Posted by: Donna Cunningham | July 30, 2010

The Not-So-Minor Aspects—the Results of Our Research

©7-29-2010 by Donna Cunningham, MSW 

 For the past six weeks, the Skywriter community has been engaged in a research project into six of the so-called minor aspects like the semisquare, septile, and sesquiquadrate.   We’re generally given no more than a vague, abstract sentence or phrase of explanation about these chart features—the same unhelpful generalization repeated by author after author.

My hope was that by gathering real-life examples from readers, we’d gain a clearer understanding of how these aspects work in people’s lives.   I asked readers to look for them in their charts and to give examples of how they’re expressed, with specific details. The response has been remarkable.  Thanks, folks! You’re the best!

What conclusions can we draw from readers’ reports? There are some very interesting results.

Finding #1:  A blog can be an excellent venue for gathering information about chart features through reader feedback.  Skywriter’s readers tend to be at the intermediate to advanced level of astrological studies. 

They are bright, articulate, and self-aware.  They are using astrology for self-awareness and personal growth. Unlike the tepid response to most questionnaires, they participated enthusiastically in this research. 

The aspects we’ve worked with and the number of participants so far are:

  • semisquare (45°)             140 participants
  • septile (51.43°)                 70 participants
  • quintile (72°)                     84 participants
  • sesquiquadrate (135°)      54 participants
  • biquintile (144°)              17 participants
  • mundane square (varied) 82 participants

(Note:  the comment sections for these articles remain open, so you’re welcome to add your observations at the links below.)

Finding #2: Most participants had previously dismissed the “minor” aspects as unimportant.  Once they re-examined these aspects in their own charts, they readily understood what they meant. Putting together the planets, signs, and houses, they were able to interpret them and provide specific details of how the aspect worked in their lives. Their examples made sense astrologically. 

Finding #3: Even the most skeptical were surprised by how strong these aspects were and how much impact they’d had.  Many vowed to start taking a closer look at these aspects in chart interpretation. 

Finding #4:  The nature of the two planets involved seemed to determine the effects of an aspect, rather than the particular angle between them. In the experiences readers provided, there seemed to be little difference between the various aspects. 

 The feelings, difficulties, and effects reported for a Mercury-Saturn aspect, for instance, were strikingly similar, regardless of whether it was a semisquare, septile, or sesquiquadrate.  They also weren’t that different from Mercury-Saturn conjunctions, squares, trines, and oppositions dozens of readers had reported on in earlier posts about that combination. 

 Finding #5:  The ease or difficulty reported with any particular aspect seemed to depend on how compatible the signs and elements involved were

For example, the septile (51.43°) is sometimes between signs that are semisextile and sometimes in the sextile sign. The quintile (72°) is sometimes between signs that are sextile and sometimes between those that are square.  The sesquiquadrate (135°) is sometimes in signs that are trine and sometimes in signs that are quincunx.  

Where the planets were placed in incompatible signs, readers tended to experience the aspect as more difficult.  

To sum up the results of this highly successful summer project, no clear description of the nature of the individual aspects emerged from looking at them in this way.  In seeking real-life examples, we were going for the “feeling” of the aspect and its impact, rather than a theoretical formulation.  This would be classified as clinical research rather than strictly along the scientific model.  As a clinician rather than a scientist, that’s plenty good enough for me.  (Science can bite me!!)

However, what we did discover was that the “minor aspects” are simply less well understood.  I prefer to call them the lesser-known aspects, because this research confirms that their effects are often anything but minor. 

 If you haven’t been around for our studies of the little-known aspects in this series, you’re welcome to explore them at the links below and to share your findings in the comment sections for those posts.  To learn more about what these aspects mean, have a look at what other readers have said.  

 Kudos to those who participated! You’ve added some very valuable information to our field.  What did you learn about yourself and your astrology chart from taking part? Did you form any conclusions about these aspects and their role in our lives? Tell us about it in the comment section.   

Skywriter’s Series about the Lesser-Known Aspects: Donna Cunningham Skywriter 

free astrology booklet by Donna CunninghamIf you’re enjoying Skywriter, sign up for a subscription, and get a FREE EBOOKLET for 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!  

  If you’re already a subscriber and want a copy, forward the most recent email post to me at To sign up for a subscription, go to the top right hand corner of the blog and click on “Subscribe.”  Then send me an email with your subscription confirmation or an email post with a request for the booklet in the subject line.


