We are going to start by looking at the conjunction which, strictly speaking, does not really qualify as an aspect at all. The conjunction signifies unity, undifferentiated energy, the merging of two or more planets in such a way that they always operate simultaneously. Whether or not the planets concerned are inherently sympathetic to each other, they are irrevocably joined together.
Two planets, or any two points in the chart, such as a planet and an angle, will be in a conjunction if they are within 8° of each other. This is a relationship of unity, of oneness - there is no separation or differentiation between them, and there is no objective awareness of either planet as a separate entity. For example if you have a Sun-Mercury conjunction, your identity is going to be connected to your thinking process; you cannot separate them. Planets in a conjunction aspect are normally in the same sign and house, which indicates a concentration or focus in the area of life associated with that house.
Audience: What happens if two planets are in conjunction, but they are in different signs or houses? How do you interpret that?
Clare: This is an example of an aspect breaking the rules - and I'm afraid it can happen with all aspects. In a nice simple conjunction, the planets involved will be in the same sign and house. But if, for example, one planet is right at the end of a sign or house, and the other planet is right at the beginning of the next sign or house, the conjunction is neither supported nor strengthened by the signs or houses in which it occurs. The mathematical symmetry is broken. In these cases, I think the intrinsic meaning of the aspect itself breaks down and our task is then to analyse both planets individually as separate entities, by sign and house, before bringing them together in our aspect interpretation. The technical term for these kinds of aspects is that they are 'dissociate' or 'dissociated'.
Audience: Can you give an example of this, Clare?
Clare: Let's assume, for example, that one planet is right at the end of Pisces and the other is right at the beginning of Aries. This means that the two planets will be coming from very different perspectives, and there will be a tension between them that is not normally present when planets are in conjunction. The interesting thing about adjacent signs and houses is that they have absolutely nothing in common. Pisces is a mutable water sign and Aries is a cardinal fire sign, so they are unlikely to be able to understand each other. So in this case, we have a 'dissociated conjunction' and the tension of that has to be built into our interpretation. A 'dissociated opposition' will occur, for example, if one planet is at 25° Gemini, and the other planet is at 1° Capricorn. In this case, the planets are still in opposition, with a 6° orb, but the symmetry is lost, because a natural opposition would be between planets in Gemini/Sagittarius or Cancer/Capricorn. Let's look at some actual examples. Who has a conjunction of two or more planets?
Beth: I have Moon, Venus and Neptune conjunct.
Clare: That means that all three planets work together. This is a good example, because as you can see from the chart, Neptune is not strictly conjunct Venus because they are more than 8° apart, but the Moon is in between them, linking them both to each other. Let's see if we can find a composite image or picture for these three planets together. This is a stellium, which is the technical jargon for three or more planets in conjunction. It functions rather like a complex, and is certainly an area of focus and emphasis in the chart. What ideas come to mind?
Audience: Idealised emotion.
Audience: Generous and giving.
Audience: Do you drift around in a cloud?
Clare: With both the personal feminine planets involved here, this tells us something about you as a woman and your relationship with your mother and with women in general. With Neptune here as well, we might start thinking about being in love with love, possibly even addicted to love. There could be an idealisation of the perfect feminine, and even themes around sacrificial women. Would you say you had a romantic nature?
Beth: Yes, I think I do. And I see my mother as trying to fit into the wife role rather than being true to herself. She has always been concerned about how people see her, more concerned about other people's values than about her own.
Chart data omitted for reasons of confidentiality
Clare: Do you find it rather hard to define your relationship with your mother, as if she was rather mysterious or unavailable to you in some way? She may also be a very devotional figure dedicated to serving others, particularly in her role as wife and mother. Let's add the sign and the house and see what additional information this stellium can give us. All three planets are in Scorpio in the 11th house, which makes the stellium more hidden and intense. Scorpio adds an underlying emotional intensity and complexity, so we might suggest that you, and perhaps your mother as well, derive your power as women through relationships, but equally, you may well feel that you sacrifice yourself in relationships. Do you recognise these themes in your own life?
Beth: Yes, I certainly think there are two sides to this Venus.
Clare: Moon, Venus, and Neptune in Scorpio are a powerful force, seductive, rather unearthly, and very mysterious. An image or story for this composite picture might be something like the sirens in Greek mythology, using their power and their beauty and their singing to hypnotise and seduce passing sailors, who would be pulled towards them in a trance and end up being drowned on the rocks. So it has a magnetic and rather dark aspect to it as well. In the 11th house we might imagine that your female friends are very important to you, since Scorpio generally makes few, but very intense, friendships. Since the 11th house is also about your social or political ideals, you may well find yourself involved in organisations which are concerned with women who may have been exploited or manipulated in some way.
Beth: Well, I generally find it easier to be friends with men than with women.
Clare: Perhaps you find women a bit dangerous?
Beth: I think it is important for me to fit in. To be accepted.
Clare: So we could say that you value (Venus) belonging (Moon) to the group (11th house), and perhaps you will do whatever it takes (Neptune) to be accepted.
Beth: This is a very difficult combination for me. I think Neptune is quite a negative influence, being connected to such personal planets.
