The Power of Astrology: Understanding Oppositions and Squares
Aspects are part of every astrological chart and reveal how planets influence each other. Three of the most important aspects are conjunctions, trines, and sextiles.
An aspect is how two (and only two) planets relate to one another. Even if you have several planets close to one another, an aspect is only formed for one planet in relationship to another. Aspects show how the energy of planets blends together. Aspects are determined by how close one planet is to another, measured in degrees.
An easy way to understand aspects is to remember that an entire astrology wheel has 360 degrees. Depending on the system you use to read the wheel (two popular methods are Placidus and Whole Sign), each of the 12 houses will have roughly 30 degrees. Regardless of which house system you use, aspects are calculated the same way.
Aspects can be lumped into three categories: positive, challenging, and neutral. They can also be categorized by major aspects and minor aspects. Squares and oppositions are both challenging major aspects.
An orb is the number of degrees on either side of a planet that is considered “in range” to make an aspect. Squares and oppositions both have 8-degree orbs.
Opposition Energy - It’s Time for a Tug of War
Oppositions are major aspects that are challenging. The symbol for an opposition is a line with a circle on each end, and the keyword is Conflict. Oppositions are located 180 degrees apart – or directly across from each other – with an 8-degree orb on either side.
Oppositions between planets are challenging because they require you to grapple with two opposing energies, oftentimes without much success. Think of a traffic intersection and a car coming toward you; will you let them turn before you get to the intersection? You also don’t want to be in their lane and hit them head-on.
If you envision oppositions as a tug of war between planets, one planet may win while the other loses. This may mean you have to settle for one thing, while you really may want another.
Working with oppositions can best be thought of as trying to balance the energies of the two planets. Sometimes, you’ll need to sacrifice to find success or make a decision.
Square Energy - Using Your Peripheral Vision
Squares are major aspects that are challenging. The symbol for a square….is a square, and the keyword is Obstacle. Squares are located 90 degrees apart with an 8-degree orb on either side.
Squares may be the most challenging aspect of all because you can’t always sense them. Think of that traffic intersection again. You may see the car coming from your left using your peripheral vision, or you may miss them entirely until they T-bone you.
Planets square to one another have a great deal of power, and you’ll need to overcome an obstacle or problem to find peace. Overcoming the obstacle or problem can take a lot of energy, and so working with squares in your chart requires a great deal of awareness and persistence.
Planets in squares are usually in elements that are not natural together. For example, a Sun in an earth sign and Uranus in an air sign will be challenging. Earth is a cool, dry sign, whereas Air is a hot, moist sign. This can be challenging because elements like to associate with like elements. Earth and Water like to chill out with each other, while Fire and Air like to keep things hot.
Oppositions and squares in your chart can help you understand why you may feel stuck or conflicted in certain areas of your life. Remember to combine the planet, element, sign, and house to learn how to manage opposing energies or overcome obstacles.
Written by Brooke Davis
Brooke Davis is a tarot teacher and wellness coach who enjoys helping the tarot-curious learn about the cards by using intuition and insight, not just definitions from a book. Her four-course Tarot 101 series is offered online through Discover Your Spiritual Gifts. Register for the next session here.