In astrology, when two planets join together at the same degree of zodiacal longitude, it is called a conjunction. The nature of conjunctions are based on the combined nature of the planets involved, and their respective conditions in the sign they are found. In a sense, the archetypal nature of each planet becomes like the other, forming a new combined dynamical archetype.
So how close do two planets have to be to be considered as a proper conjunction by degree? Individual astrologers tend to have their own preferences for these “orbs”. In the Hellenistic tradition, planets are only properly in a degree-based aspect once they are 3° apart or less. I am a bit more flexible on this issue, and here is my thought process.
While the 180° opposition is based on the 2nd harmonic, the 120° trine on the 3rd harmonic, and so on, you could also consider a conjunction separated by 1° as the 360th harmonic. In this sense, a conjunction separated by 2° is based on the 180th harmonic, by 3° on the 120th harmonic, and so on. If we see a conjunction as an aspect with a 360° arc, then the smallest proper aspect is the 60° sextile, based on the 6th harmonic. Accordingly…
…this would mean the largest arc for a proper conjunction would be 6°, based on the 60th harmonic as an inverse of the 60° sextile, based on the 6th harmonic. This is also the average span of the bounds/terms, since there are 5 of them per sign, so about 6° each. However, sometimes you have to take into account how far away planets are from aspecting each other in real time, not just by zodiacal longitude. That requires looking at an ephemeris to see how far removed in time you are from the time the conjunction perfects/perfected, which could be quite a lot if any retrogrades are involved. For example, I tend to be a bit more lenient with aspects to/from the Moon because it moves 13° in a 24 hour period. So my orb is ~6° but it also depends.
While Hellenistic astrologers used degree-based aspects they also used sign-based aspects. When two planets are in the same zodiacal sign, regardless of whether or not they are close enough to be considered in a conjunction by degree, they’re copresent. Both of their natures contribute to the generalized incidental “weather” of that sign. From the view of natal astrology, if someone was born when Mars was at 0°0’0″ Scorpio and Saturn at 29°59’59’ Scorpio, Mars and Saturn would be copresent in their chart. This person would have a very different experience of Scorpio generally than someone born when Venus was at 0°0’0″ Scorpio and Jupiter at 29°59’59” Scorpio.
So, what’s the main difference between a copresence and a conjunction, interpretively speaking? Using a weather analogy, we could say the copresence of Mars and Jupiter is like a thunderstorm over a town. As the copresence begins at a planet’s ingress, the clouds come rolling in, the wind picks up and thunder is heard in the distance. The possibility of dangers from the storm are present but not necessarily manifested at that point. When Mars and Jupiter perfect their conjunction, that would be like a power grid getting hit by lightning, taking out power for the town. As the conjunction separates and Mars and Jupiter are still copresent, it would be like the storm is still ongoing but beginning to clear up. So the copresence sets the scene of possibilities (a dangerous storm) but the conjunction presents the distinguishing event from those range of possibilities (getting hit by lightning).
There are several different kinds of conjunctions and copresences though. Here are the terms and definitions I’d use to describe them:
|Conjunction||2 planets at the same degree and minute of the same sign||Copresence||2 planets in the same sign|
|Applying Conjunction||2 planets within 6° of each other in the same sign moving toward a conjunction which will perfect in the same sign||Converging Copresence||2 copresent planets moving toward a conjunction which will perfect in the same sign|
|Separating Conjunction||2 planets within 6° of each other in the same sign moving away from a conjunction which perfected in the same sign||Diverging Copresence||2 copresent planets moving away from a conjunction which perfected in the same sign|
|Incomplete Applying Conjunction||2 planets within 6° of each other in the same sign, moving toward a conjunction which will perfect in the next sign||Incomplete Converging Copresence||2 copresent planets moving toward a conjunction which will perfect in the next sign|
|Complete Separating Conjunction||2 planets within 6° of each other in the same sign, moving away from a conjunction which perfected in the previous sign||Complete Diverging Copresence||2 copresent planets moving away from a conjunction which perfected in the previous sign|
If two planets are copresent and moving toward a conjunction which perfects while both are still in the same sign, I call it a converging copresence. This is when the outcomes of a conjunction logically match the possibilities raised in the leadup to the conjunction over the course of the converging copresence. For example, Brayden was dreading getting fired because he accidentally cc’ed the whole company a crystal clear high-res dickpic at the Moon’s ingress, the beginning of the Sun-Moon copresence. His fear was justified because he did in fact get fired at the Sun-Moon conjunction.
Diverging Copresence – Logical Consequences
If two copresent planets have already formed a conjunction by degree and are separating but still copresent in the same sign, I call it a diverging copresence. This is when the consequences of the conjunction are being worked through, when loose ends are tied up. For example, Brayden got fired at the Sun-Moon conjunction because he accidentally cc’ed the whole company a professional grade dickpic at the Moon’s ingress, and he now has to clear out his desk and take the walk of shame out of the office as he hears hushed whispers saying “sort of like a parsnip I guess” and “high production quality at least”.
