Posted by: Donna Cunningham | March 14, 2011

Readers’ Observations and questions about Quintiles and other Aspects

©3-14-11 by Donna Cunningham, MSW

Here are some questions and observations from readers about a variety of astrological aspects in theircharts, conjunctions and quintiles in particular. For those who aren’t familiar with them, a quintile is a 72° aspect, within about 2-3 degree range. In the natal chart, it describes your personal “genius” or talent.

Q: How many degrees work for a conjunction? I’ve been taught 5-8°, so I’ve never really considered Mercury-Saturn aspects before, although I have a wide conjunction (10°) between Mercury at 1° of Aquarius and Saturn at 11°.” (She goes on to describe characteristics and circumstances that are highly typical of the aspect.)

A: My tongue-in-cheek reply:  Sigh, I hate it when 10° degree conjunctions work, especially that well. Not spozed to, but when you talk to people who have them, they often do work. So untidy!

It’s really odd–we’re taught that the closer a conjunction, the stronger it is, and the wider it is, the weaker, but my forays into talking with people with 10 degree conjunctions suggest that it isn’t so. I’d venture to say it depends, instead, on the strength of the two planets, which you can find by doing both planetary tests, and then adding the two together.  (See: Planetary Tests)

Approaching aspects are considered stronger. Perhaps in your case it works because it’s an approaching conjunction, meaning that Mercury hadn’t passed Saturn yet when you were born, but was moving in the direction of a conjunction, rather than having passed Saturn and moving away from it. That’s a separating conjunction as would happen if Saturn were at 11°. and Mercury at 22°.

(To determine whether an aspect is approaching or separating, look at whether the faster moving of the two planets is still approaching the exact aspect or has already made the exact aspect and is moving away from it–a separating aspect.)

By progression, Mercury would have been approaching your Saturn until about age 11, and then moving away from it for maybe another 10 years, at least through high school. So, yes, I’d say the Mercury-Saturn conjunction works in your chart. A whole new aspect to get used to! Read about Mercury-Saturn aspects here–and read people’s experiences in the comment section: Understanding Mercury-Saturn Combinations.

Q: I have Pluto conjunct the Ascendant and often feel isolated, but people are always telling me their secrets.

A: That’s such an interesting point about people telling you their secrets with Pluto conjunct the Ascendant. I’d never thought of it, but I have exactly the same experience and have Pluto there as well. One of the reasons I was forever hiding in my room when I spoke at conferences was exactly that. Complete strangers would drag me off in a corner at cocktail parties or accost me in the hallways and dump their horror tales.

This aspect is an asset in the consultation room, but fairly wearing in everyday life. I learned not to talk to seatmates on planes, for they would wind up telling me every bit of dirty laundry in their family.  I’ve learned not to reveal to casual strangers what I do for a living.

As for the isolation, being one with Pluto on the Ascendant myself, my healing work on myself over many years has gradually diminished those barriers, and weirdly enough, people who don’t know me well now see me as a grandmotherly type. (They wish!!)  The isolation can change.

Q: A reader with Mercury conjunct Uranus in Scorpio in the 1st notes, The main obstacle that I have seen time and again with hard Mercury-Uranus revolving around the cardinal houses is a certain isolation in one’s various relationships. Such isolation is due to one’s thoughts/ideas being so radical or eccentric that others simply cannot connect on a personal level.”

A:  I think the isolation factor is compounded by Scorpio planets being in the 1st, and yes, having Uranus there in the 1st makes the ways you are different stand out like a sore thumb. It could be, too, that a certain “chip on the shoulder” attitude intimidates people or makes them feel like avoiding you. The thing to remember about Mercury aspects that are difficult, is that communication skills are learned and learnable.  (For more intell on Mercury-Uranus aspects, read: Understanding Mercury-Uranus Combinations—It’s DIY Time! )

Q:  My Dad and I both have Mars-Pluto aspects, but we don’t get along at all.

What’s interesting is that aspects do run in families–your Mars-Pluto square, his Mars-Pluto opposition–but the aspects aren’t compatible here, and so you may set each other off in some unpleasant and fairly competitive ways.

People with oppositions like his tend to project their undesirable qualities on others…”look what you made me do.” Here he could be projecting his undesirable Mars or Pluto qualities onto you, since you have a Mars-Pluto aspect yourself.

