In part 1 of this post, I discussed some basic chart-reading guidelines for those new to astrology (or just new to Vedic-style charts). While those with Vedic astrology backgrounds will prefer to check out some of the blog’s more advanced posts, my hope is that this post and its predecessor will be a useful reference for beginners.
Since the first post in this series discussed the initial steps in chart reading, such as locating the ascendant, learning abbreviations for planets and signs and identifying the 12 houses, this post will go into a bit more detail about how planets, signs and houses work astrologically, while also introducing the concept of “aspects.”
In another earlier post about astrology fundamentals, I discussed the importance of viewing the planets as people. Like people, each planet has specific personality traits and, in the same manner that we respond in certain ways to different environments and lifestyles, planets respond differently to the energy of each astrological sign.
The 12 houses represent the different parts of our lives, as discussed in this other early post. For example, the 6th house represents our daily labor, debts, enemies and health or illness, while the 7th house represents our partnerships (including most notably – but certainly not only – marriage).
Let’s look at the big picture this way:
- Planets are people.
- Houses are the different parts of our lives.
- Signs are the types of energy (think: adjectives) connected to each house. Signs always match up with houses in the same clockwise order (i.e. Taurus always comes after Aries, Gemini always comes after Taurus, etc.), so as long as you find the ascendant in a chart, it’s easy to match up the houses and signs.
- When planets are close to each other in a chart (a “conjunction”) or reflect on each other at a direct angle (such as 180 degrees, which is called an “opposition”) they impact one another. Conjunctions and oppositions are both types of “aspects,” which is the broader term for all the ways planets reflect on one another and impact each other with their energy.
The strongest aspect is called a “conjunction.” This is when two planets are close enough to each other in the sky (and, thus, in an astrology chart) that their energy has a profound mutual impact. The closer the planets are, the more dramatic the result. It would take far too much time to discuss what different conjunctions mean in this post – (in fact, many pages could be written about any single conjunction!) – but if you think of the planets as people, notice what sort of energy (i.e. which sign) they’re dealing with and what area of life (i.e. which house) this is all related to, you can form a good idea.
For example, if Mars is within two degrees of Jupiter in the 4th house in Libra, this would mean the person would likely be willing to fight (Mars) for his or her beliefs and values (Jupiter) about homeland and family (4th house) and may prioritize fairness and idealism (Libra). That’s certainly an oversimplification, and every chart must be read as a whole to find the proper context, but hopefully that rough example can provide a quick sketch of how – on a very basic level – conjunctions can be evaluated. The closer a conjunction is, the stronger it gets. For example, planets 2 or 3 degrees apart seriously impact each other, but planets 15 degrees apart might not make much difference, even when in the same house.
Other aspects aren’t especially different from conjunctions, although conjunctions may have a bit more impact. All planets aspect any planet directly opposite them (i.e. an “opposition”). In western astrology, “squares” (90 degree aspects) and “trines” (120 degree aspects) are also commonly utilized, with squares considered harsher and more likely to result in conflict than trines, which are commonly described as more harmonious.
Vedic astrology traditionally discounts this idea and instead states that each planet has its own specific glance (known as “drishti”). By this way of thinking, all planets form conjunctions and oppositions, but Jupiter also aspects the 5th and 9th houses from itself, while Mars aspects the 4th and 8th houses from itself and Saturn aspects the 3rd and 10th. Within this paradigm, the differences western astrology posits exist between various types of aspects are replaced by a focus on the specific nature of the planet and its drishti. Another difference is that while planets only aspect other planets in western astrology, Vedic astrology also takes into account planets aspecting houses. In other words, if Venus is in the 9th house, a Vedic astrologer will consider Venus to impact 3rd house matters via opposition aspect to the 3rd house (even if there aren’t any planets located there).
In my view, all of this has at least some validity. I’m convinced that planets can aspect empty houses, as Vedic astrology states, but I also feel that squares, trines and other aspects occur even with regard to planets not traditionally associated with those aspects in Vedic astrology. To put it simply, if a planet’s energy crosses paths with another planet’s energy, I’ve found that there’s an impact. However, like all of my observations and advice, this comes with a disclaimer that I strongly encourage you to learn a variety of astrology techniques, try them out rigorously with charts you know well and then form your own conclusions.
If you’re fairly new to all of this, don’t worry about making sure you understand every single line. For now, just remember to think of the planets as people, take note of where they live (houses), what it’s like there (signs) and which other planets they interact with in which ways (aspects). Explore the charts of your family, your friends and even celebrities whose lives you’re familiar with and see if you can get a feel for these techniques. Once chart reading starts to click for you, the learning curve picks up fast 🙂