Squares and Oppositions: Projection and Inner Conflicts

innyconThe hard aspects in astrology are usually interpreted as a whole in most readings the conjunction, square and opposition and that is how this site also interprets them. However, it is kept in mind that the conjunction can act intensely and symbolise a close cooperation, which combines and reinforce each other. With the oppositions and squares, in particular, we have planets that are in conflict at birth. The growing pains of the aspects can be difficult to constantly battle. In many ways, aspects grow with us, so the way individual expressed Mars-Saturn at 16 years of age may have changed significantly when the individual reaches 40 years of age. However, sometimes we think we have outgrown an aspect and then it is activated by a transit and it’s like we are thrown back into it with all those insecure feelings from our younger years. We may feel like we are compulsively acting it out and unconsciously becoming involved with others who also activate our inner conflicts. The astrological aspects change throughout life depending on the level of consciousness that we bear upon them, and also the lessons we have learned from our experiences. The square aspect in the horoscope is thought to be more frustrating, with blocks and a developing tension over time. All aspects are looking for a release in order to express and live in the world, and to be viewed as an important aspect of the personality.

The square aspect can be constructive or destructive and there usually needs to be a physical expression. The square aspect is between two planets at an angle of 90 degrees apart and the allotted orb is usually down to personal preference. I would use up to 10 degrees and with some conjunctions working at 12 degrees.

The square aspect develops and strengthens the personal will, because that is what is needed to meet its demands. Lack of skills or resources to meet any current crisis may be a cause for frustration or concern. The aspect implies the direct application of energies to accomplish immediate ends. The energies or types of actions symbolized by the planets involved will be applied forcefully. The square’s mode of action is abrupt and creates discomfort, which is a spur to action, and also producing turning points in the life, with critical junctures. This aspect is one of obstruction, disruption, imbalance, frustration of desire (or self-realization through heroic struggle) and is the most dynamic of all aspects. It allows for the building of frameworks or structures on which the future will depend. By Wikipedia

The opposition forms between two aspects 180 degrees apart and the aspect is thought to mostly enact itself through relationships, the self in relation to the other helps to foster consciousness and we become more mindful of our own expressions and we come to a startling realization of our own behaviour. This kind of conscious awareness is best exemplified by Psychologist Erickson he had some really off-the-wall techniques, but there was a method to his madness and his wacky approaches usually worked. The art of mirroring is an incredibly powerful technique used by the cosmos to get us to this kind of awareness.


The Psychologist Erickson employed this technique to make others see more ‘objectively’ how they were acting. In a hospital where he worked, there were two men claiming to be Jesus Christ. He made them sit on a bench and talk to each other. Eventually seeing the absurdity of the other person’s claims each was able to see the silliness of their own. The unusual approach got these men engaged back with reality and with other people again. Another example was of a 12-year-old girl, Ruth, she possessed a great personality and was extremely well liked. However, she suddenly attacked people and would kick others, stamp on their toes, and cause complete chaos in a full on rebellious mode. Erickson heard the news that she was rampaging in a ward and he when he got there he didn’t tell her to stop her behaviour, he also began trashing the place, tearing sheets off the beds, breaking windows and then headed to the corridor when he saw a nurse and ripped her clothes off. At this Ruth was so shocked she told the doctor he shouldn’t be doing those things, and then she became a well-behaved girl. (The nurse was in on the treatment and agreed to be a part of the scene)

Since we are not all mental patients, perhaps a real life example may help, let’s say your partner is always out, carefree, drinking, flirting, and spending money. No matter your complaints he persists in the behaviour while you look like the controlling, jealous, and paranoid girlfriend. However, mirror his behaviour and quite often we turn the table 180 degrees and now he starts acting controlling, jealous and demanding you come back home. You might have given your partner a taste of their own medicine, reflected his behavior back and you might have also swapped roles for a while, but then reverted back to the old behaviours. Though, usually it is at this point that a middle ground can be found for both people. Both need creative outlets and also to be more mindful of the other. In the general sense, of course, the opposition could make things see-saw which each changing roles, and sometimes we need to try on the other role so that we can eventually find the balance. We can actually see things from both sides, and relationships are often the opposition’s playground.

