interpreting the square

Square Aspects 101

Square Aspects 101
Natal Chart of Harriet Beecher Stowe

Welcome to Square Aspects 101. You'll find this the third post and our Aspects 101 Series. This seriescovers major and minor aspects, the angles formed between planets.

Let's get started with Square Aspects 101.

Square Aspects 101 - What are they?

First of all, a square represents two or more planets 90° apart. If you have the Sun at 2° Libra and Saturn at 2° Cancer or 2° Capricorn, the Sun is said to square Saturn. (Always say the faster moving planets first as in Sun square Saturn, not Saturn square the Sun.) And, of course, as with all aspects, it's not just 90° exact that makes the aspect. There is an 'orb' of influence.

What is the orb for Squares?

Orb of aspect for Conjunctions plus
Orbs for Conjunctions and other aspects, minor and major.

Understand, an orb represents the degrees allowed for the aspect to 'act'. In the case of the square, the orb may be tight - 8° either side. Or, it may be wider, 10° either side for the planets and up to 12 for the luminaries*.

In the example above above showing Harriet Beecher Stowe's chart , all the squares fall into orbs within 1-9°s. But if Pluto was 28° Pisces and Neptune at 2° Capricorn, we would still say that Neptune was square Pluto because it is within 4° orb. With aspects, always count in degrees and be ready to recognize an 'out of sign' aspect.

Take a look at my settings for the aspects in my Io Time Cycles Software program. You can see the orbs are adjustable, and I like them wide, especially if the luminaries are involved.

The Key to Understanding any Aspect

Richard Idemon taught that the aspects are like table legs. Pick one 'leg' up and all the other legs of the table will follow. No exceptions. For example, if you have feel a strong work ethic and are ambitious to accomplish an authentic goal, (Saturn) you may awaken your intense focus and drive to destroy anything not working and start all over again from scratch (Pluto). You can not do one without the others when they link by aspect, even if that means expressing one quality and pushing the other down into the unconscious. (not the best solution in the long run as what we resist persists!)

Finding the Squares in the Chart Screen Shot 2019-01-24 at 6.46.30 pm

As you practice looking at a variety of charts, your eye will learn to pick up aspects easily. Even the out-of-sign ones. If you create charts without the 'lines' drawn in the middle, you will learn to see the aspects faster, not relying on the crutch, which doesn't let you practice seeing into the chart quite the same way. Meanwhile, you can double check with the aspectarian, the graph that comes with the natal chart. It shows us how all the planets and points are connected by aspect via symbol. Here is the aspectarian for the example chart.

What does the Square Mean?

Now, let's explore the meaning of square. This aspect links two or more planets or points that fall between 90°s plus or minus 10°s either side. The popular keyword for the square is “challenge”. This comes from the linking of signs that are not of the same polarity or element.

The square aspect has a negative connotation with adjectives like “trouble making”, “unfortunate”, “evil” and “vile”.  In Horary astrology the square indicates difficulties, loss, set backs and prohibitive costs.  Modern texts smooth over the delineation somewhat with euphemistic adjectives like “obstacles, resistance and blocks”.  Any way you slice it, at first glance the square means hard work.

It would be surprising to find an astrologer that could catalogue the joys of a Moon square Saturn.  What could possibly be advantageous about a struggle to secure basic needs like love, nurturing and emotional safety?  There is a certain challenge in painting a happy face on the side of a square.  Not may will believe it.

However, without conflict and struggle, a story becomes boring.  Characters are not provoked or stretched and they never grow into their full potential.

Square Aspects = Contrast; Contrast = Awareness

Without squares, there is less contrast, no sitting on the edge of the seat, waiting in anticipation for the next action. Squares are the goads that push the hero into her quest and keep her evolving, mind. body and spirit.  They are part of what makes us feel accomplished and wise.

In this way, squares are challenges and contrasts in life that offer new opportunity and adventure. Without them, we may not know what we really want. What we are truly capable of.

Contrast is essential to decision, but once the decision is made, if you will turn your full attention to your decision and do your best to achieve a vibrational match with that decision, in a very short order, the Universe will go to work in helping you to achieve whatever it is that you are wanting. - Abraham-Hicks Quotes

Modality and Form of Motion

Squares symbolize conflict partially because of their distance from each other. In the 90 degree aspect, planets are usually in the same modality.  They all have a common means of motion, but what they are moving towards is usually different.