Also, squares of any sort tend to be more edgy and to push their luck just a bit, so he may worry that you’ll go too far in a direction he’s trying hard to keep himself from going.

Q:  Do quintiles to the angles, like to the Midheaven or Ascendant, mean anything, since only one planet is involved?

A:  I never thought of it, but  a quintile to the Midheaven would be a career booster and one to the Ascendant would be an over-all appealing personality characteristic.  For instance, Venus quintile an Aquarius midheaven would definitely have people skills that give the career a boost–”it’s who you know….”

Q: How about quintiles in a Solar Return Chart? Do they speak of a special talent during that year?

A: Maybe not a new talent, but the chance to develop moderately good abilities into far stronger ones.

Q:  What about a quintile in chart comparison?

A: I don’t honestly think it means much in chart comparison. To me, the conjunctions are the real “juice” of a relationship.

Q: Do you find that people express their quintiles naturally when they are young, but stop doing it so much when they are adult?

A: What a good question! I’ll bet they do, but not so much because of the nature of the aspect but rather about the nature of life.

I think it’s common–and sad–that gifted young people have a certain amount of freedom to express their talents before the responsibilities of adulthood settle in–the demands of a job and parenthood, the necessity to earn a living to support a family.

Then, too, our talents don’t always get the opportunities they deserve. As an astrologer in NYC, I had so many clients who came to the city in order to try to make it in the arts, took a waitress job to pay the rent, and wound up being…a waitress! I don’t recall their charts any more, but I’d wager there were lots of wasted quintiles.

Also, many artistically talented people will put their gifts aside after a setback or two–giving up after one or two auditions, a novel being rejected once or twice, or one bad review of a play.  Quintiles are nice, but they could use some help from Saturn or Pluto to keep going despite lack of  instant success.

The Bach flower remedy Gentian, available in health food stores, helped a number of them to go back and begin using their talents again, even a number of years after the setback. 

What about you, Readers?  Do you have talents that you stopped using years ago?  What’s stopping you from using them now, if they would enrich your life?

 Coming Next Sunday, March 20th, at the Vernal Equinox:  I will be conducting a special Question and Answer Session on Uranus transits, starting at 1:00 PM Pacific.  It’s International Astrology Day.

Articles from the Series about Aspects:


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  1. Looks like Donna got her bat! Should we be scared? 🙂
    Here’s the thing, I don’t believe in talent, I think it’s just another word for learning/knowledge. Some people learn easier when you explain them the rules, some pick up knowledge in more intuitive ways- I believe their name is Pisces.
    And while every domain has it’s inherent rules, not in all domains people care to be verbal about them. There are rules to follow in art, as there are rules to follow in science. The only difference is that when you study Math you’re being taught the rules, but in the case of studying ballet, you’re expected to acquire the rules intuitively. So, for me, it all gets down to whether or not you have the will to be best at something. Once you’ve set your mind on that something, nothing can stop you from achieving it. Hmmm, maybe laziness! (How very virgoan of me!)
    But though I don’t believe in talent, I do believe in questions, and I actually have a teeny-wheeny one on orbs for you! (I was saving it for the Q&A on oppositions, but what the heck!) Here it goes:
    You’ve mentioned before that in the case of multiple cj.s you keep wider orbs (a planet in between bringing together an otherwise loose cj).
    Is this true for oppositions as well? i.e. When a planet is opposing a conjunction, do you allow wider orbs? And what’s the maximum orb you’d allow for such a configuration?
    e.g. I have Moon @2′ Taurus, Pluto @20′ Libra and Mars @0′ Scorpio. Have you seen a 12’+ opposition working?
    Looking forward to your verdict!

    • I agree. A writer once said the ones who succeed are the ones who refuse to give up. Persistence, determination, tenacity – lets celebrate those often maligned planets, Saturn and Pluto.

      This is why I feel those young people with Uranus/Neptune in Capricorn are going to be amazing. All that inspirational outer planet energy coming through the sign that has patience, perseverance, resourcefulness and quality. I do know several young people with that conjunction and they are pursuing their artistic dreams in just that innovative and yet dogged way – none of them seem interested in fame, just the joy and excitement of doing what they are passionate about.

