Chart evaluation is the foundation of contemporary astrology. Twentieth-first-century practitioners of this oldest science are putting less emphasis on divination and prediction than on exploring the human psyche. Through the study of astrology, they hope to disclose the numerous sides of the human character.
When deciphering a birth chart an astrologer will calculate which planets form an aspect to other planets. In Ptolemy’s time an aspect was regarded as one planet “looking at” another planet; an archaic meaning of the word “aspect” is to look at or glance. This is still a useful way of regarding aspects. For example, if there is a Sun-Jupiter aspect in your chart, you might ask yourself, “Does the Sun look at Jupiter in a friendly way (a good aspect) or an unfriendly way (an adverse aspect)?”
Aspects between planets (or between planets and angles-Ascendant, Descendant, IC, Mid-heaven) influence each other’s expression depending on the aspect, the planets involved, and the sign and house each planet is in. In some cases, aspects bring out the best in the planets; in others, they represent obstacles or challenges for personal growth. Aspects, like planets, signs, and houses, mirror life: some things are easy, and others are difficult.
Astrologers consider the study of aspects an integral part of horoscope interpretation. Modern astrologers are doing more research on aspects than ever before, and some call this the astrology of the future. Aspects are not a new study, but they lend themselves to deeper and more complex refinements the more they are studied.