The cardinal signs all move with a sense of action and initiation.  What they want to initiate, however, is not the same thing at all.  Aries takes action that leads to self awareness, self will and triumph.  Cancer, 90 degrees from Aries, takes action that leads to emotional union, shared pain and merging.  Libra, 90 degrees from Cancer, takes action that leads to shared beauty, intellectual values and social pleasure.  Capricorn, 90 degrees away from Libra, takes action that leads to greater authority, responsibility and achievement.  And back to Aries, 90 degrees from Capricorn, who could care less about responsibility and the limits it entails.

Square aspects imply meaningful conflicts and contrasts requiring effort, experience and introspection to resolve.  Usually they are difficult to ignore.  They generally grab our attention in trickster-like ways, yet can be beneficial, creative and fertile.

Forget about Easy or Hard

Remember to drop value judgments around the aspects. Squares make life neither good nor bad, easy or hard. What they do is link planets together for potential growth, awareness and evolution.

Furthermore, the aspect's expression isn't set in stone. It changes as we evolve. A child with Mars square Pluto may see their parents or teachers as angry, controlling and scary at times. They might experience the Pluto drive for power and control as bullying at school or, conversely, a charismatic blessing. Eventually, they can become both the Mars (healthy aggression) and Pluto (empowerment) taking responsibility for their own expression to bring fulfillment to themselves and others.

Square Aspects 101 Example Charts

Finally, let's look at some positive examples of squares in the natal chart.

In the feature chart above you can see that Harriet Beecher Stowe, abolitionist and author of thirty novels including Uncle Tom's Cabin, had a near exact Sun conjunct Jupiter with both square Pluto. Her identity (Sun) hinged on Jupiter (freedom, expansion, joy) and Pluto (collective issues of power and control).  How she expressed this square, a potentially challenging aspect rich with contrast is summed up in this quote.

"I feel now that the time is come when even a woman or a child who can speak a word for freedom and humanity is bound to speak... I hope every woman who can write will not be silent."

StevenSpielberg_natalNext, let's look at Steven Spielberg, the most popular directors and producers in Hollywood's history. Note the square between the Moon and Saturn/Pluto, a powerful example of emotional challenges and contrast.

It can often suggest major contrast in the early environment, especially with the Moon intercepted in Scorpio.

From Wikepeadia -

Spielberg  said he suffered from acts of anti-Semitic prejudice and bullying: "In high school, I got smacked and kicked around. Two bloody noses. It was horrible."[25][26][27]

Also notice the square between Mars (action) and Neptune (visual arts and film). With his creative vision, he takes extreme and sometimes horrific emotional, physical and environmental conditions (Moon/Pluto/Mars) and brings them to the attention of the collective (Saturn) via the cinema (Neptune). Consider some of his most venerated accomplishments: The Color Purple (1985), Empire of the Sun (1987), Schindler's List (1993), Amistad (1997) and Saving Private Ryan (1998). What a powerful example of working with contrast.

Working with Contrast

Contrast starts to loose its power over us when we become aware of the energies, the vibrations involved.

Then, instead of feeling done wrong by or blaming, we can honor all the planets involved in creative, expansive ways. It's about engaging with and/AND, not either/or.

The bottom line is, if you think it’s either/or, it will be, so use your awareness to pave new thoughts with and/AND. Freedom AND commitment. Money AND soul. Dream Job AND independence. Security AND love. Accomplishment AND spiritual life. Power AND creativity.

Summary - Square Aspects 101

To conclude, a square between two or more planets means they are scripted to dialog with each other. They are connected so that if one is active and ‘doing something’ the connected planet wakes up too. They are partners, of sorts, always and forever. Finding the And/and to the squares in your chart can harmonize and strengthen your desires, smooth out any kinks in your vibe and launch new successes, over and over again.

Try it!

Also, if you missed our first call in the Doorways to Manifesting Series, you can listen to it here:

Doorways to Manifesting - leveraging the contrast in your chart.

Comments on the Fourm and example charts in the Chart Gallery.

* * *


* Luminary refers to the sun and/or moon.

* Basic Rules:
are energy – the actors. They show us WHAT is acting.
Signs are expression – the costumes the actors wear. They show HOW the actors move.
Houses are environments – the stage on which the actor struts her stuff. They show WHERE the action is.
Aspects are the scripts – the dialog between actors who are connected. They show WHY the actors are attracted to each other.

*What Activates Aspects in the Natal Chart

Three things will activate any aspects in the chart: time, place and people. Think of it like this:

Time - Transits to the conjunctions

Place - Relocation or Astre*Carto*Graphy

People - Synastry, as when another person's planet acts like a transit to yours.

The Major Aspects Symbols and Key Words







Find out more about Square Aspects 101 in Aspect Patterns - a pattern that ties together three or more planets into a geometrical shape. They are CONNECTED to each other. Scripted to interact.

Comments welcome, or join us on the GVA forum.