Astrology 101: Aspects – Meet the Majors (Part 3 – Oppositions)

Here’s that handy chart again, listing all of the Major Aspects:

Aspect

Glyph

Degrees

Character

Conjunction

360° (= 360°/1)

Variable

Opposition

180° (= 360°/2)

Hard

Trine

120° (= 360°/3)

Easy

Square

90° (= 360°/4)

Hard

Sextile

60° (= 360°/6)

Easy

We’ve spent a pretty fair amount of time on the Conjunction at this point, so let’s start getting into the rest of the Major Aspects…

First, please recall that the Conjunction is a relationship in which two Planets are separated by a full 360°. To get more math-heavy about it, this is a situation in which we’re dividing the 360° of the circle by 1:

360° / 1 = 360°

When you go all the way around a circle – such as the circle of a birth-chart – you arrive right back at your original starting point. As we discussed earlier, this is why a Conjunction is essentially two Planets lying just about on top of each other in a chart.

 

180_degree_rule
The principle of Opposition. Things oriented 180 degrees away from each other face in opposite directions. Moving a camera 180 degrees around a circle that encloses two subjects, as shown here, will flip those subjects onto the exactly opposite sides of a viewscreen. 180 degrees equals Opposition!

Opposition. Next, consider what we’re dealing with if we divide the circle by 2 instead of by 1:

360° / 2 = 180°

Using a divisor of 2 will land us in the realm of the Opposition. You’re probably familiar with the convention of referring to a complete reversal of someone’s position as “doing a 180”…? As in: “The politician campaigned successfully on the strength of his hard-line stance in favor of gun control…but as soon as he was elected, he did a complete 180!” We say this because 180° always indicates opposition and polarity. When two points are 180° apart on a circle, they’re as absolutely far apart from each other as they can possibly be, while still remaining on that circle.

astro_2gw_77_kurt_cobain.55877.21023
Oppositions in a chart: the late Kurt Cobain’s birth-chart bears some very interesting features, but for our purposes in this post, feast your eyes on all those bright red Opposition lines running like lacerations alongside the horizontal axis. This was a man set up to face a great deal of internal tensions — in some ways, they may have urged him to accomplish a great deal, while in others, they may have dragged him down to inner depths we can only guess at…

And in Astrology, the Opposition plays out pretty much like you might intuitively suspect. When two Planets form an Opposition in a chart, they set up a sort of see-saw effect. This is a very powerful connection, but the reality is that it’s very difficult, if not outright impossible, to beam energy at both Planets involved in this Aspect at the same time.

Try this analogy on for size… Imagine that you live in a house that has only two doors to the outside world: one facing north, and one facing south. Next, imagine you also have two dogs, one chained up just outside each of these doors. Each dog will be very aware of the other’s existence: each will smell the other’s scent on you whenever you’re near, and as your house isn’t exactly a mansion, they can hear each other whenever they bark. They just never get to spend time with each other directly, due to their being leashed on opposite sides of your dwelling. Now, say that these two dogs each possess the odd trait of only being willing to eat directly from your hands. This imposes some serious restrictions on your ability to feed them! You can’t leave food lying around in a bowl, as they won’t eat it, and you can’t be at both doors at the same time (you’re bound by the laws of physics and biology, and your arms just aren’t that long).

 

Dog_05-angry
If you neglect one Planet in an Opposition so that you can pay attention to the other one, and you let this state of affairs go on for too long, that first Planet will eventually turn into a hungry, snarling, fang-baring beast. This is not the pathway to success for anyone!

So you pretty much have two options here. The first is that you can keep feeding one dog, while neglecting the other. This is not an ideal solution. The dog that is receiving nourishment might do pretty well for a while, but the one being deprived will suffer. It will howl from loneliness and hunger. It might grow sick, and eventually starve to death. In its increasing desperation, it might break its tether, and run amok through the neighborhood, wreaking all manner of havoc while searching for food. It might even burst into your house and attack you, its owner, when you least expect it! Clearly, this is not the way to go…

The other pathway open to you is one of alternation. That is, you feed one dog…and then you feed the other…then you go back to the first one and feed it again…and then you return to the second. And you keep on repeating this pattern as an ongoing routine. This can be demanding, too. It could be that one dog is much more insistent than the other about wanting attention from you. It could be that you simply enjoy spending time with one of them more than with the other. You may need to remind yourself, or even force yourself, to stick to the pattern. This is the best route to keeping the two opposing forces in balance, though…and balance is how you’ll best thrive when working with opposing forces.

A_dog_plays_on_a_seesaw_with_children_in_Scotland,
Adventures in positive Opposition management… Here’s how it’s done: just like with a seesaw, you focus your energy on one side of the arrangement, and then you switch to the other, back and forth…back and forth. In this way, both sides of the Opposition receive nourishment, and the entire set-up begins to generate a sort of momentum and joy that flow from out of this Aspect’s own unique nature.

So the Opposition in Astrology will often work like that (with the dogs in the analogy being replaced by opposing Planets, you are still you, and your dwelling becomes the chart itself). The Planets involved in an Opposition are very in tune with one another, and if you energize one of them, the other one will usually sense it, and will rouse itself, as well. The Planets will therefore compete for your resources: while you’re nourishing one of them, you are, by definition, not nourishing the other one.

This is therefore an Aspect that carries a certain amount of natural tension, and this is why astrologers consider the Opposition to be a “hard” Aspect. It can take a lot out of the person whose chart features it, and any failure to work effectively with an Opposition can lead to some unpleasant consequences (often on both sides of the Opposition).

If your own chart is marked by one or more Oppositions, it will be to your advantage to really analyze the Sign and House placements of each of the Planets involved, and then start to decode the needs of each. Addressing all of these at the same time will almost certainly be out of the question, but you may be able to hit on a workable strategy that will allow you to satisfy each Planet’s demands a bit at a time on a rotating basis. Like a performer keeping several plates spinning on separate poles, you can learn to alternate your attentions among the Planets involved, and enjoy some overall success in this operation.

And it’s worth noting that many highly successful people have charts that run red with Hard Aspects, and it’s these Aspects that seem to provide such terrific drive for the action and achievement evidenced by these chart-holders.

In the next post, we’ll look at one of the Easy Aspects to get some contrast into the mix…

3 thoughts on “Astrology 101: Aspects – Meet the Majors (Part 3 – Oppositions)

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