Yods [Astrological Aspects]

Traditional yod: quincunx–sextile–quincunx

Yods are a fascinating irregular, triangular “composed aspect” that can be powerful and defining in a person’s life. What is rarely discussed is that there are several kinds of yods, and they operate quite differently, so I’ll share my insights and experiences here.

The most well known yod is a thin triangle that’s formed when two planets have quincunxes (a type of inconjunct) to a third planet—and are sextile each other, and it is the subject of this post. Obviously, astrologers are no strangers to hyperbole as this yod is commonly called “the finger of God.” This expression points to one of yods’ defining characteristics, that their natives often feel “fated” as they are drawn into situations they don’t want but cannot seem to avoid. Karen Hamaker-Zondag’s The Yod Book has numerous examples and case studies, and I have shared my curated links below.

Unpacking the Yod

Their friction is persistent, like a sheepdog at your knee, always pushing.

Quincunxes, as do all aspects, have a characteristic vibration, but their energies can express very differently depending on the houses, signs, and planets/points they connect (“points” can include angles like Ascendant/Descendant and Midheaven/Nadir as well as Arabian parts, asteroids, and Moon Nodes). That said, since the planets (hereafter includes points) they connect usually occur in signs that differ in triplicity (element), quadruplicity (Cardinal/Fixed/Mutable), and polarity (positive/negative), they create persistent friction that is often weak relative to squares’ or oppositions’. Where squares and oppositions are in-your-face friction, quincunxes tend to lurk in the shadows and frustrate the native, especially in the early part of her/his life. They are like one of those things you know you should take care of, but you are always distracted by more pressing things, so you let them go. Or you are not really aware of the significant background hum they generate. Their friction is persistent, like a sheepdog at your knee, always pushing.

Now imagine that you have two quincunxes that are connected to a third planet. Yods share a characteristic of T-squares, which are formed by two planets in opposition that have squares to a third planet, that the “third planet” serves as an outlet for the energy of the triangle. It catches the ball and must process the yod’s energy. In the diagram below, Jupiter is the “point” of the yod, so it channels the energy of Venus’s and Saturn’s quincunxes to it. Of course, the signs and houses of the planets involved reveal how and in what parts of native’s life the yod’s energy tends to emerge.

The third leg of the yod is the sextile, which serves to amp up the volume of the yod. Sextiles connect planets from signs of the same polarity but different elements and quadruplicities, so they signify an “opportunity” to use the energy to good effect. So the two planets they connect are energized and can work together on the basis of the one thing they share, polarity. The sextile energy flows through the quincunxes to the outlet of the yod.

Sextiles create “opportunity” because the planets they connect have a common ground—their polarity—so although they are different in element and quadruplicity, their polarity gives them a common language to work together. Their differences can therefore complement each other. That creates opportunity.

In the yod, though, the sextile energy is channeled along the quincunxes to a planet in a sign that has nothing in common with the sextile planets’ signs. This is kind of like giving fine chocolate to someone who cares less for cacao.

The bottom line is that yods tend to create energies that don’t channel, so frustration often results. It requires the native to be determined and patient in order to experience the yod’s energy and to learn to use it. The silver lining in the yod is that, when you learn how the energy works, you can be much more aware of its parts and be more proactive with them. You can mediate among your yod’s energies. You can tap extensive potential energy and creativity in the yod.

… Sextile energy is channeled along the quincunxes to a planet in a sign that has nothing in common with the sextile planets’ signs. This is kind of like giving fine chocolate to someone who cares less for cacao.

Example Interpretation

Image credit: Astrotheme

In this figure (thanks Astrotheme!), Venus in Aries is sextile Saturn in Aquarius. Note that they both sit in positive/yang signs. Venus in Aries (where it sits as I write this) is in an uncomfortable place because Venus itself signifies our ability to attract and relate to other people. It rules Libra, which is opposite Aries. Aries is ruled by Mars, which symbolizes our ability to get what we want and need. It’s all about action and thinking “me first”—when it thinks at all. Venus is focused on relationships with others. In Aries, Venus expresses with uncharacteristic impulsiveness, aggressiveness, and alacrity. It approaches relationships impulsively and gets frustrated and angered easily. All this said, it has vibrant energy that is focused on action.

Saturn in Aquarius is more at home than you might think. It is the traditional ruler of the sign. Saturn symbolizes all kinds of structures—at all levels. Life structures, psychological structures, social structures, and our drive to be conferred with a “social office,” as Dane Rudhyar describes the Midheaven. In Aquarius, the native’s structures are infused with an Aquarian character. They will be unorthodox. Native will probably have his/her own approach to discipline, life structure, and career. Her/His social office may involve Aquarian concerns for humanity, underprivileged people, etc.