  1. Two things. One, these recent articles have made me appreciate my heretofore not quite understood Sun/Saturn quintile. Now I can consciously appreciate my Saturn talents! Two, these articles also made me more aware of the active role that Chiron is playing in my chart. Now I am compelled to explore that archetype more.

    Thank you!

    • It worked because you worked it, Katie. Good going! Donna

  2. I found a lot of reinforcement for themes that were already present in my chart. A Venus-Saturn sesqui-quadrate is the final piece of a 7th house-conjunct-the-Descendant Saturn theme. And that happened with a lot of these minor aspects.

    I’ve also discovered some energies that I think need to be teased out further, things that make sense but I can’t quite get a grip on. It’s a good way to explore one’s self through astrology.

  3. Hi Donna
    Just wanted to say thank for this series. My otherwise unaspected Venus turns out to have a septile to Uranus, a sesquiquadrate to Jupiter and Chiron, a semisquare to Pluto – so suddenly it’s not so difficult to access after all. Same goes for my MC and Asc – turns out there are aspects here as well. Great for exploring and with lots of potential in other words.

  4. Thank you Donna…..I learned a great deal about myself and I have regular clients, so trust me when I say their charts will receive a much more thorough going over for the “lesser aspects!” I used to read your column in Dell Magazine when I first got involved in Astrology, so meeting you via the blog has been an “answered prayer.” This also kick started me to do what I have known for many years, this is my passion, so I am pursuing it wholeheartedly now….Thank you for sharing and for being such a great Teacher!

    I have another suggestion…..How do you think the Cardinal T-Square/Opposition(s) will affect babies born this summer, in comparison to the last time this happened, or did I miss that discussion? Hope not!

    • The last time it happened, as in back in the 1930s? There was a Cardinal t-square of Uranus-Pluto-Saturn then too, only Pluto was in Cancer, Saturn in Capricorn, and Uranus–like now–in Aries. It was a very difficult time for all–the Great Depression–and many of those born in its shadow lived with a Depression mentality all their lives where material goods were concerned. Donna

      • Yes, I am curious about all thing Astrology, and my Grandmother was into Astrology herself. I was asking because I am wondering about all the babies born this summer under the umbrella of the Cardinal Cross, what seeds they carry inside them, their impact…..My Grandma had the Depression Mentality….And after your series with the Lesser Aspects, I am hoping you are interested in gathering data about the Nodes…That is a subject matter that I don’t really understand and when everyone participates it makes all the “light bulbs” flash! Thanks for considering it!

        And thank you for being you!


  5. Kudos to YOU, Donna!!
    This series was mega-enjoyable and enlightening.

    Molly K.

    PS – Science can bite me,too!

    • Glad you enjoyed, Molly. I really enjoyed it myself, and discovered several aspects I didn’t know I had. When I first studied aspects, ages ago, Chiron hadn’t been invented yet, so I didn’t know about all my lesser-known chiron aspects. Donna

  6. Donna,

    This is all fascinating! I started using the minors about two years ago, but really just sticking my toe in. I’ve been in the midst of two cross-country moves and all sorts of things around that, but at some point in the future I promise to go and add my experiences in my chart.

    Truly an interesting series.

  7. Thank you! Finding a Quintile between my Neptune and Mars has really helped me reinforce one of my biggest strengths. I didn’t know where it came from before and to actually find it in my chart made me even more of a believer.

  8. Hmmm…what did I learn about myself in learning about the lesser-known aspects?

    That with only one quintile, Moon Q Saturn, I can see why my ‘Sun-Moon Capricorn 2nd House, Sag Merc making 2nd House stellium’ late father told my piano teacher that I had no talent. Saturn-facility wouldn’t have seem very interesting to him at all!

    Makes it easier for this Scorpio Moon to forgive him now. 🙂

    I believe my semisquare issues need past-life work, maybe professional work. I’m of the opinion that at least for me, I carry a lot of ancient energy more than having had specifically Eastern-view past lives. However one looks at it, the work to resolve them is the same, as I understand it.

    Gonna get started on that more intently now. I’ve been reading up on Nodes and the semisquare information makes the Nodes and my Merc square the Nodes much more clear.