Clare: As part of the Neptune in Scorpio generation, you will no doubt have a longing for, and an attraction to, intense emotional encounters, and with the Moon and Venus there as well, it is these kinds of experiences which will transform how you feel about and value yourself as a woman. No doubt you will experience many different manifestations of this combination during your life, which are likely to revolve around issues of both power and powerlessness, both in yourself and amongst your friends, and in your work.
Susan: I have a conjunction of the Sun and Mercury. They are in Gemini in the 11th house.
Clare: OK, let's see how that works. A general word first
about the Sun-Mercury conjunction: You will remember that Mercury is the
closest planet to the Sun, never more than 27° from the Sun, and prone to
changing direction on a regular basis. This means that the Sun-Mercury conjunction
is very common, and many of us will have it. In fact, the conjunction is
the only exact aspect which can occur between Mercury and the Sun. Perhaps
this explains why so many of us identify (Sun) with our ideas (Mercury) -
to the extent that if someone criticises or disagrees with us, it is all
too easy to take that as a personal criticism, rather than as a simple disagreement
with our ideas. When Mercury is not conjunct the Sun, or in a different sign
from the Sun, then it is easier to be more objective.
This particular conjunction in Gemini indicates that you are likely to be flexible, adaptable and articulate, and since it is in the 11th house, no doubt you are also sociable and friendly, quick to make connections, and functioning as a messenger or go-between or communicator in some way, particularly amongst your colleagues and in any groups with which you are involved.
Chart data omitted for reasons of confidentiality
Susan: That's absolutely right, and in fact I am a teacher. But I also tend to find myself in the position of being an arbitrator between two people, husband and wife, for example. But, because I am a Gemini, I don't really want to get too involved, and actually I think I am rather flippant.
Clare: I would imagine that, because this conjunction is in your 11th house, you are not as flippant as you might imagine. This is a fixed house and, associated with the sign of Aquarius, so I suspect that, although you no doubt prefer to remain objective and detached, you are, perhaps, rather more loyal, consistent and reliable than you give yourself credit for. As a matter of interest, what do you teach?
Susan: I teach English.
Clare: That is perfect for a Gemini Sun-Mercury, because your profession is to communicate, and you are actually teaching a language, which is a vehicle of communication. While we are looking at Susan's chart, I want to illustrate how the house ruler can provide valuable additional information about the way a house functions. You will see from the chart that Taurus is on the cusp of the 11th house, so we can find out more about Susan's 11th house by seeing where and how Venus, the ruler of Taurus, is placed. In fact, her Venus is in Aries in the 10th house. What extra information does this give us?
Audience: I would imagine that this makes her more ambitious, and that she is a natural leader, not afraid to be an authority figure.
Susan: Funny you should say that, because I am actually head of the English department in the school where I work.
Sun conjunct Moon
Jan: I have a Sun-Moon conjunction in Libra in the 4th house, so I suppose that means my emotions and my identity are very tied up with each other. Does it mean that I am not able to observe myself objectively?
Clare: With a Sun-Moon conjunction, we tend to start by identifying with the Moon, because that is the child in us. So we start off needing (Moon) recognition (Sun). We need (Moon) to be seen and recognised (Sun). Gradually, there is likely to be a shift of emphasis as we begin to identify more with the Sun, and eventually, if we can make the transition, then we are likely to become (Sun) very nurturing and caring and giving (Moon). So, although these two planets are conjunct, there is usually a natural progression as we grow up from Moon identification toward Sun identification.
Chart data omitted for reasons of confidentiality
This conjunction also tells us that you were born at a new Moon, which is when the Sun and Moon come together. But these two planets are also parental significators, so I would imagine that your experience of your parents is that they function as one unit - that they are coming from the same place. For example, they may well have worked together at home, since this conjunction is in the 4th house. This would be an ideal placement if your parents ran a hotel, for example, or perhaps an art gallery, since both planets are in Libra.
Jan: Yes, they did both work together. They ran a business together from home when I was growing up, doing market gardening.
Clare: That is a perfect example of a Sun-Moon conjunction in Venus-ruled Libra, since Venus also rules gardening and flowers and all the fruits of the earth. It would be interesting to know where your Venus is, since it rules your 4th house as well as both your Sun and Moon.
Jan: My Venus is in Scorpio in the 5th house.
Clare: It looks as if the relationship between your parents may have been so complete and intense that there may not have been much space for you in there. Since your Sun and Moon ruler is in the 5th house, can you tell us something about your childhood and about your personal passions?
Jan: Well, I have devoted most of my life to self-growth in one form or another, and I have always interpreted my 4th house as more to do with the roots of consciousness. My life theme has been going inwards through therapy and meditation. I like my home to be beautiful, but I am not really a very homey person, and I have never lived in one place for a particularly long time.
Clare: So you need (Moon) to understand yourself (Sun) - to self-nurture (Sun-Moon), to find harmony and balance within, which would be the Libra. Like all conjunctions, this can be very subjective. And the 4th house, in your case, seems to be more about your private inner space - finding where you belong within yourself - than about your outer home.
Jan: Yes, that's right. I actually like spending a lot of time on my own.