Posted by: Donna Cunningham | September 14, 2011

Got Trines? You Must Be Living Right!


 The following is an excerpt from a longer article on trines in my ebooklet, Aspect Analysis: the Building Blocks of Chart Interpretation. This 8-part tutorial reprinted from my series in The Mountain Astrologer includes step-by-step instructions on how to analyze conjunctions, sextiles, squares, trines, quincunxes and oppositions.

Aspects are the building blocks of serious astrology, moving you beyond single chart factors to integrating the many features a chart contains. Not only are they crucial in natal charts, they modify the qualities of transiting planets, progressions, and chart comparison. They powerfully impact outcomes in such diverse branches of our field as electional, horary, medical, and mundane.

Got Trines? You Must Be Living Right!

©2009 by Donna Cunningham, MSW

 Trines are considered a lucky aspect that flows so naturally that accomplishing things seems effortless to the outside observer. Trines are 120° (plus or minus 5°) and four signs apart, though not always four houses apart. Most trines consist of two or more planets in the same element — air to air, fire to fire, water to water, or earth to earth. 

Because opportunities related to the planets in the trine tend to be handed to people who have it, a sense of entitlement can creep in. They may come to regard these perks as their due, simply because of who they are and what they represent to others in that sphere of life.  

Often, windfalls come without much effort, so people with a predominance of trines can become lazy and take these benefits for granted, with an attitude of “God will provide.” Still, trines can be a mixed blessing — it depends largely on the planets involved. With a Saturn–Pluto trine, for instance, the goodies can come with so much baggage attached that they almost aren’t worth it.

Thinking Inside the Box: In each part of this series, I present a graphic creation that provides an overview of an aspect — not of the pair of planets concerned but the essence of that angle itself. How does it feel? What emotions and patterns of response typify a trine versus, say, an opposition? Here’s what a trine feels like to me: Affinity of the Planets: When analyzing an aspect, the first stage should be to reflect on how well the two planets partner one another. Venus and Saturn aren’t particularly compatible in nature. No doubt, if you had the aspect, you’d stand in line for hours to trade up for a Venus–Jupiter aspect. I think you’d be wrong, though.           

Venus–Jupiter folks are warm, enthusiastic, and welcoming — to each and every person they meet. And they do meet so many of them, because they’re forever on the go. If you were in a housing crisis, they’d probably text you from Tahiti with a digital hug to explain why they can’t help you pack to move.            

Venus–Saturn people, by comparison, might be more reserved and formal, but they’re solid and steady, a source of practical support and sage advice when you need them. They’d have your move organized and a reliable moving company hired before you finished asking.           

Because of their stability, social skills, and willingness to support those with similar goals, people with Venus–Saturn conjunctions and trines often attract friends and suitors among successful, slightly older people who then become mentors and protectors. 

Love affairs in youth often involve older partners — almost like father or mother figures — who help them acquire a social polish that might not have been learned at home. (It’s an aspect that often confers upward mobility.) At midlife and beyond, their partners are often younger.           

Not as trendy and fashion-forward as Venus–Jupiter or Venus–Uranus people in their sense of beauty, Venus–Saturn folks are likely to have an elegant, classical look. In fact, there’s an air about many of them that just says class. They often age beautifully — it’s those enviable cheekbones. They grow in poise and confidence as they come into their own, professionally and socially.            

There is a kind of luck that happens with Venus–Saturn aspects, since Venus (along with Jupiter) is a good luck planet. Because of Saturn’s presence, there are windfalls due to an innate instinct of timing — being the right person in the right place at the right time. Then, too, you’ve worked hard to prepare for what you’ll be doing, so your good fortune isn’t entirely an accident. With breaks like these, observers rightfully remark, “You must be living right.” 

Roles of the Elements and Modes: Part of why trines work so effortlessly and seem so harmonious is because the two planets are generally in the same element. They’re like two people who meet and hardly even have to get acquainted, because they have a great affinity for one another. They have so much in common that it’s a meeting of the minds.           

With trines, one planet in a water sign supports another in a second water sign — they flow together in a perfect blend, without resistance. One planet in fire supports another in a different fire sign — it adds fuel to the blaze. Similarly, earth solidifies earth, and air uplifts air.  