Incomplete Converging Copresence – Plot Twists
Sometimes planets can be copresent in the same sign but never perfect a conjunction by degree while they are still in the same sign. I call this an incomplete converging copresence. Because of the modal/elemental shifts of ingresses into new signs, the outcomes of the conjunction would not always match the possibilities raised in the leadup to the conjunction over the course of the incomplete converging copresence. There may be the appearance of things heading in a particular direction but it never comes to fruition as the situation changes. For example, Brayden is dreading getting fired because he accidentally cc’ed the whole company a vividly detailed high definition dickpic. He is in the bathroom, preparing to go to his boss’s office to be fired. Out of the blue, an active shooter appears in the workplace. The shooter was momentarily distracted by a disturbing dickpic on one of the computers. Oblivious, Brayden happened to fling the bathroom door open at that same moment, knocking the shooter unconscious, inadvertently saving everyone’s lives. The boss slaps Brayden on the shoulder and says, “Good work parsnip, you’ll always have a job around here” as the other employees exchange conflicted and concerned expressions.
Complete Diverging Copresence – Epilogues
At other times, two planets can be copresent in a sign after having already perfected a conjunction in the previous sign. I call this a complete diverging copresence. In the sense that the conjunction is an ending of a cycle, we could see this copresence as a kind of epilogue to the story or the emergence of a new one. For example, while Brayden was fired for distributing his dickpics at work at the Sun-Moon conjunction, he is taking the opportunity for a new start by applying different filters to his dickpics to make them look artsy. He briefly contemplates about making blown up copies of his dickpics for a guerilla photography exhibit – across the street from his old workplace.
Other times planets can be conjunct if they’re close enough by degree even if they are in different signs, so-called “out-of-sign” aspects. I like to call these contiguous conjunctions. Not only do the two planets have different natures, but different modes, elements, etc. It’s just a more exotic combination of the two planetary natures.
Applying Contiguous Conjunction – Premature Possibilities
If the planets in a contiguous conjunction will perfect their conjunction in the next sign, then I call it an applying contiguous conjunction. This would be when potentialities seem to arise despite the circumstances not being there for them to happen yet. For example, Brayden is debating whether or not to take a well-lit 4k quality dickpic and chuckles to himself of how bad the consequences could be if he accidentally cc’ed it out to the whole company, but the dickpic itself had yet to be taken.
Separating Contiguous Conjunction – Awkward Aftermath
If the planets in a contiguous conjunction already perfected their conjunction in the previous sign, then it’s a separating contiguous conjunction. This is when events have transpired and although things are moving on, the effects linger on in the aftermath, suggesting an awkward encounter. For example, Brayden had been fired for sending a dickpic to every last coworker at his company, a dickpic with a pixel rate so dense that the individual pixels were indistinguishable to the human eye, every pore, pube, skintag and vein depicted with stunning clarity. A few days later, he was in the produce section at the grocery store studiously inspecting a strangely bulbous parsnip when he locked eyes with Ashleigh, a former coworker who just happened to be grocery shopping as well. Through that brief panicked glance, it was silently communicated that yes, Ashleigh had seen Brayden’s unsolicited and unsettling penis in her work email, which startled Brayden into dropping the peculiarly priapic parsnip and catching it in his lap. As Brayden clumsily fumbled with the uncomfortably phallic parsnip around his groin, Ashleigh sped away quickly toward safety in the frozen food aisle.
All of these can be made even more complicated if we consider how retrogradation can affect the timing of aspects as well, especially if the retrogrades cross sign boundaries. It is easiest to see these dynamics from observing real time transits of planets through a whole sign house in your natal chart. The ingress of a planet into a sign often announces/establishes the themes that will become prevalent across its stay in the sign. If a planet ingresses into a sign when another planet is already there, then the copresence begins, and you may get a sense of what to expect when those planets perfect their conjunction.
This could be applied to natal astrology – to see whether something which appears to be a possibility actually has a chance of being realized. If planets are in a converging copresence at your birth, then you would know that the kind of events they could signify would be more likely to manifest in your life, especially when those planets perfect their conjunction by secondary progression or another timing method, for better or worse. If you were born at a complete diverging copresence, then you would know that the kind of events they could signify would be less likely to manifest in your life, because the aspect perfected before your birth, for better or worse.
You can also see this at work in the timing of answers to horary questions, as well as in the timing of events in mundane and financial astrology. This has partly been why I felt comforted by the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in Aquarius even though there was such a long copresence of Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn.
During the 2020 copresence of Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto in late Capricorn, it seemed more inevitable that my country (the USA) was in very real danger of falling to a fascist dictatorship entirely. However, it was an incomplete converging copresence, because Jupiter and Saturn perfected their conjunction at 0° Aquarius. In the image above you can see that the Jupiter-Saturn-Pluto copresence ended in December, when the 2020 election results were finalized by the Electoral College. Aside from my predictions about the election based on the natal charts involved, this incomplete converging copresence gave me hope that the United States would be relatively spared from this dire scenario even if under neoliberal leadership. That the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction occurred in a new sign reflected that the United States would be turning the page on this dark chapter, at least in the shorter term, and would attempt to focus on a new set of problems over the next 20 years.
But this could be a whole other article. I hope this expanded view on conjunctions and copresences helps you make more sense of your chart and transits!