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.