The True Spirit of Opposition

Today I would like to present you with one of the most challenging hypotheses you will likely hear in the entire spectrum of astrological debate. I contend that the best possible aspect that you can have at your disposal out of the entire array of angular connections between celestial bodies is the opposition.

Of course, I could leave it at that and ask that you simply trust that conclusion, I haven’t formulated it overnight after all, but rather after nearly 30 years of astrological practice, but I shall try to make a lucid explanation.

Let us consider the nature of aspects. I have written at great length about this on this journal and I have devoted an entire chapter to aspect theory in my forthcoming book, and too I have read most of the major works on the subject from the near majestic (Bill Tierney’s “Dynamics of Aspect Analysis“) to a plethora of less incisive but ultimately well-intentioned works that are for the most part conventionally regurgitative. This is one area of astrological understanding that is rendered academically inert through mainstream prima facie acceptance. It is not particularly an area that is open for research, except in the exploration of new angles (such as the work of Ricki Reeves on the important 165° quindecile aspect).

Convention dictates that the trine is the best of aspects, but I have always believed in the principle – put so perfectly and eloquently by the great Noel Tyl – that all aspects are squares. That at least conveys some evident and fundamental truth about the nature of celestial contacts; but I have little time for convention; I have seen semisquares running the show just as frequently as their double-breadth brethren and halfsums that open up incredible power-potential in a person who is beginning to understand the challenge of their own nativity.

There are a raft of allied principles which mirror this in the study of astrology. We grow older and wiser and a certain jading takes place. That does not mean that we become depraved and aristocratic (although some do), but rather that we no longer take so much substance out of the simplistic. This is not to say that we cannot enjoy the simple pleasures of life (the opposite is true, aging and wisdom is a decomplication), but in astrological terms it means that we undergo a gradual transition; we have learned as much as we can from our Jupiter in the 4th house, so we begin to explore the effect of Pluto, the house’s ruler more thoroughly. This is why some ‘obvious’ qualities of our nativity appear to erode and be replaced by other realities. There is too the ‘Saturn effect’, where what limits us in the first half of life becomes our emancipation and power in the latter. These and many other realities of exactly this type are extant, I see them every day.

A trine is easy, fluid, subjectively pleasing only in the sense that it requires no application of effort. But what is being lubricated here? Is it a trine between Moon and Mars retrograde in Cancer? Believe me when I tell you that you’d be better off with no aspect at all in that case. All aspects require effort but the problem with the trine is that it ‘works’ whether we apply ourselves to it or not and that is why, after time has elapsed, and no effort has been made, the trine ‘squares out;’ it becomes degenerative. I have seen far more clients suffer from addictive tendencies and issues with Neptune trines than I have with Neptune squares. Truth.

This then is the first clue and it is fundamental. All aspects are squares. What this means is that the concept of an ‘easy’ aspect is a myth, and if you think that you are blessed with a grand trine, then, in my view, you are just as much cursed. On the other hand, the dreaded square – worked with, made conscious, transformed, becomes the most mindful of trines, but we are forced to examine our squares, they don’t just happen, they grate. We are disenfranchised by them and so they become our agenda.

The second clue lies in the concept of polarity, and this too is an idea I have written about before on this journal. Conventional wisdom dictates that it is best to have a planet in its dignity or exaltation and worst to have a planet in its detriment or fall, with all other cases being in the unremarked no man’s land between good and bad. This is another misconception based on an oversimplistic, quantification of reality. Actually, it is easiest to have a planet in its dignity or exaltation, not better, and it is harder to have a planet in its detriment or fall, not worse. Do you understand the profoundly important distinction that is being made here? This works in exactly the same way that we understand that it is easier to have trines, but it is not better. (Indeed – and I have written about this before too – it is probably better to have a planet in its detriment or fall than for it to have no essential dignity or debility [classical peregrination therefore] whatever, although it will make your life more difficult, more of a struggle: but what does adversity build? Character! I rest my case).

A polarity then is a blending of opposites which alchemically combine to create a harmony. That is exactly how Kepler formulated his theory of aspects in the first instance, though a translation of musical theory (musica universalis: the music of the spheres, based on the earlier theorem attributed to Pythagoras). Dante’s Inferno contains an entire treatise on this exact subject for the scholarly minded.

