Trines vs. squares: half a dozen of one, or six of another?

I am at pains to emphasise that, in the astrology, the distribution of trines and squares, conjunctions and oppositions is profoundly insightful and the astrologer ought always to take note of how they stack up, because a trines person is fundamentally and profoundly different to a squares person regardless of any other factor in the astrology. This is an easy insight to overlook, but if aspects are the adjectives in the language of the astrology, then if we are describing an overall ambience in the nativity with words such as uncomplicated, easy, harmonious and light, then that creates a profoundly different statement than one which contains adjectives such as tense, driven, incomplete and difficult. Thus, the key insight has to be that the trines and sextiles person has, at their very essence, a fundamentally different approach to the world than the squares and oppositions type, regardless of any other factor in the entire astrology. This is easily more meaningful in terms of interpretation than an imbalance of any single element, chart shape, aspect pattern, dispositors or anything much else that you care to consider.

Trines and squares create very different motivations...
Trines and squares create very different motivations…

Therefore, in a chart which evinces no meaningfully personal easy aspects, I would say, that beyond peregrination, this is far and away the most important consideration in any astrology and I would consider that to be the order of things in whatever case.


Subjectively it is difficult, because square people are innately driven, and don’t much care to relax. Trine people fail to understand this and consider that square people need to learn to relax, but of course they misapprehend the nature of an astrology without easy aspects, relaxing feels indolent and pointless to the intrinsically squared nativity and relaxing can be a chore and will subjectively feel deeply uncomfortable to them. There is simply no more point to telling somebody whose chart evinces no easy aspects to relax than there is to ordering a fortunate with no hard aspects to “get going!” They simply cannot relate.

For the student of self-awareness, there really is no question, a difficult astrology is preferable simply because out of the friction of tense aspects comes an apprehension of that self-same astrological principle in the life.

I know astrologers who switch off easy aspects in the astrology, because, like anything that is taken for granted in life, they are really not of much interest. The mad and delightful Donna Cunningham refers to sextiles as “oh that!” aspects and pretty much discounts them as an aid to understanding as a direct result. People are interested in their pain, not about how they are naturally charming at dinner parties. Now this presupposes a fixation on specifics, which is far from the point of this article; for the most part the majority of nativities will evince a reasonably even distribution of easy and hard aspects, and that is entirely normal. If on the other hand, you find a noticeable lack of one or the other aspect type, then sit up and take notice. Take more notice of peregrination, but then look at this next. You should also consider the very important understanding that all aspects are squares. I have seen considerably more long-term addiction problems evinced via trines to Neptune than I have squares. The square creates a very abrupt crisis that must be dealt with and that lesson is invariably learned by the age of 30 at which point the aspect neutralises through that decade of life and begins to, what I would call, “trine out” by age 40 or thereabouts. By the exact same token, the trine starts to become a problem by age 30, the initial recognition that one has rested on one’s laurels in this particular theatre of operations starts to impinge upon consciousness, the challenge then is to find some drive and gradually transform the trine into a thing of substance before it becomes an effective square that gradually erodes the life into the 40s. There is no better realisation than this in the broad sweep of the aspects in astrology.

When Jupiter and Neptune are squared...
When Jupiter and Neptune are squared…

One good analogy is to see each planetary energy as an individual in their own right. Imagine Jupiter in Leo, he is magnanimous, noble, proud, somewhat egotistical, warm-hearted and generous. Now consider Neptune in Scorpio, a true spiritual Spartan warrior, who believes that life is about substance and not show, who believes that less is infinitely more and who is a genuine metaphysician; then square them and put them in a room together. These people are not going to interact comfortably; they don’t have much in common, they won’t even like each other very much; Neptune will think Jupiter is a show-off and Jupiter will think Neptune is no fun at all. But, despite this, if you leave them in that room together for long enough then they simply have to find a way to get along, or they’ll kill each other trying! Now consider it the other way around: imagine Jupiter in Leo trine Mars in Sagittarius. Now Jupiter finds a real friend, somebody who is endlessly enthusiastic about having a good time with easy-going Jupiter, somebody who will appreciate the shared zest for life and Jupiter in turn will enjoy this talkative, inspirational and happy-go-lucky individual in return, but of course, leave them too long in each other’s company and they might well shoot the breeze so comfortably that they eventually just get bored, and maybe, if they don’t find a shared purpose they might just get a little dissolute and decadent together.

That is the essential insight. Are you all squares and oppositions or all trines and sextiles? Do you know anyone that is?

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19 thoughts on “Trines vs. squares: half a dozen of one, or six of another?

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  1. I’m mostly trines/sextiles with a few squares thrown in…so my life is pretty easy. I don’t think that makes me lazy as I come to the same conclusions as my SO who has many squares but had to work harder to get there. He is at a point where he has worked on those squares deeply and it shows. I have worked as well, but it doesn’t show…it’s just more intuitive for me to find/seek answers than he. Also, a goal of his in this life is to be ‘perfect’. We disagree on this…my goal in life is to be ‘wise’. I fall short all of the time but keep working at it.

    Best and thank you.

  2. Interesting post. I’m more squares/oppositions than trines/sextiles, and I appreciate what you have to say about the self-search in that context. Also interesting is the suggestion that trines become squares and vice-versa with time and experience. I can see that, somewhat, in my own chart, and have heard it from clients as well. We’re so aware of what we put energy into that the things that come naturally start to feel as invisible as the air we breathe.

