Posted by: Donna Cunningham | January 16, 2011

Readers Ask—Q&A about Conjunctions

©1-16-2011 by Donna Cunningham, MSW

Since we’ve completed the series of Question and Answer sessions about the 12 houses, I’ve been wondering what our next topic should be. These sessions are too much fun to stop!

Astrological aspects are a special focus of mine—the basic building blocks of every branch of astrology—so today we’re beginning a new series on this all-important facet of chart interpretation.

 We’ll focus today on conjunctions in the birth chart. I often compare this aspect to glass, which is made from sand combined with various minerals and then heated to such a high temperature that the ingredients are fused.

When you look at a piece of glass, you don’t generally recall that it started out as a handful of sand.  The two or more planets in a conjunction are fused in a similar way.

First, however, here are some changes in the way Q&A sessions are handled to make them as fair as possible for all readers.

 When recent guest blogger, Donna Van Toen, got a staggering 30 questions about the nodes in four hours, the session was closed before the notice even went out to email subscribers.

One frustrated subscriber protested that she never gets to ask a question because the same people always get there first with their questions and they generally ask multiple questions. No doubt many of you find it as unfair as she does, so here’s what we’re doing to shift that.

The notices go out from WordPress to email subscribers at 1:00 PM Pacific. (That’s 4:00 PM Eastern, 9:00 PM in Europe, and I don’t even know what day that is in Australia, much less what time.) I won’t open the session to questions until the notice has come out—and after today I’ll alert you in the day or so before that it’s coming.  

Second, rather than one question per email, the new rule is one question per reader per Q&A session.

 Now, some of you ask multiple questions that are so doggone good and of such universal interest that I simply cannot pass them up. I am a total sucker for a great question.

 If you believe your second question is of that caliber and it’s NOT related to your own chart, ask it anyway. The worst that can happen is that I delete it. The best that can happen is that you stimulate me to craft an answer that lives up to the same standard as the question and we all learn from it. 

Third, I will not answer specific and complicated questions about your own chart or anyone else’s, as I do not comment extensively on individual charts on this blog.

I’m retired from consultations, except for my Dell Horoscope advice column. Feel free to write to me via with specific personal questions, but do include full birth data and details about the situation.

For today’s post, do not ask detailed personal questions like, “I have Venus and Saturn conjunct in Scorpio in the 7th opposite Mars in Taurus in 1st. Is there any chance I’ll ever get married?” 

I will delete your question OR edit out the personal data and answer it in more universal terms

(Yes, I’m aware that most people are really asking a question about their own or a loved one’s chart, but at least they have the class to make it a more general question that will interest other readers as well.)

Instead, I am happy to entertain questions like these:

  • How does the house position change the way a conjunction is expressed?
  • Does a conjunction between two planets on the Ascendant confuse people?
  • Which planet in a conjunction is likely to be the more dominant?


That sort of thing, phrased in 25 words or less. Here, I’m looking for the kinds of questions and discussions you’d raise in a class or at a conference.

Update: The session is finished.  To read other people’s questions and answers—scroll down below this article to the comment section. 

Related Posts You May Enjoy:

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! 

 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. Awesome topic! This inquiring mind likes your question of “Does a conjunction between two planets on the Ascendant confuse people?I like the other two as well so I hope that someone else asks those. I absolutely love the artwork in this piece!

    • I love beach glass too, MS. Whether two planets on the Ascendant would be confusing to someone just meeting you would depend on how well the nature of the two planets meshed. Venus and Jupiter get along fine; Mars and Neptune not so much, so the conflict within would get displaced onto other people.

      And maybe it would depend on how close they were, because if they were one degree apart, they’d generally be triggered at the same time by fast-moving transits. If they were say 7-8 degrees apart, they’d be triggered sequentially, even days apart.

      So, say it was Venus first, 8 degrees away from Saturn, then you might come across as warm and welcoming on first contact, but a week later, reserved and icy.

      Lordie, how did you come up with such a hard question? Donna

      • You did help me out there and there is considerable personal interest. Shoot I’m confused myself sometimes. LOL!

  2. How should a personal planet conjunct the generational conjunction of Uranus & Pluto be interpreted?

    • Hi, Tam. The first step would be to come to an understanding of what the outer planet conjunction represents in the lives of the subgeneration born with it. (Uranus-Pluto for the generation born in the Mid-60s; Pluto-Saturn for those born 1946-48; Uranus-Neptune for those born during parts of the 1980s-90s.)

      That’s very hard to summarize in a paragraph or two–my ebook The Outer Planets and Inner Life, Volume 3 has long chapters about each of those subgenerations. But you can get a taste of what the Pluto-Uranus group struggles with here:

      Once you get clear on what that conjunction means, then it begins to make sense how the inner planet comes in with that individual, for it shows where it impacts the personal arena.