Harmony then is made through a blend, and there is no more potent blend than the fusion of opposites because it contains a totality which creates a self-sustaining singularity. We can look at this from a different perspective by considering the principle of conjunction. Once again conventional wisdom dictates that a conjunction creates a blend, the result of which is entirely dependent upon the quality of the bodies so conjoined. A mix of cream and vinegar will curdle the cream. And a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. This is all well and good, but of course, there is another effect of conjunction: it creates an emphasis, and perhaps too strong an emphasis on one quality, on one side of a polarity. Too much Virgo and not enough Pisces creates at worst an over-analytical, neurotic cynicism that needs to be tempered by faith, an ability to transcend, to accept at face value that happiness and beauty exist in the world and need not be counted or measured to be true. Is the over-Virgoed type then doomed to be a hopeless neurotic until the end of their days? No, although it will make a great struggle out of life for them, but somehow, the seed of the polarity is found in every placement. Nobody understands Libra better than Aries and vice-versa; the intrinsic qualitative experience of opposition is therefore found at the very heart of each placement and that is the path to neutralising the imbalance of stellia and major conjunctions.

The polarity then, is opposition, and the polarity is the key to harmony and balance.

So, very much like the trine that is left to its own idle devices, the opposition that is unbalanced is a stressor, but an opposition that is recognised, balanced out, brought into awareness can give enormous perspective. Indeed, a chart without oppositions is possibly among the most cursed of all conditions because there is no possibility of perspective: life is a one-sided exposition of outright subjectivity that can create a long series of battles and conflicts; the native simply cannot see the other person’s viewpoint and so they fight on, and on, and on, and on, and on.

The opposition is the exaltation of polarity, and the polarity is the key that unlocks the nativity, so, don’t despair, learn to value and love your oppositions for they are your greatest gift.

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9 comments on “The True Spirit of Opposition

  1. Michelle says:

    if you think that you are blessed with a grand trine, then, in my view, you are just as much cursed.
    I couldn’t agree more. Grand trines make me think of a whirlpool- spinning quickly, pulling downward, with little hope of escape.

    At least with the square there is enough aggravating energy to make the native want to do something about it, or with it.

  2. nray says:

    “A trine is easy, fluid, subjectively pleasing only in the sense that it requires no application of effort.”

    At the moment, the above sounds pretty good to me, personally.

    If having trines means you do nothing much, yet feel good…I want more trines!

  3. John (California) says:

    Glad that you touched on the Virgo-Pisces polarity, similarly to what you did with Libra-Aries in a recent post. In fact I was hoping that you’d go all around the zodiac from this polarity perspective. Perhaps you’ve done this somewhere else?

    As for me, personally. I have a very strong opposition in my chart, more notable in that both ends are somehow emphasized. No way to say that they are equal, balanced, or not. That would be a subjective call. But this post was very insightful and helpful to me, that is when it comes to balance and more especially “harmony.” Thanks again. The polarity is from 4th to 10th house and I’ve realized that (if I can’t work at home, ideal or not: sign is important too), the times I’ve been happiest in my life were when I could literally walk to work (in like, 5 minutes), it was close and easy. Other times I’ve been completely miserable with long tense commutes. New clue for me in my current quest for all-around satisfying work.

  4. An excellent perspective on oppositions! I thoughly enjoyed this article and have just sent links to it to all the students enrolled in my correspondence course for intermediate students. Congratulations on a great aspect series.
    Donna Cunningham (http://skywriter.wordpress.com)

  5. msfullroller says:

    Thanks so much for the article. I had been thinking not to long ago that oppositions are like a seesaw or a carpenter’s level. The only way to balance or make them level is to maintain equal weight on both sides. Now I’ve got to figure out how to accomplish that. I’ve got 2 oppositions, both of these are part of t squares and one of the oppositions has conjunctions on both ends of the opposition.