  3. Gem: I would be glad of some trines really, I am only trying to present a stark contrast, and what you say makes sense. I’ll swap my Su/Sa opp for one of your spare trines if you like?

    Kathy: That’s right! It posits the suggestion too that in one sense at least trines could even be more challenging than squares (not that I’d know really :))

    Deirdre: I’ll share a bottle with you, we can make the best of things I am sure… (and I am intrigued to know what’s at the focal point of that tee-square of course!)

    1. As a 26 year old, I’d say that’s unlikely. You will likely be a long way into understanding it, but you will keep discovering new ways it manifests in your life when you really think about it. Don’t stop paying attention to it or you will forget the lessons you learned. This has been my experience, anyway. Perhaps by the time our Saturn returns come along, we can say we have mastered ours. All the best!

  4. Interesting. I have a loose grand water trine (mars pluto venus) with mars and venus both in detriment or fall.
    Each one of these points has an opposition so it’s like, a triple kite or something. Mars opposes my uranus/neptune conjunction, venus opposes jupiter, and pluto opposes my moon.

    (Out of interest’s sake, yes my moon trines ur/nep, but jupiter doesnt trine either of them thanks to the orbs.)

    I would say i experience some synergy of understanding in the water signs, and of water energy as a whole, but the tension i feel in my life in those areas is much, much stronger and i haven’t had an easy life spiritually or creatively (or emotionally). If I examine it for long enough I get it and it slots into place, but I find this trine with a triple kite seems to emphasise the NEED in my life for this balance, and to push me to seek it, not automatically create it.

  5. I only have one square which is my mercury in sag loosely square jupiter in virgo(mutual reception?).(Thankfully my mercury is also sextile saturn in aquarius!) Most of my chart is sextiles from my scorpio stellium to neptune/uranus/jupiter. I would say i do have an easier time than most than achieving my goals if i really WANT them but directing energy is hard for me, and staying focused for long periods of time especially so. I am lucky to have a lot of abilities/gifts but motivation is…tricky! I wish i had the drive that my friends with lots of hard aspects do.

    YET I wouldn’t say my life has been “easy” with a sun/mars/pluto/moon conjunction in scorpio(square chiron) Lots of power struggles, suicide of parent in my teens, abuse early in life, tendency towards depression. Do you think conjunctions with difficult planets can be just as harsh as a square/opposition? Seems that “difficult” aspects like squares provide motivation more than anything else.

  6. Hello! I’m 18 and I’m fairly new to astrological aspects and i just wanted to know if we work on our trines and not slack off (something I’ve been doing since an year) then can we make it better?

    I’ve got around 18 soft aspects and 14 hard aspects, so yeah, I’ll probably slack off but wouldn’t it balance each other? And a lot of my aspects say I’m driven and i agree with that but with more soft aspects I understood that why i didn’t put my soul to everything. So i believe I can change it by consciously working on it, right?

    1. It’s important to work on all one’s aspects, both easy and difficult. Trines are normally rather comfortable so we do not usually feel the need to work on them. It is good to have a balance of both of these, but I do not think it is quite true that they balance one another in the sense that the good negates the bad, rather the hard aspects provide drive from a sense of existential discomfort, and the easy aspects provide some relief from the “grind”. I discuss this with students at length in our Patreon group if you are interested. A good analogy is that of riding a bike, too many hard aspects is like riding your bike uphill all the time, you soon become exhausted. Too many easy asepcts is like riding downhill all the time, you develop no stamina!

  7. Honestly I DREAM about possessing a mind and spirit with enough clarity, equanimity, space and consistency to come up with fascinating solutions and ideas and move about as if with little wings on your feet! I have 6 conjunctions (moon – chiron, mercury – saturn, sad stuff like that), 5 squares (of the like of sun – pluto, mercury – pluto, saturn -pluto, easy breezy), an isolated and afflicted virgo moon in the 6th opposed to saturn in pisces in the 12th… lots of 8th and 12th overall…a couple of weak sextiles, lots of quincuxes and semisquares, an incomprehensible aquarius-11th stellium…not one trine (unless i can count the one pluto – ASC)
    I’ve also just turned 28 and I don’t really feel like my efforts to get past these little nuances are amounting to anything…do ‘things that don’t kill you’ really make you stronger, or just mean? (or useless). Is it possible in astrology to have far more to deal with that you can handle?
    This article gives me new hope though! But if it doesn’t get better by 30 I’m going to be so mad

    1. Well, dear Florencia, Pluto trines are not really “easy”, which you’ve probably worked out by now.
      Does it get easier? I would say yes and… no.

      We can choose one of two paths, the first is to become self-aware, or at least increasingly so as we grow older. The downside here is that our increasing psychological sophistication keeps pace with difficult self-insight. so we are always working at a maximum level. There is no real opportunity to “relax”. Many people choose this path quite naturally, and though it is a continual struggle, it allows for personal growth.

      The second path is to block the discomfort from our hearts and minds and attempt to stay asleep. This is always a disaster and can only lead to spiritual stagnation, toxicity and poor mental health.

      I realise this goes beyond hard vs. easy aspects. But I truly believe they are irrelevant, at least qualitatively. If anything, easy aspects deter one from hard work, especially of the spiritual type. They also tend to degenerate into hard aspects if one avoids the hard work they need to stay healthy, and at the same time they predispose to avoiding that work. So, there is certainly a view to say that easy aspects can easily become a curse unless one is especially mindful about them.

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