Unaspected planet – a misnomer

From the Arkana Dictionary of Astrology:

In a specialist sense, these are planets which receive no MAJOR ASPECTS. Some astrologers maintain that an unaspected planet is an indication of lack of integration of the quality represented by that planet. Other astrologers ignore the supposed influence altogether. The Australian astrologer Dean made a special study of unaspected planets, however, and suggests that such are usually inductive of a strong planetary influence, which is not always well integrated into the life of the native. If a wide orb is allowed for the major aspects, then unaspected planets are quite rare. Some astrologers maintain that planets unaspected by the major aspects are all the more susceptible to the influence of the MINOR ASPECTS.
— Fred Gettings, 1983

“A totally unaspected planet is nearly impossible to find …”
— Joan McEvers & Marion March
The Only Way to Learn Astrology, vol.II
p 65

The term ‘unaspected’ planet is first and foremost a misnomer

The concept defines ‘unaspected’ around the aspects that are easy to learn by beginners and the quickest to recognize without referring to an aspectarian. This gives a clue to the level of astrological literacy behind the notion. These major aspects used to define ‘unaspected’ are the Ptolemaic aspects — conjunction, sextile, square, trine, opposition — with other planets. It ignores minor aspects as if they aren’t enough, assuming that every planet ‘should’ make one of the major 30-degree aspects. It refuses to acknowledge that especially multiple minor aspects involving such a planet can have a significant impact over such a lifetime.

Now I’m quoting Joan McEvers & Marion March again from their paragraph about the Moon. The emphasis is mine:

The Moon … When unaspected, if the rest of the chart confirms this, it can lead to tremendous wordly achievements. Nothing stands in the way as much as our emotions … by not becoming emotionally involved we may miss out on the most important aspect of life–namely, truly relating to another human being.
The Only Way to Learn Astrology, vol.II
p 68

So they did not teach it as a stand-alone interpretive factor. The lone example they used of unaspected Moon was Louis Pasteur, addressed below.

Many modern astrologers add the Keplerian quincunx/150° to a contemporary understanding of what major aspects are. Kepler (1571-1630) also gave us the quintile series (18, 36, 72, 144°), which when occuring with multiple planets in configurations are quite significant. However, most astrologers cling to the Ptolemaic aspects to define what constitutes a significant aspect condition. Planetary aspect configurations involving the 150° quincunx, 30° semi-sextile, all other Keplerian aspects, Ascendant, and Midheaven are ignored.

Should the obvious dynamic of Sun square Ascendant or Midheaven be ignored in favor of an interpretation based on ‘lack of’ some types of aspects to Moon or planets?

Must every planet or luminary aspect another in order to find healthy or ‘integrated’ expression?

My answer to these questions is that integration of these energies and healthy expression is found by the intentions and habits of the individual in question and any birth chart should be studied with their free will in mind.

The problem is that this is a chewy concept, easily transmitted in a single word or phrase that gets a person wondering what is ‘lacking’ in them if something like this is lacking in their birth chart. The astrologer or astrology is seen as holding the answer to this lack, perhaps delivering some sympathetic psychology in the process. If you see an astrologer using it often, I recommend you go elsewhere, since it indicates a novice or an intermediate level astrologer at best who has not yet learned to properly read an aspectarian.

‘Unaspected’ planet theories completely leave out the parallels and contra-parallels of declination.

As Declinations fell out of common use by astrologers and pop astrology began growing around a century ago, notions such as these started gaining acceptance and spread like whispered rumors that come out altered in the end. The ‘unaspected’ planet theory attempts to explain why an astrologer could observe that a person had a particularly strong Venusian signature or behavior in a person’s life, yet see a void of emphasis on Venus in the person’s birth chart (when not looking at Declinations at all, and often failing to test the accuracy of the Asc).

So when it comes to Dean’s research seemingly supporting a strengthened, but poorly integrated energy from a conventionally defined ‘unaspected’ planet, the only reality-based scientific response is that we cannot define such a thing with certainty when crucial information has been left out.

The Answers to mysteriously strengthened planets are usually found in the Declinations and in orbs assumed for major aspects.

Astrotheme points out on their unaspected planets page that the phenomenon is rare. However, they go on to give plenty of celebrity examples for it. (Their “Rules for detecting an unaspected planet” leave out Declinations entirely as if they don’t exist.) So let’s look at some examples they offer:

Unaspected Sun

· King Louis XIV of France actually had Sun [6N47] Parallel Pluto [7N56] and contra-parallel Uranus [7S49]. The orbs between them are certainly acceptable. There is no ‘unaspected’ condition.

· Vincent Van Gogh certainly did not have an ‘unaspected’ Sun [3N50] which was closely contra-parallel Pluto [3S41]. No ‘unaspected’ condition.

Unaspected Moon

· Louis Pasteur had Moon 165°/Quindecile Sun & Neptune, Bi-quintile Mars, semi-square Saturn. Again, those are aspects. If you want to say a person has no major aspects, fine. But don’t say ‘unaspected’ as if there were no aspects at all.

