The Cycle of Aspects - Living in Time

Living in Time
A 1987 book by Palden Jenkins
A 1987 book by Palden Jenkins
Go to content

The Cycle of Aspects

Facets of the Diamond
The Cycle of Aspects

The nature of life is such that we are  enabled to circumambulate the quintessential core of truths of life by experiencing facets of them, strung out in a movie-like  storyline. Life is itself a cycle passing through many stages. If we  experienced childhood, youth, maturity and old age at the same time we  would not only get confused, but we would also miss the main gist of what  living on a planet is all about! Thus we have time-cycles, which  interface spirit with the dense stuff of bodily living, in gradual  doses. Now we are going to look at the cycle of aspects, the blueprint  of all synodic or interplanetary cycles.

The Cycle of AspectsApart  from the conjunction and opposition, there are two instances of every  aspect in this cycle, one waxing and one waning. When waxing, a faster  planet is moving away from a slower planet, until it opposes it, and  then starts waning towards it.

The aspect sequence

CONJUNCTION: 0°, orb 7-15°.
Transition, ending and beginning, energisation.

ConjunctionA  very powerful aspect, known to the earliest astrologers, since  conjunctions are obvious and easily visible in the night sky. This  aspect marks the transition into a new cycle, ending the old and  starting the new. The conjunction is a statement of utter potential, a  condition of beingness, the beginning of germination. Nothing in the  cycle is happening as yet: it is simply that the combined energies of  the two planets are co-expressing themselves. What this tastes like  depends on what the two (or more) planets are: Moon/Venus,  Moon/Jupiter, Mercury/Venus, Mars/Jupiter, Sun/Mercury, Sun/Jupiter,  Jupiter/Neptune and Mercury/Chiron, to name a few, work usually quite  well with each other, while Moon/Mars, Moon or Sun/Saturn, Mercury or  Venus/Pluto, Venus or Mars/Saturn, Saturn to Chiron, Uranus, Neptune or  Pluto have some more difficulty, since their principles stir up friction  or discomfort with each other these comments are not fixed, however, for timely difficulties can be easy and beneficial, and easy-moving energy can sometimes be unproductive or wasted, and at every moment we choose how we create our realities.

Conjuncting  energies tend to move from within us or our own little universe to  consciousness and the world, without any great awareness of this  happening, or of the potential effects, rebounds or implications  involved: it is purely an expression, eruption, out-pouring or unintentional, undirected state of energy-being.  Conjunctions also imply a larger than normal freedom of choice, an  opportunity to reformulate our manner of approaching life, or to change  our responses to situations: fundamental patterns of being can change  here if we feel primed for them. Qualitative changes can occur, and  atmospheres around us can thoroughly change flavour, and the space we  are coming from can sometimes make a radical flip. Conjunctions have a  here-and-now flavour, with some times a strong in-betweenness to them – it is quite frequent that nothing much happens  during a conjunction (apparently) while a lot is shifting underneath,  or a tide is turning. We tend here to go at life feeling stable in  ourselves, as if the world were our playground. Any disruptions to our  beingness usually come from within at conjunctions: whatever happens is a  direct mirroring of our state of mind.

SEMISEXTILE: 30°, one sign apart, orb 2-3°.
Emergence and germination.

Waxing semisextileThis is an 'incidental' aspect in which our state of beingness moves into a little more motion: becomingness is gathering momentum. Things emerge into possibility-profiles, especially since new material is entering the situation  sometimes disjointedly or seemingly irrelevantly, but showing its  meaning in the end. Things just start happening, without any clear  direction, and new avenues open up which weren't visible before.  Whatever comes up at this stage might not seem to have value or use, but  its very existence at this stage means something. We receive strong  omens of coming developments. It is an opening up, but is still early in  the cycle.

SEMISQUARE: 45°, 1½ signs apart, orb 2-4°.
Orientation, initiation, commitment.

Waxing semisquareThis is a challenge to link in what is now developing into a longer-term  scheme of things, both drawing on the past and with a view to the  future. Preparatory work is needed. Things happening or needing  attention now have wider implications in many directions over time. A  sharp and acute awareness of underlying issues at stake dominates, and  decisions and initial commitments must be made: a narrowing of  potentials, setting out of terms and a choice are necessary to set the  trends for the future. Often immediate concerns are unimportant, but  longterm intentions demand immediate focus, prompted by current events  and the outcomes they look like leading to. This is an initially  internally-stressful aspect, but is very rewarding if we invest our  energy wisely at this stage. It asks for clarity, planning and  orientation to make use of it.