    Any plans to write about the Nodes? 😀

    • Thanks for sharing what the series did for you and what you’re doing to work with the insight. Nope, the Nodes aren’t my thing. There’s one article on this site about the South Nodes by guest blogger Elizabeth Spring that you might like. Donna

  9. These aspects certainly do work and make charts even more intricate. The details astounds me!

    One thing did click after looking at my Mercury to Saturn semi-square and Capricorn 3rd house. It relates to why I feel so Saturnian. With a Mercury ruled Gemini sun, I think like a Capricorn, therefore I am!

  10. Hi Donna:

    I have been pondering your finding #4 since I read your post.
    “Finding #4: The nature of the two planets involved seemed to determine the effects of an aspect, rather than the particular angle between them. In the experiences readers provided, there seemed to be little difference between the various aspects. ”

    You posit that the effects of the different minor aspects were very similar to each other and to the major aspects, if I understood you correctly. Then how can you differentiate among them. If they have similar effects, aren’t they the same then? Which would then invalidate the nuances between the different minor aspects. Does it matter?
    And if it is the nature of the planets involved rather than the aspect itself, wouldn’t it be true also for major aspects.
    Could I radicalize and say then that aspects do not matter, but rather the only thing important are the planets itself.
    Just thinking out loud.

    • Hi, Fabienne, I was quite surprised myself at that finding about the similarities of the issues. Perhaps you are correct that the actual aspects aren’t as important as the planets. OR, perhaps, it is simply too early to draw such a conclusion, and we’d need to gather a great many more cases–this time focusing perhaps on a single pair of planets in many different types of aspects. Donna

      • …and it’s easy to make ‘self-fulfilling prophecies’ when you analyze your own chart. So what is much needed is insight from astrologers who have studied many charts other than their own, like that you provided on semisextiles.

  11. I wasn’t involved in the exercise, but in reading the thread, here are some thoughts on Fabienne’s proposition: while it may not be important if it’s a major or minor aspect, my gut tells me it’s still very important if it’s a positive or negative aspect, e.g. in a synastry chart, venus conjunct pluto is a very different energy than venus opposite pluto; both are intense and good to a point, but one burns more than the other. Just like sun conjunct moon in a natal chart is a very different energy than sun square moon ….

    In looking at transits to my chart for the ‘what was up when you moved’ blog, I started playing around and just throwing in dates for when I started jobs, etc. I was shocked to see transiting venus opposite my natal pluto on the day I started my last job; it’s the same aspect that existed between me and the man I met there whom I fell in love with. The synchronicity (?) of that blew my mind. Since I’m currently looking for another job, it really made me think about carefully checking transiting aspects for a date to start a new job. I’ve often done a chart for the date, time and place itself, but that needs to be used in conjunction w/ transits to the natal chart based on my most recent revelation:)

  12. I really enjoyed your article on the minor aspects in TMA. I’ve tended to ignore them in the past except for the quincunx. However, it has set me thinking more! I have Venus (in Pisces in 4th) sesquiquadrate Uranus (in Leo in 9th) in my chart & I’d agree with the comment about them being ‘awkward’. Usually the Venus in Pisces seems to ‘win out’ & I think this is because I have Mars in Pisces & Neptune in 12th cjn the Asc as well. I want to care for my nearest & dearest for so long (& that does mean a lot to me) & then Uranus clammers for attention in the end & I know I have to have some freedom to explore spirituality, astrology etc. All of a sudden (Uranus) I’ll decide to go off for a weekend to a conference or escape into my attic to explore a birth chart or work on some course I’m taking. For me I’d say this sesquiquadrate represents a ‘subtle, underlying tension’ which isn’t easily resolved. With squares it’s as though the challenge it’s more clear cut & you can see what the obstacle is in your life but the minors are more like ‘niggling undercurrents!’ Just a word on quintiles. Neptune is quintile my M.C. & I find that the healing work I do as a complementary therapist comes very naturally to me. Emma Belle Donath talks about quintiles as being connected with ability, insight, mastery & understanding & in terms of healing (Neptune) as my occupation (10th) this is where I feel there is a natural ‘know how’. Really enjoy all your articles in TMA by the way!!

    • Thanks, Kathy, it was a terrific series. Donna

  13. This is great! I was too late in responding to your previous post but I’m thankful that you conducted this research.

  14. I received your email re: mutual reception. I have Mercury in Aquarius trine Uranus in Gemini to great benefit. i have always been an excellent student. I get the gist of peoples conversation easily and make connections between subjects. i love science and have always embraced new technology. By the way Jupiter is Sagittarius is opposite Uranus and that has been a lifesaver with Pluto conjunct Saturn conjunct Mars in Leo/2nd house.

