Astrological Oppositions: Connecting the Threads
Written by Rachel Perez Wallerstedt
Astrologers look to birth charts not only to find what planets are in which sign, but also to examine how the planetary energies of the chart speak with each other. The specific shape of the angles made between planets are called aspects. Sextiles and trines (and often conjunctions) are considered “harmonious” aspects. When planets are in harmonious aspects, their energies flow smoothly and amplify each other. Then, there are the other major aspects: squares, and our topic for today, oppositions.
Oppositions are considered “challenging” aspects, and as we see with retrogrades and eclipses, challenging astrological phenomena often intimidate the starry-minded. Too bad! Working through the contradictions of the opposition gives us strength in the areas of life ruled by the planets in question.
What to do with our natal oppositions
The first step to rising to the challenge of oppositional aspects in our chart is to find where they are. These planets will be peering across the chart at each other, connected by a diameter line within the circle of the natal chart. The six polar opposites of the Zodiac are listed below, together with the common question they appear to be asking:
Aries - Libra: “Who are we?”
Taurus - Scorpio: “What is ours?”
Gemini-Sagittarius: “How do we understand the world?”
Cancer-Capricorn: “What do we need?”
Leo-Aquarius: “Where are we going?”
Virgo-Pisces: “Why are we here?”
We can understand the polar zodiac signs as different answers to their common question. For instance, Aries answers the question “Who are we?” by saying “Ourselves!” Libra answers it quite differently, taking the approach that “who we are” is fundamentally how we interact in partnership with others. Neither view is incorrect, but the perspectives offer a wide spectrum from which to understand the question.
Extended Example: Aries Sun opposed Libra Moon
Let’s say we are looking at an Aries-Libra opposition between an Aries Sun and a Libra Moon in a natal chart. The Sun represents our overall goals and talents in life; Aries Sun is usually determined to see their will manifest, and also bestows the gifts of strong energy and confidence. Sun opposed to Moon means that our goals and talents are standing in contrast against our emotional landscape, because the Moon represents everything within the realm of feeling and family. Libra Moon will usually need the support of a strong social network that holds their identity together.
Is this Aries Sun-Libra Moon opposition an indicator of Bad Times? No way! While this person may experience a push-pull force between pursuing their own goals and keeping their social network happy, they will evolve when they realize that their gifts put them in a perfect position for leadership within their social network. Aries Sun confidence combined with Libra Moon diplomacy creates opportunities that may not be available to just anyone.
How can oppositions within our natal chart help us evolve?
Aries/Libra oppositions ask us to understand our own identity both in the terms of our individual will and according to the will of the people around us. The Aries planet asks the Libra planet to make decisions and assert itself; the Libra planet asks the Aries planet to consider the ideas of other people and reminds of the value of tact.
Taurus/Scorpio oppositions ask us to claim parts of the world for ourselves, both materially and spiritually. The Taurus planet asks the Scorpio planet to consider the immediate needs of the individual and to actively enjoy what we are spending time on. The Scorpio planet asks the Taurus planet to consider the long-term efforts needed to maintain a good life, and to focus energy on uncovering the more mysterious realms of life.
Gemini/Sagittarius oppositions ask us to figure out how we think the world works. The Gemini planet asks the Sagittarius planet to learn through play and to apply knowledge toward worldly goals. The Sagittarius planet asks the Gemini planet to explore a broad variety of topics and to use knowledge to build comprehensive theories.
Cancer/Capricorn oppositions ask us to determine what we need (and what we need to do) to have a fulfilling life. The Cancer planet asks the Capricorn planet to provide life-sustaining resources and to nurture us toward growth. The Capricorn planet asks the Cancer planet to find the resolve to achieve what we want and to clarify our goals.
Leo/Aquarius oppositions ask us how we will assert our place in the world. The Leo planet asks the Aquarius planet to display warmth and confidence. The Aquarius planet asks the Leo planet to question authority (even its own authority) and to proudly express its individuality.
Virgo/Pisces oppositions ask us to find the meaning of living on this Earth. The Virgo planet asks the Pisces planet to focus and find boundaries. The Pisces planet asks the Virgo planet to succumb to the mysterious and connect everything together.
Oppositions present opportunities to expand beyond our comfort zone and embrace the apparent contradictions within ourselves. Working with the opposition aspects in our chart can relieve the anxiety of living with a pair of planets with disparate goals.