What is an Unaspected Planet?

Aspects form a vital component of the interpretation of the natal chart. They link the planets that are the active and dynamic factors of the horoscope. Each link means that a piece of our psychic energy is making contact with another part, and that these parts not only influence each another and can work together (or work against each other), it is also particularly true that they see each other and experience each other consciously. This makes it possible for us to get to know ourselves.

It does, however, happen that one or more planets do not receive or make any major aspects. They stand apart, and are therefore unintegrated. They have no direct influence on other planets (or psychic dynamics), and are themselves also not influenced, so they can exhibit extremes in their effects. We notice this particularly in an all-or-nothing attitude: quick to exaggerate, or precisely the opposite: not responsive in the least. In any case, whether a planet is unaspected depends particularly on the question of how large an orb we use. If we allow very large orbs, then there is little chance of having unaspected planets. If, however, we allow very small orbs, there is in fact a greater chance of having one or more unaspected planets. So, if we want to involve unaspected planets in our interpretation, we will first need to think about the question of orbs. And with this issue, unaspected planets can be of service to us.

The characteristics of an unaspected planet are very specific. If a planet in its expression also bears the characteristic of an unaspected planet, then it is likely that it is not, in fact, making any aspects. If you allow large orbs, for instance of 10? or more, as was still occasionally customary some time ago, then this planet may possibly still make one or more aspects, which would not exist using a smaller orb. However, if the planet is working as an unaspected one, we will obviously need to use smaller orbs. On the contrary, it is likewise true that if a planet is unaspected when using very small orbs, but the person in question doesn't reveal the characteristic expression of this in practice, we know we will have to allow somewhat more leeway in orbs. In studying aspects, I have looked at both major and minor aspects. Whenever planets made exclusively minor aspects, they seemed to work like unaspected planets. This is why, in my experience, a planet is unaspected if it makes no major aspects. The minor ones evidently do not play a part in this.

Researching the effect of unaspected planets finally also led me to particular orbs for aspects, and these are the orbs I will be using. (See Table 2, below.) With unaspected planets, the issue is about aspects made to other psychic dynamics, meaning planets. If a planet aspects the Ascendant or the MC [Midheaven], but not other planets, it will in practice turn out to have the characteristics of an isolated planet. We will, of course, learn to recognize a planet in aspect with an angle, meaning with the ASC or the MC, a bit sooner.

Characteristics of Unaspected Planets

If we have an unaspected planet in the horoscope, it is very likely that we aren't really very aware of all the things we do with it and how strongly we bring this planet to expression in daily life. An unaspected planet manifests itself unmistakably though! However, just to clear up a couple of misconceptions right off the bat: an unaspected planet is not weak, not insignificant, and not bad. On the contrary, many people who have achieved extraordinary things turn out to have had help in doing so from an unaspected planet in the horoscope. With unaspected planets, the question is not, therefore, whether we can achieve anything with them, because we definitely can. Instead, the question is how we go about it and how that feels inside.

Aspects and Orbs


(in relation to one another)

SUN & MOON (in relation to
each other and to other planets)














3? (possibly 5?)

3? (possibly 3.5?)




In Search -- Preoccupation

An isolated planet has to do everything by itself. At first it even seems like the other subject matter inside us doesn't see this piece of us. That's why we don't get to know it very quickly. Somewhere, though, deep inside, we do know it's there. This isn't so much a conscious knowing, but more an implicit knowing. It makes us tend to keep searching for that piece of ourselves, that planet. To our feeling, it is a "faraway" given, and if this concerns a skill or activity, we'll have the idea that we aren't ready to do it by a long shot and "maybe never will learn," without there being any demonstrable proof of this. That inner feeling is usually pretty strong, and if one little thing goes wrong, we tend to lend it a lot more weight than necessary.

