The title of this book should be fully explanatory of its purpose.  It is a treatise in some detail on the thirty-six possible combinations of the Sun, the Moon, and the seven known planets.  A number of examples is given of each combination.

The difficulties of writing anything reliable and capable of helping the practical student are great.  For, while we can understand the abstract significance of the planets and so form a conception of the theoretical meaning of each aspect, it still remains true that when we descend from these abstractions to the effects of the aspects in actual life we find ourselves confronted with a very intricate task.  That which is unitary above becomes many below; the trend of manifestation is always towards increased diversity.  Thus, even in terms of character, the same aspect exhibits great differences in manifestation according to the most innumerable possible concurrent circumstances that may arise.  When we seek to determine the probable external form of the aspects in the affairs of life, we meet yet greater variation.  What is more absurd than to suppose that the same aspect (whether radical or progressed) will manifest in the same way in the case of a convict serving a life-sentence, a millionaire financier, a Bohemian artist or a soldier on active service?

However, while realizing these difficulties to the full, I have tried to make a book that will contain something both new and useful.

Generally speaking, I have studied two or three dozen examples of each aspectual contact; and I have often found that the text-book descriptions are not true of many of these cases.  Sometimes the real meaning of the aspects seems to be quite different from what I, in common with many other students, have hitherto thought.

Each combination is treated under three heads – Harmonious Aspects, the Conjunction, and Inharmonious Aspects.  I have to some extent discarded the traditional words “benefic” and “malefic” and have sought to use terms more in accordance with modern opinion.

The Harmonious Aspects are the Trine, Sextile and Semi-Sextile, obtained by dividing the circle of 360 degrees by 3, 6, and 12.  Three, it need hardly be said, is the number of Ideal Form; hence it is harmonious, ideal and concordant.  These aspects, therefore, tend to happiness.

The Conjunction, with which may be coupled the Parallel of Declination, is analogous to the number One, and is, as it were, the parent of all aspects.  It is potentially either Harmonious or Inharmoniousm, and actually it derives its character, in particular cases, from the planets composing it, and from other horoscope conditions.

The Inharmonious Aspects are the Opposition, the Square and the minor aspects, called the Quincunx, Semi-Square and Sesquiquadrate.  These, except the Quincunx, are derived from the numbers 2 and 4, of which the former is the number of objective manifestation.  It follows that the Opposition may be unfortunate by reason of its negativity in relation to opposing forces, and the square may have an Inharmonious value, because manifestation necessarily implies limitation and circumscription.

The aspects derived from 5, which are the Quintile and its cognates, are considered to be weakly benefic.  I am not sure that their value is not greater than generally supposed, although they may not be very obvious in their effects.  Five symbolizes man as the potential master of Nature and natural forces.  Hence, their value would be intellectual.

No known aspects are derived from 7 or 9, though I should be loth to say that none exist.

From a directional point of view aspects are less differentiate in action than they are in Natal Astrology.   A direction is chiefly important as an excitation of a radical configuration, and its own nature, whether a Trine or a Square, is not important.  The main determinative is the character of the natal forces which it stirs into motion.  But from the point of view of Natal Astrology each aspect has its own character.

The Conjunction is in a sense potentially all things, but its principal practical characteristic is its power.  It is undeniably more powerful and more direct in action than any other aspect.  It is of an essential nature, affecting the very being of the native, as well as his circumstances.

The Opposition is a passive configuration.  It tends to make the native an instrument in the hands of others, either conscious or unconscious.   If the horoscope is of a generally passive type this condition may be easily accepted; but in the case of a vigorous individual the influence of the Opposition may lead to constant friction and struggle, as is seen in the maps of many – perhaps most – military commanders, and in all those who, so to speak “fight their oppositions out” spending their lives in warfare.  In some maps, it denotes pliancy and opportunism.

The Trine is, as a rule, an active, idealistic aspect, being naturally related to the 5thand 9thhouses – creation and inspiration. It is an aspect of vigour, keenness and vitality.

The Sextile is of a 3rdand 11thhouse nature – mentation and intellectual desires or aspirations.  It is more mental and less enthusiastic than the Trine, and may incline in weak maps to indolence, lack of drive and easy acquiescence.  Its strong point is brain-power and it is more frequently found in the maps of thinkers than is the Trine.

The Square is of a combative character.  It is the most energizing of the contacts, contrasting sharply with the Opposition.  It causes the individual to re-act abruptly and often in discomfort to the stimuli of the environment, producing action, struggle, and oft-times success.  The native will feel acutely the discrepancy between what he has and what he wants, what he is, and what is around him, and he is stirred to action.  It is individualistic, independent and self-assertive.

The Semi-Sextile is of a 2ndand 12thhouse character, while the Quincunx is related to the 6thand 8th, having distinct connections with health, accidents, misfortunes and death.  The Semi-Square is related to the 2ndand 11thhouses, and the Sesquiquadrate to the 5thand 8th.  None of these is reckoned very powerful, and it is usual to limit their orbs to about 4 degrees on either side, the Semi-Sextile being often cut down to as little as 1 degree, and the Quincunx to about 2 degrees.  Nevertheless, in terms of their respective natures, their influences may be distinctly traced.

