The trine is an aspect
An astrological trine is an aspect of 120 degrees, more or less (the orb) between one planet and another. Typically, they are within the same quadrature, though some astrologers allow for out-of-bounds trines (OOB trines) when the planet is less than two degrees from the house cusp.Read more: The story of trines, Dolley Madison vs Andrew Jackson
Trines are one of the first aspects defined in Ptolemy’s seminal astrology work, the Tetrabiblios, and thus are part of the basic aspect set of astrology. The other aspects are the sextile (sixty degrees away), the square (ninety degrees away), the opposition (one hundred and eighty degrees away) and the conjunction (zero degrees away).
An example of friendly planets trined is the chart of First Lady, Dolley Madison, where Uranus conjunct Venus conjunct Mercury — all in Earth — are trined Pluto in Capricorn in the sixth (work and service) trined Neptune in Virgo in the second. Two of these three planets are friendly to each other, with Pluto in the sixth being the disrupter in her chart, showing how she was pressed into service for the widowed President Thomas Jefferson and then again for her own husband’s presidency. That two of the three are compatible (Neptune is the higher octave of Venus) shows she minded little being the President’s hostess, and accepted her obligation cheerfully.
When trines unite one planet in an element, with an other planet in the same element, we consider them harmonious and supportive. They bring the person luck from and through those houses — Dolley was a rich and beautiful widow second house, who was patriotic (sixth house) and because of that, she made herself a well-known and respected figure (the tenth house luck).
Sextiles are also harmonious aspects, but they unite planets within friendly elements, not the same element. Sextiles are “helper” aspects. They support the greater, or more important aspect, but sextiles do not have the inner momentum of the trine. In fact, sextiles are actually the opposite of the trine, something obvious in the Grand Sextile chart of the writer-playwright Oscar Wilde.
Grand Trines and Little Trines
A trine can be found in the Bowl Temperament Type, the Bucket Temperament Type and the Bundle Temperament, but a Grand Trine, or three unified trines cannot, for that is the definition of the pattern according to Marc Edmund Jones in his Guide to Astrological Interpretation.
So what is a Grand Trine?
A grand trine is composed of three trines in a chart that are in the same element and connect to each other. This creates a 360 degree unifying triangle aspect, as in the chart of President Andrew Jackson below.
Jackson, like Mrs. Madison, has all the requirements of a Grand Trine: all the planets are in the same element and are in aspect to one another, thus these trines are referred to by their element. The element also gives the grand trine its name: there are Grand Trines in Earth, Grand Trines in Fire, Grand Trines in Water and Grand Trines in Water. Capitalization of the words that make up the grand trine is arbitrary, though most astrologers use it when referring to the aspect.
Can there be greater than one Grand Trine in a Chart?
Yes, there can be more than one grand trine in a chart, though not of the same element. Marc Edmund Jones calls this a preponderance 1 Preponderance is an important astrological term that Dr. Jones introduced in his seminal work, How to Learn Astrology. It is not a stellium, though a stellium or satellitium can be a preponderance, but it is a collection of similar aspects within a chart that are not united by their location. of trines and negates the power of the trine for astrology follows the Apollonian dictum of “everything in moderation.”
If there is over one trine, is it always a grand trine?
No. A Grand Trine must be in the same element or as close as possible to the element boundary and connect to each other–they cannot be separate trines scattered in a chart. Thus you can have several trines in a chart, each separate but as they are not interconnected, they are not Grand Trines.
Bruno and Louise Huber’s Trapezium aspect is an example of a configuration has two separate trines that are connected via a 60-degree sextile. Trapeziums, though are rare configurations and need further analysis to determine what they are suggesting. So far, I have only seen it in mundane charts.
- 1Preponderance is an important astrological term that Dr. Jones introduced in his seminal work, How to Learn Astrology. It is not a stellium, though a stellium or satellitium can be a preponderance, but it is a collection of similar aspects within a chart that are not united by their location.