Posted by: Donna Cunningham | August 23, 2009

Is the Semi-Sextile a Good Aspect or a Bad One?

glyphsemisextile-wikijpg©2009 by Donna Cunningham, MSW

 Have you read or been taught much about the semi-sextile?  I’m guessing that you haven’t—in most astrology writings, it tends to get shrugged off as a minor aspect after a half-hearted sentence or two of description. It’s a 30° aspect, plus or minus 2-3°. For instance, a planet in Aries may form a semi-sextile to a planet at approximately the same degree of either of the two adjacent signs, Pisces or Taurus.

The table below shows the pair of possible semi-sextiles for all 12 signs. Briefly, the aspect  involves planets in neighboring signs. But are they good neighbors or bad? That is to say, are they harmonious or at odds, do they support each other or bicker, and do they bolster each other’s efforts or sabotage them?

 My answer is: all of the above…depending on the signs and planets involved. There aren’t really any good or bad aspects, you know—just evolved and devilangel-a2dunevolved ways of using the two planets in the combination. The ultimate effect depends on the choices you make about how to use them at any given moment. 

 However, I’ve been watching semi-sextiles in my own life and the lives of friends and clients for 40 years, and for the most part I like them. The good traits of one of the signs can usually offset the less than wonderful traits of the other, especially if we learn to use them consciously. I have several in my chart, and they tend to pull me back off the ledge when I’m about to bungee dive into the worst qualities of the signs involved.

 Two of my four are in Gemini-Cancer, so let me tell you what I like about that combination.

Uranus and Neptune have been in mutual reception since 2003, meaning that Uranus has been in Neptune’s sign, (Pisces) and Neptune has been in Uranus’ sign (Aquarius). This is an exceptionally long mutual reception period—seven years—considering that mutual receptions between the inner planets might only last a few days, and those between the Moon and any other planet last only a few hours.  This article is timely now because on April 13, 2010 at 28° 4’, Uranus and Neptune will be exactly semi-sextile as well

Gemini can too often be glibly cerebral, and when I get that way about something that’s going on, Cancer reminds me of the emotions I’m glossing over. On the other hand, one of Cancer’s worst traits is to be hypersensitive and to take someone else’s remarks too personally, then withdraw in injured silence. Gemini teaches to me laugh at myself and communicate with the person about what was meant. All too often, they didn’t mean what I thought they did, but were off on some track of their own.

 Hglyphsemisextile-wikijpgere’s a full list of signs that are semi-sextile to one another, so you can check for this aspect in your own chart. Remember, the degree numbers of the planets should be no more than 2-3° apart. For example, a planet at 23° of Libra could be semi-sextile to planets between 20-26° of either Virgo or Scorpio. If you have a chart with the aspects printed out, look for the symbol shown at the side. 

ARIES semi-sextiles: Pisces, Taurus LIBRA : Virgo, Scorpio
TAURUS semi-sextiles: Aries, Gemini SCORPIO: Libra, Sag
GEMINI semi-sextiles: Taurus, Cancer SAGITTARIUS: Scorpio, Capricorn
CANCER semi-sextiles: Gemini, Leo CAPRICORN: Sag, Aquarius
LEO semi-sextiles: Cancer, Virgo AQUARIUS: Capricorn, Pisces
VIRGO semi-sextiles: Leo, Libra PISCES: Aquarius, Aries

  What about some other next-door-neighbor signs?  Aries’ powerful urge to take action can offset Taurus’ typical inertia, but Taurus’ patience in bringing things to fruition can counteract Aries’ impulsive tendency to abandon projects when they don’t get immediate results. Pisces’ compassion can temper Aries warlike qualities, while Aries can provide the initiative to realize Pisces visions.

Libra can tone down Virgo’s criticisms and deliver those essentially well-intentioned corrections with a spoonful of honey. On the other hand, Virgo’s discriminating analyses can offset Libra’s tendencies to fall for a pretty face and charming line. Sagittarius can lend optimism to Scorpio’s cynical outlook, but Scorpio can discern what’s really going on underneath that charismatic new guru’s message that Sag is prone to take on faith.  Capricorn’s capacity to create structures, and administer them can take Aquarius’ theories out of the ivory tower and into the planning stage.

 Did you notice how many CANS there were in the examples given above? CAN presupposes that only one of the signs is showing its rotten side at the moment, and that the other sign is trying to help them evolve out of the murk and mire. What would happen if both signs were taking the lower path? To be perfectly fair, these two signs can also aid and abet each other in mayhem if the combination is misused.

cancercrabhidehat-a2d Perfect example: With my Cancer/Gemini semi-sextiles, before I got so bloody evolved, I was capable of firing off some fairly devastating written commentaries to people who offended me, detailing what they did, why I was so deeply wounded by it, exactly what sort of worthless human being they were, and what they could do with themselves from here on out.