As regards orbs, just as I am inclined to believe that there are more aspects than are commonly admitted, so I consider that the general practice is to extend orbs beyond what is actually allowable.  It may be that the orbs of all minor aspects should be reduced to 1 degree and majors to about 5 degrees.  This is put forward as a view worth considering.

The student must be cautioned to pay great heed, in all judgment, to the signs and houses occupied by the bodies, and to the other aspects that they may receive, besides the particular one that may engage his attention at any one time.   The congeniality or otherwise of the three factors, planet, sign and house may be largely beneficent even in the inharmonious aspects.  Conversely a bad aspect may do much good if sign and house are agreeable to the nature of the planets concerned.  On the other hand, the Harmonious Aspects of debilitated planets will do little good.  I would carry this rule so satisfactory to regard such an aspect as Sun Trine Saturn in Leo as Inharmonious, and to apply to it the description that is given under the Inharmonious heading.  I would not go so far as to say this of a benefic planet, because there the nature of the body is itself strongly inclined to good.  Sun Trine Jupiter in Capricorn is obviously less good than Sun Trine Jupiter in Sagittary, but I would still deem it a favorable influence.  On the other hand, I should rate Sun Square Jupiter in Sagittary as largely a helpful influence, and even Sun Square Saturn in Aquarius would be by no means entirely evil.

Unless these modifications are borne constantly in mind many of the following descriptions will not be applicable, and it will be impossible to use them successfully.

It must be noted that any configuration may be considered good or bad from two points of view – happiness and achievement.  The benefic planets and aspects undoubtedly are most favourable for the former, but they are by no means good for success or attainment, in and by themselves, since they incline to tranquil and uneventful conditions and the less noble alternative of the “Choice of Herakles.”  On the other hand, a horoscope almost entirely dominated by the malefic planets and by Inharmonious Aspects will, as a rule, break the native through repeated obstacles and misfortunes.  Hence, for achievement, a mixed map is best, affording both opportunity and incentive.  Inharmonious aspects cause misfortunes, but they do not forbid success, whereas a natus of good aspects (such as that of the Buddhist Prince who became a monk, Notable Nativities, No. 178) indicates a shrinking from mundane responsibilities.

However, Harmonious aspects do not denote slackness or indolence unless they pervade the whole map, and even then the prominence of vigorous planets, such as Mars or Uranus, will prevent this effect, for then the necessary energy will come from the planet, though not from the aspect.  It stands to reason that, since to achieve anything notable ex hypothesi difficult, the map of the man who does this must contain difficult elements; and as a rule we shall more often find in such cases Sun Opposition Saturn, than Sun Trine Jupiter.  Most often we shall see a blend of both classes.

Unless the reader can see this point of view and to some extent accept it, he will find much that follows to be rubbish, for in compiling this book I have sometimes found that Inharmonious contacts between certain planets are not noticeably worse, so far as success and true character go, than are the Harmonious.    I cannot carry on the old tradition that Saturnian afflictions mean worldly downfall and failure when I see such men as W.T. Stead and Lord Northcliffe with the Lights in Opposition and Saturn in Square to both.  And, without postulating that either was wholly wise or good, I cannot see that they were particularly censurable in point of character.  Hence I have tried to find what these configurations commonly do mean, as distinct from what they are said to mean.

I must frankly say that I doubt if anything has done sane Astrology more harm than our constant prating about “good” and “bad” aspects, like children talking of “lovely sweets” and “nasty medicine.”  Such a point of view is debilitating and unworthy, and it implies astrologers are people whose chief concern in life is to find ease and comfort and avoid hardships.  I do not mean that astrologers are of this frame of mind, but our language leads others to this conclusion.  We must indeed employ the terms of ordinary language, but there is no need to speak as if comfort were the one good thing, and discomfort the one evil.

It will be noticed that I have usually found more to say about the Inharmonious aspects than about the Harmonious ones; this is not due to any perverse preference for the former, but to the fact that these have affinity with materiality and therefore manifest themselves more clearly and perceptibly.

It will be noticed that the aspects are treated in each case more or less distinctly from two points of view – the interior or psychological, and the external or circumstantial.  It is a matter of great technical difficulty to decide in which way any given aspect will mainly operate in a particular case.   Some – perhaps all – work in terms of character, while the externalized effects are perhaps secondary.  I do not know.  Often the character-effect is very difficult to find, while the external results are obvious.  In one case such an aspect as Sun Square Jupiter may indicate a double nature, whereas in another native is straightforward, and the aspect causes him to be the victim of duplicity of another.   Some aspects appear to operate entirely in terms of health or accidents.  The Ascendant is perhaps the decisive factor, as far as there is such.

