s wheelhouse to bring emotions into a situation where none existed before. Jupiter could encourage Saturn in Virgo to add more emotion to their work, which otherwise may have the tendency to be sterile and regimented. This may excite Saturn who may help turn out better work than ever before.
Saturn in Virgo could, in turn, encourage Jupiter in Cancer to put more work and effort into improving their outlook on life and faith in the world. This could help to lessen the fears that may otherwise push a person to seek security and stability so strongly.
With a sextile, the pieces are all there for a relationship between two planets that could produce greatness, it just may be up to the individual to put the pieces together in the right way so that the magic happens.
The other major soft aspect in astrology is called the trine and it represents a relationship where planets are 120 degrees apart.
In our example chart above, we can see that there is a trine between the Sun in Sagittarius and Saturn in Virgo.
When it comes to harmonious relationships in astrology, it doesn’t get much better than a trine. The planets in a trine work together and support one another as much as two planets can. There is no conflict, only friendship.
With the trine in our example above, we have the Sun seeking vitality and a sense of purpose through (Sagittarius) learning and experiencing as many different things as possible. This Sagittarius Sun loves change. In harmony through its trine with the Sun is Saturn, looking to set goals and achieve through (Virgo) being exacting, perfecting, and never-satisfied. Saturn in Virgo is also hungry for change. These two have the capacity to work together and inspire this individual to learn, adapt, and evolve endlessly.
The trick with a trine is not to get lulled into complacency. When things come too easy, it is also easy to take them for granted.
Trines can be incredibly powerful, but their true potential won’t be seen if the individual coasts and doesn’t take full advantage of all the trine has to offer.
Looking again at our example chart above, this person’s Sagittarius Sun trine Saturn in Virgo could help them to find that setting goals, adapting themselves to reach them, and getting to have cool experiences along the way has just always come easily to them. They never really had to work at it. Because of that, they go with the flow, sit back, and see what next adventure life throws their way.
There is nothing wrong with this at all, other than the individual isn’t reaching their full potential for growth. In contrast, they could consciously set lofty goals for themselves and plan out what work they need to do to get themselves there. Adding their own efforts to the energy in their trine could bring them incredible, life-enriching experiences and meaning to their life that they never would have found if they were sitting back and waiting for everything to simply fall into their lap.
Trines in a chart are blessings that, if not taken for granted, can yield incredible gifts in a person’s life.
The Minor Soft Aspects
Minor aspects aren’t considered to be unimportant, but they aren’t one of the first things an astrologer looks at in a chart for information. They may not have as much pull as the major aspects, but they do add more layers of complexity to a reading. There are 3 minor soft aspects I will explain here, the biquintile and quintile. The two influence a relationship in similar ways, so I will explain them together.
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Quintile Q and Biquintile bQ
A quintile describes the relationship between two planets that are 72 degrees apart and the biquintile is an aspect with an angle of 144 degrees.
Both of these minor soft aspects describe a relationship that is a productive one. This is meant literally as often this union of planets inspires the individual to make something that is tangible or to create something.
Orbs and Aspects
An aspect’s strength is measured by its orb, which means the distance the planets are from making a perfect angle for that aspect. The tighter and smaller the orb is, the more energy lies in that partnership.
Just like the rest of the natal chart, orbs are also measured in degrees. Two planets that are 121 degrees apart are in a trine with a 1 degree orb. Planets 63 degrees apart are in a sextile with a 3 degree orb.
Every astrologer seems to have their own opinion about which size orb constitutes a powerful aspect. However, to give you a general idea, major aspects that are 5 degrees or less are considered highly influential with any smaller than 3 degrees deemed to be especially influential. Any major aspect with an orb larger than 7 degrees may not be considered to be as significant.
Minor aspects require a smaller orb to be considered important and many astrologers won’t consider them at all if their orb is larger than 2-3 degrees.
Astrologer and author, Steven Forrest, explained in his book, The Inner Sky, that the Sun and Moon may be allowed a slightly larger orb, another degree or two when considering their aspects.
Luckily, Astrodienst notes the size of the orbs of each aspect in your aspect table. You can see in the table below that the Sun is in a trine with Saturn with an orb of 0 degrees. Talk about an important aspect!
Can Only Planets Have Aspects?
The planets aren’t the only pieces of a birth chart that can have aspect relationships. Any point in the chart, including important angles, such as the Ascendant and Midheaven, can also aspect planets.
These types of aspects that involve angles may be hard to determine from simply looking at your birth chart. With Astrodienst charts, these are included in the aspect table.
In this aspect table, you can see that Uranus is in a trine with both “AC” and “MC,” which stand for the Ascendant and the Midheaven.
One other piece of the astrological puzzle that can aspect is the current moving, or transiting, planets. Transiting planets can aspect planets or angles in your natal chart, and they can also aspect other transiting planets.
To learn what transiting planets are making aspects to your natal planets at this very moment, turn on transits in Astrodienst. To do that, click on the button shown in the screenshot below.
The transiting planet positions for this exact moment will be shown in position outside of your natal chart in green.
Locating the natal and transiting aspects can be difficult on Astrodienst if you don’t know where to look. Find the button that says “PDF Additional Tables” above your chart.
A PDF will open in a new tab in your browser. The first page of the PDF will have your natal chart aspect table and your natal and transit aspects table will be on the second page.
Transiting planets are displayed along the left side (with a “tr” next to them). Your natal planets are shown along the top (with a “nat” next to them). This table is like the natal aspect tables we’ve already looked at. You can see that at the moment this chart was drawn with transits in place, their natal Mars was trine the transiting Sun.
The aspects and relationships between your own natal planets and the transiting planets can have the same kind of influence as the aspects in your natal chart. But, depending on the speed of the planet’s orbit, aspects involving transiting planets may be much shorter-lived and will only affect you as long as they are within the appropriate-sized orb.