The Opposite Signs: Astrology and other Divisions, Dualities, and Contrasts
The Opposition aspect represents tension, pull, a tug of war, and being torn between one thing and another. However, there is also a complementary element to signs that oppose, and there are shared similarities. Opposite signs are directed towards different ends, but we can’t separate opposites, both relate to wholeness. Jung conceptualized the development of the personality as an ongoing process with each separate aspect of the self, harmonizing and integrating as a single entity. If we disown a part of our nature we usually meet it outside of ourselves as a projection.
According to Sue Tompkins The Contemporary Astrologer’s Handbook (Astrology Now), the “opposition appears through relationships,” and for that reason, behaves as a mirror the individual “projects” onto the other, and this is especially due to its 1st-7th house relationship. Such opposition could include disagreements, opposite points of view, and also raising awareness of the self through others. The square represents stumbling blocks and tending to enact itself through work, material objects, and health. Though that is not to say that they wouldn’t appear in relationships. In general the individual would be blocked, frustrated, and challenged in those areas.
For those with oppositions in the natal chart, it is important to balance out the energy, for each sign has its own gifts and weaknesses. The roles of the signs become redundant without the other, so they really are a dynamic team when acting in unity. Opposite signs represent the need for balance in the world, and within everything contains its opposite; this is a common idea that has lasted thousands of years. In the Hermetic thought they were staunch believers in the adage ‘as above, so below’ idea of causality and the principle of vibration that states that nothing rests, everything is in a state of flux, and in constant motion. Therefore, all things vibrate, and all opposites are identical in nature but different in degree, each being relative to the other.
One of Alder’s psychological ideas was that character was formed through two opposing forces, and in stating this it also amplifies the belief that people are dynamic, they are vibrant, a force to be reckoned with. The whole chart itself is energetic, pulling us in different directions, and for there to be self-development there has to be tension. The hard aspects are there for us to integrate different parts of our nature and also for growth.
It is not strictly the aspects forming the 180-degree opposition that we see these contrasts, take Scorpio, for example, contained in this one sign are such extremities that it can be the symbol of extremes, all or nothing, swinging from a deadening emotion inside to feeling alive through every inch of the body. Scorpio seems to represent the extreme of opposites in life and death, love and hate, ecstasy and agony and seems to embody this constant internal battle; they are often in a psychological war with themselves. The Sun and Moon are also opposite representing the conscious and unconscious parts of the self, the masculine, and the feminine.
We also see more definite opposites in the signs adjacent, it is our next-door neighbor signs that contain so many opposing traits. For instance, Aries is fast and Taurus is slow, and the signs develop in such a way as to make-up for the apparent shortcomings of the previous sign. The sign of Libra, for instance, is all about beauty, symmetry, charm; the sign entails everything that is elegant, light, good, and fair. Now, let’s compare this with the following sign, Scorpio, seeking to oppose those nice ideals with its dark depths, the reality of human nature, and with the integral belief of an eye for an eye and whose values are not above revenge, its favorite kind of justice. The opposition aspect actually has a lot in common with the sign of Libra and the difficult balancing act, resulting in the inability to go left or right, and the characteristic indecisiveness of the sign.
The signs grow more and more complex throughout their development and stages up until we reach the end in the twelfth zodiac sign, Pisces. Many a philosophical thought believes that everything existing has two sides, so here we have the twelve astrological signs and shades of human nature in six neatly formed pairs.
Aries and Libra symbolise the aspect of peace and war, struggling for equilibrium, love and battles are always part of the same equation. The great Trojan War started with an apple and the judgment of beauty leading to an epic war stretching for years. Libra is teaching Aries to compromise and use skills such as diplomacy to get what is desired. Stephen Arroyo called Libra the polite side of Aries. Our Aries friend teaches Libra to make decisions, take charge, take action, and be more self-motivated. The cardinal signs/houses (1st, 4th, 7th, and 10th) from the Latin word Cardo are thought to be where “life hinges,” they initiate the seasons. Life centers on the cardinal cross concerning the primary issues of the individual vs. others, and family and career are all central life issues that all of the life balances.
Libra feels incomplete without the other, often needing a partner, and longing to please others, and is affected by all things disharmonious. The Venus-ruled sign is learning from Aries how to apply the self without the worry of upsetting others, one can never truly be individual until one learns to stand alone, otherwise, one constantly bends and folds, sitting on the fence of life in fear of upsetting the apple cart. Aries is about self-interest, what the self is doing and is less concerned with others, but the sign is also an advocate for the weak and the trodden on in life.