    • Would I allow a 12 degree orb for an opposition to a conjunction? Nope. But some do. Maybe I don’t see it because I won’t look for it. But I probably wouldn’t allow a 12 degree orb for a conjunction either. The real test is when you describe the qualities of the aspect to the person who lives with it, and see if they can relate to it and give examples of it working in their lives. Donna

      • Theoritically I’m 100% behind you. The very idea of a 12′ degree opp. sounds ridiculous. The only problem is…it’s THE most eventful aspect of my life.
        e.g. I was raised by my grandmother, my mother had 3 miscarriages before me (one fetus supposedly looking just like me), 2 deaths in her family within a year before my birth (her mother and her brother, who incidentally was a Leo- I have N.N. in Leo), she in severe grief for years and years to come. There’s lots more, I could go on forever, but, having a merc/jup cj. (this one within acceptable orbs), I couldn’t whine if my life depended on it.
        Returning to astrology, Moon and Pluto are also parallel (exact to the minute), but I wouldn’t like to use that either. Finally, Mars Is in Scorpio, but, to me, this alone wouldn’t suffice to explain the gravity of the manifestation. So, back to square one, I guess.

      • Weeelllll. Oppostions to the Moon or Sun, I’d be more inclined to accept a 12 degree opposition, especially given the history, which is totally Moon-Pluto. Donna

  2. as a small child, I had an unusual talent. I was extremely good at guessing people’s age. Some of my mother’s friends found that to be very obnoxious. As I grew into adulthood, I lost it. I can remember how easy it was to compare the pores and skin of a 50 year old woman’s face to a those of a 40 year old. Ha, now I can’t see them at all!
    I do think a lot of people have talents just waiting to be used. We do have to tend to the facts of life (earning a wage, raising children) and maybe if we’re lucky, we can go back when most of that responsibility is done and revisit those things that we loved to do.

  3. Not having really considered any Quintile aspects before, I just discovered I have two in my chart! I also see now how it is associated with talents, it being a 5th harmonic aspect. Just wondering now which ‘genius’ they point too. Thank you Donna for posting. Cheers.

  4. i have sun Q saturn, and venus Q uranus, my venus is in libra in 4th, i have a talent for arranging things in rooms or gardens, harmonizing the decor let’s say , i can make a place look wonderfull, in not much time using whatever is available on the spot,i guess it must be part of this aspect, uranus is in the second, now as for the sun and saturn…how would saturn play in this type of aspect ? genius in old age ? 😉

    • Sun Q Saturn would give you a bearing of natural authority, easily convincing people that you have positive Saturn qualities like being responsible, elegant, classy. Donna

  5. I have 2 Quintiles and just discovered a third while looking for biquintiles which is also possibly there? Will explain at the end..

    Quintile # 1 /
    Venus 20 degrees 45mn conjunct Saturn 20 degrees 9 mn Cancer in the 10th H Quintile Chiron 2 degrees Libra in the 12th H.
    Chiron is conjunct Amour 2 Libra, Jupiter 29 Virgo and Neptune 5 Libra in range of the ASC 9 Libra.

    This has to do with Art…painting, Coat making with embroidry and other embellishments. Jingle Dress making and clothing in general
    , costumes , leather work. and other things like basket making, cradle board making, clay work etc I like to experiment with lots of crafts and Art forms.
    Photography( had my own dark room once) and videos. Theater and poetry. I have written plays ( never published yet.) and have always wanted to do music writing and singing is on my to do list., use to play the female kinto in the park with black men on the conga. Have other unusual instruments from other various cultures which have come to me in strange and unusual ways. I’m a dancer. Won many dance contests in my youth.
    I have found that many of these talents are brought over from past lives.They were all easy…as if I only had to recall them.
    Fate conspired to make me a stage actor type performer, with all types of opportunities from my earliest years but I always felt uncomfortable about it. I was not shy and could do it but was not enthusiastic. The reason finally came to light when I was 53 and it had to do with a past life. On the other hand I could give talks very easy and did not have this uncomfortable feeling doing that or any of the other art forms.

    I made the historical blanket coat for many years when one night I said to my pre-teen son that I was going to embroider one. I had never learned embroidery or done it before but the design almost made itself. My son looked surprised and said,” you MUST have done it before….in a past life.” I visualized and found out where I learned it, and indeed my painting came from that same lifetime where I learned embroidery! It was in a Mt. region of China. It was a lonely life and now I can understand why I feel lonely when I think of China and see certain Pine trees that make me always flash on China. Making Art is relaxing and opens other doors.

