Opposition Aspect

I know a woman who is probably the most self-centered, insensitive, and demanding person I have ever encountered. It’s always about her, 24X7, and she treats everyone around like her like her servants, expecting them to be constantly at her beck and call. We probably all know people like this, whose entire world revolves around them. As chance would have it, I got to know this woman’s birth date, and as soon as I did, I opened up the Ephemeris and found the one thing that explained her behavior–her very worldview–in about the clearest and most revealing way I could have imagined.

What I found was this: an opposition aspect between her Sun in Aquarius, and Saturn in Leo, within acceptable orb. (If you are new to aspects and orbs, please read my post on Planetary Aspects and Conjunction Aspect for background.) This opposition presents a very interesting situation, because it is more complex than just a regular opposition.

But I am getting ahead of myself. To start with, how does an opposition aspect work?

Imagine that you and an opponent engage in a heated debate, on diametrically opposite sides of an issue. Each of you tries to convince the other to come around to your point of view. We have all been in such debates, and are well aware that the more passionate the debate, the less likely it is to get to a middle ground, much less convert the other person to our way of thinking.

This is pretty much what an opposition aspect is like: two energies are directly at odds with each other, but the catch is both energies are within us. The opposition aspect is really a consequence of the fact that the opposing planets are in signs that are opposite each other. And opposite signs see things in, well, opposite ways! Let’s take each pair of opposite signs and see how.

Aries is opposite Libra. Aries is about me as an individual, free to do whatever I want to do, without reservation. Libra is about partnership, about seeing both sides of any issue, about compromise. Exactly opposite the Aries needs! Aries can’t stand the indecisiveness of Libra, while Libra in turn abhors the boorishness of Aries. Taurus-Scorpio? Taurus is about keeping things simple and uncomplicated, Scorpio rather enjoys complication (think “tangled web”), which gives it a chance to get under the surface and do some deep exploration.

Gemini-Sagittarius? Gemini flits from one idea to another, while Sagittarius is given to building the big picture.To Gemini, the Sagittarius tendency to lecture and go off on philosophical trips is grating and pompous, while Sagittarius finds Gemini flighty and shallow. How about Cancer-Capricorn? Cancer needs to nurture and protect itself and others from the cruel world, Capricorn needs to get on with it and get stuff done. Cancer despairs at Capricorn’s cold, dispassionate pursuit of goals while Capricorn can’t stand Cancer’s neediness.

Leo needs to lead and establish itself at the top of the pecking order, while the opposite sign of Aquarius is all about equality and everyone getting a fair shake. And so Leo sees Aquarius getting in the way of it showing who’s the boss; in contrast, Aquarius despises Leo’s push for dominance that gives it undue importance over everyone else. Virgo-Pisces? Virgo is practical, busy, and efficient. Pisces needs to dream, let things take their course, do things in its own time. You can understand Virgo despairing of Pisces’s foot-dragging, living in la-la land demeanor, but you can also understand Pisces’s dislike of Virgo’s tendency to busy work that can’t see the forest for the trees, and its soul-draining tendency to nit pick at irrelevant little things.

These are perspectives from opposite ends, not the whole truth! Clearly, each sign has its strengths, but opposite signs tend to see the negatives in the other, which just so happen to be the reverse of the positive qualities they see in themselves. So what happens when you have an opposing pair of energies in your own horoscope?

It very much depends on the actual planets involved in the opposition. How “passionate” are the opposing energies? A Moon-Venus opposition is much less likely to be an issue–being receptive energies, they can both be persuaded to see the other’s point of view. Think of Moon in Aries (wanting to be number one), opposed to Venus in Libra (giving everyone their due). Sure, there is a tension between these opposing qualities, but it will most likely result in give and take. Sometimes you choose to side with yourself, and at other times you let go. The challenge is to pick the right times to be one way or the other so everyone wins!

On the other hand, an opposition between Mars and Saturn is a very different thing altogether. Mars is the foot on the gas pedal, Saturn in the foot on the brake, and because they both “hard” planets, there’s no middle ground. The human psyche is fragile, and is not equipped to deal well with such substantial internal conflicts. It’s hard to keep it together when you have two warring factions that threaten to tear you apart. So what do you do? You take one side, and disown the other. It’s not pretty, but it keeps you sane. You might side with Mars and keep going for it no matter the opposition, or side with Saturn and be forever cautious and envy others whose lives appear to be a lot more colorful.