Aries stands at the beginning and uses the phrase “I am.” The ram is focused on the self rather than the not-self. We rarely have to wait for Aries while we tell Libra to hurry up and make a decision. This is easy for Aries as it is born in the first sign before any other adaptation or further experience has occurred. Libra brings people together, it is the bridge maker, the sign of justice. Librans often settle quarrels, and they make wonderful lawyers, relationship advisors, or peacemakers.
Taurus and Scorpio: Without Taurus’ self-acquiring wealth there wouldn’t be any wills, legacies, other people’s monies, we wouldn’t merge our finances with a partner. The acquisition of wealth also equals power and brings these two together on financial stakes. The sign of Taurus without the element of change [Scorpio] would stagnate, the sign is rooted to the spot; there is stillness, peace, and usually a Scorpio-type crisis, uprooting them and creating movement by force.
Scorpio is teaching Taurus about delving into its deepest psychological depths to find the deeper meaning in life and not be overly attached to the material world. The Taurean is a sign of preservation remaining in a fixed state; it will teach Scorpio about stability, the quiet life, and one that is drama free. It involves the self-preservation of Taurus vs. the Self-destructiveness of the Scorpio’s nature. Taurus teaches its nemesis about building something tangible as Scorpio tears a structure down.
Scorpio is a bit of an expert when it comes to regeneration. Regrowth usually means something that has been damaged or lost. The basic security needs of Taurus tend to dislike crises, threats, and being in danger. Scorpio feels the exhaustion of such urgent transformation, and Taurus doesn’t want to be bothered by things, it likes to be left in peace and can be of a placid nature. However, when the sign is angered, and it takes a lot of pushing to stir our beloved Taurus into violence, but its temper easily matches the Aries or Scorpio and can be as equally brutal. Taurus is the sign of nature, whereas Scorpio is concerned with evolution.
Taurus has two feet firmly planted on the ground, earth is solid where water is fluid, has movement, changes state. The axis is also one of sexuality from the touch, senses, and tactile nature of the Bull to the penetrating nature and the orgasmic force of the Scorpion. Taurus is thought to be the sanest sign on the zodiac wheel; by default, this certainly doesn’t make Scorpio insane, but the sign has more complicated emotions. Taurus is simple, Scorpio is complex and less obvious, and this is a feature of all the water signs. Both are protective signs of wanting to retain what one possesses, whether objects, possessions, relationships, or power.
The axis is one of insecurity, and a threat to that security stirs up trouble from these signs, especially when you mess with their possessions, and try and take what they desire most. Taurus mostly fixes onto material things. Scorpio holds on to emotional power and has the famous hypnotic control. Taurus is the strength we find on earth and its natural resources and is self-sustaining, depends on its physical eyes to see and sense things. Scorpio is the supernatural, symbolic of the cycle of life and death, the occult and magic, and rules fate and that unknown force changing things forever.
With Gemini and Sagittarius, we focus on the aspect of communication. The mutable signs are usually in a state of transition, getting ready to change and so they have a sense of flexibility, a state of restlessness. Gemini wants to talk about life and Sagittarius wants to philosophize and find meaning, understanding in those words. Then these signs share a love of traveling. So, from bus passes to passports, it is Gemini that travels short distances and Sagittarius who goes the long-distance, whether its physical, mental, or spiritual. Gemini is factual and Sagittarius has beliefs and is concerned with the furthering of concepts. Both signs are versatile and adaptable and love learning and are incredibly fun. Gemini tends to be cooler in expression, whereas Sagittarius has passion and vigor when expressing something.
All the mutable signs can be commitment-shy, both need lots of freedom. Gemini keeps things short and can be a little tricky. Sagittarius is more long-winded, boastful of knowledge, preachy, speaks bluntly.. The Sagittarius is highly principled and values honesty and the truth, possessing high ethics, and may not like the approach of Gemini – the master of wit, small talk, and gossiping. With Sagittarius, it is talking about large concepts – like God, religion, philosophizing about different subjects, and a general love of exploring. Both are excited about learning. The mercurial sign is curious but doesn’t always need to see the big picture, they enjoy puzzles, word games, phones, books, and information whizzing through at light speed.
Gemini is often viewed as immoral vs. the Sagittarian morality, but they are more neutral. The axis takes a study class in the morning, goes off to socialize, reads extensively, and travels. Gemini alone doesn’t always further its learning, it is mostly confined to the immediate environment. We go from languages to foreign languages. Yet the sign of the twins has a mind associated with cleverness, wit, and agility that never grows old, filled with facts and anecdotes. Sag is the wise sage, the learned one, the knowledge that expands. Both signs are interested in life, they rule schools and universities as part of the learning process and are mentally restless. Gemini gathers information and Sagittarius will try to make sense of the data. Gemini gets unattached to ideas remaining unbiased whereas Sagittarius often has a lot of opinions about everything. Gemini the student and Sagittarius is the teacher, so the axis can take the apprentice and the learner in the role of teaching, or the travel writer and plenty of other possibilities that await the great pupils of life.