    Oh yes,when I went to Art College it was a matter of Life and Death to me because I felt certain it was a KEY ( Chiron) that would open many doors…..and it did. It was a flowering of many things, one leading to the next. First it was a healing and then many other talents( besides art) flooded out; 60’s leadership, public speaking, occult talents, spiritual openings to other worlds previously closed to me. It was a great time.Too much to list here.

    Quintile # 2/
    Mars 20 Gemini conjunct Uranus 17 Gemini in the 9th H. Uranus is Quintile my Sun at 29 Leo in the 11th H. Groups always seemed to fall in my lap and demand my leadership, and it was a natural place for me to take charge. However as I grew older I turned down many of these groups and rather liked inspiring people in general rather than just one group.
    Lets put it this way. The world is in chaos and I know the solutions but since I am in no position to be world dictator they will just have to bumble along as best they can. I might write a book of solutions ….may be inspire someone.
    The leader can only be as good as the demands and perceptions of the flock. Where they cannot perceive the possible, than it remains out of reach.
    As far as politicking goes….that’s warfare just like law is a form of war. In these circumstances my real inner actor comes out and I will don any costume to get the job done. Just like camouflage. Its a natural talent and I have been very successful at it.I was offered scholarships to go to Law school and was told by a southern Judge and others that I would have made a great lawyer but I didn’t go. That’s because I didn’t know about Mahatma Gandhi and might have changed my mind with him as inspiration.
    I have fighting talents which can verge on magic depending on the situation. Mars/ Uranus parallel each other and Pluto so transformational transfigurations that seem like magic have happened in unusual situations where I have been under attack and always escaped unscathed.

    The new ( to my awareness) #3 Quintile /
    is from 29 Leo Sun /conjunct Mercury 25 Leo. Mercury quintile Ceres at 8 Scorpio …its within 1 degree and not exact ,….. it gives me pause to think on it.

    Ceres is just into the 2nd house and I am sure it speaks to the nurturing of the young. I did make an 11 set, 52 dolls, hands on , Peter Pan workshop for children. I rotated them from set to set in a timely manner and just let them play. It would be no more than 12 children at a time ranging in age from 6 to just before puberty.
    At first I would introduce them to the sets. Each set had its dolls and teachings.These teachings ranged from history, the 4 seasons food gathering cycles, tree knowledge , stone knowledge, flights of image making, theater, film and knowledge of the 7 Races of man and their ceremonies and dances. It had the potential to wrap itself around any subject including star knowledge.
    After they all had a chance with each set I had them tell which was their favorite and to share with the class what HAPPENED there. It seemed the children all had different favorites and that we could write our own Peter Pan story from their experiences. This way we learned how to create and write our own stories from imaginary play time. One group even made and put on a play from their story.

    Would that be a biquintile from 17 Gemini Uranus to 11 Scorpio? My Ceres is at 8 Scorpio , 2nd house. Since Mercury at 25 Leo conjuncts the Sun at 29 Leo which is an exact quintile to Uranus but Mercury is a closer quintile to Ceres at 7 Scorpio…would that make it a closer biquintile as well? Is it a biquintile and two quintiles? I do not have an independent standing biquintile but rather one made from two quintiles…

    Perhaps the biquintile/ quincunx part of it is in raising my Grand daughter?
    At first when it dawned on me that I would have to rescue her from her parents, which were in no shape to keep her ,I became very upset, shocked and experienced a lot of anguish at having to go through court against the mother.I have a very powerful instinctive leaning to protect mother and baby!
    I felt very sorry for the mother and liked her a lot; but she has definite problems which puts the child at risk. She lost 5 other children previously that her family had taken; but could take no more.She furthermore cannot seem to understand why she loses her children.It was very upsetting.
    I have since become close to her family and her mother( the other Grandmother) is so grateful I am here to watch over her daughter. She has become like a daughter to me.The father, my son was in jail at the time and could not take the baby.
    My Grand daughter has been a delightful blessing and she has home study so I am her teacher , mother and Grandmother. This also brings me a little more sustenance or income and it gives her nurturing, which she otherwise would have missed. So this is not a talent, but a gift?
    The other Grandmother is more well off than I am and sends a lot of well made cloths and toys and so do other of their family which has been a great help.
    It took a lot of unexpected adjusting but has worked out well.
    I never expected to raise a girl,( and what a girlie girl she is too) what with my O Gitchee Da War medicine which fit well with my sons. She definitely brings out my female side! It does make me laugh at myself.