      Mercury, for instance, would show that the person’s mind is actively involved in working on clarifying those issues for themselves and others, perhaps through writing.

      You can see Mars-Pluto-Uranus combined and working together here:

      Well, that’s as much as I can explain in one comment, but it’s something that has fascinated me to observe for the past 40+ years. Donna

      • Hi Tam and Donna,
        Just a comment, I have found in my own personal research and observation that more than a few people from the Uranus Pluto conjunction generation suffer from dyslexia. One in particular who I’m thinking of has it simultaneously square to Mercury and trine to Jupiter, and her dyslexia is astounding. I was just wondering if any other astrologers have come across this phenomenon. Thanks, Regine

      • Mercury-Uranus aspects in and of themselves can have what I call “problems with the wiring.” Donna

  3. Yes, the above question “Which planet in a conjunction is likely to be the more dominant?” is the one I would love to see answered. Thank you so much, Donna!

    • Which planet in a conjunction is dominant can depend on a number of things.

      In general, the outer planets can take over and enlist the inner planet in serving the needs of the collective (see what I wrote above about inner planets conjunct Uranus-Pluto.)

      Next, I’d say that any planet conjunct the Sun, Moon, or Ascendant would make you seem like the sign that planet rules, only more so. EG, Pluto conjunct the Ascendant would be like Scorpio rising to the 9th power.

      Another way to tell would be by taking the tests for the strength of the planets on this site. If one of the pair has a much higher score, that planet is likely to dominate the conjunction.

      The planet with the most aspects may dominate over one with few aspects.

      There are probably other ways a planet can dominate, but those are a few. Donna

      • Thanks Donna! What about a planet in domicile conjunct a planet in detriment? Like, for instance, Moon conjunct Saturn in Cancer? Would this make the planet in domicile significantly stronger … or is this just a minor consideration?

      • Yes, a planet in domicile or exaltation would probably trump one in fall, as it’s weaker. Many of our readers won’t have heard of those terms, so I don’t want to go into it in detail here. Donna

  4. Hello Donna,
    I would like to ask about a conjunction on a cusp of two signs…one planet at the end of one sign,the second one at the very begining of the following sign….how the fusion works taking in consideration that the planets have different agendas.
    And perhaps someone else ask this :Does a stellium works in a different way than a simple conjunction?

    • An out of sign conjunction is what we call that.

      An example that comes to mind is Barak Obama’s Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in the 12th. Saturn is in it’s own sign, Capricorn; Jupiter is at 0 Aquarius.
      Although it sounds like this conjunction would cancel itself out, I don’t see it that way at all. Remember during the election and after how people would comment on his quality of “Gravitas”?

      I love Jupiter-Saturn aspects for their integrity, reliability and honor, and I can actually sense when someone has it. Gravitas says it all.

      Remember that a conjunction forces two planets to merge, so the qualities of Jupiter and Saturn are still merging in this example. What else is being forced to merge are the qualities of Capricorn and Aquarius. We have to keep wondering if he’s visionary and futuristic or whether he is just a tad to the right of center.

      He’s both, and having to try to satisfy people on both ends of the political spectrum (Capricorn vs Aquarius) and it’s nearly impossible to do both.


  5. What’s the difference between a planet conjunct the ascendant and a planet conjunct the sun?

    • The Sun and the Ascendant serve very different functions in our charts and our lives, so the same planet would be acted out in similar yet different ways.

      A planet conjunct the Sun becomes part of our core nature and our sense of self. Jupiter conjunct the Sun would make you rather Sagittarian in nature, and just as Sagittarians tend get their self-worth from having all the answers and knowing more than everyone else, that’s also true of Sun-Jupiter conjunctions.

      A planet conjunct the Ascendant is not who you are, it’s what you’re most comfortable letting other people see, especially people who don’t know you well. So the person with Sag rising can take on the role of teaching and preaching and uplifting all comers as a way of keeping people from getting to know the real deal–how they’re really feeling or what their real agenda might be.

      That’s only a brief summary, but it’ll give you an idea. Donna

  6. Your question about House expression: how would a conjunction expression differ between 6th and 12th, for example, or 3rd and 9th? Or 5th and 11th?

    • Well, Parin, you’ve chosen all houses that are opposite one another, and the opposite signs and houses are intrinsically related to one another, so that muddies the question a bit. (My next series for The Mountain Astrologer is precisely directed at understanding the relationships between these house axes.)

      If you don’t mind, I’d rather take two adjacent houses for the example, as I think that will be clearer. The 2nd and 3rd, let’s say. Let’s say you have the Moon and Saturn conjunct in the 2nd vs. the 3rd.