And I allowed no comeback—this was in the days when people still wrote letters rather than emails.  Any written reply was returned marked “refused delivery.” No exaggeration. Nope, you wouldn’t have wanted to receive one of those poison pen letters of mine. After a LOT of work on myself, I foreswore that behavior quite some time ago. (It also helped when my progressed Mercury moved into Libra.)

Still, when the positive qualities of both signs are carefully cultivated, next-door-neighbor signs like these can prop one another up like good neighbors do in real life. A solid sense of respect for your own and other people’s boundaries is part of what makes the difference with this aspect, as in so many other areas.  Be guided by what Robert Frost wrote: “Good fences make good neighbors.”

A transiting semi-sextile of note is the one between Uranus and Neptune that is in range now and exact on April 13, 2010 at 28° 4’ .  These two outer planets have been in mutual reception since 2003, meaning that Uranus has been in Neptune’s sign, (Pisces) and Neptune has been in Uranus’ sign (Aquarius). This is an exceptionally long mutual reception period—seven years—considering that mutual receptions between the inner planets might only last a few days, and those between the Moon and any other planet last only a few hours. Read an article on this blog about mutual reception here: Neptune & Uranus in Mutual Reception

Incidentally, folks, my new series of articles on aspects starts with the October/November issue of The Mountain Astrologer, which will be out on the newsstands in a couple of weeks.  It’s designed to teach the nuts and bolts of analyzing aspects–the real building blocks of chart interpretation, whether you’re studying natal, transits, chart comparison, mundane, electional, or horary.

 Now that I’m done sharing what I’ve garnered  about semi-sextiles over the years, here are some additional perspectives on this aspect found  in an internet search today: 

 Completely unrelated but a find anyway at Wikimedia Commons is this collection of astrological aspect symbols available to use as graphics:  The semi-sextile glyph used here is from that collection.

More Articles from the Series about the Lesser-Known Aspects:

If you’re enjoying this series, sign up for a subscription, and get a FREE EBOOKLET for Skywriter Subscribers Only: Mothers, Daughters, and the Moon, a 50-page excerpt from The Moon in your Life. Read more about it here: New: Free Booklet For Skywriter Subscribers! 

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  1. Thanks for the insights into this aspect. I have the Libra-Scorpio semi-sextile. Like to think of it as helping my Libra side make up her bloody mind!

    This is another air-water combo with a nasty tongue. Started cleaning up my act around my first Saturn Return. 🙂

  2. Thank you for this: very helpful, indeed!

    *runs off to do the recommended reading and to look at personal semi-sexitles*

    • Neith, Neeti, Auntie, I love the illustrations of semi-sextiles in your comments, and you are extremely funny people. I do like to think of it as at least potentially a Good Neighbor aspect–like Canada and the US are good neighbors. If either country was attacked or faced with a disaster, we’d be the first to come to each others’ aid. Donna

  3. I have the Cancer/Leo semi-sextile. That graphic of the crab with the hat? There’s a crown under it that I’ve put on more than once too often. My tender little crab used to turn out royal decrees that had to be obeyed or “Off with their heads!”

    Thank goodness for the bloody evolution, Donna. I’m a lot happier keeping it in check and issuing my now rare missives with more diplomacy.

    Thanks for the links and the insights.


  4. The Huber’s from Switzerland have referred to the semi-sextile as the small, every day question needing answered and the inconjunct as the big, existential question needing attention. Obviously both are handled better when there is consciousness. This way of looking at the aspect has helped me.

    • Thanks, Jacqueline, I like that very much! It certainly sounds true. Donna

  5. Loved this post. Now I’m off to take a long hard look at my Jupiter in Leo, Uranus in Virgo semi-sextile to see what the little monkey is trying to say. It’s exact to the minute too.

    Jacqueline – The Huber insight is fascinating. I hadn’t heard that before. Thanks 🙂

  6. Donna, my Sun formed a semi-sextile with the Sun of each of my adoptive parents: 29 Leo (Dad), 29 Virgo (me), and 29 Libra (Mom). I always felt very connected to them and that we functioned much like a trio unit. I often think of us the Tricuspids. Not only did the energy from each Sun help the qualities of the other, but of course, we each had Mercury in the next sign with Sun on the cusp–so, we had a bit of Sun softening from that, too. (In my case, Venus and Neptune are also in Libra.)

    I’ve never given my own semi-sextiles much thought nor worked them in the charts of others. Always seems like enough to do with the “major” aspects, but this offers a very interesting refinement. One of these days I’m going to quit looking at everything I already know, go in and put in all the minor aspects, asteroids, and points I’ve always wanted to explore, and I bet I get a whole new slant on my chart.

    Thanks for this!

    • Interesting. So his Sun was at 29 Leo? The fixed star Regulus is there. That’s supposed to be a regal degree–the Leo-est of the Leos.

  7. He was certainly the king of our hearts! If my intuitive info received on his birth time is correct, backed by his sister’s memory, he was a Triple Leo (Sun, Moon, ASC). He had all the good qualities of Leo and almost none of the negative, but he also had a Grand Earth Trine including Mercury/Venus in Virgo and Mars/Saturn in Taurus, and Uranus in Cap. His Virgo was strong–his Venus at 29 exactly conjunct my Sun. No wonder I adored him! And talk about funny! He had comic timing any stand-up would envy.

