Lesson Eight: Introduction to the Aspects, Part Three
The 'three' series of aspects emerges when the circle is divided by three, six and twelve. Symbolically, three is the number of reconciliation and mediation, creating a harmonious relationship between opposing forces. In astrology, the three modalities are known as cardinal, fixed and mutable, or initiating, resisting and mediating. It is the third force that creates harmony and balance.
The Trine 120°
When we divide the circle by three, we have three sections of 120°, the aspect of the trine.
When planets are in trine, there is an easy, flowing, pleasurable relationship between them. The planets will be in the same element, and so they understand, accommodate and support each other. Two planets in a fire sign trine, for example, will share the same qualities of enthusiasm, optimism and faith. Two planets in an earth sign trine will share the same practical, realistic approach to the world. Two planets in an air sign trine will share the qualities of detachment and objectivity. And two planets in a water sign trine will flow and merge together in a harmony.
Audience: I read somewhere that the difference between the hard and soft aspects is like the difference between the carrot and the stick. Squares and oppositions force us onwards, and trines and sextiles are something we enjoy, and therefore something we want to move towards.
Clare: Yes, I think that is a very helpful image, since it illustrates
the fundamentally different motivations in the soft and hard aspects. As
far as I know, nobody has ever visited an astrologer about their trines.
In fact, we almost always take them for granted, which is a pity, in a way,
because they are gifts indicating real talent and the easy, joyful expression
of that talent. I am sure you can all think of people you know who seem to
take their talents and gifts completely for granted.
Let's use an example. Imagine two people planning a trip abroad, one with a Mars-Jupiter trine and one with a Mars-Jupiter square. The person with the Mars-Jupiter trine will find it easy to put their plan into action, since action and vision flow easily together and there is no resistance or hesitation. No doubt the bookings will fall into place effortlessly, and the journey will be dynamic and enjoyable. The person with the Mars-Jupiter square, however, may well find the planning process extremely frustrating. They may not be able to find exactly what they want, spending many frustrating hours on the internet, or they may end up getting very angry with the travel agent, who seems to be obstructive and difficult, so that the whole thing can be a tense and stressful experience. When I describe to my clients the inherent gifts and talents indicated by their trines, they usually find my comments easy to accept but of no real consequence, nothing special, since surely everyone else can do this too. Of course, that is just not the case. Trines are very accepting and allowing, and are an important factor in generating self-esteem and self-acceptance. They are so self-accepting that we can even say things like: 'I'm hopeless at this', or 'I'm useless at that', without it being an issue. With planets in square, on the other hand, there is a real issue - there is a complex. The challenge or struggle inherent in the square strikes to the core. It is sensitive and vulnerable, and definitely not something to be taken lightly. Has anyone got any trines they would like to look at?
Audience: I have a trine between Jupiter in Gemini and Mercury in Aquarius.
Clare: So here we have an air trine. First of all, how would we interpret a Mercury-Jupiter connection?
Audience: Expansive intellect, big thoughts.
Audience: Lots of talking. Perhaps lots of travel.
Clare: Yes, this has a kind of Bill Bryson feel about it. Jupiter in Gemini is going to be very communicative, full of ideas. And Mercury in Aquarius is detached and objective. The two principles will flow easily together.
Audience: I have a Mercury-Pluto trine.
Clare: Then I would imagine that you are naturally a very good listener, and that people trust you with their deepest thoughts.
Audience: I have Saturn in Capricorn in the 1st house, trine Moon in Taurus in the 5th.
Clare: This is an earth trine, naturally stable, realistic and practical. Saturn is in its own sign, so it is strong and comfortable there. In the 1st house, no doubt you have a real sense of your own personal authority and self-sufficiency. The Moon in Taurus works in harmony with Saturn; it is comfortable and well grounded, and in the 5th house it indicates the joy and pleasure you gain from the simple, tangible things in life, like children, for example. Your gift is that you are naturally reliable and stable. This doesn't need to be worked on, and people will value this quality and respond positively to it. A Moon square Saturn, on the other hand, would be much more hungry, much more inclined to feel isolated and needy and abandoned. In the case of a square, there is a conflict between the neediness of the child (Moon) and the responsibility of the parent (Saturn). With the Moon trine Saturn, it is much easier to be a grownup, an adult, so I imagine that this trine is no big deal for you.
Audience: No, it's not. You might like to know that I am the principal of a nursery school, so working with and looking after children comes very naturally to me.
Clare: Grand trines occur when three planets are in trine to each other, so they will share the same element. All 'closed' aspect patterns have a feeling of self-sufficiency about them, and the grand trine is so whole and complete that it tends to cancel itself out. In our culture, which values the work ethic and the achievement of goals, the grand trine tends to be on the receiving end of judgements such as laziness, inertia, a lack of self discipline, and the avoidance of responsibility. These criticisms do not allow for the inner sense of harmony, wholeness and completion which is such a positive feature of the grand trine.
Audience: Would you say that the grand trine is unconscious?
Clare: I certainly think it can be. The way I have come to think about them, mainly because this does seem to be recognised by my clients, is that they represent an inner reservoir of immense strength that we don't know is there until we need it. Let's look at this in terms of the different elements. If you have a grand trine in fire, for example, this would indicate that, when all else fails, you will find within yourself an inner reservoir of faith and optimism which supports you through difficult times. You can draw on it when you need it. In the normal course of everyday life, however, it is unlikely that you will even notice it is there.
Audience: So, until everything falls apart, you are not going to bother about your grand trine?
Clare: Yes, I think that is right. A good example of a grand trine in fire is Winston Churchill. As you may know, Churchill suffered from periods of intense depression, which he called his 'black dog'. And yet I imagine that during these periods, he was able to draw on the deep faith of his grand trine, trusting that he would pull through again, no matter how black they were at the time. A grand trine in earth does not necessarily mean that the individual will find it easy to cope with life on a day-to-day level, or to make a living. These things demand work and effort. It seems to me that cats must have grand trines in earth - they are content simply to be, to find the sunniest and most comfortable spot and to sleep for anything up to twenty hours a day. But if you have a grand trine in earth and everything is stripped away from you, then you will find that you have a strong inner stability and confidence that will support you. We are just talking theoretically here, because I have never seen a grand trine just on its own which is not connected by other aspects to the rest of the chart. Aspects to the grand trine will immediately make it less passive and inert, since they provide the grand trine with an outlet.
Audience: I have a grand trine in water - Jupiter, Chiron, Neptune. And Jupiter is on the Ascendant.
Clare: A grand trine in water indicates a deep reservoir of emotional support when we need it. In times of emotional difficulty or trauma, I suspect that your emotional strength will support you. In psychological terminology this is known as the ability to 'self-soothe', which enables you to find comfort within, even when you are feeling abandoned or alone. This is the resource that enables people to get through difficult emotional periods in their lives without cracking at the seams or falling apart.
Audience: How does a grand trine in air work?
Clare: Well, this would be the gift of detachment and objectivity under stress. I suppose it would be like being lost in a desert and running out of water. Rather than giving in to the situation and lying down to die, the individual with a grand trine in air is more likely to draw on their thinking process to deal with the situation. They are likely, for example, to work out which direction to go in, from observing the Sun's position during the day and the stars at night. In order to survive, they would use their intellect.
Audience: So they would deal with a difficult situation by becoming detached and rational.
Clare: Exactly right. Rather than getting caught up in the fear, they would try to stand outside this and look rationally at it, and work out a way to get through. This would be an extremely valuable gift. But in ordinary life, a grand trine in air might indicate a kind of mental inertia. Perhaps it might describe a perpetual student, since that comes easier to them than going out and getting a job.