      This conjunction in any house might suggest insecurity and anxiety about survival issues, perhaps stemming from having a mother who was consumed with responsibilities and not able to nurture very much.

      The conjunction in the second could show great anxiety and insecurity about financial security, possibly having come up the hard way due to poverty. It doesn’t always mean a financial struggle, as many with Saturn in the 2nd are well off, but the fear of poverty lingers.

      The conjunction in the 3rd might very well show that an older sibling (or Aunt) essentially took over the mother’s role–perhaps because Mom had to work long hours. (See Jack Nicholson’s story here: .) There can still be considerable anxiety, because of not being nurtured by the mother, but financial security does not weigh so heavily.

      As you can see, the house placement can make a considerable difference, with a different set of issues–the areas of life governed by the two houses–and a different cast of characters. (See .) Donna

  7. In a relationship chart with a partner, which would be the best conjuction to look at for long term staying power.

    Yes, I know the cosmic mix gives some interesting ingrediants, but I never quite understand if the better relationships are about quality over quantity as far as conjuntions go.

    (Yes, I am a newbie !!)

    • Hi, Carole. I always say that in chart comparison, the conjunctions between your planets and the other person’s are the real juice, because they compel a connection….whereas a trine is nice but doesn’t necessarily make you do anything about it.

      They always say that for a real and lasting commitment, you have to have some Saturn contacts.

      On the other hand, there’s that research study of lasting marriages done by Carl Jung (yup, the guy who invented Jungian psychology). It was a real, viable research project of 500 married couple’s charts, and he found that the most compatible connections were one person’s Sun to the other’s Moon, or Moon to Moon, or Moon to Ascendant. (I thought I’d find more about it on the web, but this was all I found:

      Personally, I’ve found Ascendant/Ascendant conjunctions very comfortable–you have the same house cusps all around, and thus think alike in your approach to many areas of life. No need to even discuss them. Donna

  8. If three or more planets are conjoined, do the outer planets that enclose the conjunction or stellium have more effect than the ones that are in the middle?

    • I don’t think it’s a case of the first and last planet in a multiple conjunction having more effect. More like the stronger, more dominant planets in the mix would have the most effect. (I talked about which planets are dominant earlier.)

      The order of the planets in a series like that becomes part of the story that develops during a transit or progression to that series. What happens first is what planet #1 is about, planet #2 is what comes next in the series of events or inner developments, then #3, and so on.

      But which event or development is actually most significant in the person’s life story might be related to #2 or #3, rather than #1 or #4.

      (Of course with a transit that goes retrograde, one or more of those planets can be activated several times, so it would go somethig like #2, #1, #2, #3.)


  9. How do stellums effect a conjunction? For instance, several planets lined up in a row. One planet is conjunct to the next planet, but the first planet is not necessarily conjunct to the last planet. How does that effect the energy of the conjunction(s)?

    • I tend to extend the orbs more for a multiple conjunction, even where planet #1 is 10 degrees or so from the last planet in the series. They are bracketed by any planets in the middle, and when a transit or progression affects one, it continues through the series and affects/modifies them all. Donna

  10. What about a combust or cazimi conjunction to the Sun? What happens to both planets in such a conjunction? What if other planet is personal? Or if the planet is an outer planet?

    • Now I’m going to get in trouble, because I really do not believe that a planet conjunct the Sun is eaten up by the Sun, I don’t care what the classics say. Not from watching people through the lens of their charts, no way. To me, it’s more like the other planet is snacking on the Sun.

      From direct observation of clients over the past 40 years, a person with a planet conjunct the Sun takes on many of the qualities of the sign ruled by that planet, sometimes to an exaggerated degree.

      A person with Mars conjunct the Sun can be as aggressive, competitive, energetic, etc. etc as an Aries. A person with Neptune conjunct the Sun is even more strongly Piscean than a Pisces. Donna

  11. You covered the out of sign-conjunction earlier – but what if the planets are on different side of a house cusp?

    • The trouble there, Natalie, is that different house systems are likely to change those near-the-cusp planets from one house to another. I’m so bored with the whole question of which system is the REAL system that I tend to regard the cusps as a grey area rather than a true beginning or ending of a house.

      In practice, if a planet is within 5 degrees of a cusp, I turn to the real expert, the client whose chart it is. I describe what the planet would mean in one house and what it would mean in the other, and ask them which one they relate to.

      Often, they’ll be very clear about it, but it also is often true that the cuspal planet brings the two houses together in some meaningful way. And if that’s true of a single cuspal planet, I’d imagine it’s even more likely with a conjunction that straddles the cusp between two houses. Donna

      • Thanks, I thought so. I’m going to dare one more, so here it goes. What if the two planets are on either side of one of the big four: Asc/Des/MC/IC? I realize that would be a stellium, but the planets would then be absolutely in different houses.