    • A terrific MR, and should also give you an excellent understanding of astrology, as Mercury/Uranus aspects are one of the signatures. Donna

  15. Donna, I found out that my venus-semi-sextile saturn was a lot more stronger in my life, than I thought, even though two astrologers i talked with, regarded it, as very mildly influential/acting. I beg to differ !! I feel it has an impact on how I’ve evolved artistically, explains a lot about my lack of social confidence, as an adolescent/ young person in their twenties. I also look very young for my age. I couldn’t explain that on anything, until I read your wonderful and insightful venus- saturn, Waiting for love article , here.

    Perhaps my semi-sextile could be read as venus sextile saturn……

    Like Katie, at the beginning of this comments thread, I have Sun quintile Saturn also!
    I couldn’t find a lot about this aspect, but I read your article on quintiles etc, and I think it works by helping me structure things/organise and plan, and perhaps gives me a serious base for teaching/lecturing ( which is what I do as my main job ) and I believe it helps with structuring artistic endeavours.

    I have Jupiter sesiquadrate venus, but I don’t think that has an adverse effect on me, but I love beauty and art,( I ‘m a dancer/writer in my spare time, volunteer at a theatre . I maybe overspend a little on books, unusual jewellery, nice treats, eating out , cinema, travelling etc) .

    I have Jupiter quincunx Mars. I think the quincunx is supposedly about accomodating and adjusting: for me, I have a lot of energy, and I suppose this aspect is about trying to keep a balance on not overdoing things, perhaps; it’s certainly not a stop and start energy, as I am busy for the most part ( I have Mars in Capricorn)- but I can feel lazy, and crash out and do absolutely nothing, and then feel very guilty.
    I wonder at times, if this is the Jupiter- venus thing or the jupiter-mars thing ( feeling lazy, or knowing I need to take breaks from time time to time?) The only minor aspect I don’t relate much to , is Saturn semi-square Mars: analysing it, I think it might be because Mars is in Capricorn, and maybe it works less as an irritating factor, but a reminder to take breaks ( not work too hard!)

    There is a blog called ( think that’s the correct address) where the astrologer/blogger Michelle, has the same take on the “minor aspects” as you do, Donna- that they can be just as powerful and influential. The comments from readers on that site are an excellent reminder of that. Michelle uses key words to describe a connection between planets, whatever their aspect, and obviously the native applies those words , as a way to understand their chart. That approach works well.

    • thanks, Z, it sounds like you’ve got quite a lot of support from Saturn in these aspects. As I was saying earlier, in the semisextile, each planet supports the other in not going so much into the less desirable qualities of their sign, and the MR would reinforce that ability. Donna

  16. It’s sorry for the error in spelling. It’s an interesting read.

  17. I’ll try again! LOL!

  18. @Kathy, I really liked your explanation on the difference between the square and the sesquiquradrate. With the square you see the challenge and can achieve a resolution, while the sesquiquadrate, it’s the underlying tension, not quite tangible.

    I’ve had another look at my Jupiter sesqui Venus ( what a mouthful!) Gemini (Jupiter)/Aquarius( Venus). It should be a trine, in an ideal world, but it’s not :(.

    Probably this energy is about trying to find that sensible way of not going over the top in having a good time, not spending too much, not being too generous emotionally , socially and financially, resolving that tension to want to do these, but still maintaining that love of art, beauty culture, people , travel , intellectual pursuits etc. I would probably look at the qualities that jupiter sextile/trine venus embody, and try to work to develop those benefits within my self. I feel that there is a theme somewhere with my Jupiter quincunx Mars ( Gemini/Capricorn) as in not to overdo (action) . Balance is the key. Thanks for that insight. Good food for thought 🙂

  19. Thanks for those thoughts on the semi-sextile, Donna.

    I’m starting to appreciate it more and more, and what’s helping me, is using key words to understand how the so-called minor aspects work, with specific planets/elements.
    I’ve just discovered I have a Jupiter biquintile Neptune (Gemini 11th house /Scorpio: 4th house).

    It is clear minor aspects do have a far more powerful effect on many people, and shouldn’t be dismissed. Thanks again, Donna!

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