SEXTILE: 60°, two signs apart, 3-6° orb.
Progress, developments, activity.

Waxing sextileA busy, flowsome aspect where things are really moving or calling for energy. If you are tooled-up,  things are going with a swing, if not faster than manageable. Options  are widening, people are joining in, things are happening, and it seems  as if all is going well. The sextile is too active for us to think too  much on things the why and the how are a low priority  and ends justify means. We're on top of things, and our capacity to  exploit the situation is accelerating. Skills, abilities, imagination,  openings and adjustability are all working well. We are getting towards  where we want to go, the present is full of motion, and the future is  promising or beckoning. The automatic expression of energy with this  aspect can make for negligence and rashness though, and it is necessary  not to be too caught up in expectations about the potential benefits of  the action, for awareness of the issues at stake and the potential  consequences of current acts is important, even if but a background  awareness.

SQUARE: 90°, three signs apart, orb 5-10°.
Encounter, work, facing facts, crossing the hump.

Waxing squareHold on, not so fast  things aren't quite so simple! We also have to face up to things we  would prefer, perhaps, not to encounter. We have literally to square up  with the world and make things really work no messing around. If we are avoiding or evading things, they hit us now, full-on.  If we are prepared to engage with life, this is our first big hump to  cross. This is a good time for hard work, paying bills, fixing things,  making choices and fulfilling an obligation we all have to carry out  what is necessary in order to manifest our vision or wrestle  free of tricky situations we have set up. It requires acknowledging our  own part in things, our faults and responsibility, 'owning our stuff'  for otherwise we tend to project our hangups outwards onto others or  outside situations, and we find ourselves in conflict with them.  Intentions meet facts: you're waiting for that cheque and a bill comes  instead, or you're driving to town and the car breaks down.

There is little clarity or perspective available here: there is simply the task at hand and its isness.  There is scope here for an argument with life, so perseverance is  called for, because life often wins. Patience is applied timelessness,  and application of our attention to the task at hand is creation. Nitty-gritties  must be sorted out, even if it keeps us up all night. Squares can face  us with our blockages, failings, vulnerabilities and unawarenesses. If  we will look at these, we can make great progress but, if not, we have a  crunch, and can make a mess of things, with complex results. We have to  become more objective, face up to the world around. Delaying is no  good, for today is the time. At squares it is always clear exactly what we need to do, even if the reasons why are unclear. The success  of our intentions are at stake, and we must work them through into the  world, reassess them or drop them, for practical reasons, whichever  option is best.

TRINE: 120°, four signs apart, orb 4-7°.
Free-flow, okayness, enjoyment, space for understanding.

Waxing trineThis  is an easygoing aspect, relatively a freewheeling glide: a holiday or  busman's holiday if we have worked hard, or an oblivious drift if we  have evaded things. Things work well or fall into our lap as a result of  previous effort, or we can lose our grip on things if we have not  grappled properly with the square. There is time to look again at what we are doing, to lick our wounds, lie in bed, simply enjoy fantasising and coming to a wider understanding of everything and its implications, doodle or have fun. Or it can be a matter of simply carrying on with  what we are doing, yet enjoying it more. Things can't be pushed at the trine it  is far better to allow them to unfold as they will, for if we push, we might either waste energy or fall over because there's nothing there to take up the pressure.

It's a time for loosening out, assimilating  experience, free exchange, letting be. The trine is a stabiliser.  Energy is allowed to emerge for doing other things, for creating new  approaches, seeing different facets of what's been going on and what is  to come. Sometimes things can become flat or apathetic or drop away if expectations are too high, or if there has been previous failure or non-progress.  But if there is accumulated momentum, they can move easily and well,  developing of their own accord, and life takes on a pleasant hue. This  isn't a time for radical changes: it is more for developing along tracks we already are moving along, with some extensions and variations.  Openness, tolerance and space, relaxing old stresses and letting new  colour, tone and taste come in: it's time to sing your song just for the singing of it. Trines and Sundays go together! While this is a time of relative ease, though, watch out for laziness, for there is an awakening  coming.

SESQUIQUADRATE: 135°, 4½ signs apart, 2-4° orb.
Choice, readjustment, resolve.

Waxing sesquiquadrateLongterm  considerations are at stake again, for it is now time to refocus, to consciously adapt to new circumstances and look again at what we are doing, why, and whether it all fits in with what was originally intended  or what is seen as the current goal. If we are to allow our intentions or the flow to work, we need to let go of some of our predispositions, our old patterns which block life-force, our tensions, expectations or rigidities. We ourselves are the source of any difficulties here, if we cannot accept realities as they are  revealing themselves at this stage: we are being tested on our ability  to rearrange our plans, to adapt and see things from new angles. Such  adjustments facilitate our growth: the universe supports us if we are  attuned. This aspect encourages clarity through letting go, clarity which allows us to create what is possible in the circumstances that  have developed, as they present themselves. If we drop unnecessary baggage and recommit ourselves to what really matters, as much as we can  see it at this stage, then we're laying open a creative path through  the period of the opposition to come.

