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The article The Classical Origin &Traditional Use of Aspects offers a detailed explanation of the traditional approach to calculating and interpreting aspects.


 


Table to show Orbs for Aspectual Contact



In traditional practice, the limits for aspectual contact are determined by the planets involved. The 17th century text of William Lilly mentions a divergence of opinion regarding the maximum limit set for each planet. He writes (CA., p107): "... I will againe insert the Table of the quantity of their Obs, ... they stand thus as I have found by the best Authors and my owne Experience.":

Lilly's table of planetary orbs

Traditional texts did not, of course, consider the influence of the outer planets. Upon their discovery astrologers continued to use the traditional planetary orbs for the visible planets and incorporated the new planets into the scheme using a standard 5 orb which was also applied to angles, and all other non-luminous points. This convention has been followed in the table below. This shows the orb allowed between each pair of planets according to the more generally accepted limits shown in Lilly's second list (depicted by emboldened type in the table below), which was favoured by Lilly himself. It also indicates the wider allowance applied by some authors (normal type face), which can be considered an absolute limit acceptable under traditional practice. However, many respectable and authoritative authors, including AlBiruni and Dariot, stated that Mars should be accorded an 8° orb; and since the intention here is to draw up a table to include reference to the widest orbs that could arguably be accepted as legitimate (by the fact that they are commonly used in traditional practice), I shall use that figure instead of Lilly's suggestion of 7½°



MAXIMUM DISTANCE AT WHICH PLANETS ARE IN ORB OF EACH OTHER
The emboldened figures use the most commonly accepted orb allowance.

The figures in normal type indicate a wider allowance accepted by some

Sun
(17°)
Moon
(12°30')
Mercury
(7°)
Venus
(8°)
Mars
(8°)
Jupiter
(12°)
Saturn
(10°)
Outer.
(5°)
Sun
(15°)
14°45' 12° 12°30' 12°30' 14°30' 13°30' 11°
Moon
(12°)
13°30' 9°45' 10°15' 10°15' 12°15' 11°15' 8°45'
Mercury
(7°)
11° 9°30' 7°30' 7°30' 9°30' 8°30'
Venus
(7°)
11° 9°30' 10° 6°30'
Mars
(7°)
11° 9°30 10° 6°30'
Jupiter
(9°)
12° 10°30' 11° 8°30'
Saturn
(9°)
12° 10°30' 7°30'
Outer.
(5°)
10° 8°30'


Example: To calculate the orb limit for aspects between Jupiter and Mars.

Using the standard list (emboldened type), we see that the orb for Mars is 7°; for Jupiter it is 9°. Added together the orb is 16°; that is, 8° either side of the aspect. The table shows this if you read across the top row until you find the column headed 'Mars' and then look down that column until you find the figure listed in bold on the row headed 'jupiter'.

Using the alternative list which accepts wider orbs, we see from the planetary headings in normal type that Mars is attributed an 8° orb; Jupiter is attributed 12°. Added together the orb is 20°; that is, 10° either side of the aspect. The table shows this if you read down the first column until you come to the row headed 'Mars' and then look across that row until you find the figure listed in normal type under the column headed 'Jupiter'.

Readers who are not familiar with the traditional understanding of aspects, or how orbs are traditionally calculated, should refer to the article The Classical Origin & Traditional Use of Aspects, in particular the section headed: Moiety of the Orb.

My own opinion is that the standard list, (indicated above by emboldened type) is sufficient for most purposes, particularly in being representative of the orbs upon which an influence can be relied to express itself. However, I will acknowledge an aspect within the range of the wider orbs if the planetary contact is of great significance to the chart and the planets are strong by angularity or other fortifying factors.

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© Deborah Houlding, July 2004


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