So, we go off in search of the subject matter of that planet. Some domains that are appropriate to that planet even hold a sort of magical or mysterious kind of attraction. Once I met a boy with an unaspected Mercury who, at a very early age, was fascinated by pencils and pens (objects appropriate to Mercury). Whenever his parents couldn't find any, all they had to do was go to his room and that's where they would find just about all the writing utensils they had in the house! He simply couldn't keep his hands off them. No matter what his parents did -- from asking in a friendly way to leave the pens where they belonged, to giving him a big set of his own pens, to punishing him -- nothing worked. Each pen had its own fascination. Mercury can, of course, also entail lots of other things, so a fascination can also lie in other Mercury domains. For this boy, it was pens.

Precisely because of this fascination and our "being in search of," we will be preoccupied with an unaspected planet, but won't ourselves be aware of it at all. The problem is, namely, that there are no other planets that provide any contact with this isolated planet, so that at first we don't see all the things we do with it. We simply don't recognize it, and aren't able to place it, like the boy with his pens. He simply didn't understand that he had a few too many of them in his room. It's as if everything we do with that planet somehow or other isn't to be fathomed, knows no moderation, or isn't to be controlled. This, by the way, doesn't have to be the case forever.

Over the course of life we will have several chances to gain insight into this: other planets will naturally start creating aspects with it in transit and progression, and in those periods will make contact with that subject matter. Then we suddenly take a big step forward and see what we're doing, or come closer to deeper longings and character traits. And the unaspected planet itself will start creating aspects in progression and transit as well. So there will be plenty of chances to learn moderation and to figure ourselves out. Initially, though, things will be tough. However, it seems as if our unconscious wants to help in every way to start seeing the subject matter of that unaspected planet.

If we are preoccupied with the energy or domain of that planet, the chance that various things will start getting through to us is better, of course, and we will also begin to recognize this kind of planet sooner that way. But a long running start is still needed for this, and in the meantime we are not aware to what extent those around are confronted by this unintegrated planet. Our emphasizing it means those around us will already have experienced the full weight of it and will have to endure more before we have even the slightest inkling of what we're up to. In fact, if we hear remarks or criticism about it, we will in all honesty not have a clue what they're talking about.

For example: A client has a son with an unaspected Mars. He is an extremely lively and active little boy, so maybe the description "the height of restlessness and energy" would be better. He sleeps little and is always nearby making lots of noise. He is a radiant child who is clearly enjoying life. He (still) isn't aware of how much difficulty his parents are having with this. They are understanding and patient (and love their peace and quiet!), but often he's too much for them. They were unable to grasp that even after years of asking him if he couldn't just sit still at the table, he still always kicked, danced, and knocked things over due to the restlessness of his movements. His mother told me once that her son, while yelling, was drumming on the table with his silverware, barely missing his plate, and thereby creating a situation where his parents were unable to say a single word to each other. Mars was clearly active. When she finally exclaimed, "Now, can't you sit still for just one minute?" her son looked at her in utter surprise and even denied that he had made any noise or done anything.

This is a critical problem for children with unaspected planets. Every parent who knows something about unaspected planets will know that a child doesn't really see what he or she is doing, and the boy in this case may honestly be totally surprised at his mother's remark. It is very possible that he felt he hadn't even begun to drum and shout. It unmistakably remains a fact, however, that he was already at it and producing a barrelful of noise. Most parents would react with some form of annoyance after all, why is the child denying this? Does the child also want to be contrary? And why does the child keep denying it? After all, it's obvious he is doing it! Sure, for outsiders it's clear that he was doing it. He is the only one who doesn't see it.

The fascination that an unaspected planet exerts on its "owner," coupled with an orientation toward the domain of that planet, largely contribute to the development of the talent that particular planet promises. Unnoticed, we develop many facets of this energy by continually being preoccupied with it, but as soon as we start understanding and recognizing this energy a little more, it holds even more potential. The fascination and the quest give us focus on -- and at the same time an orientation toward -- a particular domain. Frequently, people choose the domain of the unaspected planet as their profession, or otherwise use the energy of this planet in their daily lives. This is certainly possible, and can be done with great joy and very consciously. I once saw a sports teacher (she has an emphasized 5th house) with an unaspected Venus finally change profession: she became a cosmetologist.