Positive signs act first, so fiery impulsive Venus has a lot of active energy that’s always changing. Usually aspects between Saturn and Venus have Saturn making Venus more cool, detached, and limited in how it expresses, and I would expect that effect here, but the signs moderate the limits because Aquarius, which is very detached, allows for the unorthodox. As a fixed sign, it doesn’t like changes that it doesn’t initiate, but it can still relate to Venus. This native will create many unorthodox, and probably short-lived, relationships around her/himself. Opportunity probably comes through friends and affinity groups. Much variety and action, possibly serving Aquarian concerns. So this is a dynamic sextile.

Venus and Saturn are odd bedfellows for Jupiter/Virgo…

Enter the quincunxes! Jupiter represents our ability to grow our selves by engaging in the external world. Hence its association with “foreign travel,” higher education, and social systems (law, religion, occult). We experience the far external world and enrich our selves, our experience. We grow beyond ourselves.

In Virgo, however, Jupiter expresses very differently. Virgo is restrained, shy, and conservative. Virgo will endure many things, but it cannot stomach being wrong. Its penchant for diving into the details serves its horror of being wrong. Jupiter is normally happy-go-lucky and optimistic, but Virgo ratchets its expression way back. Virgo is a negative/yin sign that’s mutable where Aries is Cardinal (likes starting things) and Aquarius is Fixed (sticks to its ideas). Virgo’s approach is to dive into more details to “figure it out” where Venus is about shooting first and aiming later. Jupiter will tend to expand the native’s life in areas that reflect Virgo interests in healing, serving others, and rehabilitation. Virgo’s conservatism will definitely rub Saturn/Aquarius the wrong way. It will see Jupiter/Virgo as way too uptight and high-strung. So Venus and Saturn are odd bedfellows for Jupiter/Virgo.

Remember, though, that Jupiter serves as the yod’s outlet planet. And it does not like all the yang energy that Venus and Saturn are handing it. Since the latter energize each other, they keep up the pressure. Of the relationships, the most friction is between Venus/Aries and Jupiter/Virgo. Normally, aspects between Venus and Jupiter indicate an expansion of Venusian energy, fortune through relationships, etc. Here, though, Jupiter is quite conservative, and Venus/Aries has to look that word up in the dictionary.

It is important to remember that many composed aspects have other aspects to other planets and points (angles, parts). These can moderate the energy significantly, say, if a planet bisects one of the quincunxes in sextile and square. That planet’s energy can moderate the quincunx.

Harnessing the Yod

If I were to counsel the native of this yod, my counsel would depend on where s/he was in life and her/his immediate concerns. That said, I’d help the native see that this is a conundrum of energy, and it’s okay. It’s not her/his “fault.” I’d advise approaching it in several steps (Venus in Aries, this will be trying for you).

  1. Learn to recognize each planet’s energy, and observe how it plays out in your life right now. It can be even more helpful to look back at how it has been manifesting. This will become more obvious and specific when we overlay the native’s houses onto the chart, as they will reveal the parts of life through which each planet of the yod is active. Learn to recognize the vibration of each planet by itself. This is more challenging than it might appear because all composed aspects trigger all planets/points involved, so it takes diligence to identify them discretely.
  2. Then learn to recognize each aspect in the yod and how it plays out, or tries to manifest before being squelched by the others, which want different things. After the naive starts clicking with how each part of the yod works, s/he will “crack the code” and understand why s/he has been frustrated, and s/he will be able to change her/his experience of it.

The whole point of astrology, for me anyway, is understanding energy, so I can be more present with it and use it to do things I want.


In my experience, any aspect that is close to exact is a strong aspect; it has strong energy. Quincunxes often operate in the background, so they are influencing the native, but s/he is not totally aware of it. Since the yod native has two quincunxes that affect the third planet, the energy can be quite strong indeed.

Usually, when people say that something is “fated,” they mean that something significant happened to them that they didn’t really choose, and they only realized its significance later. I think this reflects the power of the yod very well; the sextile generates opportunity that the native doesn’t know how to channel due to the consternation created by the quincunxes. The native tunes it out due to frustration, but the energy keeps building—and goading her/him to a situation.

Hamaker-Zondag has very interesting insights into quincunxes and yods. She argues that quincunxes can be more problematic than squares or oppositions because at least the latter have in common quadruplicity (square) and quadruplicity and polarity (opposition) where the quincunx has nothing, no way to relate.

If you have a yod (a colleague of mine has FIVE yods in her natal chart), you have a puzzle that you can put together and harness to do wonderful things, but you’ll need some patience, ingenuity, and determination.

Learning More

3 thoughts on “Yods [Astrological Aspects]

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