With Cancer and Capricorn, it is about the home and career and a powerful feeling of nostalgia for the past. The sands of time flow through them and both have old-fashioned ways. Both share a common interest in history, whereas Cancer it’s the family history book and holding onto past items, sometimes as an attempt to retain them. Capricorn’s interest can be in things old and ancient and anything that has a timeless quality.
Cancer, a water sign, will long for emotional security. Capricorn, an earth sign, desires material security. Both signs are incredibly defensive. Cancer can learn from Capricorn to toughen up a little, though. Many psychological schools tend to believe that early conditioning may have an effect on the role we take as an adult. Cancer is emotional and sentimental and Capricorn aloof and unsentimental. The signs are good at business with Cancer’s shrewdness, intuition, and carefulness teamed with Capricorn’s business manner, seriousness and discipline.
Both signs can be miserable, anxious, fearful, and defensive, as well as extremely self-protective. The Cancer attaches to family, clan, home, a country. Astrologer Charle’s Carter says that the natural opposition between these two signs is one of the natural forming groups such as the family vs. organized ones. Cancer has the gifts of mediumship, and the axis is also thought to indicate the nature of family karma. The sign of Capricorn helps with the crab’s dependency, emotions shifting like the tides and with feelings of extreme sensitivity and moodiness. Cancer teaches Cappy about sympathy, allowing oneself to be vulnerable. Capricorn teaches cancer about self-sufficiency, not being so helpless, needy, and learning how to stay in control; they are also realistic and want to achieve something with their lives.
With Leo and Aquarius, there cannot be self-identity and uniqueness without differences and without a mass of others to compare. The image of the king or queen opposed to the people, royalty, and the commoner shows how Leo likes to hold court in the astrological chart. Aquarius, the sign of liberation, views man as being equal. Leo’s focus is on what makes the individual special and often develops a powerful sense of self-importance and shining as a unique person. Aquarius is team spirit, and where else can the self truly shine, but in front of a group. A powerful need to be recognized exists in Leo, and they can also be strong leaders, directing the show.
Aquarius is interested in societies, movements, and the group shining as one with many heads. Leo brings warmth, magnanimity, generosity to any gathering. Aquarius is often more concerned with the collective man and the fate of everybody as opposed to the struggle of one individual. As Osho says, “The individual seems to be so small and society seems so big, people think we can change society and then the individual will change…once you know the science of the individual it is applicable to all individuals everywhere.”
The Aquarian viewpoint is strikingly similar to a picture of earth taken from space. It is the natural ability to observe things from a great distance. When astronauts are in space they have reported having felt a “cosmic connection,” a shift in awareness that would closely align with the sign of Aquarius, and it has been said to be one of the most enlightening experiences. “When you go around the Earth in an hour and a half, you begin to recognize that your identity is with that whole thing. That makes a change… it comes through to you so powerfully that you’re the sensing element for Man.” It even has a name; The Overview Effect, you stand back and gain perspective; we can feel insignificant [the opposite feeling to Leo values] in self –importance in comparison.
With Virgo and Pisces in life, the Virgoan needs to sort, organize, prioritize, and everything runs through a filter, then, of course, we meet Pisces, the sign that is unfiltered – everything comes through at once. Virgo usually specializes on a particular skill, trains, and hones its focus. The neat, methodical Virgo, taking pride in their work and a job well done. Pisces seeks to wash the world’s ills away and is filled with great empathy playing the part of bringing inspiration, art, and emotion to the everyday world. The use of their mental powers is important to Virgo; they’re often the secretary of the zodiac making sure there are no mistakes, editing, and refining. Both signs are in service to mankind. The craft is most common to Virgo with their ability to use their sharpened skills and make something of use for the individual. The fine needlework, ability in the arts and crafts, creative writing are just some of the natural talents of this axis and is a strong part of the personality. Pisces finds it difficult to narrow any subject down as there are too many infinite ways for Pisces, flowing all directions, like a kaleidoscope of colors, assuming all shapes. Pisces is the refuge away from daily life, but sometimes it tends to take an extended vacation. In Virgo and Pisces, we see that both are the helpers of the zodiacal tribe and fulfill the emotional and practical needs of those who want their service.