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Orbs Date Published: 1998 by Bette Denlinger


Astrologers have numerous schools of thought as to the allowable "orbs" to use for aspects. When dealing with the major aspects (conjunction, trine, square, and opposition), some astrologers will allow up to 10 degrees for aspects involving Sun, Moon, or Ascendant, but only 7 degrees for planetary aspects. The default setting on my astrology program allows 7 degrees of orb for the "lights" and 6 degrees for the planets. The less important aspects, the sextile, sesquiquadrate, and inconjunct, are allowed 2 degrees of orb or an aspect isn't noted. The minor, seldom-used aspects, including novile and septile, are listed in the default as 0 degree and will only appear in a chart when the aspect is exact.

Most sets of orb rules adhere to a strict numerical order, dependent upon the type of aspect and whether a luminary (including ascendant) is involved. A wider orb is commonly given for the "lights" and "angles."

Some other, very broad minded types, consider any pair of planets in the same triplicity to be in an essential trine, while planets in the same quadruplicity are in natural square, no matter the actual distance apart, no matter the minor aspects. Should you utilize orbs that are too wide you may run into another aspect. For instance the Biquintile of 144 degrees is only 6 degrees distance from an Inconjunct at 150.

Sometimes the problem isn't what type of aspect, but whether the two bodies are exchanging energy in any discernible way at all. One theory suggests that an astrologer should consider whether the aspect is applying or separating when considering wide orbs. Mercury trine Uranus for an example: if Mercury were at 22 Capricorn and Uranus at 14 Virgo the faster moving Mercury is "leaving" the trine influence, even though the aspect may be valid at birth. Should the planets be reversed, the aspect would be in the process of "forming" and by some standards more valid and more important.

Another consideration, which does not actually relate to orbs, but to "how" to interpret the energy exchange, has to do with location in the chart of that aspect. What do you do with a square that straddles houses in trine? Or two bodies in trine, but in angular houses, a paran square? There is much to think about and study with this subject and many sets of rules to follow dependent upon which house system you use.

Rules are wonderful. They give you a foundation to begin with.

Rules are wonderful. They give you a foundation to begin with. Yet a birth chart of a human being is one in which everything "works" together; somehow this human being synthesizes all the different parts of his birth chart into a living, breathing, functioning organism.

It matters not so much what type of aspect exists so much as whether an "aspect" or energy exchange exists. Can planet A hear the vibrations of planet B? Does A take into consideration the needs and attributes of the other? Do these two bodies act in tandem in any way?

When we find a chart with one "complex" of aspects, that is nowhere connected to the rest of the chart, or connected by a very minor aspect, we usually find a person who has a dichotomy in the life that is uneasily resolved. This person may react in one manner when dealing with certain issues, or people, but have a completely different attitude in other parts of his life. The point is, how does this living, breathing entity integrate the functions in his chart if all the planets and "lights" are not held together by a common thread or theme? How can we explain this when the aspects appear not to exist by the standards set forth in our manuals?

Those who tell me they have an "unaspected" planet are usually incorrect. They either forget to look at the angles (MC, IC, Ascendant or Descendant ), don't use the lesser aspects that are difficult to visualize such as the sesquiquadrate, or they do not allow wide enough orbs.

Rules are there to help us develop judgement. Each chart is a unique moment of time and space to ponder. The aspects, or energy exchanges between bodies, may be of importance or their influence negligible dependent upon many factors that one set of strict rules may not take into consideration.

On the subject of orbs, may I offer an analogy?

If you are sitting in the woods, on a sunny, bright day, far away from any houses, any towns, all by yourself, you can perhaps hear the leaves falling from the trees several yards away, maybe a squirrel scampering through the brush ... and you may hear the voices of other hikers across the hilltop far away ... or a train whistle in the distance may be heard loud and clear.

However, if you are sitting in your living room with the TV on, someone sitting across from you talking, and the phone ringing all at the same time, you might miss the words of a person who has just entered the room. You certainly won't hear the train whistle, or the leaves rustling, or squirrels in the trees scampering outside your window.

A planet with few aspects is like that fellow out in the woods all by himself ... there is little to distract him, so he can pick up on activity and "noise" far away (thus wider orbs may be allowed), but the planet that has a lot of input from many other close aspects will ignore or be virtually unaffected by those (other planets with wider aspects) farther away because there is too much close at hand to concentrate on.

Planets with few aspects "pick up" on the influence of other bodies outside the standard, allowable orbs. Those planets already dealing with other sources of dynamic activity and close orbs find aspects to another body with wider orbs ineffective.

"On the keyboard of life, always keep one finger on the escape key."


© Copyright: Bette Denlinger 1998. This article may not be reproduced in any form without express written permission from the author.





Other articles by Guy de Penguern

Denlinger, BetteDeclination Charts – A New Way of Using Old Techniques; Part 1

Denlinger, BetteDeclination Charts – A New Way of Using Old Techniques; Part 2



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