Unaspected Mercury

· Mohandas Gandhi certainly did not have an ‘unaspected’ Mercury. How could any astrologer possibly think that such a leader of opposition to a major colonial power could have no aspects involving Mercury, thus indicating some sort of deficit of communication power! Gandhi’s Mercury [15S54] (taken from the 25 Libra rising chart) was contra-parallel both Moon [16N02] and Jupiter [16N33], with orbs not even remotely in question.

No examples are given for Venus

However, George Clooney has been offered up by some as an example of an ‘unaspected’ Venus when, in fact, it made a quintile to Saturn and a Bi-quintile to Pluto. In addition, Clooney’s rectified, validated chart that I posted and described previously shows Venus sextile Ascendant and sesquisquare Midheaven. But even if you don’t like my rectification, Venus still makes two important aspects in the quintile series.

Paul Saunders of solarisastrology.com offers up Al Gore as an example of ‘unaspected’ Venus. This may be the example that actually comes closest to any real definition of ‘unaspected’ if you don’t count the square to Mars with nearly 8° slack. However, Venus sesquisquare Neptune still counts as an aspect. Venus [21N46] was also in wide contra-parallel with Jupiter [22S55] (orb = 1°09′).

He also offers up Martin Luther King, Jr as an example of ‘unaspected’ Venus. Not even close on this one. Even if you take the extremely dubious 12 noon time for the standard chart, you will see that Moon and Venus are exactly parallel at 8S29. Venus is also trine Pluto with an orb of about 6.5°.

Unaspected Mars

Back to the astrotheme examples …

· Dodi Fayed did not have an ‘unaspected’ Mars [21N30] which was parallel both Jupiter [22N16] and Uranus [21N53]. In addition it shows a very tight BQ to Neptune.

· Pete Shelley, their next example, also has Mars [21N50] Parallel both Jupiter [22N14] and Uranus [21N53] , as well as semi-square Jupiter, and BQ Neptune.

Unaspected Jupiter

· Their example of Janis Joplin also falls short. Janis had Jupiter semi-sextile Saturn, and Quintile Neptune. Jupiter [22N23] was also contra-parallel Mars [23S39] (orb = 1°16′).

No examples are given for Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, or Pluto by Astrotheme. Looking at other examples offered elsewhere …


· Daniel Day-Lewis as an example of ‘unaspected’ Saturn? No, Saturn [20S33] clearly is contra-parallel Uranus [20N05].


· Barack Obama as an example of ‘unaspected’ Uranus? which in fact receives a near exact quincunx from Saturn. It also is squared by the Moon within a very acceptable 8° orb.

· Margaret Thatcher is also a bad example for ‘unaspected’ Uranus, because her chart shows Mars [2S59] parallel Uranus [3S43], as well as Mercury quincunx Uranus.


· Walt Disney had unaspected Neptune? No, not even close. Who in their right minds would think that the King of Animation could possibly have had an ‘unaspected’ Neptune?! Disney’s chart shows a profoundly strong Neptune [22N15] in declination. It was contra-parallel Uranus [22S51], Saturn [22S26], Jupiter [22S48], Venus [22S48], and Sun [22S18]. In addition, Venus was quincunx Neptune.

Do you still hold out any hope of any real examples of ‘unaspected’ with Pluto?

· Buddy Holly as an example of ‘unaspected’ Pluto? Hardly. Sun and Moon semi-square Pluto; Mercury quintile Pluto; Moon [23N49] Parallel Pluto [22N48], and Jupiter [22S23] contra-parallel Pluto.

· John F. Kennedy? No. Mars semi-square Pluto; Neptune semi-sextile Pluto; Jupiter [17N44] & Neptune [19N22] Parallel Pluto [18N50]. If you accept the 3 PM time attributed to his mother, Moon at 17° Virgo is Quintile Pluto.


Interpretive notions implying ‘lack of’ offer little or no usable insight that supports the person’s growth and self-realization. Such concepts are based on superficial survey of the birth chart and too easily leave the person believing something is lacking in themselves. After all, their birth chart is already set.

I’ve heard all the reasonings and rationale. Unaspected only supposed to mean no major aspects. So why call it ‘unaspected’? It is a misnomer. Why not say ‘no major aspects’? But even that would have to be adjusted in the way most astrologers apply it for interpretation purposes since the quincunx is a major aspect, as are parallels and contra-parallels.

Observing no major aspects will understandably happen when the astrologer is quickly surveying the wheel for obvious 30-degree aspects instead of examining the aspectarian with properly set orbs (inclusive, but not stretched orbs).

This notion has been way overfed, more than any other reason, because astrologers have left Declinations out of the practice of astrology. Poor use of the aspectarian is another reason.

Declinations have been left out of schools, courses, texts. It is as if all of mainstream astrology practice insists that the sky is flat and the planets circulate around the Sun on an east-west flat plane with no variation north or south of the celestial equator. This despite the fact anyone can go outside a few nights in a row and see the Moon shows us that this is simply delusional. When will astrology pull itself out of the ‘flat cosmos’ dark age?

Finally, with Steven Forrest’s The Book of the Moon the importance of a stellar body’s north or south position in the sky is getting more recognition. It’s a good start.


About Kannon McAfee

Poet, healer, professional astrologer. I'm dedicated to advancing the science and art of astrology. My specialty is birth chart interpretation and rectification (for those with questionable charts or missing birth times). My focus is on helping people meet their purpose in life while understanding their options within that.
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