  6. Is it O.K. if I bitch a bit about conjunctions to the ascendant? I violently hate them! 🙂 Having 3 myself, I know firsthand how hard it is to communicate the totality of who you are with planets on the asc constantly getting in the way. At least mine are all benefics. I can only imagine what it’s like to have Saturn or Pluto there; or, even worse, being a Sag. Sun with Saturn cj asc, or a Taurus Sun with Pluto there. Yikes! Oh, and my personal nightmare: Moon cj. asc! How do you shield yourself from that? Brrrr!

    • Hi VR
      Why would it matter if the person you relate to gets the totality of who you are….and is there a totality…isn’t it always in process?
      I find that each of my family and friends can only relate to a part of who I am and that’s OK. A lot of what they see are based on their own needs and point of evolution. I accept them where they appear to be to me. The heart matters most. I love whatever aspect of them resonates with my heart even if some of their thinking does not.
      Hey my granddaughter has a Libra Moon conjunct the ascendant one degree into the 12 th H. Her moon enjoys a grand trine to Neptune and Mercury with a sextile to Venus in the 10th. Old ladies, mothers and other girls have always loved her. Total strangers on the street who have noticed her since her infant hood have stepped out of the shadows to hand her bags of goodies. She is an extremely sweet presence and cute too. I do not see that moon on the ascendant has been a difficulty but rather a boon in her childhood.She loves drawing new fashions on her Cat subjects. She is very imaginative with the fashions and stories her drawing depict.
      Her father had an opposite effect even if he too was cute and sweet. His Sun in Taurus exactly conjuncts the Ascendant but it is also the point of a Yod involving Pluto sextile Neptune and in opposition/ parallel to Uranus at the inverse midpoint.Total strangers have always tried to harm him. He has been a scientific genius since early childhood , easily understanding how things work.His early drawing showed all angles of the subject.

      • I am not surprised, Barehand, Moon on the asc certainly adds charisma! All I’m saying is that I’d feel very vulnerable with my feelings in plain view all the time. But, then again, if I had that cj. natally, I might not consider that transparency a problem!
        P.S. Always nice to hear your thoughts 🙂

      • PSS. The other day I took a look at S. Berlusconi’s chart. He has Virgo Rising conjunct his Libra Sun. I couldn’t help but think: is That how I come across?!!! *frown* I don’t think so!!

  7. I have Saturn quintile my ascendant, and I’ve always made a good first impression, especially in job interviews, as I am seen to be mature and responsible, which I am (sometimes, LOL!). Having the Moon trine my Saturn only makes this “seriousness” more pronounced. In truth, I love to laugh and be silly and relaxed with others, but it’s tough to get to that point.

  8. How about Chiron? I know you’ve been exploring Chiron on this blog, but would an outer planet’s quintile (um, Saturn in my first house) with Chiron have much of an impact? Normally, the slower-moving planets have more to do with a cohort group trait than individual, but since it’s in the first house, I thought it might make a difference.

    • Hi, Kristy. It’s a good question, but If it’s true for the major aspects like conjunctions and squares, it’s quite possible that it’s true of quintiles as well. I do believe that certain generations make a huge impact on the world with their special talents and focuses of effort and interest. Donna

  9. thanks Donna , classy i like that !

  10. I find quintiles interesting, since I have two of them. One from Venus to Mercury and the other from Jupiter to Pluto. Both of them affect my 5th house.

    I think each baby should have a chart drawn up for them, it would be so helpful for them when they get older. So many people (like myself) have spent a good part of life searching for the perfect job/career. People who do what they love for a living who are well compensated for what they do are the luckiest people in the world. I know so many people who hate their jobs. The best job I had was as a graphic designer, unfortunately I was laid off when the economy went bad. With the economy so bad, I had to take what I could find. It pays the bills, but that;s about it.

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