Though the planets in a trine are in the same element, the modes (cardinal, fixed, and mutable) are mixed in this aspect. Each mode adds something that the other is lacking and needs in order to keep moving forward — it’s not a competition but a natural alliance.          

Take the earth signs Capricorn, Taurus, and Virgo. Their productivity and fruitfulness is enhanced by cardinal earth (Capricorn) setting a goal and initiating it, fixed earth (Taurus) keeping a steady focus on achieving it and sustaining the efforts, and mutable earth (Virgo) adapting to changing conditions and figuring out how to fix the various snags that appear along the path.             

Sign/House Combinations: Understanding the houses involved in the trine is important, for it shows two areas of life enhanced by the ways a person’s innate abilities support one another. 

If you have a Venus–Saturn aspect of any sort, you too can hope to get better as you get older, but if you have the trine, you probably already possess many of the necessary qualities. A classic style quite possibly comes more naturally to you than to most people, and the mature years are bound to be your best ever.  

We’re old a lot longer than we’re young, and there’s no reason that we can’t live and love and keep on growing for all of our years. The current transit of Saturn through Venus-ruled Libra is an excellent opportunity to discover more about how to bring those sterling qualities to the fore. 

NOTE: This has been an excerpt from my ebooklet, Aspect Analysis: the Building Blocks of Chart Interpretation.  Order it here:


  1. Here’s to seeing consistent improvement with both your hands & the voice recognition software! All of your loyal readers were very, very spoiled by the steady stream of posts here.

    I have Uranus trine both my Sun & Moon. Mildly eccentric with occasional outbursts of outright weirdness is one description! 😀

    • I can handle mildly eccentric, and can get used to moderately. I do have Uranus in my house of friends. Thanks for your support Diane. Donna

  2. I have a Air trines:
    Sun/Libra; Moon/Gemini
    Moon/Gemini; Mercury/Libra
    Moon/Gemini; Jupiter/Libra
    Moon/Gemini; Uranus/Libra

    I also have Earth trines:
    Venus/Virgo; Mars/Capricorn
    Venus/Virgo; Saturn/Taurus

    • Earth for groundedness & practicality; air for intelligence and inventiveness–sounds like a perfect blend! Doinna

  3. Donna,
    So happy you are on the mend. We missed you tremendously!
    As a complete novice to astrology, I can’t begin to tell you how much you’ve helped me understand this fascinating subject. It certainly helps me grow as an individual. And heck, I’m becoming a whole lot better to be around because of you! Thank you!!!
    This post was most helpful and came at a time most opportune. I kept saying to myself, “Oh, so that’s why. Oh, yes.” You see I have Venus trine Saturn in earth signs in the 11th and 3rd house respectively. If I am correct, that means those planets will benefit me most through friends and family or I will help friends and family most.
    Anyway, loved the post. Here’s to much healing for your hands.
    Much love,

  4. Hi Donna ~ Was just wondering yesterday how you’re doing; glad to see a new post! Have you tried Cold Laser Therapy? Heard it really works well for pain management. Like the others have said, hope the improvement continues! (Damn Pluto transiting the 6th house!)

  5. hi Donna, so glad you’re hand is on the mend! Have missed your posts. I have the venus/uranus and the venus/saturn thing going and seemed to be attracted to those with venus/jupiter energy??? is that normal, for stretching oneself?? to attract what one is not?? i love hearing how the aspects appear in 3D, as opposed to just textbook interps… take care of yourself, we’re happy you’re BACK….

  6. Here’s hoping to continued improvement Donna. I have a Grand earth Trine, Sun in Taurus in the 9th, Pluto in Virgo in the 1st and Saturn in Capricorn in the 5th. It’s a strong, useful Grand Trine which helps with the Grand Cross of Saturn opposite poor old Mars in Cancer, and moon in Libra opposite mercury in Aries. I like to think of the Grand Trine as a solid foundation that will bear up under the vicissitudes of the Grand Cross.

