Like the elements within any coherent structure, the zodiac signs relate to each other as well as to the larger whole of the zodiac. Much thought has gone into what to make of the opposing signs in astrology, those who face each other on the zodiac wheel and represent opposite moments in seasonal time. Observation and theory has confirmed that opposite signs do have a special relationship. While they possess qualities that are diametrically opposed from one another, they share a similarity in form and seem to mirror and complement each other to a great degree. This enables us to speak of the axis of any two signs in opposition, making six axes in total of the twelve signs. While the concept itself is uncontroversial, the precise nature of the different polarities has often been neglected or not fully explained nor reflected upon. Also, some of the opposing sign axes seem to be much more obvious than others, where the similarities and dissimilarities are concerned. This article will discuss the six zodiac axes. Though "polarity" has yet another meaning within astrology, here I will take it to mean the axis of any opposing pair of signs.
The Aries-Libra axis is the first and in many respects also the most obvious of the polarities. The basic nature of the axis concerns the self and its projection out into the world, and the adjustments that are made in facing and relating to other people. Crudely put, Aries is the primitive, the egoist of simple, unguarded self-expression, while Libra is the sophisticated diplomat. Put in another way, Aries is authentic, focused and true to the self, while Libra can be inauthentic and vacillating. In reality, none of the two signs are less concerned about the self, but make themselves heard in different ways. The issue also falls on partnerships, where the need to define the identity in isolation meets wanting reinforcement from and comparison with another. There is also the objective and impartial discrimination of Libra and its complement in the subjective, individualized response of Aries. The general themes of the axis are those of creating versus refining, leading versus following, having one's way versus compromising, initiating versus completing,
The Taurus-Scorpio axis concerns the intensification and stabilization of the self and its environment through the sensing and feeling nature. This pair relates to the organic cycle and biological purpose of man, and develops further the concepts of finality, death, value and worth at different levels. Both signs are preoccupied with focus, and the determination to fully exhaust their potential within the boundaries they have set up for themselves. While Taurus relates to the immediate physical environment, Scorpio relates to psychological states and what is just beyond the scope of the senses. Taurus is practical and tries to preserve and strengthen what is given to them, while Scorpio reaches inward striving for transformation of the emotional being. The axis illuminates different yet mirroring aspects of sensuality and sexuality. General themes are such as maintaining versus challenging, tradition versus personal values, common sense pragmatism versus intuition, form versus content.
The Gemini-Sagittarius opposition is one where the pair often seem to have more in common than they are different. The axis concerns expansion and development of the mental, moral and philosophical faculties, and the awareness of the diversity of human nature. While Gemini is analytical and concerned with detail and nuance, Sagittarius is wise and concerned with the big picture and generalities. Gemini explores with speed, impartial curiosity and a sometimes shallow intellectuality, while Sagittarius passes judgements, longs for insight and strives for an ideal. Both are mental and abstract, but Gemini usually without a specific agenda. Themes are knowledge versus ethics, scepticism versus faith, observing versus reflecting, detachment versus engagement, spontaneous learning versus academia, travelling around versus journeying as a means for progress and growth.
The Cancer-Capricorn axis relates to nurturing of the emotional and physical surroundings, and the necessary preparation and organization before committing the self to any endeavour considered worthwhile. The pair also touches on mothering and fathering energies inherent in our psyche, with Cancer representing classic "mother" energies of nurture and care and Capricorn father symbols of authority and discipline. Where Cancer find solace in the inner world of emotions and relies much on intuition, Capricorn strives for functionality and is focused on effectively organizing and manipulating the physical world. Cancer is personal and sentimental where Capricorn is formal, seeking detachment and clear boundaries. Both signs are cautious and highly desirous of security. The axis themes are emotion versus logic, home & family versus career, intention versus result, mother versus father, roots and heritage versus now and here.
The Leo-Aquarius axis resembles Aries-Libra in that it concerns the Ego and the relation of the self to other people, but is more intricate. Leo is about establishing a core self and finding creative self-expression, while Aquarius is about the submergence of the mind or the individual into a group or an idea while retaining a unique perspective. Leo seeks complete self-integrity with the ideals of nobility and pride, while Aquarius decentralizes and broadens consciousness in order to understand and observe different viewpoints and behaviour. Both can be of stubborn and dogmatic mentality. While Leo wants to interact with and permeate the given social order, Aquarius can be unconventional and eccentric, refusing to accept limitation from the establishment. Leo is warm and exuberant while Aquarius may be cold and disinterested. General themes are individual versus collective, autocracy versus democracy, creativity and imagination versus truth and observation, limelight versus backstage, egoism versus altruism, spontaneity versus reflection.
The Virgo-Pisces axis completes the polarities. It concerns self-sacrifice and the final purpose of the human mind and being. The pair mirrors the basic split between tangible and intangible and represents the restraint coming from being part of the external world itself, and on the other hand from feeling part of something beyond it. The aim of Virgo is the refinement of man and his everyday environment, while the elusive aim of Pisces is the refinement of the soul and its place in a spiritual or imagined realm. While Virgo differentiates and categorizes, Pisces unifies, muddles or makes abstract. Virgo is the unselfish servant and instrument of the external world and everyday society while Pisces is the unselfish servant of God or the champion of the underdog. Virgo is clear, petty and precise, while Pisces is vague, forgiving and imaginative. General themes are substantiation versus abstraction, analysis versus inspiration, detail versus wholeness, clarification versus mystification, sobriety versus intoxication.