Inner Conflicts

Another way of looking at the hard aspects in the astrology chart and a method I found particularly helpful was the work by psychologist Karen Horney on Inner Conflicts. It made incredible sense to me on the level of our hard aspects. According to Karen Horney, all unresolved inner conflicts developed when instinctual drives are coming up against “civilised” conscious and conflicting notions about what we really wanted. Often the hard aspects can make us feel a little extreme and act Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde characters that are divided within themselves. The more unconscious and unaware we are the more the inner split. Horney said there are three ways we act out this conflict and this can also be applied to the astrological aspects.

1. Moving Towards – Meaning that our behaviour is needy, craving, and we are looking for validation through the aspectual conflict. We might look to others to fulfill certain expectations of life, and a kind of dependency and suppression existed.

2. Moving Against – Fighting others, rebellious, distrusting. Only nice when other people are doing what we want. A hostile attitude overall.

3. Moving away – A feeling of detachment and rejection from the world. It is completely distinct from a genuine need for solitude. All of these tendencies may be expressed in one form or the other, and when it is not a choice it is called a compulsion.

The healthier expression was to express one’s talents more fully, making a solid contribution to whatever interests us, and to love more deeply. Giving up the behaviours that we think are protective. The origins of the behaviours were thought to be reflected in childhood. However, she also warns about hiding behind childhood as an excuse to stay locked behind our hostility, dependencies and defences. The idea of projections and Horney’s ideas on inner conflicts have given me a fuller understanding the hard aspects in the astrological chart. Below are some aspect examples showing how this works and the different level of expressions.


Moving –Towards — The individual is looking to authority figures constantly for a sense of validation. Perhaps a parent displays the strict authoritarian figure and there is a constant need to gain approval and to be shown that one is good enough and accomplished, craving a sense of identity and looking to others to fulfil this need for achievement and success. Also being with a partner for material reasons, but something always goes wrong because the person really should be cultivating self-sufficiency from within. Living through the partner’s successes choosing a mate based on feelings of obligation and the need to be responsible. Overworking looking for praise from those in a high position not believing in oneself and desperately needing the praise of others.

 Moving Against – The individual could feel that the burden of material circumstances is harsher than most feeling a sense of bitterness towards those that are having an easier time. A feeling that the person doesn’t get anything and feeling everything is so painful and laborious, therefore reacting negatively towards set-backs, holding a psychologically defensive attitude towards life, a sense of distrust through the expectation of rejection. Suffering from an inferiority complex, taking it out on the government, the boss at work, or father. Being critical of others and harsh on their efforts and it is really reflecting on the inner self-critic.

Moving Away. – A sense of self-isolation, and a feeling of not being good enough, to hiding the self away and erecting a protective barrier. It is a feeling of being criticised all the time, as well as a lack of self-esteem and personal insecurities. A sense of failure may imprint on the individual as a feeling the world is rejecting their efforts. Everything is hard-won and also feeling wounded and rejected from authority figures. Feeling crushed by the world, fearing all form of authority, feeling fearful and anxious suppresses self-expression so creates many barriers around the self and builds a wall.

Psychologically Healthy- The person sees every experience as teaching a valuable lesson. Also, the Sun-Saturn type possesses the feeling of being capable of handling responsibility, and a person that is well disciplined, one who is learning to stand on one’s own two feet. The individual consolidates their resources; using skills in organization, managing, science, research and teaching position or any position of authority. The individual could be applying the self to attain ambitions, seeing trial and obstacles as growth-inducing. The Sun-Saturn person is seeing steady gains, building success stone by stone and learning to be accepting of one’s limitations.


Moving Towards – Entering into exciting relationships looking for a partner to bring the excitement and thrills. Letting the partner have all the creative expression, could choose a partner that is unpredictable, unstable, and incapable of commitment. Needs to develop their own sense of freedom and not overly rely on their primary need to live out this rebellious spirit, genius, and innovation through a partner, looking for affection from a father who is cold and remote.

Moving Against – The person is acting in a way that is uncompromising, acting intolerant, and being difficult to control and a non-conformist. Disliking authority, showing disrupting behaviour and hating restrictions imposed on their life, acting like a social deviant. A perverseness of behaviour shocking everybody, violently rebelling, being deliberately provocative, hating on 9-5 jobs, being stubborn, can be overpowering and explosive. Enjoys stirring things up just to get a reaction from others.

Moving Away – The individual is cutting people off suddenly and without warning, breaking free, seemingly appearing to recover quickly, appearing cold and abrupt. The person is also feeling that others are rejecting and it makes the person feel like they are different, alien, weird, eccentric, or an outsider. Walks on the fringes believing himself to be a misunderstood genius. Never feels accepted and compulsive self-consistency, detachment, overly sensitive as Carter says ‘prone to taking the wrong end of the stick,’ and causing many separations.