  7. I’m glad to hear you’re making progress. 😀

    I have a Venus-Saturn trine and do tend to be reserved and organised (I’ve been a librarian). I’ve been told I look younger than I am, though I didn’t like hearing this when I was a teenager. :-p

    However, I also have a Mars-Uranus trine. So, while I might look reserved and quiet, I’ll be reading a science fiction book or a magazine about gadgets on the side. 🙂

  8. Can add a bit more to your comment “With a Saturn–Pluto trine, for instance, the goodies can come with so much baggage attached that they almost aren’t worth it” Are there any goodies to be had?

    • The good news is that often you find favor with someone who is older, more influential, and better off than you who is willing to give you a boost. (The bad news is that then you owe them.) Donna

  9. Hi Donna! Watch those hands – it’s so easy to forget about when you are writing something you love!
    I have a grand trine in water, and I get loads of inspiration from it. However, I have a trine between Saturn in the 2nd and Mercury in the 10th that I think gives me drive and ambition, and the persistence to finish things. Mercury is conj the MC. Sort of if I use discipline and will-power to finish my projects, then the result is positive and I sell my work. And if I don’t write then nothing will come of it, of course.

  10. Hello Donna,
    Wish you speedy recovery.
    I have many trine aspects in my chart, (Within orb of 4 degrees) I have an

    Jupiter / Pluto Rx (0.12 orb applying) Gemini / Libra.
    Jupiter / Fortunae (3.11 orb) Gemini / Aquarius.
    Pluto / Fortunae (3.23 orb) Libra / Aquarius.
    Saturn / Neptune (3.49 orb Applying) Leo / Sagittarius.

    And I have a wide Venus / Saturn trine (8.35 orb separating). Aries/Leo.
    Do you consider it a trine?

    And Many other trines between 4-10 degrees orb.
    including Mars/Saturn, Moon/ Mars, Moon/ Venus, Sun/Pluto, Neptune/Venus. Neptune Mars. And Moon/Chiron (out of sign trine).

    Yet and with Jupiter ruling my second house… I am experiencing a very hard financial situation.

    Is that is because Jupiter, Saturn, Venus are detriment?
    Jupiter Compust?
    Fortunae ruled by Saturn (Traditionally) and opposite it 3.30 orb?
    Venus afflicted by a tight conjunction with mars 1 degree orb?

    I really want to be well financially but do you think all these affliction mentioned can prevent me?

    Thank you.

    Tarek M.
    Alexandria, Egypt.

    • Check Saturn transits, and/or think back 29.5 years ago.
      Other transits are also possible. Your natal trines, especially with Jupiter in 2nd must have allowed you a fairly good life, but life is a cycle, and everyone must be challenged at some point in life. That is the only way to grow. I will have a financial astrology website done, but you will need to wait a bit.

      Best luck.

    • My financial astrology website is now up here at

      Try it out if you’re interested.

  11. Hi Donna,
    I’m so happy to hear that you’re on the road to recovery! Great news. Can’t wait to have you back and crafting new fascinating articles for us.

    One thing that’s always stuck out in my mind regarding trines and luck is the trial of OJ Simpson. I remember when he was being tried an astrologer friend of mine said that all the trines in his chart would make him like “teflon” and the charges against him wouldn’t stick. She was right.

    I wish I was lucky enough to have a few more lucky trines or even one that involved Jupiter. Sun conjunct Venus trine Sun is it for my chart. I’m the queen of oppositions and inconjuncts though!

  12. Oops! I just remembered one more trine: Uranus trine Mercury. (hadn’t had my coffee yet! lol

  13. Hi Donna,

    Glad you’re feeling better. I have Taurus in Virgo in the 12th trine Venus in Taurus in the 8th, and I’m glad to have that aspect, LOL! It’s probably saved me many times without my realizing it.

  14. Charts dominated by trines have the reputation for making people lazy, but I have seen trine-dominated charts where the native exploited others in a psychopathic way, which they were able to do with extraordinary ease, and which they felt entirely justified in doing, no matter how much harm they caused. That feeling of entitlement can shade over into borderline personality all too easily.

    Those of us with charts full of squares should look at them as a gift because they give self-doubt, and that doubt makes us stop and think before we do things. It also makes it hard enough to act that if we are acting from an unenlightened place, we can’t do all that much before the universe raps us upside the head and shows us the error of our ways.