    • LOL! You would ask that! I would then consider all the planets primarily conjunct the angle. This dovetails with the research of Michel and Francoise Gauquelin.

      Planets conjunct the MIdheaven are career-related regardless of whether they’re in the 9th or 10th. The Gs actually found the 9th house side the strongest point in the chart in terms of visibility to the public.

      I believe I have written at length about planets in the 12th but conjunct the Ascendant, and how the planet may be unconscious to the person but blatantly obvious to other people, who may then conclude that the person is insincere or outright sneaky. Or, the person may think they’re hiding the planet in question, yet all the world can see it.


  12. I’ve wondered for long how conjunctions operate when dignities, exaltations, detriments, etc are involved. There are obviously many combinations of high-low,high-high, low-low etc, but just to simplify:
    i.e moon/sat in cancer vs. capricorn, or sun/sat in leo vs. aquarius
    (I used the luminaries for their importance, but to make the question juicier, I just found out George Clooney has the moon/sat in cap) If a particular conjunction comes to your mind, then I’d love to hear about it too!


    • Like I said earlier to Anna, a planet in domicile or exaltation would probably trump one in fall, as it’s weaker. Other than that, it’s not a topic I’m big on.

      If you take apart the planets and signs in your work to interpret an aspect, you’ll figure out which of the planets is limping along and which is riding in a golden carriage. Donna

  13. I am wondering which planet will dominate when there are several conjuncting the ascendant. for example. a leo rising with venus, uranus and mars conjunct the asc. How does one with this type of energy appear to others? thanks much

  14. Would you consider the conjunction to have Arian qualities since it is an aspect of 0* between planets/angles?

    Note: see the answer 3 comments below.

    • If the Sun rules the ascendant and is conjunct a planet elsewhere in the chart, would that be the same as having that planet rising. For example: Sun conjunct Neptune in the 7th house – would that be the same as having Pisces rising?

      • No, Alicia, it would take a lot more than that to make it like Pisces Rising–like having Neptune in the 1st. Donna

    • To answer the question Would you consider the conjunction to have Arian qualities since it is an aspect of 0* between planets/angles?

      My teacher, Richard Idemon, used to say that a square was of the nature of Mars or Aries, because of the conflict it created between the planets involved, their signs, and houses. That rings more true to me than the conjunction. Donna

  15. Thank you Donna for explaining the difference between a planet conjunct the SUN, and a planet conjunct the ASCENDANT.

    I have Venus in Cancer at 4/27 (12th) conjunct ASC in Cancer at 8/38, along with Mars in Cancer at 23/07 in the first house. People perceive me as warm, inviting, and receptive, but find out later that I’m not inviting them over for tea, crumpets, and strong motherly love, and I’m certainly not interested in sob stories.

  16. How about conjunctions to different angles simultaneously? What would be the stronger aspect in that case ? The ones to the Asc, the MC, the Desc or the IC ?

    Thanks a lot ! 😀

    • Perhaps you’re referring to a mundane square, an artificial aspect which occurs when one planet conjuncts the Ascendant and another the MH, or the Asc plus the IC or MH plus the DSC–read this:

      However, if you’re just asking which angle is the strongest, they all have their own unique meaning, and they’d all be strongly affecting their house, but the Gauquelin research placed the sector around the MH strongest in affect, then the Asc, then either the IC or DSC. Donna

  17. Hi, Donna, I have two (as usual), one for me, one for all.
    Here’s the first (not to be deleted!):
    In a chart where the 10th is not strongly emphasized, how does having it’s ruler conj. the Sun modify the picture? In other words/more generally put:
    What does it mean to have the ruler of the MC conj. the Sun?

    • Then that planet, it’s sign, and the matters of the house the conjunction is placed in become strong vocational indicators. Donna

  18. Hi Donna! Do you agree with what Liz Greene said in her book on Saturn, that the 12th house position in the natal chart weakens Saturn of its potency, and the individual feels defenceless vis-a-vis the outer world? And, can it be any harder than having Saturn and Neptune conjunct Ascendent in the 12th house?

    • I’d say that , yes, Saturn in the 12th doesn’t help with the outer world, although it surely strengthens its action in 12th house matters. But the planets are always stronger than the house or sign, and so a Saturn-Neptune conjunction is a powerful and painful combination, with its 12th house position only adding another Neptune-like layer, and being conjunct the Ascendant strengthens it even more.

      For more insights, see the article about Saturn-Neptune aspects here: and do read people’s stories in the comment section. Also see the series on the 12th house that begins here: . Donna

      • The session is closed. Wow, folks, you asked a lot of tough but excellent questions about conjunctions, and I’m wondering if that will hold true as the series goes on. I believe there will be another article or two about conjunctions and how to interpret them step by step in the near future. Donna


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