Do you remember the first time you looked at your birth chart? What was the indicator of existential dread that first jumped out of you? For me, it was a startling jumble of Capricorn-ruled planets starkly opposed by a 0º cancer moon. Naturally, my first thought was, “Well, I’m fucked.” The opposition explained what I perceived to be a complete inability to control my emotions. Although I felt somewhat validated, I assumed there was no hope for me. But then I got real. I learned more about astrology and became grateful that my cancer moon was one of the few things saving me from being the first child dictator of the state of New Jersey.
Just kidding. What kind of Capricorn would I be if I didn’t use a little self-deprecating humor every now and then? What I really learned was that the opposition between my moon and almost all of my other planets was an opportunity rather than an emotional death sentence. Reflection on my chart, along with a fair amount of study, has helped me come to a conclusion about the “hard” aspects we experience in our natal charts and through transits. Although they may present us with difficulties, those difficulties can be overcome. In fact, it is our mission to overcome them rather than be afflicted by them. And when we’re successful, we no longer need to be faced with those types of challenges because we’ve done the work of learning to master them.
Ok, so you may be thinking, “how am I supposed to master the energies of my opposition?” The first step of solving any problem is to make sure you understand it. You can gain an understanding of your opposition in a number of ways, but here’s what I did:
In order to better understand my Cancer-Capricorn opposition, I decided to identify what the rulers of these signs have in common. I chose to work with the signs ruling the houses of my planetary opposition–rather than the particular planets involved–because I wanted to discover how the manner of expression of the opposing planetary energies would be affected. I made a table with two variables: Saturn (ruler of Capricorn) and the moon (ruler of Cancer). I wrote down the opposite qualities of each planet on the same row, and later worked to identify the commonality between them. Here’s a section of what I came up with:
Phase 1- The differences:
The terms I listed to describe Saturn and the moon are all opposites. At first glance, they look like completely different things. But opposites are just extremes that sit on either end of a scale. If I asked you to rate your anxiety on a scale of 1 to 10, you might indicate a 1 on Tuesday and a 10 on Thursday.
You went from NO anxiety to TOTAL anxiety within a two-day span (I feel for you, friend!). Although the two answers you gave are opposites, they’re measuring the same thing: anxiety!
Using this logic, my next task was to identify the scales upon which each of the opposite qualities I outlined sit.
Phase 2- The reconciliation:
Let’s create a scale using the variables on one of the rows above. We’ll try the last one: Hard/Soft/Resistance. Hard and Soft can both be considered qualities of an object’s resistance to manipulation.
You will need to use a large (and probably scary looking) power tool to change the shape of your hard granite countertop, but you can re-form your soft down pillow by poking it with your pinky finger. To mold either object, no matter how hard or soft it is, you will be fighting against the same force…resistance. This principle is illustrative of a tenet that I hold to be fundamentally true in the physical and spiritual planes. Although it doesn’t appear as such, opposites are really the same thing: one entity viewed from two different perspectives. When we can’t pinpoint the entity we’re dealing with, all we see are two opposing forces. It is important to find common ground between those forces so we can see them for what they really are: two qualities of a whole.
When we made our first scale to describe anxiety levels, we left something important out. I’ve taken the liberty of filling in the gaps. Here’s a more complete version of our scale:
Between the extremes of 1 and 10 are eight other numbers. There’s a whole range of anxiety levels for you to choose from (thrilling)!
We can create a similar range for our resistance scale by filling in some words.
Again, we have a range of levels of resistance to choose from to describe an object that is made of neither granite nor down. We now have a word that describes something like a Gumby doll (flexible) or a piece of foil (malleable).
Knowing that there is a range between the extremes of my Cancer-Capricorn opposition has helped me tremendously. This opposition is one I will be learning from for the rest of my life, but the process I’ve outlined here helped me take a huge leap forward on that journey. Now, when I’m feeling stressed about something I know is related to those energies, I stop and ask myself: What are the extremes I’m perceiving? Where is the middle ground? And I find more power in my situation.
I’d like to share one more visual with you regarding the sameness hidden in oppositions.
When we look up a birth chart, we’re seeing a number of different values contained within a two-dimensional circle. An aspect line is drawn to indicate an opposition. It looks like this:
On paper, it appears that the opposition line continues on and on indefinitely in both directions, extending further and further into different territories. But unlike many of our ancestors, we now know that the earth is not flat, but spherical. Here’s what that aspect line looks like in 3 dimensions:
A circle. The two ends of the line connect, forming a circle with no end and no beginning. There extremes are one and the same.