    An unaware person with lots of trines can rack up a lot of karma very fast. And what I’ve also noticed is that people with a lot of trines may assume that THEY are the enlightened, spiritually aware ones–a very dangerous state of mind and one that can block real spiritual growth.

    • Boy, do I know what you’re talking about, Jenny! I have a relative with a grand trine in earth who hasn’t worked a day in her life nor does she aspire to. I guess it depends on how principled the rest of the chart is–e.g. if there are squares to balance off the planets with trines. Donna

      • It’s a shame about your relative with the grand earth trine, Donna. I have a grand earth trine with a fixed grand cross, and I’d give anything to have a job again! Unfortunately, the Pluto conjunct Ascendant transit has hit us Cappy risings hard.

      • Indeed that’s a tough passage, Becky. With Capricorn and so much energy in fixed, however, you’ve got what it takes to hang in there. Donna

  15. Hi, Donna,

    Good to see you posting again. Happy to hear you’re feeling better.

    Wishing you luck with that voice recognition software (one of my biggest pet peeves is talking to automated voice messaging systems, they can never get what I say right….)

    I have a Jupiter-Saturn trine in air signs. The one thing I would love very much to do is write for a living. Maybe when I’m retired I can devote myself to it full time 🙂

  16. Great discussion, thanks.

    I stole Donna’s tagline to explore the substantial Earth trine in the sky right now, T Jupiter trine T Pluto: How might those with personal contacts be “living right’, with a positive steady focus reflected in their lives? As a bonus, the Universe has extended this one with Jupiter’s retrograde, from July 2011- March 2012.

    One personal example has T Pluto square N Sun, and a demanding personal predicament to go along with this transit. Having access to Jupiter optimism seems like no small advantage to help him get through this period – if he puts it into practice.

  17. Hi Donna;
    I really liked what you said about Venus/ Saturn since they are conjunct in my natal chart both at 20 Cancer….gives me hope for my old age NOW.

    They are paralleled each other ( 8 degrees from MC) and parallel Leo Pluto in the 10th ( 5 degrees from 11th cusp) . They also conjunct the north node of Pluto.

    Besides that they parallel the 20 Mars/ 17 Uranus conjunction in the 9th house and all 5 parallel the MC.
    Gemini 17Uranus Trines natal Moon at 17 Aquarius in the 5th house.

    Easy flow for home , family and children…and my years at Art College were very fruitful.
    At this moment I am packing for an Earth covered; grass and wild flowers on the roof, beautiful spacious log home ( Hobbit House) in a forest in the middle of nowhere that is right up my alley. There is a separate Solar paneled log Art house ( owner is a wood sculpturer). structure, where I intend to do my Art A beautiful log house sauna and a giant 3 story log house/ double garage where my tinsey weeny Plymouth Neon will take cover.

    A big garden and plenty of wild life. Wolves, Lynx, deer, grouse ,Geese, flickers and night flying squirrels etc. Free rent for taking care of the place….the biggest expense will be winter plowing of the road. I look forward to the space , chopping wood and cooking on a fire!
    This is great for my old age and keeping in shape! My adrenalin is running strong and a smile is frozen to my face, with this unexpected good fortune! Can you hear me laughing? Most people would consider this lifestyle a hardship but for me its HEAVEN!

    I am asking the owner if I can experiment ( next summer) with building an earth bag house on his land. My Grand daughter and I are VERY excited! So are my friends! Sun quintile Uranus.
    My Trine is Tripping and my 2 sons resisted at first but are finally accepting my move. They think I am too old for this adventure but I KNOW I’m NOT!

    One problem…I wont get at internet as often. I wont miss all the bad news but will miss timely exchanges with friends, family and with Skywriter and YOU. Glad you are on the mend. Keep your dreams stoked no matter what Donna!

    • What a glorious and worthy adventure, BH. I think we’re never too old to discover new excitement. For me, blogging has been the ride of my life, and I was 66 when I started. Donna

      • You sure are making an impact and a great success of it!

        An Idea for you:
        Just use the fingers as sticks to poke the keys and keep the wrists immobile. Lean the key pad at an angle for easy poking. Learning new things or retraining the wrist and fingers protects the brain from Alzheimer ,
        and should also protect the tendons!

