an astrological opposition

by Addie Mitchell

Illustration by Layla Ehsan

published February 7, 2014

When replicated in dozens of directions and multiple dimensions in the natal chart, highly charged poles approximate a circulatory system. The Sun in Cancer, a person’s heart swollen with blood, momentarily surges. The twisting arteries and capillaries of its corresponding Capricorn flesh wait, empty and able to receive. Propelled by homeostasis, blood travels to where it is needed, rushes back to its source as soon as becomes much too wholly one thing, surges back yet again such that the notion of source at all, heart or flesh, is obscured. The astrological natal chart—at first glance a set of arbitrary pictograms too obtuse to be truly meaningful—finds its humanity here, in its surprisingly body-like approximation of life.

     But the natal chart is more than this notion of warm, animal animation. It is precise mathematics; sharp, hard, frictive angles; delicate degrees ticked onto the rim of its circular structure. Its biological flow is impossible without the astrological relation of opposition, denoted by a diametrical slash straight through the center of the chart, tying together two planets while holding them apart at exactly 180 degrees. Planets in opposition cannot possibly be further apart. Planets in opposition are so far apart that they are on the cusp of coming together once again. It is a relation blind to that which it connects. It is a plain line; it is as neutral and impersonal as an equation. The symbolic relationship between the two ends of polarity involved is that of connection and separation, the both of these things at once.

     The opposition is mathematical, but in the cracks of its pristine system is room for those who crafted it to shape their system in the image of the creator. The opposition is symbolically feminine. This femininity is not softness, nor gentleness, nor curves, but rather interior complexity; not purity, nor tapered focus of idea, but rather span and breadth of that which it can hold. The opposition, the fundamental feminine relation, is described as hard, frictive, tense:

     Inauspicious is the native with major planets in opposition; it is a sign of irreconcilable division of the psyche, fundamental internal incompatibility, and certain difficulty. It will tear them in two.

     Auspicious is the native with major planets in opposition; it is indicative of powerful energy between those two elements, a necessity to grapple with those internal incompatibilities which in turn brings external rewards. They are more beautiful for being broken.

     Masculinity and femininity themselves form a symbolic opposition. We assign this male-female relation one half of its own system in order to describe it, so fearful are we of operating in full duality. The opposition’s definition escapes itself.


Websites addressing concerned astrological novices about the repletion of oppositions in their natal charts reassure that there are “good” and “bad” manifestations of every chart object. The “bad” opposition is the opposition that is highly polarized, flip-flopping between two extremes that cannot recognize each other even though they are inextricably related. The “good” opposition is the opposition that makes it look at itself, that can slow its crazed dance to a neutral buzzing in between the two extremes. I, too, if I manage my psychological systems properly and precisely as these sources tell me, can achieve this blessed-out middle hum. I, too, can stop the ride. This is the fundamental mistake that pop astrology makes.

     Is there something broken in me that I can’t seem to reach this dull peace? Why am I not everything, in all places at once, yet nothing at all? Why can I not maximize the potential of my personality the way a horoscope chirpily asks me to? Why do I assume that the version of my personality prescribed by an astrological text is something better to become than to react to? Why can’t I quietly hold taut the circumference of my soul like a piece of wood? There is something broken in me; I am opposed to myself and I am opposed to others’ ideas just as I am opposed to my own. And here is where duality blooms—makes the chart circulate, makes the person real.

     There is movement and energy between two points, though it is not necessarily visible. I can feel the beauty and utility of the irresolvable opposition, the eternal feminine as it ebbs and flows through me. It is the spike in energy when two eyes meet. It is the simple shift from one pitch to another that miraculously makes music. It is the certainty that love can be exchanged but not seized. I am travelling back and forth from here to there so fast that it seems like I am standing still. If I look carefully, I can see the underlying motion in strobe-light effect—harsh movement in disjointed parts. But this is nothing more than the limitation of the eye. It is unsettling, but I must be with it for the moment. I must be with the discomfort, be in two places at once, be in that charged chasm that blossoms between a wholeness cleaved in two.

     I don’t want to merge or choose myself into wholeness, but instead to be contained in myself, and to worm myself wholly inside of the other, and to then…and again…
ADDIE MITCHELL B’15 was born July 15th and has a black Army/Navy backpack.