Insecurity and the Unaspected Planet

Another hallmark of unaspected planets is that they are often accompanied by feelings of insecurity. This insecurity is connected to a number of things. In the first place, the idea of "being in search of," that often expresses itself in a kind of restless feeling, I sometimes try to describe as a feeling of "hunger," or "yearning," or "being unfulfilled" in the area of that planet. A longing, too, but for what we don't know. It can't be described; it is diffuse and vague, and we can't really make anybody see what it's all about. Even if we have everything our hearts desire, this feeling can still be there. So it has absolutely nothing to do with external circumstances or with whatever we've achieved in life.

An unaspected Moon, for instance, can have a deep longing for security and a profound need for warmth, and even run the risk of not seeing the warmth that is there (but this is not on purpose!) because of a gnawing feeling that overrides it.

Or, to give an example of Venus: A couple of years ago a couple consulted me and asked for an astrological analysis of their relationship. They had been married almost thirty years, but the woman was in a kind of crisis. She didn't know if she loved her husband, or if she had ever loved him, and claimed she didn't really know what love actually was. Her husband didn't take this personally. His commentary was simple and honest, "We've gotten along very well together all these years, and I just know she loves me, and I love her. So something else must be going on, and that's why we're here." His wife, however, had gotten hold of the nagging thought that she didn't know what love was, and therefore also didn't know if she loved her husband.

Her Venus created no aspects whatsoever! After I had explained what an unaspected planet meant in general, and how an unaspected Venus works in particular, something finally clicked in her. She understood that the unfulfilled and searching feeling was inside herself and had nothing to do with her marriage. "If I look back at it that way," she said, "then we have in fact gotten along very well together all these years, and I wouldn't want to be without my husband." There was a moment of silence, and then she said, "Maybe that's what love is. Maybe I shouldn't be getting myself so worked up about it anymore, and accept that I can't catch or grasp it all." This is a nice example of how, with an unaspected planet, we can run the risk of misjudging a situation because with all that "searching" we begin to mull and fret. Just as often, though, all that searching has yet another result, namely the idea that we "aren't there yet," or can't do certain things. In the case of the unaspected Venus, this can express itself in a feeling that others don't think we're nice, or that we weren't cut out for love, or that we feel inferior because of our looks and/or emotions. In every instance this feeling does not corroborate the real situation or talents and capabilities. Once again though, the fact is that we don't see it at first. And even with an unaspected Venus, we can be very sweet, mediate very well, and have a finely tuned sense of harmony! Hidden in an unaspected planet like this is a great talent waiting to be discovered.

Relating to the Energy

When we have an unaspected planet, we need to learn to relate to that energy, which means seeing that energy in relation to ourselves. This is absolutely essential. As long as we don't do this, and also don't see how we behave, our unconscious will confront us with the theme, and that means that we will encounter it by projecting it on others, as well as experiencing it in the circumstances and events of our lives. I even ran into this very literally, as the following example will illustrate.

Mars has traditionally been associated with everything that is sharp. Wasps also fall under Mars. In my practice I have had various clients with an unaspected Mars, and they have all had some problem or other with wasps. A couple of them turned out to have a wasps' nest in their homes. One had a nest hanging in the attic and he discovered this because he kept hearing a strange soft humming noise. The nest had to be removed by local exterminators -- it was one of the biggest ones that had ever been found in a private home in the Netherlands!

So, with unaspected planets it takes longer before we see what we want and what we are doing. This will entail quite a few problems from the point of view of raising children. Children with unaspected Jupiters will have a strong tendency to exaggerate on all fronts. If given a piece of candy, they will usually ask for another one right away, as if they think that they didn't get enough. However, asked why they want another piece of candy, they won't be able to answer. This is not a question of greed or of feeling shortchanged. The unaspected Jupiter seems to want to multiply everything, including the number of candies the children get.

For parents, it is difficult to understand what's really going on, because they keep seeing that the child wants more. If we know nothing about unaspected planets or what they do, the obvious conclusion is that the child is greedy, or is only thinking of himself or herself, and so on. So the parents decide to approach the child about this behavior, because it's not appropriate. If their efforts turn out to have no effect, and the child simply keeps up the old behavior, the parents won't understand that the child's not doing this on purpose. After all, it is abundantly clear what's happening! And so the child is placed under more and more pressure and gets into trouble, when the child has no clue about the issue. This is not only very confusing for the child, it can also have harmful consequences farther down the line.