QUINCUNX (Inconjunct): 150°, five signs apart, orb 2-3°.
Tangents, perspective, letting be.

Waxing quincunxThe waxing quincunx is intimately tied up with the pre-opposition process. Here we have an incursion from the unknown things start happening, or inner nuances develop, which hadn't been bargained for, and there can be some difficulty getting everything to  connect. When in quincunx, two planets tend to have a non-relationship not even particularly a conflict and one tends to dominate the situation, with the other coming in through side-channels, sneakily or unconsciously. If we are moving with the flow of things and  can allow the Unknown into our lives and trust it, remarkable things  can develop: here the challenge is to actively let it be, wait and see, allowing viable realities to take place and positively joining in with  what presents itself, when it does. If we have unmoving aims and expectations (over-identification with one of the two planets  involved, perhaps) then subversive factors come into play, which  sometimes can be confounding or compromising.

This is the great cosmic merry-go-round where, if we are insecure and doubtful, we can lose our way, while if we are inwardly open, things will work out and more  things will emerge, for purposes which will reveal themselves in time, often at or after the opposition. The quincunx brings us a crisis of  perspective and trust. Sometimes larger issues and meanings are  invisible or incomprehensible but, still, they are there, and we have to act in trust in the life-process an innate knowing that whatever happens will be right.

OPPOSITION: 180°, six signs apart, 10-20° orb.
Confrontation, transition, a big difference.

OppositionWhen two planets oppose each other, one is on one side of Earth and the other is diametrically opposite obviously a very powerful configuration. This is the climax of a cycle, and the truth will out: our intentions, dreams and schemes meet wider reality (group psyche or  world environment), with a resulting validation or invalidation of our  ways and choices so far, or something of both. The Known meets the Unknown, and either a resolution or a clash emerges especially during the buildup to the opposition. Here there is an acute awareness of the relation between this and that, self and other, wishes and facts,  and the joining or dissonance of the two.

Through conflict or  dynamic tension great power is found, either as an effect of our  beingness or activity, or as a learning experience and enlightenment, or both. This conflict happens on the buildup, and the outcomes emerge at  the exact opposition and afterwards. The balancing act required needs instinct, experience and receptivity rather than knowledge. The extent  to which we released our hold on things at the sesquiquadrate influences our current balancing immensely. Work and play, female and male, events  and dreams, past and future, spontaneity and responsibility: whatever the perceived dichotomy is, it comes up in full technicolour clarity.  Whether we can face this and resolve it is our business, and a lot of qualitative choice is available in the immediate moment for it: it all depends on our ability and willingness to resolve conflicts within ourselves, instead of projecting them out into our environment and blaming others or events for the course of our lives.

This is a  session in owning our own faults, and using situations to learn and move  forward. Making a clear decision here can sometimes be difficult, but  something must be done, for things can take on an urgent quality, where the best strategy is to cool down, quit fretting and listen to our  hearts.

While there can be ripping and wrenching going on, there can also be great peace and insight which brings a transcendence of the issues of the cycle, a seeing of the overall meaning of it and of life,  together with a re-entering into the cycle from a new standpoint. This insight is invaluable, since at an opposition, a new context is emerging. We have the chance to become someone quite different during  these climactic turning-points. For this is the beginning of the  waning hemicycle, in which context, environment, society and our place in the scheme of things and the use we make of them are the main issues.

Painting  a highly artistic picture is of personal benefit in the doing thereof, but the picture's full meaning and purpose is fulfilled when others look  at it and enjoy it. Building a house becomes fulfilled when someone moves in and lives in it. Transforming clay into a cup finds  significance when the tea is brewed. The waning hemicycle is a  consummation, a dedication of our works to history and the world: what we have established, developed, accumulated and evolved seeks to be carried through into completion. The waning hemicycle is the yin side of the cycle.

This tremendous transition and workout, this squeeze  and leap, can make life very different after the opposition. But while the exact opposition can mark the watershed, the whole time-area around the opposition, before and after, is the process and the hottest time can often be when the planets are applying to opposition, 3-7°  out of aspect. Once this transition has been gone through, willingly or  not, wittingly or not, the tracks are set for what must be carried out as a result of earlier developments: it is time to fulfil our contract with life and the world.