Psychologically Healthy – Find something in life that provides freedom. The individual is using their progressive, intuitive, and intelligent nature to make positive changes, opens doors to new potentials. The Sun-Uranus type is also learning to live with others, in a more agreeable way while still expressing their uniqueness and original ideas applied to a professional goal in life. Enlightening people’s consciousness joins groups of similar individuals, dynamic leadership, and a reforming energy.


Moving Towards – Being overly needy in partnerships or choosing a partner with reality problems, or who is sick or has addiction problems. The individual needs their dependency to prolong so they can play the role of saviour. Also the type wants to feel special, living through others, drawn to cults thinking they can supply what is sought. The Sun-Neptune choosing a partner in the creative arts and escapist personalities when one really needs to find the emotionally vulnerable, artiste inside. As with all solar aspects, the person needs a validation of the self, individually, sometimes depending on spirituality as a crutch, needing a spiritual father, and the dazzle of glamour to avoid reality.

Moving Against – Being oversensitive to others, then acting the martyr, and manipulating the feelings of others making them feel guilty. The type may not happily accept responsibility from others, being hard to pin down, creating friction in relationships. It can lead to passive-aggressive behaviour. Acting like a chameleon, not really knowing who he or she is, but challenging when others are confused about what they are doing or are not accepting, the individual can just annoy others when acting irresponsible or in a nebulous way.

Moving Away – The individual is prone to escapism, drifting off, drugs and alcohol, becoming terribly withdrawn from life. Self-doubting their abilities, locked in confusion, and removing themselves from reality, also becoming remote, unable to deal with the harsher aspects of life. The Sun-Neptune type has major avoidance issues, and the individual is overly vulnerable and sensitive to others because the boundaries are wide open, therefore choosing to shut oneself off from outside world. The person may give up on life when dreams don’t materialize. A feeling of deep dissatisfaction, often appearing spaced out hard to get a hold of at times. The Neptune propensity often involves living in a secluded world.

Psychological Health: The individual is engaging in creative pursuits, art, drama, poetry, photography, music. Using their gifts for symbols and tapping in the collective unconscious to bring forth incredible moving pieces of art that stir others emotionally. The ability to affect how others feel should not be an underrated talent; we need art just as much as Science. The individual is cultivating the highest devotion to their pursuits, living the dream, a sensitive and gifted personality.


Moving Towards -A controlling partner is chosen, passionate relationships, intense emotions are stirred. Absorbing oneself too heavily into a partner, feeling spell bound, possible obsessions and needing the partner, and terrified of loss. Falling for people with magnetic charm and irresistible magnetism, they need to realize that such power exists within the self. Sometimes power figures are idealized, and the father holds a powerful sway over the individual.

Moving Against – An extremist attitude, expressing the self with force and intensity through being over bearing.. Manipulative, using psychological tactics, power-struggles in relationships, and is a force to be reckoned with. The individual can represent tyranny, losing all control, making others feel uncomfortable. Getting too close, dominant, making others feel like they have ‘no space’. Attitudes towards authority can generate real hatred, sometimes enjoying the competition and cruelly beating others down. The individual knows the weak spots of others and goes for the jugular. Inner turmoil erupts into overreactions and being oversensitive.

Moving Away – Once wounded and the choice has been made to leave the past behind and close off completely from certain people, they rarely change their mind. Retreating into the shadow, broods, and silences the world, the aspect demands considerable growth, and there is a feeling of super-defensiveness when their space is invaded. The Sun-Pluto type may also withdraw when the person feels their identity is under a terrorist attack, self-destructive, psychological physical isolation through mistrust.

Psychologically Healthy – Using their incredible focus of will to make changes. Learning moderation applying their transformative energies to help others and has the ability to get to the root of the things with drive, single-minded intensity, heightened intuition, and also gets involved in life at a very deep level.

For the most part, we are probably all normal in the way we express our aspects, and I think few people achieve the completely healthy psychological mode of operating. We are only human, but I think it is a good outline of how we can act needy, hostile and defensive through the hard aspects and the acting out of our inner conflicts. Even when we move away, we need those introspective periods to analyze our behaviors, others and life. Sometimes other people need confronting, but we also need others to challenge our behavior, and we also need relationships that act like a mirror so that we see something more directly.