  8. To me the semi-sextiles are very important cause that’s how i found your blog. I googled ‘semisextiles’, clicked ‘open in new tab’ on the first five links-as usual-, and here you are! I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t know who you are, but by post no 2 (pluto in the 2nd i believe it was) it became obvious you were world-class. By post no 5, you became my new fixation.
    At first, it was heaven, i read one post after another, till I was dizzy. Now that I’ve read practically everything here, I sometimes find myself experiencing symptoms of withdrawal waiting for the new one! Best wishes and-needless to say- keep blogging!

    • LOL! Thanks, VR, I’m so glad you’re enjoying the blog. I’m having a grand time myself–new experiences all the time. Donna

  9. Donna, that is one bad-ass looking crab! 😀

    Thanks for your insights into an overlooked aspect. I thank heaven on a regular basis for Mercury in Leo semi-sextile my oversensitive Venus in Cancer. In the eleven years I’ve had my website I’ve had my Cancerian feelings hurt often by nasty emails and criticism (comes with the online territory); I think I’d have folded up my tent long ago if not for feisty, stubborn Mercury in Leo!

    • They surely do help, April–a nice tug on the coat to warn against the excesses of a position. Donna

  10. Thanks for this. Yesterday, I looked at a chart for someone with Leo Sun exactly ss to Cancer Moon – and the words I’d use for her are whole and well-adjusted.

    The rest of the chart was pretty nice too, clearly.

    • Hi, Christina. For some reason, the emails I send you keep bouncing. (They seem to say that your server has blacklisted my server, Mozilla.) Yes, I do like semisextiles. The two signs aren’t always best friends, but they are valuable correctives. Donna

  11. hello !! 🙂 i wanna ask. is my sun semi sextile neptune at 2.36 orb effective?!

    • Hi, Alexandra, yes that semisextile works. I use up to 3 degrees–especially with the Sun or Moon, but no further. Donna

      • thanks alot.

  12. When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now
    each time a comment is added I get four emails with the same comment.

    Is there any way you can remove people from that service?
    Thank you!

    • So sorry that happens, Loren. Feedburner handles the subscriptions, posts, and comments, and I don’t have any control over what Feedburner does. It’s a massive, mechanical machine that handles millions of blog posts, subscriptions, and comments every day, and there’s no way to reach a real person. What might work is to unsubscribe from Skywriter (top right hand column on the front page of the blog), then instead to click “follow” at the top of the page, as it seems to be a whole different system. But wait a few days or a week after unsubscribing to see if you still get the emails. (If you do get those multiple ones, there should be something at the bottom of the email that says unsubscribe.) Donna

  13. I just looked at my tightest semi-sextiles and these are moon(capricorn) semi-sextile saturn( in aquarius) , saturn semi-sextile neptune (capricorn)
    jupiter(virgo) semi-sextile chiron (leo)

  14. I can’t believe I missed this post! I have merc rx in taurus semisextile venus in gemini, a mutual reception to boot! Being in 6th and 7th I’ve often wondered how it played out in my life. They both are in conjunctions with other planets so ita hard to suss them out. I think its back and forth energy in relationships with either a lot of talking going on and topics rapidly changing to being quiet and inside my head thinking a lot. I think the current planetary line ups may help me get a better feel for it since merc is in taurus and venus is in gemini now!

  15. This is a great article! I have the Venus in Gemini 11th semisextile Chiron in Taurus in the 10th. My Chiron reprimands Venus from running off or associating with flakey friends, groups, and love interests by highlighting the wounds that can come as a consequence. Instead I’ve learned how to prize (10th) a small circle of steady (Taurus) friends instead

  16. Great article. I have Mercury in Sagittarius semi-sextile Uranus in Capricorn.

    Just on a sign interaction, Sagittarius can offer optimism, faith, and joy to the rather saturnine, hard-nosed Capricorn. Capricorn, in turn, can help Sagittarius learn moderation and help curb some excesses, and make sure some of the luck and fortune, especially in material matters, are tucked away for later use, like a rainy day fund.

    • Yes, Levi, I’ve found that signs that are next door to one another help in adding good qualities that offset the less desirable qualities of the other sign. Donna Cunningham

      • seems I have another semisextile that I have never figured out. chiron in aries, north node in pisces. Its actually the only aspect I have to the north node….finding my soul purpose through my wounds? anybody else have a chiron/nn aspect? thoughts? Thanks!

  17. Hi Kimmie, for figuring out the NN, it is also helpful to look at the house the NN is in plus the houses of the NN ruler. In this case both Neptune and Jupiter.

  18. Hey, thank you for this article. I was wondering if there is any correlation to the lotus tarot major arcana? I like these ones here but not sure if this is relevant?

    • Hi, Lotus, yes, many astrologers, myself included, have made those connections. My blogging friend, Auntie Moon, often refers to them. Donna

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