Waning QUINCUNX: 150°, 5 signs apart, 2-3° orb.
Contextualising, piecing things together, joining in.

Waning quincunxHere  is another yawning of the Great Unknown, except this time, instead of  the Unknown impinging on the Known, the Known is seeking to find a place  in the as-yet-Unknown. It's like applying for a job, or the  journey before you reach your faraway destination, or making a bid for  something. Here, we need to find a context into which to fit, or a context can open up and we need to identify it. This is often a question  of attuning to what the world wants of us, what is required or is the most obvious thing to do. In this crisis of perspective, we risk losing  ourselves, and need to remain clear about what we ourselves are seeking  out of life. Like its opposite aspect, the waxing semisextile, this is  an emergence aspect, yet the context differs. Here, we need to be sufficiently self-aware to avoid moving into a sheepish following-along with others or with circumstances, for in so doing we rely on the  choices of others, and if everyone is just following along with each other, a directionless morass can result!

Waning SESQUIQUADRATE: 135°, 4½ signs, 2-4° orb.
Getting stuck in, engagement, interaction.

Waning sesquiquadrateIf  the quincunx was the application for the job, this is the interview. An agreement and commitment must be made, and our capacity to fulfil our part in the social contract is tested. As with the waxing sesqui, an  acute awareness with sharp edges prevails, but here we must adjust ourselves to the world, to playing its game. To some extent we are pawns in this game, and must play it, because we're there, and we've set it  up. Our personal priorities and claims have diminished significance, yet  we must keep them in the back of our minds, since we need to be  conscious of our terms of trade and the limits of our willingness. The world needs us to make its issues our own. In the waning sesquiquadrate we are admitted to the club, but in being admitted, we take on  obligations. Soon we must carry them through.

Waning TRINE: 120°, 4 signs apart, 4-7° orb.
Going along with things, belonging, harmony.

Waning trineWhat things are like at this stage depends on how we have treated the post-opposition period. If the opposition weakened us, then we tend to go along with  the drift of life, doing what it and others tell us to do. If it strengthened us, then we are creators within the larger context of life, and life and creativity move well and effortlessly. The waning trine thus becomes either a rather flat drift and energy-subsidence, or it becomes a time when the flow of things works for us, and the world carries us along favourably. There can be a relaxed side to it too, which doesn't lead to anything productive, but it can be restful or fun.

People  accept us, they are used to us and everything can move along happily  and as a matter of course. Normality prevails. Things are as they should  be even if we might have difficulty accepting this. There is space to breathe and enjoy the unfolded results of our efforts, to allow things  to move along as they are doing, on momentum. If we happen to be unwilling partners in the social contract, we tend to comply passively, for want of anything better. All things move along in their channels,  and the world has its way. Not a great time for major changes! But a time for smooth developments.

Waning SQUARE: 90°, three signs apart, orb 5-10°.
Effort, dedication, achievement.

Waning squareThis  is a crisis of context: we run the risk of losing ourselves in our  involvements, obedience, drudgery or workaholism. Carrying on because  'that's what I've always been doing' can get disrupted, and we are  challenged to release our attachment to normality and everydayness.  Things must be faced, for our own individuality is re-emerging consciously or unconsciously and  if we overlook this in deference to maintaining the status quo, we are likely to land up fulfilling what is expected of us without using our  own initiative, without looking at our methods and their implications or  feeling detached from what we're up to. New elements which can trip us over if we refuse to see them oblige us to account for ourselves, to make the sale, go at it or do something.  What needs doing usually presents itself clearly and immediately in the form of a concrete challenge, obstacle, breakdown or riddle:  perspective is not usually plenteous, but imperatives make themselves painfully obvious.

Our own immediate needs arise forcefully  yet paradoxically, we must first discharge our obligations in order to fulfil them, in order to bring things to completion. Otherwise we get  lasting consequences. Addiction to the fruits of our labours renders us a prisoner of fate, rules, mores and expectations: yet by  seeking the personal payoff gained from fulfilling what we said we would  do, we can energise ourselves for the next move. Here the seeds of the next cycle are laid, even while there is still a quarter of the present  cycle to get on with. We must next complete what we have set up, yet  through this sometimes exhausting dilemma, we begin to find our own  path, through fully exploring the context of all that is around us.

Waning SEXTILE: 90°, two signs, 3-6° orb.
Activity, feedback, completing.

