Lesson Four: Polarity and the Angles
This evening I want to spend some time looking at the six pairs of polarities present in every chart. We will then go on to look at the meaning of the angles. The birth chart tells us that, from the moment of our birth, we are confronted with a series of polarities. It is these polarities which cause us to become strangers to ourselves, divided, split, separated and fragmented, with the result that we keep meeting the split-off parts of ourselves in other people or in the world 'out there', not realising that they belong to us.
For the individual, the struggle to deal with irreconcilable opposites generates the development of psyche. Individuation, in other words, is made possible through the tensions caused by the neurotic aspects of the personality. 
I want to spend some time considering the signs and the houses
as six pairs of complementary opposites because, as Dane Rudhyar wrote,
'It simply does not make any sense to try and define the meaning of one
end of an axis without including in the definition the meaning of the other
end'. This approach helps
us to work with the mechanism of projection, which is one of the most important
ideas in psychology and in psychological astrology. It is also much easier
to understand what something actually is, if we study at the same time
what it is not. So we are going to spend this evening caught up in the
drama of opposites, which is, of course, what makes life so interesting.
Like a pendulum, the more extreme one pole becomes, the more extreme the opposite pole becomes. Whenever we identify consciously with one end of a polarity, the opposite end is constellated in the unconscious, compensating for and balancing the consciously held position. Have a look at this table of opposites. In the last column are words describing the extreme opposites of the same spectrum. We already know from last term that opposites are inseparable; they repel and attract each other in equal measure. The interesting question, which is not necessarily clear from the birth chart itself, is where do we stand on each of these axes - where are we consciously identified?
Natural zodiac and house axes
|Mars/Venus||Axis of relationship
|Venus/Mars (Pluto)||Axis of exchange
Dependency on self/other
|Axis of exploration
|Moon/Saturn||Axis of structure
Private life/public life
The clan/the hermit
|Axis of identity
The heart/the head
Personal good/ common good
|Mercury/Jupiter (Neptune)||Axis of devotion
In fact, it is not uncommon for people to consult an astrologer precisely because a situation in their lives, or a relationship, has become polarised. In such cases, they may find themselves veering dramatically from one extreme end of a polarity to the other, not realising that the two poles are fundamentally connected. One of our major tasks as astrologers is to 'hold the opposites' for both ourselves and our clients. This is always an uncomfortable and difficult thing to do, but it can protect us from colluding with our clients, on the one hand, or from taking an unhelpful 'problem-solving' approach on the other hand.