4. The Cycle of Aspects - Historical Ephemeris

The Historical Ephemeris

600 BCE - CE 2200

Astrological Cycles in History

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4. The Cycle of Aspects



Historical Ephemeris
Astrological groundrules 4:
The Cycle of Aspects

Here is a list of the aspects used in this ephemeris, with brief descriptions of how they work.

Take note of the sequence of aspects, which play out a pattern in a complete cycle of motion and change which unfolds between any two planets. The aspects in bold are known as the 'main aspects'.

The cycle divides into two hemicycles, waxing (+) and waning (-). Though most aspects are repeated in the waxing and waning hemicycles, they exist within different contexts, and thus, in timecycle research, waxing and waning aspects work quite differently from each other.


Transition, end-beginning, conclusion/potentiality, watershed, where things have got to so far, life as it is, new starts, wide-open options, change of track, turning tide, new chapter, moving on, departures, the past is gone

+ Semisextile


Stirrings and rumblings, arising of possibilities, new developments, undercurrents, plan-making, opening gambits, hints/omens, germination

+ Semisquare


Decisions and decisive actions, parting of ways, policy decisions, commitment to pursue a course, placing bets on the future, energy-investment, longterm goals

+ Sextile


Busy developments, motion, activity, creativity, rapid progress, gaining momentum, tidal currents, proliferation, energy-release, intense changes, acceleration, lift-off



Effort, assertion, crisis, problems, focus, getting on with it, facing facts, conflict with facts, complications, narrowing of aims, deployment and application, hard work

+ Trine


Freeflow, growth, momentum, extension, easier times or loss of focus, enjoyment, high times, florescence, synthesis, perpetuation, stabilisation, continuance

+ Sesquiquadrate


Adjustments, reassessment, initial results showing, newly-emergent facts, the final push, making things irreversible, reality-challenges, applying longterm objectives

+ Quincunx


Expectancy, unsurety, seeking perspective, risk of disjunction/derailment, reconciling contradictions, the extra mile, emergent facts



Climaxing, resolution or conflict, signed & sealed, outcomes & results, actuality, crossing the hump, initial goals reached or realities realised, tide-turning, intensity

- Quincunx


Assimilation of experience and realignment of aims, new perspectives, renewal or loss of purpose, the effects of results, things embedding, where next?

- Sesquiquadrate


The next step, putting into context, consolidation, reorganisation, dealing with glitches, crisis of purpose, putting things to good use, harvesting

- Trine


Benefits reaped, maturing, plenteousness, beauty, regularity, building traditions, stultification, memorialisation, running on momentum, excess, normalisation



Crisis, breakthrough or collapse, new challenges, acceptance of facts, lessons from the past, change or conservatism, quest for meaning, repair, course-correction

- Sextile


Perpetuation, tradition, new wine in old bottles, dividends reaped, comfort, activity pushed by results, home stretch, fulfilment

- Semisquare


Decline, struggle/resignation, response to new factors, rocking the boat, consigning to history, partings, future visions, crisis of direction

- Semisextile


Affected by the past, reflection, conservation, biding time, understanding, bygones, preparing ground, set ways or early release, clearing



Final endings, subsidences, interlude, little or lots happening, rebirth, eruptions, new perspectives, seeding, shift of viewpoints

The above descriptions suggest themes and phases. However, a theme can show itself in history several ways, depending on human choice.

For example, a waxing trine can bring a time of flowering, or, if energy has been lost or mistakes recently made, it can also lead to times of deterioration and protracted suffering. Similarly, a square can bring problems or it can be the breakthrough-point into success. Which it will be, soothsayers have sought to predict since the beginning of time!

Orbs of influence

When are planets in or out of aspect to each other? In the case of outer planets, around three degrees is an acceptable 'orb' of influence – although there is no clear, hard-and-fast boundary to an orb. Rigidly defining orb values is unwise – each event, historic or astrological, needs its own interpolation.

Planets resonate strongest when within one degree of orb, but, in the case of conjunctions, squares and oppositions, effects can be detectable when planets are even five degrees out of aspect. Hints as to the atmosphere which can arise during an aspect can begin as soon as the involved planets enter the sign(s) where the aspect is to take place.

Processes of change

The palpable effects of a major aspect between any two of Uranus, Neptune and Pluto can take 5-10 years to unfold. There is a buildup and aftermath to every aspect, stretching either side in time or the aspect's occurrence. The wave-like formation of such an aspect, usually involving at least three passes (forwards-back-forwards), itself takes a year. Some aspects can take years to go through.

In my observation, there seem to be various patterns by which aspects variously show themselves:

  • sometimes new ideas, initiatives, innovations or changes break out well before an aspect, to reach full effect at the exact time of the aspect;

  • sometimes rumblings take place before the aspect, but overt changes occur only at the time of the aspect;

  • resistance to change, or unawareness of the need for it, can prevail until the time of the aspect, and the necessary changes come after it, as the energy-intensity is dying down;

  • in some instances, visible events might not show up in timeline listings, yet much can be going on under the surface, which emerges later on – especially in the case of sclerotic or suppressing cultures and times of history.

Understanding history in the light of interplanetary cycles of aspects radically shifts the way we see the significance of historical events. By identifying the major power-points in history – particularly times of major astrological configurations involving Uranus, Neptune and Pluto – we gain an insight into the major turning-points of history, the times when deep decisions were being made, by or for humanity or sizable sections of it. Whether these have been for better or for worse, in wisdom or in fear, astrology cannot judge – this is a human choice, made in response to the changing energy-possibilities of time.

NEXT: How planets work with each other

BACK: The Outer Planets

The Historical Ephemeris
by Palden Jenkins
Astro-historical tables for 2,500 years
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