Major Configurations: the relationships among the planets in an astrological chart -- meaning the angles between them, and how they interact -- are called aspects, and each aspect has a different meaning and influence.
Some aspects are considered to be beneficial in their influence (soft aspects, like the sextile and trine), and some are considered more difficult (hard ones, like squares and oppositions).
Sometimes, a series of planetary aspects group together in a chart to form one super-aspect
-- what's known in astrology as a major planetary or aspect configuration, which carries its own powerful meaning and intensity.
These configurations, or patterns, include:
Some pretty funny names for some serious planetary influences! Just as an aspect itself is a focusing of a particular kind of energy, an aspect configuration is a further intensity of that energy, or a combination of various ones.
The Grand Trine, for example, is a combination of the energies of three or more planets that all trine each other -- a triple-trine energy that increases the benefits of a normal trine, but also the need for motivation and goal-setting.
When analyzing an astrological chart, the astrologer looks at every aspect from each planet to every other planet, but sometimes there are major patterns of aspects which leap out from the chart and which are considered very important.
To begin with, if there are three or more planets in one sign or house, a stellium is formed, which brings this sign or house to great prominence in the individual’s life – for both better and worse. Other aspect patterns link three or more planets into a very definite shape, such as a triangle or a square.
A T-square is formed when two planets sit directly opposite one another, and a third sits at 90 degrees to both, creating a small triangle pattern; this is a highly dynamic and forceful aspect pattern which can cause a lot of tension. Three planets can be linked in a different, more easy going way in a Grand Trine, where three planets are each 120 degrees apart, forming a large triangle.
Four planets are involved in a Grand Cross, all at 90 degrees to one another, forming a large square across the center of the chart. This configuration is quite rare, but extremely powerful, and often marks out an individual as someone who has achieved a great deal against all the odds.
Other notable patterns an astrologer will look for include a Yod, a Kite, a Mystic Rectangle and a Grand Sextile – but they will also be looking for unaspected planets too. In most charts, most planets make at least one aspect to another, even if it is a weak one. It’s quite unusual to find a truly unaspected planet, but when there is one, it’s sure to be a powerful focal point in the chart.