  6. dragonfire says:

    I have made little study of astrology. However, I find it interesting that similar conclusions can be reached from different types of what some might call ‘esoteric studies’. The concept of all things being squares and that ultimately a successful life is all about a balance of extremes is one that I have come to through a broad study of several spiritual paths. If you work on the principle of ‘balance in all things’, you won’t go far wrong. This can range from finding great reward in overcoming adveristy, perhaps in your personal life, right through to having the realism to understand that there is always a price to be paid for the best of moments….but there’s always a balance.

    Of course, the key is not just to understand the existence of this balance, it is to work with it rather than fight it. Personally I can have every reaction ranging from sadness right through to wry amusement watching someone try and fight their balance. Perhaps the worst frustration is knowing that everyone has to find their own balance, and, while you can of course provide food for their thought, ultimately it is their path to walk and not yours. Sometimes you have to watch those closest to you walk into deep pits – because climbing out again is the next step along their path to a better place.

  7. Jasmine says:

    I have only jsut read this (found the blog and I’m working my way backwards!) – and it’s fascinating to me since almost all my chart is squares and oppositions: four of those right across the centre between my conjunct Venus/Sun in Cap and my Saturn/Mars in Cancer.

    I’ve a mutaual three-way trine between my Uranus, Neptune and Pluto which may be responsible for my being taken for a ride so many times… but I was esp struck in your piece by your remark about the Mars Rx in Cancer trine to the Moon –

    My only trines other than that 3-way one, are to my Moon – can you elaborate on the Mars Rx Cancer trine? I’d love to understand how it’s been affecting me

    I love this blog and wish I’d found it sooner since I’m getting a lot out of it – it’s very well written too!

    • chirotic says:

      Thanks Jasmine.
      Yours is a challenging astrology for sure, especially with the Ma/Sa opp Su/Ve. Actually Sun and Venus are ruled by Saturn in its detriment and conjunct Mars all ruled by the Moon. That makes Moon very powerful for you. I’d attribute being taken for a ride to the Ma/Sa, which is quite tricky and since it opposes Sun then I would guess you’re talking about uncaring men, authoritarian types who just seem to get in your way. Okay, well, I’d have to look at your nativity to have a better idea, but that’s the general principle.

      One of the most subtle understandings in all astrology involves moving away from the dualism inherent in basic concepts. That’s actually what this article is all about and the same principle applies to trines in this exact manner. They are not good in the sense that they automatically make the planetary contact turn positive, they are easy in the sense that they make the contact easy. To use an analogy, a trine to retrograde Mars in fall would be similar to having (for example) a regular bus route that you can utilise right outside your front door to the liquor store when you’re an alcoholic. It facilitates something that isn’t in itself particularly beneficial for you. Since Mars is Moon’s servant in this case, it exacerbates the effect (and Saturn is too) it suggests that you can easily (trine) react to stressors (Moon) in a cranky and hypersensitve manner (Mars in Cancer). If you had a square, then while you might react with greater inappropriateness at those times of high tension, the discomfort would force you to address the problem of Moon – Mars with greater alacrity. This is why psychic problems are more likely to be acute with squares and chronic with trines. Moon – Mars is, in principle, protectiveness but with a tricky Mars trining Moon in this way the tendency will be to go too far, too quickly, to overcompensate in protectiveness, especially of children, family and so forth. If you had ‘no aspect’ between Moon ruling Mars in fall, then you would not have such easy access to the difficult Mars energy.

      You don’t however say which sign your Moon resides in, if Pisces then the above applies for sure, but if Scorpio then you have an interesting situation because there is a mutual reception (of the traditional type) between Moon and Mars which will alleviate in great measure much of the difficult energy between them; they will understand each other better as a result and be therefore more cooperative.

      Most of these issues relate to important male figures in your life in terms of origian, the father script is particularly fraught here, was he taken out of the picture early on?

      Warm regards.

  8. T says:

    I have oppositions and I think opp are really challenging fate. opp in its best means “both”. you have to do it, you have to reach both. there is no choice except the choice of breaking -and challenging fate, noticing it when it is too late. that s life. pure darwin, here.

    My oppositions clearly take too much time and I have to say Id rather like conj or trines, even squares are more realizable for me, or at least acceptable. that I just wanted to say. opp are purely marsian. nearly hard to come by as libra. The more I think about it the less I wanna talk about it.

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