Trines are perhaps the most positive of the major aspects two planets can make. It’s less intense than a conjunction, and doesn’t generate as much friction as a square — on the whole, isn’t likely to stir up a lot of trouble. Simply put, in a trine aspect two planets will see each other in the best light possible and will be inclined to help each other out. You’ll find that certain things complement each other with more frequency at this time.
When two planets are trine, they are 120 degrees away from one another on the ecliptic (which, being a circle around our planet, comprises 360 degrees). Planets in trine aspect to one another are always in the same element: water, air, fire, or earth. Of these, water and fire trines are a little more potent, and this is because of any trine’s relationship with Jupiter.
Jupiter is said to rule the trine aspect. This means that whenever two planets are making a trine, Jupiter (from whatever sign it happens to be in at the time) is giving it a cosmic thumbs-up and will lend whatever support it can. And if Jupiter is directly involved in forming the aspect, even better; as a “benefic” planet Jupiter always has something good to contribute.
Jupiter is happiest and most generous in the two signs it rules: Sagittarius and Pisces, which respectively are fire and water signs. So when there’s a trine in water or fire, the mutual receptivity is a little more exaggerated.
The water signs Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces are all connected to our primordial roots; consider that we came from the mucky ocean, and that we say water is the “element of life”. Many people say these signs are closer to their emotions, and while this may be true I’d say it’s more that they’re close to the essence of things. Scorpio in particular is a sign highly attuned to instinct, which isn’t quite the same thing as an emotion — it’s something deeper than that.
When planets pass through water signs they are immersed, one way or another, in this environment — which can be challenging for verbal planets like Mercury but lovely for the intuitive Moon. Even if they’re not quite at home, though, a water trine brings out the best of the planet in that element. Mercury in Scorpio, for example, might communicate some deep truths when in a trine aspect to a planet like Jupiter.
Trines represent a certain level of understanding between the involved planets, and in water signs they reach that with tools like empathy, compassion, and instinct.
The fire signs Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius are above all inspired. Air signs get the credit for being the thinkers of the zodiac but when it comes to idea generation fire signs are where it’s at. This isn’t to say they get those things done, but hey — gotta start somewhere.
Planets passing through fire signs are bright with potential and can spark up in all kinds of interesting ways. With the trine aspect in play, it’s as though the planets involved are encouraging each other, fueling each others’ ideas and making them even bigger. The improv “Yes, and…” principle is relevant here. Keywords for fire trines are encouragement, energy, and expansion.
Air & earth trines
In any element, a trine aspect summons up the most positive qualities of that element and applies those to the planets involved. Any element is strengthened by a trine, but it’s a little less splashy/flashy in the elements of earth and air.
Air signs are all about communication; they have a dry quality to them so they’re less about helping things grow and more about dispersing information. Look for clarity in matters; watch the news. Air is also the element governing electricity and the internet, anything wired.
Earth signs rely more on sensation and trust only what they can hold in their hands (or count, like money). Earth trines are very much about connecting one resource to another: a talent finds the materials it needs to work with; a proposal needing funding gets that support.
Natal trines versus trines by transit
Trines that occur in your natal chart are areas of personal strength, which you might even take for granted because they feel so natural. Not everyone has your luck in that area! Whatever element they’re in is likely to be very present in your personality — even more so if you have three planets making a grand trine (one in each sign of the same element).
Trines by transit are opportunities you can act on, which makes them useful to track. Planets move at different speeds, so this aspect might be felt for just a day or for many weeks depending on who’s involved; if it’s Mercury, Venus, or the Moon, you probably have only a day or two to enjoy it. Outer planets like Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto usually have a more subtle effect (though it can build up into a bigger change over time, especially with Pluto). Two extremes, like a Mercury–Pluto trine, can therefore pack a punch.
Whichever way you encounter them, trines are a great way to get in touch with a specific element’s strengths and enjoy the benefits that each has to offer.