For my own part, I may say (though this book is tended to be practical and by no means philosophical or mystical) I find that the only satisfying belief is, that environment is a reflection of the Inner, either as it is or was, so that, though an aspect may seem quite foreign to our character and only appropriate to our external conditions, in reality both correspond.   It is of course obvious that our characters may change much more quickly than our bodies and circumstances, so that the correspondence is seldom perfect or complete; but in a general sense the one follows the other.  As within, so without.  I know that many astrologers detest what they consider to be “mystical”; but I see no other rational explanation of facts.

In judging these matters it is necessary to remember that we see but a part of each individual, and only a little even of ourselves.   The great ocean of the unconscious underlies the conscious, as the visible iceberg is but a fraction of the whole.   Men of outward humbleness nourish daydreams of imperial splendour; men of public benevolence have been murderers in secret; persons apparently immersed in worldliness have lived hidden lives of lowly service.

Astrologers, in seeking to understand and help, but understand the Law of Expression, by which all beings seek to express their own natures through all available channels.   The work of the astrologer is to find beneficial and appropriate media through which the horoscopic forces can be expressed.  These forces cannot be escaped, but they can be analyzed, understood and directed.

It may be said that, strictly speaking, the work of the astrologer ends when the natus has been erected and explained; when advice is sought with regard to health, business and so forth, the appropriate expert should be consulted.

Nevertheless in actual practice the astrologer finds himself called upon to give advice of a general character, and, in particular, to offer consolation in the presence of the various forms of ill-fortune that oppress humanity.  Unless he can deal with such contingencies, the mere interpretation of the horoscope is apt to prove discouraging and even hurtful, for there are few cases in which some sort of peril is not to be apprehended, and more often it is people with afflicted maps who seek counsel.

It will be out of place to try to explain my personal philosophy, and many who read this will already possess their own.   A generally acceptable conception is necessary, for particular beliefs only attract certain types.  Thus many find Reincarnation a consoling doctrine; but others regard it as the very reverse.  In any case, its truth is not self-evident.

Most people may be fortified by the astrologer pointing that Astrology makes it possible for us to confront our problems in an intelligence and understanding spirit; we shall know what lies before us, and can take the requisite steps, instead of drifting forward helplessly and blindly.

There are few who will not respond to the suggestion that troubles of some kind are almost universal to mankind, but that to bear a trial bravely converts it into a bless, and is an example that all will admire who behold it.

Moreover, it cannot be held that our nativities come to us fortuitously and without our inviting them.  For such a belief is a negation of justice and reason, and is illogical, implying, as it does, that the Universe (though it must depend upon the same First Cause as Man) is a denial of the very principles to which all good and wise men endeavour to conform their lives.

No material influence, astrological or otherwise, can separate man from spiritual and ideal Realities; in fact, so called evil is frequently the instrument by which he is brought these things.

On the other hand, man is not called up to deny the special use and value of material things, but he is required, for his own happiness, to appraise them at their true worth, and not to suppose that they are either nothing or everything.

Seeking to avoid responsibilities and difficulties is both futile and ignoble, whether we seek to do so by material means or by mental or magical methods.  Such courses have never been advocated by any of the known Great Teachers of mankind, or even by those leaders of mankind who are honoured exoterically, such as Washington, Lincoln or Mazzini.  On the other hand, we should be merely foolish if we neglected all honourable and reasonable precautions in dealing with our emergencies.

Such arguments may be adapted to particular cases, and may be amplified, so as to reinvigorate the stricken and hearten the disconsolate.  They are of a general nature and should appeal to all, irrespective of creed.

On the other hand, fatalistic views and phrases and arguments that are designed to portray man as the pawn of fate, depress the vitality of body and mind, lead to despair and torpidity, and have a genuine kinship with death.   Hence they cannot be true, for it is impossible to believe that man is so constituted that he can only flourish while cherishing a false belief in a non-existent freedom.

Finally, I hope that nothing that follows will distress the reader.  It is useless to speak as if such an aspect as Mars Square Uranus is as pleasant a companion as say, Mercury Conjunction Venus.  Science must be frank.  Scientists must be courageous and prepared to face facts.  But many an apparently difficult configuration will improve on acquaintance, and few indeed are the horoscopes that do not contain a large portion of good, even in a worldly sense.

As regards the higher part of man’s nature, his rational, moral and aesthetic faculties, it is in my firm belief that, if we choose to unfold them, no stellar influence can prevent us, though it may place obstacles and hindrances in our path.   There are parts of our lives which the stars do seem to a large extent to dominate, and there is a yet greater part which they undoubtedly can affect, both favourably and adversely.  It is for us to place our treasure where they cannot penetrate; no easy task, it is true, but probably the one most worth performing

-Charles E. O. Carter

June, 1930

It is recommended that this book be used in conjunction with the Author’s “Essays on the Foundations of Astrology” Chapter V, in which the aspects are considered from the standpoint of the signs involved.