Waning sextileBusy  times, times of reward. This is the golden handshake, if we have fulfilled our involvements. If we have not, this is the karmic backlash. Either way, we receive the results of our actions, and a lot is moving.  We are a part of everything, recognised and accepted, and the world turns around, and we turn with it. Productive and creative, this aspect  runs on momentum and on effect, and the past either supports or weighs us down. We are seen for our role, not specifically for our selfhood,  and the satisfaction or lack of it that we experience here depends on us. We have the opportunity to graduate towards a new chapter of  development, or to move into victimhood or consequences and what is  demanded of us: this is a fundamental question lurking in the background now. There is much energy at work, the finishing touches of the cycle are being made, and time waits for no one.

Waning SEMISQUARE: 45°, 1½ signs, 2-3° orb.
Release, voting, sorting out the past.

Waning semisquareLongterm  issues again: what are we going to do with the future, and what have  we, in the end, gained from the past? Time to extricate ourselves, take  that step, and separate ourselves from what we have been identified with  previously otherwise life will rip us away someday, and we  secretly know it. Each of us is an individual in need of our own life.  Regardless of what has happened before, it is time to shrug shoulders, learn from the past and commit it to the history file. This is a re-assertion of selfhood or alternatively, a stripping away of the props we've used to hold us up and it is time to choose to move on.

By  learning our lessons, releasing our guilts or regrets, sorting out all that was unsaid or undone, forgiving and forgetting, we can find a new freedom and clarity, begin to start over with a clean slate. It is time now to finish things off, hand in our notice, and drop whatever we might have been holding on to. It is also time for clearing up messes or  unspokens before they go under into the repository of forgotten faults, to linger there until another time comes for repeating lessons to be learned. If things are not now in a process of being completed, we have to realise that we shall have to come back to them another time: issues  are changing, and history eats the present gluttonously.

Waning SEMISEXTILE: 30°, one sign apart, 2-3° orb.
Reminiscence, rounding up, new angles on old themes.

Waning semisextileA time for contemplation and understanding, quiet recharging, drawing inner fruit from our experiences, forming conclusions, integrating, reminiscing and assimilating. Finishing touches, and foundational preparations for what comes next are needed now. The past exerts a strong moulding influence, but within this we can dig out new vision and orientation, lay the groundwork for... what?

Throwing out all  that is useless, repairing and updating what is useful, we discover yet new meaning to life, hidden secrets which weren't visible when we were in the middle of things. Our own personal viewpoint is reclaiming our  attention, and often forgotten backward-pulling linkages, memories, or tendencies can come up to test our will to move on. This is a time  for weighing up all things, perhaps honing down initially-wild dreams, perhaps realising our dreams could be wilder. Doubts can creep around in the ruminations and potterings, yet through this we sort out, by conjunction time, our sense of direction and priorities. Between now and conjunction, it is time simply to be, to use the time of beingness in whatever way the here-and-now leads us. This end-of-cycle  period is a final completion, in which the past still lingers in its  hold, but it does so relevantly, for issues and conclusions arise here which give valuable ground-bases for future growth.

CONJUNCTION: 0°, orb 8-20°.
New beginnings, potential, and the here-and-now.

ConjunctionWhen all is said and done, it is our beingness which matters: what we actually are, not what we tell ourselves we are, or are seeking to do, is the  material we carry with us into a new cycle, starting at the conjunction. The isness we are decides how the new cycle opens up: visions,  intents, fears are all stuff of the imagination, and they demonstrate little of the main body of who we are and what we can be. The conjunction is a major transition, and the scenery of life takes on a different slant, often quietly, but fundamentally. A great vista of  potential opens up, perhaps welcome, perhaps daunting. Either knowing  where we're going, or waiting to see what comes, both the future and the past are at this time hypothetical, for the Now and its events and  omens are what is. Life goes on, and only in the present. Not unlike the opposition, this aspect provides a chance to see beyond the cycle, to come to an internal overview of life's underlying secret, hidden in the timeless.

Beginning and end, renewal emerging from death. What we think, feel and see at the conjunction has a powerfully formative effect on our future, and added awareness helps greatly. This  is a subjective self-awareness, yet it has a feeling to it which can be balancing and balanced with regards to the world, if we are attuned to ourselves. For we ourselves have within us the whole universe.

The final meaning of what we have experienced as we move through a cycle integrates itself long after the cycle has ended, after we have forgotten the sequence of events, thoughts and issues which went on in the cycle. This integration is a soul-digestion, an assimilation of personal history, and a throwing of it into the great ocean of infinity. For what has happened  to us is of lesser relevance: it is what life has done to us, and what we have made of it, which leaves its mark, a clutch of qualities which evolves further as we pass through the labyrinthine intricacies of life.

Astrological symbols
Back to content