Just imagine the world of experience of that child. The child doesn't see what he or she is doing, and so can't understand the scolding. The child feels misunderstood. If punishments follow because "the child just doesn't want to listen," the child will feel rejected, and there is a big chance that he or she will begin to feel unsure, misunderstood, and insecure. Many problems that we have as adults with unaspected planets are not so much locked up in these unaspected planets as such, but derive from what we experienced around their themes when we were young. We can't, however, blame or find fault with the parents for what went wrong. After all, they honestly tried to civilize their child to protect it from social problems later on. And where that polishing seems to succeed with other children, it won't catch on or much less so with the child who has an unaspected planet. For this child, the situation arises where he or she may feel desperate under all that polishing, because he or she doesn't have a clue, while the parents feel equally desperate because they can't do a thing with this child. Insight into unaspected planets can help us stay out of this spiral.

However, insight into a child's unaspected planets will also create new problems. If we have an understanding of the expressions of the child's unaspected planet, we will tend to tolerate the extremes in behavior a lot more. We understand what's involved, and want to give the child safety and security above all. Certainly if we understand that a child can experience these crazy contradictions regarding an unaspected planet -- on the one hand great joy and pleasure, on the other the frequently arising insecurity - we will try to give the child a feeling of security and stimulate it in the area of the unaspected planet. What will happen? The child will (unintended and unconsciously) start to exaggerate that planet even more, and we'll have a lot of trouble on our hands. As a parent, we will encounter new dilemmas.

In this way, a child with an unaspected Sun can manifest itself very powerfully, pretty domineeringly even, and in a way that doesn't leave much room as an adult. At the same time, the child will often feel unsure and won't be aware of his or her behavior. So, if, as a parent, we give a child extra attention and try to develop self-confidence, he or she will unconsciously behave even more domineeringly, and can then start sucking up all the attention. This can easily happen at the expense of other children, or lead to unpleasant situations, such as when many adult family members come to a birthday party for one of the parents, and the child turns out to dominate the entire atmosphere. This will certainly result in commentary from the rest of the family. Result: the child feels a split-understanding on the part of the parents, and rejection on the part of a number of family members. An unaspected planet is very sensitive particularly to these kinds of experiences! And if we try to redirect the child a little at that party, there is the chance he or she won't understand what's going on, and so feel misunderstood anyway, by the parents as well. So, a dilemma in raising such children!

Unaspected planets require patience and understanding on the part of parents. Time and again parents will need to explain the child's behavior to the child. Camcorders are a big help here! If a child who is a bit older looks at scenes taken years before, he or she can see objectively the behavior in question. I have witnessed at various times that children slowly began to understand from this what was going on. But don't start filming troublesome situations on purpose, that will only elicit more stress! Explaining and talking, over the course of years, will really help a child with one or more unaspected planets on its way. In the meantime, though, the child will still feel jerked around a lot, and no matter what we do as parents and no matter how good our intentions are, we simply can't get around this. So it makes no sense to feel guilty about it. Realize that the child has a number of exceptional talents, but needs to be patiently guided to create a safe basis from which those talents can develop. The more we help the child to connect with that "loose piece," the sooner he or she will be able to develop these natural talents in a conscious way.

Article Source:

unaspected planets The Yod Book, ?2000, by Karen Hamaker-Zondag .

Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Red Wheel / Weiser. http://www.redwheelweiser.com

Info/Order this book.

About the Author

unaspected planets Karen Hamaker-Zondag is the author of fifteen books, including The Twelfth House and Tarot as a Way of Life. She gives workshops and lectures in Europe as well as in the United States, where she is a very popular speaker. She is the recipient of the 1998 Regulus Award for Education from the United Astrology Congress. She is a founding member of two schools: Stichting Achernar, an astrological school; and Stichting Odrerir, a school of Jungian Psychology. Since 1990, she and her husband Hans, have published Symbolon, a popular astrological journal. Karen lives near Amsterdam with her husband and two children.

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