        Best of everything for continued enjoyments!

      • Forgot to say Grand Air Trine….Pallas at 16 Libra in the 1st house, Uranus 17 Gemini ( Conjunct fixed start Belletrix) and conjunct Mars 20 Gemini and near Fukll Moon 17 Aquarius. Great for fighting in youth every atom or cell in my body hummed …great feeling. Sudden expansion of conciousness…higher mind. Letting go during fights and letting the body do its thing , always a pleasent surprise when I came back into conciousness. Great unusual women friends. Lucky home base in nature. Urania near moon in 5th house and Diana in 4th house. She loves nature and so do I.

  18. Glad to hear you are feeling better, Donna. I agree with the post above and feel spoiled with your blog, feel lucky to have found it and learn so much. I can relate to the venus/saturn aspects as I have venus 18 aries and saturn 2 taurus. Even though they aren’t in close aspect I’ve always had older friends and felt more comfortable around older people. Seem to always have a “mother-like” figure friend in my life and life seems to be getting more enjoyable and relaxed for me.

  19. Hello Donna,
    Glad to hear you are feeling better. I had a similar situation, fell on my hand from 15 feet, it did not break but took over a couple of years for full movement to return. When it gets cold, I can definitely feel it. Hope your healing comes quickly and there is not a lingering effect.

    I have both Jupitar conjunct venus (in cancer), and Saturn (in Scorpio) trine venus (exact). Jupitar/mercury(exact)/venus conjuncts are in my eleventh, and Saturn is in my 3rd. I can relate to some of what you speak about in your article and do indeed feel I am getting better as I age, but being somewhat of a hermit (somewhat strange as my sun conjunct my moon in Gemini in the 10th–although with mars in Capricorn opposite jupitar/mercury/venus in the 5th that may explain it) I could not relate to others aspects of your article.

    I have enjoyed very much finding your blog, and appreciate your efforts in illuminating things for all of us. Thank you!!!!!

    Again, I wish you the best and look forward to your wonderful insight.

  20. My best wishes on your full recovery! Healing vibes out to you. No need to reply, as I understand that you have to save your hands. I have missed your updates, though and look forward to reading them soon. Would a podcast be an option, Donna?

    • I’m almost there where the voice recognition software is concerned but am still limited to two short periods a day on the computer. Donna

  21. So glad to hear the hands are on the mend Donna. You are much missed.

    As for trines, I agree with Jenny. Grand trines in particular are like closed circuits sometimes. I’ve known people with them who are essentially high-functioning nutters. Fine, as long as you align yourself with their worldview, but unable to think, feel or act outside the box (depending on which element is in trine).

    Having said that, of course, trines are lovely in the right dose. I am very grateful to my Neptune trining everything since otherwise I am just a grumpy crosspatch of squares and oppositions.

  22. I have grand trines in air, kites too and a rare but stability providing grand cross. The difference here with the comment immediately above as the kite gives a way out of the trines and a focus which is essential; also GT’s do not provide a life of ease, I work very hard and still those who don’t have them have been more successful in a wordly sense. However in a spiritual sense yes they have provided.

    I do not expect anybody to conform to my worldview and see that as a fixed sign issue especially as GTs in air signs are known to be more objective and liberal in their thinking. I also see CONFORMITY as a CAPRICORN issue even over and above a fixed sign one.
    Kylie Minogue, Cilla Black are egs of air GT’s don’t think you can label them negatively just because they have an air GT. Also the houses tenanted and the distribution of the chart in general means I am balanced in elements air earth water and fire so feel my comment is justified.

    For Donna, it’s a real shame about your hand but hope something can be done to ease it. This blog has been an invaluable source of hope and advice for me and need it. I also bought the Healing Pluto Problems book which I read twice over and found it very accessible. My orbs are 9 degrees so sometimes I feel like there are no pluto problems (as some sites say 8 degrees is the limit) and other times there are (when more introspective for instance).

  23. I have a lot of trines, but the only unafflicted planet on my chart is Pluto, so it’s not really worth it. My planets are a tangled web of aspects. There was a long VoC Moon shortly before I was born. Everything on my chart is in at least one aspect pattern, often more than one. As I said, it’s not really worth it, more like not worth it at all.