But you don’t need to take one side forever. You can play both sides, taking turns. Sometimes you take this side, sometimes the other. It’s like a seesaw. This is a choice. Whether someone consistently takes the same side, or toggles between sides, depends on the person (maturity, support from their social environment, etc.), the actual signs that are opposite, and the planets in those signs.

Often, when one side is much too strong, or if you favor one side a lot more than the other because you identify with it much more, then you might repress the other side. In which case that other side comes at you from the outside in the guise of a person who challenges you, and is like a pebble in your shoe. Take for instance the Aries-Libra opposition. Say you have Venus in Libra opposing Jupiter in Aries. And you identify with the Venus in Libra because you want to play nice, not ruffle any feathers. You repress the bombastic, highly individual, over-the-top Jupiter in Aries, essentially banishing it from your consciousness. Well guess what. That Jupiter doesn’t like it one bit, and presents to you–repeatedly–someone (or a stream of people over time) that are exactly that: bombastic, rude (oh my), pushy and totally not willing to compromise: all the things that simply can’t stand.

If you play close attention to the pattern, you might realize that you somehow keep “inviting” such people in your life, whose sole mission seems to be to unsettle you. That’s a good sign that maybe you should smell the coffee, and stop being so “nice” all the time, so you can get to do things your way when you really need. Recognize that Jupiter in Aries in yourself. Over time, hopefully, you can learn to balance these sides so you can pull out either that lovely Venus in Libra, or the gangbuster Jupiter in Aries, depending on the situation. That would be a great way to get that seesaw to actually rock instead of being lamely held down at one end forever.

Back to the anecdote I started with. The woman with the Sun-in-Aquarius opposite Saturn-in-Leo. Why is this is more complex than the average opposition aspect? From the description of the woman’s general outlook and behavior, it sounds like someone with the Sun in Leo. And generally, in an opposition that involves the Sun or Moon with some other planet at the other end, the Sun or Moon might be favored because they are such deeply personal and life-giving energies. However this woman was actually favoring the Saturn, which was the Leo planet in this opposition. Here’s why: the Sun and Saturn have exchanged signs by rulership, in what’s called a mutual reception. The Sun rules Leo, and Saturn rules Aquarius (traditionally). They have swapped places, the Sun going into Saturn’s sign, and vice versa. So this woman effectively acted like her Sun was Leo, with all the trappings. The Aquarian sense of equality and fairness, of a humanitarian view toward her family and social circle went for a toss–she more or less disowned it.

So go ahead and see if your horoscope has any opposition aspects. Like with the conjunction, you want to stay within an orb of 10 degrees, unless you have no oppositions at all, in which case you might relax the orb somewhat. Also, you only want to work with oppositions in which at least one of the planets is Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, or Mars. So, a Mars-Saturn opposition is definitely worth examining, but not Jupiter-Saturn, or Saturn-Uranus, etc. because the social and outer planets have much longer orbital periods, so that many many people in the year of your birth will have these same oppositions as well, and therefore make it much less personal to you.

Pay particular attention to any oppositions of the Sun or Moon, especially to Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, or Pluto. Read my earlier posts on the various significations of these planets. Think of how these significations have played out in your life, either in your sense of identity (Sun), or your emotional attitude (Moon). Pay attention to the sign in which your Sun or Moon is placed – how is the expression of that sign’s typical qualities modified by the opposition? For example, if you have Sun in Capricorn opposite Uranus, do you think of yourself as conservative, respectful of institutions, focused (Capricorn traits) or are you a free thinker, skeptical of institutions, chasing multiple goals? (Uranian).

Also think of the people in your life (family, friends, acquaintances and colleagues you regularly interact with) that might personify the traits of one of the planets/signs in the opposition that you find disconcerting, unsettling, or just plain hate. This will give you a good clue as to which side of the opposition you identify with. You may never quite come to terms with the other side, but at least with this new found awareness, you might have some sense of where they are coming from (they are the flip side of the same coin!) and perhaps be able to play devil’s advocate to see things from their point of view.

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