    Sun trine Mars
    Mars trine Jupiter (different elements, same modality, but Jupiter is at 29 59′ of a sign so I’m not sure if it has “learned the lessons” of the next sign yet as I have heard happens on cusps or not)
    Mars trine Uranus
    Mars trine Ascendant
    Saturn trine Pluto

    I’m not sure if the trines “rub off” on the 3 planet mutual reception that’s going on or not. I know that they influence it, but not how they influence it.

  24. I appreciate your commentary about how trines operate within the same elements but complementary modes. What about the opposite of this: out-of-sign trines that actually share a mode? For example, I have Venus in late Sagittarius trining my Mars-Jupiter-North Node conjunction in early Virgo. How would this shift in the types of energies involved affect the experience?

  25. what constitutes as alot of trines? and do that MC /AC trines count??
    someone help and tell me what any of this means, i think i mite have a star of david..

    My trines are:

    Pluto in scorpio – Trine MC and AC
    Mars Trine Saturn
    Mars Trine Neptune
    Venus Trine MC
    Sun Trine moon ( leo + aries )
    Heres my big ones..
    Mercury in Virgo ( in house 3 ) : x
    Merc Trine Neptune
    Merc Trine Uranus
    Merc Trine Saturn
    Merc Trine Mars

    which comes out to , two grand trines
    Grand Trine with Mer: 15Vir44’19” and Mar: 18Tau55’49” and Sat: 20Cap06’23”
    Grand Trine with Mer: 15Vir44’19” and Mar: 18Tau55’49” and Nep: 12Cap16’35”

    and then also two t-squares

    T-Square from Sun: 18Leo22’12” to Mar: 18Tau55’49” and Plu: 15Sco02’38”
    T-Square from Moo: 17Ari16’33” to Ven: 26Can48’08” and Sat: 20Cap06’23”

  26. Oops! Couldn’t figure out where to enter my comment. Missed this!
    Thinking about your dad. He realized you were a teacher. Not sure if he realized you were a Spiritual Teacher.

  27. What will Jupiter in Virgo trine Pluto in Capricorn bring in the fall of 2015?

    Around Thanksgiving this year we’ve got a special treat coming – Jupiter in Virgo trine Pluto in Capricorn. So what does this mean for the general public? I’ve been trying to “get a feel for it” and since these planets are in earth signs the benefits should translate into material gains; (i.e.) a flood of new jobs in the private business sector boosts the economy and incentives to start up? possibly grants and loans – the government steps in and plays Santa Claus (good election publicity). Farming, health care and the natural food industry (organics) may be spotlighted and supported. With Jupiter in Virgo in beneficial trine to Mother Nature herself can we look for more amazing news about natural cures or natural healers to take center stage? With the two earth placements in harmonious agreement, Pluto in Capricorn wants to succeed but now is willing to show the better side of Capricorn, ambition, organization, solid responsible business practises and success stories. This will not be business at any cost, but a reckoning to conscience, what effect will this business have on the world, and does it have the potential to make this world a better place. I look forward to seeing it!

  28. i’m both venus-saturn (square) and venus-jupiter (conjunction). few complained about how i act differently in different places and time (for example i’m very uptight and serious when working but very happy and energetic when hanging out). since all aspected to moon, how i act essentially depends on my moods shift and how i feel.

  29. I have an air grand trine. Sun mercury n mars in Gemini trine Libra moon trines Uranus and Neptune in Aquarius. My Uranus in Aquarius opposes my ascendant.. Kinda makes it look like a kite.. I have venus in taurus, jupiter in pisces and saturn in aries 29 degrees. Any wanna see my birth chart.. Just reply.

  30. The only real trines that I have is toward angles. Sun trine Midheaven and Mars trine Midheaven; I was almost given a Grand Trine in water, but my Sun and Mars were off by just a few degrees.

    • Hi, Destiny. When you’re dealing with a major configuration like a Grand Trine or a T-square, a few extra degrees of orb can be allowed. (especially here, because the nature of water is to flow and to blend in.) Donna Cunningham

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